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Career Development for Parents

As a parent of a college student, your job isn't done yet--your role is changing, but you are still an important influence in your son or daughter's life. In career development, there are several ways you can help your student. Having good information is a great place to start, and the following will steer you in the right direction.

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Eight Tips for Parents of FPU Students

The following tips are from The Parent's Crash Course in Career Planning: Helping Your College Student Succeed by Marcia B. Harris and Sharon L. Jones and from the FPU Career Development Center.

Choosing a Career/Choosing a Major
The C assists students in all phases of self-assessment, career exploration, decision-making and job search. We encourage students to start working with our office during their freshman or sophomore year. Students have many factors to consider such as skills required, market demand, salary range and education required for a major and/or career. For additional information and career resources, visit our office or check our Career Development pages.
Choosing to Double Major

Most employers do not place a premium on a double major. It usually requires an extra one or two semesters to obtain a second major and does not particularly enhance a student's marketability. Exceptions would be a second major chosen for a specific career, such as English and chemistry for technical writing or pre-health and business for hospital administration. Of course, some students may choose to double major primarily for intellectual purposes.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Encourage your son or daughter to make academics a high priority beginning with his or her freshman year. Some students who get off to a rocky start eventually raise their grades; however, this can be very difficult to do, so starting well is important. When computing a student's GPA, advanced placement credits and study abroad courses generally do not count. Employers vary on the emphasis on GPA. Some use GPA cutoffs in considering applicants. Other employers stress the student's overall background: experience, job history, leadership activities, etc. Of course, for graduate school, GPA is always important.

Obtaining Marketable Skills

Most employers put as much or more emphasis on graduates' skills than on their academic majors. Encourage your college student to develop the top ten qualities employers want:

  • Team player and interpersonal skills
  • Quantitative skills (accounting, statistics, economics)
  • Communication skills (written and oral)
  • Work ethics, integrity and honesty
  • Analytical skills and critical thinking
  • Motivation and initiative
  • Leadership skills
  • Computer skills
  • Ability to be flexible and adaptable
Leadership Activities

Many employers rate leadership activities even more highly than GPA. Being involved in a few meaningful leadership roles which can be mentioned on a resume is valuable. On the other hand, a long list of college clubs or activities done in high school will not be as significant.


You may want your son or daughter to work in his or her hometown every summer. However, the experience gained as a lifeguard or counter clerk does not compare to that which comes from an internship (paid or unpaid) in the career field that he or she aspires to enter. Employers seek graduates with relevant, real-world work experience. Some students have little to write about on a resume if their summers were spent in school, traveling or working at low-level jobs. We strongly suggest that students seek career-related experience for their sophomore and junior summers even if they must live away from home or accept an unpaid internship. Students needing financial support can combine an unpaid internship with a paid job such as a waiter/waitress, etc. Studies indicate that 70 percent of college graduates with work-related experience get jobs faster than those without.

Planning for Graduate/Professional School

In a recent survey, about 88 percent of the nation's college freshmen indicated that they plan to go to graduate or professional school, yet only about 24 percent do so within a year of completing their bachelor's degree. Students aspiring to graduate or professional school should:

  1. Be clear about the reasons they want to go on for further education
  2. Research the qualifications required for admission and be realistic about their chances for acceptance
  3. Always have a back-up plan in case they are not accepted

Students should discuss their interest in graduate or professional school with their academic advisor well before their senior year. The CDELC offers information about graduate programs, admissions and exams required for entry into graduate school.

Using the Career Development and Experiential Learning Center (CDELC)

Students should begin taking advantage of the CDELC their freshman year. The CDELC provides individual career counseling and advising, internship assistance, career fairs, part-time and full-time job listings, on-campus interviews, and a number of workshops on career planning, resumes, interviewing, job search etiquette and more! Your son or daughter should seek help early with choosing a major and career and preparing for it. Competition for good jobs is stiff, but the CDELC helps prepare students for the challenge. Our experts are ready to assist your college student today!

Recommended Reading

To further assist you in helping your student with the college transition and career development, we have compiled a list of recommended publications:

Recommended Reading
  • "Helping Your First-Year College Student Succeed: A Guide for Parents"
  • by Richard H. Mullendore and Cathie Hatch "Career Coaching Your Kids: Guiding Your Child Through the Process of Career Discovery"
  • by David H. Montross, Theresa E. Kane and Robert J. Ginn, Jr. "When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parents' Survival Guide"
  • by Carol Barkin "Don't Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money: The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years"
  • by Helen E. Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller "Parents' Guide to College Life: 181 Straight Answers on Everything You Can Expect Over the Next Four Years"
  • by Robin Raskin "Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years"
  • by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger "You're On Your Own (But I'm Here If You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years"
  • by Marjorie Savage "The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior Year to College Life"
  • by Laura Kastner and Jennifer Wyatt

Are you an employer?

If you or your employer has internship or job openings, please consider posting the opening through our website. Visit our Resources for Employers section or call the Career Development Center.