Thursday, August 13, 2009

New College Grad Files Lawsuit Against Career Center

Media outlets including social networking sites are all a-twitter about Trina Thompson, the 27 year old Class of 2009 new grad from Monroe College who is suing her alma mater for $72,000. Why? You ask. Well, Thompson is suing because she became a new college grad in April 2009 with a bachelor of business administration in Information Technology, has not yet landed a job and blames the college and the Career Advancement office.

Thompson filed suit against Monroe College in the Bronx Supreme Court stating that the Career Advancement office had not helped her with full-time job placement and she was suing because of the stress she has been going through. As I read Ms. Thompson’s statement, I couldn’t help but think of my father who used to say “A college degree sometimes doesn’t make you smarter; it just makes you a college graduate.”

I may be wrong, but I am not sure that all the attention that Thompson is now bringing to herself is the kind that will actually land her a job. I am not sure it will force of the career advisors at Monroe to now work more aggressively on her behalf. I am also thinking that some employers may not be too anxious to bring on an employee whose solution was to sue her alma mater because she had not landed an IT job in New York, of all places, in four months, in this particularly challenging economy.

My hope is that Thompson did not think that all the job losses on Wall Street were actually limited to finance professionals. I suspect that any business major in New York would understand the IT component of all these crippled financial companies and anticipate some strong competition from unemployed tech professionals with actual experience.

Having spent several years in college career centers myself I know that one of the words that career professionals try very hard to remove from the vocabulary of students, staff and faculty is “placement”. To most contemporary career center staff the word “placement” is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Why? Because the word “placement” does not indicate that the job seeker has indeed mastered any career development or job search skills themselves, but instead is waiting to be picked up and dropped into a slot based on arrangement made between the career office and the employer. No career center that I know of, operates that way and employers don't hire that way, as far as I know. The fact that Thompson used that “placement” word, made me think that somewhere along the line she missed the lesson.

For three years I have been sharing advice on careers, workplace and employment issues on this site. I hope none of my readers would want to bring suit against BullsEye because the advice didn’t work for them. Is anyone thinking they can sue Monster or Career Builder because the advice there didn’t work either? (;> I am hoping not.

Short term job searches and long term career plans are really about taking personal responsibility for one’s own future. I am hoping the career advisors at Monroe and other schools are doubling their efforts to spread that message with students and grads this fall. There are certainly alternatives in a tough market, but some professions are doing better than others. One of those doing relatively well is actually IT. Thompson may have to consider exploring some alternatives and think of creative ways to get her foot in the door. Internships come to mind.

If you know new college grads who are still looking to land that first opportunity, and many are, please share the following articles with them. These tips will also work for the Class of 2010. It is really not too early to start!


Eve said...

You hit the bullseye here with your analysis. Where is the personal responsibility? Can't imagine anyone in her "network" thought this was a good step to take towards becoming employed. Then again, we sometimes make heros out of the unwise.


magjay said...

What, what's coming next. We actually find someone that we can sue, just to pay off the extra taxes we are being forced to pay???
This world has gone mad.

Marcia Robinson said...


You're right. We all need checks and balances in our lives, people who will tell us to reconsider our plan.


Marcia Robinson said...


Times are tough and some people might see something as a way to just be in control of the situation ago.

Thanks for your input.
Come again.

Nic said...

Considering the sense of entitlement Miss Thompson seems to have, I would suggest that her attitude is also affecting her success in the graduate jobs market. And by filing this lawsuit, she has certainly made herself unemployable. All a potential employer has to do is Google her name.