Every college graduate’s nightmare: The classroom vs the real world
A little over a month ago I arrived at Docuwrx Corporation in Clearwater, FL with two other interns from my college to begin my internship as a Filemaker Developer. As we drove to what was soon going to be our new office location, I thought of how I was going to amaze my boss with my knowledge of numerous programming languages and the tremendous programming skills I had gathered from my experience at Knox College. Little did I know that I was in for a big surprise.
Many of us are led to believe that we can spend four years in college, get out with our degrees, find our dream jobs, perfectly fit into the professional world, and suddenly start performing magic. While this could be said to be the case for some of us, the remainder venture into the real world only to find out that it is a lot different from what we experience in our college classrooms.
To be fair, college undoubtedly plays a very vital role in providing us with the necessary knowledge and skills needed to succeed in our respective areas of study. However, it is important to note that the real world, unlike our carefully planned college environment, is controlled by a constantly changing set of variables making it tremendously different from the environment we are used to in the classroom.
The truth of the matter is that is that we live in a dynamic world. With the rapidly increasing number of scholars, we are faced with new ideas, new inventions, new problems and new solutions on a daily basis. As a result, it is very unlikely that a college graduate could walk into his new job and know everything s/he needs to know on the first day. This is the exact problem I faced on my first day at Docuwrx.
How then can we be prepared for the constantly changing needs of the world? For starters we need to be trained to be dynamic thinkers rather than doers. Very often college courses are structured to train students to be experts at what they do without considering the other things that might affect what they do. For example a computer science major may be taught to be an excellent programmer with very little knowledge of operating system platforms, fundamental networking concepts, or basic marketing and management principles.
What then happens is that the student graduates, gets their dream job, and runs into a networking issue that affects his/her ability to deliver a solution to the employer or fails to deliver a product that meets the requirements of the target market because s/he did not consider the user in the development of the product. It is at this point that the student finds out that s/he needs to understand not only the programming aspect of their job, but the networking issues involved, the needs of the consumer of the product s/he is developing and many more. This is the difference between the classroom and the real world.