Question of the day: Our 22-year-old son is set to graduate this May with a degree in Political Science. He has not expressed any clear path he wants to take professionally. As much as we are frustrated by his lack of focus and planning, we are more worried about his future. How do we help him find a job?
I’m grateful for this parent’s permission to share her request for help. As the effects of the recovering economy linger, more and more students are finding themselves living at home and unemployed after graduation much to parent dismay.
The facts support this continued pilgrimage home. Take, for example, the findings collected by the folks at Accenture, where more than 2,000 students and companies shared their perceptions of the class of 2014. When compared with the experiences of recent grads in the working world, more than 38% (or one-third) of the graduating class responded that they were planning to live at home after graduation. 42% of the graduates from 2012 and 2013 said they were also currently living at home (Accenture 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey).
So what’s a weary and financially exhausted mom to do with no gainful employment for her son on the horizon? Craft resumes? Submit job applications? Collect grad school information? Cold call friends to find placement?
My response is an enthusiastic YES to all of the above, as long as your student does the work. Without doing the work himself, there’s nothing to be gained enabling him in this critical process. Worst yet, you risk sending the message that he isn’t capable.
Feeling torn about the college to career process and how you fit in? Consider the perspectives of employers and graduate school committees taking calls from a parent. Is this the best indicator of your student’s ability to communicate with future clients or do graduate level work?
Developmentally-speaking, not all 22 year-olds arrive in the same place at the same time. Some make clearer career choices earlier while others struggle through a longer period of trial and error. Wherever your student is on the career development path, your ongoing encouragement and empathy will go a long way to helping him identify his best fit in the world. Setting expectations, encouraging short- and long-term plans, identifying potential contacts and opportunities, and encouraging him to fully utilize campus and professional resources are all appropriate ways to assist. Doing the work for him, overcompensating, defining his career objectives, or even assigning blame are all counter-productive behaviors to avoid.
One last thing: In my experience, being mom (or dad) is a hard enough gig; adding career coach or college counselor to that job is very seldom a good idea. Those of us in the profession are the first ones to welcome the assistance of others beside us. If you do your (developmentally-appropriate) part and insist your son does his, success will often take care of itself.
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Counselor. Mentor. Dream Developer. I am a veteran college and career consultant helping clients of all ages prepare and perform for success!