Donna Martin Graduates. So What.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who just finished Harvard about the power of education and if it still exists. She moved from Boston to NY and she is on the hunt, talking the talk, looking to find her first job after Harvard. So far, not so rosy.

If you ask any 18 year old in America or outside of it if they dream of going to Harvard, if they dream about making their mother proud, about becoming a real smart person, about making real money, the answer would be 90% — yes.

 

On the flip side, if you asked any employer if they would want to hire a Harvard graduate, someone who made their mother proud, a real smart person and would be willing to pay real money for it — the answer would be 90% – yes.

 

So what changed? how come the equation doesn’t work anymore? How come Harvard graduates go hunting for a job for several months these days?

 

I’ll tell you why. Employers are still ok paying real money, but they are more inclined to try and figure out what the heck the person hired is going to do tomorrow morning. No pause – I mean they *really* want to know what can that person do. For that – an experienced person might be a better fit. How can you get experience? many different ways. Harvard is not one of them.

 

That had changed.

 

If you learned how to program in Java in school, you have useful experience. If you learned how to fix computers because you were the geek in the building, you have useful experience. And if you played with Photoshop to create funny pictures for your friends, you know how to do mock-ups for clients and that’s again – useful experience.

 

That has changed. Harvard is an amazing brand. Has incredible credibility. Diversified class. Quintessential professors with sophisticated curriculum. But in the 21st century, “real learning” became something you, oddly enough, picked up outside of school.

 

Companies like SideTour and Skillshare are tackling this market, transforming traditional in-class-school-studying with real people and real experiences. I wish them both a great deal of luck disrupting the way people get educated.

 

So what do you do the day you graduate? you look for experience.

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