Post Academic

Where Are the Career Counselors?

Posted in The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on July 9, 2010
Tags: , , , ,

The New York Times profiled yet another college graduate who has learned the hard way that higher education is not a guarantee of a job. Only the story of 24-year-old Scott Nicholson, formerly of Colgate University, has a surprising twist:

After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.

Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder.

Articles like these make me start yelling at my computer. Shout #1 is “There’s no such thing as a dead-end job! It’s only a dead-end job if you make it a dead end job!”

Shout #2 takes a little of the blame off Nicholson: “Where were your advisors? And your career center?”

Seriously. Aren’t colleges supposed to at least try to prepare students for careers? The article mentions that he had a clear goal of joining the Marine Corps, but they didn’t take him because he had asthma. He had a game plan and could have used some advice when the game changed on him. That’s what a career center is for.

The article doesn’t say if Scott turned to Colgate’s career center and its alumni network if he wanted to break into a specific career. I get regular e-mails from my undergrad’s career center. I haven’t turned to the alumni network yet, but I would if I needed to. In a heartbeat. All colleges are supposed to have career centers, and they are supposed to serve alumni. Right?

It’s worth noting that the first comment on the story is from a prof: “$40K a year is, like it or not, a realistic entry-level salary in a recession for a “real job” for a college grad. (I hold a Ph.D. and that’s a ballpark entry-level salary for many tenure-track positions at smaller colleges!)”

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