How you can help with a student’s career decisions

Families play vital roles in the lives of college-aged children. Researchers have found close relationships with family help students adjust to college life, make effective career and relationship choices, and develop self-confidence and a sense of personal autonomy.

Families are invaluable resources for students to explore vocational interests, and potential careers.  Yet many parents struggle to identify how to support and encourage their student in clarifying their career path especially during tumultuous economic times.

You can help empower students in their career development stages:  Assessment, Exploration, Decision Making and Implementation.


Students continually explore who they are through coursework and extra-curricular activities.  Assessing their skills, interests and values are common ways to clarify potential career paths.

  • Encourage their vocational self-discovery and exploration process
  • Offer positive encouragement to reflect on their strengths
  • Encourage your student to be true to self, values, interests, and talents
  • Give constructive feedback on specific abilities you see in him/her to help develop a solid sense of self

How we can help:

  • to clarify vocational questions and potential next steps while in school and following graduation
  • Career assessment tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Strong Interest Inventory, available in the Macalester Career Development Center,  with follow-up interpretation discussions with a career counselor


Students explore and test their career options through coursework, internships, work experiences, networking, and volunteer service.

  • Students often overlook existing networks that they can access to gain career information and advice. Encourage your student to consider their existing personal network and their occupational paths.  Who do you know in your personal circles that may be willing to chat briefly with your son/daughter on possible career plans?
  • Suggest exploring an internship, volunteer opportunity, or part-time. More than 60 percent of Macalester graduates complete an internship, which offers valuable on-the-job experience and connections within a potential career field.
  • Suggest your student make connections with faculty. Students ultimately need professors to write letters of recommendation for internships, scholarships, or graduate school applications. The greatest success in course work and the most substantive recommendations are often proportionate to the level of communication students have with faculty.

How we can help:

Decision Making

  • Provide non-judgmental listening and honest feedback
  • Initiate conversations on career plans, listen, respond, and ask questions
  • Help your student clarify ideas, priorities, and concerns
  • See the situation from your student’s perspective
  • Help to develop independent decision-making skills and increase motivation
  • Identify strengths and potential career paths to be considered through discussion on academic courses, extra-curricular activities and personal ideals

How we can help:

  • with counselors to explore potential paths
  • Connect student to alums and professionals in their desired field to identify and explore viable possibilities
  • Encourage student to reflect on decision-making style and variables play a role in their decision, including cost of living, fixed, and flexible living expenses
  • Broaden your child’s financial literacy through discussions about budgeting, cost of living, credit, loan repayment options


  • Help your son or daughter develop contacts for information, advice, and assistance in career planning and job search issues
  • Refer your student to colleagues, friends, neighbors, parishioners, family, and community members with experience related to his or her interests
  • Offer encouragement to approach people and ask this kind of information
  • Encourage students to avoid procrastination and begin the career planning process early
  • Encourage students to take advantage of all resources available to them
  • Discuss various career opportunities with your son or daughter. Discuss what you do professionally. Introduce him/her to people in various career fields. Help him/her to look at different career options
  • Encourage your student to develop a resume and interviewing techniques

How we can help:

  • The Career Development Center offers individual and workshops to explore and develop strategies for common paths upon graduation including a full-time job search, graduate school, fellowship and full-time internships
  • Counselors can meet with your son/daughter to critiques resumes and other job application materials
  • Offer training for interview strategies and mock interviews for diverse paths/purposes
  • Clarify your son/daughter’s understanding of business etiquette, professional communication, and salary negotiation

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


CDC #irl

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