Salveson Stetson Group hosts an annual College Seminar for our clients to support their family members who will be graduating from college. At this seminar, we focus on providing advice to students on how to effectively look for a job. In addition, we spend time with parents and discuss how they can best support their children.
It has been a very successful and well attended event each year. As you can imagine, many parents have greatly encouraged their children to attend with the hopes that our advice will land their child that elusive first job.
We have to navigate through a sensitive path with parents at the College Seminar. First and foremost, they are our clients. We want to help them, but also ease their anxieties about their children. Some are frustrated, as they don’t believe their child has been active enough in the job market. Others are concerned that their child seems aimless with little direction regarding what they intend to do with their life. Some parents are ready to have their children “off the payroll” and actively participating in the world of work and want to ensure they are able to find the best job for themselves. Bottom line – we see it all.
One interesting aspect of the College Seminar program is allowing parents to vent their concerns, hopes and dreams for their child, along with their frustrations. Naturally, it becomes a supportive environment where parents learn from one another. Here are a few tips we have learned over the years to help parents as they develop strategies to help their “soon-to-be college graduate”:
- Strike an agreement: Don’t ask your child five times a day what they have done with their job search. They will become frustrated and shut down the lines of communication with you. We suggest you have a conversation that ends in an agreement – you will not ask them daily about their job search, but instead will check in at the end of the week so they can share with you what they’ve accomplished over the course of seven days. This strategy prevents parents from hovering over their child, which only makes them anxious and frustrated. It also seems to push students away from revealing how they are really doing.
- Offer to introduce them to your network: You have built an extensive network of friends and colleagues through your work and community activities. Some of these contacts may be helpful in practicing a networking meeting and others may be more helpful in introducing your children to potential employers. Don’t overwhelm them with 20 names – selectively pick a handful and encourage them to schedule meetings. When they come back to you with feedback, you will instinctively know whether to add others to the list or not. Just getting started with some comfortable networking conversation may influence your children to actually talk to people and network vs. simply applying for jobs online.
- Understand the transition from college to work: The transition from college to work is a seismic shift in children’s lives. Many times they are not surrounded by people their own age and are working with people across generations. Secondly, they typically have to begin work early in the day, when their body clock is not firing on all cylinders. It can become a challenging time, as their world has been turned upside down and there will definitely be a transition or adjustment period. Take them out to dinner and listen to them. They may or may not want your help, but they will certainly appreciate you listening and being supportive.
This time for parents is a mixture of joy and liberation (no more college payments!), but also one of sadness that your child is moving out of the house permanently. It is also a new chapter that allows you to begin to build a new kind of relationship with your “grown-up child.” Providing support, but at the same time letting go, can be a bit tricky, but usually your child is ready to launch themselves into the world. It is a time to celebrate for both of you.