Not What I Would Have Done

A recent college graduate is suing the school she attended because she has yet to find a job since graduating in April. The basis of the complaint is that the school hasn’t done enough to provide leads to her and give her career advice. Because she hasn’t managed to find a job, all of her education is worthless and not relevant to employers? I can’t help but wonder if the reason she hasn’t found a job has more to do with her expecting someone else to deliver a job to her on a silver platter. The first priority of colleges is to provide an education so you may qualify to do more in life. It’s great when they can offer assistance to grads and help make connections for them, but that is more the icing on the cake than it is part of the batter.

I understand the frustration new grads feel. Many go after degrees with the expectation employers will be lining up for them at graduation. It did work that way for a while. Now it takes a little more work. The reason colleges can’t be as helpful as they once were is so much of finding a job revolves around the job seeker networking and getting plugged into the business community. The effort is much more personal. There is no way for colleges to do that for their grads. There are jobs out there that this woman’s degree prepared her to do. Many companies are feeling the pain of the shortage in technically qualified individuals for the new American workforce. They just aren’t as likely to be posted in highly public areas because employers know doing so will result in a flood of resumes. More are relying on word of mouth to fill their positions and the companies hiring aren’t necessarily the big names we’ve all come to know well.

What may surprise grads is that I often tell them not to put too much reliance on their college’s career services. That’s not a snub to colleges. They often do an excellent job assisting their graduates. It’s not that tapping into the resources and chasing leads offered through your school is a bad thing. Definitely toss your hat into the ring. Keep in mind, however, the opportunities your school sources are being chased by your fellow graduates too. Depending on the size of your class, you can do the math on your competition. Putting more emphasis on finding your own leads to chase, versus relying entirely on your college to source them for you, is the way to go if you want a shot at being considered for a job without hundreds of applicants.

So, what is suing her school going to mean for this woman in the end? She is spending time and money that could have been devoted to her career search on lawyers and court fees. She has $70,000 worth of knowledge and she’s not putting it to use in a productive and positive way. She’s managed to find herself in the spotlight for her choice to pursue her college legally. Unlike celebrities, there is such thing as bad publicity for the average Joe’s and Jane’s. How many companies who stumble across her name in the body of this lawsuit are going to be interested in her as their next employee? Companies get a bit itchy over those who file lawsuits without good cause. Never mind she’s essentially proclaimed her knowledge useless. Otherwise she wouldn’t be suing, right? Nice.

My advice to this woman would be to forget about the law suit. Use the time and money instead to invest in her job search. Hire a career coach. Connect with a recruiter. Network with fellow job seekers. Attend business functions. Study the news for hints of what industries/businesses are most likely to be doing well. Read the obituaries, yeah I said that, and see what dearly departed members of our society may have left an employer unprepared. Demonstrate sound problem solving skills, which I imagine are required for the career she’s chosen, and find your way to the end result you want. Wasting time assigning fault for life’s challenges is counterproductive.

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