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

  • Indigo Girls set to perform at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center on Sept. 23
    The duo will perform classic hits and songs from their latest album “One Lost Day.”

    Photo credit: Jeremy CowartAmerican folk rock music duo Indigo Girls will take the stage at UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. Concertgoers will have an opportunity to take a walk down memory lane as the duo performs old favorites like “Closer to Fine” and “Galileo” and introduces new classics from their June 2015 release, “One Lost Day.”

    The Indigo Girls began playing small shows in the 1980s. With 12 studio albums, three live records, numerous Grammy nominations and awards, gold and platinum certifications, and decades of touring, the Indigo Girls remain relevant and just as perfectly matched vocally as when they first took to the stage.

    Consisting of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, the pair first met as fifth- and sixth-graders in Decatur, Georgia, and began singing together during high school. Originally billed as Saliers and Ray, they adopted the name Indigo Girls during their undergraduate days at Atlanta’s Emory University. The Indigos were attending classes by day and performing as an acoustic duo in local clubs by night when they made their first recording in 1985 with the single “Crazy Game/Everybody’s Waiting (for Someone To Come Home),” which they issued on their own label, followed by an EP and, in 1987, their first full-length LP, “Strange Fire.”

    Tickets are $45.50, $55.50 and $63.50. Student tickets are $21. For more information, call 205-975-2787 or visit

    The duo has stood the test of time. More than 30 years later, with their husky voices and intimate, poignant lyrics, they are still going strong. While many artists who launched their careers in the 1980s have slipped from our collective memory, the Indigo Girls are still writing and recording, championing a number of social and environmental causes, and filling halls with devoted, multigenerational audiences. The iconic duo continues to challenge itself creatively, over and over again, adding to their body of work.

    Opening for the Indigo Girls is Georgia native Hannah Thomas. An up-and-coming artist, Thomas has shared the stage with the Indigo Girls before, along with other acts such as Kristian Bush of Sugarland and Zac Brown of the Zac Brown Band. Thomas was named best country act in the Georgia Lottery’s All Access Music Search in 2011.

    The UAB Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center is located at 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $45.50, $55.50 and $63.50. Student tickets are $21. For more information, call 205-975-2787 or visit

  • Lace up for Blazer Fun Run/Walk
    Join UAB Employee Wellness for the annual Blazer Fun Run on Sept. 19.

    Join UAB Employee Wellness for the annual Blazer Fun Run Sept. 19.The fifth annual Blazer Fun Run/Walk, set for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, offers faculty, staff, students and alumni the opportunity to get physically fit and learn about all the health resources, services and benefits available at UAB. Participants can walk, jog or run the 2-mile course, which begins near the Bell Building parking lot, followed by a post-walk event on the UAB Campus Green.

    The event, hosted by UAB Employee Wellness, will culminate with a celebration on the UAB Campus Green featuring live music, family games and other activities. Individuals who want to participate can register as part of a team, which will represent departments throughout UAB. The UAB team with the most participation will be awarded a prize from UAB Employee Wellness.

    To find out more information or to register online, visit the official Blazer Fun Run/Walk page

  • Kasman takes first place at International Keyboard Institute and Festival
    UAB junior Aleksandra Kasman outplayed 33 talented pianists to win first place at the International Keyboard Institute and Festival.

    Out of a talented international pool of 33 pianists, University of Alabama at Birmingham junior Aleksandra Kasman took the top prize at the 2015 International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York City on Aug. 2.

    Kasman is a music major in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Music and a member of the UAB Honors College’sUniversity Honors Program. She studies piano with her father, UAB professor and artist-in-residence Yakov Kasman.

    The International Keyboard Institute and Festival is a summer piano festival that offers two weeks of concerts, masterclasses and lectures, and is open to student participants as well as the public. Students from around the world are given the opportunity to study with faculty and artists, participate in masterclasses, and attend concerts and lectures given by some of the world’s best-known pianists and scholars.

    Kasman was accepted into this highly competitive event as a Piano Arts North American Competition scholarship winner. Participants who attend the festival for two weeks are eligible to compete for $10,000 in the Dorothy MacKenzie Artist Recognition Scholarship Awards. The MacKenzie Awards support and recognize the artistic endeavors of participants in the festival and encourage excellence and dedication. 

    The rigorous, four-day competition is held in three rounds, with a total of one hour and 20 minutes of playing, or a full concert program. Kasman was named one of four finalists out of 33 participants and went on to win first place.

    “The International Keyboard Institute and Festival gave me the opportunity to make valuable connections with other participants from all over the world,” Kasman said. “It was an honor to learn from professors of the highest caliber and some of the biggest names in piano, including festival founder and director Jerome Rose.”

    Kasman’s goal for the next two years is to compete in even bigger competitions and move on to graduate school after completing her studies at UAB.

    “I hope to go on to obtain master’s and doctoral degrees,” Kasman said. “The great thing about music is that there are so many things you can do: performing, teaching, masterclasses, workshops, recording. I have entertained the thought of possibly going into music administration. I am also interested in conducting.”

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