What Got Your Parents Here Won’t Get You There
Old-timers often tell anecdotes that begin with, “Back in my day…” Many parents will find themselves doing something similar when talking about how they worked for 1-2 companies their entire careers. Those anecdotes, while informative, can no longer serve as blueprints going forward. The 40+ year pipeline that connected college graduation to stable employment to retirement is now out of service. The game has changed.
What students want in the long run (i.e. healthy, fulfilling, and financially-secure life) hasn’t changed. But the path to getting there has and continues to change. We can’t just follow the traditional blueprint and expect the pot of gold at the end of the road any longer.
The book is outdated and describes a world that no longer exists
Take a look at history. In the 1800s, the Industrial Revolution transformed productivity, but it also caused a big disruption to people (e.g. farmers) whose livelihoods were rendered irrelevant. The Internet is doing the same thing as we speak (some folks like to call this phenomenon “globalization”).
Coming out of college with a high-paying white collar job and working there until retirement is a thing of the past. The rules of the game have changed. You don’t wear football cleats to the tennis court, so you also shouldn’t expect the old formula for navigating one’s career to apply today.
Look around. How many recent college grads (even from Ivy League schools) do you see who are unemployed or underemployed? Clearly it is no longer safe to focus entirely on getting accepted into college. It is just as important to think about how you’re going to get out of college with legitimate career options (and minimal debt).
The world that now exists
The employer-employee relationship has become increasingly transactional. Instead of offering longevity, employers now offer “free catered lunches on Fridays.” Look at how passionately Uber is fighting in court to not have their drivers be classified as formal employees. From the other side, more workers are working remotely and being employed by multiple employers as independent contractors in this “gig economy.”
Also look at what social media has become. Though there are still some who dismiss it as a silly toy for teens, it has become ubiquitous. Like it or not, this is where people interact. And if you want to be part of that conversation – whether it be selling a product or showcasing yourself to colleges – you better learn how to take advantage of it.
The key to this new world and all future worlds: LEARN TO LEARN
You can’t change the realities of today’s world, but you can change you.
In fact, even memorizing the updated blueprint to hack the current world won’t work in the long run either.
Since the rules of the game are changing more and more quickly, the best skill to have is the ability to adapt, the ability to learn. Instead of memorizing the instruction manual, learn to thrive in any situation.
And as always, if you can provide value to others, you’ll always be fine.