Dona’s Roadshow Blog: My findings

This was an incredibly eye-opening week for me and I took away many learnings from this trip, namely:

  • The current group of students and near-graduates are the most connected group in history. They have had information at their fingertips since they were born. They have never needed an authoritative figure to help them figure out how things work. They learn new things hourly - outside of school. Given this, this group wants to be able to find better ways to engineer products and be encouraged to bring what they have learned into their workplace. It’s imperative for corporations to ask graduates and interns to bring ideas for better development tools, collaboration tools and real customer feedback for products. In not doing so, we are losing out on one of the greatest assets we have as a company: the knowledge of the next generation of tech leaders.  This generation wants to bring their "whole selves" into their workplace and blur the line between the tools they use in their personal lives and work lives.

  • One life is not enough: this group of students have been scheduled for activities since they were born. Multi-tasking isn’t an option, it’s a way of life.  Combined with their ability of find information at a moment’s notice on any topic that interest them, this is the most "interest diverse" group of students we have ever seen. The number one comment I got from students was: "Thank you for showing us that it’s possible to pursue to many other interests while working in tech." Over the course of the week, I met musicians, artists, athletes, photographers, fashion bloggers…all of whom have decided that their career of choice must be a balance of their "day job" and their other interests. I talk a lot about writing fiction and non-fiction, fashion design and how all of my worlds are important to me and how I’d never give up any of them for a "job". The lesson to corporations is to closely examine any policies you have around IP and not enabling your employees to create apps, books, songs, designs etc for their own personal life.

  • Motive Don’t Manage: this group of students want to be shown the "why" of the work they are doing. They need to know the work they are doing has meaning and potentially social good in the world. Answers like, "Because that’s what our leaders think is important" or "It’s not your job to worry about it" just isn’t going to cut it.

  • Students don’t get the opportunity to learn "soft" skills for survival in the real world in schools. I did a 1-2-3 formula for how to build and maintain relationships and that topic got the majority of questions out of all of my advice. Many students said that "soft" and presentation skills are not things they learn in school and companies usually don’t talk about them in their "Meet the Company" style events. Universities and companies may want to consider offering courses or seminars on how to do this for real-life, email and social media based relationships.

  • Companies need to be out there telling the story of how software is the ultimate disruptor in any industry and can be used to drive efficiency into old-school industries such as medicine, transportation, retail, finance, etc. We need to be more open to welcoming students from many other industries to engage with tech people to solve global problems. For example, Amazon disrupted the Publishing industry. What’s next?

A big thank you to Dona Sarkar for sharing her story - find out more about her and her career here: http://www.donasarkar.com/

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