Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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You as parents play an integral role in your sons’/daughters’ educational and career development. There are a variety of resources that our office provides and we encourage you to look over these services (with your son/daughter) on our home page. Please join us on Facebook (Western Illinois Career Services) and Twitter (@WIUCareers).
Career Exploration: We strongly suggest that you start with the What Can I Do With This Major? This site will provide information on what sort of careers are best suited for each academic major. Within this link, there is The Occupational Outlook Handbook (from the US Department of Labor), that will provide specific information on careers including what the career entails, the type of education and training that is needed, and the future outlook for each career. The O*NET Online link will allow the user to conduct a skills search to match-up with specific occupations. These sites are on our home page.
Internships: More and more employers are requiring that new graduates Must Have experience in their specific career field to even be considered for employment. Whether or not these are paid or un-paid internships, the important thing is that students have this "real world" experience completed before they graduate. Many employers would like multiple internships completed over the summer months or up to 12 months in duration. There are certain majors that require an internship for their curriculum. If this is the case, we encourage students to discuss this with their department internship coordinator or department chair. Please check out this help information from the National Association of Colleges and employers: A Parent's Guide To Career Development.
A Parents' Guide to Career Development
The most valuable things parents can do to help a student with career planning are:
- Be open to ideas
- Help your student find information
Here are eight more things you can do to help:
1. Encourage your child to visit the career center (and you go too!)
Next time you visit campus, drop into the career services office and pick up a business card from one of the career counselors. When your son or daughter is feeling anxious about his/her future, offer the card and say, "Please call this person. He (or she) can help you."
Many students use their first semester to "settle into" college life, and so the spring semester of the freshman year is the optimal time to start using career center services. Ask your student (in an off-handed way), "Have you visited the career center?" If you hear, "You only go there when you are a senior," then it's time to reassure him/her that meeting with a career counselor can take place at any point—and should take place frequently—throughout a college career.
Many centers offer a full range of career development and job-search help, including:
- Mock interviews
- A network of alumni willing to talk about their jobs and careers
- A library of books (including an online library of information) on a wide range of careers
- Workshops on writing resumes and cover letters
- A recruiting program
- Individual advising
2. Advise your student to write a resume
Writing a resume can be a "reality test" and can help a student identify weak areas that require improvement. Suggest that your student get sample resumes from the career center.
You can review resume drafts for grammar, spelling, and content, but recommend that the final product be critiqued by a career center professional.
3. Challenge your student to become "occupationally Iiterate."
Ask: "Do you have any ideas about what you might want to do when you graduate?"
If your student seems unsure, you can talk about personal qualities you see as talents and strengths. You can also recommend:
- Taking a "self-assessment inventory," such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
- Talking to favorite faculty members
- Researching a variety of interesting career fields and employers
A career decision should be a process and not a one-time, last-minute event.
4. Emphasize the importance of internships
The career center will not "place" your child in a job at graduation. Colleges grant degrees, but not job guarantees, so having relevant experience in this competitive job market is critical.
Your son or daughter can sample career options by completing internships and experimenting with summer employment opportunities or volunteer work.
Why an internship?
- Employers are interested in communication, problem-solving, and administrative skills, which can be developed through internships.
- Employers look for experience on a student's resume and often hire from within their own internship programs.
- Having a high GPA is not enough.
- A strong letter of recommendation from an internship supervisor may tip the scale of an important interview in their favor.
5. Encourage extracurricular involvement
Part of experiencing college life is to be involved and active outside the classroom. Interpersonal and leadership skills—qualities valued by future employers—are often developed in extracurricular activities.
6. Help your student to stay up-to-date with current events
Employers will expect students to know what is happening around them. Buy your student a subscription to The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.
7. Teach the value of networking
Introduce your student to people who have the careers/jobs that are of interest. Suggest your son or daughter contact people in your personal and professional networks for information on summer jobs. Encourage your child to "shadow" someone in the workplace to increase awareness of interesting career fields.
8. Help the career center
Call your campus career center when you have a summer, part-time, or full-time job opening. The staff will help you find a hard-working student. If your company hires interns, have the internships listed in the career center. Join the campus career center's career advisory network and use your "real world" experience to advise students of their career options.
By Thomas J. Denham. Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
About Our Office
- We do not get jobs for students, we are not a placement agency
- We cannot help those that are unwilling to help themselves
- We provide the tools necessary so that your son/daughter will be prepared to enter the world of work. Please return to our main page to see the list of services that our office provides to assist your son/daughter
What Can You Do As Parents
- Trust your son/daughter and allow them to make their own decisions
- It’s OK if they don’t know what they want to do at this time, encourage them to explore many different types of career possibilities
- Allow them to “adjust” to college life because it takes time to be a good student. Students need a good balance of education, work, and social life
- Encourage your son/daughter to become involved; a club, an organization, a fraternity/sorority, part-time job while in school
- If you have more than one college age child, try not to compare them and treat each child as an individual with possibly different educational and career goals
- Foster independence and growth to help your son/daughter to become more responsible for their futures
- Be aware of your son’s/daughter’s use of credit cards. It is very easy to “run-up” a mountain of debt. More employers are using credit and finance checks to screen potential employees
Additional Resource Offices
The Student Assistance & Parent Resource Center: A comprehensive resource covering everything from Financial Aid/Costs, Billings, Federal Right to Privacy Act (FERPA), moving to campus, and parking are just a few of the available resources
The Office of Public Safety: Everything on the Emergency Alert System, Campus Escort System, EMS, Team Police, and Student Patrols
The University Counseling Center: Dealing with academic and personal issues are some of the resources available
University Housing and Dining Services: Housing contracts, roommates, visitor, internet access, phones, fridges, and residence life policies are just some of the information that is available
Student Development and Orientation: Academic success and personal development, emergency and crisis follow-up assistance, student absence, total university withdrawal are some of the services provided
The Beu Health Center: For all things medical related
Career Development Center
Memorial Hall 125
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
Phone: (309) 298-1838