LinkedIn. For those of you who are unaware of LinkedIn it is one of those social networking sites where people connect, in this case mostly for business purposes on the web. This discussion started as a result of a student who posted this query:
Obviously as an upcoming graduate, I'm starting to scope more and more through job postings and job descriptions for the types of "entry level" positions most preferred/likely/suitable to the start I'm looking for. But here's my problem/concern: everything I find prefers or requires experience of 2, 3 sometimes 5-7 years experience. What and where are the entry level positions for new entrants? Seeing this so often in a field that has a higher demand than selection makes me wonder if I could be unexpectedly faced with having to avoid the catch 22 of a degree w/ no experience, yet needing experience to get a foot in the door.
This query generated quite the discussion. These posts were entered by professionals in the IT industry, which is great, and a appropriate use of technology. The student did precisely the right thing when faced with such a question. She found a community of practice in the domain where she needed help. Because of technology and a site such as LinkedIn, she was able to tap into a wealth of knowledge and experience without ever having to leave her home.
My advice to student was to find a mentor. I believe learning your craft in an apprenticeship is one of if not the best way to learn. Here are a few of the ways I suggested she go about securing such a relationship.
· Volunteer (find an organization you believe in that has the role you seek experience).
· Work without pay (Work for a company and gain experience instead of pay).
· Contact the outreach department of companies such as Microsoft or Eli Lilly and find out if they have internships available. These are two I mentioned because they partner with Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA).
· Find a Mentor (Locate an individual who is in your field. Offer to meet them over lunch or coffee or meet them in Facebook. Tell them what you are trying to achieve in terms of gaining experience and see if they would be open to a mentor /mentee relationship. I have done this several times and most professionals in Information Technology would not have a problem spending a few times a week helping a young technologist gain the experience they need to be successful.
When I completed my undergraduate degree and began my job search, not having the relevant experience was huge obstacle for me. Lets do our part to make sure those who are pursuing careers in information technology are not in the same boat of disadvantage I and many of my contemporaries found ourselves.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
The show has always in my opinion been one of the most innovative shows on television, but last night’s episode was unusually interesting. The show opened with the CSI’s teaching a course on forensics. The students were working in a fabricated crime screen and the objective was to teach forensic practices.
It wasn’t long before one of the students complained of being bored and not happy with an exercise that was not authentic. She wanted to solve a real crime and be in a real lab. For the rest of the show the students were in the actual CSI lab, working with the CSI staff, examining actual evidence, and following the practices of CSI professionals.
They were allowed to come to their own conclusions and determine what next steps the evidence suggested they follow. It was very interesting to watch how engaged the students were as they used actual equipment and examined real evidence on their way to solving a crime that mattered to real people.
The moral of the story is that education and anything else that you want to matter to people has to be authentic. No one wants to do busy work and no one wants to solve problems that do not matter to anyone. This is what makes learning meaningful. It has to have purpose.
This is one of the things that I feel must be changed in learning organizations whether it is school or a corporate training facility. The learning must be situated in authenticity. This is one of the problems with integrating technology into the schools.
The schools struggle to integrate the technology naturally, and in some cases they restrict it’s use to the point that the student’s experience is nothing like the real world experience of using the same technology. Can you imagine browsing the web, and not being able to navigate to Facebook? Not so authentic.
This is exactly what is going on in some schools, not all, but some. Certainly it is the case in most urban schools. I can attest to this fact because I have given many presentations in urban schools only to have the highlight of my presentation land with a thud because I was unable to navigate to Facebook or Twitter due to district restrictions.
Even my 2 year-old son prefers playing with daddy’s iPhone as opposed to his imitation toy-version of a cell phone. He can tell immediately that whatever this thing is that I gave him is not the real thing. He wants the real thing! Don’t we all. I know I do. So, did the young student in the episode of CSI.
We need to cease restricting the use of technology in urban schools. The conventional wisdom is that these restrictions enhance learning, if last night’s episode of CSI or the latest reports on student learning in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) is any indication, it maybe that these limitations are a hindrance to student learning.