Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers


Are You in the Book?

A necessary step towards being hired for either a full time job or internship is getting your resume in front of a prospective employer. With the Internet, employers are inundated with hundreds, and sometime thousands, of resumes for every job opening. It’s close to impossible to stand out from the crowd. The Office of Personal & Career Development helps Wake Forest students get an edge by creating resume books for targeted employers who express specific interest in our talented students.

This year the OPCD is creating over 50 resumes books by class year, location and career field. For example, we have resume books for sophomores and juniors interested in the Washington, D.C. area, seniors and graduate students interested in Education, sophomores and juniors wishing to intern in Georgia and seniors and graduate students interested in staying in the Southeast amongst others. Students of all class years can submit their resumes.

Employers representing a wide range of industries and careers receive our resume books. Last year’s employers included: Ameson Foundation, Center for Creative Economy, Citizen Schools, Family Dollar Stores Inc., Google, Harris Williams & Co., Hawkes Learning Systems, Intel Corporation, Peace Corps, Plato’s Closet, Sageworks, Inc., The Home Depot, The New England Center for Children, The Weather Channel, Urban Teacher Center and more.

Parents, encourage your child to submit his/her resume in one or more of our resume books. It is very easy way for students to get their resumes in front of employers in their desired career field or location. Students will be able to submit their resumes between March 18 – 22nd. Below are  instructions for how to submit a resume to one of our resume books which you can send to your student.

  1. Login to DeaconSource.
  2. Select “Documents” and “Publish a resume” in the top menu.
  3. This will take you to all the available resume books.
  4. Beside each book, there will be a dropdown menu that will allow you to choose from resumes that you have already uploaded to the system.  It’s best to tailor your resume to the targeted book. Stop by the OPCD office for a resume review if you are unsure or have questions. To submit your resume, select your resume and click “Save.”

2012 First Destination Data

Each year, the OPCD surveys graduating seniors to acquire the first destination outcomes of the graduating class within six months after graduation. We strive to capture information about every student, but we typically are able to capture the first destination information from 75-85% of each class. The following results are based on the 828 student outcomes we received this year, representing 78% of the class of 2012.  The best news is that 95% of the class of 2012 either had a job offer or a graduate school acceptance within six months of graduation demonstrating the impact of the significant investment and transformation of how personal, career and professional development is delivered at Wake Forest.

As the media, politicians and general public debate the value of college and President Obama promotes his College Scorecard, I think that it’s time for colleges and universities to be more transparent and informative about the outcomes of its graduates. Many colleges do not reliably gather and report this information each year. So it is high time to initiate new procedures and policies to obtain and report this now mission critical information on many college campuses. Everyone wants it and expects it, so why don’t we share it with them?

At Wake Forest, this outcome information is readily available on our website, including the first jobs of our last 5 years of graduates for every major. We share this information with our faculty and they appreciate knowing the wide range of jobs our students secure no matter what they choose to major in. We plan on adding more types of career-related information and metrics over time.  Our aspiration is to provide a model that other colleges and universities can follow to be more transparent and accurate in communicating their value proposition.

Until then, prospective student applicants should proactively ask probing questions about how their college-of-interest invests in the college-to-career process for EVERY student. Also ask admissions and career center representatives for their graduates’ First Destination outcome data and trends.  Remember to ask about the survey response rate as you’ll find that most colleges’ data is not representative of the entire student body.

Overall Results

95% of reporting graduates are employed or attending graduate school.

Employment by Function

The 566 employed graduates’ positions are reported in the following functional areas:

*Other includes functions each with less than 2.1% of respondents: Accounting, Actuarial, Advertising, Athletics/Coaching, Creative, Customer Service, Entrepreneur, Fundraising/Development, Human Resources, Insurance, Legal Services, Logistics/Transportation, Manufacturing, Military, Nonscientific Research, Operations/Production, Professional Athletics, Public Relations, Real Estate, Religious Occupations, Scientific Research, Writing/Editing


The 566 employed graduates’ positions are reported in the following industries:

Graduate School

217 graduates reported attending graduate or professional schools:

Life After Wake Forest

Guest post by Kory Riemensperger (’13)

When it comes to senior year, the second semester can be a time of intense pressure.  Not only must seniors maintain their grades, ensure they have enough credits to graduate, and handle all the commencement details, but most of them are feeling the pressure, both internal and sometimes parental, to find a next step after an undergraduate degree.  Sometimes that means moving on to graduate school, but for many, it means finding a career.

“My last winter break was great for relaxation and reflection,” says Dale Ruffin (’13), “but now that I’m back for my second and final semester as a senior, I’m overwhelmed by the prospect of starting my first real career search.”

While some students may line up potential employment before the end of their final semester, Carolyn Couch, Associate Director of Career Education and Counseling in the Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD) suggests this is simply a result of different career paths.

“Don’t panic,” Couch says. “Many students will come to the OPCD and say that they’re concerned that their roommates already have job offers – but the simple fact is that different industry interests involve different search timelines.  Students with accounting majors, for example, are recruited early in the fall; while other industries hire on a just-in time basis.”

The trick is to stay focused and avoid stress. The annual OPCD destination data survey shows that of the 78 percent of Class of 2012 Wake Forest graduates who responded, 95 percent were either employed or in graduate school within six months.  Instead of obsessing over the progress of friends, seniors should seek out potential employers and make direct contact– this highlights them as a proactive and interested hire.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least 70 percent of jobs across the nation were found through networking.  These career opportunities are not advertised, so a great network is key.

“Some students may have a negative reaction to the idea of networking,” says Couch, “They perceive it as exploitative, when in reality it is no worse than the research they do before they apply for a position.”

The social networking website LinkedIn is a powerful tool that Couch and her colleagues in the OPCD recommend to students. Couch and her colleagues offer students tips on how to use it to the best advantage:

  • Make sure the information on your resume matches the information on your LinkedIn profile.
  • Choose a professional-looking photo for your profile picture.
  • Find alumni to network with by conducting an “advanced search” for Wake Forest University,
  • Browse Wake Forest related “groups” on the site for those that match your industry or geographic location.  The largest – the Wake Forest University Career Connectors group – has over 6,000 members and is growing every day.

“When you find the profile of an alum that catches your interest, reach out to them through the site’s message feature, asking for guidance, tips, and advice.  If they’re from the area, invite them to talk over coffee, or ask for an informational interview” says Couch, “Networking should focus on gathering information, so this isn’t the time to ask for a job. Build a relationship instead.”

Practice makes perfect, and students feeling even the slightest bit unsure about future job interviews may want to schedule a mock interview.  These meetings reveal strengths and weaknesses before a true job interview, so prospects can be ready to market their skills efficiently.  Couch says around 125 students have already requested a mock interview this year, representing a 62 percent increase.

Finding Posted Job Openings

Students can and should seek out advertised job openings as well.  There are a considerable amount of job search engines and posting sites online, though the OPCD recommends a few select ones.

DeaconSource is Wake Forest’s private site for undergraduate students.  The service lists jobs and internship openings from employers who specifically want Wake Forest applicants.  New jobs for diverse career interests are added every day, so it’s vital to stay connected; e-mail alerts can be set up to send the latest job offerings.

With a completed profile in DeaconSource, the OPCD will also send tailored information to students based on their career and geographic interests.  It is important that students keep their profiles updated so that they don’t miss out on valuable information regarding events and internship/job opportunities.  If a student’s resume or cover letter needs reviewing the OPCD offers regular review sessions throughout the year.

Another recommended site is Indeed.com, which aggregates job listings from thousands of websites, including job boards, newspapers, associations, and company career pages.  It is another efficient way for students to specifically search for entry-level jobs by geographic region and industry.

The OPCD also subscribes to sites specific to certain industries and career interests, such as international opportunities, public relations, journalism, conservation, environmental education and advocacy, human rights, public policy, politics, and public affairs.  Login information for these websites is available in DeaconSource.

As a student begins the job search, Couch suggests that they schedule a meeting with a career counselor.  With their mentor, job seekers establish two important career tools – an action plan and a job search strategy.  These documents help prevent any unexpected procrastination and keep students focused on their job search.  This relationship is in high demand among students.  The number of career counseling appointments has already seen a 28% increase over last year.

“Sometimes it just helps to be accountable,” says Couch, “a plan and a guide to help you follow-through give the best chance for success.”

Kory Riemensperger is a senior English major from Wilmington, N.C.

Look Beyond The Job Boards

When parents, faculty, or generational researchers are asked to provide a few adjectives about students, one commonly offered is “wired.” Today’s students have grown up with the Internet, can adapt to quickly evolving technologies, and (sadly) some even go to bed bathed in the glow of a phosphorescent screen. This comfort with technology provides students with some advantages, but students must be careful to not rely on technology in ways that promise results, but in fact, are not as valuable as perceived.

Many students look to internet job boards as a primary method for job or internship searching. While the Internet is good for researching organizations and opportunities, it’s not the most successful way for securing jobs.  Over 70% of jobs are obtained through networking; and less than 20% are obtained through job boards.

Students need to be aware of several issues when utilizing job boards.

  • Not all job postings are created equal.  A recent Wall Street Journal article, Beware the Phantom Job Listing, points out that “many open jobs are never advertised at all, or are posted only after a leading candidate—an internal applicant or someone else with an inside track—has been identified.”  While this “hidden” job market might frustrate job seekers, it demonstrates the weakness of relying solely on positions posted online.
  • Recruiters receive numerous online applications. Thus, they frequently rely upon Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen candidates.  This means that an application may get screened out and never be seen by a recruiter. Or the resume is buried in a database of thousands, never to be seen.
  • Networking remains the best way to secure a job. Students should not rely solely on job boards as most jobs are still secured through relationships. Students should be encouraged to attend networking workshops and events.  Working with an OPCD career counselor, they will develop a comprehensive job search strategy. The New York Times article, In Hiring, a Friend in Need Is a Prospect, Indeed, conveys how organizations are increasingly leveraging their own employees and their network to find new hires.

The propensity for students to over-rely on job boards has muddied their understanding of the value and purpose of DeaconSource, our system for communicating with students and also providing some job and internship opportunities. The primary benefit and function of DeaconSource is that when students have completed their profile to indicate their career and geographical interests, the OPCD can send students tailored messages with educational information, resources, workshops, events and opportunities – and relevant to their class year. This insures that students don’t miss important news and opportunities in their areas of interest which will help them stay on track to identify and achieve their career goals.

Although there are many opportunities in DeaconSource listed by employers who post jobs there, the number and types of opportunities is small relative to the thousands of opportunities available across all types of sources.  Students should check out the OPCD website for additional valuable sources for job and internship opportunities.

If students do not have a DeaconSource profile or have not updated their preferences, they are missing out on critical information which is relevant and necessary for their career development. 66% of all students have a completed profile, so make sure your student is not left out!

Encourage your student to create a DeaconSource account today, yet remind him that he cannot rely solely on DeaconSource, nor any other job board, in his search. Emphasize the importance of networking and the role it plays in the job attainment process. If you have contacts that might be helpful for your student, make the introduction. And make sure your student has a LinkedIn profile and is tapping into the Wake Forest Career Connectors group.  Armed with this advice, your student will appropriately prioritize his job search time and efforts and will have a much greater chance of securing a promising summer internship or full time position.

Career Trek Recap

In December, the OPCD partnered with career offices at the University of Chicago and Stanford University to offer Career Exploration Treks to Washington, D.C., Chicago, and San Francisco. They offered students from each school the opportunity to explore a city, select industries, and network with alumni from all three schools (see this blog post from October for additional details).
We are especially excited that the treks were a valuable experience to students at different stages in their personal and career development. They provided seniors, who were actively looking for jobs, the opportunity to network in person with alumni, yet provided general information for underclassmen who are still identifying potential career fields. By all accounts these treks proved to be an enormous success, but what better way to share with you the impact of the treks than through our students own words.

“After attending the Career Trek to Washington, D.C., my eyes were opened to the professional environment in Washington, D.C. as well as the standards across the country. Each company and industry was very upfront and clear as to what they expected from a student coming from any school in the country. I have become much more aware of what research to perform and what steps are necessary to take if I am truly interested in any field we visited. Wake Forest provided the three schools that participated a fantastic way to become directly included in those various industries. This trip allowed companies to provide students the opportunity to find out what was required of an employee with their firm and what would best prepare students for this transition into the post-undergraduate world.”

– Sophomore, Undeclared Major

“I went on the CPG trek to Chicago and visited six companies, including Barilla, ACCO Brands, McDonald’s Corporation, Wrigley, SymphonyIRI Group, and The Cambridge Group. At each company a few employees gave a brief presentation about what the company did, and at the end we had Q&A. These visits were very informative as I received some great insight into the work culture of these companies and why the employees like to work for them. By the end of the trip I discovered that a career in CPG is actually not for me. However, I realized from visiting the CPG consulting firms, Symphony IRI and The Cambridge Group that consulting is a job that fits my skills and interests. This is very useful information because now I can better target my job search. Overall, the trek was a very valuable experience and I would recommend it to students of any year as it is a good opportunity to learn more about an industry and network with professionals.”

– Senior, Economics Major

Other students articulated important insights regarding their own career development knowledge, mindset and plans:

  • “The trek demonstrated to me the importance of organizational culture in my career search.”
  • “The trek showed me that business does not have to be boring! Now, I want to work in California!”
  • “Through conversations with alumni, I realized I will need an MBA for the career I want.”
  • “The trek illustrated that everyone moves from company to company – your first job certainly won’t be your last, so I don’t have worry if my first job isn’t a perfect fit.”
  • “I learned that lots of employees began their careers working for large companies to benefit from their training programs or other opportunities, but then transitioned to smaller, boutique organizations. This opened my eyes to the number of pathways available to me to reach my end destination.”

We are pleased that 45 Wake Forest students were able to benefit from these treks at various cities around the U.S.  We will conduct similar treks in the future and are committed to developing and offering other ways for students to continue to learn about the wide variety of careers in the wide open world of work.

Parents – if your student is yearning to explore and discover possible career interests and options, encourage him/her to connect with Wake Forest alumni, high/prep school alumni, your friends or acquaintances and conduct an informational interview or job shadow.  For more guidance on how to do this, direct him/her to our web page on networking and informational interviewing.

OPCD February Events

February is jammed packed with career related programs and events! As students look towards their summers and graduation, the OPCD is providing numerous opportunities for students to interact with employers, learn more about different career fields, and acquire important job and internship search skills and strategies.

Advertising, PR, Marketing Career Field Week (February 4-8th)

Many Wake Forest students show an interest in advertising, public relations and marketing each year (over 12% of the Class of 2012 took jobs in these career fields). To help students better understand these career fields and learn how to get their feet in the door, the OPCD held an Advertising, PR, and Marketing Career Field Week the week of February 4. An alumni panel of industry veterans shared their experience, the dynamics of their jobs, organizations and industries, and important job search and career management advice. Students met the Director of Corporate Communications at Krispy Kreme, the Broadcast Producer for Marketing & Advertising at Mullen and the owner and creative director of full service event planning, design and styling firm. Later in the week, 25 students took a field trip to Woodbine Advertising Agency to speak with professionals and get a hands-on view of life in advertising. Last year Woodbine hired summer interns among the students who visited last year!

Media, Entertainment, Publishing Alumni Panel (February 20th)

Another top career field reported by students is Media, Entertainment, and Publishing; in fact, over 7% of the class of 2012 entered this career field after leaving Wake Forest. An alumni panel of industry professionals will speak with students including the current Editor of Daily Health News, who previously held editing positions at Seventeen Magazine, Family Circle Magazine, and Good Housekeeping Magazine; a Sales Assistant at Disney ABC Television Group who is the primary, multi-day part assistant for thirty clients on the largest agency account; and an Affiliate Manager for NBCOlympics.com, who previously served as the Online Editor for Martha Stewart Living Radio.

Parent Council Round Tables (February 21-23rd)

Just before the Spring 2013 family weekend, over 20 members of the Parent’s Council will conduct roundtable discussions with small groups of students regarding their career fields and paths. Students will be provided with insight and advice from industry professionals to learn more about various careers and industries including financial services, human resources, law, education, entrepreneurial ventures, medicine, commercial real estate, psychology, and media.

International Careers Panel and Networking Event (February 25)

On February 25th, several alumni are traveling to Wake Forest to speak with students interested in international careers. These alumni are also developing a networking group for students and other alumni interested in international affairs. This helpful, entrepreneurial group of alumni will also be available after the panel to network for further conversation.

The College to Career Challenge: How to Land Your D.R.E.A.M. Job in College by Jullien Gordon (February 27)

Jullien Gordon, a high performance coach and consultant (and former student/mentee of Andy Chan), will be at Wake Forest on February 27th to deliver a presentation to students entitled, “The College Career Challenge: How to Land Your D.R.E.A.M. Job in College.” Mr. Gordon has been in the talent recruitment and development industry since 2007 beginning with his work as the Associate Director of Talent Recruitment for Management Leadership for Tomorrow. He is also the author of five books on career advancement, finding purpose, goal achievement, and closing the college-to-career gap to help young professionals discover their life’s work and make their highest contribution to the world through their daily work.

Internship Search Strategy Workshops

The OPCD is hosting Internship Search Strategy workshops every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout February from 4:00-5:00 pm in various locations around campus. These workshops are designed to teach students the crucial importance of internships during college, key strategies to find and secure an internship, and how to effectively market yourself via your resume, LinkedIn and interviews.

A Major Decision, Made Easier

Many undergraduate students grapple with choosing an academic major.  As one of the first big decisions they may make as young adults, picking the “right” pathway can feel like a daunting task – often believing that the “wrong” choice may result in a dismal career outlook after college. The beauty and benefit of a liberal arts college, however, is that our graduates are well prepared for the world of work with any major they choose.  With so many interesting classes and activities on campus…how does one get started narrowing down the options?  Identifying interests and values is the best way to get started.  The Office of Personal & Career Development offers a myriad of resources to assist students with the major and career exploration process.

We encourage students to get started with the major selection process by completing the Focus 2, a self-assessment that helps students pinpoint their skills and interests, as well as understand the robust intersection between academic majors and career options.  Here are the benefits of the Focus 2 and a few ways that your student can maximize their results today.

Self-assessments as a compass, not a road map.

A strong academic background paired with co-curricular activities and internship experiences allows students to explore their interests, talents, and skills, while reinforcing the marketable skillset they are developing while in college. We like to think of the Focus 2 as a compass, not a road map, for major and career exploration.  It does not measure what you are good at or what career you should pursue.  Instead, it is a tool that helps illuminate core values and preferred work and learning styles based on self-reported information.  The better you understand yourself, the more likely you are to feel confident making academic and career decisions along the way.

How can students access the Focus 2?

Step by step instructions to take the Focus 2:

  1. Log-in to your DeaconSource account (if you do not have an account, use your WFU email and click “Forgot Password” to create one). Click on Online Resources located halfway down the left hand side of the page.
  2. On page 3 of the Online Resources document, you will find the access code to create your Focus 2 account.
  3. Return to your DeaconSource home page and click the Focus 2 link found directly underneath Online Resources.
  4. Click the blue hyperlink above the log-in box to create a Focus 2 account (you must create an account before logging in).
  5. Once your account is created, log-in and take both the Work Interest and Values Assessments. Your results will be available immediately for your review.

I took it!  Now what?

We recommend that students attend a group interpretation session to better understand their assessment results prior to meeting with a career counselor to discuss next steps in the exploration process.  Students can visit DeaconSource to register for a group session today!

Help Your Child Make the Most of the Spring Job & Internship Fair

Over 37 employers have already registered to come speak with Wake Forest students at the Spring Job & Internship Fair on January 23rd  regarding full-time positions and summer internships. This is a fantastic opportunity for your child to network with potential employers, learn about the world of work, and perhaps even find a full-time job or seasonal internship. Ensure your child makes the most of this great opportunity by conveying the following tips.

Before the Fair

1.      Identify and research prospective employers.

Use this link to find a list of attending organization with attached hyperlinks to each company’s website. Distinguish 5-10 organizations you would like to speak with and research their organizational structure and breadth, key products and services, culture and values, and hiring practices. (Note: Do not be too selective as you may not know as much about a firm or career path as you might think.) The fair is a valuable learning and exploration opportunity.

2.      Prepare your resume.

Make sure your resume is in great shape. If unsure, get your resume checked out at our walk-in resume hours in the OPCD. If you have more than one career focus, you should have separate resumes tailored to each career field. Be sure to have a standard resume with you as well so that you are ready for any situation should it arise. Visit our website to find resume samples, advice, and hours for resume reviews.

3.      Practice typical interview question responses.

When conversing with employers, do not be surprised if they ask you about your goals, skills, or experience. Spend some time practicing your response to interview questions like the ones listed on our webpage. Additionally, prepare your elevator pitch to concisely communicate your background and interests to employers.

4.      Develop a list of questions to ask recruiters.

Thoughtful and intelligent questions demonstrate to recruiters that you have done your homework and are sincere in your interest in their organization. Find a list of questions on the informational interviewing page of the OPCD’s website. Refrain from asking “Can you help me get a job?” or for details about salary or the benefits package. Here is brief list of example questions:

  • What is a typical day for someone in this position?
  • Why did you choose this career?
  • Can you describe the company culture?
  • What keeps you working here?
  • What are the traits/ skills of people most successful in your organization?

5.      Map out a strategy.

Your strategy for the fair should begin with identifying the prospective employers that interest you most. Map your route of organizations you plan to visit, in priority order.

During the Fair

1.      Arrive early, get your bearings.

You want to talk to the recruiters while they are still fresh and eager to meet candidates. As the day wears on, the room will become more crowded, your conversations might be cut short, and everyone tends to tire. Arriving early also allows you to get your bearings before jumping into a conversation with an employer.

2.      Make a good first impression.

In job-hunting, first impressions are critical. Remember you are marketing a product – yourself – to a potential employer. The first thing an employer will see is your attire; we recommend a conservative suit (black, dark blue or charcoal). Click this link for more details. When meeting an employer, keep your introduction short and simple using a natural, but forceful, voice to be heard over the other conversation. Strong eye contact, a firm handshake, and gentle smile are also critical components to good first impression. Additionally, if there is a long line to meet the recruiter, remember to relax and be calm and patient.

3.      Minimize your “stuff.”

If you are coming from class or somewhere else on campus, make sure to leave your extra belongs with a friend or at the check-in area. You should only be wearing your professional attire and holding a portfolio with your resume and some notepaper. Do not bring backpacks, purses, or other bulky items as they will just get in the way.

4.      Ask for a business card.

One of the most important follow-up action items is contacting the representatives after the fair to thank them and continue the relationship. This will be much more difficult if you do not ask for a business card. If the recruiter does not have a card on them, ask for their contact information taking care to get the correct spelling of their title, name, email and phone number.

5.      Network. Network. Network.

While networking with the recruiters is your primary goal, do not forget to connect with other fair attendees. Your classmates and WFU faculty and staff may have gained information and resources that can be helpful to you.

After the Fair

1.      Send a thank you note.

Write thank you note’s to all the recruiters you met. If possible, hand written thank you notes always leave an impression (as long as your handwriting is legible!), but a well worded email is fine as well. Make sure to mention where you met the employer and comment on an aspect of your conversation with him or her. Also, declare your intention to progress to the next step of the process (whether that be applying for a position or conducting an informational interview with someone else in the organization). Visit our Employer Correspondence webpage to find a sample thank you letter.

2.      Organize all your contact information.

You should leave the fair with lots of new contact information. It is important you keep this information organized and readily accessible so you can continue your relationship with the company representatives. Use our Networking Tracking Tool to stay organized.

3.      Devise a follow up plan.

Formulate a plan to take the next steps with each organization. Whether you hope to apply for a specific position or just gather additional information, your plan will contain different action items. Determine what your goal is with a particular organization and then build a plan to help you get there with appropriate action steps and deadlines. Meet with one of our career counselors in the OPCD, Reynolda 230, for guidance in developing your Action Plan and to make sure you are on track.

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.

Debunking An OPCD Myth

A common misperception among students, parents and faculty is that the Office of Personal & Career Development primarily helps students interested in business or who study business as their major. Contrary to this myth, the OPCD supports students from all backgrounds and with diverse interests. We have a number of resources and initiatives dedicated to students who are especially interested in non-business and non-traditional career fields.

The first method in which we assist these students is by bringing a diverse group of organizations and employers to campus. A recent example is the CIA information session in which 145 students attended! In information sessions, representatives from the organization discuss the opportunities available, the daily work life, the desired skills and attributes for applicants, and logistical information about the application process. Representatives always remain after the formal presentation to engage with eager students who want to learn more about their experience and their organization. These information sessions are a valuable opportunity for students to interact with potential employers and learn more about an industry or organization without even leaving campus. Examples of other notable employers include Teach For America, Gallup Polling, City Year and the State Department.

The second initiative is a pilot program for seniors interested in non-profit careers. A number of seniors have joined Non-Profit Career Action groups in which they meet with a dedicated career counselor to help guide them in the job search process focused on non-profit careers. These groups meet three times in the fall semester to help students prepare for the search process. After each group meeting, they are given “homework” by their counselor such as conducting informational interviews or bolstering their LinkedIn profile. In the spring semester, these groups meet three more times to hold them accountable in executing their job search strategy. These groups help students secure non-profit careers which is often difficult because the non-profit sector does not have structured recruiting and hiring timelines and processes like those in large corporations.

The third resource the OPCD offers to students are Career Weeks. These weeks are focused on unique career fields and are intentionally timed throughout the year to correspond with the recruiting and hiring timelines of the relevant careers. For instance, from February 4-8, the OPCD will be sponsoring the Advertising/PR/Event Planning week, which is an area of significant student interest. During those five days, alumni panelists will discuss their experience, dynamics in their job, organization and industry, and important job search and career management advice. In addition, internship search strategy workshops will be held for students seeking to get their foot in the door in these competitive career fields. Finally, the week will culminate with a 25-student career trek to Woodbine advertising agency to experience get a hands-on view of life in advertising. Last year, several students who visited Woodbine were hired as summer interns!

Outside of these examples, OPCD has numerous other resources and programs to assist students interested in non-business and non-traditional careers, as well as graduate school options. Encourage your student to complete their DeaconSource profile and visit the OPCD regardless of his or her interests as we have the capabilities and resources to help your child navigate the path from college to career with clarity, competence, and confidence.