We get letters praising Colby magazine. We get some criticizing Colby magazine. We don't usually get letters from alums saying the magazine is well done, but "to be honest, though, that is also rather demoralizing for someone who is unemployed."
The letter referred to the editor's column in the summer issue, which discussed the fact that some alumni feel they don't measure up to the subjects in the magazine. The anonymous writer signed the note, "A Proud but Humbled Grad." No name, unfortunately, because I would have liked to talk to this person. Still do.
The writer was a self-described graduate from the 90s who was in corporate communications, first in New York and then in other cities around the country. "It was an interesting, rewarding and enjoyable time," the writer said.
But then the recession hit. This Colby alum was "downsized" not once, but twice. For the past two years, the writer has been unemployed.
"I doubt that my situation is unique among Colby grads in these difficult times, but you would never know that reading Colby. It would be really interesting for me to read about others (who may be more forthcoming than I am) in a similar plight and what they are doing to find work. Even more interesting would be to read about what Colby is doing—or thinking about doing—to assist its alumni."
I wish I had a name so I could tell this person that the Colby Career Center does help alumni. Roger Woolsey, Todd Herrmann, and the rest of the Career Center team do their utmost to help current students and alums. They're good at what they do. And Colby has made job placement a priority.
The larger question remains, though. By emphasizing success, does the magazine unintentionally discourage alums who have hit a rough patch, for whom success has come and gone? That's not our mission. We want to explore the world of Colby alumni, and that pool, like the public at large, includes all manner of experience, good and bad.
So I would do the story this writer described: how Colby alumni knocked off course by the recession are trying to regain their bearings, their careers. How tough is it out there? What insights do they have to offer?
I don't know how many alumni read this blog, but I hope I hear from some. Perhaps the "proud but humbled grad" will be among them.