Advising with Career in Mind: Questions to Ask your Advisee

The career advising process happens in stages that we have termed ‘Ready, Set, Go.’ Ideally, students are starting to ready themselves in their first year, but the questions are appropriate any time that a student reaches out to start the process.

Questions for the ‘Ready’ stage. This stage is all about exploration and starting to connect academic skills/interests with career skills and possibilities:

  • What are you planning to major in?
  • Why did you choose that path? What appeals to you most about this major?
  • What courses are you finding the most enjoyment from?
  • What courses do you feel the most prepared for?
  • If there were no requirements, what courses would you take?
  • What interests you about those options?
  • Have you reviewed your results from your Focus 2 assessment?
  • Have you thought about the type of job/career that you hope to have after graduation?
  • What types of experiences do you want to have while you’re in college? Or what are you currently involved in?
  • Have you considered joining any clubs or organizations?
  • Have you thought about a summer job or internship?
  • In what type of environment do you picture yourself in when you graduate?
  • What work experiences have you had? What did you like about it?  What didn’t you like about it?
  • How do you plan on working towards your goals and interests?

Questions for the ‘Set’ stage. This stage is all about creating necessary documents and planning for the job search:

  • Have you made a résumé before? If no: do you know what it is? (explain a bit about it). If yes: have you had it reviewed? (offer to review, encourage them to visit the OCPD, or ask an alumni in that field for a review).
  • If pursuing a job/internship – do you know where to look or how to go about that? Refer to OCPD website resources.
  • Have you ever written a cover letter? Make sure you encourage the student to add one in any time it is asked – otherwise an employer will think they cannot follow directions and you will likely not receive an interview! It is a good idea to add one even if not required – this demonstrates initiative and you can make your case.
  • How have you begun to prepare career-related resources for yourself?
  • Where are you looking for jobs/internships?
  • Have you tailored your résumé and/or cover letter to speak to each specific job you are applying to?

Questions for ‘Go’ stage. This stage is all about the action – getting involved & showing up to their campus commitments, networking with alumni & professionals, and turning in applications:

  • Tell me about your campus involvements.
  • Do you have any supervisors, professors, or mentors who could provide you with a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference for when you apply to job?
  • Have you had an opportunity to network? If no: describe what it is. If yes: ask about their network, who is in it – have they identified people who have jobs of interest?
  • Did you know that 85% of next opportunities come from networking? Encourage them to join our Bulldog Network on Alumnifire and Linkedin – more resources can be found on our OCPD website.
  • What kind of jobs are you applying for?
  • Are you ready for the interview? Suggest a practice interview.
  • Have you thought about how you will negotiate? Encourage them to do salary research about the position and industry and to connect with the OCPD for support.

As you are talking with students, remember that there is no right answer for them in terms of what to do after graduation.  The best thing you can do is help them figure out what type of work they would like to learn more about and pursue it! Having an internship can be a great step to gaining experience, and learning what they don’t like, as much as what they do. The more we can encourage our students to try things out through internships, summer jobs, and campus involvement, the more we are helping them lay the groundwork for their futures.