Where Did We Go Wrong?

On Thursday I attended the Honors program banquet for graduating seniors. I asked one of the students at my table what he was doing after graduation. He responded that he had just started looking for a job yesterday and planned to send out lots of resumes this week.

Then after graduation on Friday, I was walking back from the arena when I heard a graduate talking to his mother. What building is that, she asked? The young man replied: “I think it has Career Services and other weird stuff. I don’t go in there.” Pray for his mom.

If doing something about getting a job wasn’t important enough to you before you graduate, why would an employer believe you are going to be motivated enough to think ahead on their behalf once you are on the job?


5 thoughts on “Where Did We Go Wrong?

  1. Dean Jarley…I feel your pain!

    When I’m speaking on college campuses, I see the best and the worst attitudes imaginable. I do not blame the institution. College was supposed to be the place we sent young people to live independently and pursue their highest potential for individual thought and achievement.

    Parents have got to take a more active role in preparing young people for independence. Too many expect their K-12 programs and even colleges to teach their children how to make their way in the world.

    I remain hopeful. Discipline, focus and excellence are not lost arts…they may be on life support!

    Best Thoughts in All You Do!


  2. You knew I’d jump in on this one, so I’ll try to bring something different to the discussion by (feel free to feign surprise at this) asking another question! What have we defined as the desired end result of going to college? Is it getting a degree? Or is it getting a job? If students/grads aren’t using campus career resources or thinking much about their career plans until they graduate, then I would postulate that we went wrong by defining the “end” as graduation. At Friday’s Commencement we celebrated academic excellence and said graduation was the end of a journey. Students, who are now alumni, are starting a new journey. What if we shook things up and said it’s still part of the same journey. Would we look at career planning differently? Would our curriculum be the same? Would our interactions with students be the same? How would projects, internships, and co-ops change? Would our pedagogy change and would we use the same technology to deliver material? What would employers, alumni, faculty, and students think about this shift in perspective?

    Right now it’s estimated that half the students who graduate will either be unemployed or working in jobs that don’t really require a college degree. Steve Jobs said, “Death is very likely to be the single best invention of life because death is life’s change agent.” In this case, is graduate unemployment a significant enough issue to warrant a new perspective?


  3. From my experience and what I hear from others, the problem isn’t in the institutions of higher education. The problem lies in the students. Most are so ingrained with the old way of things that you push through college to get your degree, and then you start looking for a job. Most hold down part time, menial jobs that bring in enough money to survive through the years there. They don’t know or in some cases don’t care about the wealth of opportunities that are available for internships, fellowships, and actual career oriented jobs before they graduate. I myself fell into the category of “Just Finish” instead of embracing the campus and its resources. If I could suggest any one thing to help out business students, it would be to get to know everyone in Career Services early. I did not know about Career Services until after I had graduated and moved away from the area.

  4. From what I’ve seen, students aren’t really sure when to begin the job hunt. All the resources are available, but the Top of Mind awareness just isn’t there, especially for seniors. I met with a senior today and he was surprised that the February Career Expo was the only one for the semester. He thought that February was too early to start looking.
    He’d already been told to start looking early. He knew that he shouldn’t wait until the end of the semester. But still, he didn’t plan on taking any actions until I explained that an employer might not want him if he waited. Employers know what the end of the semester rush looks like and they know students want any job will apply for anything. As an employer you don’t want someone who’ll take any job, they should want this job. If you care enough to apply early, you’ve given thought to your plans and you’ve chosen them over others.
    If students put as much effort into planning their job hunt as they do planning their schedules, I think they’d be better prepared for what the world holds.

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