I’ve been speaking lately with several groups of people regarding how to get a handle on their career and get on the fast track. It’s astonishing to me how many people really seem to have very little clue how they ended up where they are in their career or how to move their career forward. I suspect that this lack of ability contributes to the survey results I seem to see every other day that report that more than 50% of our US workforce is unhappy in their jobs and ready to make a move when the economy improves. While I feel that there’s a discussion to be had about personal accountability and courage related to one’s own career, today I want to rant about one of the root causes of our collective career unhappiness, Colleges and Universities.
For some time, I’ve had a bit of a chip on my shoulder related to our collegiate education system. Despite spending anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend these institutions, it seems that a huge number of people are graduating with little clue where to go next in their career or how to manage their career in a way that results in some satisfaction and happiness. Here might be a few reasons why:
- In our Colleges and Universities, there is very little support or process in place to help an individual determine what course of study might make the most sense for them. The common recommendation to freshmen is to take some classes and see if they find something they are interested in. Alternatively, if a student arrives in college with a course of study decided (as I did with pre-Med), there’s no work done to ensure that the decision is a good one. Despite the University systems being the home of research and science, they apparently don’t think it’s worthwhile to apply any of it to helping students discover a path that might be most fulfilling for them based on their strengths, interests and passions.
- Personal development and self-mastery aren’t taught in most Colleges or Universities. Now I know that “History of Film” is probably an interesting class, but how is it that we spend more time in colleges broadening our horizons in this way without spending any time on the skills that might truly propel us forward through our life. A class on setting goals and developing skills to support life-long learning would be much more powerful than one more elective history class.
- Career services seem to be designed to be a life preserver for those who can’t find a job rather than being a proactive partner to students as they navigate through their education preparing for a lifetime of work. While some may argue that the point of college is to learn to drink and hook up with the opposite sex, the true purpose of college should be to prepare us for approximately 43+ years of work to follow.