As a parent or guardian of a Binghamton University student, it's important to understand your role within the career decision-making process. There are three key factors to remember when helping your student:
Support your student’s responsible involvement in campus activities and exploration of new areas of study and interests. Help him/her to feel empowered to make decisions, follow passions and develop independence and confidence.
Students discover new things about themselves throug hout the college experience and will likely want to bounce ideas off of you. Try to keep an open mind and demonstrate a willingness to listen. Doing so will maintain a clear line of communication and encourage your student to talk to you more openly.
Encourage your student to take risks, move beyond his/her comfort zone, actively engage in the University experiences, talk to new people, and encourage early use of the Fleishman Career Center.
Profile of a Successful Student
No single factor leads to career success. Successful students exhibit a combination of attitudes, behaviors and intellectual capacity, including:
- Getting good grades in a major they enjoy (3.0 or higher)
- Actively participating in extra/co-curricular activities such as internships, volunteering and student organizations (leadership experience and involvement in clubs, sports or student government influence employer hiring decisions)
- Gaining relevant work experience internship or co-op)
- Intentionally networking with professionals in their fields of interest (Networking is the #1 way of finding a job)
- Developing a professional demeanor (qualities such as interpersonal skills, work ethic, professional appearance and communication skills)
What can you do to help your student?
Help them understand their interests, skills, values and passions.
Promote the development of professional behaviors. Expect manners, respect and appropriate verbal and written communication to enhance chances for success in the workplace.
Encourage your student to actively seek opportunities to network with professionals in fields of interest. Introduce them to people in your network, including co-workers and friends, and encourage them to network with Binghamton alumni through LinkedIn and Fleishman Center programming.
Reinforce that having a high GPA is not enough; experience is critical. Encourage internships, research, volunteering, study abroad and more. Every experience counts!
Encourage them to visit the Fleishman Center early in their college career to discuss options and strategies for career success. Walk-in consulting hours are offered daily during the semester; appointments can be scheduled through the student's hireBING account.
Encourage your student to develop—and be able to articulate—at least two or three transferable skills, such as: computer, quantitative, communication, marketing/selling, scientific, foreign language or leadership skills.
Choosing a Major
Because many employers today put more emphasis on skills than on academic majors, students should focus on majors they enjoy and in which they excel.
What about a double major? A majority of employers do not necessarily place a premium on a double major. It usually requires an extra one or two semesters to obtain a second major and does not automatically enhance a student's marketability. Exceptions would be a second major or a minor chosen for a specific career, such as English and chemistry for technical writing, or a health policy major and business minor for hospital administration. Of course, some students may choose to double major primarily for academic/intellectual purposes.
Encourage your student to explore different classes, majors, internships and career fields to help determine the best fit for his/her skills, values and personality.
Keep in mind that "major" does not equate to "career," and it is not unusual for a student to change majors. Many students change majors after gaining more information about different disciplines and/or career fields of interest. Frequently, students end up doing something very different than they originally planned, so don't be overly concerned when they come up with what seems to be an outrageous or impractical career idea. First, it may not be as impractical as you initially believe. Second, chances are, their plans will develop and change. It's okay to change majors—and careers. (Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers)
Encouraging Participation On and Off Campus
Future employers and graduate programs will seek candidates with relevant, "real-world" work experience. Of course good grades are important, but what will help a student be competitive in the job market and graduate school is a track record of involvement on and off campus. This includes:
- Active engagement in clubs and organizations on and off campus.
- Participation in leadership roles.
- Developing global awareness and competency through actual study and experience abroad, and/or through campus- and community-based activities.
- Forging positive relationships with faculty, staff, alumni and other professionals on and off campus (network). These will be necessary for references and letters of recommendations for graduate study or employment.
- Utilizing job shadowing experiences. These short-term experiences allow students to try out careers for a day or several days. It can help them in the career decision-making process by giving them first-hand insight about an occupation. For students in Harpur College, the Liberal Arts to Careers Externship program (LACE) is an excellent opportunity to gain this type of experience.
- Creating a professional social media presence through LinkedIn, which has become a critical component of today's job and internship search.
Encouraging Internship or Research Experience
Some employers use their internship programs as recruitment tools for full-time hires. Participating in an internship (paid, for academic credit, or unpaid) with an organization of interest is not only a way for a student to gain real-world experience, but it frequently can be an entry point for full-time employment.
Depending on your student's career goals, research experience may be more important than an internship. Many students conduct research on campus, while others seek opportunities in outside facilities. Regardless of the location, the skills, knowledge and relationships gained from such experiences can greatly enhance application credentials.
The Fleishman Center provides many resources and services to assist students with their search to gain relevant experience. This includes Job & Internship Fairs, the CDCI Academic Internship Program, our online system for position postings, career-related programming, and informational resources about local and national opportunities.
Decisions About Graduate/Professional School
The decision to invest more time and money into one's education should be carefully considered based on one's goals, intended career, and level of commitment to the field. We encourage students to think critically about their reasons to pursue graduate studies to ensure that they are inspired to go for the right reasons (and not because they are afraid of a bad economy or want to postpone entering the workforce).
Contrary to what you may have heard, the Master's is not the new Bachelor's in all fields. While some careers require a Master's degree, many well-paying jobs require only a Bachelor's degree. In some instances, an advanced degree will increase marketability while in other instances, additional work experience will be more relevant. Most programs are highly competitive and in a poor economy competition will be even more so, as experienced workers who have been laid off are looking at graduate school as a way to retool for their next career. If your student is a junior or senior and graduate school is his/her next logical step, there are a number of steps to begin taking now. The Fleishman Center can help your student structure an appropriate plan for approaching his/her individual graduate school process.