Wondering about what your student will do after graduation? Not sure of what your student will major in at Bowie State University? Want to help your student with career concerns, but unsure how? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you are not alone. Many parents and families tell us that they are concerned about their student starting college, what they will do after graduation, and how to best prepare. Experience shows that many students turn to their parents and families for suggestions and advice about their career direction and planning. It's likely that you will be a major sounding board for your student while attending BSU. The following information will help you understand common career planning issues and development stages that students experience.
What is Career Development?
Career development is a process through which individuals make decisions about their career paths, and implement plans to achieve their goals. The steps in this process include:
- Identifying interests, skills, values, and needs (Self Assessment)
- Exploring the world of careers (Occupational Research)
- Generating and trying out career options (through job shadowing and internships)
- Deciding on a "career fit" (Good Decision Making)
- Implementing a career plan (Achieving Career Goals)
The Career Development Center assists students with all of these steps and their related issues including choosing a major, finding an internship, writing a resume, preparing for interviews, researching employers, researching and applying to graduate schools, attending job fairs and much more!
How do I help my student with Career Planning and Decision-Making?
New students frequently identify career issues and choosing a major as top concerns as they enter college. To be supportive, you can:
- Reassure your student that you are interested in /his/her process of growth and exploration.
- Encourage your student to visit the Career Development Center for help with career information and choosing or changing a major.
- Encourage your student to major in an area that they find interesting and enjoys. (Students who major in what they enjoy generally have higher GPAs and persist to complete a degree.)
- Suggest that your student work closely with their academic advisor and faculty, and not be hesitant to ask questions.
- Help your student plan for internships to get career related experience.
My student keeps changing majors - is this normal?
For many students, coming to college and taking classes in new academic subjects will introduce them to new options and ideas. On average, 75% of students will change majors at least once during their first year. It's very common for students to change majors a number of times before they finally select one (or possibly two), during their sophomore year. This exploration time and process is very normal and positive (though at times stress producing for students and families). Your student is looking at all their options and making more informed decisions as they become more aware of themselves and the world around them.
Does a high GPA matter?
Some employers use GPA cutoffs in considering applicants. However, most employers are often seeking a combination of education, work / volunteer experiences and leadership activities which make students qualified for the positions they have available. Encourage your student to make academics a high priority beginning with their freshman year, but remember it may take them a while to adjust to the rigorous academic demands of college.
What are employers looking for in candidates?
Most employers today put more emphasis on graduate's skills than on their academic majors. The following list identifies the top ten skills and personal qualities that employers seek as reported by the National Association of Colleges and Employers:
- Communication skills
- Motivation / Initiative skills
- Teamwork skills
- Leadership skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Flexibility / Adaptability skills
- Technical skills
- Honesty / Integrity skills
- Work ethic skills
- Analytical / Problem Solving skills
Internships, Co-Ops, and on-campus employment offer opportunities in which students can develop these important transferable skills.
How important is it for my student to get involved in student clubs and organizations on campus?
Many employers rate leadership activities more highly than GPA. Students who were active in high school activities may be less involved in college extracurricular activities. However, employers regard high school as "ancient history" for a college senior. It is more valuable for your student to be involved in a few meaningful leadership roles on camps than to be in a lot of clubs.
What can my student do during their four years so they are ready for graduation and reaching their career goals?
The Career Clock articulates specific activities that your student should complete each year that they are here at Bowie State University. It is a great planning guide that will educate your student about what they need to incorporate during each year to be ready for graduation and success beyond Bowie. Please encourage your student to refer to this plan often.