Rethinking education

03/28/2012

When I got my job with Accenture back in 2007, it wasn’t because I was an incredible programmer.

It was because I fit the profile of someone they thought could have a long and productive career with the company. It’s true, I could have, but I brought no noteworthy technical skills with me when I started.

This resulted in a frustrating catch-22 after I was hired as a consultant: no projects wanted to bring me on since I was both new and lacked a technical competency, but there’s virtually no way I could have developed the experience needed in a vacuum without someone giving me a chance.

I finally built rapport with a manager who foolishly brought my onto his project and I had little trouble finding work after that, but this is beside the point. The point is that I didn’t graduate with the hands-on experience needed to be successful in my field.

Many of my peers failed to transition successfully into the workforce in a timely manner because of this. Some went back to grad school and subsequently missed the market completely — overqualified and inexperienced. An unenviable plight.

Does this mean that my alma mater failed me or that I was an apathetic student? I’m not sure either of these things are true, but I’m certain that different opportunities would have changed how I approached the job search back then.

I had a professor during undergrad named Melissa Raulston. Melissa was a no-nonsense small business owner with a lot of experience and an intense passion for young people. Under Melissa’s direction, I blossomed both as a student and as a leader.

[Ready for a good laugh? Enjoy.]

She saw strengths in me that no one else saw, and often held me to a higher standard because of it. Melissa’s story is remarkable and I’ll let you read about it yourself, but what I love most about Melissa is that she’s doing something about the problems she sees.

Most notably, she’s starting the Wellspring Studio School.

What are the causes of a lack of workforce preparation and endemic disengagement among college students? What can be done to improve workforce-readiness and post-graduation outcomes? The WellSpring Manifesto proposes answers to these vexing questions that are endangering America’s competitive position in the 21st century.

I love that. Take a look at the Wellspring Manifesto to get a sense for what the school stands for. If you’ve got some ideas for Melissa, let her know.

And if the project resonates with you, spam everyone you know share it.