Is it Inappropriate for Men to Ask Women Out at Work?

by Lee Desser

Comedian and late night television host, Samantha Bee, brought up something interesting on NPR’s Fresh Air about sexual harassment.

She started off with a couple of news stories of women facing discrimination for avoiding men’s sexual advances at work, and at the end of her segment she said, “Right now I’m actually picturing some guy saying, ‘Ugh! What do I have to do? Stop asking women out at work because it makes them uncomfortable?’ ” To which she replied, “Yes. You are at work.”

I’d always thought of sexual harassment as a habitual offense of great magnitude. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seems to agree: “…the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).” Yet,  ideally,  shouldn’t a woman  be able to go to work or school and not have to deal with the added pressures of  a man (or anyone) hitting on her? Shouldn’t work or school be a safe zone from sexual advances?

SNL did a skit on workplace relationships titled starring Tom Brady (Greg) and Fred Armison (Frank). In short, when the “average-looking” Frank asks a woman out to lunch she shuts him down, scoffing at “the ask,” and presumably calls human resources to report the incident. Then, when the “Adonis-looking” Greg asks the same woman out, she cheerfully agrees and doesn’t seem to mind him cupping her breast.

At the end of the segment, the narrator determines that ultimately, “You can have sex with women at work without losing your job by following a few simple rules: be handsome, be attractive, and don’t be unattractive.”

I realize that people  (including many women) are fiercely divided on this issue. One night I was at a woman’s book club and I  told an anecdote  about how, when I was taking a course at a community college, a man 30+ years my senior asked me if I wanted to “hang out this weekend” and how it made me feel incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.

“How dare he?” I thought. “Now I have to run into him Monday through Friday and avoid his advances. Will he ask again? How will I say no? Why is it that when a woman is nice to a man he assumes that she’s interested in him?” I complained to my girlfriends about this and, to my surprise, not everyone agreed. Some said he had every right to ask; he didn’t know I would say, no. “What about the age difference?” I said. To which one woman replied, “My uncle is 20 years older than my aunt. It happens.” This changed my mind a bit. Maybe it wasn’t so out of line?

If I had to draw a conclusion it would be that asking a woman out only makes  her uncomfortable if  she isn’t interested. Yet, a man  may not know if a woman is interested if he doesn’t ask her out, right?  In the end, Samantha Bee’s  statement at the end of her segment may be the only advice that people can agree on , “…if you must ask a colleague out at least learn to take no for an answer…” What do you think?

Lee DesserLee Desser, career and academic adviser, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lmdesser

 

Understanding Future Work Force Trends and Addressing Professional Development Opportunities

by Dorothy Hayden

Our field and the way that we do our jobs 10 years from now will be different from the way we do them today. Last November, I attended a talk by Phil Gardner on recruiting trends. During the talk, Gardner focused on some of the new challenges that employers and career services must address. He notes that employers are less likely to act in an uncertain environment.

Before entering into the information age, employers met potential employees during career fairs and this was likely their only point of contact. Today the search for talent is 24/7 with the advent of ATS, advanced analytics, and social media. For career services, we’ve gone from being the principal provider of information to connectors and consultants (Gardner, 2015). The disruption of innovation is one challenge, but another challenge we must anticipate is the staggering number of retirements that will take place in the next decade by Baby Boomers. Gardner cites a 2010 Pew Research Study saying that about 10,000 Baby Boomers a day will retire. It’s not clear how many Baby Boomers work in career services, but what is clear is that Generation X and Millennials will need to fill the gap in talent. In 2025, the percentage of those born after 1980 will make up around 75 percent of the work force according to Gardner (Gardner, 2015).

You may think that this number seems unreal, but Millennials recently (Quarter 1 of 2015) passed Generation X has the largest population in the workforce (Pew, 2015). With the generational shift, we will need to be adaptive and perceptive to changes in the way that we do our work.

As a millennial, I have been reading about this upcoming generational shift since I was in graduate school. However, I have been challenged to understand how I take the next step in my leadership development. Earlier this month I attended the NACE Management Leadership Institute (MLI) with 65 other career services professionals from around the country. This training challenged my thinking about how I view leadership and it also gave me a bit of a road map for how I can best continue to develop as a leader. Through the MLI, I learned more about the Five Practices for Exemplary Leadership Model developed by Kouzes and Posner in the early 1980s. With this particular leadership model, Posner and Kouzes discuss how we all are leaders but that there are five key leadership practices that exemplary leaders regularly practice in their work. The Five Exemplary Practices are:

  1. Model the way
  2. Inspire a shared vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

During MLI, we received the results of a 360 evaluation on each of these areas. We were told during the training that the average age that an adult receives a formal leadership training is 42. Many larger for-profit organizations, are now adding formal leadership training in the first one- to three-years for their recent college hires. It’s highly unlikely that every office that hires new professionals will be able to provide a structured leadership training for their new professionals. I also know that not every institution has the resources to send their mid-level professionals to attend a formal training like MLI. What can we do? How can we help our profession’s new professionals gain competency and increase their capacities as leaders? I don’t believe that there is a simple solution. I also don’t believe that millennials are the only generation that needs to work on leadership development. We all can gain from improving one or more of the five exemplary leadership practices.

I would like to share some ideas (with minimal costs) that we can use to maximize our leadership potential.

  • Identify your personal mission, vision, and values. When we do assessment in our offices, we frequently go back to our office mission and vision statements. The practice of going through and identifying your career mission, vision, and values statements can help you to begin the process of identifying areas of success and growth.
  • Learn more about the Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders: YouTube has a number of videos by Kouzes and Posner on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders. I’ve listed a few of the videos that I have enjoyed below, but I would also encourage you to watch videos that focus on different leadership models, ideas, and styles.
  • Be a mentor/mentee. Seek out people who can teach and advise you in your areas of growth. The surprising thing to me about being a mentee is that there is also an opportunity to be a mentor. NACE offers a Mentor Program, but you can also find mentors within your region, state, or school.
  • Develop a professional development plan. A professional development plan can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. The professional development differs from something like the set of annual performance goals that you do, in that no one else but you is evaluating your success. Items you may want to include: Your current vision, mission, and values plus a set of short-term (one to three months) and long-term (six to 18 months) goals that you hope to accomplish. You can also include smaller goals and check points to keep you accountable.
  • Engage on social media. Do you tweet? Do you use LinkedIn? Do you blog? Encourage the new professionals around you to engage with other career services professionals through social media. One of the Exemplary Leadership Practices is, Inspire a Shared Vision. In order to inspire others, we need more people to contribute to the conversation about the present and future in our field.

I know that this is not a complete list. My goal is to share some information about the shift of generations, encourage you to think about your own leadership development, and consider ways to foster leadership potential within your own organization. Please share your ideas for professional development here and feel free to share your ideas on Twitter as well.

Dorothy HaydenDorothy Hayden, Assistant Director, Office of Career Services, Virginia Military Institute
Twitter: @dorothyhayden
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dorothyhayden

Sources:

Gardner, Phil. “Recruiting Trends 2015-16” Michigan State University: http://livestream.com/msualumni/2015Recruitingtrends/videos/104851985

Fry, Richard. “Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/ April 2015.

Dorothy HaydenDorothy Hayden, Assistant Director, Office of Career Services, Virginia Military Institute
Twitter: @dorothyhayden
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dorothyhayden

 

 

Finding A Career That Reflects All of Who We Are

Melanie BufordMelanie Buford, Program Coordinator/Adjunct Instructor, Career Development Center, University of Cincinnati
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mebuford/
Website: www.melaniebuford.org

Each semester I teach a course for undecided students to help them narrow their career interests in order to declare a major. Over and over, I see a recurring pattern. The pressure to find the “perfect” career has many students choosing one of two costly paths: they change majors multiple times, often adding time and expense to their undergraduate degrees, or they avoid the matter entirely until they’re forced to engage with it post-graduation. The culprit, for many, is that their values, skills, interests, and material needs can rarely all be neatly captured by a single occupation.

Of course, this isn’t limited to Millennials or college campuses. In her book “One Person/Multiple Careers,” Marci Alboher highlights the “slash career” phenomenon— simultaneously wearing multiple career hats that more thoroughly capture the complex identity of a professional. Accountant/Yogi/Internet Mogul and Educator/Entrepreneur are just a few examples of the “slash career” phenomenon taking hold of the modern world of work.

The phenomenon of slash careers is about more than just the titles that appear on your LinkedIn profile. As we call for an expansion of the categories of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and the many other ways that we identify, we are also pushing for inclusiveness in our work. In time, I’m confident that our organizations and institutions will reflect these new priorities.

For now, here’s my advice for those who want to build a slash career:

Set clear intentions for your roles and then let them evolve.

Think about the type of slash career you want and then begin developing the skills required for each role. If your slash career is Accountant/Poet, then you may want to start out as an accountant while writing poetry in your spare time. You might get a degree in accounting, follow that path through graduation, and find a full-time job as an accountant. Then, once you’re feeling comfortable in that role, your first goal toward becoming a poet may be to take a writing class at your local community center once per week. This will allow you to support yourself financially while moving toward your slash role.

The people you meet will push you to expand and refine your goals. The instructor in your poetry class may be so impressed with your work that she asks you to write something for a poetry collection she’s created. That project may inspire you to start writing longer pieces and you may move into nonfiction writing. After you’ve set your goals, allow them to evolve over time.

While you won’t get there overnight, I encourage you to start thinking of yourself right now as the slash career you hope for. You don’t have to wait until you’ve published six novels to consider yourself a writer. Titles can be aspirational.

Be realistic about the details.

Conduct careful research on each role to decide how to balance your time. You don’t want any nasty surprises that could have been avoided by an hour of research. Different occupations have different schedules, projected growth rates, salary ranges, and requirements. You want to make sure you’re familiar with these so that you can choose two or three roles that fit together. O*NET is one of many sites that provide this information.

Through your research, you want to identify a suitable full-time or part-time career that will allow you to launch another role on the side. Writing and other work that can be done remotely are excellent supplements to a full-time, in-person commitment.

Leverage the time management skills you already have.

Continue to use those organizational skills you’ve refined in school or at home. Slash careers require the ability to proactively identify opportunities and to manage your time. Invest in a planner, a calendaring system (or several) so that you can keep the goals and tasks for each role separate and organized. This will be especially important as you’re starting out and learning about each career.

Use technology to support your efforts—something as simple as integrating the calendar on your smart phone and laptop can help to streamline your work. There are a wide variety of free productivity apps for smart phones and tablets that help keep projects organized. Try creating an Excel spreadsheet to track your freelance projects. This will allow you to organize client contact information, pay rates, and deadlines, all in one spreadsheet.

Remember the importance of baby steps as you accept new opportunities. There is a limit to how many projects you can take on and continue to produce high-quality work. Establishing a good reputation in these fields is key to making network connections and developing your skills. Don’t sacrifice quality to rush toward a goal.

Use the support networks around you.

A slash career is an inherently creative endeavor, so path finding will inevitably be part of the process. Learn from the great work that’s already being done. Look to people who are working toward the slash careers you’re interested in. An informational interview will provide you with the opportunity to find out what their individual career evolution looked like.

To those who are in school, use your administrative departments—career services, tutoring, student life—to support your work. To recent graduates, get in touch with your career development offices. Many of them will work with alumni, aware that career development is a life-long process.

Reflect on your journey as it’s happening.

I always recommend keeping a career journal to track your evolving interests and goals. It can also be a great way to manage the complexity, and occasional ambiguity, of doing something unique. Ask yourself what you enjoy about each role, what you find challenging, and what other skills you may want to develop. You’ll see patterns in your journal over time that will give you ideas about how your slash can evolve.

My own slash career evolved from a career journal I began in AmeriCorps. Over time, I saw that I needed the right mix of independent, analytical work, and social, helping work to feel like I was using all of my skills. Simultaneously working in career development at a university and doing my own creative writing allow me to accomplish both of these goals.

As a Millennial myself, I certainly understand the drive toward engaging work. I also see professionals in other generations pushing for this same fulfillment. We’re ready to take on complexity in our work, just as we grapple with complexity in our political and economic landscapes.

NACE members can pick up a free, student-directed version of this blog for their websites on NACEWeb.

Encourage Students to Tolerate Uncertainty and to Take Risks

Melanie BufordMelanie Buford, Program Coordinator/Adjunct Instructor, Career Development Center, University of Cincinnati
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mebuford/
Website: www.melaniebuford.org

It’s amazing how the title of Jullien Gordon’s TED Talk, “How to graduate college with a job you love and less debt” resonates with students.  Their enthusiasm is all the more remarkable in its rarity. Most of my students are attending the University full-time, while simultaneously supporting themselves with at least one part-time job. They come to my class already exhausted, so when they ask me if they can stay late just to finish Gordon’s talk, I am always equal parts shocked and gratified. Clearly, this is a subject students are interested in.

Jullien Gordon is a kind of Millennial whisperer. He travels around the country speaking not only to students, but to staff, parents and faculty about how to engage Millennials in higher education. One of the things I appreciate about Gordon is that he’s direct. He doesn’t try to soften the truth about career by promoting college completion as a magical key to success. In fact, within the first few minutes of his talk, he challenges students to re-think what success really means – to them, to society, to their parents, friends and teachers. He encourages Millennials to redefine achievement so that they’ll be motivated to make the most of their college experience.

When I last showed his talk, I engaged the class in a discussion about the pros and cons of letting someone else make your major and career decisions for you. One first-year student summed it up perfectly: “you lose freedom, but you don’t have to deal with uncertainty!” After this speech, he put his head down on his desk. I asked for a show of hands. How many of them enjoy the feeling of uncertainty? No hands went up. They gave me pained looks. I imagine this might be why they’ve registered for a class on career decision-making.

I empathize. Taking responsibility for your own success or failure is difficult enough. Having to make choices about what your success will look like, at 18, is more difficult still. It’s a big ask, but I think students appreciate when we’re honest with them about what’s expected. They resonate with Gordon’s transparency. They understand the concept of competition, and the signs on the wall, even in school, are increasingly clear.

If someone asked me to name the most important role a career counselor plays in the life of a college student, I wouldn’t talk about major requirements, or internships, or resume and cover letters, or even preparing for the long weeks of the job search. The most challenging, and important, part of my job, is encouraging students to tolerate uncertainty and to take risks. These skills are critical in our current job market, where technology is transforming entire fields in a space of a few years.

As Gordon implies, risks often mean sacrifices. Students may not be able to graduate with the perfect major, have a 4.0 GPA, lead three student organizations, and get the internship experience they need to be successful. No one can do it all. But if a student has a passion for travel, it may be more important for them to study abroad than to have a perfect GPA. These risks may pay off in unexpected ways, but they take courage in the short-term.

Career professionals have the opportunity to help students strategize as they decide where and how to take risks in school. Success in college is about more than just completion, it’s about preparing for the realities of post-graduate life.

#NACE15: What Did You Do?

Busy days. Keynotes. Concurrent sessions. Expo Hall. Refreshment breaks. Innovation Labs and Campfire Conversations. Meet ups. Insight Labs. Reunions with friends and colleagues. Networking. International attendees.

Here are some of the highlights from the NACE 2015 Conference & Expo in Anaheim, California.

nace15-first timerMore than 500 wear the first-time attendees ribbon.

 

 

 

 

nace15-jerry housernace15-trudyJerry Houser, associate dean/director Career Services at Willamette University, wins the Chevron Award. Trudy Steinfeld, assistant vice president and executive director of Career Development at New York University, is named to the NACE Academy of Fellows.

The conference opens on Tuesday with a drumbeat. Then, keynote Maulik Pancholy shares his personal journey to embrace his heritage.

nace15-drumskeynote pancholy

 

 


 

 

 

 

Lindsey speaksLindsey Pollak, keynote speaker and Millennial workplace consultant, draws a standing-room-only crowd on Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

nace15-jamienne Studley

Deputy Under Secretary of Education Jamienne Studley addresses critical issues in higher education in the Thursday keynote for another standing-room-only crowd.

 

 

 

 

 

bradleysnyder 2

Keynote Bradley Snyder, military vet and Paralympian, shares insights into meeting challenges on Friday.

 

 

 

 

New for 2015: Innovation Labs, Campfire Conversations, Insight Labs draw crowds of attendees for extended dialog on professional topics and issues. (Click on pictures to make them bigger.)

20150603_163559nace15-29nace15--33

 

 

 

Highlights from the First-Destination Survey of the Class of 2014 results were delivered by Edwin Koc, NACE director of research, public policy, and legislative affairs, and Manny Contomanolis, chair NACE’s First-Destination Survey Team. (You can read the final results on NACEWeb.)

nace15-fdnace15-first-destinations-report-class-2014-final-cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professionals in career services and university recruiting share tips, trends, and best practices in 80 concurrent sessions over two-and-a-half days. (Handouts are available to full conference registrants through MyNACE.)

psul flower emory career ctfuture of professioncampfire 2

 

 

 

gender gapnace15 sessionunemployment disabilities

 

 

 

 

The Expo Hall attracted attendees looking for the latest information, products, and services for career services and recruiting professionals.

nace15-expo hall glassesnace15-expo drawingnace15-3nace15-4

 

 

 

 

nace15-picture green screennace15-gapingvoid nace15-expo hall 3

 

Kate Brooks, executive director, Office of Personal and Career Development, Wake Forest University, and Alastair Dawe, head of U.S. operations for Explore Horizons, check on their offices between sessions.

nace15-36image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thursday night “Surf City USA” celebration featured music, dancing, and refreshments.

celebrationcelebration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awards were announced throughout the week with an Innovation Showcase on Thursday featuring winners and finalists with their top-notch programs and best practices.

award

Award Winners:

Mentor of the Year Award: Brian Guerrero, University of California – Los Angeles
Volunteer Meritorious Service Award: Chaim Shapiro, Touro College 
Member’s Choice Award: Denise Hopkins,  Kathryn Hutchinson, Michelle Kyriakides, Joni O’Hagan, and the Career Services Team at SJU
NACE/DirectEmployers Catalyst Award:
Jill Miller, Novo Nordisk Inc. 
NACE/Spelman Johnson Group Rising Star Award Winner: Kevin Grubb, Villanova University

See you in 2016 in Chicago, June 7 – 10, 2016!

nace15-expo hall 2

 

 


Career Services Becomes a Primary Focus for Student Affairs

Heather TranenHeather Tranen, Associate Director, University of Pennsylvania Career Services
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heathertranen

With increasing attention on return on investment in higher education, it’s no wonder that the pressure subsequently increases on career services professionals to deliver. As a result, career services becomes a more central point of discussion within the realm of student affairs.

My former colleague, Leah Lattimore, and I submitted a career services focused workshop for National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) to explore the effective communication strategies that promote lifelong career development.

Luckily, our crawfish dreams were answered and our proposal was New Orleans-bound for NASPA 2015: Navigating Courage.

nametag.jpgpres.jpg

We felt excited about presenting on our topic to a different audience. What I did not expect to find was the plethora of other career-related sessions throughout the conference. I was able to learn more about data/assessment, the future of career services, the importance of early engagement, and recruitment trends. Sessions were also well attended by a cross-section of departments (housing, student activities, and alumni relations to name a few).  Undoubtedly, other student affairs professionals are recognizing career development as a high impact area of their field.

A few weeks later, I am now fully able to digest (literally and figuratively), the main takeaways from the conference as they relate to our work as career services practitioners. None of this information is surprising. However, it all provides interesting insight into where the industry is at the moment, and reminds us how to focus our work.

Data, data, data. As you might suspect, data and showcasing ROI through hard numbers was a hot topic. I don’t mean to brag, but Penn collects data and showcases it in a way where it frames a story for its students (e.g. What can I do with my major, or Where are people with my major working geographically?). One question posed and potentially worth considering to include in your placement surveys would be, “Why didn’t students use career services?” I enjoyed learning what offices at John Jay and FSU are doing during these discussions, and think it is worth thinking beyond just our placement statistics to explore how the data creates a story.

Customized, targeted services. Thought leaders from RIT, NYU, Stanford, and George Mason talked about the future of career services. The need for the core services with a targeted approach will only become an increasing pressure on us as career services professionals. Additionally, Georgia State discussed their targeted programming/niche career fairs. This was also a leading theme in our presentation.

Early engagement. Schools like UConn are offering credit-bearing First-Year Experience (FYE) courses. This definitely seems like an interesting way to tie career services to the academic enterprise and to put career services at the forefront of students’ minds from the very beginning of their college experience.

Recruiting trends. Employers pursuing a “soft” recruiting approach by targeting candidates via social media and at career development events vs. the more traditional recruitment events (e.g. career fairs and information sessions) is also a trend schools are seeing.

That career services has become a central focus within higher education came when speaker Trudy Steinfeld addressed a standing-room only group. She said, “I presented at NASPA many years ago. Guess how many people were in my session? Six.”

ts.jpg

Trudy Steinfeld said to a standing room only group, “I presented at NASPA many years ago. Guess how many people were in my session? Six.”

Now it’s up to us as professionals in the field to continue delivering top-tier work, and to innovate ways that connect our students to the placement numbers society seeks and to the careers that lead them to fulfilling work.

 

 

Is Career Counseling for Everyone?

Melanie BufordMelanie Buford, Program Coordinator/Adjunct Instructor, Career Development Center, University of Cincinnati
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mebuford/
Website: www.melaniebuford.org

The other day, a colleague posed an intriguing question. I told her about my work in the career center at the University of Cincinnati, and after a contemplative pause, she said:

“Do you think career counseling is for everyone? I felt lost after graduation, but my husband never used career services. He knew what he wanted to do and he’s doing well now.”

I’m sure that most of us don’t find this surprising. Though a great many students come to career services desperate for some sort of post-graduate direction, there are certainly those who have chosen a path and may only want another set of eyes on their resume or some similarly light support. There are still those who never come at all, likely relying on their friends, family, and the Internet to fill in their gaps.

Of course, I can only speak from my own experience, but I believe that there are benefits to one-on-one career counseling that even the most prepared would find helpful. A few of those benefits are:

Career counseling creates space for exploration.

For every student who struggles to choose one career direction, there are those who have prematurely narrowed their options. Students bring different strengths and personalities to the career development process. Decisiveness can certainly be an asset, but so can the ability to tolerate the uncertainty of exploration. The best decisions combine reflection and action, and career counseling provides the space and support to do both.

Career counseling prepares students for a changing job market.

We know that as technology, Millennials, and global communication reshape the world of work, the relevance of today’s positions isn’t guaranteed. If a student chooses to pursue one career today, there is no guarantee that technology may not eliminate the need for that work before that student reaches retirement. With self-driving cars on the horizon, who’s to say what human services we’ll need in another 30 years? Students need to be familiar with current market trends, and the variety of talents and interests they have to offer. This knowledge, combined with the ability to self-promote, will prepare them for the possibility that their career of choice may not always be a viable path.

Career counseling provides frameworks and language for grappling with career challenges yet to come.

A core component of most career development programming is some sort of personality or skills assessment. One thing that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tells you, for example, is whether or not you prefer introversion or extroversion. Those who prefer introversion tend to feel more comfortable in workspaces that allow for independent work and alone time to recharge and develop ideas. Those who prefer extroversion, on the other hand, tend to have a need for collaboration and the ability to work with other people for energy and inspiration.

One of the staff members at the UC Career Development Center tells a story about a young man she counseled a few years ago. We’ll call him David. David was an extremely hard-working student who graduated from UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences with a near-perfect GPA. He was hired by a well-known tech company and was making a six-figure salary as a new graduate. Ostensibly, this was a career success story, and yet, within a few years, David came to us for help. He was shocked to find that despite his interest in the work, he was miserable in his new position. So much so that he reported feelings of exhaustion and hopelessness, classic symptoms of depression.

After a few sessions with David, it became clear that his unhappiness didn’t stem from the work itself, but from the environment. My colleague administered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and David reported a clear preference for extroversion. During a typical workday, however, he had almost no human contact, from the moment he arrived to the moment he left. Once David had language for interpreting this experience—that he had needed more interaction with people as part of his day—he was able to communicate this need to his supervisor. He was eventually moved to a new role as a sales representative for the product and was much more satisfied.

David knew he was unhappy in his role, but without the language for interpreting these feelings, he struggled to act on them. Even students who are satisfied in their current work may reach a point where their needs are no longer being fulfilled. Career counseling can provide a framework to understand why they aren’t thriving.

As many career development programs at public colleges and universities are being downsized, the relevance of one-on-one counseling will be an increasingly pressing issue. We will need to be innovative as we prepare students for a lifetime of career success, not simply a post-graduate job.