Guidance for Parents and Their Graduates
Dear Proud Parent of a Recent College Grad,
Congratulations! Your child is about to embark on what may be one of the bumpiest rides of his or her life to date (sans seatbelts and airbags). She will be hired, potentially fired, promoted, demoted, and will experience all of the emotion that comes with it all. As caring and supportive parents, you’ve been there to guide and protect her through those turbulent teenage years. But now that she’s headed into the workforce (and maybe even back under your roof), it’s time to give some solid advice and then take a backseat.
Even wonderful, encouraging, experienced parents could use a little advice now and then. Please, heed mine:
Give realistic encouragement
As a recent grad, there is nothing more frustrating than hearing my mother suggest I should invent the next Facebook. (Software programming is definitely not in my future.) Sure, one day Facebook will be dethroned and another addicting website will take the reigns, but dearest parents, just graduating is hard enough. Instead of comparing your children to Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, encourage them to find their own path and passion.
The job hunt can be intimidating for grads who haven’t fully prepared themselves. After graduation, I spent countless hours on job boards trying to compare myself to other candidates I assumed were more qualified. And you know where that got me? Absolutely nowhere. Luckily, my parents didn’t share my concerns. After all, they did pay good money to see that I learned a few things. Following some kind words from my parents and a re-examination of my skills, I stopped focusing on the competition and started having more confidence in myself.
Sometimes your kids really do need you to step in and tell them how great they are for them to realize it themselves.
As a teenager, I dreamt of attending an Ivy League school. Did I have the grades? No. The SAT scores? Probably not. The drive and dedication to succeed? Sure, but the first time I got a rejection letter in the mail, I realized that you just aren’t always ready for certain opportunities.
When it comes to job hunting, give your grad a dose of reality. Encourage your child to be open minded about companies of all sizes, providing examples of interesting organizations that aren’t in the Fortune 100.
Mix the “dream big” advice with a more practical approach by reminding your grad that this is the first step on her career path. Entry-level job seekers can’t expect to have the same qualifications as a professional with eight to ten years of experience, though we sometimes don’t get that right away.
Your grad may not find the job of his dreams right away but encourage him to find something whether it’s an internship, volunteer opportunity, or part-time job. Future employers prefer to hear that a graduate spent his time being productive rather than surfing the web and trying to break the world record for most Skittles consumed in a day.
Reach out to your network
This is the area where you can probably help your grad the most. You’re older, wiser, and have a network that’s double or triple the size of your child’s. Remember the times when your grad begged and pleaded with you to just stay out of his life? The tables might turn soon, as your grad starts actually taking you up on that offer to connect her with that friend who works in marketing. Make a few phone calls, send a few emails, and encourage your graduate to start building a network of his own if he hasn’t already.
Now that you’re armed with the tips necessary for giving constructive job advice, all I can do is wish you luck. And remember: The more helpful you are, the more likely your child is to move out of your house before turning thirty; the more overbearing you are, the more likely your child is to blame you for his emotional distress and career choices later.
Sincerely,Been there, done that.