I’m a new mom with an eight month old boy who is growing way too fast for my liking. Although he won’t be in college for another 18 years, I have already begun to worry about everything college related when it comes to his future.
And I should be worried. College students today have it a lot harder than students did even 10 years ago.
The job market is more competitive than ever and college degrees, while completely necessary, are just not enough anymore.
Today more than ever, job seekers need a college degree. There’s no denying that.
More and more employers require a bachelor’s degree for jobs that do not require college-level skills, and jobs that in the past were predominately held by workers without college degrees.
This requirement makes it more difficult to fill certain positions and as a result, it’s taking longer to fill jobs.
Last year, the average job opening went unfilled for approximately 25 days, which was the longest duration in well over a decade. At large companies with 5000+ employees, the average position remained vacant for nearly 70 working days.
As the economy makes a slow recovery, employers can afford to be picky.
So, how does this affect college students?
They pay thousands of dollars on their college education just to get low-level, low-paying jobs.
They struggle to pay off school loans.
Welcome to the era of degree inflation.
Yes, with the job market as competitive as it is today, employers need a system to weed through the hundreds of resumes they receive per position.
But more so, with all the rapidly changing technological advancements, employers simply expect more from their employees.
Employers look for candidates who have practical, work-related transferable skills.
80% of employers expect recent college grads to have applied knowledge in real world settings.
Which leads us to an even bigger problem: a college degree is not enough.
In addition to their degree, college students need work experience. To get a decent job after college, they need an internship while they’re still in school.
According to a 2014 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, hiring rates for students who did not have an internship in college was 35%, while hiring rates for students who had a good college internship was 63%.
But check this out. The starting salary offers for graduates who did not have an internship was $37,277.00. However, starting salary offers for those who had a good college internship jumped up to $54,304.00.
The numbers really speak for themselves. And college students are slowly but surely figuring this out. 66% of graduating seniors held internships in 2013, compared to 57% in 2008.
But as parents, what can we do to help?
Last year, 77% of parents planned on paying for their children’s college tuition, compared to 81% the year prior. While fewer parents plan to help pay for their child’s college education, I’m sure we can all agree that we’re invested in our children’s financial health in addition to their education.
While our children undoubtedly want our financial support more than anything, there are five things parents can do for their college children that far outweigh handing over your credit card each quarter (or semester).
So what’s the one thing a parent can do to help their college kids truly benefit from college?
Help your child get a college internship.
The three most effective tactics to help your college student get an internship:
Encourage your college student to enter the internship space
Knowing your child needs an internship is one thing. But helping her get the right internship, one that will actually propel her career, is another. Without knowing where to find good internships, your child may slip through the cracks and end up pouring coffee and scanning documents at a prestigious law firm over the summer. And those menial work assignments won’t help your child build her resume.
The three best ways to hear about great internships:
Utilize career centers
Go to Google and type the name of your child’s school followed by “career center.” For example, “UCLA career center.” The link to the school’s career center site will likely be the first result that appears on Google’s results page. Explore the career center’s site.
While exploring the career center’s page, you’ll find a link or tab for internships. Go there. Then send that link to your child.
A university’s career center is a great resource for every single college student. It’s also an underutilized resource.
I highly recommend encouraging your child to visit their career center a few times a month during their entire college career.
A university’s career center is a free resource. Every workshop, one-on-one career advising, help from career counselors, and career fairs are included in the price of tuition. Once your child graduates, the hundreds of resources the career center offers will no longer be available to her.
You (or your child) have already paid for the career center services. You’ve paid for it, so use it.
Connect with Internship alert companies
The best way to find out about new internships is to let someone else do the work for you. There are tons of companies that connect college students to internships. All day, every day, they search and post openings, search and post opening. Your child needs to get in on this.
The best internship-search resources out there are the ones who know and understand college students. Direct your child to these sites, they’re among the best:
Lauren Berger’s InternQueen.com. She has helpful blogs, a FREE internship search engine, and she posts internship openings (which she refers to as “Internship Alerts!” regularly on Twitter.
Chegg Career Center. This place lives and breathes internships. They have internship postings by location, industry, you name it. And if your child isn’t sure what area she’d like to explore, Chegg offers an Internship Predictor to guide her. She just needs to create a free account.
Side note: I completed the Internship Predictor just now. It’s quite helpful.
YouTern. The beauty of YouTern is that they connect companies and interns, but they do it quickly. Your child can create a YouTern account in just minutes. Then, she can look through the Search Internships page and apply to internships directly through YouTern’s website.
At the very least, follow these companies on Twitter. They post internship positions all the time.
Create a Glassdoor and Indeed account
Glassdoor and Indeed are great for college students because their sites aren’t solely for college students. If your child creates a Glassdoor and Indeed account now and familiarizes herself with their sites now, job searching will be that much easier post-graduation.
Job searching can be incredibly stressful, so anything that can alleviate stress is worth the time.
Indeed allows users to perform a general search for “Internship” in your area. Also, students using a valid student email address get free access to Glassdoor for 12 months.
Help your child build a resume
Your child’s college career center has resume workshops. The career centers even offer one-on-one advanced resume writing advising to help students tailor their resume to a specific job description.
Offer to help your child draft her resume before she takes it to the career center. In addition to this, offer to review her resume after her resume-workshop at the career center.
View her resume as a busy employer scanning through hundreds of resumes. Offer feedback accordingly.
Everything you need to know about writing a resume can be found in my article, Top 10 Killer Ways to Improve Your Resume. It will definitely help you during this process.
Mock-interview your child to help alleviate pre-interview jitters
Going into an interview without pre-interviewing with a parent, friend, or career counselor is like going into a Major League Baseball game without any practice games. Even the pros wouldn’t do that. You play like you practice.
Take the mock interview seriously. Print out the job description and familiarize yourself with it. Once the interview starts, don’t break character. Don’t interrupt at any time during the interview to offer feedback. Instead, take notes and offer feedback at the end of the mock interview. (Don’t forget to give positive feedback in addition to constructive criticism). When your child breaks character (and she definitely will break character), don’t budge. Look at her as if you were a hiring manager and she was interviewing to work for you. She’ll catch on that you’re serious and intuitively get back into interview-mode.
You will likely have to interview your child several times before she nails it.
I mock interview my husband all the time. Each time, he’s completely rusty at first and I internally freak out and think that he doesn’t stand a chance. But by the third or fourth interview, he’s nailed it. He has yet to interview for a job and not receive an offer (which is rare).
It takes my husband only three mock interviews before he’s ready for the real thing. When he mock interviews me, on the other hand, it takes at least seven interviews before I feel ready. So just be patient with your child during this process. She’ll get it.
How do you plan on helping your child make the most out of college? Was your child successful at landing a great job after graduation? What would you have done differently?
Author bio: Cari Stark is the Marketing Manager for College Works Painting, a college internship designed to give students the opportunity to build a competitive resume to help them land their dream job when they graduate. Check out the free career-success toolkit for advice from past College Works Painting Interns who have landed jobs at companies like Google, ESPN, Amazon and many more.
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