Education Career Services

August 12, 2009

College to career: Is the scale balanced?

August 12_2009Traveling the country to discuss career management issues and best practices with career directors, instructors, and staff is always beneficial on multiple layers.  The most recent trip to Chicago and the MWACE conference was no exception as the professionals I met and conversed with were not only informative (much of the great activities suggested will be incorporated into our career management material and textbook, allowing instructors and students to gain so much) but also went out of their way to show warmth in our attendance.

On the second morning of the conference, USA Today ran an article highlighting a recent graduate suing a university for not preparing her for a career defined by her inability to get a job (this after she paid $70,000 and countless hours to achieve her degree).  Needless to say, this was a “talk of the town” throughout the conference; leading one to ask:

“What should a college/university do to make sure they are doing all they can to prepare students for a college to career transition?”

The responses from the conference crowd were mixed while many expressed a sense of anger at the student for her aggressive litigation.  Personally (and I hope this does not upset any career directors out there), I am of the opinion that directing students to the Internet and having 30-second meetings is simply not enough…as the crowd now begins to stir with disapproval.

I am from the “old school” of brick and mortar where students learn by guidance and doing.  This means career management/professional portfolio classes, hard copy textbooks, student activities, mock interviews, etc. should not be replaced with click of the button approaches.  Think about it, learning by actually doing seems to have been replaced by the path most traveled (thus the easiest where instant gratification without due diligence is rewarded while the students sense of entitlement magnifies). 

For colleges and universities offering workshops, seminars, internships, externships, and professional development classes, fear of litigation is diminished as those colleges and universities have quantified student commitment to career success.  Does this mean more work for career directors by way of ensuring proper materials are being used and instructors (and administration) are on the same page? Yes, but only in the beginning of this journey.  For colleges and universities interested in curriculum and textbook development, I’ve been on all sides of the equation and will be glad to assist those desiring an objective and “been there” perspective.

Is the student mentioned in the USA Today article carrying forth litigation justified in her claim?  What do you think? More on this will be brought to you as the facts of the case unravel but I am interested in your opinion.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
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July 31, 2009

Are Cover Letters Useful?

Tomorrow I will be heading to Chicago for the MWACE conference and hope to meet lots of peers while there.  Being an exhibitor, it’s always nice to see a friendly face and yours would be more than welcome.  With this in mind, I encourage as many to offer suggestions on the material I created, your input benefits students from across the United States and Canada.  That’s right, my textbooks, instructor resource guides, workbooks, and guidebooks are used in over 150 campuses. 

July 31Being my first trip to Chicago, any ideas as to where to go for a great hot dog and/or pizza is appreciated.  I will also be visiting a few campuses along the way (between Iowa and Orlando); if you are interested in a campus visit and a personal review of my work, let me know as quickly as possible so schedules can be manipulated.

Enough of Chicago for now, let’s get into a question asked by a reader who was wondering if cover letters really are important…here’s what I have to say:

As a business owner, I always look forward to the cover letter and weigh it’s content and structure heavily.  According to the latest trends and the top career management associations in the US, cover letters are extremely important while a large amount of employers (approximately 1/3rd) disqualify the candidate if a cover letter is not included with the resume.

As a certified career coach and certified resume writer, I insist resumes will be accompanied by a cover letter.  As a former instructor, program chair, career director, and dean of academic affairs, cover letter inclusion was mandatory…at the bear minimum displays professional respect.

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce qualities and characteristics a resume can not deliver.  The cover letter is slightly more subjective and is held to high standards of grammar.  This is the time to allow a glimpse of personality to be known…understand no employee is an island.  As a result, employers are interested not only in what you can do, but also the manner in which you can do it.

I’ve written several books on the topic and would be glad to share specific examples and issues at your convenience.  I can be reached at

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW (blog) (website)

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