Tomorrow I will be attending my niece’s graduation party. I live close to a university campus with a sports arena so large and popular that graduation ceremonies seem to start earlier year after year. All excitement and fun.
Apart from all the student debt that will come crashing down on these students, I do wonder about the practical, hands-on work experiences that today’s graduates in the computing field bring to future employers. My own Alma Mater with its “Fearless Ideas” campaign and Cal Ripkin Jr. urging its 2013 graduates to keep a positive attitude have me wondering if the waiter at the local Applebee’s was really a computer sciences major in disguise and who was unable to find related part-time off-campus work.
For what it’s worth, here’s a fearless idea: Provide tax incentives for businesses that revive meaningful apprenticeships for tomorrow’s computing professionals. Instead of paying those apprentices directly, those businesses would deposit earned compensation directly into an account which automatically pays down a percentage of that apprentice’s student loan debt. Provide meaningful incentives for colleges and universities to give academic credit to those computer sciences apprentices who demonstrate that they have learned new, valuable and related skill sets. No credit for “life skills” learned in the “School of Hard Knocks.” Just for proven business and computing skills learned on the job. Period.
Before I joined Pequod Systems, I worked as a contractor for on several different contracts. Inevitably, some situation would arise in which I had to use a customer’s fax machine. (Remember those?) More often than not, access to those fax machines was ruled by a Queen Bee who had programmed specific codes into the machine so that only faxes from her boss could be sent to specific recipients, whose fax numbers were also hard-wired into the fax machines. Only by talking to a more experienced fellow contractor (who might or might not be present when one needed to send a fax) could one discover the one remaining set of magical codes with which one could send a weekly status report to one’s offsite project manager. I began to hate faxing and loathe the Queen Bees. Today I am grateful for the pending total demise of fax as the Queen Bees managed it.
Fast forward to a recent blog by my friend Ann Bevans. She says that “in programming (and I would argue, in any job), you can’t know everything you may one day have to know. You have to be able to figure it out on the fly.” She goes on to say that “My first year in business, some of my former colleagues had spun off from that company and asked me if I could build a system like that for them. I said “YES!” Then I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a book called Data-Driven Websites or something like that. When you have the ability to figure shit out, you can do that and get away with it. You’re not a fraud. I have many friends who are entrepreneurs of all stripes, and they ALL say the same thing. When somebody asks if you can do a thing, you say “Yes!” And then you go figure it out. These days, the interwebs being what they are, it’s a lot easier to figure stuff out on the fly. Use that.”
We have a wide range of customers. Some of them are like the end user who, at the age of 50 and with no training whatsoever, was suddenly placed in front of a modern computer for the first time. Others are application programmers with a lot of courage and confidence—and thankfully, enough sense to know when not to go voyaging so far into computer systems that they get into trouble they can’t get out of. In each case, we look for ways to help folks figure things out. We act on the value that one size does not fit all. We educate you and learn from you. There are no Queen Bees at Pequod Systems. And no old-fashioned fax machines.
Contact us for respectful and personalized technical support. And to tell us if we are really educating you—and learning from you at the same time.
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