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College Parents Can Influence Student Employment Success

Most college parents are deeply concerned about the employment success of their children and expect colleges do everything possible to ensure that students are fully prepared to conduct an effective job search. Unfortunately, far too many colleges place their student employment training and assistance efforts at the bottom of their list of priorities.

For the most part, colleges are still handling student employment assistance the way it has been done for the last fifty years. A small number of people in the Career Services Office struggle to provide students with the information and insights that are needed for employment success. However, most colleges are either not aware of or have ignored the newer and more effective systems that are available.

Therefore, it is extremely important for college parents and students to tell their college leaders what they want and expect for their money. If parents want their children to graduate from college with a good job at a respected employer, they must make their needs and expectations known to the college leaders who ultimately control the process and the resources.

If your child is attending a college that has only one or two people to help 5,000 students with their job search preparation efforts, you know that your student will not receive very much help. Therefore, you should know that:

- Most students have no idea what it takes to prepare for and land a good job
- Students have unrealistic ideas about everything associated with the job search
- For most employment opportunities, good grades are not enough
- The senior year job search actually starts in the freshman year
- Without exceptional preparation, few students can compete for the best jobs

Why are colleges not actively addressing this need?

- College leaders do not hear many complaints from parents and students
- The college’s resources (Money, People, Time) are allocated elsewhere
- Change is difficult and painful within educational institutions
- College leaders see other priorities as being more important
- College leaders are not aware of alternative systems and approaches
- College leaders are happy with the way things are and see no reason to change
- It takes too much work to adequately address this issue

What are some of the things that colleges can do to help students identify, prepare for and land more and better jobs?

- Be willing to use their entire college community as a resource
- Address the employment needs of 100% of their students
- Help students discover their vision (direction) and passion (motivation)
- Teach all students the employment “tools and techniques” they will need
- Describe and explain everything that should be done to compete for good jobs
- Have employment counselors assigned to every student and meet regularly
- Clarify exactly what employers want, need and expect of student candidates
- Encourage students to participate in on-campus and off-campus activities
- Help students find internships, part-time and summer jobs
- Help students obtain the information and experiences that will impress employers
- Make it easier for students to build a list of accomplishments and successes
- Help students identify potential employers in their fields of study
- Explain how students can make themselves stand out
- Show students how to build relationships with enthusiastic references

To change the way your college addresses the issue of student employment success:

- Parents can make their wishes known to the President and Board of Trustees
- Students can communicate their needs and desires for employment assistance
- Alumni can describe the need for a comprehensive job search preparation system

When large numbers of parents, students and alumni make their needs and wishes known, colleges will be more willing to take a serious look at the employment concerns of their students. Those colleges that address this need in a meaningful way will start to see their students attract more attention from employers, perform at a much higher level during interviews and receive more and better job offers.

Progressive college leaders listen to parents, students and alumni, in order to serve the needs of their students. Of course, college leaders are very busy. Therefore, you may need to tap them on the shoulder to get their attention. Visits, letters, e-mail messages and telephone calls on this important issue will get their attention.

Parents: What are you doing to influence your college leaders? No doubt about it, the kind, amount and quality of job search preparation assistance offered by a college will be seen in the employment success rate of its students.