A Parents’ Guide to Career Development


One of the most valuable things a parent can do to assist their student with the career planning process is to listen and maintain an open mind to often unclear and wandering ideas. Career development can be stressful—this may be the first really big decision your student has ever had to make.  Be patient, empathetic and understanding, even if you don’t agree with their thought processes, musings, comments, ideas, or decisions at first.

Helping them access a variety of resources to refine their career development ideas, including accessing electronic information, identifying their natural and familial networks, and encouraging them to utilize the resources available to them (like the Career Services Center) are also very helpful activities.  The following is a list of things you as parents can do to help your child get focused:

Encourage your student to visit the Career Services Center.

Many students’ heads are spinning during their first semester in college, so perhaps the spring semester of their first year is the best time to encourage a visit to the CSC. You should reassure your student that Career Services is for ALL students and majors, not just seniors, and that meeting with a career counselor can take place at any point in their college career—however, the earlier the better!

Our counseling sessions are not just about post-graduate planning.  In fact, one of the most valuable aspects of an early career conversation is planning out what you can take advantage of during your time at CMC.  Studying abroad, going to Washington DC, participating in the Silicon Valley Program, applying to the various networking trips offered, doing research for faculty, working at one of the Institutes, and community service are things all students should consider—and they require planning.  Encourage your student to focus their counseling session on what they can do during their time at CMC, not just about post graduation plans.  The point is, this discussion should happen early in their time at CMC.

Suggest your student prepare a resume and cover letter.

A resume is one of the critical “tools of the trade” at CMC and will be needed for countless opportunities during CMC and beyond.  The earlier your student puts one together the better.

Writing a resume is quite a challenge and can highlight areas of strength and weakness.  Resume examples are available in the CSC Guide book, which is accessible in hard copy from the office as well as on our website. The CSC also has books and additional online resources for creating resumes and cover letters, along with our Career Consultants who are experts in coaching students through this process.

Encourage your student to let you proofread their resume for grammar, spelling, consistency and content, or, if they prefer, recommend they have someone else look at it—but please suggest that your student have AT LEAST one other person review their resume and cover letter before sending it. 

Encourage your student to think about what they want to do.

“What do you want to do after you graduate?”  Ask this question gently as it can cause great angst for many students.  This is definitely a topic that needs to be discussed.  If your student seems unsure, talk about the positive personal qualities and traits you see in them and where those might be put to good use.  Recommend that they meet with a Career Counselor to discuss options.  They can take one of the assessment tests offered by the CSC, or talk with faculty members they know and trust.  Doing research in the CSC library or online, attending industry nights and information sessions are also excellent ways to become “occupationally literate”.  A career decision should be a process and not a one-time, last-minute choice.  Discourage waiting until senior year to start seeking the answer to this question.


Emphasize the value of Internships or volunteer experiences.

Relevant work experience in this very competitive job market is critical, so internships are key.  An internship provides a “laboratory setting” for your student to determine what he/she wants to do (or not do), is good at (or is not good at), likes (or dislikes)—all of which is important.  Employers are interested in employees who have:
  •  strong communication skills, oral and writing
  •  critical thinking and problem solving skills
  •  the ability to work in teams
  •  project management skills and the ability to take initiative and follow through
  •  the ability to tilize technology effectively
Internships and volunteer positions are excellent opportunities to learn, hone and refine these important skills and abilities. 

Internships also allow employers to see how an individual functions in the workplace and gives a leg up to those whose organizations “promote from within”.  They also create an opportunity to obtain a professional recommendation, which can be very valuable in the job search process. 

Suggest extracurricular involvement.

Involvement in college outside of the classroom is looked upon favorably by potential employers.  Interpersonal and leadership skills can be developed through participation in dorm leadership, student government, on-campus work, becoming a Resident Advisor, committing to community service and a myriad of other opportunities.  Excellent places to look for these types of opportunities are our Office of Civic Engagement or our Office of Student Affairs.


Persuade your student to stay up on current events.

At CMC your student will find that knowledge of current events is critical because that’s what students discuss during dinner at Collins. Employers appreciate an awareness of current events as well!  Employers expect that students will be able to respond knowledgeably to questions about what’s going on in the real world, and that expectation extends to an understanding of what is going in potential employment fields.  Provide your student with a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, or whatever publication is predominant in their field of interest.  (These will probably be online subscriptions or smartphone “apps”.)

Expose your student to the world of work.

Take your student to your place of work.  Explain to them what you do for a living, and what your friend does, and what their aunt/uncle does, etc.  Encourage your student to participate in the “Careers In” and “Field Trip” series offered by the CSC and see first-hand how and where business is done. 

Teach the value of networking.

The most effective way to find employment is through networking—talking with people who are in the work place or are affiliated with the work place in which you are interested.  Help your student identify their natural networks (friends/family) and also encourage them to access the network offered by CMC.  There are numerous ways of doing this—attending events on campus, accessing our alumni database, joining the CMC Alumni Association LinkedIn group, etc.