I help mentor college students … and the current crop is really immature — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

Outside of my regular job I hold a volunteer board position for the local chapter of a national philanthropic organization. A large part of our mission is to provide leadership opportunities and mentoring for college-aged women to help prepare them for life after graduation. I oversee a team of advisors as well as work directly with the students, who come from diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic levels. If it matters, I am in my mid-30s and the advisors on my team range in age from 24-65+.

Due to the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, almost all of the students currently in our program spent nearly half of their formative high school years isolated at home, and unfortunately it shows. They consistently demonstrate the maturity, communication, and interpersonal skills of much younger teenagers rather than young women who are old enough to enter the workforce. I’m not so far removed from my own college experience that I don’t remember my own catastrophizing and dramatics, but I’m failing to find ways to explain the need for basic courtesy and level-headedness with both friends and authority figures. These women are so intelligent and show so much potential, but if something doesn’t go their way, whether it’s with a friend, a professor, or a potential employer, the default seems to be to totally shut down and ignore the problem, lie about it/spread rumors, blame someone else, or even start screaming and crying. What was promised to be a 1-2 hour per week commitment on my part has turned in to at least an hour per day putting out fires and fielding phone calls where I tell them, no, I don’t think their professors are “morally corrupt” for failing them on an exam when they didn’t bother to study.

Some of the older advisors on the board have told me that they’re giving up on this group of women and have chalked it up to generational entitlement. There has also been talk about removing some of the more emotional or less productive students from the program. I’m not willing to go that route, at least not yet. I feel that I have a responsibility to these students, and as long as they continue to show up, even if they’re not taking my advice, then so will I. I want to see them succeed. What else can I try to help them understand that their volatile behavior will absolutely not fly in a future job?

Readers, what’s your advice?

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