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Job Out of College: No Guarantee

Job Out of College: No Guarantee

The Baltimore Sun, Maryland

August 07, 2009

Aug. 7- The news this week that a graduate of a New York college is suing her school because she cannot find a job has generated a lot of water-cooler buzz.

Trina Thompson alleges that Monroe College’s career center did not help her with job placement. She’s seeking $70,000 to compensate for her tuition and $2,000 for stress related to her job-search process. The college says it provides career support for all its students.

But the lawsuit raises larger issues about the difficulty of finding a job during the worst economic times since the Great Depression and the role a college or a career center plays in a student’s professional advancement.

Does a college degree guarantee you a job? Is a school’s career center a job placement agency?

Many career centers dropped “job placement” from their names and missions years ago. They take a more comprehensive approach that involves career counseling and opportunities for students to connect with prospective employers. These days, university career centers are increasingly helping alumni who have been out of school for many years with employment assistance.

The average student does not expect a job guarantee from the career center, says Mark Presnell, director of the Johns Hopkins University’s career office, which serves arts and sciences and engineering students. Part of its mission is to educate students about what the career center does, he says.

“I think our students understand that we’re here to guide them through the different kinds of career choices they have,” Presnell says. “What we’re here to do is educate and empower students to build a foundation for the development of their careers.”