Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

What I Learned In College (Taking Responsibility For Yourself)
August 6, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: Career Advice, Thoughts

Be prepared for my rant!

A lot of you have seen this – the case of the Monroe College student who is suing – yes SUING – the college because she hasn’t found a job yet. It’s August, and the girl graduated in April.

Come ON….

What has this world come to? Why are we suing educational institutions for not getting us a job? It’s not their responsibility to find us a job – college is supposed to prepare us for entry into what many refer to as the “real world”, which means we have to take off our diapers and do things for ourselves. I’ve NEVER heard of a college that promises employment – ESPECIALLY these days. They don’t even promise an education – know why? Because it is up to YOU to go to your classes and learn something. Professors in college are not going to hold your hand and baby you. At the beginning of the semester, they’ll give you a syllabus, tell you when your assignments are due, and you’ll be expected to put that to memory and be responsible for getting your stuff done. At least, that’s how I remember it…

My first two semesters in college were rough – and I started as a sophomore because I had so many credits coming out of high school! I think my cumulative GPA my first two semesters was something around 2.9. This is because I had to make some serious adjustments to 1) keeping track of when my assignments were due, and 2) making sure I had a good balance of school, work, and fun. Sometimes the fun was way out of balance, which is what happens to a lot of students in the first year. The difference is between those who learn to be responsible, and those who whine and complain that ‘teacher didn’t tell me when this or that was due’, and blame everyone else for their lack of ability to manage a calendar.

I had an academic scholarship to the University of Florida, but to keep it that meant I had to maintain a 3.0 GPA. As a result, following the end of my 2nd semester I was in danger of losing my scholarship. But instead of whining and complaining, I figured out what needed to be done in order for me to keep my scholarship. I buckled down, studied more, became diligent in managing my schedule, and by the time I graduated (in 3 1/2 years), I had a 3.53 cumulative GPA, which mean I graduated with honors. And by the way, I did this while working at least 30 hours a week at the Olive Garden my junior and senior years.

I graduated in December of 2000. Guess when I got my first “real job”: August of 2001. 8 months after graduating – imagine that! In the meantime, since I couldn’t afford to live on my own, I had to move back in with my mom, something I never wanted to do. So, to change my own situation (learning point there) I worked 2 jobs to save up enough money so I could move out. I worked during the day as a lifeguard and water safety instructor, and after that job was over, I went to wait tables 5 days a week. I did this for 8 months until I had enough to move out and enough for covering my living expenses for a couple of months until I could find another job. Which I did – paying $7/hour working in sales at a fitness club. I hated this job, even though it was utilizing my education (Exercise and Sports Sciences), so I ended up going back to waiting tables for….another 10 months. Only after that did I got my first job working in recruiting, and the rest is history. So if you really want to get down to it, it took me 18 months to find my career. And it wasn’t even related to what I had studied in college.

So when I hear stories like this, a girl who is suing her college because she hasn’t found a job it hasn’t found her a job in 3 months, it makes me want to go insane! 3 months??? Try 18, or longer in some cases! And I’d really be interested in how much time this young lady has invested in her own job search, or if she’s leaned back and expected other people to do all of the work for her.

Life is not fair. This may sound harsh, but once you learn that lesson, you’ll get along much better in life. Take the following items as words of advice from the voice of experience:

  • The days of going to school, getting a degree, and that guaranteeing you a good job are over. You must learn how to network in today’s world – it’s probably going to be the most important skill you can learn to be successful at any endeavor you pursue. I believe this is a skill that should be taught in a mandatory course in college – or better yet, something taught at the high school level.
  • People are not going to hold your hand your whole life. You have to take responsibility for yourself. The best place to learn this is in college, because you will be chewed up and spit out in the corporate world with this mindset.
  • People will be willing to help you, but only if you’re helping yourself in the meantime. Do not expect other people to do your heavy lifting for you.
  • You must learn to find balance in your life – party too hard in college, your education will suffer. Study too much, and you’ll make yourself crazy (and the others around you too). Well-balanced individuals often find great success because they know when it’s time to get down to business, but they also know how to kick back and relax.
  • Most importantly, make and maintain a good name for yourself. Think about this – what employer do you think is going to pursue this girl now, after they have seen this news splashed across the headlines? Whether she realizes it or not, she just made her situation that much worse because the perception is now that she has an entitlement complex. I don’t know if this assumption is the actual case, but that is the perception of most people who hear this story at this point.

Students, your reputation is one of the few things you can control in your life. Take extreme care in maintaining a good one. Suing your college for not finding you a job will severely hurt your reputation and your chances of being hired anywhere. Companies are looking for individuals who can handle the hiccups that occur in life in stride, not people who throw themselves on the ground and have a hissy fit when things aren’t always peaches and cream. Listen – bad things happen to everyone – what separates the successful people from the unsuccessful people is the ability to deal with life’s issues maturely, realizing that the tough times are learning opportunities, and what makes us stronger in the long run.

Best wishes to you as you are earning your education, and please let me know if I can help you in your job search (no guarantees, of course! 🙂 )


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Amen, sister! This little girl is going to have a tough haul in life. When I graduated with my B.A. in 1993 I could not find a job to save my life. I also lived at home and worked two jobs (waitressing and cashiering) that didn’t come close to covering the rent. I sent out resumes, but didn’t know how to network, make myself stand out or anything. Did I even think of suing my college? No! I went to grad school and worked hard to learn the skills I needed to survive in the real world.

Comment by Jill

Well said!

Comment by Breanna

Agree completely. Although with unemployment rising 50% in this demographic it has become very difficult for today’s grad to get employed.

What we found amazing is that nationally, less than 14% of students use their college career centers. I wonder if this girl used the career center. But as you stated, it is a persons own responsibility to use the tools provided.

Comment by Dave Hottle, CPC

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