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A Parents Job Never Ends (Especially after college begins)

How to help your child best utilize college to be career-ready.

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Perhaps you’ve heard people say, “A parent’s job never ends.” Well, it feels that way from the time when the kids move into high school until they graduate from college.  If they happen to boomerang home after that, you will likely become a true believer.  

When our sons moved home after graduating college my wife and I got an “up close and personal look” at what it meant to live with boomerang kids.  We wondered whether we had done enough to prepare them for today’s job market or if they were just lazy. The simple truth was we had not done enough.   That’s why I began to research how today’s college graduates locate professional well-paying jobs. To date, I have developed enough material to publish four books on career management.  Here is the essence of what I found:

KEY TO SUCCESSFUL CAREER PREPARATION

Getting from college to career is a lot easier when students begin the career development process early, often before they are experienced enough to have thought the matter through.  That is why they need the active support of parents, mentors and others.  

Parents in every corner of the country and beyond experience the same set of issues.  And the problems have grown. Today, according to the Department of Labor, a record 36% of 18-31 year-olds live at home, many because they cannot afford to do otherwise.  Nearly 50% of Americans with college degrees have jobs that do not require them and 50% of recent graduates with college degrees report being underemployed.

It’s a dramatically different job market.  A college degree by itself is no longer enough for your graduate to land a professional well-paying job at graduation.   Students need to prepare for the job-market beginning day #1 of college and perhaps before.  

Soft skills no longer considered “soft.”  You’d think that a solid technical background would be enough to land a job with a company like Google for example.  No way! Beside technical competence, Google (and many others as well) insist that entry-level hires have depth in the areas of communication, leadership, teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving—all skills that can be developed and demonstrated during the college years. 

Your student needs to focus on the full spectrum of skills and requirements employers want to see in entry-level candidates.   That means using their time in college wisely while accomplishing more than just earning a degree.    

Yes, parents have a major role to play once their kids are in college and even after they graduate.  Here are 5 things parents can do to help their kids become job-ready.

  1. Help them establish the critically important mindset that connects college to career.  Not knowing what they want for a major or career while in college is okay. Failure to work on it is not.  Students need to take advantage of available career counseling resources in high school if possible, but for sure while in college.
  2. Give them skin in the game by sharing the college expense load even if you can afford to pay it all.  If it is their money too, they are more likely to take responsibility earlier.
  3. Don’t rely on the university to make the connection between college and career for you.  Generally, universities have never fully accepted that responsibility; are reluctant to accept it now; and career readiness has never been a major priority.
  4. Visit the campus career services center together sometime during the freshman year.  You will learn what companies visit campus to recruit; the student profiles they are most likely to hire; and resources that are available to help your student land a professional job at graduation.  You’ll also get a better idea of what’s required in the new job market.
  5. Don’t confuse struggle with failure.  Some students “get it” sooner than others.  Who cares? It’s not where you start but where you finish that counts.

It’s never too early to have conversations with your kids (even your grandkids) about career readiness.  Last Christmas, my brother Bob and I overheard our adult children having career readiness discussions with their kids.  With the younger ones it was about “what do you want to be when you grow up?” But for the teenagers it was about career interest and how to get ready.  And those discussions involved more than going to college and earning a degree. I strongly suggest you do the same.  

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