Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Missing Ingredient

I was just talking to a co-worker the other day about something that I feel very strongly about. It's the missing ingredient in our young people today.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much homework our children have? How much book learning is crammed down their throats? Yet so many of our young people after graduating from high school are no where near being prepared for the work force. Why is that?

In our society we are so focused on book smarts and bringing our test scores up to the level of other countries that we have over looked the one ingredient that would help our young people start a healthy productive life after school. It's not college, or a degree, or high grades. It's a combination really of work ethics, common sense, honesty (both to themselves and others), and responsibility.

I remember when I was in high school many years ago. We had a required course called career training. Ha, was that a laugh. Sure you learned pretty much three things. How to look for a job, create a resume and cover letter, and go through an interview. Great so you get the job, now what? How do you keep it? How do you blend with other personalities? How do you take responsibility and be honest about your mistakes? How do you use common sense to deal with issues and avoid big mistakes? These are all things I see young people everyday in the working world lacking in.

I encounter young people who are amazed at how seriously I take my job. Well they are the ones that some day will have a degree, but won't be able to keep a job or move up to a place of leadership. Then they will set back and whine and complain that they are being discriminated against, that their boss is a jerk, that the world is against them, and many more I'm sure you've heard. Leadership, well there is another one that is hardly taught either.

I learned early on that hard work was more important then some education that there was no guarantee that I would be able to use. My first job, I was determined, was not going to be at a fast food joint. Burger grease made me nauseous. So much so that I didn't even like my husband (then boyfriend) to hug me until he had had a shower after work. I finally, after much patients and pursuing just the right job, got a job answering phones and making calls to customers at a photography studio. Two years later I was doing the sales. Then when the studio was bought out I saw they were running it into the ground and left before they fell flat on their face. I got on at Office Max. Again I worked hard even while trying to go to college. With in three months I was the receiving supervisor. It was at that moment that I realized I really didn't need the college education (I was going for a degree in Agriculture business, which I knew I may never use). That the work ethics, dedication, and hard work my dad had taught me was of more use to me then a college education. I was succeeding over other young people my age because they were lazy, constantly complaining, didn't use common sense to solve an issue, and were notorious for doing a half assed job when they did do their job. The list of jobs and then my career of sales goes on. I whole heartedly give my dad the credit for my success today. He created the foundation that I was able to build on. My mother did too, but in other ways, like teaching me not to be a doormate to others. That's a subject for another time. However, it was my mother who use to say "If you can't do a job right the first time it isn't worth doing at all."

Yes parents should create this foundation for their children, and I hope that I can do even half the job my parents did for my children. But in our society it is obvious to me that parents are not building that foundation for their children, and what our school system is doing really isn't preparing them either.

Now don't get me wrong. I think college is a wonderful thing. But if our young people don't first have the strong foundation to build on then their building block of knowledge will only crumble to the ground in the real world.

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