Monday, June 14, 2010

The season of dashing our children’s hope!

Now that the college graduation season has just ended. it’s the season to dash the next generations hope.

I didn’t start out my work life in an academic career, I ended up there because of night of drinking (but that’s another story!)

For parents of recent graduates seeking careers in areas such as: global finance, international aid work, urban planning, architecture, sociology, history, etc., etc. and for teaching (this year). If we, the teachers, cannot perform simple mathematical equations, how can we expect our students to do the same.

If there are 500 corporations in the Fortune Five Hundred, how many CEO’s positions are available. 500 right!

How many business degree students do we graduate every year? In 2007/2008,  335,300 individual bachelors degrees in business were granted in the United States, that number does not count the tens of thousands of MBA granted.

Factoring that we graduate that many each year, and that CEO jobs come up about every five years or so, the realistic probability that your son or daughter will even get a chance to read that the CEO position has been filled for their Fortune Five Hundred CEO job sometime in their career is about .00007 or 7/1000 of 1 percent.

You can do the same math for most industries, and for many industries the question is not CEO positions, its just getting a job. In today’s economy, where approximately 50% of practicing architects are un or under employed, the chances of even finding a paying job as an apprentice architect are pretty slim.

I am not in the business of discouraging an individual’s hopes and dreams, but I am in the business of setting realistic expectations and goals for ourselves.

When I graduated from college with a Masters Degree in Engineering, I “hoped” to find a job (not a career) in the construction industry somewhere in the United States. I sent out 200 resumes, got three interviews, and then three job offers. I accepted the one with the best location: Flint Michigan. (The others were serious backwaters.) I was living in Massachusetts at the time, it was almost a 1000 mile move. I was happy to have work.

Yes, I know it was colder then, and we walked up hill both ways to school but: we as parents and educators have an obligation to encourage our children to reach high, but take a gentle slope, and for our children to be open to what opportunities the world presents them with (good and bad).

In our over enthusiasm, during the last decade, we have created a culture of unrealistic expectations for what the work place can bring us. For the most part, work is hard, mostly boring and does not pay much. The chance to strike it rich is still a possibility, but a small possibility. It is much more likely that we strike it rich by taking advantage of what is offered us and doing our best year over year. Seeking out opportunities for incremental advancement to our ultimate goals. Even with the recent disruption in the economy, incrementalism worked positively for many of my generation, and will work at for our children.

We need to remind ourselves and our children that our lives are incrementally lived and that we can continue to pursue our dreams as we stay open to new possibilities.

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