DEAR ABBY: I recently received my bachelor of science degree. It took determination and sacrifice to fulfill the requirements to graduate. Now that I have found a job where I can use my academic knowledge, I am finding stumbling blocks to career advancement. I work with managers who refuse to recognize the importance of an academic education.
Several of the upper-level managers attained their high-paying positions by staying with the company and working their way up the organizational ladder. They frequently comment that education is "overrated." I have great respect for these managers and their fortitude in staying with the same company; however, they belittle the value of education. I believe they are not aware of the time and energy one must expend to attain a degree.
I have also noticed that managers who have an advanced level of education appreciate what it takes to get a degree and don't minimize its value. Unfortunately, I must report directly to a lesser-educated manager, and I would appreciate your advice on how to handle the situation. -- SUPPORTS THE VALUE OF EDUCATION
DEAR SUPPORTS: Keep your mouth shut and your eye on the goal. Pointing out your manager's ignorance will make you an enemy.
College doesn't always teach the "practical" aspects of a job. Experience is also a great teacher. Learn, absorb and weigh everything your managers have to say. They would not be at the level to which they have risen had they not earned the respect of their employers.
DEAR ABBY: Twenty years ago, my high school civics teacher gave us a choice for a project: Write a research paper or perform 20 hours of volunteer work and report on the experience. For not completely altruistic reasons, I chose the volunteer experience because I thought it sounded more interesting -- not to mention easier!
That was one of the most memorable high school experiences I had. I didn't come from a perfect background (does anyone?), but it was good for me as an impressionable young person to see how those in true need lived. I will never forget rocking a baby who was born without eyes because his mother dallied with drugs during her pregnancy.
Most volunteer experiences aren't as sobering, but there is always something to learn. As a result of that school project, I have led a life of volunteering -- even if it is just an hour a week. In addition, I have introduced my children to the wonderful world of volunteering as young as age 3, and they love it. My parents were also volunteers.
Abby, please address the subject of volunteering with your readers. If they don't volunteer, they owe it to themselves to give it a try. It's a wonderful experience. Just when they think they will only be giving, lo and behold, they'll be receiving an education and a worthwhile experience. -- GRATEFUL TO BE ABLE TO HELP, ST. PAUL, MINN.
DEAR GRATEFUL: I agree volunteering can be gratifying. I heartily recommend it. The subject has been mentioned in this column before. Years ago, I volunteered my time to the Red Cross as a "Gray Lady," reading and writing letters for shut-ins. Later I worked for the Mental Health Association and to raise funds for the March of Dimes.
Volunteer work is emotionally rewarding, a sure cure for the blues and a self-esteem builder. Some people have stumbled onto fulfilling career opportunities through volunteering at hospitals, schools, shelters, etc.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)