College: Those Final Days of Freedom

Excited Male College Student | Shutterstock.comDear J.T. & Dale: I’m going to be graduating college in a few months. My parents are all over me about finding a job. They are making me miserable. This is my last semester with my friends, and I just want to enjoy what I can before it’s over. Do you have any suggestions for what I can do to make my parents happy without robbing me of my final days of freedom? — Tyler

J.T.: OK, I’m going to be candid: The fact you see your last semester of school as your “final days of freedom” tells me things are not going to be great for you when you graduate. Yes, new grads are struggling to get hired, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the situation. That’s like ignoring a paper cut — it’s going to get infected!

Dale: Whoa! Tyler, COME BACK. I know, I know…J.T. sounds just like your mom. So let’s talk a minute, guy to guy. I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself — good for you. And if you do it right, your days as a young professional will be even more lively and enjoyable than school. Honest. But let’s talk about keeping your parents happy. The truth is, your parents could be a big help in finding your first job. If you don’t yet have a career plan, ask them to set up meetings with their most admirable friends to discuss what sort of work you’d find agreeable. If you already have a career in mind, then you can ask your parents to do some networking via friends and friends of friends, getting you introductions to people working in your new field. Your folks will either come through or stop nagging. And by the way, the career conversations can be a true pleasure if you go in determined to learn and to make a new friend.

J.T.: Here’s something to check out: It was put together by a fellow career coach, Alexandra Levit, to help students like you. It’s a 90-minute online course about how to prepare to be a young professional, focusing on skills like developing a professional reputation, communicating effectively with colleagues and solving problems autonomously. These all are things that I’m hearing business owners tell me are lacking in today’s college grad. So, if you can spare the 90 minutes to complete this…

Dale: NO! Don’t turn sarcastic mom.

J.T.: …it would — smiley face — help you stand out from your peers when it comes time to look for work.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm,, and of the career management blog, Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with

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