After a good 15 years in the public education system, I only knew how to do one thing well: classes. What I didn’t know boils down to merely everything else, including what it’s like to have a full-time job without a nametag.
I doubt a typical college student knows any real-life skills from college. College classes at most teach a clinical understanding about the outside world, and all the wider college experience has to offer involves ping-pong balls and plastic cups. Even though for our Beer Chugging regional champions, graduation is for quitters, but even the most adamant and decidedly average students choose to quit, eventually.
Graduating after five long years, our typical student spent the last four years cleaning up after that mess of a freshman year in the dorms. His expertise at grade substitution is unparalleled. The main office knows him by name.
He didn’t get here on much of a scholarship if anything at all. Because his fifth-generation Anglo-Irish heritage doesn’t lend itself well to scholarships, McAdequate is stuck with student loans, and merit-based scholarships are out of the question for this initiative-less loser.
Like most college students, he doesn’t have an internship and never applied. He doesn’t have a clue about how to succeed in life. He’s not prepared to do well, even if he has any confidence in the abilities he lacks.
He has no reason to prepare, he believes. His successes and failures in college will are not transferable units, are they? Do well in college, or poorly, and it doesn’t matter. His driving and criminal records will follow him, but McAdequate doesn’t have any outstanding warrants, and has only a few, scattered moving violations from back in his freshman year.
In everything else, he’s on his own.
On the other hand, his friend Perl already found a job, and she has barely a C+(+) average. She may be an information technologies major, but her success isn’t just because there will always be a future in computer maintenance. Perl succeeded because she took the initiative. She bothered finding an internship, and learning early on the skills in the job world.
She doesn’t need to pad her résumé with phenomenal personal greatnesses humbly veiled as weaknesses. She doesn’t need to exaggerate her job experience. That she has any job experience at all is a leg up on the McAverages who graduate in her field.
Maybe internships aren’t required because that’s the sort of initiative students need to find on their own. Even if McAverage did land that internship, it wouldn’t last. He’d go back to waiting tables. Perl will do something she likes, and will get paid a lot more.
Everyone’s a quitter, eventually — the only question is whether or not you have any initiative.