This is the time of year when parents and college students are navigating the process of getting an internship or first job, if they haven’t done so already. Some students know what they are doing this summer and others are still figuring it out. As parents, there is the fine line of letting your student take charge of the process and knowing when to step in. Our blog this month is a candid interview with Dara and Mark W., the parents of one of our student clients, who share their perspective on the internship search process.
Dara and Mark W. were optimistic about their son’s career prospects when their son Max entered a highly competitive university. As their son Max progressed in school, they realized that the opportunities they anticipated for him were not as easily attained as they all had originally hoped. Dara and Mark share their experiences to help other parents with an honest perspective about supporting your student though college and how to navigate the internship search process.
When your son entered college, what were your expectations for prospects for jobs as an intern or a graduate?
Dara – There were not specific conversations with Max about his career or internship. He went to school thinking he was going to study chemical engineering and he quickly realized he did not love it after the introductory course. He decided to change majors. It wasn’t until Sophomore year that we were hopeful that he would look for an internship.
Mark – I was hoping he would look for an internship as a Freshman or Sophomore. I learned that Freshman and Sophomore year internships are hard because of limited experience. I also tried not to bug him about pursuing this.
Did you encouraging him to go to Career Services and have him target opportunities? Or did you let him figure it out on his own?
M –Max is very quiet and shy. He was very focused on academics and participation in his sport so he just could not think about it.
D – Max did not have the confidence. That, you (Next Great Step) gave him. You focused him and gave him the confidence and the tools. That was a big deal. I think that schools are giving resources to students but he needed the one-on-one support from Next Great Step. The university tends to provide support as a group process or they say “come to us” for help, but our son was not necessarily going to go for help.
What were your biggest fears or concerns about his future or how he focused on a career?
D – I was concerned that he did not have the confidence to go after opportunities and to network. In today’s world, it’s a big networking process. You have to network often. I had no doubt that he would do well once he got in the door, but it was getting in the door and the right door for him.
M – I was concerned that he would miss opportunities because he was waiting until the last minute and was concentrating more on studies and sports. I wanted to him to be more aggressive. We gave him some options and then at some point he said “Ok. I am going to try something.” I knew as long as he had decent grades he would have a good opportunity but I just wanted to make sure he pursued something that he liked to do.
At what point did you feel you needed help from a career coach or outside person to help him? Was there a specific event or threshold that pushed you toward this?
D –For me, talking to an outsider was helpful because sometimes a parent saying “This is a good idea” is hard for a student to hear. We needed a third party who was not emotionally vested in it. We knew we needed someone outside of us.
Did you have something on your mind about what he needed in terms of career/internship support?
D – I started doing the research. The first place I thought to start was with fine-tuning his resume. I was pretty confident that he did not go to career services to work on his resume. I also felt that his LinkedIn profile needed to be updated. My research first led me to a resume writer/LinkedIn expert but they told me that he really needed help on how to focus and refine his interview skills which then referred me to Next Great Step.
M – Max was frustrated enough that we knew he needed some help. He knew he wanted an internship but was stuck about what to do or how to take the first step. When he realized we (as parents) could not help him he said “Ok, I’ll meet with someone.” He was at a pain point so he was ready to get help.
Now that you have a Freshman and Junior in college, what advice would you give to other parents who are about to start this process of students looking for an internship?
D – Start early and have them get their resumes done. Go to career services. Everything that we said to do, but he did not do. I think what NGS did for him was so helpful and it just put him over that hump. He knew what direction to go, but felt with so many choices it was hard to get focused. This was the best gift we could have given him. I recommend this to anyone who could do it and afford it. If you find yourself with children who don’t want to hear what the parents have to say but are receptive to help from others, this is helpful. Having a third party worked for him.
M – Knowing who your child is is a big thing. In hindsight, it would have been helpful if Max started a year prior to look for an internship. He needed that time to get confident. It’s hard – some students are planners and some just wait for things to happen.
What was your experience with Next Great Step and what impact did it have on your son?
D – I felt you gave him the confidence to move forward with a direction and a system. He still needed to be pushed but he was so much better off. It gave him the confidence to go into these meetings and go for it.
M- It gave him 3 things: 1. Confidence, 2. He learned It was not such a scary process, 3. He felt comfortable moving forward in his search.The fact that he was willing to call you (Next Great Step) at college and seek your advice tells you a lot. It’s a lot for him to get comfortable with someone.
He did not share a lot with us and that was hard. I’m glad the outcome was positive and he has a good internship at a great tech company for this summer. You were very helpful and would gladly recommend you to others.
If you a parent worried about how your student will get an internship or job after graduation or you feel that your student is struggling to succeed in interviews and you are not sure how to help them , Next Great Step can help. Our career coaching services are specifically designed to help alleviate the tension between parents and students on how to navigate the career search process. To learn more about how to help your student visit Next Great Step.