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Narcissistic College Graduates In the Workplace? 1316

Posted by kdawson
from the entitled-to-it dept.
SpuriousLogic writes "I work as a senior software engineer, and a fair amount of my time is spent interviewing new developers. I have seen a growing trend of what I would call 'TV reality' college graduates — kids who graduated school in the last few years and seem to have a view of the workplace that is very much fashioned by TV programs, where 22-year-olds lead billion-dollar corporate mergers in Paris and jet around the world. Several years ago I worked at a company that did customization for the software they sold. It was not full-on consultant work, but some aspects of it were 'consulting light,' and did involve travel, some overseas. Almost every college graduate I interviewed fully expected to be sent overseas on their first assignment. They were very disappointed when told they were most likely to end up in places like Decater, IL and Cedar Rapids, IA, as only the most senior people fly overseas, because of the cost. Additionally, I see people in this age bracket expecting almost constant rewards. One new hire told me that he thought he had a good chance at an award because he had taught himself Enterprise Java Beans. When told that learning new tech is an expected part of being a developer, he argued that he had learned it by himself, and that made it different. So today I see an article about the growing narcissism of students, and I want to ask this community: are you seeing the sorts of 'crashing down to Earth' expectations of college grads described here? Is working with this age bracket more challenging than others? Do they produce work that is above or below your expectations of a recent college grad?" We discussed a similar question from the point of view of the young employees a few months back.
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Narcissistic College Graduates In the Workplace?

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  • by JustShootMe (122551) * <rmiller@duskglow.com> on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:01PM (#27202637) Homepage Journal

    ... until the bosses have the same mindset, at which point we're all screwed.

    • by BSAtHome (455370) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:06PM (#27202667)

      Unfortunately, many bosses are equally out of touch with reality. Some even a bit more.
      Anyway, you get what you teach. Many are taught that capitalism is all and that anything comes at a price. Would it then be strange that the same person puts a price on his/her ability (whether deserved or not is immaterial to the principle).

      • by SpiderClan (1195655) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:41PM (#27203051) Journal
        Whether it's deserved is the principle.

        "Everything comes at a price" is a consequence of capitalism, not the goal. The principle is that if I value your skills more than I value X dollars per year, then that's what I'll be willing to pay you. If you won't work for less than X + 10000 dollars per year and that's more than I value your skills, we don't have a deal and I'll keep my money.

        If you want something without giving anything in return, what you are talking about isn't capitalism.

        Note: By you, I don't mean you, I mean them.

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:57PM (#27203225) Journal

          >>>If I value your skills more than I value X dollars per year, then that's what I'll be willing to pay you. If they won't work for less than X + 10000 dollars per year, we don't have a deal and I'll keep my money.

          Given the current economy I was considering standing at the local interstate on-ramp with this sign:

          "Engineer - Will work for food or minimum wage."

          Ironically this is the technique our local politicians use to get elected - "Smith for State Senate". ;-) - I visited my alma mater recently, and I was stuck by how much changed in just ten years time. The students are doing "cool" projects that I can only dream of doing in the real world. (Example - Programming a robot to swim across a lake and collect trash.) It makes me wonder if they will be disappointed with their first jobs, which will mostly consist of sitting at a cubicle all day and writing documents.

          In the effort to "sell school" I think some engineering programs are giving students the wrong impression of what the engineering career is really like.

          • by aamcf (651492) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:16PM (#27203413) Homepage

            It makes me wonder if they will be disappointed with their first jobs, which will mostly consist of sitting at a cubicle all day and writing documents.

            I am a tech writer, you insensitive clod!

          • by elthicko (1399175) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:35PM (#27203665)
            As a recent engineering grad, I can attest that I wasn't exactly impressed by the typical duties of most of the positions I was interviewing for. I always pictured myself doing more R&D and design with my engineering degree, but that wasn't really what I was seeing out there. I've since decided to change my career path a bit go to grad school. After I finish I expect I will try to work as a technology entrepreneur or a professor at a university.
          • by DeadDecoy (877617) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @07:19PM (#27204089)

            I visited my alma mater recently, and I was stuck by how much changed in just ten years time. The students are doing "cool" projects that I can only dream of doing in the real world. (Example - Programming a robot to swim across a lake and collect trash.) It makes me wonder if they will be disappointed with their first jobs, which will mostly consist of sitting at a cubicle all day and writing documents.

            I don't consider myself a narcissistic student, but I wonder, what's the point of going through years of education, if not to use it? Ok, there is the money and having a less difficult time at getting a job, but, I see it as a tragedy if a company some time to explore cool stuff because it's worried about micro-efficiency. Considering this, I'm reminded of something a friend (double major CE & Chemistry) once told me: Education is dumb because you work really hard to accumulate all this knowledge only to be placed in management and never use it again. I'm sure that's not true for all situations, but I do think I'd be disappointed to not apply what I've learned to what I'm interested in.

            • Its relative (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @09:22PM (#27205159) Homepage Journal

              I don't consider myself a narcissistic student, but I wonder, what's the point of going through years of education, if not to use it?

              I too want to do cool stuff, but the reality is that there is cool stuff and stuff that will make the company money. You may be lucky and be able to land a job at a company that does both, but don't expect it. The companies I worked for, that did cool stuff didn't last long because it was too cutting and the market wasn't ready for it.

              Often you aren't in management because you were forced there, but because you wanted more pay (pay usually corresponds to responsibility) or you were fed up of being a lab rat or equivalent.

              I am still hoping I will get my dream job, but I realise that it is all down to luck and hard work.

            • by morcego (260031) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:10AM (#27207117)

              And someone who did graduate, and today manages an IT company, I have some sad news for you. All that knowledge you acquired on college ? That is just the BASE of that you need at corporate . When you get hired, you are green. Not only in terms of knowledge, but in terms of company practices, market practices (many) and so on. Think of it as continued education. You went to junior, high school, college and now you are getting educated on the corporate environment.

              You don't expect to jump from junior school to high-tech R&D. You know you have other steps before that.

              When you finish college you are not ready. You are just closer. Keep that in mind, and make the most of your time when you join a company to LEARN. Learn from your tasks, learn from your co-workers, learn from your manager. As much as we like to joke about managers, they are making more money then you, so they gotta know something you don't (not necessarily technical).

              You also need to faction in that, when you join a company, you are an unknown. The company will only invest so much money on you until they know they will have a good return.

              This things are only natural. Unfortunately, most schools fail to teach this to their students, and the only source of "knowledge" they have are TV shows and such. This is not a fail of the students, but a fail of the schools.

            • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday March 16, 2009 @08:17AM (#27208665) Journal

              I'm going to give you the old-fart speech now, so you may tune out if you are disinterested in how business works.

              I pay you $70,000 a year. You benefits and taxes cost me about 40% of your salary; we'll round it up to an even $100k to make the math easy. You will be "working" for about 1800-1900 hours a year - i.e. not on vacation, holiday, or out sick. If you are a gung-ho employee with a nose-to-the-grindstone ethic, of those 1800 you will already be spending about 20% unproductively - getting coffee/soda, going to the bathroom, chatting with co-workers about non-work stuff, surfing slashdot and doing adminstrative tasks like filling out your timecard or getting new pencil lead. We'll throw in a couple of days of training and round your productive hours to 1400. In all likelihood, you won't be 100% productive, especially right out of school. You'll take about 10-15% of a more advanced engineer's time, and a similar amount of your own, to figure out how we do what we do. You'll have to redo some things, sometimes two or three times, before you get it right. Counting the trainer's time against yours, you're going to lose about 40-50% of your time to learning the ropes, and another 10% to down time between assignments (meetings, startup, shutdown, etc). We're down to about 700 actual hours of production in your first year, and closer to 1000 your second and third, peaking near 1200 after that.

              So you're "cost" to the company in your first year is about $100/hr. Since we have to add overhead to that it's closer to $130 fully burdened. The company, to survive and be worth the investors time (private or public) should be between 20% and 30% profitable before they pay taxes, so we'll need to bill your time at $160/hr. There are very, very few things which a fresh-out college student can do which is worth $160 and hour. What would you willingly pay a fresh-out college grad $160 an hour for (happy ending jokes aside)?

              And you want to take some company time to explore cool stuff? At $1200/day in opportunity cost, I think your manager would much rather go to Aruba.

              In case you feel I'm being flip, I'm not. I happen to be an engineer with 20 years of experience, 2 technical degrees, and I run a small consulting engineering firm. Fresh outs, by the way, bill at about $65-75/hr in the real world, and about 50% more in the biggest cities. Senior engineers at my level up to double that. Note that I'm ignoring high and low outliers in those figures; data is not the plural of anecdote. I recently hired a freshout. He's pretty smart, got a double technical major (engr and physics), and writes better than 90% of the engineers out there. He cost me about $25,000 out of my pocket the first year, and will barely break even this year - he might make a few thousand. Next year I'm hoping to make back my initial investment. Three years to break even, and he's not making $70k. That's easier to absorb in a large firm, by the way, due to sheer numbers and volume of workflow. "Fun" isn't really an option unless you land one of the very few cool jobs where all they do is fun stuff, or you work for a firm funded by VCs who don't watch the books (very rare), or your company just has piles of cash flowing in the door and can't figure out where to store it all (Google).

              BTW - if you're going to be a good manager of technical people, you'd better be good technically as well as a good manager. You need to know your basic engineering backwards so that when an engineer comes to you and the answer they've come up with is wrong, you can both recognize it is wrong and explain - from basic principles - how to get them back on track. Once you're a manager, you don't have to know the answer to 1%, but you have to be able to get within 10% in your head (without a calculator or a computer). There are lots of bad managers our there, by the way. Don't become one.

          • The reason schools are making their engineering programs do more interesting-sounding things are because engineering and CS enrollments, especially among US citizens, are dropping rapidly. So schools are trying to find creative ways to interest people in majoring in those areas; "training for boring cubicle job", funnily enough, doesn't entice people.

            The only other solution, really, is the capitalist one: offer so much money that people will go into the field even if it does sound boring. But you need to offer a lot more than current going rates for that.

        • by INT_QRK (1043164) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @08:44PM (#27204767)
          Look, people always find it diverting to swap war stories from the left-hand side of that old Bell Curve. Truth be told, what I see more often than not are bright earnest youngsters filled with great angst over whether college has prepared them enough for the "real world." So, they try hard to learn the job and fit in with the team, especially when the team meets them anywhere near half way. It's been my experience that with even the most modest efforts towards applying basic leadership skills, you get a full up round in no time. My recommendation is to avoid hiring the obvious jerks, and treat the ones who get through with decency and respect, while both challenging them and mentoring them to the challenge (not as hard as you think), and you'll get more than your money's worth.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:24PM (#27203511)

        "Unfortunately, many bosses are equally out of touch with reality."

        Unfortunately, its worse that than. A lot of bosses have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Ironically as business is such a competitive environment, narcissistic behavior gives a competitive advantage, so they force to the top. It also sadly means that society as a whole is structured to reward the behaviors of the NPD minority, to the detriment to the majority of people. The core problem is narcissistic people by definition lack a lot of empathy. They are wrapped up in their own views and only want people around them to agree with them. They will get angry at anyone who opposes them even if that opposition is to tell them something which would help their company.

        The way society as a whole is structured is why every country is run like a Plutocracy (ruled by people with money) even though some people in some countries are told they have a democracy. Its not a real democracy, anywhere in the world, as all career politicians are middle class wage earners regardless of which party they belong to as they all belong to the same groups of people with power and money, so don't represent the majority of people. Worse still, since the financial collapse, its highlighting we are near the extremes of a Plutocracy bordering into at times a Kleptocracy, (Ruled by thieves), where they help themselves and their rich friends to millions of tax payers money in their attempt to prop up and maintain their rich lifestyles.

        Unfortunately, these are also the people in power, they make the laws, which is why so few will be punished for their behavior. Which takes us back to society as a whole is structured to reward these behaviors.

        • A lot of bosses have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

          How can I get this? Are there courses I can go on?

          • by TechWrite (1172477) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @07:54PM (#27204387)

            Yes - earn an MBA and presto! Instant NPD!

          • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @09:14PM (#27205079)

            A lot of bosses have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

            How can I get this? Are there courses I can go on?

            Lesson one: Never let your boss know you might be as smart as him - don't even allow the possibility that you might be smarter.

            Lesson two: Suck up - whatever they want to hear, tell them that. Never forget lesson one.

            Lesson three: As you begin to rise through the organization, mold yourself in the image of those who control your promotions. Play golf if they do, wear the same style of clothes, etc. but always maintain a respectful deference to their superior position, don't have the same or better clubs, play at cheaper courses (allow them to do you the favor of inviting you to their "better" club), tone the clothes down just a notch to reflect your lower salary, if they drive a BMW 7, you buy a used 3, you can still talk BMWs... if this is sounding a lot like lesson 2, it is - and never forget lesson 1.

            Lesson 4: if you still have a soul, lose it. Anyone you have power over who might possibly compete with you in the future must be repressed or eliminated, discretely.

            If you've gotten this far, I'm sure you can figure out the rest for yourself. It doesn't hurt to job hop 4 or 5 times so you can have an impressive resume story to tell on introductions, nothing is as boring as someone who left school, started as a mid-level tech and worked their way up to Vice President at the same company after 8 years - what could this person possibly have to offer, they've never "been" anywhere else....

      • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @08:36PM (#27204689)
        it's not a failing of capitalism at all, if anything it's them failing at capitalism - they don't understand what their skills are worth, and are being punished by the market for it.
      • by penguin_dance (536599) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:20AM (#27207169)

        "Unfortunately, many bosses are equally out of touch with reality. Some even a bit more.
        Anyway, you get what you teach. Many are taught that capitalism is all and that anything comes at a price."

        I don't see colleges teaching capitalism--far from it. But what schools ARE teaching are how SPECIAL they (the kids) are and that equal outcomes are more important than equal opportunity. It starts with dumbing down competitive sports and giving every person, whether they win or lose, a trophy. It's holding graduation ceremonies every time they pass a grade. It's not wanting to recognize valedictorians because someone's feelings might get hurt. We award the outcome, not the effort. And the parents all go along with this. So is it no wonder when they become "adults" they don't think they HAVE to put in any effort and they should get a bonus whether they earned it or not.

        What we should be praising the child for is hard work, and letting them learn to lose gracefully. They need to learn that no one OWES them anything and they need to work hard and do their best.

        But I'll go one further regarding the hiring--they get what the PAY for. Why don't you (employers) try hiring some of us older workers out there, looking for work, who not only have the skills, but whom you won't have to remind to not wear flip-flops or tube tops to work? And by "older" I mean over 40! I get really high ratings when I work contract, but I'll be damned if I can get a permanent gig. There's a lot of us who would be HAPPY to work for your company, even at a lessor wage, just to have some benefits and vacation time. We know what we're doing and you wouldn't have to babysit us or make sure we weren't goofing off. We get our projects done professionally and on-time. And contrary to popular belief, we LIKE getting to learn new things or upgrading our skills. And we're not likely to be running off to your competitors in a couple of years.

        As you can see this is a personal sore spot with me. I have had supervisors go to bat for me and try to get me employed with their company. Unfortunately they weren't the decision makers and those in charge don't want to have to hire on an IT person if they can get away with a contractor. For those companies who are looking (usually for someone with 1-2 years experience)--well, if I don't get an interview I never get to show them what I can do to help them or their business. (And I do know the tactics of only putting the last 10 years of meaningful employment and not putting down a date of graduation.) But all they have to do is ask for a transcript or force the entry graduation dates on an online form and they can do the math pretty quick. (I've become very tempted to put in a "accidental typo" of 1991 instead of 1981.)

    • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:48PM (#27203143) Journal

      I'm dealing with a manager who exhibits a high degree of narcissistic personality traits. In filling a recent vacancy for a software developer he interviewed two candidates. One a highly friendly and right noise-making guy and one a very professional, modest and highly competent person with a lot of direct experience in exactly the technology we use. It was no surprise to anyone when he appointed the one that threatened his sense of superiority least, i.e. the less capable one.

      A month after appointing this person, he's shown little work ethic - bugging me with useless chatter repeatedly and not engaging with the simple orientation tasks he's been give and when after a month to work on this task he presents his work, he crumbles at the simplest baby questions. He's been hired to work on your standard PHP / MySQL combo. When asked to write a basic query to select a row from a single table, he couldn't do it. He didn't even understand the principle of a foreign key after it was explained to him multiple times. I later asked him to update the contents of a row and he couldn't even come close to that. And I find it even more dumbfounding that he tries to bullshit his way out of this.

      The manager's reaction? He finds it hillarious. He's little focused on the actual success of the team and mainly focused on his relationships with people. I'm currently training this new developer in the basics of SQL and database design (we reached JOINs last week) but I might decide to kill him in the hopes of getting a replacement that can code.
  • by idiotnot (302133) <sean@757.org> on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:05PM (#27202657) Homepage Journal

    ....mom and dad always told them they were incredibly special, and would do amazing things.

    It never occurred to them that there's a hell of a lot more jobs that are sheer drudgery than are a thrill a minute.

    In the almost seven years since I graduated from college, I've never been sent overseas for work. I have been sent exciting places like Indianapolis.

    But I always had a job during college, too. And because of that, the only thing I expected after graduation was a better salary (but not amazingly better).

    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:13PM (#27202725) Journal

      I have been sent exciting places like Indianapolis.

      Oh, I used to lie awake at nights, dreaming of being sent to Indianapolis. Or was it nightmares.

      • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @09:31PM (#27205243)

        I have been sent exciting places like Indianapolis.

        Oh, I used to lie awake at nights, dreaming of being sent to Indianapolis. Or was it nightmares.

        Little Rock was my favorite.... I actually have enjoyed not traveling for the last 3 years. Airports suck, economy class seats suck, most hotels - even the $250/night variety suck, rental cars suck, the food can be good, and it's interesting to meet the people sometimes, but hardly worth the rest. Side trips can be nice: Big Sur, the Swiss Alps, Oahu, those were cool, but on the whole, I'd rather stay home.

    • by ucblockhead (63650) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:22PM (#27202841) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, it was over fifteen years into my career before I was sent anywhere interesting. And even then, you end up spending so much time actually working that I got very little time to actually go look at the historic European city I was sent to.

      What most new college grads don't seem to understand is that everyone in the industry wants to do the fun stuff and go the fun places, and as a college grad, everyone in the industry has more experience than you do. You have to pay your dues like everyone else.

      • by budgenator (254554) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:44PM (#27203759) Journal

        You have to pay your dues like everyone else.

        You don't understand Narcissistic people at all

        1. They don't have any self-esteem at all, they are self-loathing, they always present an artificial grandiose public face to garner external-esteem.
        2. They will only want to work on the flashiest projects to reinforce their grandiose image
        3. Any contribution they make will be worth ten times any equivalent contribution by someone else.
        4. They are habitual liars and exaggerators, the only person they will lie to more than you is themselves.
        5. If you buy into their grandiose public image, they know you believed the lie and you have earned their disdain for being gullible.
        6. Narcissism is very probably incurable, but it can be managed through reward and punishment, the only effective reward is praise and attention, the only effective punishment is unemotional in-attention; the cost will probably be not worth the effort.
        7. Narcissitic people don't care what you think about them as long as you allways think about them.

        Only common people pay their dues, treating a Narcissist as common would be seen as a personal attack by them.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 15, 2009 @08:39PM (#27204719)

          You have to pay your dues like everyone else.

          You don't understand Narcissistic people at all

          1. They don't have any self-esteem at all, they are self-loathing, they always present an artificial grandiose public face to garner external-esteem.
          2. They will only want to work on the flashiest projects to reinforce their grandiose image
          3. Any contribution they make will be worth ten times any equivalent contribution by someone else.
          4. They are habitual liars and exaggerators, the only person they will lie to more than you is themselves.
          5. If you buy into their grandiose public image, they know you believed the lie and you have earned their disdain for being gullible.
          6. Narcissism is very probably incurable, but it can be managed through reward and punishment, the only effective reward is praise and attention, the only effective punishment is unemotional in-attention; the cost will probably be not worth the effort.
          7. Narcissitic people don't care what you think about them as long as you allways think about them.

          Only common people pay their dues, treating a Narcissist as common would be seen as a personal attack by them.

          As a clinically diagnosed narcissist, I find this list to be pretty inaccurate.

          1. Wrong. Narcissists do have high self esteem but it is built on an extremely fragile foundation of other people's opinions.

          2. I certainly don't do this. In fact I tend to lean toward projects that are less flash because I feel like I can "knock them out of the park" with ease and thereby garner greater praise. It has to be just hard enough not to be easy, but not so hard that I'd actually have to try.

          3. This is mostly true, but maybe the factor of ten is a little high ;)

          4. True except that this implies that outright falsehoods are the norm. I tend to speak in half-truths to try an manipulate people's opinions rather than simply lie to them. I'm finding that not nearly as good at this as I believe I am.

          5. No this isn't true. You have to remember that the narcissist believes the lie too. He relishes any support for his warped view of the world but that view happens to include being better than you and everyone else.

          6. I'll have to report back on this as I'm in the process of working on it.

          7. NO NO NO NO NO! Narcissistic people believe THAT you are always thinking about them and as such, they put every ounce of effort they have into making you think well of them.

          See, I know more about this than you do.

      • by ptbarnett (159784) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:53PM (#27203839)

        Yeah, it was over fifteen years into my career before I was sent anywhere interesting. And even then, you end up spending so much time actually working that I got very little time to actually go look at the historic European city I was sent to.

        It was a bit longer for me, but I was working in OS development. It wasn't until I was finishing up a system for a specific customer that I got to go somewhere interesting, and that was my first international trip for business.

        As others have posted, traveling for business can be a real grind: you are typically there to do a specific job as fast as humanly possible. I work all day at the client's office, get dinner, go back to the hotel and catch up on my email with the rest of the company, then go to sleep. Repeat all week and hopefully go home on Thursday so that I'll have Friday for dentist appointments and other personal tasks that can't be done on the weekend.

        What most new college grads don't seem to understand is that everyone in the industry wants to do the fun stuff and go the fun places, and as a college grad, everyone in the industry has more experience than you do. You have to pay your dues like everyone else.

        The only time I get to do "fun stuff" is when I arrange two back-to-back trips to stay over the weekend. I've done it several times, either by plan or when forced to do so by weather (and a canceled flight). But, trips to "fun places" are rare, especially when your clients are in company towns that have little else to see or do.

        However, the part that some don't realize: you aren't going on a trip unless you have the skill, knowledge, or experience to meet a need at the remote location. Travel costs are far too high to send people on junkets. Furthermore, companies are becoming more comfortable with various "tele-presence" systems enabled by the 'Net, whether it's a conference bridge, NetMeeting/GotoMeeting, or even full-scale video-conferencing systems.

      • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @09:35PM (#27205287)

        you end up spending so much time actually working that I got very little time to actually go look at the historic European city I was sent to.

        If at all possible, schedule a week, or even just a few days, of personal time off during your travel. If you're lucky, you can schedule your trip to include a weekend, but if you're getting sent to Europe for the first time in 15 years, I'd really look into the possibility of scheduling several days off to enjoy the place before packing up to come home.

    • by WAG24601G (719991) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:26PM (#27202871)

      While I think you're right about the attitudes of many parents, a greater contributor to this problem is in academia. If I had a dime for every skill that the Career Services department told me was instant top-of-the-stack material... well, I wouldn't have had to spend months searching for a job below my level of education.

      Universities are still businesses, and one major source of income is bright-eyed young freshman who believe they will be able to conquer the world in four years, if only they invest $120,000 in a bachelor's degree. It doesn't benefit the universities (in the short run) to dispell that illusion.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:41PM (#27203065)

      Business travel is awful. You fly somewhere really exciting and interesting - work your ass off, have zero social life, feel incredibly lonely as you wonder around your hotel, then you fly home. The important thing is to make up lots of stories of how great it was, all the crazy people you met, what a great bunch of lads your customers/colleagues are etc..

      • by SpuriousLogic (1183411) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:16PM (#27203403)
        Too true. I don't think the whipper-snappers realize that business travel is for business, not pleasure. The times I have flown overseas, the work is so non-stop because of the expense of doing going overseas, that all I want to do is get the hell out of there and go home so I can get some sleep.
      • by metlin (258108) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:32PM (#27203615) Journal

        +1.

        I travel every week for work - fly out on Mondays, and fly back in on Thursdays or Fridays. Granted, sometimes I go to interesting places, but even then I rarely get any time to do anything fun or interesting.

        Most of my time is spent working, and having dinner/drinks with the client and colleagues. And when it's time, I hit the sack (in a great hotel room where I get to spend may be 8 hours, and all of it sleeping).

        I hardly ever get any time to spend with my girlfriend (despite the fact that she "lives" with me) or my friends or family.

        Travel for business sounds wonderful, until you actually have to do it. You read about it in books or watch it on TV and it all looks great -- you go to fun places, you eat at fancy restaurants and unlimited free drinks that are paid for, you get to stay at great hotels etc. But what they don't tell you is that you don't enjoy any of it. Not a moment.

    • by FiloEleven (602040) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:11PM (#27203357)

      I agree with you almost completely except for who to blame. It wasn't Mom and Dad who told everyone they were special, it was that evil, evil man Mr. Rogers [poetv.com].

    • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.com> on Sunday March 15, 2009 @07:28PM (#27204155) Homepage Journal

      "....mom and dad always told them they were incredibly special, and would do amazing things."

      There's a great line from that movie about the math teacher Jaime Escalante, Stand and Deliver. In the movie, Escalante is arguing with an Anglo teacher, who is worried that Escalante is raising their expectations too much. She was one of the "villains" in the film, but she had a great line, one that should be stamped on the brain of every teacher in the world. I can't find the exact quote so I'll have to paraphrase it from memory here:

      "

      You've convinced them that they're all geniuses, that they can all be Einstein and Newton. But the truth is, most are ordinary, and one day they'll realize that despite what you say, they're nothing special. And they'll hate you for it.

      Our school systems tell our kids that they all have the potential for greatness. Not just being good at something, but great at something. And that's simply not true. The truth is, most of us are ordinary, and with hard work, we can become competent, or even solid. And that's just fine. That's the way of things. As the saying goes, if everyone was special, no one would be. And yet, the "self-esteem" movement in schools tells kids that they're all potential writers, artists, engineers, presidents, etc. Very few of us go on to do anything like that. Most of us lead middle-class lives with middle-class jobs, with middle-class pains and joys. Many of us don't even get that far. Not because of any conspiracy, or bad schools, but because that's the state of humanity. That's what we are. A few bright minds, a lot of workers, and some dim bulbs. John Lennon was wrong. We don't all shine on. Very few of us do. Unfortunately, too many teachers preach Lennon's line at students. You don't want to discourage students from trying to reach higher, but you also want them to be realistic about the world.

      • by syousef (465911) on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:43AM (#27207269) Journal

        Our school systems tell our kids that they all have the potential for greatness. Not just being good at something, but great at something......We don't all shine on. Very few of us do. Unfortunately, too many teachers preach Lennon's line at students. You don't want to discourage students from trying to reach higher, but you also want them to be realistic about the world.

        You misunderstand. Shining is not about being great in other people's eyes or achieving fame and fortune. It's about being happy with the things you have and doing what you do as well as you can.

        What people don't understand is life under the spotlight is a pain in the neck. Very few of us would actually want to be there. You can still achieve great things in your own life. They just don't have significance to others, and THAT is alright.

        Teaching kids they're all mundane will make even the great ones mundane, and will leave them all depressed. Self esteem needs to be based on reality. Actually assess them on the work they do and give them praise for what they actually do achieve when it is clear they are trying their best or clsoe to it, but don't make them feel bad for not achieving higher. In other words, tell little johnny that 2 + 2 = 5 is wrong and grade him accordingly, but don't make him feel bad for not doing even better when he does get the answer right. Part of building self esteem is learning to deal with criticism and understanding the difference between getting it right and screwing up, and learning to cope with both. The school system doesn't recognise that and sees any time the child feels bad as some sort of damage. I feel sorry for kids who make it out into the workforce and suddenly have to cope with learning that their boss doesn't pat them on the back when they bollox things up. It's not the new generation's fault. It's the educators that need a reality check.

    • by hack slash (1064002) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @07:58PM (#27204409)
      The most entertaining way of seeing this in action is watching Simon Cowell telling the utterly terrible American X-Factor contestants just how much they suck.
      • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:14AM (#27209047) Journal

        ...and what's so funny is that he gets the reputation of being a horrible, cruel person.

        Generally, he simply cuts straight to the point and says what everyone's thinking anyway "You're really a horrible singer and should think of some other career." People are just so shocked by his lack of euphemism and unwillingness to play by certain overly polite rules of social interaction. He's a staggeringly successful businessman in a business that is ephemeral, superficial, and entirely about aesthetics: if he doesn't apply his judgement quickly and accurately, he will not be successful. The people he's reviewing are simply the products he will be promoting, and he's (essentially) given over the ability to choose which product is most likely to be marketable to a giant focus-group-vote.* That takes some courage, so he's GOT to control it by weeding as aggressively as possible. It's NOT a charity, so as much as the poor little crippled kid with the abusive mommy and the amputee daddy might *want* to be a famous singer, pity isn't going to get butts in the seats night after night after night in some mediocre auditorium in Vegas on a 3 year contract. Further, I can imagine it's a HARSH business. It's all about image and everything, and if your precious little snowflake of self-image melts at his criticism, you probably don't have the strength of character to be on stage.

        * although I personally believe that after Ruben Studdard, he controls the voting behind the scenes, at least to some degree.

        I have only once heard him say something that (by my standards) crossed the line, and that was when he told some woman she was disgustingly fat and an atrocious singer...and she was, honestly. But there IS a concept called tact - this was the selection process and at a certain point simply saying "No, sorry" is enough. (Then again, two points: first, I'd probably be a little cross after listening to 00's of people caterwauling and then being annoyed that you don't 'appreciate' their awesomeness; second, in that sense there is a filter-value to being a little intimidating in the early shows, to weed out the unserious long before they waste his time.)

  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DreadPiratePizz (803402) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:06PM (#27202671)
    This is probably true. The reason being, is that students recently graduating who are around my age are children of the baby boomers. The baby boomers were a rather prosperous generation, so in general their kids had a lot of comforts and opportunity that they take for granted. Almost everybody I knew in college didn't know the value of hard work, and expected their privilege and excellence to be rewarded at face value, probably because they never HAD to work hard, because their baby boomer parents had provided them with everything they need. I really do blame the baby boomers. They grew up in a sort of fantasy world, where they could preach peace, love, and not war, and ignore the realities of the world. And so, their children will most likely have the same attitude.
    • Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IANAAC (692242) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:33PM (#27202963)
      It's always been like this. I was in college - god - going on thirty years ago (!) and we all thought we were the shit.

      It's not until we all started working and actually failed at something that we got knocked back down to reality.

    • Obligatory (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:34PM (#27202981)

      "I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint"
      - Hesiod, 8th century BC

      • by baKanale (830108) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:53PM (#27203193)

        And what happened to the future of the ancient Greek people? Conquest by Alexander the Great and annexation by the Romans.

      • by SirLurksAlot (1169039) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:08PM (#27203319)

        Let me translate that from the original Greek for you: "Hey, you kids get off my lawn!"

      • Re:Obligatory (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rcw-home (122017) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @07:09PM (#27203983)

        "The boys i mean are not refined
        They go with girls who buck and bite
        They do not give a fuck for luck
        They hump them thirteen times a night

        One hangs a hat upon her tit
        One carves a cross on her behind
        They do not give a shit for wit
        The boys i mean are not refined

        They come with girls who bite and buck
        Who cannot read and cannot write
        Who laugh like they would fall apart
        And masturbate with dynamite

        The boys i mean are not refined
        They cannot chat of that and this
        They do not give a fart for art
        They kill like you would take a piss

        They speak whatever's on their mind
        They do whatever's in their pants
        The boys i mean are not refined
        They shake the mountains when they dance"
        -- E. E. Cummings, 1926ish

    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:50PM (#27203157) Journal

      Almost everybody I knew in college didn't know the value of hard work

      Look at the world around you and show me where 'hard work' is getting the best results for the worker.

      The best ways to a life of comfort and excitement are luck, corruption, parental privilege, or a combination of all three. Good ideas might also get you somewhere, but only with a dose of luck attached. Sometimes, but certainly not always, these might need to be coupled with a workload that's maybe equivalent to that of a nurse or a teacher. Notice how said nurse and teacher are putting in equally hard work for a relative pittance?

      The way monetary value is measured has become almost completely abstract, so it's unsurprising that those growing up in this system have different ideas to the older generation.

      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Xiroth (917768) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:33PM (#27203639)

        Sorry, but that's utter tripe. Sure, once you've made it you might not have to work hard if you don't want to. But, unless you're born to it, you do have to work hard to get places - even if you're lucky or even corrupt. I used to have this attitude too, figuring that I'd just do the bare minimum of work that would give me the chance of getting that golden luck. It got me absolutely nowhere - if you really want to build a business or launch a product, you've got to work your freaking arse off.

        I'm not entirely sure where I got the idea that if I'm working hard then I'm not doing it right, but I know that it sabotaged me for years. Hard work by itself doesn't directly equate into wealth - if you're not working on something that won't be particularly profitable, no matter how hard you work you're not going to get much out of it. But not working hard means you're definitely not going to make it, unless you'd prefer to count on winning the lottery.

    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:01PM (#27203271)

      I really do blame the baby boomers. They grew up in a sort of fantasy world, where they could preach peace, love, and not war

      Right. You're living in your own fantasy world where it has become convenient to blame the baby boomers. I'm a baby boomer and lived through those times. We had to fight to "preach peace" in opposition to Johnson and Nixon and their wars - and those fights were sometimes, perhaps often, bloody.

      But it has become the accepted truth (and as such never to be questioned by those who accept it) that the baby boomers are responsible for all that is evil and horrible today. You might try pulling your head out of your butt and read some history - you'll find that nothing is as simple as you would like it to be, nor is it necessarily simple enough for you to understand it without work (which, I suspect, you're unwilling to do).

  • by Talgrath (1061686) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:06PM (#27202673)

    Perhaps I'm just more realistic than the average college graduate, but I'd really just...like a job. I knew, coming in, that whatever I learned in college was just the tip of the iceberg; if getting a BS in Computer Science really prepared you for everything you might see in the "real world" then why are there Masters and Doctorate programs? I will admit that a lot of my fellow college students thought that they are geniuses for one reason or another, but I'm under no such delusions. Hell, in this economy, I'd just like a steady IT job; but it has been remarkably hard to find one with the market flooded with more experienced individuals.

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:08PM (#27202677)
    I graduated with a CS bachelors a few years ago thinking I would have a good shot at doing some compiler design or maybe kernel hacking.. despite the fact that I had only done these kind of things in a sterile learning environment that did not at all simulate the level of complexity involved in modern languages and operating systems.. So when I got out of school, I found out that, rather being able to get a job doing these kinds of things, I was lucky to get a web app programming job.

    I'm not bitter. I should have realized this from the beginning. But I really wish someone would have pointed out to me that this was what the job market was actually like, so that I could have gone the EE route instead.
  • by MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:08PM (#27202681)
    Do you still wear an onion on your belt?
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:10PM (#27202693)

    I have seen a growing trend of what I would call 'TV reality' college graduates â" kids who graduated school in the last few years and seem to have a view of the workplace that is very much fashioned by TV programs, where 22-year-olds lead billion-dollar corporate mergers in Paris and jet around the world.

    They just don't realize that the show is, "The Office".

  • Education fads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:10PM (#27202697)

    My mum's a primary school teacher, so I got to hear all about the crazy fads that sweep through the education system as regularly as forest fires.

    Education fads are a bit like management fads, or the hype-waves that sweep IT; some self-important tosser somewhere in academia comes up with a stupid idea, some government pinheads buy into it, and before you know it, it's all over like a bad rash.

    The movement to boost pupils' self-esteem was a recent big one, which according to a recent piece on the BBC, took off in America. The idea, is that kids get praised all the time as a means of positive reinforcement -- with the obvious drawbacks.

    But then again, it could be the Dunning-Kruger Effect (where the incompetent are unable to see their own incompetence), which is as strong now as it always has been.

  • by damburger (981828) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:12PM (#27202715)

    They've been systematically lied to. Western youth has been aggressively fed a vision of fun, laid back jobs that inexplicably pay huge amounts, coupled with an excessive consumer lifestyle.

    Remember the apartments they lived in in Friends? Remember what they did for a living? Exactly.

    Its why there was so much consumer debt - people thought they were entitled to a lifestyle beyond their means, and were willing to take loans to get it.

    • by fm6 (162816) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:36PM (#27202995) Homepage Journal

      Remember the apartments they lived in in Friends? Remember what they did for a living? Exactly.

      I seem to recall that the apartment in Friends was rent-controlled at a level that had been set some time in the 60s, and they were illegally subletting it from a elderly relative who had long since moved away. Also, the show had some good stories about the financial issues of people living in Manhattan.

      Nitpicks aside, though, you're right about Friends (most of the time) and TV in general. But then, TV has always lied about a lot of things: everybody is good looking and has no weight or fitness issues (unless they're evil or they're somebody's funny sidekick). Bad people always suffer for their badness, and good people are always rewarded. Nobody is ever at a loss for clever thing to say. All complicated issues get resolved one way or another after 48 minutes of interaction. Etc., etc.

  • by TheMeuge (645043) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:14PM (#27202747)

    So today I see an article about the growing narcissism of students

    Might as well replace "students" with "people". The whole concept that this is somehow limited to graduates of whatever reeks of the "dirty intellectuals" cultural revolution mentality.

    It's not graduates that are getting narcissistic, it's much of our society that's changing this way, of which they are but a subset. If you think that the people who don't finish high school and suckle on the NYC welfare tit for much of their life are any less narcissistic, you've got a dose of reality coming...

    Our society has removed a system of intrinsic rewards that involve satisfaction from doing one's job well, and providing for one's family, and replaced it with a money-grabbing race for being buried with the most stuff. But make no mistake about it - this phenomenon has far less to do with education, and far more to do with the destruction of family as a concept.

  • This just in! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by intx13 (808988) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:15PM (#27202769) Homepage
    Students find that the real world does not match their ideals and expectations!

    I think no matter what age bracket you fit into, you or someone you knew as a post-student entering the workforce for the first time had their expectations shattered.

    It's neither shocking nor news, and it certainly doesn't make you narcissistic. It makes you inexperienced, which is kind of the whole thing, isn't it?

    On the other hand, there are more young people succeeding that do make it that far that quickly nowadays, so maybe you could say that the variance is increasing - more people expecting greatness and being shocked, but also more people going directly to greatness.

    Furthermore, the example of one prospective employee thinking that what were in reality fairly standard and expected skills made him a unique snowflake doesn't mean he and every other post-student is narcissistic. More likely, in school he WAS cream of the crop, teaching himself new skills and so on. What he doesn't realize is that the people he's comparing himself to are now working at McDonald's; he now needs to compete against the much smaller group of people like himself. Depending on the school, he may have never met anyone else from this group.

    Anyway, not narcissism, not egotism... just a mix of inexperience, naivete, and optimism/idealism.
  • Every Generation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by perlhacker14 (1056902) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:16PM (#27202777)

    Every new generation is bound to feel superior to the previous, being fresh and inexperienced and self-confident in their sparkling new standards. Every previous generation will feel that the new children are annoying little pests wearing too-big boots. This is to be expected, and the attitudes usually fade over time as the new generation gets hit with reality and the older ones come to stand them.
    Of course, this really is the one of the first times that it comes up in the software fields, as the field is relatively new.

  • anecdotal evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:18PM (#27202795) Homepage

    The article is based on nothing but anecdotal evidence. The person who wrote the slashdot summary (named, strangely enough, SpuriousLogic) relates some more anecdotal evidence. Now slashdotters are requested to supply even more anecdotal evidence.

    I teach physics at a community college. Any generalization you can make about my students will be true about some of them and false about some others. Yes, I have encountered some students whose self-esteem seems unrealistically high. Yes, I have also encountered some other students whose self-esteem seemed to me to be unrealistically low.

    If you want to show a trend over time, like increasing narcissism, you need quantitative data from two different times, and you need the random and systematic errors on those two data-points to be small enough that they can be shown to be unequal with a high level of confidence.

    My default hypothesis about any educational reform movement is that it will have absolutely no effect on anything. I'm only persuaded to the contrary if solid quantitative evidence shows up to the contrary. My default hypothesis is that the self-esteem movement has had absolutely no effect on students' self-esteem, or on their achievement, or on anything else. Students tend to be pretty realistic. They look and compare themselves with other students. They know if they got an F on their physics exam and their lab partner didn't.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:38PM (#27203023) Homepage

    ...are you seeing the sorts of 'crashing down to Earth' expectations of college grads described here?

    I see a little of that 20-something narcissism here and there, but it's not universal. What I see more of is what I would call intellectual stubbornness. Every so often I'll interview someone I think has potential and, even if they don't get hired for that job, I'll keep them on a short list for future openings. Along with that give them some suggestions for areas of focus that would give them an edge on the next interview. Do this, this and this and the next time we have an opening I don't have to advertise it, just hire out of the pool. Saves me sorting through the resume slush pile.

    At first I was subtle about the suggestions, but very few would pick up on them. Even when I would contact them quarterly to see how they were doing, trying to show them they really were on the short list. I finally had to quit being subtle and just give them the right answers. But even when I did that, it's amazing how few would give me that answer back. One I suggested they get familiar with a non-MSFT development framework. Any one. Zend, Cake, Rails...anything. They didn't have to develop an app, just learn about one. An hour of reading. And the next time we talked they were in another .NET class. Then acted surprised when they didn't get that job, either. ????

    That I do see that a lot in young people. They're convinced they have the right answers and won't budge or take a suggestion. There's no curiosity or willingness to explore. they seem really regimented in their thinking. Something I found profoundly saddening personally and, as hiring authority, really freaking annoying.

  • Why not an office? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:40PM (#27203045) Homepage

    When the delta cost between an modest office and a cube is around $2k/year, I frankly have a hard time seeing why a $50k professional shouldn't have one if he wants it. If he asked you for $2k additional salary to work for you, you'd give it to him. So why not a $2k office?

    That he's expected to settle for a cube is almost pure PHB. It says that the organization is more interested in the petty politics of oneupmanship than the are in their employees' comfort and productivity.

    On the other hand, my eyes head for the ceiling when the guy who has been there two weeks starts explaining the half dozen major changes we should make to the business. Spend six months learning how to do it my way you greenie! When you're fully trained on the job, I'll be interested in your opinions on how to improve it.

  • by Orp (6583) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:12PM (#27203371) Homepage

    The older generation always scoffs at the younger generation. There is always a large component of kids-these-days to these types of arguments. That being said, as a 40 year old college professor who's been doing this for 8 years, I do see a shift in the behavior of students, primarily the average-to-below-average student. The bright students who are motivated and mature don't seem to suffer from the problems I'm about to describe. One big problem is that many students simply are unwilling to do more than a fixed amount of work that they don't want to do. In college they place aspects of their lives which are not academic at a higher priority and get annoyed when their performance reflects this. I see more and more of this. The main things are: socializing, work, and family. It's not that I didn't have those thing when I was in college, it's just that academics always came first. Many students simply refuse to dedicate the time they need to do well; it's not that they're dumb.

    A lot of students really do have the precious-snowflake chip on their shoulders. A junior faculty member in my department who has only been teaching for a couple of years and who is very student-focused told a student who was struggling in one of his classes that her main reason for not doing well was that she was not working hard enough (and he was right). How did she take it? She went to the dean and filed a complaint against the professor. This same student is always passing notes and talking to another student in one of my classes. I have confronted them in class and they will shoot me dirty looks, shut up for a while, and start back up again the next class. The professor I mentioned above has spent hours and hours with another student trying to help her with the subject material and to show her appreciation, she accused him of "destroying her passion" for her major.

    The precious-snowflake syndrome is strongly tied to the immaturity problem which plagues a lot of college students. I think students are simply putting off growing up, and I am regularly dealing with high-school crap in, for example, sophomore-level science classes (courses in the students' major even!) which I simply never had to deal with before.

    When I am in one of my more cynical moods, I take great pleasure in the idea that these kids are in for a really rude awakening after they graduate in the current economic climate. Maybe it will be the splash of cold water in the face that they need to grow the f*ck up and realize that the world does not exist solely for their own entertainment, and that simply gracing me with their presence in class does not get them an automatic B.

  • by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @08:16PM (#27204535) Journal

    This is being reported all over the place. In fact, my wife read an article in Macleans (I think) years ago about this very thing. Overall, the false self-esteem forced upon these kids by our so called "education system" in North America has brought about a new horror in education. As in, most students today are what is commonly referred to as "mark mercenaries." They also have a gross tendency to lie or twist words or ... to get what they want. I've seen it used time and time again in attempts to screw over profs, TAs, etc because of a perceived wrong. That perceived wrong typically being not paying enough attention to the student or giving them a bad grade (that they earned). In fact, a recent example is a TA got questioned for not giving help to a student. What actually happened is that this student didn't even as for help. Likely in some twisted reality in this students head, the TA should have constantly come up to this student asking him/her if (s)he needed help. Because, that's what happens in highschool right?

    And what makes it worse? TV programs that, including reality TV, that glorify people getting a free ride. So, now with the delusional aspect to the general mentality of todays youth added to there false self-esteem, they actually honestly believe that they deserve what they think they deserve. Regardless of the reality of the situation.

    And what makes that worse? Universities/Colleges/etc are indirectly encouraging that. Because, if they did anything to stop that, then the students wouldn't take there (service) courses and the departments would be in big trouble. Both through the lower grades and the complaints that admin would surely get and the lower enrolment rates.

    Right now, what we should expect is for this to get worse for a long time to come. Because, the Universities/etc (because they are now run like businesses and NOT educational institutions) have a vested interest in caving to these power drunk students. And those students are the *vast* majority of the student population.

    I quake for our future...

  • by Rastl (955935) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @08:22PM (#27204583) Journal

    I've had to deal with interns coming into the technology field after being coddled at college for a few years. I've tried to be friendly, polite and honest. Mostly that's been appreciated after a few months in 'the real workplace'.

    I also took the time to talk to these interns at the end of their internship to go over how they would represent their work on their resumes. Invariably they didn't see what they really did. What they saw as a series of menial tasks was really "Performed X with minimal supervision" and "Completed project Y using blah blah blah". They weren't prepared to comprehend what a real project was.

    One of the truly sad things was their lack of ability to troubleshoot. I know I've said this in the past but I feel it bears repeating. Everything these kids have done has been multiple choice. Their tests, their games, everything has presented them with a list of choices. Our games gave us a problem and then we were on our own to come up with what might work as a solution. Does anyone remember "You're in a maze of twisty passages, all alike." and a command prompt? Not a lot of pre-chosen answers there. I spent quite a bit of time helping them learn how to solve problems.

    Lastly, here's the advice I have yet to see an intern use. "Find the job that no one wants to do, do it well, and you'll be employed for life." Seriously, everyone wants the fun and happy jobs. But someone has to clean the crap out of the corners and keep the place running. Fun and happy candidates are lined up out the door and around the corner. The one who is willing to do the jobs that require doing is going to stand out.

    Now get off my intarwebz.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday March 16, 2009 @12:24AM (#27206651) Homepage

    One problem is the "middle class", according to the Wall Street Journal, now starts at around $250K/yr. Few people will ever make that much money. But most college graduates think they will, or at least did until Q4 2008. There's been an upward creep in expectations during the boom. This happens during booms; it happened in 1922-1929. It's not an age thing; it's a boom thing.

    The extreme form of this is seen in MBA students. The major MBA schools had (definitely "had") become feeder teams for consulting firms and Wall Street, which, for a while, really was seen as a path to becoming a multimillionaire before turning 30.. In New York City, finance employs 10% of the people, but pays 40% of the salaries. (Well, it did; those are 2007 numbers.)

    Being in the robotics field, I saw the better robotics people going off to finance. But recently, I was over at Stanford, and was chatting with a grad student who'd been at Lehman Bros. and was back in computer science, which now looked more stable than finance. The traffic direction has reversed.

    We might even see smart people going into manufacturing again. Which we need.

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