Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Wrong Kind of Education

There have been a lot of interesting and notable events going on in the world around us while I was reminiscing about my past over the last part of the last week. One of the more notable events is coming out of New Your City, out of the Bronx to be more precise, where 27-year-old Trina Thompson has filed a $70,000 lawsuit, the cost of her tuition, against Monroe College, her alma mater, because she has not been able to find a job since her graduation.
Yeah, I am not joking. You are probably pissed right now, Company, because you didn't think of that and your tired of working at Wal-Mart Tire and Lube just to make ends meet while you send out resumés en masse and cruise Monster every couple of weeks. But that's okay, because this has fraud, it has farce, and it has publicity stunt written all over it.
First of all, let's just say that I was on this story not too long after the lawsuit was filed on July 24th or so. The idea is this: this woman graduated from Monroe College in the Bronx, New York in April and hasn't been able to find a job in the four months since. She claims that this is because the school which regularly touts its job placements rates and abilities didn't do enough to help her find a job upon graduation. She claims that they promised to find her leads and career advice to go with her Information Technologies degree. Almost immediately once this story hit the airwaves the media began poking holes in her claim, and indeed it seems a little bit like the traditional Swiss cheese that is currently living on my refrigerator shelf. Unsurprisingly I have a few thoughts and comments of my own.
Okay, so there are a number of factors that this woman is blindly ignoring because they completely do not support her position, which you think that I would respect and admire because I do it all the time but I don't because doing so wouldn't support my position. Anyway, to start off, if there is one thing that I have learned in my lifetime it is that college is all about what you make of it, okay? Any college is going to tout their job placement success if they have any sort of success at all, but that doesn't mean that you are going to have sixteen people waiting with contract when you walk off the stage with your diploma. Go to Yale or MIT if you want that. You have to actively go out and seek out this help, that's the deal. It's all what you make of it. No college or university, short of the top of the top of the high-end type universities, is going to come to you and be like "Please let us help you find a job." There isn't going to be someone walking through the dorm rooms with a clipboard going door to door and asking "Where do you want to work?" The university will help you get leads on jobs for sure but you have to drag your ass into the Office of Career Advancement and ask for help. You have to chase down a lead or two of your own. You can't just sit there and wait for the college to do all the leg work for you, it just doesn't work that way. I would be very interested to find out to what degree Ms. Thompson attempted to help herself. Did she ever contact the college or make any attempt to use the resources available to her or did she just wait to be seated as if she were at a friendly local family restaurant? I think that if she never made the attempt on her own the judge will laugh her out of the courtroom.
I am sort of thinking that she might get laughed out of the joint anyway because there are several other mitigating factors here. First off, let's be honest, Company, it's August now and she graduated in April. I mean, many people get jobs right out of college but it's pretty normal for it to take some time to get hooked up with your new career. In my mind, four months is not an unacceptable amount of time to be out of a job in your field coming out of college. I don't know, maybe I am wrong, it just doesn't seem to me like it's such a big deal to be looking four months in, that's all.
Then, it would be stupid to discount the state of economy and the degree with which she graduated. That's reasons number two and three why the judge would toss this lawsuit out in a heartbeat. First of all, the economy is shit right now; like Depression-era shit, okay? At a time when just about every company is shedding jobs like a dog sheds hair, and hiring freezes are the norm, it is ludicrous to think that you should have a job the minute you walk out the door, okay? Sometimes people who have had jobs for 25 years with the same company and have been let go. Plus, the girl graduated with an Internet Technologies degree. Now, I am not ragging on Internet Technologists, okay? They perform an absolutely vital function in today's business world and society, and they can do some pretty impressive things with a computer and even MORE impressive things with a network of computers. I understand that. And there are about one hundred million positions open in IT departments around the world. But the secret is that there are about one hundred and fifty million potential Internet Technologists floating around out there. News flash for you Ms. Thompson, many companies and entities are willing to train people without college degrees for their Internet Technology departments. I would guess that it doesn't matter so much what degree you have for IT work anyway, it probably matters more what certifications you have or are willing to get. Does that make sense to anyone out there? I might be totally wrong but it seems to me that would be more important.
So yeah, seems like this lawsuit is lacking some serious legs. But that might be okay, because I have an alternate theory. Just bear with me, Company. This story blew up all over the news media, alright? The four major networks, all their cable affiliates, AP, BBC, the whole nine yards, and that doesn't make sense, okay? There are thousands of thousands of lawsuits filed around the country every week, every month, every day, so how does a simple little lawsuit form the Bronx end up being splashed all over every form of media in the world? I know you naysayers are going to talk about all the little local newspapers and television stations that belong to AP and then it could spread like that, because every pays attention to the Associated Press and every story ends up showing there, but still, do you think that all those little local papers check every single case fired? I certainly don't. What if this is just an extremely creative albeit slightly misguided way of getting your face and story and qualifications out there? I wouldn't be surprised. No job. Nothing do to. Let's get our 15 minutes of fame. File a crazy lawsuit. Make an anonymous call to Fox News. Away we go. I am not saying that is what happened but you have to admit that it's plausible, isn't it? I could see someone going about things that way. Nothing would surprise me in this world these days.

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