Advice From Career Counselor — and Parent — Karen Altus

From SPU’s August 2013 Parent and Family Newsletter

As the parent of two college-aged kids, and a career counselor at SPU, I can honestly say that the last thing my kids want to talk to me about is their career plans.

My instinct is to call a family meeting and create a goal chart. Instead, these days I am trying to take a softer approach. See if some of these ideas might work in your family:

  1. Notice their strengths. Perhaps texting dexterity or the ability to stay up all night don’t seem like important career skills, but try to catch your son or daughter doing things well and compliment those abilities. Point out the positive energy you see when your student is engaged in enjoyable activities that draw on his or her natural gifts.
  2. Listen. Find opportunities to be together with no agenda. Never underestimate the power of the free-food offer. Once your student learns that every time he or she sees you it won’t turn into a quiz show about life plans, your young adult may just open up and share some dreams and fears. (I’ve been known to endure bizarre music and/or horrific video games to demonstrate my interest in who my kids are and what they care most about.)
  3. Stay neutral. Even if your student shares a plan for becoming a professional ice cream taster, avoid jumping in with a list of reasons why this isn’t a good idea. Show that you trust your young adult to think things through and join the conversation by asking questions rather than shutting him or her down.

Remind your student that the Center for Career and Calling is open for appointments (scheduled or walk-in), and has online resources on résumé writing, job and internship search tips, and tools for choosing a major. Your student can watch the résumé webinar and create a draft to bring to an upcoming Résumé Rescue event.

Karen Altus

Why I Work at SPU

Karen Altus, Interim Associate Director

“On a good day I get to interact with bright students who are taking steps to get experience and find work. On a great day I support students struggling to understand their calling, and watch as they cultivate a life direction that boosts their self-confidence and motivates them to make a difference in the world.”