Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

Parents Corner

Upcoming Events

Career Strategies Boot Camp - Saturday, March 15 in the Alumni Lounge. Students will gain career tips, advice and skills from experienced alumni professionals! Check out our Boot Camp feature for more information.

First Avenue Career Expo - April 4 at the University of Portland. Students can meet representatives from nearly 20 graduate schools and recruiters from more than 40 of the area's top businesses and organizations.

Opportunity Fair - April 10, 3-6 p.m. at Cat Cavern. Students can meet reps from non-profit organizations that recruit for part-time and volunteer positions.

Helping Your Student Move Toward a Career

This week, a student visited my office and said “I need to start applying for a summer job.” I cringed because this student assumed (like so many others) that finding a job is all about applying. So, what’s wrong with that?

There are three basic approaches to finding a job: 1. Apply online 2. Apply directly through the front door and 3. Network. All the studies I have ever read say that networking is THE single best way to job search, and applying online is THE least successful (yet it's still worthwhile). Students spend almost all their time applying online. Why? Because it’s easy, and students like to communicate electronically.

Here's how parents can help:

Most students are shy about contacting people, but you can help ease their transition into the professional world by introducing them to your circle of friends, colleagues, and extended family. The best thing your student can do is simply talk to people through informational interviews. Everybody loves giving college students advice, so have your student ask for advice, not a job. Here is a link to our job search resources, which includes informational interviewing. I assign this to all the students in my career theories class every semester and I always see great results.

Students need a little nudging and emotional support. This is all new to them. Remind them how successful and smart they have been thus far, that they have skills, and that talking with people about their future is fun. Once they start, they will see how helpful and effective connecting with others can be.

Here’s a suggestion: Go to our job search page and look through several of the links yourself so you can talk with your student about good resources. And help them build a robust LinkedIn profile while you are at it. 

And remember, we would love to meet with your student one-on-one.

Jerry Houser

Jerry Houser, PhD
Associate Dean/Director
Willamette Career Center,
503.370-6924 jhouser@willamette.edu