Long live the degree! Really. Nothing screams a culturally-exposed, independent, disciplined and semi-mature-high alcohol tolerant adult like a degree does. Don’t get me started on the benefits of university; meeting life-long friends/ future co-founders, perhaps your future partner and not to mention, the mark of initiation into the job market. But what is that degree really worth?
Many students envision a guaranteed move across the country to their dream job no more than a month after graduation. But see that isn’t how it exactly works. In reality, you need 30 years of experience for that entry level job.
We cannot blame the students for this. They did their part. Adjusted to the noodle and ketchup diets, spent the late nights in the library, and made the 9 am classes on a storm day.
Can we blame the corporations? No. They want the best candidate. Some students simply don’t meet the qualifications. And we simply cannot expect a firm to adjust their standards to hire a ‘degree-but-no-skill-holding’ person. Besides, jobs are being created. Case in hand, an article on the Harvard Business Review on the skill-gap.
So what rational institution can we blame for the ridiculous job search? My guess is the education system. Now no, I am not your average thinker who thinks nobody need the fractions taught in grade school. Were it not for Ms Jane in Kindergarten, we wouldn’t be able to recognize the evils of slicing a pizza into 8 for a table of 3. Nor would we be able to type out that well-thought out Facebook post. Or spell Facebook for that matter. The fundamentals are important, no question.
However the higher education system does need to be rethought. Here are my 3 top pet peeves with the current system.
1. An internship module in the curriculum is simply not enough.
It is justifiable. A step in the right direction in giving much needed experience in a field aligned to one’s degree. However, as much as this gives a competitive advantage, a 6 month internship is not sufficient for a Fortune 500 company seeking somebody with 3–5 years experience. Some universities offer a full year in industry as part of the course. But really, all this means is an extra year of tuition fees. You can never win.
2. All talk, no action
It is one thing for a student to know what a balance sheet is and solve a couple of capstone assignments. But where is the real grueling experience? The one where they sift through hundreds of journals, key in all the information in a ledger and try balance the accounts? Some universities will offer real life course work where a project requires students to interact with a company. But all this counts towards is the university credits. One cannot list this as work experience because the company in question did not ask for any work done, thus, no tangible work experience is gained.
3. You gotta wait until summer son
University is an interesting thing. Students have a lot of time. But very little time simultaneously. Therefore, most internships wait until the summer. This isn’t particularly fair. What about the rest of the time during the semester when not studying for exams or doing assignments? Mostly the time is filled with existential conversations and extra curricula activities. Since it is nearly impossible to get a ‘part-time internship’ at a great firm during the semester, some students luckily get part-time jobs which , more often than not, are not in line with their career field of choice.
What is the result? Students, with honors and on the dean’s list but lacking relevant industry experience, waltzing on stage on graduation day to be deployed into the job market.
So then what would an ideal solution be?
What if students had an option to fine tune their skills by collaborating with and tackling real company projects at will, simultaneously with their studies?
And what if successful completion of a project did not necessarily count towards university credits, but actually counted as work experience for which one could get skill endorsements from the company?
Let us illustrate that in a case example.
John is a business major interested especially in marketing. Agency X is a company looking for a fresh ad campaign for a new client. The agency posts a project seeking creative ad campaigns. John (and many other marketing majors) writes up an appealing proposal. The agency thinks Johns proposal and level of expertise is similar to that of someone with 2 years worth of experience. Therefore John gets a marketing endorsement and an experience rating from the marketing manager at Agency X. John can now use this endorsement in his resume forever. and Agency X has a great innovative ad campaign for a significantly lower cost than hiring a freelancer.
‘Experience’ is a catch-22 job seekers and recruiters alike absolutely loathe.
It costs the average company approximately too much to hire a new employee.This is not only due to the cost of salaries, but it is in reviewing resumes, conducting interviews ;and sometimes, all to find out that the skill listed on their LinkedIn account was pulled out of thin air.
With a platform such as the one proposed, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be easier getting a job at age 20 with 60 years of experience in your pocket. Why? Because you’ve been working on your work experience that’s why! This way, students and graduates don’t have to worry whether the noodles and student loans were really worth it. Just in case you think this is a unicorn platform, it does exist!