Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Winter Break Tips for Parents

The Winter Break is a good time for parents and students to talk about a wide variety of things. One typical topic is your student’s plan for post-graduation (seniors) or for the summer (everyone else).  While leaving Wake Forest for the world of work may seem like a scary prospect for your student, many Demon Deacons in prior years have navigated this path successfully. In fact, 92% of the class of 2011 were either employed or in a graduate or professional school within six months after graduation. Over the past five years this percentage has ranged from 86% (class of 2010) to 97% (class of 2007).  If you would like to learn more about the First Destination Data for the Class of 2011, click this link.

Parents can play a significant role in advising and supporting their student to successfully transition from college to the world of work. Here are some tips for parents to consider when they engage with their students over the coming Winter Break.

Make sure your child has registered for DeaconSource.

DeaconSource is the primary information source for students to received tailored information, resources, events and opportunities based on their specific career interests.  It also contains a dynamic database of jobs and internships that constantly changes throughout the year. When logging into DeaconSource, students are prompted to fill out a profile detailing their career field and geographic preferences (which can be changed and updated at any time). Our office then sends tailored messages based on the student’s profile, including educational resources and workshops, employer visits, job and internship postings, application deadlines and much more. To ensure your student receives this important information, encourage him to fill out or update his profile.  Over 80% of freshman and seniors have completed profiles, so make sure your student isn’t left out.

Connect your child with your network.

Networking is an essential component of the job and internship search process. In fact, over 70% of jobs are found through networking. Many attractive jobs and internships must be discovered in the “hidden job market,” which means that they not available through job board listings or on-campus recruiting. Encourage your student to create a high quality LinkedIn profile. Help her clarify which careers or organizations that interests her. Have her practiceinformational interviewing with you.  Introduce her to your contacts and encourage her to connect with Wake Forest alumni in the LinkedIn Career Connectors Group. Informational interviewing and networking are two of the most important skills for a successful job or internship search.  They are not only valuable for gathering important information, they can often result in interesting projects, internships andjob opportunities.

Engage in thought provoking conversation.

Reflection is an often overlooked step in the career development journey, but it is vital to successfully finding meaningful and fulfilling work. It is the primary method for clarifying ‘who you are’ and ‘what really matters to you’. Although students talk about wanting to find quiet time and be reflective, it doesn’t really happen.  In fact, 94% of students report feeling “overwhelmed by their busy lifestyle.” Assist your student to be reflective by asking thought-provoking questions and giving him space and time to respond and consider his answers…

  • What has been your favorite class so far? What did you learn about yourself in this class?
  • What has been your least favorite class so far? What have you learned about yourself in this class?
  • What are you doing with the organizations you are involved with on campus? What are you enjoying? What are you not enjoying?
  • Given your answers to the above questions, what might you conclude about yourself?
  • Are there career fields you are thinking about? If so, what interests you about them?
  • What career fields would you want to learn more about?
  • How I might I be able to help or support you in this process?
  • What resources at Wake Forest can you utilize in this process? What do you think about checking into those resources while you’re here at home or when you get back to campus?
  • I really enjoy hearing about what you’re learning in college and how you’re thinking about interests and future possibilities.  Can we set up another time to continue our conversation on this?

We hope that you have a wonderful holiday season. It’s a great time to re-connect and be reflective with your student. As we often tell parents, try to be a “consultant” where you ask questions with a neutral, unbiased, non-judgmental tone and you allow “the client” (your student) to be empowered to take charge of their thought process and their decisions.

Your goals are to stimulate reflective thought and action by your student and to develop a positive relationship where your student sees you as someone who they can comfortably share their thoughts and ask for suggestions and advice. Through this approach, you will begin to build the foundation for a new type of adult-to-adult relationship with your child; and also help your child build their own foundation for making informed, sound career decisions.

Category: Tips for Parents