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Cranky Director’s Corner – Welcome Back Edition

Hello Gentlereaders. Welcome to the Cranky Director’s Corner. The CDC will offer periodic installments of grousing and grumping about the things that affect our profession. You know, those topics bouncing around the back of your mind, but you might not say aloud.

We should all be settling into a new academic year filled with fresh faced and eager students, refreshed staff, exciting, new initiatives in our offices, and sufficient budgets and campus support to contribute fully to our institutions’ missions. What’s that, you don’t seem to have that last bit in full measure?

Back in 2008 we saw the national economy tank, due in large part to ethically challenged individuals and institutions. Fortunately our nation has taken steps since then and anyone getting up to such nonsense now gets a stern talking to from congress. The ripple effect saw most of our schools making cuts, sometimes deep. And we know some of those cuts hit cost centers like career centers (ahem). As we slowly lurched towards recovery (don’t get me started on jobless recoveries, etc. at least college hiring has mostly rebounded) a national conversation on the purpose and value of a college education turned to matters of accountability and measures. While a variety of factors figure in this conversation the emphasis tends towards job preparation (what, so we’re now all ITT?) and how much graduates make.

Clearly the tone and tenor of this conversation puts career centers on the front line to receive resources, right? If institutional outcomes were based on how much our grads’ employment rates, field related to major, and income, then shouldn’t we have seen a reversal or the cuts from seven or eight years ago? So how many of you have seen a real shift in thinking about your office on campus? Do senior administrators and faculty still use “placement” to talk about what you do? Do faculty still view you with suspicion or simply bypass you? Has admissions invited you to open houses or student life to new student orientation? Are you asked to weigh in on new programs before they’re launched and students recruited? Does your school put their money where their mouth is?

Every spring we partake in our annual migration to annual conferences. We eagerly consume well-crafted sessions on education, demographic, and economic trends impacting our field and the students we serve. Maybe it’s time we start engaging and setting the trends, speaking truth to the powers that be on our campuses. If they forget they hired us to be experts in our arena, we need to remind them of our role. If they prove recalcitrant, create a budget line item for pitchfork and torches (we call ours “Office Supplies”). Not quite looking to rally the villagers to storm the castle? Launch a pilot programs (you only need one faculty partner) then tell everyone who’ll listen to make them jealous, get invited to key meetings (ugh, more meetings) and contribute to the discussion as only a seasoned career development professional can, or build reporting designed to go up and across so your office’s work gets noticed. Seriously, get creative with networking your campus. We do know something about how to network, right?  The point: make some noise! Our students depend on it.

I leave you with Mario Savio:

About the Author:  The cranky director will deliver rants on the economy, technology, social engineering, lack of a really good nearby falafel place, and idiot politicians (broadly defined)  to your computer desktop of preferred mobile device the fourth Friday of every month.


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