Resources for Parents and Families
Parent and Family Guide to Career Development
For more information for Parents and Families see St. Kate’s Parent and Family Association
Wondering about what your student will do after graduation? Not sure of what your student will major in at SCU? Want to help your student with career concerns, but unsure how to assist her? If you answer “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 she will do after graduation, and how she can best prepare. When your student enters college, she is beginning a life-changing experience that will expose her to new ideas, learning, and opportunities, which may be challenging for her, and for you in your support role.
Experience shows that many students turn to their parents and families for suggestions and advice about career direction and planning. It’s likely that you will be a major sounding board for your student while she is in college. The following information is a guide to help you understand common career planning issues and developmental stages that students experience. We also hope to acquaint you with the resources and services we have to advise and support your student while she is at St. Kate’s.
Feel free to call us with questions about the programs and services we offer. Please also check our website for resources for you and your student. Encourage her to visit us early and often while she is at St. Kate’s. We are excited about your student’s future, and look forward to working with her.
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 staff and department assist 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 her process of growth and exploration.
- Encourage her to visit the Career Development Office for help with career information and choosing or changing a major.
- Encourage her to major in an area that she finds interesting and enjoys. (Students who major in what they enjoy generally have higher GPAs and persist to complete a degree.)
- Suggest that she work closely with her academic advisor and faculty, and not be hesitant to ask questions.
- Indicate that you want her to try new experiences as a way of enhancing career exploration.
- Help her plan for internships to get career related experience.
She 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. It’s very common for students to change majors a number of times before they finally select one (or possibly two), most often during their sophomore year. On average, 75% of students will change majors at least once during their first 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 her options and making more informed decisions as she becomes more aware of herself and the world around her.
Do all students go through a lot of changes?
Change and new challenges are a part of any good educational experience. Developmental theories identify certain behaviors and characteristics common to students as they progress through their college years. These characteristics include:
FIRST YEAR – Students will:
SECOND AND THIRD YEARS – Students will:
- Demonstrate a vague awareness of career issues
- Need time to adjust to college
- Appreciate assistance in decision making
- Need encouragement to explore and take academic risks
- Explore academic interests through classes
- Develop a connection to SCU including other students, faculty and staff
SENIOR YEAR – Students will:
- Realize the need for career information and internship experience
- Develop more complex reasoning
- Begin to set priorities
- Identify and organize academic and career alternatives
- Narrow their career focus from a broad or more generalized group of choices
- Need to make choices
- Clarify and articulate their vision for the future
- Formulate and implement a plan of action
- Demonstrate more advanced critical and analytical reasoning
- Accept some uncertainty as inevitable
If you recognize some of these characteristics in your student, know that they are important to her development and college experience. At SCU we hope to challenge your student to learn and try new opportunities, as well as support her in her journey through college and transitions beyond.
What does the Career Development Office do to help my student with career issues and planning?
Our professional staff is committed to assisting your student with her unique needs and goals. Our office has a wide variety of services, resources, and programs that you can view on our website. A few programs we especially would like to highlight are:
INDI 2000: Gateway to Discovering Yourself, Your Future. This two-credit career exploration course is designed especially for first-year students. In this course, students will explore their interests, skills, values, personality and work environment preferences, and their academic interests. Students are exposed to assessment activities designed to help develop a focus that relates their academic interests to potential majors and career paths. Lively class discussions, guest speakers, exposure to campus resources and practical classroom assignments are included in this course.
St. Catherine University Internship Program: In today’s job market, internships are key for students to be successful in entering many career areas. St. Kate’s location in the Twin Cities offers students diverse, accessible, and plentiful internship sites and opportunities. Our Internship Director works with students, employers, and faculty to develop meaningful internship experiences. Some students begin internships as early as their sophomore year. Many students choose to complete internships during the summer, while others do them part-time during the academic year. Some professional fields require two or three internships for students to be considered for post graduation professional positions. WE ENCOURAGE ALL STUDENTS TO DO INTERNSHIPS AS PART OF THEIR ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE. Visit our website for more information about our program and the wide variety of internship opportunities.
Senior Year Programs and Services: In addition to individualized counseling and assistance, we also sponsor an annual program called, “From Backpack to Briefcase.” Included in this program are numerous opportunities to gain information about interviewing, job search, graduate school, and more.
Career Fairs and On-Campus Recruiting: A number of employers representing a wide variety of fields choose to recruit St. Kate’s students each year. Many employers schedule on campus interviews for students seeking internships or jobs with their organization. In addition, we offer a Career Opportunities Fair on campus each fall, with a large number of employers seeking to fill job and internship openings. We also participate in career fairs with other MN colleges, including the Minnesota Private College Job and Internship Fair; a Government Career Fair; and an Education Job Fair.
KatieClick: KatieClick is St. Kate’s own job and internship database. Any St. Kate’s student or alum can search this online database (accessible through our website). Employers who list their positions in this database are specifically interested in St. Kate’s students and alumnae.
Does a high GPA matter?
Employers often are seeking a combination of education, experiences and involvements which make students qualified for the positions they have available. Some fields require specific knowledge or certifications (i.e. social work, nursing, computer programming, etc.). However, most careers do not require specialized skills for entry-level positions. Instead, employers seek more general skills and attributes. 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
- Teamwork skills
- Leadership skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Technical skills
- Work ethic
- Analytical/problem solving skills
Your student will have opportunities to develop all of these skills to complement the knowledge base in her academic discipline. Internships, clinicals, and on-campus employment offer opportunities in which students can develop these important transferable skills.
What can she do during her four years so she is ready for graduation and reaching her career goals?
At St. Kate’s we have an integrated and multifaceted plan called The Catherine Connection. This guide articulates specific activities that students can participate in to achieve their academic and career goals. Students receive a copy of this plan from their academic advisors during orientation of their first year, and are encouraged to participate in the identified activities to help them achieve their goals. For students who are unsure, it is a great planning guide; and for students who have decided upon a major and path, it educates them about what they need to incorporate during each year to be ready for graduation and success beyond. Please encourage your student to refer to this plan often.
What if she wants to major in philosophy or theater…can she get a job?
YES! Employment data reveals that around 75% of entry-level positions do not require a specific major or degree. A traditional liberal arts major is often a wonderful foundation upon which students can build to learn about broader topics, to prepare for advanced degrees, and to develop skills that employers are seeking. If your student majors in a discipline that is less focused on a specific career path, support her decision, and encourage her to come to the Career Development Office to plan what she will do after graduation. Our staff has expertise in helping students identify the transferable skills of a liberal arts major for productive employment. A liberal arts major and a meaningful internship together with good career planning will help make a student very successful in many fields! We can share many examples of successful alumnae working in fields unrelated to their college major.
Links to external resources:
St. Kate’s Parent and Family Association
A Parents' Guide to Career Development
10 Tips for Parents of Prospective College Students
A Career Planning Course for Parents