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(The following tips are adapted from “The Professional Generation Gap” by Margaret Heffernan on fastcompany.com)
Remember this is just the beginning: There are not a lot of entry-level CEO jobs. Entry level jobs are just that – everyone has to start somewhere. Students who have 3 six month co-ops in their fields are extremely well positioned for entry-level positions. Entry-level jobs often include less-than-glamorous elements. A “winner” entry-level job should offer more than just a paycheck. It should provide an opportunity to shine, to pursue an interest or develop desired skills or experience, or to work for a great company or for a great cause.
Look inside: Successful careers require knowing what you want and how to get it. But without a lot of experience, how can your son or daughter know either of these things? Discuss things he/she’s done -- exams, jobs, projects -- and ask some good questions. What was satisfying about them? Did he/she prefer work that involved other people or independent projects? How
competitive is he/she? These conversations can be most rewarding, but remember: your job is just to ask the questions. And to know, also, when to back off or refer to Career Services!
Experiment: Very few kids really know what they want to do when they graduate, so some spend time trying things. This can be nerve-wracking for parents. One day he’s working in retail and the next day thinking about medical school? Try to be patient; for some, these experiments are the only way to find a true calling.
Talk about money: Many kids have unrealistic expectations about money. You can help your son or daughter clarify the importance of salary in their career plans. In these conversations, money needs to be neutral: what is important is that expectations and goals match financial resources.
Scrutinize values: Aligning personal values with the values of your workplace may be the single most important component of a satisfying career. If your children want to change the world, ask if s/he should join a conservative institution. If s/he loves order and routine, are startups a good idea?. It isn’t about good and bad careers; it is about finding the right fit.
Make a plan: When your son or daughter has a sense of what s/he wants to do, encourage her/him to make a plan. Who do they know who can help? Where are the key information sources? Do they have the skills they need and, if not, how will they acquire them? Plans can illuminate opportunities as well as providing momentum.
Talking to people: Whatever you call this activity- connecting, talking to people, networking – it is a key means for people to learn about the job market from insiders and find information that helps in job search. Talking to people to learn yields much more reliable results than approaching people you don’t know and hoping they will lead you to a special stash of jobs. People help people with whom they are engaged. Starting with people they know and expanding their network using LinkedIn can help students find people, learn from others’ experience and make a plan that will work.