Parents Guide To College & Career


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What parents need to know about the steps their children need to take in college to prepare for a great career after graduation.

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  • Transport you to the future. Date is September, 2011 3 days ago you dropped your son or daughter off at Brown University for orientation You’re back at home and it’s eerily quiet and you’re already missing the mess So you call your child to find out how things are going “ Fantastic” they say. They’ve hardly slept, because they’ve been having late-night intellectual conversations with some great new friends And those friends have convinced your child, who has always wanted to be a computer scientist, that he should study philosophy instead. What’s your reaction: 1) happy your son or daughter is enjoying their first college experiences and has met new friends 2) elated that they’re spending time talking about serious things instead or experimenting with new freedoms and 3) panicked about the computer science vs. philosophy thing
  • At the back of your mind is one question: So what do you do with a degree in philosophy? This scenario is actually based on a true story. The father in this case called me up when I was director of career services at Brown and asked for specialized career services for his son. He wanted me to talk his son out of his new-found love of the humanities, or, if that failed to at least tell him what his son could do with a degree in philosophy. The information I gave him ended up serving as the subject matter for the book I co-authored, and it’s also the subject matter of my presentation today.
  • That parent was probably a little ahead of the game in his questions, because most of us start off with some pretty strong convictions about college and career. It used to be a given that a good college plus a good GPA equalled a good career. For many decades, that held true. But now, the situation is different. A good college and a good GPA certainly help, but to get a good career, you need to have much more. You need to be understand the world of work and to be able to articulate how your education and experience prepares you for success.
  • Today, we’re going to talk about careers in the second decade of the 21st century. And you’ll discover that career preparation is quite different than when you were in school.
  • Many of you may have read the Wall St. Journal article on Tuesday that pointed out that with increasing costs and lower graduate salaries, the premium your children will get for going to college is much lower than it used to be. From my perspective, though, the decision to go to college is less like a stock and more like the decision to have children in the first place. Both are expensive, but both are things you want to do. And you’ll do everything you can to help them take advantage of the opportunities before them. College is still necessary for almost all interesting, high-level jobs, so the question is not whether your son or daughter is going to college. It’s more about how can prepare themselves in college for the lives they will lead afterwards.
  • And now I want to start to answer some questions that most parents have on their minds about college and career Name brand: It helps, but unless you do very well, it may be less important than what you accomplish in and out of the classroom. Remember 50% of all students--even in top colleges--have a below average GPA. What you do buy is access to a great alumni network Public vs. private. Access to employers greater in public institutions. Access to more advising and personal attention in privates. Take careers as an example: 1:2000 vs. 1:1000 or fewer Liberal arts vs. pre-professional. Most students come into college professing to know what they want to do when they graduate. Vast majority of them change their mind. It’s a lot more difficult to change your career if you’ve settled on studying nursing, or accounting, and you no longer want to be a nurse or accountant
  • Major, grades, extra-curricular activities, study abroad and internships can all play a role in your child’s success in identifying career interests and getting hired for work after graduation. But how important they are depends on what they want to do. If your child wants to be an investment banker, they’ll need top grades and most likely a degree in economics. If they’re majoring in history, but want to go into entertainment, internships and extra-curricular accomplishments will be more important than the major. It’s helpful to think about education in a very holistic way and to understand that if you’re studying a liberal arts or science subject, the subject matter of your major will probably not be the subject matter of your career.
  • Many parents shudder if they think their child doesn’t want to go to college just yet. They think they’ll be out of sync with their peers and may not eventually go to college at all. But if your son or daughter defers college and spends the time doing something productive, like working with the indian population in rural Brazil, you may find that this experience helps them make much better use of college. In my experience, the students who took a gap year before coming to Brown or Duke were noticeably more mature, and had garnered plenty of experiences about which they could talk with future employers
  • Economic situation for young college grads is particularly bad this year, and students need a lot of support and advice on how to stand out from the crowd, but that the skills and strategies developed by today’s students can be just as valuable to those who are graduating in better times.
  • One of the biggest problems: starting too late Parents used to come up to me at Duke and Brown all the time, and say that they’d ask their kids to come by and see me “in a couple of years”. There’s a lot of exploration and skill development to be done, and it needs to be integrated with the whole academic experience. To give you a flavor of the things your son or daughter needs to do during their four years in college, I’m going to quickly go through the methodology we developed at Catapult Advising, a company that provides premium career advising to students starting early in their college career
  • How often do we take time to reflect on who we are and where we want to go? Exploration is something that should happen naturally in college, but rarely does. Students try to get onto a career path too early. Good example: attending a Duke event, where the host had a 10 year old daughter. She wanted to ride horses. Father said she wanted to be a veterinarian. Finding a career focus is one of the major roadblocks to eventually finding a good career. Those students who make exploration and self assessment a part of what they do periodically, will discover that finding a focus is much easier.
  • At college, your son or daughter will get many advisors, but they won’t be like MB advisors. There will be one who helps you make academic decisions, one who advises about study abroad, and possibly a career advisor who helps you find an internship. Rarely is this all coordinated. The student who can find an advisor to help them put their entire college experience in perspective, and who understands the academic world, the experiential world, and the world of work, will be the one who is best positioned for their life after graduation
  • Searching intelligently for career and job opportunities is essential. In my experience, it rarely happens well, partly because it takes time to understand the tools, and then to do research. And informational interviewing, even though it’s a critical part of career exploration and finding a job, is a very difficult thing to do if you’ve never done it. Students can certainly find people on campus to help them do all these things. It just takes time, being proactive and being resourceful.
  • Execute successfully: Here’s where we get to the parts of career preparation that everyone’s heard about. You know your children will need a great resume and cover letter, and need practice in interviewing. But do you know whether they understand professional etiquette or how to navigate a very complex job market?
  • The Catapult Advising methodology is based on the premise that you have to do four things during college: explore options, build experience, learn how to search intelligently and execute successfully. It seems like a four year plan, but it really isn’t. Some students already start with a keen focus; others start with a lot of experience and need to know how to translate that experience into what an employer wants. And some seniors still haven’t gotten as far as writing their resume. But the bottom line is, the more of these tasks that students can accomplish naturally, while they’re doing their academic work and their extra-curricular activities, the easier it will be to find work they love after graduation.
  • About 25% of the class at top schools needs very little help. They’re the ones going straight to law school or med school, or who have top grades, great internships and a clear focus. For the rest, it helps to find a guide, inside or outside the college, who can mentor your child, and help them to effectively transition from college to career. So how can you help: Help your sons and daughters by understanding what they need to be doing to prepare for their careers while they are still in school, checking that they’ve made the most of their school’s resources, and supporting their evolving interests. Your sons and daughters will ultimately be successful in their lives after college. You can make that success happen sooner by helping them find the advice they need.
  • Parents Guide To College & Career

    1. 1. WHAT EVERY PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT COLLEGE AND CAREERS <ul><li>By Sheila J. Curran, President, Curran Career Consulting & </li></ul><ul><li>Program Director, Catapult Advising </li></ul>
    2. 2. So what do you do with a degree in Philosophy? ...or any other subject!
    3. 3. Assumptions are no longer valid + = ? Good GPA Good College Good Career
    4. 4. TODAY’S AGENDA <ul><li>Myths and realities about how students get from college to career </li></ul><ul><li>What students need to do while in college to best prepare for their lives after graduation </li></ul><ul><li>Where to go for advice and help </li></ul>
    5. 5. What is the return on investment from a college education? <ul><li>College is expensive </li></ul><ul><li>Graduate premium is decreasing </li></ul><ul><li>College still necessary for really good jobs </li></ul><ul><li>ROI dependent on student career interests and capabilities </li></ul>
    6. 6. Does it matter what college or university you go to? <ul><li>Name brand? </li></ul><ul><li>Public vs. private? </li></ul><ul><li>Liberal arts vs. pre-professional? </li></ul>
    7. 7. Does it matter what you study and how well you do? <ul><li>Major may not equal career </li></ul><ul><li>The higher the GPA, the less important other factors </li></ul><ul><li>Extra-curricular activities help develop interests and skill sets </li></ul><ul><li>Study abroad, done right, can be a career advantage </li></ul><ul><li>Internships are increasingly critical </li></ul>
    8. 8. Are there good reasons to postpone college? <ul><li>Step off the educational conveyer belt; build different experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Components of good gap year: away from home; outside comfort zone </li></ul><ul><li>Value of good gap year: better prepared for college; more mature </li></ul>
    9. 9. Isn’t a college degree just a preparation for graduate school? <ul><li>Graduate school is expensive </li></ul><ul><li>Graduate school may not be necessary </li></ul><ul><li>Most students now take at least 1-2 years off before graduate school </li></ul><ul><li>Unemployment rates for grad school grads are lower than for those with just a BA/BS </li></ul>
    10. 10. What’s the career prognosis for the liberal arts Graduate? <ul><li>A liberal arts education provides broad knowledge and skills that are valued by employers </li></ul><ul><li>Skills may not be valued in entry level jobs </li></ul><ul><li>Students need to be able to articulate “transferable skills” to potential employers </li></ul>
    11. 11. How do you make sure your child is not jobless and living in your basement after graduation? <ul><li>Start early to figure out what you want </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a compelling story that integrates your work in and out of the classroom </li></ul><ul><li>Develop skills and attributes that employers desire </li></ul><ul><li>Understand career strategy and how to position yourself for success </li></ul>
    12. 12. Does the current economic climate change everything? Unemployment stats for bachelors‘ grads under 25 (BLS Data) 7.8% 9.2% January, 2009 Unemployment rate increased almost 18% in the past year 2 year increase (2008-2010) = over 100% January, 2010
    13. 13. Four years to success <ul><li>Explore options </li></ul><ul><li>Build experience </li></ul><ul><li>Search intelligently </li></ul><ul><li>Execute successfully </li></ul>} No lock-step process to finding career success
    14. 14. Explore options Learn and Focus © 2009 - Catapult Advising Assessments: What am I good at? What are my values? Interest profiles: What do I enjoy doing? Career exploration: What career options are available to someone with my skills, interests, and values? Career path: What do I have to do now to get where I want to go?
    15. 15. Build experience be capable and compelling © 2009 - Catapult Advising Academics: How do I shape my course of study to support my career aspirations? Off campus study: Which programs will help me in my career? Internships: How can I use internships to learn more about career possibilities? Extracurriculars: Are there opportunities for me to build job-related skills?
    16. 16. Search intelligently tap the hidden job market © 2009 - Catapult Advising Market Research: Which industries and employers should I target? Informational interviews: What is the nature of this career choice? Plan of attack: What is my action plan for landing my dream job? Networking: Am I effectively using personal and alumni connections?
    17. 17. Execute successfully launch your career © 2009 - Catapult Advising Professional Etiquette: Do I understand the accepted rules and norms in my field? Resume and cover letter: Is my experience presented in the best light? Interviewing: How can I ace the interview? Closing the deal: How do I negotiate the terms of my new position?
    18. 18. The Catapult Methodology © 2009 - Catapult Advising
    19. 19. HELP!!! <ul><li>Academic Advising </li></ul><ul><li>Career Advising </li></ul><ul><li>External Resources e.g., Catapult Advising </li></ul>
    20. 20. Questions <ul><li>Sheila Curran Career strategy consultant 401-861-2278 [email_address] Program director, Catapult Advising 919-599-6207 [email_address] </li></ul>