Skidmore College’s largest on-campus career program, Career Jam, brings together hundreds of students, alumni and parents for a day of networking, resume reviews and mock interview practice.

Executed in partnership between the Career Development Center (CDC), Parents Council and Alumni Affairs, the one-day event is a representation of Skidmore’s continued efforts to incorporate parents in career development efforts.

A History of Involving Parents

Over the years, parents and Skidmore have developed a highly collaborative relationship as a result of institution officials recognizing parents’ desire to play an active role in their students’ success.

“Parents want to know that they’re investing in something worthwhile and that the ultimate outcome is that they’re child will be successful after graduation, whether that means getting a good job or getting into a good graduate program,” said Associate Director of Alumni Career Development Lauren Sisson. “They want to know that their child is happy and satisfied with their career path. That’s why parents want to be involved as possible with the CDC as much as they can.”

Sisson and her colleagues at the CDC welcome parent involvement because they recognize the internship and job opportunities they offer in addition to valuable experiences and external networks in a variety of industries.

While Career Jam is the largest program parents volunteer for, they also serve impactful roles as career advisors and mentors. The Parents Council also contributes significant funding to Skidmore career-related initiatives. In this year alone, it’s responsible for increasing funding for Summer Funded Internship Awards by 55 percent.

Community Through Collaboration

Skidmore and its parent partners have been so successful facilitating networking, mentoring, internship and job opportunities because they’ve fostered a selfless community built on collaboration and paying it forward regardless of who is benefitting.

For example, at the recent Career Jam, one student’s father, who is a neurosurgeon, was offering his expertise to students considering entering a medical profession. When asked if his son would be attending, he responded saying he wouldn’t be due to the fact that he’s already secured an internship through other CDC parent connections.

“It’s definitely a situation where people are giving back to the community because they trust that their son or daughter is benefitting from other parents contributing to that community,” Sisson stated.

The Skidmore staff reflects this mentality in sharing resources with one another and collaborating to ensure parent involvement needs are met and students receive the best possible career education. Sisson explains that the CDC has strong partnerships with Advancement and Alumni Relations, in addition to the Parents Council.

Relations with other offices provide a steady pipeline of parents to incorporate in initiatives like Career Jam. If a representative from Advancement or Alumni Relations has a conversation with a parent regarding career involvement opportunities, they are sure to pass their information along to the CDC.

Providing Return on Parents’ Investment of Time and Expertise

Another way the CDC guarantees parents will continue to contribute to career development initiatives and opportunities is by delivering positive experiences. Consistent involvement stems from ensuring parents understand how the college values the services they are providing.

“We strive to make sure that they’re getting the response that they want,” Sisson said. “When we have a parent providing an internship or job to our students, we’re really going to push that and promote it to ensure they’re able to recruit from a pool of talented and motivated students.”

Some institutions may hesitate to involve parents in career efforts in ways Skidmore does, but there is no arguing with the results.

Experiential learning and relevant industry knowledge are more influential for students’ employability than ever. In activating parents who are invested in the Skidmore mission to provide expertise, internships and jobs, students have a higher rate of opportunities made singularly available to them.

For more on initiatives to increase experiential learning and career development opportunities for students, download CampusTap’s E-book “Increasing Alumni Engagement Through Industry Networks.”

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Image courtesy Skidmore College via Facebook