New Media is Changing How We Feel about Education and Career

This is a guest post from Christine Gallagher of Communicate Value.

Gen Y grew up with the internet.  Some of us first encountered it in high school; others of us can’t remember a time when we were ever without it. 

We’re used to doing everything online.  We know how to find things there—anything we care to.  The physical yellow pages are an oddity.  If we come across a brick and mortar store that doesn’t have a website, we’re aghast—and feel somewhat sorry for them.  If we meet you, you are under 35, and you don’t have a Facebook account, we get thoroughly confused.

“But, but, I don’t…understand.  You’re not ON it?”

Ok, perhaps some of this is a slight exaggeration.  However, it’s not too far off.  Technology is a way of life.  And not just in the sense of socializing and looking up facts and figures or the closest coffee shop. 

Education and Work Experience

The question has been raised in the blogosphere recently, most notably by Brian Solis, about whether a traditional education experience is necessary or benefitting of a 15 year old who has already run and sold a start-up company in their spare time. 

I’d like to take this further and ask whether the traditional scholastic and work experience is necessary for a good portion of our youngest generation.  That may sound overboard, but for people who graduated school in recent years with lots of student loan debt, multiple degrees and disillusioning and boring experiences in their subsequent jobs—the question seems more than fair.  I can only imagine the typical educational and work experience is appearing more and more irrelevant to a good number of young people. 

Of course, there will still be those for whom it makes sense to achieve higher education credentials in order to learn certain skills they need for particular vocations.  But what about those with more entrepreneurial leanings or whose interests lay in areas our school systems are ill-equipped to teach or refuse to pay attention to?

Entrepreneurial Stirrings

Just as much of a concern is the working world many members of this generation are entering into.  The oldest Gen Y have only inhabited this world for just less than ten years now.  Surely there are others who have found it to be slow to adapt, technologically behind, exceedingly rigid and creatively unfulfilling.  One redeeming quality is that it may help awaken entrepreneurial stirrings which allow you see a way out.

Those stirrings lead some to the same place that many younger people have been exposed to since before they were even enrolled in school--the web and its myriad ways to earn a living.  It’s becoming tougher to abide by the traditional workplace and its restricting, old school policies and stiff upper lip.  Things have been changing for awhile now and they haven’t been keeping up.  Stifling schedules, long commutes to the office, lack of adaptability and different definitions of success have caused us to follow our passions elsewhere.  It’s a shame for Corporate America but extremely promising for the future of entrepreneurship.

Embrace Progress

That’s not to say that there aren’t companies out there who are breaking out of the mold and offering young folks a more collaborative and stimulating environment. (Google, anyone?) It’s just that it’s the exception to the rule, and that’s a real problem.

It’s yet another lesson that those who fail to acknowledge or embrace progress will be left in the dust still clinging to old paradigms—while others reap the rewards gained by keeping up with change.  And our generation doesn’t like to wait.

Christine Gallagher is an Online Marketing and Social Media Consultant and Small Business Coach.  Check out Communicate Value, her social media marketing blog, for more on how small business owners can get results with online marketing and social media techniques.

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Image courtesy of Vermin Inc