Beginning a college or university experience is often exciting and frightening at the same time. The Office of Career Development and Experiential Learning Services would like to partner with families to assist your students navigate through the transitions they are experiencing.

How to help your student with career development

One of the most important things that you can do as a parent or family member is to listen to your student. Be open to new ideas and try to help them find information. It is also important to be non-judgmental. Remember, this is a time for your student to fulfill their dreams, not your dreams.

Be a networking resource. 

Help your student develop contacts for information and advice for career planning and internship possibilities. Refer your student to colleagues, friends, neighbors, family and community members that have experiences related to your students interests. Encourage your students to make connections with faculty members.

Be an advocate. 

Encourage your student to use the services available to them through the Office of Career Development and Experiential Learning Services. No matter what their year in college, we can assist them.

Encourage your student to visit the office early in their college career. 

The office will assist your student in narrowing down career choices through interest assessments, library resources, and informational interviews. The office is also able to assist with interviewing skills, resume and cover letter development, as well as with internships and job search strategies. When you refer them to the Office of Career Development, you’re starting them down a path toward future success.

Talk about the personal qualities that you see as their strengths and talents. 

By reassuring them that they have what it takes to succeed, they will feel more confident in the decision that they have made.

Persuade your student to get involved on campus. 

A great way to gain interpersonal skills is to become a leader in a campus organization or leadership role. Employers value the experiences that students gain through campus involvement. Being involved on campus also helps your student develop a sense of balance in life.

Emphasize the importance of getting valuable experience. 

One way to be competitive in today’s job market is to get experience in a chosen career field. A great way to do this is to participate in internships, co-ops, and volunteer experience. Employers view this as a time for students to “get their feet wet” and see what life is like in the world of work. Many times, students will also make connections that will benefit them in the future.

Support the Office of Career Development. 

Show that you value the experiences that the office offers by listing summer, part-time, and full-time job opportunities with us. The office will assist you in finding a hard-working student. If your company offers internships, have your internships listed with the Office of Career Development.

Family member checklist


  • Am I allowing my family member the freedom to have new experiences?
  • Do I encourage the exploration of new ideas, experiences, and occupations without being pushy?
  • Am I willing to tolerate ideas and values which are different than my own?
  • Do I really listen to what my family member tells me?
  • Am I positive and supportive when my family member makes a poor decision or fails?


  • Do I talk openly and honestly about my current job, including both the pros and cons?
  • Am I willing to discuss my own career development history?
  • Do I tell my family member about various occupations?
  • Do I encourage my family member to find out about occupations of interest, referring them to appropriate resources?

Personal Insight

  • Do I help my family member to objectively look at their strengths and weaknesses and suggest how they might relate to various career areas?
  • Do I compliment my family member on their good points and accomplishments?
  • Do I help my family member identify occupations that they would be good at?


  • Am I willing to refer my family member to friends/acquaintances who might discuss their occupations with them?
  • Am I willing to actively help my family member find a summer/part-time/volunteer job that will help them explore a potential career field?
  • Would I be willing to allow my family member to use my personal/professional contacts to find employment after graduation?


  • Do I encourage activities that promote career development, while not emphasizing what has not been done?
  • Am I willing to assist my family member in setting reasonable goals without insisting that my expectations be met?
  • Do I ask questions that will encourage my family member's further career information-seeking behavior?