DEAR CARRIE: My daughter is a college senior and has had high grades throughout her four years. She has also been involved in a lot of campus activities. She is a great person and an intelligent young woman. She has a double major and a minor and is thinking about going for her master’s in social work. But I am concerned she is not trying to look for work. Each time my husband and I recommend she visit the campus career center, she finds an excuse not to go. We even offered to help her put together a resume and buy an outfit for the career fair, but she still wasn’t interested. She says she gets sick thinking about this. How can we help her make a smooth transition from college to work? — LEADING THE WAY
DEAR LEADING: The behavior of your high-achieving daughter isn’t all that unusual among academic standouts, said two career experts whom I turned to for advice.
“They excel in school,” said Rita Maniscalco, a Huntington-based career, life and business coach. “But they worry about how, or if, they will be able to recreate that success in the real world.”
Michael Coritsidis, a Long Beach career coach and motivational speaker, said some students find it difficult to trade in campus life.
“Campus life is a safe haven, while preparing for the real world [involves] unpredictable change,” he said.
How can you make the transition seem less daunting to your daughter?
“Start by creating a safe space for your daughter to express concerns without fear of judgment,” Maniscalco said. “Really listen to her in order to identify her top concerns so that you can effectively help her address them.”
Then help her reach out to people you might know in the field she’s interested in.
Or encourage her to connect with alumni of her school.
“These are easily identifiable via the college’s LinkedIn group,” Maniscalco said.
A school career counselor or private career coach could help your daughter “disclose any underlying concerns as to why she gets sick thinking about” a job search, Coritsidis said.
While a school counselor would be less expensive, your daughter may prefer to talk to someone else.
“It may be that she does not feel comfortable revealing her feelings to anyone on campus,” Maniscalco said. “If that is the case, consider hiring a private career coach to help with the transition.”
She said most coaches offer an initial complimentary consultation. You should interview at least three coaches, and let your daughter have the final say on which coach she feels would work best. Make sure that each one holds a credential from the International Coach Federation and can help her with such things as resume and cover-letter writing, job-search strategy, interview training, and salary negotiation, she said.
A good coach can also help your daughter develop realistic expectations about job hunting, she said.
“One job opening often has hundreds of candidates,” she said.
To make her transition less scary, your daughter might consider having a foot in both school and work initially, Coritsidis said.
“Exposure to the working world can be done gradually by continuing studies in her desired specialty while attaining a part-time job or volunteering to get the exposure without the added stress,” he said.
Besides, an advanced degree is a must for many fields, like social work, he said.
“In most majors, the greater the education, the greater the salary,” he said. It will “open more doors of opportunities.”
Assure your daughter that she already has great skills to help her in the transition from school to work, Maniscalco said.
“Having completed a double major and a minor speaks to her personal responsibility and time-management skills,” Maniscalco said. “Being involved in campus organizations speaks to her ability to work with a team and deal with many personality types. These skills will serve her well in the workplace.”
Go to bit.ly/LIgrads for more on successful career strategies for college grads.