You’ve heard the bad news about the economy, or your family may have even experienced it firsthand. But the future is looking brighter—with employers indicating in one survey that they plan to hire 5 percent more new college graduates this year than last. Though the job search takes time, University of Michigan graduates are still faring well, and as a parent, you can be a valuable source of help and encouragement as your students prepare for their careers.
Where We Stand
The Career Center’s most recent survey of U-M graduates found that six to nine months after graduation, 90 percent of students are employed or continuing their education, and of those who are employed, 80 percent are in positions they feel have career potential.
Students often identify their parents as a primary source of career information and job search support. But helping a 22-year-old enter the job market can be a challenging task for parents, because the way new graduates are job searching today, is markedly different from the job search of 10 or 20 years ago.
“The days of want ads and paper applications are gone, for the most part,” said Kerin Borland, Senior Associate Director at the Career Center. “Now, with the influence of social media and the connections that can be made through technology, employers have multiple ways to access candidates, and promote their organizations.”
Helping Older Students
What are some key ways parents can help students? For seniors, it’s to encourage them to start the job search as early as possible, Borland says. She recommends students begin to think about their career paths during junior year, and meet with Career Center staff to discuss ideas and plans.
When searching for a job, students should develop a focus and aim for quality, rather than quantity. Sending a smaller number of compelling, individually-tailored resumes and cover letters to employers a student has researched is more effective than simply sending out as many resumes as possible. And students should promote their experiences working on group projects in class or participating in on- and off-campus organizations or part-time jobs.
“If students are not sure how to share the story of their Michigan experience, the Career Center is poised and ready to offer its expertise and support,” Borland said.
If students are planning to go on to graduate or professional school, timing is key. Each type of program has its own application process and its own set of deadlines. Parents can be key in helping students stay on track, and the Career Center can help with tasks like identifying the right schools, developing a compelling application and evaluating multiple admission offers.
Looking Ahead with Younger Students
The best advice for younger students is simply to experience Michigan: choose a major they enjoy, get involved in student organizations and take on roles of responsibility. Students can explore careers through internships and immersion excursions. Social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn present new ways to network and learn about new and interesting career fields—students can follow noted professionals, and become avid learners about what is happening in fields that interest them.
“Employers are looking for enthusiastic, hard workers who have demonstrated their ability to learn through strong GPAs, participate in on and off campus organizations, and know something about the field in which they would like to work,” Borland said.
While the job search may seem daunting for students, once they get more familiar with the process they become confident in their ability to succeed, Borland says. As you help your students prepare for what’s next, you can encourage them to use the resources available on campus, and take pride in what they’ve accomplished in their time in Ann Arbor.
Want to learn more? The Career Center offers a wealth of resources for students and parents at any stage of the process, including many online, such as its Parents’ Guide to Career Development and a blog that explores different topics.