By Marcia B. Harris and Sharon L. Jones

1. Choosing a Career/Choosing a Major
Security vs. adventure. Accountant, Peace Corps volunteer, journalist, college professor. Ultimately, your son or daughter should make the choice. Of course, you may want to mention factors to consider, such as job market demand, salary ranges, long-range opportunities, skills required, etc. Just because an occupation is "hot" now does not mean it will be equally in demand in 10 years or that your child has the aptitude or motivation for it.

2. Choosing to Double Major/Choosing a Major and Minor
Most employers do not place a premium on a double major. It usually requires an extra one or two semesters to obtain a second major and does not particularly enhance a student's marketability. Exceptions would be a second major or a major and minor chosen for a specific career, such as English and chemistry for technical writing, or a health policy major and business minor for hospital administration. Of course, some students may choose to double major primarily for academic/intellectual purposes.

3. Grade Point Average (GPA)
Some students who get off to a rocky start eventually pull up their grades; however, this can be very difficult to do. Advanced placement credits and study abroad courses generally do not count in the computation of a student's GPA. Some employers use GPA cutoffs in considering applicants. Other employers stress the student's overall background: experience, number of hours worked during the school year to finance college, leadership activities, etc. Encourage your son or daughter to make academics a high priority beginning with his or her freshman year. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that it may take him or her a while to adjust to the rigorous academic demands of college.

4. Obtaining Marketable Skills
Most employers today put more emphasis on graduates' skills than on their academic majors. Encourage your son or daughter to develop strengths in at least two or three of the following areas:

• Computer skills (e.g., programming, word processing, spreadsheets, data base management, e-mail, Internet);
• Quantitative skills (e.g., accounting, statistics, economics);
• Communication skills (e.g., written and oral);
• Marketing/selling skills (e.g., sales, publicity, fundraising);
• Scientific skills (e.g., lab skills, scientific research);
• Foreign language skills (e.g., especially Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, or Russian);
• Leadership skills (e.g., supervisory, extracurricular leadership roles, teamwork/team leader).

5. Leadership Activities
Many employers rate leadership activities even more highly than GPA. Students who were very active in high school activities may be less involved in college extracurricular activities. However, employers regard high school as "ancient history" for a college senior. It is more valuable for a student to be involved in a few meaningful leadership roles on campus than to be in a "laundry list" of many campus clubs.

 6. Experience
You may want your son or daughter to work in his or her hometown every summer. However, the experience gained as a lifeguard or ice cream shop counter clerk does not compare to that which comes from an internship (paid or unpaid) in the career field that he or she aspires to enter. Future employers will seek graduates with relevant, realworld work experience. Some students have little to write about on a resume if their summers were spent in school, traveling, or working at low-level jobs. We strongly suggest that students seek career-related experience for their sophomore and junior summers even if they must live away from home or accept an unpaid internship. Students needing financial support can combine an unpaid internship with a paid job such as waiter/waitress, etc.

7. Graduating Early, Graduating Late
Some students graduate early through advanced placement credits, heavy course loads, and summer school courses. The advantages are lower educational expenses and the ability to start employment or graduate school earlier. The disadvantages may include the sacrifice of academic honors, work experience, and extracurricular and volunteer activities that may contribute to a student's maturity level and qualifications. Other students graduate late due to light course loads, academic difficulties, changing majors, poor academic advising, lack of direction, or reluctance to leave the cocoon of the college environment. Advantages to late graduation include the ability to improve grades with light class loads, extra time to change majors, the ability to take additional electives to improve marketability, and extra time to gain more career-related or leadership experience. Disadvantages to late graduation are increased college costs and possible disapproval of employers and graduate schools.

8. Planning for Graduate/Professional School
About 88 percent of the nation's college freshmen indicated in a recent survey that they plan to go to graduate or professional school, yet only about 24 percent do so within a year of completing their bachelor's degree. Students aspiring to graduate or professional school should: Be clear about the reasons they want to go on for further education; research the qualifications required for admission and be realistic about their chances of acceptance; and always have a "Plan B" or back-up plan in case they are not accepted. Students should discuss their interest in graduate or professional school well before their senior year with their academic adviser; the college's graduate or professional school adviser (e.g., the pre-law or pre-med adviser); and a college career adviser to obtain advice and guidance from three different perspectives.

9. Taking Time Off
Many students want to take time off after college graduation from college before attending graduate school or taking a career-related job. Future employers will want to know how the student has spent the intervening time. Do activities during this period demonstrate relevance to future career goals and/or a good work ethic? While short-term travel may be personally broadening, it does not increase a student's marketability to employers unless it is seen as career related. Therefore, the time off may result in a longer job search. For example, management trainee programs, which often begin shortly after graduation and hire large numbers of new graduates, may be filled by the time your child is ready to begin a job search.

10. Using the College Career Services Office
Students should begin using their campus career office no later than their sophomore year. Virtually all career offices provide individual career counseling/advising, career planning workshops, internship assistance, and career fairs and programs-these services are specifically for underclassmen. Your son or daughter should seek help early with choosing a career and preparing for it. Competition for good jobs, particularly in certain fields, is stiff. The career office can advise students about how to become a strong candidate for their field of interest.—Career development and job-search advice for new college graduates.
Copyright © National Association of Colleges and Employers
62 Highland Avenue • Bethlehem, PA 18017-9085

UAB News

  • Williams earns grant to study perceptions of discrimination in health care
    Jessica Williams, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Health Services Administration, received a $100,000 New Connections grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to examine perceptions of discrimination in health care settings.
    Written by Kevin Storr

    Jessica Williams, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Health Services Administration, received a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Connections program.

    The grant will allow Williams to look at factors that influence perceptions of discrimination in health care settings, the management of hypertension in African-Americans, and how these perceptions influence medication adherence.

    “The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is deeply committed to improving health for all communities, so I am honored to receive this grant and this incredible opportunity that will establish me as an independent investigator and move me toward my research vision of communities where health care outcomes are independent of race and class,” Williams said. “I believe that the only way we can begin to improve the quality of health care encounters is to understand patient perceptions, and in many ways I feel this is a missing piece to the disparities puzzle.”

    New Connections is a national program designed to introduce new scholars to RWJF and expand the diversity of perspectives that inform the Foundation’s programming. New Connections seeks early- to mid-career scholars who are historically underrepresented ethnic or racial minorities, first-generation college graduates, or individuals from low-income communities.

    “Jessica Williams is doing important work that has the potential to influence practice and improve access to care, and this award will provide important funding for this emerging scholar,” said Christy Harris Lemak, Ph.D., chair of the UAB School of Health Professions Department of Health Services Administration. “We are proud of her and look forward to supporting her research and learning from this important work.”

    The grant also includes a mentorship component. Williams’ mentors on this project include Andrea Cherrington, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and a researcher with the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center, and Robert Weech-Maldonado, Ph.D., professor and L.R. Jordan Chair of the HSA department who is a national authority in health disparities.

    “We are so excited to welcome Jessica Williams into the ninth cohort of New Connections grantees,” said Catherine Malone, DBA, MBA, and program officer at RWJF. “The program connects first-time grantees to the Foundation, and the new perspectives they bring are essential to solving the critical, complex issues affecting our nation’s health.”

    Williams’ grant began Sept. 1. She hopes to publish the results of her findings in the summer of 2017.

  • UAB men's basketball picked to win Conference USA
    The Blazers were picked to win Conference USA by the conference's coaches, garnering 11 of 14 first-place votes.
  • UAB to conduct online needs assessment survey for LGBTQ community
    UAB is hosting an online survey to highlight needs and concerns of the LGBTQ community within the Greater Birmingham area.

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health is conducting on online survey on behalf of the LGBTQ Fund of The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

    The B-Heard online survey will provide baseline data about Birmingham and highlight needs and concerns of the local LGBTQ community, their families and friends, and the health, education and social service professionals who work with them. The results will help set priorities for funding services to improve the quality of life for the LGBTQ community within a five-county area consisting of Jefferson, Walker, Blount, St. Clair and Shelby counties.

    Organizers are looking for broad input from all segments of the community in order to get the most accurate picture of LGBTQ life in Central Alabama..

    The survey can be found until Nov. 16 at

More Items

UAB Career & Professional Development Twitter