Future employment in your hands

The economy is not looking too great right now. Sadly, there is no proof that upon your graduation it will look much better, either. Maybe a clearer outlook on the international scene will better define what is to come. Maybe the president’s tax reform will stimulate consumer spending and create new jobs.

Nevertheless, “maybe” is not the word I would prefer to use to transition my life from academia to a career. But I am not presently talking about my transition. I have been there. I am talking about yours. With the employment picture as murky as it is, I would recommend that you wake up – very soon.

Am I too old, too outdated? That is for you to judge. I graduated five years ago from the School of Business and Public Management and began work at a bank in Wilmington, Del. The same company still employs me – somewhat of a rarity for a student who graduated in the 1990s. During my four years at G-dub, between trips to the Mr. Henry’s, a couple of classes, the Smith Center and the National Mall, I managed to foster strong relationships with faculty members and alumni to prepare myself for the college afterlife. I accepted the fact that I did not really know anything and needed to talk with different people for some direction.

One place where I began to strengthen my interests and chart my course for lining up a job after graduation was the SBPM third annual Leadership Retreat at Camp Letts in Annapolis, Md. It was a great chance to get away from campus, clear my brain and focus on the primary goal of college – employment. That was January 1996. I listened to speakers from various industries during seminars, interrogated GW alumni in business, networked with peers during team-building exercises, drank some beer and put some thoughts together on paper. This experience was so positive that I decided to serve on the alumni panel for the past three years. The 10th annual retreat, scheduled for last weekend, was to be my fourth on the panel.

Until it was canceled due to “low student interest.” I was initially disappointed because I missed the chance to meet new students and provide the guidance that I thought I needed during school. But upon pondering further, I became disgusted with the fact that there was “low student interest.” These are only 10 of the many excuses I could muster up for the students at GW:

1) I know everything I need to know. 2) The SBPM 10th annual Leadership Retreat was poorly marketed. 3) Despite being in Washington, D.C., I am really not aware of the current economic climate. 4) E-mail server failure caused me to miss it. 5) I have too much work to do that weekend. 6) Another opportunity will come up. 7) That guy Michael Brown sucked on the alumni panel. 8) I do not know anyone else who is going to the retreat. 9) I am not too worried – a job will be available for me by the time I graduate. Doesn’t it come automatically with my diploma?

10) I do not care.

Look at the big picture – opportunities are seldom labeled, yet this one was. Please do not let me believe that there are no future leaders at GW – as my alumni dollars really seem less important if this is true. Take initiative! Introduce yourself to the dean. Ask your academic adviser for names of alumni willing to help you. Take a professor for more than one class to get some career direction. Where’s the passion on this campus? If there is none here, I am even less optimistic about what I am reading in the newspapers.
-The writer is a 1998 GW graduate.

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