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Taking a college grad from concept to concept to concept…..

The underlying question of this week’s “Let’s Blog Off” was “Are today’s college grads ready for the working world?” and we seem to be looking at quite a turnout of talented wordsmiths, willing to put forth their thoughts, insights, personal experiences and opinions. The question is of course rhetorical since there are as many answers as there are college grads. My immediate counter question was “Don’t know, but is the working world ready for our college grads?”, very snippy I know, and I therefor promise to not go down the road, however tempting of talking about the continued sense of entitlement and inherent lack of flexibility in businesses large and small at a time when new ideas have to be considered, then embraced and then implemented. But no. It’s not where we’re going this time. Let’s look at why we go to college. What we learn while there. And what happens after.

The Motivation

Parents. Peers. Friends. Money. As we leave High school, this is certainly the path that is considered the way forward by most of us. It’s expected and we know that if we want to make it “big” in life we have to have a little piece of paper that says we’re ready to face the world. Another scenario is a mid-life return to college, more typically motivated by financial potential, change in a life situation or simply because we crave to learn.

College Days

Whatever the motivation, our college days will inadvertently teach us something. The fields of study cover all forms of academics of course, for better or worse, but then there is also learning about perseverance, fighting through difficult assignments, learning to use the social aspect of college to engage and network with others and of course the learning to live through an all night kegger and be back in class at 8am.

Hello World

And then, little piece of paper in hand, we’re ready to show the world what we’re made of, what we know and why we’re the long awaited answer to it’s many questions.We’re ready to show the world what we’ve learned having yet to realize that having graduated means we’re now ready. Ready to learn.

The truth is, we don’t learn everything we need to know. We are given tools and now, in the real world, we learn to use them. In design we learn to draft, learn CAD, learn how to make presentation boards, learn about materials, about proportion and balance, about famous designs in history and even about the business of design – although the latter often leaves something to be desired. And now we learn to apply the basics. Persevering is now about finding a solution when a client is angry even if it wasn’t our fault. Difficult assignments are now not a matter of a grade but a matter of a paycheck. Social engagement is now used to meet new clients and sell our vision. And the kegger has hopefully by now been replaced by cocktail parties and an occasional awards ceremony. So we learn to use our tools and hopefully to our benefit. Some of us will excel. Others will fail. Many will be in the middle somewhere, doing a good job. Regardless, as long as we’re open to new ideas and willing to learn we’re ready.

Please join our fellow bloggers below and read their take. And don’t forget we all love a good comment if you the time:


Blogger Twitter Blog Post
Veronika Miller @modenus Modenus.com
Paul Anater @paul_anater kitchenandresidentialdesign.com
Rufus Dogg @dogwalkblog DogWalkBlog
Becky Shankle @ecomod eco-modernism.com
Bob Borson @bobborson lifeofanarchitect.com
Bonnie Harris @waxgirl333 Wax Marketing
Tim Elmore @TimElmore growingleaders.com
Nick Lovelady @cupboards cupboardsonline.com
Tamara Dalton @tammyjdalton tamaradalton.net
Sean Lintow, Sr. @SLSconstruction sls-construction.com
Amy Good @Splintergirl Amy’s Blog
Richard Holschuh @concretedetail Concrete Detail
Tim Bogan @TimBogan Windbag International
Hollie Holcombe @GreenRascal Rascal Design
Cindy FrewenWuellner @Urbanverse Urbanverse
Steve Mouzon @stevemouzon Original Green
Cheryl Kees Clendenon kitchendetailsanddesign.com



  • http://www.eco-modernism.com Becky / @ecomod

    You’re right – it is trading one context for another. When I was in high school I was utterly clueless! I wasn’t *much* more realistic in college (something about those *ahem* keggers, maybe). Surprisingly, I learned more from the Real World my first year out of college than I did the whole time I was in college.

    I’d like to think that today’s college grads have a better feel for what the working world is about, & if they don’t, that they have the courage to wrangle with it head on.

    PS I loved the cufflinks post!

  • Heinz

    Good post, and I do my best to let my kids succeed on their own. Too many parents take over and do the work for their children; they aren’t doing them any favors. I even see this in my children’s classes where parents have produced elaborate poster board projects for elementary school. We help our children do the research but they produce and create their own work. Sometimes the process of doing their own project is frustrating but they and we are better for it.

  • http://www.tamaradalton.net Tammy Dalton

    Great post, Veronika!

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  • admin

    Thanks for the cufflinks comment Becky, it was a spur of the moment thing since one of my Tweeps was saying it was “cufflink” day, which it was not, but I thought it should be. So there you have it. August 21 national cufflink day. Hey we stared “letsblogoff” we can surely start a national day of something.

    I agree about college and the first year out of it usually equating to the same or more in experience and applied learning which leads to another question which I now wonder should have been a “letsblogoff” question of it’s own:
    Is college really necessary today? For some professions certainly but when I look at social media or even design for that matter: Do we really need to go to college?

    Thoughts anyone?

  • admin

    Thank Tammy, headed your way next :)
    And Heinz, absolutely agree. I think parents do way to much for their children from a very early age on creating a real sense of entitlement that will definitely hurt them later.
    They have to figure things out for themselves and the path of getting where they need to go may not be the one we want to see. It’s our job to provide them with tools, values and love and theirs to go out and use those.

  • http://www.dogwalkblog.com DogWalkBlog

    @Heinz It mostly does come down to self-reliance. Parents are not doing their kids any favors at all, but often what happens is the kid who produces the best work, whether done by their parents or themselves, gets rewarded. I think back to that Subaru commercial where the kid makes a pin car he can be proud of. Real life says that car would not have won and that is where his dad would have really been tested. Ah, well.

    V. Dealing with clients who don’t share your design vision in the hardest part of all of this. My son has a BFA and the one thing that frustrated him most was the “I totally like your art” comments his peers would give him and others in critique. The second thing that frustrated him was his peers’ inability to take criticism and DEFEND their art. Most crumbled. Most did not learn the lesson. Most will be ill-prepared for the harsher world of paying clients.

  • admin

    There’s a great point G. Regardless of our course of study, we all have to sell ourselves. All the time. To get jobs. To get clients. To get a raise. If that is something we don’t learn and my years in design school proved that, we won’t do it later either. All too often did I see amazing talent wasted because the designer in question was unable to do a public presentation. The design was “lost” if you will despite being superb. So college or no college, we must learn how to feel good about our ideas and contributions and we must learn to convey that. In the business of SoMe more than anywhere else. You can’t spam, you can’t be obnoxious and clutter everyone’s twitter stream but you do have to draw attention through persistence and yes, knowledge or expertise that are based on experience or academics.

  • Lost Moggie

    Yup, agree with most of that. The tools, or skills they / we also need is how to think, how to solve problems and how to work with a bunch of people you wouldn’t choose to spend time with without getting on each others nerves.

    I know someone who interviews a lot and she says one of the things she focuses on is ‘could I stand to have this person hanging around the office all day?’

    So that’s the other thing they need. Social skills.

  • Pingback: The kids are alright! « Windbag International

  • http://www.cupboardsonline.com Nick @ Cupboards

    “Some of us will excel. Others will fail. Many will be in the middle somewhere, doing a good job. Regardless, as long as we’re open to new ideas and willing to learn we’re ready.”

    Genius… Pure gold. Being willing to learn after you’ve been told you’ve learned is the key to it all!

    Great post, Veronika!

  • http://www.concretedetail.com Rich Holschuh

    I seize upon your opening words: “My immediate counter question was “Don’t know, but is the working world ready for our college grads?”, very snippy I know, and I therefor promise to not go down the road…” and admit that I DID go down that road. And I especially love that you said it was a “counter” question. Heehee.
    Thanks V. for your words of perspective and insight. You cut to the chase.

  • admin

    Thank you very much for that :)

  • http://blog.waxmarketing.com Bonnie Harris

    I think the keys are both self-reliance, but also resilience. How are they going to figure things out for themselves…that is probably a tactical problem right now. But when it comes to facing the really big problems in life, those lessons learned are also the key to resilience…they build our self-esteem.

  • http://urbanverse.posterous.com Cindy Frewen Wuellner

    Veronica: So true, we get the basics, and then learn to apply, so long as we perservere and are open to learning. Plus, as you said, we have to have social skills too. I’ve heard it said that some people get 20 years of knowledge and others get one year of knowledge 20 times. doh! You’ve obviously kept learning long after school. Wise post, well said. Cindy @urbanverse


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