Friday, August 08, 2008

CPC, CDO, Whatever

This is just too good to pass up. One of the reasons I stopped this blog is that I have long since moved on from thinking about the idiocy of so many things associated with the University of Miami School of Law. I'm a lawyer now. I'm a dad. I'm a homeowner. I have more important things to occupy my mind.

But this week we received this e-mail that's just priceless. I deleted the e-mail, but fortunately for me, the school posted the full text of it on their web site. This is what it said:

After careful consideration and to better reflect the services and resources we provide to our students and alumni, we are pleased to announce that the Career Planning Center is now called the Career Development Office (CDO). The role of law school career offices throughout the country, including our office, has considerably changed in the last decade. Career offices have expanded their role by giving students and alumni lifelong services that not only help the students and alumni identify and use the appropriate resources to obtain their first jobs but also help them assess and discover their ideal careers. We feel that the new name accurately represents this progressive change and ask you to join us in using the name and sharing it with others in our community. Also, please note our new website address: www.law.miami.edu/cdo.


So let me see if I have this straight? The Career Center, which was completely useless to 90 percent of students while in school, is now expanding so that it can be completely useless to alumni, too? That seems to be the gist of the name change.

By the way, I wonder how long it took to arrive at this new name. Were there consultants involved? How many meetings did they hold to discuss the new name? What were the rejected names? Was there a name-the-center contest? What did the winner receive? Who won?

I ranted about the Career Center plenty of times during my three years in law school. As all students know, it was great for facilitating OCI, which itself was great for about 10-15 percent of each class. If you went directly to law school from college and had never held a real job, the center was great at helping you write your resume. If you wanted to work for free during law school, there was no shortage of jobs. And let's not forget that for the maybe one or two students in each class whose goal was to work in a law school admissions, alumni, or career office, those people had it made. There were times when the majority of job postings on the center's online jobs board were for career center jobs in other law schools. I am not making this up. The center was terrific at cutting and pasting random newsletter and web site job postings - part-time, in-semester job with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office? Check. Full-time public interest job in Boulder, Colorado? Check. They were also great at posting jobs that were so far beneath law students that working at Subway would have been just as productive. (I don't mean to sound snooty but job postings for legal secretary positions are not helpful to people looking for part-time law jobs).

By the way, it should be said that the actual career counselors were fairly nice and friendly, despite being completely useless in helping you actually get a job. It's not their fault. It's the institution's fault. And the woman assigned to be my counselor couldn't have been more helpful on the rare occasions that I asked her for something. As for finding a job, I did it 100 percent on my own. I left that job after four months and found my next job completely on my own.

The Center's flaws are too numerous to list here. The single largest deficiency is that its mission was to sit around and pray that employers would contact them and post jobs. The useless - and now departed - dean of the school didn't even know the center existed. He was never visible in the community, failed to talk up UM graduates to prospective employers and did nothing to help students land jobs, preferring instead to repeat the same tired cliches about law school teaching you how to think and how to contribute to the community and blah blah blah. The center itself should have been more proactive. Its counselors should be required to actually go out into the community and convince local firms to interview UM graduates.

And don't get me started on the clerkship process. Yes, I know there are people who got clerkships, but for all the work that a certain counselor puts in to the clerkship application process, let's just be kind and say that the results aren't there.

So, with the change, do we dare dream that the school is finally getting it right? Will the career center no longer be the most useless office on campus (ranking slightly above the "help desk" at the bottom of the list)? Let's see if we can parse the wording of the announcement:

After careful consideration and to better reflect the services and resources we provide to our students and alumni, we are pleased to announce that the Career Planning Center is now called the Career Development Office (CDO).

OK, they changed the name. So far, it's not promising. You can call a carrot an orange, but the carrot is still a carrot

The role of law school career offices throughout the country, including our office, has considerably changed in the last decade.

If it's changed over the past decade, why did the University of Miami School of Law need the entire decade to figure out that its career center needed to change, as well? This would seem to be a positive, although somewhat pathetic, admission that the institution realizes how useless its career center is - and has been for the past 10 years.

Career offices have expanded their role by giving students and alumni lifelong services that not only help the students and alumni identify and use the appropriate resources to obtain their first jobs but also help them assess and discover their ideal careers.


This is not promising. Lifelong services? In theory, it would be great if a 45-year-old lawyer who has been practicing for 15-20 years could stop by the center and get actual career advice. But think about this - why would this lawyer actually do that? Why would he seek the advice of a bunch of people who stopped practicing law after about four years so they could work part-time in the career center and who do nothing other than sit around and hope employers contact them to post job openings? Is it because these counselors have excellent access to "the appropriate resources" to "assess and discover their ideal careers"? Twenty years ago, this might have made sense. But, see, we have this new invention, called the Internet. Sick of law firm life after 15-20 years? Sure, you can call the career center, but how about going on line and doing your own research about new careers? Hopefully you'll also talk to friends, family and others WHO CAN ACTUALLY HELP YOU get a job. Let's say you want to go in-house after being a litigator. Talk to people who work in house. Want to switch to public interest law? Do you really need the career center to give you the names of some UM alumni who work in the field? Get your ass down to the local non-profit legal aid center and talk to someone.

We feel that the new name accurately represents this progressive change

What does this even mean? Progressive change? Is there any other kind of change? Would you admit to regressive change? Progressive is a buzz word that means absolutely nothing.

and ask you to join us in using the name and sharing it with others in our community.

Is this a joke? You want me to share with others in "our community" that the Career Planning Center is now the Career Development Office? This last line left me speechless. I guess "our community" means alumni of Miami Law, but this isn't clear. Does it mean all lawyers in South Florida? Next time I see someone I recognize down at the courthouse or out to lunch downtown, I'll be sure to stop by and share this priceless piece of information with him. Yes, that's what I'll do.

7 Comments:

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not seeing the historical development (darn internet). The Career Planning Center used to be called the Placement Center. People complained because it only got the top 10-15% jobs. So, in order to fix that problem, they changed the name to Career Planning Center. Students still accidentally thought it was going to help them get a job, so now they have tried again. Surely no one will expect a DEVELOPMENT Center to get them anything.

 
At 3:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post...and so true... Bring the blog back!!

 
At 1:23 PM, Blogger SuperBee said...

HI-larious.

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger The Law said...

So true, stupid UM and their worthless ______ center!!

 
At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The career center at my U. (no idea what their official name was) was always trying new things to get students to go there (e.g., free pizza). But it seemed like it never dawned on them that maybe no one went there because they didn't actually offer any useful career services ...

 
At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Acore said...

Welcome back and great post! As a recent grad of UM Law, I can't agree more with you about the lack of help the "Career Development Office" has provided.

Now that I've taken the Bar Exam and am out there hunting for a job, I expect more to come from my own effort in sending out resumes and networking rather than simply relying on the garbage posted on Symplicity.

 
At 7:54 PM, Blogger some guy said...

Hang in there, Acore. You'll get a job once you get your results.

 

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