Parents & Families

Thank you for taking an interest in your student's career development process! Many parents and family members are eager to learn what career development services are offered at Notre Dame. We have found the ideal combination for future success consists of families providing support and encouragement, while empowering students to take responsibility for their own career exploration and decisions. Below are some helpful tips on how you can be both informed and supportive.

3 things to know about Notre Dame students

  1. Every student is unique. While some students may come to campus knowing exactly what career they want to pursue, many students often change their minds. Academic majors may inform, but do not determine, career success (you can see this in our first destination data). 
  2. Students have a lot of competing interests for their time. We conduct an annual online "check-in" early in the spring semester which gives us insight into how to tailor and refine our service model. The check-in consists of questions based around student career interests, past engagement in career development, and how we can best support them. One of the questions we ask is "Which of these barriers are preventing you from engaging in the career development process?" More than half of first years and sophomores cited these two barriers:
    • Lack of free time due to my busy schedule
    • I am nervous about engaging in the career development process
  3. Your student does not need to have their career decided by their sophomore year... but they do need to start discerning and learning about various career paths beginning their sophomore year.  

3 things to know about the Center for Career Development

  1. Career development is a lifelong process and is much more than simply looking for a job at a career fair.  We teach your student skills they will use the rest of their professional life.
  2. We start with discernment – helping students learn the importance of reflecting on their values, interests, and skills. One of the ways we do this is through the Moreau First Year Experience course which begins in February and dedicates 2 weeks to career content.
  3. We have lots of resources for every step of the career development process to create a tailored approach. We have resources for everything from discernment to skill development, employer research to finding an internship, building a network to finding a mentor, interview preparation to job offer negotiation, and much more.

3 things you can do as a parent

For most of your student's life you have been the problem solver -- the person who has the answers. When it comes to career development, you may not have all of the answers. Here are 3 tips to help:

  1. Be patient. Allow your student to explore all that Notre Dame has to offer. There is no need for first year students to make a decision on their future career.  Along with learning in the classroom, your student will discover their interests through clubs, activities, service work, research, and relationships they develop with friends, faculty, alumni, and employers.
  2. Acknowledge that thinking about a career is one of many topics on your student's mind.  "I know you have a lot on your plate. I am here for you. How are things going?" 
  3. Be supportive. "How can I help?" can be much more helpful than "What are you going to do after graduation?"

3 resources to your student should use

Here are the 3 resources that you may hear about from your student.

  1. First Destination Data shares insight about the first step Notre Dame graduates have taken in their careers upon earning their degrees. Our comprehensive dashboard is available to the general public (including you!) and allows you to filter by academic major and graduation year. You can view the data here.
  2. Handshake is our most widely used resource. On this password-protected platform students can:
    1. Research employers
    2. Search and apply for internships and full-time jobs (we typically have more than 10,000 postings on the site at any given time)
    3. Network with other students and employers
    4. Schedule career counseling appointments
    5. Learn about and RSVP to attend employer events
  3. IrishCompass is an exclusive, online community which provides an opportunity for Notre Dame students and alumni to facilitate career-related connections. Students can benefit from the system by researching more than 10,000 alumni for career networking, mentorship, and job shadow opportunities. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find a list of questions our staff has been asked over the last few years. If you don't find your question here, we invite you to email us at

My student is interested in “everything” and is having a difficult time choosing a major. What should he/she do? 

It’s very normal for students to experience difficulty when it comes to choosing a major. Many Notre Dame students enjoy and excel at a number of different subjects. To help students narrow down their options, we encourage them to explore broadly and engage in self-assessment. Students should take a wide range of classes in their first year to ascertain which they truly enjoy most. Students should talk with older students and faculty to learn more about the disciplines that interest them the most. They should also take time to reflect on their values, interests, personality, and skills and gauge how those fit with the subject areas they are studying. Additionally, they can meet with a member of the Student Engagement team in our office who can show them how to research careers and majors through our Online Resources. And, of course, they should meet with their Academic Advisor to discuss course requirements and curricula.

Does major determine or limit career choice?

We believe that major does not determine your student’s career path. Instead, we encourage students to study what he or she enjoy, examine their values, interests, and personality, and explore careers related to what they have learned about themselves. Notre Dame alumni from all majors go on to a wide range of career paths. For more information regarding students’ plans following graduation, please review the First Destination Survey Data compiled by the Office of Institutional Research.  

Will my student be assigned a dedicated career counselor for all four years?

We do not assign students one career counselor. The Meruelo Family Center for Career Development is a centralized career center that supports all students pursuing any career path. As you can imagine, students come to Notre Dame with varying interest in career planning.. Some students know by the end of their first semester exactly what career path they want to explore. Many of our students use their first 2-3 semesters to explore a variety of different career paths. This is normal and encouraged. Recognizing the many pressures and obligations students have, we meet them where they are. If a student is not sure what they want to do with their career or how they, we have a team of career counselors who can help with personal exploration related to their skills, interests, and values. Once a student narrows down their options, we can get them connected to one of our many industry-focused counselors to further learn about and prepare for searching for internships and jobs in particular career paths. All students receive information about the Center for Career Development in the spring semester through the required Moreau First Year Experience Course. 

How can I best assist my student with his/her career development? 

The following five strategies provide a helpful framework. 

  • Career development is a lifelong and unique process and constantly needs revisiting and revising. For these reasons, The Meruelo Family Center for Career Development is dedicated to meeting the students where they are in their career development process. Rather than taking a “grab and go” career approach, we’d like students to look within to help them determine how to outwardly move forward.  
  • One of the first steps includes helping the student know him/herself by identifying his/her values, interests, and skills. Students often meet with Undergraduate Career Services counselors to sort through and make sense of all of this information. Students can schedule their appointments online.
  • Once the student knows him/herself, they can begin exploring various careers by:
    • Conducting Informational interviews with alumni and people in the area of their career interest(s)
    • Finding Internships within a specific field
    • Networking at career fairs, employer information sessions, football games - the possibilities are endless
  • When the student is thinking about pursuing a specific career within a particular industry, our Undergraduate Career Services team has industry specialists designated to help the students. It is highly recommended that the students schedule an appointment with one of those Career Counselors.  
  • It is important to remember that it is the responsibility of the student to take charge of his or her own career. It is a unique process and often chaotic but in the end worth the empowering experience.  

What attributes do employers look for? 

NACE (National Association for Colleges and Employers) a professional association conducts research surveys of employers. According to a 2019 survey, employers seek the following attributes in candidates: communication skills (written & verbal), problem-solving skills, ability to work in a team, initiative, analytical/quantitative skills, strong work ethic, leadership, detail-oriented, technical skills, flexibility/adaptability, computer skills, interpersonal skills (relates well to others), organizational ability, strategic planning skills, tactfulness, creativity, friendly/outgoing personality, entrepreneurial skills/risk-taker, fluency in a foreign language.

Identifying experiences associated with these attributes list is a wonderful way for your student to approach a variety of college-aged activities.

When should my student start using the Center for Career Development? 

There is no specific time students should start using the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development as each student has a unique career development journey. Every first year student will engage with career development content and resources during the Moreau First Year Experience course and again through their College as part of the Sophomore Check-up program. We welcome students to visit the center early and often.

Tell me about student “placement."

The Meruelo Family Center for Career Development does not conduct “placement” for students. Career development is a lifelong process a student will need many times throughout their career. In essence, we educate students on how to approach career planning and equip them with the tools and resources to take ownership in the career development process. The student, not the parent, is responsible for networking, writing their own resume, applying to positions, and conducting their own interviews. We are here to help them learn these skills to succeed in whatever path they choose to pursue. 

Often we will show students and parents first destination data as a tool for career exploration and guidance. 

Can my student network with alumni?  

Yes!  We offer many opportunities to connect with alumni through formal mentorship programs, industry career treks, on-campus networking events, and alumni clubs. We can also help your student build an impactful LinkedIn profile and navigate the alumni directory.

Should my student have an internship after his/her first year? 

The short answer to this question is “no”. The word “internship” can sometimes evoke a sense of anxiety and the feeling from students that “I must have an internship my first summer or I am a lost cause”. However, the summer after a student’s first year an “internship” is not a necessity. In many industries, organizations don’t hire first year students - they may only hire interns that are rising juniors and seniors because they have more experience and coursework completed. Still that doesn’t mean that a rising sophomore should sit around doing nothing. We strongly encourage these students to do something to gain experience - whether it’s a regular summer job (i.e., retail, life-guarding, customer service, administrative office roles, etc.), research, study abroad, service, or, possibly, an internship. These activities will allow a student to learn more about him/herself, gain professional experience, and build his/her resume - all critical pieces of career development!  Students can meet with a career counselor on the Student Engagement team to discuss how to explore summer opportunities as a first year.

What services do you offer? 

The Meruelo Family Center for Career Development provides students with career counseling and career development services, self-assessments, workshops, presentations for academic departments, career fairs, and mock interviews--just to name a few!  Upcoming events are listed on our homepage and on Handshake, our career management platform. Students can schedule a career counseling appointment using Handshake or by calling (574) 631-5200.

What resources do you offer to help students with finding jobs and internships? 

We offer two primary avenues: Handshake and our many online resources. Handshake is Notre Dame’s online recruiting database with postings for both internship and full-time opportunities. This resource is available to Notre Dame students only. We also have a robust offering of additional tools through the "online resources" section of our website. Here students can access numerous databases for career exploration, job/internship searching, company research, salary information, and current industry/organization issues.  We also have a section which contains information and databases specific to a number of industries. On top of this, we encourage students to network and utilize the strong ND alumni connections. Career counselors can guide students through this process and familiarize them with LinkedIn and to be most effective in their networking.

What types of employers recruit at ND? 

Every year employers representing several industries/organizations and job functions (for-profit, nonprofit, fellowship, and research) either conduct on-campus interviews or post jobs on Handshake, our career management system.  

How do I (or my student) learn about upcoming career events

All career-related events will be posted on Handshake. We tailor our communication to students based on their career interests. For students who are unsure our 

What is Handshake

Handshake is a web-based career management platform. All students have access to the site with their Net ID.

My student just graduated. How will Notre Dame help them?

Our staff is here to support our graduating seniors up to one year after graduation. For every senior who has shared with us that they are seeking employment, we have contacted them to offer tailored support based on their interests.

If your student is unsure what to do next, we offer this convenient tool to get students easily connected to appropriate resources including: scheduling a career counseling appointment, getting a resume reviewed, practicing interviews, and more.