The World Has Changed: Graduates Take Note

This weekend IntelliGrad had some great brainstorming sessions on our focus. We’ve admittedly been “all over the map” with content on our website, but now we have a much clearer vision and it’s time to explain it in plain English.

The concept of graduation has fundamentally changed. Fifteen years ago when someone graduated from college, in most cases their education was complete. One stood a reasonable chance of finding a job with a large and stable company who offered insurance, a pension and job security.

The internet was ‘maybe’ something that was being talked about in the news, but to most, it was an ethereal concept. Time passed and email became a primary means for communications; still it was slow and unreliable. If you used the internet, it was dial-up and you were greeted with AOL’s “You’ve Got Mail!” TV, newspapers and phones were still the primary method for young professionals to learn new information, search for jobs and communicate.

Times have changed. Students and graduates need to wake up and smell their mocha grand lattes. The internet is a force more powerful then anything anyone could ever have imagined. Why? The internet has redefined the way we approach almost everything: communications, defense, media, commerce, employment, education and more. As Thomas Friedman writes about in the World Is Flat. Globalization has created a more equal playing field; it is the great equalizer. Job competition for graduates and soon-to-be graduates is as difficult as ever. This competition for jobs has nothing to do with the state of the economy…recessions are like “job market 1.0.” We’re now in a 2.0 world. The market forces graduates are battling now are as follows: technology replacing traditional jobs, job specialization, competition from international students, a more dynamic job environment, off-shoring, companies putting the burden of social-care the employee and major changes in technology for collaboration and communications.

We are in a dynamic and incredibly exciting time. The problem is that students and young professionals don’t know that. The problem is that our colleges, universities and high school are still stuck in an ‘old-school mentality’ from 20 years ago. For example, I have a marketing professor who has only “heard of YouTube” and is unaware of the acronyms SEO and SEM. This is not acceptable! The fact is that within 6 months, YouTube (now with the backing of Google) is going to bring video to your cell phone. The impact of this change alone will be astronomical because it will change marketing, television, news, and more. Almost every company in existence has a website, and almost every successful company somehow monetizes their site, either by selling, providing information or building their brand (community engagement) online. This is big. This is huge. This affects you. Graduates must stay current. You don’t need to be a programmer, but you do need to read, to understand general concepts and at least know how to find the right person, or website, or application, or the media type to find you success.

If you are a student or young professional under age 40 you need to know what an IRA is and that soon Americans will be a minority. You need to know that if you are not pro-active in continuing your education, pro-active in teaching yourself about new technologies, you will be left behind. The world is becoming a less forgiving place to be an employee (limited insurance, no social-security, no pensions) – employees themselves must take initiative to create their own security. The world is subject to rapid changes (9/11), people travel more frequently and they travel to more remote destinations; our everyday world is increasingly diverse.

This is all good news. Graduates now enter a world of increased information and increased opportunity. The barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, to generate your own income, for following your own passions; they have never been better. Anyone can open a brokerage account for less than $200. You can travel to London for $200. With a high speed internet connection you can work from anywhere in the world and call almost anyone for free. Anyone can take online courses from great institutions like MIT at no cost. All this is possible, but only if you can stay current. You may be a graduate, but your real education has just begun.


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