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Smoothing the transition from college to career

Stacy Lieberman hears the same thing from recent college grads all the time. "My degree is in psychology; I don't know what to do. My degree is in history; I don't know what to do," said Lieberman, office manager at the Center for Professional Development, which is at the University of Hartford in Connecticut but serves the community.

Lieberman says her office often helps these callers, but she also suggests they check back with their own college career-service offices.

The most recent statistics from MonsterTRAK show that almost half of this year's graduates planned to move home upon graduation. (Last year's survey revealed that only 22 percent of 2007 grads expected to move home for more than six months, but 43 percent have extended their stay and have yet to leave because of limited financial resources.)

So how should young graduates get going in the job market, and how much should parents help?

Set some rules

Talk to grads about their goals and why they are home, then lay down some rules.

Michael Klein, a Northampton, Mass., career coach with a doctorate in psychology, says parents need to say, "Let's talk about why you're home and what your short- and long-term goals are. What is your purpose for being at home? Are you trying to save money? Let's talk about what that means."


Jeff Arnett, a psychologist and the author of Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From Late Teens Through the Twenties, said parents need to be patient with kids and realize what they are going through is typical. "They don't want to live there any more than you want them to live there."

Most, he said, move home for a transitional period of as long as six months or, at most, a year. He said the young adults want to make their own decisions.

Be supportive

Maureen Mulroy, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut's Cooperative Extension Program, said parents should encourage grads but not find the job for them.

She said sometimes young adults become overwhelmed by their situation. In such cases, Mulroy said, kids can withdraw and even become depressed. If this lasts for more than a couple of weeks, she suggests seeking medical attention.

Most kids have a record of summer employment, and it might help to return to an ordinary, familiar summer job to give them some balance while they search for a career-related job, she said.

Narrow your focus

Annalisa Zinn, assistant dean for career services in the College of Liberal Arts at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, said history or English majors often feel as though they aren't prepared for anything. She assures them that they have many transferable skills: writing and analytical and research abilities.

She recommends that rather than focus on large employment Web sites, grads should pick a geographic area and go directly to the companies or other employers that appeal to them. Often it's helpful to go to the local Chamber of Commerce Web site for a list of all employers in an area.

Smoothing the transition from college to career 07/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 3:26pm]
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