Two weeks ago, my daughter arrived home from college. While I was so excited to see her, I realized that our time together was going to be very short before she moved to DC to begin her summer internship. It was a mad dash to get her organized for the summer. I was a little surprised when, amid unpacking and repacking, that she read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. It had been the topic of many of our discussions over the past few months, and she wanted to "prepare" for her work experience. Her dear friend from high school, who just started a summer internship, recommended that she read Strength Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. I also suggested that she read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell to understand the many factors that contribute to success. She was getting prepared for her new job and really wanted to excel.
As a History major in college, she is receiving a traditional liberal arts education. Sadly, the skills that are required to be successful in the workplace today are not taught in high school or college. It is necessary that my daughter focus on navigating the maze of work because she will not learn needed professional skills in school. Very few workplaces require employees to write the 40-page reports required of her in high school and college.
As I proudly watched my daughter get ready for her summer, it hit me: most college educations are not useful in the real workplace. No wonder David Karp decided to drop out of high school to create Tumblr. The skills necessary to start a business are not found in college textbooks.
Interning can be a great insight into what you may be doing for the rest of your life. From showing up to work everyday on time to working an 8 or 12 hour day, internships teach you a lot about the workplace. Most tasks required of you at work are not typical expectations for most college students. Most high schools or colleges do not assign group or team work. On-the-job training is essential because every corporation has different operational systems that cannot be mastered in a classroom. Furthermore, success depends on how an organization manages people with different strengths to maximize the potential of the group. Most colleges promote individuals with similar personalities that do not know how to work together. While interning, a student learns professional skills and build resumes that will prepare them for life after school.
How can you ensure that your child will achieve professional success? It starts at home. I remember reading Good Night Moon so many times over a 10-year period when I had a baby in my arms coaxing them to sleep. I never realized when my children were young how constantly reading to them enhanced their little brains. I consistently give my children advice whenever they begin a professional endeavor. I helped my daughter move into her summer dorm and prepare for work. I wanted to impart any useful career advice to her based on my experiences in the workplace. I also wanted to give her a few more hugs.