Career services is a tough racket in this market. The employers are blowing you off, the school is riding you to boost their rankings, and the students are coming to grips with the gravity of their mistake and are getting increasingly panicked about their prospects.
And this pressure is much worse when you’re running career services for a school below that T14 level.
But sympathizing with career services does not extend to forgiving a ridiculous stunt like this. There are a lot of ways to spend money to help students get jobs. Career services decided to skip that step…
Banks need panic buttons. Jodie Foster needs a panic room. I only panic when it’s nine in the afternoon. But the thought that American law schools should have a panic button in their career services office didn’t occur to me until I attended the NALP panel on spotting mental health issue in the law school community.
I thought I was in for a touchy-feely hour about how it’s wrong to exclude the awkward gunner in the front row from all the reindeer games. Instead it was a sobering medical breakdown of the mental illnesses that afflict 20 percent of law students — and what career services officers can do to help stop people from literally killing themselves, which happens at way more law schools than I realized.
And yeah, your CSO should probably get a panic button installed if it doesn’t have one already….
We’ve done a surprising number of stories about law school career service officers who push babysitting gigs on their unemployed students. I say “surprising” because after our first story, you’d think law schools would figure out that law students don’t like being put up for jobs that they could have secured in high school.
Since that first one, most CSO personnel and other law school staffers have figured out that babysitting jobs are best when the employer is a professor or somebody else connected with the law school. Then it’s less of a “career of last resort” and more of “helping out a member of your community” (who happens to be well-connected).
But it looks like one school has regressed to the point of just insulting its students with a babysitting ad that kind of rubs salt in the unemployment wound….
Johnny Appleseed was carefree -- and unsaddled with law school debt.
Over the past few weeks, it seems Above the Law has unleashed a torrent of populist rage against law school career services’ departments posting crummy job opportunities.
Yesterday, we heard about another unfortunate career services posting, this time from the Vermont Law School. What was almost more depressing than the job, though, is our tipster’s testimony of postgraduate life.
Yesterday, we brought you news of a job opportunity that is currently available on the University of Maryland School of Law’s Symplicity job bank. When we first wrote about the listing, we called it a “career services nightmare.” After all, the job had more to do with orange parking cones than the law.
As it turns out, the powers that be at Maryland Law weren’t very happy that Above the Law called them out. Instead of hanging their heads in shame for trying to sell a job as a parking garage manager to its students, the career development office issued a vigorous defense of this exciting opportunity in vehicular supervision and coordination.
The email was written by the assistant dean for career development herself. What did she have to say?
It was rumored that the law school’s dean, Phoebe Haddon, fought valiantly to keep tuition from rising due to students’ hefty debt loads and the “impact of the economic downturn on the legal employment market.” At the time, we gave Maryland Law major kudos for protecting its students from tuition increases. Now, we wonder if a just little more tuition money would have prevented this career services nightmare.
As it turns out, even students who attend a top 50 law school are in danger of landing awful jobs, especially when the career development office is offering up gems like this one….
In case you haven’t noticed, 2012 is going to be the year where I try to take a more critical look at the level of career service that law students are receiving from their law schools. The legal job market has been crappy for a long enough time that law schools and career service officers should have adjusted their game plan. Rolling into 2012 with 2007 career service programs is simply unacceptable.
A couple of days ago, I offered some networking advice to the functional alcoholics in the audience. Sure, my thoughts were a little bit outside the box, but they were better than the kind of standard networking tripe most law students get from their overmatched CSO administrators.
Case in point, take a look as some networking advice sent around by the Dean of Students at a New York-area law school just last week. The advice was perfect if the dean was trying to ensure that the students made no impression, and left all employers wondering why they bothered to show up for a silly networking event in the first place….
Instead of hiring a new professor to teach Cross-Cultural Comparison of Masturbatory Prohibitions, I want law schools to start paying six-figure salaries to the people they hire to work in their career services offices. I want U.S. News to include the number of CSO professionals and money spent on CSOs as data points in their law school rankings. I want deans to start asking rich alumni if they would like to donate to help fight mental disability and extreme laziness in career services offices.
Because honestly, the lack of effort put in by career services professionals at the nation’s law schools really seems to be out of hand. Maybe they’ve just been collectively beaten down by the years of terrible job prospects and the throngs of students in need of help. Maybe they believe that there really is nothing they can do, and they are significantly more worried about protecting their own jobs than finding jobs for eager law students. Maybe the lack of institutional support and respect for their efforts makes them feel like second-class citizens whenever the Professor of Impractical Studies That Serve No Clients walks into the room.
I don’t know why we’re here, but when you can’t even trust your CSO to effectively cull Symplicity to remove stupid and insulting job prospects like the ones below, it’s time to change the entire approach to law school career services….
I’m a 2L at a second-tier midwestern school. Fall OCI didn’t go so great for me and, after resigning myself to failure, I accepted an unpaid internship with the government in my home metropolitan area. If I keep the job, chances are good that I’ll end up taking out loans for externship credit and will also be forced to obtain some sort of weekend employment to pay the bills.
Surprisingly, I just got an offer to be a summer bitch at a decent-paying firm within my home town. I talked to Career Services about this problem, and they made it clear that I needed to reject the firm offer. But that option would obviously strain me, both career-wise and financially. So my ultimate question is, can I tell the government that I’m sorry, but will no longer be able to take the position? From a purely financial point of view, I can either borrow ~6k this summer for tuition and living expenses, or make ~20k.
-Money on the Table
Dear Money on the Table,
As if law students didn’t have enough strikes against them — sh*tty economy, no jobs, worthless degree — a new and insidious threat also conspires to keep them broke and unemployed: Career Services. Everyone tolerated their quaint but useless “resume writing workshops” and rhetorical great-unpaid-opportunity-in-Kansas emails when the economy was great, but now that sh*t has tanked and they are unable to fulfill their express job duties — namely, creating careers — they’ve turned underminer. If they can’t create careers, no one should have them….
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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