One of the most overused movie plot clichés goes like this: Parent has beloved child and great plans for same. Child is reared and rigorously trained (sports, finance, medicine) but comes to hate parental plans and craves to be something else. Tension builds to crisis and child tells off parent. Parent is hurt but comes around to realize everyone is different and tells relieved child to just be the best at whatever they choose to do.
I'm not sure this parental construct even exists anymore, what with the outlook for doctors, bankers and pro athletes, not to mention educators and (yikes!) journalists.
So business technologists, what would you hope your child to grow up to be? Where do you encourage your child to find a rewarding career that allows a comfortable and healthy lifestyle? Do your own footsteps mark a path?
This question surfaced for me in circular Web fashion. We'd reposted an op/ed from our sister pub Insurance Networking News a couple of months ago in which Ara Trembly took parents to task for weak technology career enrollment and for continuing to recite the "fairy tale" that kids can become anything they want.
That story was then picked up by the blog techdirt, which opined that Trembly was blaming parents when the issue was a lack of interest on the kids' part. Techdirt's post drew more than 50 comments with a good share of fatalism, so now I am asking you.
In The Graduate, a movie targeted at another generation, a Mr. Maguire took a young soul-searching Dustin Hoffman aside and uttered this profundity in one memorable clip. "I just want to say one word to you. Just one word: Plastics."
Some movie reviewers decided "plastics" was a metaphor for an empty, corrupt, older generation. Others saw that Hoffman's character had nothing like a career in mind given his adult awakening. Still others thought the old geezer was just trying to help a kid out.
Maybe it's the older generations that are running out of options and not the younger. A new generation of jobs seems to be in the offing that the corporate structure doesn't understand yet. I honestly don't know what that looks like, but assuming you're not an empty corrupt geezer, what's your word or two of advice for someone you want to see have a good life and career? Health care? Renewable? The military?
Youth will have its way and it's a good and important thing to try out your dreams while you have them - even in a shape-shifting job market. For many, a job is a big part of your personal life. If you can be really good at whatever you love, my motto is, there's always room for talent. Same as it ever was, no one word guarantees success or happiness. Unlike Trembly, I don't think dreams are ever an "awful lie" in a "cold cruel world." Like the cliché, your kid may be onto something (his/her life), and struggles or not, it beats filling a slot.