I usually don’t like to comment on breaking controversy just for the sake of controversy, but I can’t resist this one. College students need to realize that it’s not just about grades and awards (or lack of them) when job hunting. New graduates need to know how to position themselves inside a field, and that starts with networking, internships, requesting information interviews, joining professional associations, establishing a professional presence on social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, and utilizing your college’s campus career center and alumni office to their full extent. The days of just applying to posted jobs in your newspaper, on-line or through your college’s database are over. Students need to know how to tap the hidden job market.
It’s not a college’s job to make sure you get a job; rather a college career center helps students help themselves. That being said, I do think that colleges as a whole need to do a better job of educating their students about the services available to them, starting freshman year. They need to tell students the truth that straight A’s and being inducted into the National Honor Society will not (solely) get them a job. Displaying a commitment to hard work, building relationships through networking, and finally, being passionate about learning and exploring careers, will serve the student well after graduation.
I do believe that colleges should offer a mandatory course that teaches students how to explore careers and use their college majors as starting points in their journey to position themselves inside a field. The class could be taught by career center staff and alumni office relations staff. The politics involved in mandating these sorts of courses will get sticky from campus to campus, but the time has come. If colleges market to high school students (and their families) that their university serves as the gateway to career success, leadership and prosperity, they should do everything in their power to educate their students about the on-campus services designed to help them take responsibility for their own job search. That is simply offering great customer service, ie, helping students who are paying customers solve problems before they arise.
“Alumna sues college because she hasn’t found a job” certainly makes for a sensationalized headline and (if I’m being honest) a ridiculous reason to sue a college. Yet it also brings the debate to the forefront over how much responsibility colleges should take in their students’ job hunting difficulties, especially given the fact that college tuition is on the rise with no foreseeable end in sight.
What do you think? Please post your comments.
~ Maria Pascucci, founder & president, Campus Calm
Author, Campus Calm University