I just mailed off an eight page letter to my daughter on the subject of life after college. A junior at the University of Oregon, Cara is a journalism major, and thus will face a hyper-competitive job market in a disrupted industry.
Busy with her studies, my daughter, like her peers, needs to make the effort to gain a big picture perspective about the way the world has changed as a result of the Global Downturn. She needs to locate that little dot on the map that says “you are here.”
My hope is she will reject the cynicism of her elders who might question her major, or who would dampen her drive to make her way in the world.
The truth is that, regardless of major, all college graduates these days face a daunting job market.
A torrent of articles in The Economist, The New York Times and other journalistically-outstanding publications describe the imminent fork in the road that many young people don’t even realize they are taking before it’s too late.
Recent studies show that one route leads to low wage, dead end service jobs “just to get by till something better comes along.” The other path leads to a career-track entry position that provides valuable experience and builds a solid track record for more lucrative jobs later.
But the Global Recession has changed things for everybody, living and working anywhere, not just recent graduates. Even if you’re well along in your career, if your job can be reduced to a set of routine instructions, you are expendable. Such work can and likely will be outsourced or taken over by software.
Today’s young people are highly educated, creative, diligent and happy to take over your job and work for less. Experience on the job, while still valuable, no longer differentiates the way it once did. Your functional skills or technical skills may not be enough. So what is enough and what should you do about this brave new world?
My solution-set is the one I write about and speak about all over the world: work to unleash your I-Skills for they are your meal ticket to a prosperous, adventuresome future.
Whatever your position or industry, your ability to innovate – to problem solve, experiment, collaborate and motivate peers, originate opportunities, figure out your unique contribution, and otherwise add value – gives you a personal competitive advantage that can never be outsourced.
Think about what you can do today, with and for yourself, your team, department or entire organization to make innovation not something they do, but something you do today, right now, to build a more prosperous and secure future.
Robert B. Tucker is the President of The Innovation Resource Consulting Group. He is a speaker, seminar leader and an expert in the management of innovation and assisting companies in accelerating ideas to market.