Rethinking education

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.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.

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