Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Go Beyond - Part I

As we pursue our professional goals, the most common barrier we will run into is a lack of experience not a lack of degrees.

Several weeks ago, I asked a few questions in a room with about 80 freshmen students. I wanted to know how many of them planned to attend graduate school. Over 75% of the room waived a hand in the air. Immediately following, I asked how many of them were aiming for careers that required additional terminal degrees such as law or medicine. At that point, six students raised their hand. If you do the math, approximately 55 students who haven’t even finished their first semester of college were already assuming their spot in a future graduate program outside of law or medicine. Before they start taking out loans, I want them to consider that graduate/professional degrees are rarely rooted in a guaranteed formula for success.

When time forces you to make career choices toward the end of your undergraduate career, every student faces a sobering reality check. Students know how to be students. They don’t always know how to be experienced employees. Thus, graduate school can become an attractive option. Rather than get uncomfortable in the real world, students can stick with what they know in a cocoon of brick facades, stunning ivory landscapes, and dollar pitchers on Wednesday night.

Unfortunately, grad school delays the inevitable, and this particular procrastination technique can be dangerous and financially reckless to anyone who’s committed to grad school out of convenience rather than a passion to advance a career that depends on specialized areas of study. A friend of mine commented, “It's amazing how much time and effort people invest into a goal which they have failed to identify…Just image if they had known what they wanted, then pursued a degree for support. My god! We would have titans of industry everywhere.”

It’s okay to leave Michigan and school without a firm grasp of your dream job. A budding career is a critical time for discovery, and the real world is a great testing ground to help you find what you love. Our success in our careers depends on our willingness to collect experiences that build self-awareness around our passions and our leadership. If we allow too much education to protect us from the real world, we miss out on the experience necessary to earn respect, build teams, and ignite action behind powerful visions.

Stay tuned for Part II. I’ll be back to share information on two “educational” programs that will enrich the life and career of any Michigan graduate. Go Blue from Texas!!!