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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Strategic CSR - Life

The article in the url below is refreshing. It is an open letter to the graduating university class of 2012. The opening couple of sentences set the tone—that of a man who has just read through a lot of resumes:

Dear Class of 2012: Allow me to be the first one not to congratulate you. Through exertions that—let's be honest—were probably less than heroic, most of you have spent the last few years getting inflated grades in useless subjects in order to obtain a debased degree.

Skipping over the political jabs (this is the WSJ op-ed page, after all), the author’s message boils down to four “facts”:
  • Fact One is that, in our "knowledge-based" economy, knowledge counts. Yet here you are, probably the least knowledgeable graduating class in history.
  • Fact Two: Your competition is global. Shape up. … In places like Ireland, France, India and Spain, your most talented and ambitious peers are graduating … . Unlike you, they probably speak several languages. They may also have a degree in a hard science or engineering.
  • Fact Three: Your prospective employers can smell BS from miles away. … To read through your CVs, dear graduates, is to be assaulted by endless Advertisements for Myself.
  • Fact Four: There will always be a market for people who can [think for themselves].

The author uses the example of an intern he interviewed recently as an example of the exemplary student:

No doubt some of you have overcome real hardships or taken real degrees. A couple of years ago I hired a summer intern from West Point. She came to the office directly from weeks of field exercises in which she kept a bulletproof vest on at all times, even while sleeping. She writes brilliantly and is as self-effacing as she is accomplished. Now she's in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban. … Not many of you will be able to follow in her precise footsteps, nor do you need to do so. But if you can just manage to tone down your egos, shape up your minds, and think unfashionable thoughts, you just might be able to do something worthy with your lives.

Although it is certainly a strong message, I think all students would benefit from hearing it. I can’t help thinking, however, that this is something they should be told as freshmen, not graduating seniors.

Take care

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To the Class of 2012
By Bret Stephens
May 8, 2012
The Wall Street Journal