I recently read “Survey: College grads unprofessional” and began thinking, I hope no one says that about our department graduates. Although I have some issues with the information presented in the short excerpt (I’m sure my issues will be cleared up once I listen to the podcast), such as methodology, research sponsor, questions asked, ecetera, it did get me thinking about what I am doing to prepare students for life after graduation.
Students complete internships, participate in various organizations, maintain a job, etc. , but do not always make the connection between now and then. This is evident through the rumblings in the hall. For example, a colleague overhead a student exiting a course say to a fellow classmate, “Man this class isn’t called ‘Public Speaking Outlining”; it’s ‘Public Speaking!’ I just don’t get why we have to do outlines at all!! They should NOT be part of our grades!” It’s statements of this nature that make me wonder if they will ever “get it.”
Although we (professors) attempt to prepare students for entry into the job force, students must desire to better themselves. It is heartbreaking to hear and see students view assignments as irrelevant. As shown through some of the comments provided in the story excerpt regarding the survey, employers are seeking graduates with good grammar, hard work ethics, professionalism, ecetera. These are not attributes that magically appear. They require consistent practice and the ability to take constructive criticism and move forward. How can you hone these skills if you are not provided the work to practice them? You don’t become an expert overnight. Therefore, I’d rather you fail an assignment in class, which is a designated place of learning, as oppose to losing a job.
I can’t recount the number of times I’ve had past graduates send me an e-mail or stop by my office when they return to campus and express their gratitude to me for pushing them to complete tasks beyond their comfort level while maintaining integrity and professionalism. Many of them admit they didn’t understand why my expectations were so high, until they were working in an office, but are nevertheless thankful. They also check-in with me every now and then to make sure that I’m not slacking on the job 🙂 These are the alumni that remind me and allow me to share their stories with current students in hopes that these students will realize that the workload is NOT a form of punishment, but a strategic decision to make them better. A degree may get you the job, but it is the traits learned/honed while obtaining the degree that dictactes whether or not you keep the job.
What are your thoughts on the survey findings? How or can this issue of unprofessionalism be combated?