Career & Professional Development: for parents and families > CPD news for parents and families
Summer break is right around the corner! As your student takes a break from classes, they may be asking, “how can I make the most of my summer?”
Whether your student has a career-related internship, a summer job, or has other exciting plans, there are many opportunities for career development:
- Professional Competencies: Developing one’s professional competencies is key in feeling prepared for the workforce. As your student considers employment options, they may be interested in reading more about these competencies or completing a self-assessment to see which of competencies they may want to focus on developing over the summer.
- LinkedIn: Encourage your student to build their LinkedIn profile by connecting with Virginia Tech alumni and other professionals. Students can utilize LinkedIn to set up informational interviews, organize shadowing experiences, and expand their network.
- Experience: While career-related summer jobs and internships are popular, there are many other avenues for career development that your student may want to check out.
Fast tips for how your student can make the most of their summer experience:
- Review the position description and consider learning objectives you hope to achieve
- Familiarize yourself with the company – their website, LinkedIn profile, articles, etc.
- Be prepared to discuss dress code, work hours, parking rules, details about lunch and other breaks, payroll information, or other pertinent questions for your experience
- Establish clear, attainable learning objectives that can be monitored and discussed during regular meetings with a supervisor as well as mid-way and end of term evaluations
- Document and keep records of projects, achievements, performance evaluations
- Network – create connections by having conversations with a variety of people at the company!
- Develop and practice professionalism by being on time, dressing appropriately, taking initiative, managing time efficiently, being accountable, producing quality work, and problem solving
- Questions to Consider
o What do you think was your most significant accomplishment while you were working?
o Are there any new skills you developed while you were at the worksite? If so, what were they?
o Now that you have experience in your field of study, describe what you believe the ideal supervisor and workplace environment is for you.
- How to Describe the Experience
o Problem: What was the problem or task that you were assigned?
o Action: What action did you take to solve the problem and complete the task?
o Result: After your action, what was the end result for your employer? Can you quantify this in some way using a percentage, a number, or other measure? For example, did it increase efficiencies or production? If so, how much?
o Application: How can you transfer the skills you gained in this experience to jobs in the future?
When “Our Students” Assist “Your Students”
In Praise of the Peer Career Advisors
The Peer Career Advisor (PCA) program in Career and Professional Development (CPD) benefits both the VT students who request assistance and the Peer Career Advisors who meet with them. Students participating in the PCA program gain para-professional experience during their employment with CPD and are trained to assist in various areas of the career planning process, which include advising, outreach and education, and programming assistance.
Three of our PCAs graduate this May and we’d like for you to get a sense of their contributions to the VT community:
Samantha (Sam) Lek, a Business Information Technology – Decisions Support Systems major, has participated in the PCA program for five semesters and states that the strength that she uses most in her job is communication, which is number one on her list. “I really enjoy not just talking but listening to others and learning how to work with others or with supervisors with varying managerial styles,” says Sam. Her most memorable student interaction is “with a student on drop-in advising who had come multiple times to the office to get her resume reviewed and each time happened to be the same time I was working. So I had worked with her multiple times to develop their resume and help with interviews. One day I ran into her at an interview onsite at a company and was so happy to see that she had progressed and really taken a lot out of our meetings!” Sam has stayed busy during her time at VT as well as interning during the summer months. “This past summer I interned with Capital One in McLean, Virginia, doing project management in a cohort of 20 other interns in their Management Rotation Program. I loved my time in the internship and learned so much and did so many new things like travel to San Francisco for the first time! I will actually be returning to Capital One full-time in the same program and hopefully getting some traveling in post-graduation before I start my career!” Sam’s most important take-away from her time at VT is “really learning to prioritize and understand what’s important to me. I love being busy but I also love the balance I have in and out of school. I really value my friendships and the people I’ve met at Virginia Tech and balancing all of that plus school can sometimes be very overwhelming. However, I think it all comes down to prioritization and time management.”
Bryce Causey, majoring in Environment Policy and Planning as well as Political Science, is completing his second year as a PCA. In addition to being the PCA who always immediately jumps in to assist a waiting student, earning him the first service star and establishing the basis for a healthy competition among the PCAs, Bryce also produces flyers for upcoming events and assists in presenting professional development topics to clubs and organizations. He’s interned with Senator Tim Kaine and his favorite CPD project was “being able to host a roundtable of alumni for the College of Natural Resources and Environment.” The strength that Bryce says he uses most as a PCA is adaptability, evidenced by the variety of tasks he chooses. His most memorable student interaction is “helping a student decide between two really good job offers. While talking it out with her, I saw she realized what job she wanted and I was happy to help someone decide on a major milestone in their life.” Bryce uses his free time to hang out with friends and play soccer and his most important take-away from time at VT is to “appreciate the friends you make and the fun events at this school, because the four years go by way too quickly.” Bryce is, himself, job searching and hopeful of securing full-time employment in Washington, D.C.
Both Sam and Bryce have advice for new students and their families. Bryce offers, “Don’t stress about making friends, fitting in, or making major decisions about your major/career. Somehow it just all falls into place.” From Sam: “Really take time to find what you’re passionate about, whether that’s something you are already doing or something entirely new. I think college is the perfect time to try new things, especially at VT where the opportunities are endless.”
Great information and advice from students that have done deep-dives into career exploration and student service. They are part of a cadre of other talented individuals that meet with students daily during drop-in advising, provide program support to career advisors, deliver professional development workshops and serve as stellar examples for the VT student population.