Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

What Senior Parents Need to Know at Winter Break

Your Senior student is likely one semester away from graduating – an extremely exciting accomplishment. This Winter break will be an opportune time for you and your student to discuss together your Senior’s postgraduate options.

At this point during senior year, many students are quite anxious.  With students dressed in business attire for interviews, some students worry when they are not participating in interviews or if they have not received a job offer.  The reality is that historically less than 20% of the student body has a job offer at this time.

In addition, many seniors are considering graduate school and won’t know about their options until later in the spring.  Since 30-40% of Wake Forest students attend graduate school each year, these students, too, are anxious about their uncertain future.

The good news is that the majority of employers and jobs that are available and filled each year come to the market just months before the start date.  So if a student is looking to start work in September, formal interviews for these jobs may not begin until June.  But this doesn’t mean that your student should wait until then to begin the job search process.

Whether your Senior is headed for postgraduate study, a full-time job, an internship within his or her field of interest, a “gap year,” work abroad, or volunteer work, here are some helpful suggestions for how they can take advantage of Winter Break:

  • Rest and reenergize that positive and confident attitude.  This demeanor will go a long way toward impressing all networking contacts and employers.
  • Network! Networking is the most powerful method to secure an internship.  Support your student in his/her networking attempts.  Introduce your student to some friends and family members that will share information about different types of organizations, careers and jobs.  Coach your student on how to conduct an informational interview. During the fall semester, students were offered programming on the most popular on-line networking site, LinkedIn.  Ask your student about their LinkedIn account; “How does it work?”,  “Is there a Wake Forest alumni group?”,  “What makes LinkedIn different from Facebook?”.  Check out the helpful video tutorials to get the most out of this tool.
  • Check out helpful on-line job search and alternative selection websites.  Over 63% of all Seniors are registered on DeaconSource, the only Wake Forest specific internship and job posting site.  As a result of our outreach to parents, alumni and employers this fall, the list of employers requesting Wake Forest graduates has increased considerably, thus growing the number and the quality of job postings within DeaconSource.  If your Senior has not activated their DeaconSource account they can email Laurie Cronin anytime over the break to have their account activated if they agree to attend a DeaconSource Registration meeting prior to February 11, 2010.
  • Winter break is a great time to do some stress-free research.  Your student should log-on to Vault to read about how employers describe their industry and career functions.  If your Senior is considering graduate school, take a look at www.petersons.com to explore and compare any graduate school programs in the United States.  Have your student check out our website for additional job leads, networking, career exploration, and interview preparation sites.  Also, check out the Document Library in DeaconSource under the Document tab for information on a variety of industries, bridge jobs and popular cities.
  • Students should closely review their resume to make sure it is clearly targeted to their pursuit.  Employers are impressed when an applicant clearly communicates their enthusiastic interest and value on their resume and in their cover letter.  Your student can get a constructive resume/cover letter/graduate school essay and application critique from a Career Counselor.  We offer daily resume walk-in hours every day from 1-3 pm and a bonus session each Friday from 10 am – noon.  To consider any of the other selections mentioned above, make an appointment to meet with a Career Counselor.
  • Finally, the interview is the ultimate test of how well a student can express personal value to a potential employer, admissions professional, or other decision maker.  Over the break, your student can use Interview Stream to practice and strengthen their interview skills.  Back on campus, your student can put their skills to the test by making an appointment for a mock interview with a Career Counselor. Interviews are extremely competitive and challenging for even the most confident candidate.  Preparation and practice are the keys to calming nerves and turning the interview into a valuable exchange of information that will benefit both the employer and the candidate.
  • Upon returning to campus, your Senior will benefit from a one-on-one appointment with a Career Counselor where ideas and plans can be shared, evaluated and further developed.  Our counselors have access to many tools, such as the Strong Interest Inventory and the Strengths Quest assessments, which students can take online to help identify their interests, strengths, possible career options and prepare for interviews.

Reassure your Senior that they do not have to “have it all figured out” with regard to their postgraduate plans.  They are not alone.  Our counselors have advised and assisted thousands of Wake Forest Seniors with all different majors, backgrounds, interests and plans and they have the experience and the tools to work effectively with your Senior, too.

Encourage and support your student over this Winter break to move forward with their postgraduate research, networking and planning. We find that students have (or make) little time for this important activity while on campus.  The Winter Break is a great time to make significant progress.

Category: Tips for Parents

One Response to What Senior Parents Need to Know at Winter Break

  1. Ann Miller says:

    I am pleased with the networking, the on campus interviews, and the advice with the resume that my daughter has received at Wake Forest. She was able to obtain an internship last summer in Charlotte with an accounting firm and will be in Charlotte with KPMG in January for her required internship in accounting. I feel the advice she received at WFU and the courses she has taken have helped her to become qualified for employment after graduation.