Trina Thompson – College Graduate Makes Potential Career-Ending Mistake

August 5th, 2009 by Amelia

By now you are no doubt familiar with the story of Trina Thompson and her lawsuit against her alma mater, Monroe College. The blogosphere has been abuzz since Kathianne Boniello of the New York Post broke the story.

The Digital Student over at GoCollege offered some support for her plight. They noted that tiny Thomas College in Waterville, Maine, actually makes a promise to its grads, one that Monroe does not: a job or else.

But most were merciless in their criticism of the 27-year-old. Robbie Cooper at UrbanGrounds gave her “The Idiot of the Day Award” while Ryan at RightJuris dissed her even as he stood up for the legal profession noting that Thompson had to file the suit herself, the insinuation being that the case was so frivolous that no one in the legal field would touch it.

Given some of the absurd suits that have been filed we tend to believe her when she simply says she filed it herself because she could not afford a lawyer. Whatever the case, therein lies the rub.

Everyone in the blogosphere has an opinion of the information-technology graduate. Trina Thompson is now a household name on the web.

Today, if one uses any search engine of note and types in the name Trina Thompson, pages and pages emerge. Many with unflattering titles, many more mentioning the anger she feels as a result of her plight and all highlighting the fact that she has chosen to blame her school for her failure to acquire a job.

Future Employment?

Irrespective of the merits of her lawsuit, Thompson now faces more difficulty than she could have ever imagined.

Anyone involved in the process of hiring someone for a professional position will thoroughly check a candidate’s references. Not only will phone calls made and questions asked of all listed references, many employers will try to determine the inside scoop by contacting someone else that may have knowledge of a candidate but is not listed as a reference.

However, the Internet has brought new meaning to the term reference check. The time has come when virtually all potential employers add one other simple process: Googling a candidate’s name.

The availability to readily access information on the web about a candidate has created a whole new phenomena called personal branding. It is a concept every high school and college student needs to become aware of and breaks down simply: it is extremely important that when your name is Googled, positive information comes up.

The last thing you want to have happen is for that search to yield information that would cause an employer to think twice about offering you a job.

If Ms. Thompson was truly searching hard for work before but was coming up empty, her decision to file the lawsuit has likely become her kiss of death. By virtue of her actions, she has created the ultimate red flag for human resource offices. No employer wants to hire someone that appears willing to sue others in a fit of anger.

Unfortunately, the filing of this lawsuit led Trina Thompson down a path in which she lost control of her personal brand.

And given the nature of the Internet that will follow her the rest of her life.

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3 Comments


    As diligently as I a try to find a gracious way to understand Ms. Thompson’s decision making in this matter, it continues to be a bit mind-boggling, really . . .

    Really!

    Perhaps the problem is that Ms. Thompson does not have an attorney to help her state her case in a way that might make a bit of sense?

    I have no idea . . .

    For example, it could be possible that the school only provided training in information technologies of the late-1940s through the early-1980s, where for example the courses might have been focused on operating an IBM 029 Keypunch machine or perhaps a manual Royal typewriter (which for the younger folks is a typewriter that does not operate by electricity and is not connected to a personal computer), but even then there should be job opportunities in New York City, since according to recent news reports police detectives in New York City continue to use manual typewriters for their various investigative reports, letters, and office communications, and it would not be such a huge surprise to discover that there were some old-fashioned “computer cards” being used somewhere in the city–noting for the younger folks that “computer cards” in this context refers to hard pieces of paper that typically were punched with holes that in a round-about way told a computer what to do, since at the time computers did not have visual display screens or monitors, and were similar to paper voting ballots and “chads”, which is another flavor of “computer cards” and is not to be confused with the more modern usage, which refers to USB “flash” memory sticks and PCMAI wirless “cards” and so forth . . .

    If all the courses in Information Technology offered at Monroe College are so completely and totally irrelevant that no reasonable person should ever expect to be able to find work upon graduating, then Ms. Thompson might have a case, especially since her grade average is pretty good and certainly is better than my overall grade-point average, although for Computer Science courses I tended mostly to make an A or B, with only an occasional C, which also was the case with Mathematics . . .

    For reference, the way I dealt with a less than stellar overall grade-point average was to sit in the balcony during the graduation ceremony, which then made it possible for me to state quite honestly and literally that I graduated “at the top of my class” . . .

    Of course, things were a bit different many years ago, and nobody actually took the time to verify much of anything, but so what . . .

    So what!

    Today, employers tend to “verify” everything, except that they use bogus information gathering services, so nothing has changed, really . . .

    Really!

    Nevertheless, a quick visit to the Monroe College website–where one can examine the various Information Technology courses–tends to suggest than someone graduating with an undergraduate degree in Information Technology certainly will have useful, state-of-the-art skills, although more in step with practical business applications than with the theoretical focus of a more traditional Computer Science program, which is consistent with the degrees offered at Monroe College basically being degrees in Business Administration (BBA and MBA), which are Liberal Arts degrees rather than Arts and Sciences degrees, although Monroe College offers a few Associate in Arts and Sciences degrees (AAS) . . .

    monroecollege.edu/academics/schoolsandprograms/coursecatalogs/courseofferings/IT09-10

    And based on my experiences over the years as a Computer Scientist, it certainly is possible that someone could take all the Information Technology courses at Monroe College and have virtually no useful skills, although it would take a lot of work to avoid learning at least something useful from all the available courses . . .

    Yet, while I was being a bit facetious about the possibility of there being courses in operating an IBM 029 Keypunch machine or a manual Royal typewriter, there actually is a course at Monroe College which is focused on operating a keyboard (“BT150: Keyboarding II”), but I see no problems with this, especially if it is part of a series of courses that are focused on teaching students how to touch-type, which certainly is a very useful skill in the grand scheme of everything . . .

    Do public schools teach touch-typing these days?

    I have no idea . . .

    On the other side of the equation, where is the realistic expectation in the current economy that any American citizen can get a job in Information Technology at a time when companies can import foreign workers who have doctorate degrees in various information and computer related fields and are willing to work for minimum wage to get a “green card”?

    The reality at the dawn of the early 21st century is that there are at least a few hundred people like me (a) who have forgotten more than Ms. Thompson currently knows and (b) who cannot get a job in our great nation because (c) we are not willing to work for early-1980 wages, which basically maps to minimum wage today, so how realistic is it for anyone who recently graduated from college in our great nation to expect to find work in just a few months of job searching?

    Not very realistic, at all . . .

    And this certainly was the case when I first graduated, but instead of whining about it, I found a job as a data entry clerk, which was a bit of FUN once I got past the annoyance of being treated a bit like an idiot, which mostly was due to my not mentioning that I had a Computer Science degree so that I would not be over-qualified, but so what . . .

    So what!

    Everything was different years ago, and employers actually could treat employees as if they were idiots . . .

    This was a way to earn some money for a while, and a few months later a Computer Science job appeared, so I resigned the data entry clerk job, explaining that I was going to accept a Computer Science job, at which time the company discovered that I had a Computer Science degree, so they offered me a job, which unfortunately I could not accept, since I already had accepted the other job . . .

    Youth certainly is a bit of an advantage in some respects, but even for younger folks I think that taking six months to a year to find a good-paying job in one’s trained profession is not so off-the-wall in this economy . . .

    Read the news and study the employment data coming from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics to get a few clues . . .

    And in some respects, the double whammy of being highly educated and older is transformed into a triple whammy when one also is highly literate and highly numerate, because the last things American companies need at the dawn of the 21st century are smart American workers . . .

    If you want to get a job in Information Technology in our great nation, then change your name to Rama Lama or Fu Lin Yu and pretend you sneaked into the country and are bored with your convenience store or taxi driver job!

    Notwithstanding this, my overall advice to Ms. Thompson is (a) to change her name, since as noted in this blog suing your college for not preparing you for a job is not the brightest strategy for advancing your career opportunities and (b) to consider pursuing other opportunities, perhaps something in government, because Ms. Thompson certainly appears to have many of the qualities which are in high demand in the various career government bureaucracies, including something in the foreign service arena, perhaps as a diplomatic assistant in the American Embassy at a communist or socialist country, where the principles of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are a bit more popular, at least in the sense of the elite oppressing the common folk, which is fabulous . . .

    Fabulous!

    By Baldenario on August 5th, 2009


    This woman must feel ridiculously entitled. She has only been searching for a job for three months?! I began my job search well before graduation, graduated with a 3.8 GPA in Applied Mathematics, and am still looking for work and that is a pretty typical story! And at least her career center continues to offer her services…my university requires its graduates to PAY for those services after graduation!

    By Natasha A. on August 31st, 2009


    Damn right she should feel entitled. You pay 10’s of thousands of dollars for a degree that’s supposed to help you get a decent job and make decent wages. I’ve been out of college 6 months now and have gotten nothing. I shouldn’t have to degrade myself and work for minimum wage at McDonalds or some supermarket. Even if it’s the lowest level kind of job, I should still be entitled to one in my field, just as she should. I’m practically ready to do the same thing she is doing. If more people jump on this maybe colleges will actually give a damn about getting their alumni jobs.

    By Chris M. on October 12th, 2010


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