Can Your Students Work in THIS Century?

I’ve ranted several times on this blog about the need for teachers to keep up with the kinds of skills students need for jobs other than middle management at Fortune  500  companies (as executive assistant to Marissa Mayer, for example) or in the food service industry (waitstaff or dishwasher).

After a conversation with someone who is discovering how poorly prepared local honor students are for working in today’s economy, I dug out a response I wrote to someone who inquired about working with me. I’ve used this response repeatedly because I’ve discovered the typical applicant for a job with me has no idea what working online means.

Tell me what you could do for my business. Things to consider:

  • What’s your experience working online? Can you work independently with no one else in the room? Are you comfortable in a job that is done almost entirely online? Can you work with people you have never met, making sure they are informed about the work you are doing, what needs to be done, what you need help with?
  • What’s your level of technical expertise? Can you tell/show someone in Australia how to unzip a file? If you get a phone call from someone in Kentucky, can you talk them through buying and downloading an ebook? If I told you to view the source of a web page could you do it?
  • What are your favorite software/online programs for creating online surveys? online newsletters? website creation? photo editing? blogging? online calendars? screen capture, creating diagrams/illustrations? creating charts?
  • What’s your experience with social media? Are you on LinkedIn? Twitter? What blogging platforms are you comfortable using? Familiar with Hootsuite?
  • My vendors and I use OpenOffice, Zoho Mail. Would using them present any problems for you?
  • Do you have any experience with HTML coding? with CSS?
  • Are you a good reader? Can you spot errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, formatting?
  • What are your business skills (financial records, HR, marketing, research, etc.)?

By the time they graduate high school, every student should be able to give some specific examples of their skills in each of those areas.  Some of those tasks are required learning for students as young as sixth grade in New York State, where I live.

If you are a teacher, administrator, education policy maker, or community leader and you are not competent in some subset of each of those areas, you are one of the roadblocks keeping students from being college and career ready.

One thought on “Can Your Students Work in THIS Century?

  1. Linda,
    Thank you for sharing this! You raise so many good points and bring the reality forward that all of us involved in the education of our students need to be aware of. I look forward to reading more on this topic.


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