I am seeing many articles in the news about the fear graduates experience right now, moving out of school into the world. Truth be told, it’s not easy in a booming economy, let alone an anemic one. With all the morbid news, fit to print, it’s no phenomenon that young people have developed a fear complex related to their future, and what they’ll do after graduating.
I do respect the notion that getting any job right now is better than nothing. Making your start in the world has rewards, no matter what, and with each transition you make you are introduced to ideas and experiences that alter the trajectory of the possible. Sometimes, simply learning something new about the economy, your talents, and how they relate, is worth a challenging experience.
I realized long ago that the education system contains some very large chasms between what you learn, how you learn it, and how you transition between education and work. I always wanted my students to do things in class that they could use as a lever to enter the world of computer science and IT that I knew well. I also knew that the traditional resume was a sore area for students with little or no professional experience; it’s really a moot document, when you think about it. Students don’t really have many bullets for a resume until they’ve been out there, perhaps after grad school.
The truth of the matter is that employers don’t really want a resume, they want proof of your skillsets. Having concrete experiences to draw upon, that mirror the real work you’ll do in a position, is valuable to both you and the employer. And when I talk about proof, it’s most likely in something you did in class — a group project, a senior thesis, a research paper that you really put your heart into. These vital, long-term engagements will resemble the work you’ll do in the lab, courtroom, sales pitch or tech demo — in the real world. Trust me, it’s true.
The chasm I spoke about exists when student graduate on the basis of these awesome papers, programs, projects and thesis work — and then the thesis becomes invisible. That’s right — the paper completely disappears once you turn it in, and get it back from your professor. And that research paper you did is the best representation of what you’re made of!
I get excited when I think of the potentials for students as they leverage their coursework to locate meaningful work. Academia is supposed to work this way — your paper represents your aspirations for a better world, and frequently represent critical perspectives on pressing real world problems. The fact that you’re confronting the world’s shortcomings at all predisposes you to becoming a successful associate to someone also working on them. And the thousands of words you produce on your thesis papers provide the world with access to the young people who know. Basically, without the technologies we use inside Next Acropolis, this group is largely invisible to the firms who need them the most. And when the students come online and become visible — bam — look forward to corporate transformation in the realm of human capital.