Center for Career Exploration

Information for Parents of Current Students

We appreciate your partnership to support your student throughout their career journey. Here is a list of tips to help your student during their time at Brown, and frequently asked questions that we receive each year from parents. Encourage your student to visit the Center for Career Exploration today!

Tips by Year

Student Profile

  • Adjusting to college life.
  • Exploring courses and activities.
  • Being unsure about their career interests, being interested in a broad range of options, or being focused on one particular area to the exclusion of other opportunities. 

How you can help

  • Encourage your student’s exploration and discovery of their skills, values, and interests as well as career fields that MIGHT be of interest. 
  • Ask open-ended, reflective questions:
    • When you hear your friends or classmates talk about careers, how does that make you feel?
    • What do you find confusing or scary about the idea of career exploration?
    • How have your classes or extracurricular activities changed (or confirmed) the types of careers you might want to explore through internships or research opportunities?
    • What ways are you aware of to get started with career exploration at Brown?
  • Allow your student to think about, articulate, and ultimately determine their own path. 
  • Give your input while respecting that they must seek these answers themselves in order to fully learn and grow from the process.

Student Profile

  • Feeling significant pressure related to career direction questions as a result of the need to declare a concentration. 
  • Mistakenly believing that the concentration must strongly correlate with one’s first job after graduation; thus, the concentration decision carries the additional burden of being a career decision at a time when the student is not prepared to make it. 
  • Some students feel pressure (whether real or imagined) to choose a concentration that will please their parents.
  • Some students might feel as if they’re choosing between a concentration that they will enjoy and perform well in versus a major that is “practical” or “marketable” to employers. As a result, many sophomores consider or declare two concentrations, and then feel constrained in terms of their course choices.

How you can help

  • Remember that a student’s choice of concentration does not guarantee nor preclude one from a certain career field. To find out the career outcomes for recent graduates by concentration, visit our outcome data page.
  • Encourage your student to concentrate in a subject area that truly interests him or her and provides the skill set that they are looking to acquire. 
  • Engage in a dialogue about the decision criteria and the process and resources to gather accurate information. 

Student Profile

  • Want to know what they should do right now to prepare to find a summer internship that might lead to a full-time position.

How you can help

  • Urge your child to set up informational interviews with your contacts within the career fields that interest them. The Brown Center for Career Exploration can help students connect with alums. If you are able, tap into a personal network on your child’s behalf. 
  • Make sure your student is prepared to share and discuss their knowledge, skills, experiences, and aspirations in an interview setting. You can help practice this by asking them questions about their recent experiences and professional interests:
    • How might you apply learning in your courses to the internship you are seeking?
    • Why are you interested in a specific internship or research position? (This is a common question that interviewers ask but students are often underprepared for).
    • What are your learning or professional development goals this summer?
    • Let’s review your resume together and think about how you want to talk about your skills and previous experiences concisely in an interview setting.
  • You may need to provide financial support to your student during their summer internship as many attractive internships are unpaid. There are also opportunities to receive funding from the University from a SPRINT award or an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards (UTRAs).

Student Profile

  • Seniors’ emotional states are split between the harsh reality of entering the "real world" and the excitement of being the most wise and experienced students on campus. 
  • For seniors who have not started their career process yet, the fall semester involves cramming four years of career planning, reflection and preparation into four months – or four months in an emotional state of denial and apathy. 
  • Often, students’ expectations do not align with the hiring and recruiting cycles of the jobs that they are pursuing. A significant time commitment is often required to adequately be prepared for intensive job searches in an extremely competitive field or job market.

How you can help

  • Ask your student about their career or graduate school search. If they have a fully developed plan that they have been following, commend them if not, encourage them to visit the Center to develop a plan with an advisor. 
  • Ask your student if they would be willing to share their plan with you and inquire how you can support your student in the process. It will be their journey, but you can be a supportive resource.
  • If your student is following a well thought-out plan, a positive end result will come. Of the Brown University graduating class of 2021, 97% reported within nine months after graduation that they were employed, attending graduate/professional school, or pursuing prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Fulbright. 
  • Encourage your student so that they may learn and succeed in the process and still make the most of their senior year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Students are encouraged to begin working with us in their first year of study and throughout their Brown career. We begin by helping students clarify their interests, passions, and goals. We then connect them with a variety of programs and events that allow students to interact with alumni, employers, and experienced peers. By allowing us to be a part of their learning process, students are more likely to hear about, and apply for, opportunities that align with their own abilities and objectives. Whether your student has decided on a career path or is still unsure, he or she can benefit from connecting with the Center now.

To encourage your student to take the right steps and stay on track for a successful journey from college to career, get to know the process. Many students have difficulty in selecting a major and/or career. Others need help getting prepared for the job search. Urge your student to visit the Center for help. 

Brown graduates succeed in the job market regardless of concentration. Why? In a rapidly changing employment environment, employers are most interested in applicants who can adjust to rapid developments in a given industry. While a particular knowledge base may be desirable, the essential elements for successful performance are intelligence, motivation, and a flexible skill set. For most employment fields, these characteristics carry more weight than a job applicant’s concentration choice. Students are therefore best served by pursuing concentrations that are most congruent with their abilities and interests.

Increasingly, students are completing multiple internships, with an early placement serving as the foundation for a later more substantive or prestigious position. Moreover, early involvement with internships helps students figure out what kind of work they want to do in the future, and ultimately to achieve their career goals. We can help students develop a plan for seeking internships that suits their individual needs.

Search strategies vary by field of interest. Students interested in finance, banking, and consulting often secure positions at on-campus recruiting fairs. But the majority of Brown students secure employment through other means. This is why it is so important to meet with a career advisor: most students need to develop their own customized job or internship search plan. Working with our career advisors can reduce the stress associated with such searches, and is most likely to lead to a successful outcome.

Upon graduation, approximately two-thirds of Brown alumni go directly into employment while just under one-third immediately go to graduate school, professional school, or post-graduate fellowships. The careers that Brown graduates pursue are as varied as their interests and talents, ranging from healthcare and law to education, finance, nonprofits, technology, and consulting.

Read More About Student Outcomes

Some of the best-known companies and organizations recruit at Brown. These “top employers” hire a number of Brown graduates each year. The majority of graduating seniors go on to work for a broad range of large and small organizations. We encourage students to find an employment situation that will be the best fit regardless of the prominence of the employer.

This is very much an individual decision. Many students choose to enter a professional degree program (medical, law, business) in the fall after graduation. Just as often, students will delay further study for a year or two to pursue a passion that may or may not be related to their graduate study plans. Still others find that they need to acquire additional skills, or want to strengthen their credentials to secure admission at the schools of their choice. Our career advisors can help students prepare a plan for further study that fits their own goals and aspirations. In addition, students interested in law school, business school, or health careers can meet with an advisor for these fields.

In a word, no. There are good jobs to be had in any economy. Our students often forget how desirable they are to employers, how much their Brown education is valued by the outside world, and how competitive they are. While high unemployment can be daunting, students who seriously engage with the job-search process should expect a positive outcome. Retreating to graduate school to wait out the storm is both unnecessary and costly.