Q: How can I assist my student with her or his career choices and concerns?
Listen to your student’s career concerns and ideas. You can provide support, feedback, and information as new interests and goals develop. Talk about your own work, your industry, and your employer. Discuss different workplace cultures and offer to have your student job-shadow you or a friend for a day to experience different types of environments. Share your own values, interests, and goals, but respect your student's interests, especially if they differ from your own.
Help your daughter or son maintain a strong, positive self-image. Self-confidence is a critical personal attribute in the job search process. What skills, values, personality traits, and enduring interests have you observed in your daughter or son? Share how much you admire these qualities and recognize they represent great assets to a future career.
Provide personal contacts for your daughter or son. Neighbors, friends, and relatives are great resources for informational interviews. These face-to-face connections with professionals in your student's field of interest can be vital, as up to 80 percent of jobs are never advertised. Leave the actual interviewing up to your student—it's an important part of the career development process.
Q: What can my student do to increase her or his chances of finding a good job?
Obtain marketable skills. Regardless of her or his academic major, challenge your student to work on developing supplemental marketable skills, such as quantitative skills, communication skills, foreign language fluency, and leadership.
Take advantage of internships and externships. Experiential learning can give your student a taste of the real world of work. Internships are a chance to field-test a career (many occur over the summer), while externships offer students short-term job-shadowing experiences. Increasingly, employers choose new hires from their pool of former interns.
Make the most of the University of Virginia Career Center. With many demands on time, students too often put off career planning “until tomorrow.” Encourage your student to use the center's services early and often. Do not despair, however, if your student graduates without a job. Many career fields have different search deadlines, and it takes time to find the right opportunity. Being a full-time student and a full-time job-seeker is challenging. Career assistance is available to students for six months after graduation.
Participate in extracurricular activities. Community service, athletics, clubs, and other school leadership activities can help broaden and define career and leisure interests, while providing valuable career skills and experiences. Challenge your student to balance these opportunities with a strong emphasis on academics.
Q: What happens during a career counseling appointment?
Career counseling appointments are available throughout the academic year. One-on-one meetings provide the opportunity for a student and counselor to discover and explore topics ranging from major selection to post-graduation planning (and everything in between). Students should be ready to speak to the counselor candidly about their interests and to ask questions. Students can be assured that what they share about their goals, dreams, or even their fears, will be kept confidential. For some students, meeting once a semester with a counselor helps keep them focused on their goals. Others may schedule a series of appointments around an internship search or the process of selecting a major.
Q: Can I speak with a career counselor to discuss my student’s options?
As a parent, you can take an active role in your student’s career development by empowering your daughter or son to take ownership of the process. Parents can support students by becoming familiar with the center's services and resources by:
- Following the center on social media
- Reading the center's blog
- Interacting with center staff and recruiters in the "University of Virginia Alumni, Students, and Friends" group on LinkedIn
While counselors themselves cannot disclose student information to parents, counselors encourage students to speak with the people in their lives whose outlooks and opinions are important to them in order to make informed decisions and ensure that all possible options have been uncovered.
Q: What can my student do with a liberal arts degree?
In a survey of 2016 College of Arts & Sciences graduates, industries for employment include advertising/public relations, education, consulting services, healthcare, and politics. Choice of a major, however, is only one factor in determining future job prospects and career path. Your student’s grades, the electives they choose, and the skills they acquire through general liberal arts coursework often tell employers more about what they have to offer than a major does. Furthermore, other factors such as energy and enthusiasm, goals, experiences (jobs, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, internships, externships), and demonstrated interest in a career field play a large part in determining an employer's response to the job-seeker.