College Graduate to Gainfully Employed: What Every Parent Needs to Know

College graduation represents a defining moment in the lives of young adults. On the one hand, students and parents are filled with excitement and optimism as they celebrate a landmark achievement that has been many years in the making. On the other hand, college graduations often represent a transition to a time of great uncertainty for many grads. They are leaving the familiar place they have called home for the past several years, and many are leaving the world of academia that has provided structure to their lives since they first entered kindergarten. Students will be separated from close friends, both physically and emotionally, as they pursue different careers in different areas. And, as the majority of grads will move home – at least temporarily until they find a job and saved enough money to support themselves – they will also have to deal with the difficulties of navigating a relationship with their new roommates: mom and dad.

The Shift

It is vital for parents to understand that, if a student moves home after college, there will be a tremendous shift they must come to terms with. Their role as a parent will be vastly different than it was when their child left 4 years earlier: rules that were once followed will be ignored, demands made will be contested, and communication is more commonly occurring through text and e-mail than conversations at the dinner table.

This sort of unanticipated change can have a devastating impact on the parent/child relationship that leaves both parties unsure of how to adjust. This is especially true when your child graduates without a job. Many recent graduates will be anxiety-riddled during their first experience with full-time job searching, and they may have little tolerance for repeatedly asked questions – especially those that have no answers – and they are likely to bristle at their parents’ suggestions (even those thinly veiled as innocent questions). 

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New Roles

As parents face first-hand the many complicated issues that arise when one’s children have left the structure of their adolescent and college life, but haven’t yet secured a job to launch their career, they often want to understand what their new role is and how they too can adapt to the changes in the relationship.

However, parents are by no means the only party who needs a game plan in this transitionary time. Without the infrastructure of professors, colleagues, and career and other campus services, college grads feel like they don’t know where to start. They need to set realistic and attainable goals and have a clear and executable job plan. They need to fully understand the job search process and how to successfully execute each phase to receive job offers. And despite an undergraduate career at a top educational institution, the vast majority of students are not taught these tools in college.

If you are a parent, make no mistake: today’s job search, with the growth of technology, is nothing like the job search process that you experienced. From creating your personal brand, optimizing your resume, cover letters and social media profiles to researching opportunities, interviewing and networking, it can be overwhelming for young people who have little if any experience navigating the job market.