How to Launch Your 20-Something

After helping your kids get through high school and college (and paying for it), you’re probably anxious for your 20-something to start supporting themselves in a full-time job.


But breaking out into the real world isn’t always easy. Here are 7 tips to help your 20-something get a job.

Tell them to start early
If your child is still in college, suggest looking at jobs posted in the school’s career office and attending job fairs. Brenda Sussna, co-owner of Career Launch, a company that helps people in the job search process, says career centers can coach students on everything from interviewing to cover letters. She says students should start looking for a job by the fall of their senior year.

Encourage internships
Sussna says students should get internships after their sophomore and junior years. Even if they’ve already graduated, Sussna says students should consider internships as segues to full-time jobs.

Teach them to sell themselves
“Jobs don’t go to the best people; they go to the people who sell themselves the best,” says Debra Lobin, owner of Launching Millennials of Deerfield. Help your child see what skills he already has—even if those skills were learned at part-time jobs or in extra-curricular activities—and speak about them with confidence.

Help them network
Lobin says 85 percent of all jobs are found through networking. So if you know anyone who works in your child’s field of interest, pass their information along.

Jan McKnight of Wilmette says she helped her oldest son get an internship at NorthShore University HealthSystem and then sent his resume to doctors she knew when he was applying to medical school.

However, don’t go overboard. Giving your kids contacts is fine, but don’t call prospective employers for them, and definitely don’t go to a job interview with them. “Parents can say, ‘Hey, why don’t you call so and so,’ but the students should make the call,” Sussna says.

Be supportive
When college grads end up back at home, they often feel bad about themselves, says Carol Cann, a licensed clinical social worker with offices in Evanston. Don’t make them feel worse. Cann recommends reassuring kids that it’s okay to come home for a while. “The kids might be feeling like a failure, so that helps normalize it,” she says.

Show some respect
They may be your kids, but remember that they’re also young adults. That means don’t read their emails, don’t open their mail and don’t nag too much: “That would be really off putting and create distance,” Cann says.

Set limits
Cann says if your child is slacking on the job search and instead is sleeping most of the day and going out at night with friends, you might want to set some limits, such as asking them to start paying rent or get a part-time job.

Susi Shelton of Winnetka, who successfully launched her three children, ages 31, 29 and 23, agrees. “I think giving kids a cutoff time for when you’re not going to support them makes them work harder,” she says.

Is your recent grad depressed?

Not all recent grads are lazy. Many of them might be depressed – especially if they’re far away from friends and feel overwhelmed and unsure about what to do next. If you notice any of these signs, it might be wise to suggest that your recent grad seek professional counseling for depression.

  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Unusually withdrawn
  • Irritable, crabby
  • Unusual weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of hopelessness