I had a great lunch yesterday with a friend and former classmate who now has a PhD in Entrepreneurship. He’s teaching a class called Entrepreneurship and Small Business at prestigious Skidmore college in the fall and asked me if I’d like to come in and speak to the class. Of course, it’s a total honor and I said yes.
At one point in the discussion I started talking about our hiring situation. He mentioned he’d keep an eye out for exceptional talent, which I said would be awesome. That got me to really thinking: I haven’t been in the corporate world since 2005 and I haven’t been in acadamia since 2004. My opinions of each are still – to a large extent – stuck back in those years. I haven’t seen a corporate environment from the inside since then. I haven’t been part of an interviewing/hiring process since then…both from the side of a new hire coming in and from the side of recruiting new talent for the company. I haven’t been in a classroom environment since then. I really have no clue what today’s student faces. Hell, when I left RPI they were just getting campus-wide wi-fi. In my days, we had to plug into ethernet jacks at our desk and teachers could regulate us by just telling us to unplug our ethernet cables! How much different is today’s student? How much different is today’s corporate environment?
I don’t really know if there is much of a solution to this. I’m active in the small business and young professionals communities, both online and off. I stay up to date with all of the news that I need to live my life and run my business. But when it comes time to hire, being years removed from the corporate and academic environments could hurt us. We need to have a full understanding of the company we’re competing against for potential hires. We also need to have a full understanding of the academic experience that the students are encountering.
I’m hoping this speaking engagement will be the start of an effort by myself to have a little more contact with academia and the life of a student in this generation. I hope that the books and blogs I read, and the people I associate with, keep me up to date on the corporate world. However, you can’t truly understand what it’s like to be a student unless you are a student. You can’t truly understand what it’s like to be in the corporate environment unless you’re in it. So maybe I’m just experiencing something that every business owner goes through?