CPD News for Parents & Families

CPD eNews for parents and families articles

Contact for questions about CPD news for parents and families:
Dr. Jay Kyle
Assistant Director
Career & Professional Development

February 2020 news

Guest Author: Victoria Freiberg is a senior studying Psychology and Human Development at Virginia Tech. She is currently working as a Field Study student for Smith Career Center. 

Victoria Freiberg, field study student.
Victoria Freiberg, field study student in CPD, and guest author for this month's enews.

Searching for internships and jobs can be a stressful process for your student, but no need to worry! If your student follows these tips, they will be on the right track to staying focused, productive, and positive throughout their search.

Focus on one step at a time

Everyone’s path is different. Some people stick with their first job for years, others take a gap year, and some even end up going back to school late in life to change careers. Whatever their path, your student doesn’t have to decide their forever career right now. Instead of asking, “What do I want to do with my life?” Encourage them to ask, “What do I want my next step to be?”

Don’t take rejection personally

Bo Bennett once said, “A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” In the midst of possible rejections, remember rejection is not failure! Rejection is merely pushing you in a different direction. Urge your student to turn that rejection into motivation that will spur them on to become a more qualified candidate the next time around! They can focus on bettering their resume, joining different professional organizations, and saying yes to opportunities that will increase their skill levels.

If your student is having a difficult time pushing past their rejection or if their fear of rejection is holding them back from applying for different opportunities, encourage them to schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor at Smith Career Center. Our advisors have a wealth of knowledge, encouragement, and resources to help your student, as they overcome their past rejections or fear of future nos.

Create a schedule...that includes REST

When it comes to job and internship searches, the hardest part is getting started. To help them gain momentum, your student should create a schedule for when they will conduct certain aspects of their search. For example, they could spend one hour on Mondays applying to new jobs/internships, one hour on Tuesdays following up with past applications, and one hour on Thursdays updating their resume, LinkedIn, and cover page. Creating a schedule will not only motivate your student and create balance in their search, it will also allow for rest! Rest, in moderation, will allow your student to be able to sustain their search while also maintaining their overall wellness.

Identify your triggers

What underlying fears or circumstances are making the internship and job search stressful for your student? Is it that they have a crazy class schedule and are struggling to keep up with assignments, so thinking of adding one more interview or completing one more application is overwhelming? Do they believe that this semester is their only shot at getting their dream summer internship? Or if they don’t get that internship, it will mean they will fall behind? Whatever the underlying reason, it is important to identify triggers and root causes of stress to battle it in an efficient way. Career Advisors at the Smith Career Center can also help your student to uncover the root causes of their search anxiety.

Job and internship searches can be stressful but encourage your student to follow these tips to staying positive and persistent in their search for their next step.

January 2020 news

Guest Author: Victoria Freiberg is a senior studying Psychology and Human Development at Virginia Tech. She is currently working as a Field Study student for Smith Career Center. 

Victoria Freiberg, field study student.
Victoria Freiberg, field study student in CPD, and guest author for this month's enews.

“What do I do if my major doesn’t align with my career field of interest?” Many students come across this question during their college years, but there’s no need to feel discouraged! There are plenty of options and resources available for your student, even if their major doesn’t seem to fit their dream field.


Does your student know what field they are interested in? Or do they have a general dislike for what they have seen so far within their major? The response to both questions is the same: Research!

If they know what field they want to go into, they could look up what requirements or qualifications they need to meet, what majors build a necessary skill set for that field, and what experiences could help them get their foot in the door.

If your student doesn’t know what field they want to go into, advise them to take some time researching what fields are interested in the skill set their major builds. You would be surprised by what some majors can do that seems outside of their field but actually align perfectly with their unique skills! Your student can also make an advising appointment with Career and Professional Development to take an assessment to help narrow down the search.

Build a network

How do roughly 80% of people find their jobs?1 Networking! Encourage your student to meet people in their field of interest or who have jobs that intrigue them. The Smith Career Center hosts information sessions with employers that can help your student start building this network. Professional organizations on campus are another great way to make connections and network within your field. You never know what opportunities could appear through making positive connections and building relationships!

Leverage experiences through resumes and interviews

What skills does your student have from other fields or experiences that could apply to their current field of interest? What skills have they learned that are useful in all fields? Marketing themselves can be a big part of breaking into a new field. Your student should take time in their interviews to explain how their past experiences, even if they don’t seem to apply directly, have taught them a lot of skills that can be useful in their current interest field!

Ask for Advice

Smith Career Center has great resources and years of experience that can help point your student in the right direction. Encouraging your student to make an appointment on Handshake to speak with a career advisor is a great way to help your student discover what options are out there for them!

1Adler, Lou. “New Survey Reveals 85% of All Jobs Are Filled Via Networking.” LinkedIn, LinkedIn, 29 Feb. 2016.

December 2019 news

Guest Author: Victoria Freiberg is a senior studying Psychology and Human Development at Virginia Tech. She is currently working as a Field Study student for Smith Career Center. 

Victoria Freiberg, field study student.
Victoria Freiberg, field study student in CPD, and guest author for this month's enews.

Winter break is a great time for your student to kick back, relax, and recover from the chaos of fall semester; however, a relaxing break doesn’t have to be a wasted break!

Continue the search

Fall semester might be over, but the job and internship search has merely begun! More free time over winter break means more time for your student to apply for jobs, call back employers they haven’t heard from in a while, research new opportunities, and even set up some interviews.

Add something to your resume

Is there an organization your student is passionate about? Why not volunteer with them over break! Interested in a specific career field? Why not shadow someone for a week! Your student can even reach out to past employers and ask if they can shadow someone in a different department. This will help them gain some diverse experience and continue to build that positive employer relationship.

Your student can also work on showing off some of their skills, or gaining a new one, by building a website, adding to their writing portfolio, starting a new project or finishing one that fell through the cracks.

Update your resume, LinkedIn, etc.

Has your student gotten behind in keeping up their resume? This can be the time they take to update their resume with any new skills, opportunities, or awards. They can even stop into the Smith Career Center before leaving for break to get some tips about what changes or updates to make. While they are at it, they can also take some time to update their LinkedIn profile and any portfolios they are forming.

Take a winter class

The winter semester is a time where your student can take a class outside of their field to learn something new or knock out a major requirement that will give them more free time during the semester to join a professional organization. Checking out winter semester study abroad opportunities is also a great way for your student to travel the world while ensuring they won’t miss out on any springtime Hokie experiences!

These tips aren’t merely helpful ways for your student to use their time wisely over winter break but can also be fun! So, why not encourage your student to get outside of their comfort zone and one step closer to their career goals!

November 2019 news

Phone, video, in-person, all of the above: How does your student prepare for various types of interviews? Pass along this article to help your student discover the answer.

Tips to keep in mind for all types of interviews:

Be prepared. Don’t enter an interview empty-handed! First, do your research about the company: What do they do? What is one interesting fact about the company that drew you in? Secondly, prepare for common interview questions that could be asked: Tell me about yourself. Why are you a good fit for this position? Lastly, come prepared with at least two good questions that you can ask at the end of your interview: Tell me a little about why you chose to work for this company. What are some common challenges new employees encounter, and how do you recommend I prepare for them?

Say thank you! Always remember to thank the interviewer at the end of your interview, as well as send a follow-up thank-you email or note. This will go a long way in showing your appreciation and differentiating you from other candidates.

Phone Interview Tips:

Keep your resume, the job posting, and notes in front of you. One great perk of phone interviews is that you can have notes in front of you during the interview! You may find it helpful to bullet some answers to commonly asked questions or questions you intend to ask your interviewer. You can also have the job posting and your resume in front of you to reference throughout the course of the interview. But remember, even though these notes are super helpful, don’t read them verbatim – you shouldn’t sound like you are reading from a script!

Interview in a quiet place. Don’t pick a space where your roommate could walk in at any moment, unaware that you are on a very important call! Coffee shops, dining halls, and any public space in general are also no-go’s when it comes to phone interviews. Take time to find a quiet place without background noise where you can concentrate, be heard clearly, and easily hear what the interviewer is saying. Interview rooms in the Smith Career Center are a great option! You can reserve a room by calling (540) 231-6241.

Virtual Interview Tips:

Manage the background. Don’t make the mistake of having your roommate’s laundry hanging in the background or sitting in a place where people are constantly walking behind you. Control your background by making sure your back is facing a blank wall or a professional space with minimal distractions. This is another instance where reserving an interview room in the Smith Career Center is a great option.

Look directly into the camera at eye level. Don’t fall into the trap of looking at the picture on the screen instead of into the camera directly. A helpful trick is to move the box of your face up to the top of the screen near the camera. This allows you to monitor your appearance and gage your interviewer’s facial expressions while still making eye contact through the camera.

In-Person Interview Tips:

Be prompt. Take into account traffic, difficulty finding the interview room, and other things that may get in the way of being on time. Being prompt is an important first step to a great interview!

Be kind to everyone you meet. Your interview begins when you pull into the parking lot! Think about the receptionist, employees that walk by you in the waiting room, and the people you may meet on the elevator. How you treat them has the potential to get back to the hiring manager you came to speak to. Be kind, be respectful, and remember, your interview begins when you pull into the lot and ends when you leave the premises!

Smith Career Center has amazing resources to help you ace your interview! Our advising team can help you practice, give you interviewing tips, and help knock out some of those nerves before the big day. Learn how students can schedule an advising appointment. Good luck! 

October 2019 news

Guest Author: Victoria Freiberg is a senior studying Psychology and Human Development at Virginia Tech. She is currently working as a Field Study student for Smith Career Center. 

Victoria Freiberg, field study student.
Victoria Freiberg, field study student in CPD, and guest author for this month's enews.

Career Exploration

Is your student at a career crossroad? Maybe they are entering senior year but still are unsure of where their career path is taking them. Or maybe they are an underclassman who doesn’t even know what field to search for an internship in. No matter your student’s phase of life, we all at some point come to this crossroad. Here are a few questions that can help your student find clarity once they reach this fork in the road.

What does your student value?

Does your student value the individual? Or maybe the big picture? Maybe family comes first? Or maybe having the ability to move up the ladder trumps social opportunities? When facing the decision of what career to follow, it is important to take inventory of your values. Knowing what you value leads you to understand what career will bring the most joy and fulfillment. Encourage your student to take time to reflect on what they value by checking out these resources and self-assessments.

What are your student’s interests?

What are your students interests and hobbies? What are they passionate about? What issue can they not stop talking about? There are so many different jobs out there for every interest. Check out these self-assessments that help you discover your interests!

What is your student good at?

What skills does your student have? What do they excel in? What do professors, mentors, and club leaders affirm in them? Encourage your student to take these skills and run with them! If your student is unsure of what they are good at, push them to talk with professors, peers, or even yourself. Everyone is good at something, sometimes it just takes a little encouragement from others to be able to take notice of and accept these skills. At Career and Professional Development we have many reflection activities to help your student uncover their hidden gifts, so encourage them to visit their college’s Career Advisor.

My Journey

I deeply value people – specifically I’m drawn to one-on-one or small group situations where I can speak into people’s lives. I’m also very interested in different cultures and love working with diverse teams. Communication and organization have always been some of my top skills. These values, interests, and skills led me to my internship last summer on the Global Sales Enablement and Effectiveness Team for Ellucian. Not only was I able to work on a small and diverse team, but I was given the opportunity to take my love of culture and apply my skills in organization and communication to create training and motivational resources for a team from around the globe!

This intersection of values, interests, and skills led me to a job that at first I didn’t even know existed, but quickly fell in love with! Your student can also find a career path that will excite them. Taking care to recognize their values, interests, and skills is a great first step down the right path.

September 2019 news

Guest Author: Summer Clayton

Peer Career Advisor | Career and Professional Development at Virginia Tech

B.S. Business Information Technology | B.S. Management | 2020

Summer Clayton, guest author for September 2019 enews.

Career Fair Dos and Don’ts

It’s that time of year again when the leaves are changing, the days get colder, and you may start to wonder, “Does my student have a job or internship opportunity for the summer?” While this may be your student’s goal, the path to employment is sometimes unclear and overwhelming. Your student may find opportunities through Handshake, networking, workshops, or career fairs. In my own search for employment, I’ve found career fairs very valuable for my interests. Career fairs are especially unique because hundreds of companies come to campus with the goal to hire Virginia Tech students. How great does that sound? Below you’ll find some tips on how your student can stand out from the crowd at the fairs!

DO: Encourage your student to get their resume reviewed by a professional, such as the Career Center

DON’T: Use the first resume template found on Google

Your student can utilize the career center’s advising services to ensure their skills are conveyed and organized effectively. Drop-in advising at the Career Center is a great place to start!

DO: Emphasize the importance of knowing which companies are attending and researching them beforehand

DON’T: Show up unprepared and uninformed

Many employers visit Virginia Tech each year, so it’s impossible for your student to talk to every single one. Encourage them to prioritize their time, using resources like Handshake or the specific career fair websites, to know who is coming, when they will be there, and the location of each fair.

DO: Encourage your student to prepare a customized 30-second introduction

DON’T: Come unprepared with nothing to say

A great way for your student to leave a good impression is to have a polished 30-second introduction to describe themselves, a valuable past experience, and communicate their career interests and goals.

DO: Encourage them to wear business professional attire

DON’T: Roll out of bed and come in your pajamas or sweats

Your student should aim to look their best! Dress codes vary by industry and fair. When in doubt it is better to over dress. If your student does not have professional attire, have them mark their calendars for Career Outfitters. At this event, students can get gently used professional wear for free. Padfolios also add a great touch and are a convenient place to hold resumes and handouts and to take notes.

DO: Follow up with the recruiter you talked to

DON’T: Wait to hear back

Your student should try to follow up with the representative they spoke to, if they have the necessary contact information. It is a great opportunity for them to reiterate their interest in the company and position, ask any clarifying questions, and to help the recruiter remember them. Not everyone will complete this final, but extremely important, step, so it will leave even more of an impression.

DO: Encourage your student to stop by the Career Center for any additional tips

We can’t wait to help your student prepare for the upcoming fairs!

August 2019 news

New: Introducing Hokie Mentorship Connect for Undergraduates and VT Alums

Submitted by: Donna Cassell Ratcliffe, Director of Career and Professional Development

Hello, I am Donna Cassell Ratcliffe, the director of Career and Professional Development, and I’d like to share with you an exciting new initiative that has been a dream of Dr. Timothy Sands when he became Virginia Tech’s president – a mentorship program for undergraduate students with VT alumni.

During the undergraduate years we believe that it is important for students to be able to connect with people who have been through their current situation or are where they aspire to be. For example, wouldn’t it be great if a student who is the first in their family to go to college, or is a student athlete or is even a member of the Corps of Cadets could talk to a VT graduate who took that same path during college in order to get their unique insights. Or perhaps a sophomore would like to ask someone what it is like to be a city manager, an anthropologist, a dentist or even a social media designer before making key decisions about what classes to take and/or career to pursue. What about getting advice about the best strategies to pursue an internship or job with a specific company or government agency?

Career and Professional Development, along with our friends from Alumni Relations, are excited about a new initiative to unite Virginia Tech undergraduate students with alumni for career-related support via an online platform to initiate formal and informal mentoring relationships. Hokie Mentorship Connect will be launched during the Fall 2019 semester. The program will exist to promote fellowship and networking for career development purposes. As a result open lines of communication will be formed and meaningful relationships will be established between multiple generations of Hokies. This mentorship platform will offer students three options to participate:

  • Structured Mentorship Program
    Sophomores, juniors and seniors can take advantage of forming a 6 month mentorship relationship with a VT graduate of their choice – perhaps someone who is in the same major, in their career field of interest, or someone with a similar background. Together they set goals and pursue them by communicating via the video-chat and messaging features provided within the platform. Opportunities may even emerge for participants to meet face-to-face! Continuing the relationship after the required six months will be voluntary.
  • Flash Mentoring
    A “flash mentoring” opportunity is available for students who would like to get advice by approaching any of the alums in the program with a single question or conduct an informational interview. A series of inquiries from a student to an alum may include asking about the organization where they work, requesting a resume consult, having questions about their particular career field, or requesting advice about the alum’s geographic location.
  • Discussion Board Groups
    There are industry groups for student and alums to engage in discussions about opportunities, issues and trends in the field.  Any member can post a question and other members can provide opinions, experiences, perspectives and advice.

The condensed version of the six month mentorship program was piloted during the spring 2019 semester with 30 mentorship pairs. This enabled us to assess the program orientation, guidelines, assignments, and the software platform. Feedback we received from student mentees revealed that their mentors:

  • gave them guidance as they prepared for job fairs
  • encouraged them while selecting a second academic major
  • shared real world information about their career fields
  • gave advice about how to find an internship
  • provided tips regarding the best ways to position themselves while going through the graduate and professional school application process

Allow me to share my own experience with the Hokie Mentorship Connect pilot program. Being a Hokie alumna allowed me the privilege of serving as a mentor to a transfer student and I found value in:

  • having direct exposure to diversity of thought, style, personality and culture from my mentee
  • the ability to share valuable professional experience and information that I wish that I had known when I was going through the same process
  • another opportunity to embrace UT PROSIM as a way of life as I give back to Virginia Tech by serving in this uniquely important role

It is important to remember that not everyone has a linear career path and Hokie Mentorship Connect can help bring exposure to unknown possibilities for our students. I hope that you will encourage your student to participate or even serve as a mentor yourself if you are a VT alum. We are very excited about this new opportunity to forge relationships within the Hokie Nation!

May 2019 news

At Career and Professional Development, we employ around 20 student assistants in various roles.  One of those roles is that of Peer Career Advisor (PCA).  Our PCAs each work 10 hours per week for our office, advising their fellow students on resumes, cover letters, job search strategies, and other career-related topics.  They are invaluable to our office, and the work we do!  This month, we are celebrating our three senior PCAs who are graduating in May.  Below is a bit about each of them, as well as their advice to other students.

Major: Public Relations
Hometown: Herndon, VA

Plans after graduation: Working as an Account Coordinator at LEWIS Global Communications in Washington, DC

Neeka’s most impactful experience while at VT was working for Career and Professional Development. Neeka joined our team in January 2016 as a freshman. She says, “Working here has allowed me to meet the most amazing mentors, figure out my career path, and make lifelong friends!”

Neeka says that the best thing underclassmen can do for their own career development is to “start early and be open to different opportunities! It is never too early to start mapping out your future career. Sign up for interesting classes, take career assessments, apply to a variety of internships — a combination of these will hopefully lead you to what you are meant to do.”

Major: Human Development
Minor: Psychology
Hometown: Leesburg, VA

Plans after graduation: Pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health at Virginia Tech

Callyn says that her most impactful experience at VT was “applying for an on-campus job that was not related to my major or future career. This brought a whole new perspective and set of skills that I would not have gained just through my classes. It allowed me to build strong connections with advisors and peers who I would not have had a relationship with otherwise.”

Callyn recommends that underclassmen “take self-assessment personality / career tests, explore different majors and careers, reach out to alumni and professionals in your future career fields on LinkedIn, get your resume reviewed during drop-in hours at the Smith Career Center, and take elective classes you are interested in that are outside of your major.”

Major: Public Relations
Minors: Business Leadership; Public and Urban Affairs
Hometown: Richmond, VA

Plans after graduation: Pursuing a Master’s degree in College Student Affairs Administration at the University of Georgia

Katie’s most impactful experience at VT was watching the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets’ Pass in Review her sophomore year. Katie says, “It was homecoming, and so the class of 1966 was there. I got to learn about their history of being at VT and how it’s changed, while also watching my classmates who have decided to fight for my freedom after graduation. It really showed me I was at the right institution that is developing such strong leaders and encourages service so well.”

Katie’s advice to underclassmen is to NETWORK! She says, “Get involved with organizations and communities you’re passionate about. These can help lead you to amazing connections for your professional life or even help you in really narrowing down what your post-grad trajectory is going to be. You never know what may come of it, and in the meantime, you get to meet amazing people and do things that bring you joy. Any experience is good experience and will help you develop into the professional that you’re going to be one day, and helps you meet other professionals too.”

April 2019 news

As your student progresses through the spring semester, they may be on the lookout for summer programs or internships that can help them gain valuable experience. Unfortunately, many college students excel on their application and resume but may lack an interview-appropriate outfit to wear. Fortunately, many students had that need met thanks to the Career Outfitters program hosted by Career and Professional Development at Virginia Tech.

This program provided students the opportunity to shop, free of charge, for new and gently used professional attire including men’s and women’s suits, suit separates, shirts and blouses, shoes, and accessories, all of which were donated for this purpose. Our most recent event was held on February 1, 2019, and attracted over 500 students, all given the opportunity to look and feel their best in their “new-to-you” professional attire.

Student coordinator Kaitlyn Flora has been handling many aspects of this program, from collecting donations to hosting the semi-annual campus event. Kaitlyn shared her experience saying:

“It has been a lot of fun serving as the 2018-2019 student coordinator. It gave me the opportunity to meet many great students and help them find their personal style in the workspace. My goal for this program has always been to connect with the individual students and help them find the clothing that makes them feel confident, a vital feeling when walking into an interview. There is a lot of preparation that goes into an interview, but we want to take the worry away about what to wear and help students re-focus on the main goal; to score that dream job or internship.”

Has your son or daughter outgrown a suit they had in high school? The Career Outfitters program happily accepts these as well as other professional wear for our students. We are typically in need of smaller sizes but all sizes are welcome! If you are interested in donating professional clothing, please see information about how to make donations.

March 2019 news

Spring Break: An Opportunity for Your Student to Recharge and Revise Their Professional Edge
Spring break is a great time for your student to relax, refresh, and get ready for the rest of the semester. Since students have this time off, spring break could be an opportunity for a career-related project. This is a great time for your student to update or create a LinkedIn profile, update resumes, practice interviewing, or expand their network.

With LinkedIn, students are better accessible to employers. Think of LinkedIn as a “professional Facebook.” This platform can connect students to employers, professionals working in their desired field, or peers on the same career path. LinkedIn allows your student to fill in information from their resume so that employers are able to see their experience, education, skills, and so on. LinkedIn is also a great tool for your student to expand their network. You may also help your student build their network by connecting with your friends and colleagues. Check out this short video on how to get started with LinkedIn!

As your student gains experience and skills, their resume should be continuously updated. With the effort they are putting into school, your student may not have a lot of time to update their resume during the academic year. Spring break is a great time for your student to polish their resume! Take the time to update content, have a consistent format, and use language that is descriptive and intriguing a potential employers. For a comprehensive guide, see our Resume and CV guide.

Interviewing can be uncomfortable for anyone, especially for students who may not have as much experience with it. The best way to improve at behavioral interviewing is to practice. Over break your student may want to review our Interviewing skills guide to prepare and practice interviewing with instant feedback on Interview Stream.

If your student would like to see an advisor to discuss these topics and more either before or after spring break, they can schedule an appointment through Handshake or by phone at 540-231-6241.

We hope you enjoy spring break with your student!