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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Beyond College, Some of the Challenges and Opportunities

My Daughter Graduated!

I just attended my daughter's graduation from college, and she has a job she starts in a few weeks. So my wife and my job is done, and she is leaving the nest. Thinking back on it, what have we done right, and wrong in our 20 years of bringing her up? It's been a long journey, and I am generally happy with the results. She is an amazing young lady that has a super bright journey. And will she be able to adapt to our changing society?

Challenges & Opportunities:

  • Outsourcing
  • People skills - She has great people skills, fortunately
  • Automation
  • Continual Education
  • Perceived Value
  • Identifying Opportunities
  • Working toward a goal
  • Chinese Language & Culture


Outsourcing is a huge challenge for many industries. There are now lawyers and accountants working overseas, for US firms. IT and Call Centers have been traditional outsources areas, but any type of work that is not geographical, in person based, can be outsourced. 

A scary story, where a company had IT workers being fired, had to train their replacements:

One of the company I worked for outsourced my job. It got taken over by 3 people in the Philippines, and the company still saved money. What was nice was later on the company did offer me another job.

And unfortunately, under current US law, H1B holders are treated as indentured servants. Basically a worker who comes here on an H1B visa, needs to stay with the same employer or they have to restart their immigration process. This usually takes 4-5 years till they can get a green card. My strong opinion, is H1B workers should not lose their place in the immigration que if they change employers. Indentured servitude is just wrong. While I was getting my Masters, I had an outside immigration lawyer come speak to at my school about the immigration process.

People Skills:

People skills are such an important area for success! You need to learn to get along with your co-workers, or you will fail. Office politics, unfortunately, is a fact and just part of human nature. Understanding what your boss wants from you, and meeting that is a requirement. My under-graduate is in Engineering, and after falling on my face a few times early in my career, I focused on improving my people skills and it has helped a huge amount. 


The robots are coming - The Terminator is here! No, that's not totally true. Robots are coming, and it's a huge change. What is happening is a lot of automation, both in the factory as well as with knowledge systems. A good article - No Sector Is Safe from Robots. You can now buy a basic robot, to move boxes for $25,000. A knowledge systems are helping in decision making, such as in white collar jobs. Law offices have gone through a huge amount of automation, a simple example is where discovery used to take an auditorium full of lawyers going through documents. Now it's done by scanning them in, OCR them, and do a Google search along with any other electronic documents. The is a lot of automation going on, in both in the factory and in the office, and this will be changing the way many people work. The exception, for now, is the service industry that requires physical interaction. The important skill to have, is being able to think and do the right work. To be a knowledge worker, that is at least one step above what can be automated. To add value. With my daughter's education, I believe she can adapt successfully to a world that will be changing more and more.

Continual Education

A key part of having a successful career is keeping up to date. New college graduates have the latest knowledge, and after a few years out working, will they still be up to date? The good news is with e-Learning it's become easier and easier to keep up to date. MOOC's are amazing. I see huge changes in the higher education model that will lower cost, and is great for the student / customer. An example of the insane cost of higher education is this post. $62K a year, for 4 years? That's $260K. In most places that is a house. And what is the ROI on a $248K investment? Verses going to a state school for a lot less. My daughter went to a state school, and it was a lot less than $248K, and she has no student loans! And got done in under 3 years. 

Perceived Value

This is a harder one, but basically you need a linkedin profile and make it as great a possible since a lot of people will use it to check you out. It establishes your credibility. My linkedin is not a great example of what to do, since it's been more of a hobby that I worked on for fun and understand linkedin better. My daughter's linkedin will grow, as her career advances.

Identifying Opportunities

This is a hard one to teach as a parent, but it's so important. There are so many opportunities out there, but such limited time. Having a Goal helps. My wife and my goal for my daughter was to be a good person, to have her do well in K-12 by going to a great school, keep her Chinese Language and Cultural skills (she is fluent in English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese), have good friends, and go and finish college. And then get a good job. And all of those have been accomplished. 

Chinese Language & Culture

Teaching my daughter Chinese has been a challenge, and a lot of work. The result has been worth it, where my daughter has a great relationship with my wife's parents, that don't speak English. That is so valuable! And with her fluent Chinese and understanding of Chinese Culture, she has future opportunities in working with Chinese businesses, or US subsidiaries in China. This is a great addition to who she is.

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