Career Services for Parents: How Will Your Swattie Spend This Summer?

By Laura Sibson, career counselor
Career Services for Parents: How Will Your Swattie Spend This Summer?

A recent Pew study referenced in The Atlantic showed that college graduates' number one regret was not obtaining more work experience prior to graduating. Indeed, employers tell us that summer experiences can make the difference between a strong candidate and an excellent one, and here in Swarthmore's Career Services office, the internship search season is in full swing.

As a parent, you may wonder how best to help your child find an experience that will offer him concrete knowledge in a field and build a strong resume for the post-college job search. You may have contacts that could lead to a summer internship for your child. Or perhaps your child is interested in a field that is foreign to you and you don't know how to help.

Don't despair. The best way all parents can help their students in finding internship or job opportunities is to support your student's initiative during the search process and to encourage her to seek help when she needs it.

Students who are most successful in securing meaningful internships do so by developing an effective internship search plan. This means they prepare a resume; they understand how their skills relate to available internships; and they know how to navigate the various resources available to them. This is new territory for many students, but we can help them craft their search plan or give advice during any step of the process. As you talk to your child about summer plans, encourage him to meet with us for assistance or to stop by the office for a resume review by a trained career peer adviser.

The summer after freshman year in particular proves most challenging in securing substantive work experience. Though your child is bright and motivated, he may not have the coursework or experience required for many internship experiences. If your child can't find the right opportunity, encourage him to think of other ways to gain workplace exposure such as shadowing a professional in the field of their interest. The alumni of Swarthmore College are known for their willingness to help students, and we can assist your child in connecting with alumni.

Ultimately the responsibility of finding a summer internship is on your student's shoulders, not yours. Before you call in a favor to a family friend or colleague to hire your child for the summer, check in with your student and see how her summer planning is going. If an acquaintance's work is aligned with your child's interests, encourage her to reach out directly rather than securing the opportunity for her. As you've surely learned by now, the more invested your child is in the process, the more motivated she will be to see it through.

For more information about the many services we offer our students both during their time here and after graduation, visit our website at swarthmore.edu/careerservices. Working together, we can help your child obtain summer work experience and graduate from Swarthmore prepared for a meaningful future.