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BlackLivesMatter and College Career Services

By Jeremy Podany

CEO, The Career Leadership Collective

Let me start by saying that this post is just scratching the's not complete...hardly anything can be on this topic...and much more needs to be written and discussed. In fact, it's not really even a post, but rather an overview of an impromptu gathering we had on The New Forward, our career services news show, on Tuesday June 2, 2020.

My goal in writing this is to encourage more discussion and authenticity about how college career services can thoughtfully listen, learn, change, and act...for justice.

I wish I was an expert on the topic of racism or race relations, but I am more of a convener with a heart, who has a lot of expert friends. And, I sincerely believe that white male leaders (which I am) need to humbly speak up on the topic of racial injustices and use their race privilege for good. I am keenly aware that I don't fully understand the real pain of this situation, and I am often quite nervous that I might say something from my blind spots that offends. Don't let that stop you...just be willing to learn and listen.

This post is a window into the passion that is rising up among career services professionals to do something about racial injustices.

It was hard to continue with 'business as usual' on June 2. What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis a few days prior is straight-up racism, murder, and a massive systemic problem that demands change, discussion, protest, anger, healing, the continued dismantling of white supremacy, and justice on so many levels. It is cumulative. I condemn it! My organization condemns it!

For anyone new to interacting with The Career Leadership Collective, our small little corner of the planet happens to be at the nexus of college student hiring...and we serve the leaders in that space...the system creators...a realm that has unfortunately seen many inequalities, and also bold efforts toward change and a new generation of innovative leaders. We believe equity should be ingrained into the fabric of university career services. It changes lives, income levels, freedoms, social mobility, happiness, and so much more. We are just one in a number of great organizations that are trying to change systems. It's challenging. It's frustrating. It's hopeful. We have, and will continue to have many intentional services, speakers, writers, keynotes, panels, papers, and videos that shine a light on the need for equity. Because, there is a specific problem. And, there is a lot of work to do.

All that context to say, it was hard to go on as planned on the June 2nd news show. Early that morning I couldn't eat, spent extra time praying and meditating, and then called my good friend Jennifer, an African American leader in higher education. She is a bold encourager. Her wisdom was clear, and I paraphrase:

  • Everything about this sucks.

  • Be authentic.

  • Ask questions that are practical and change-oriented.

  • Give people space to share their thoughts.

Amazing! So Needed.

So, we scraped our previous plan for The New Forward show on June 2nd about three hours before going live, put the word out, and a few hundred colleagues joined us live for a discussion about what is happening and what we can do. Dr. Jeffrey Alston graciously joined me last minute, and was truly incredible. I so admire him. He helped a lot of people on June 2nd.

I encourage you to watch the 30 minute recording here. It is freely available to everyone, and will continue to be.

Allow me to share what happened on the show:

In the beginning,

  • Jeffrey graciously talked about how he is feeling

  • It seemed through the chat feed (you can see that below) that people needed this conversation.

  • We tagged-teamed the news, specifically on this topic

  • Then we talked through some ways career staff might consider growing personally