Last week, we had high school student at my office, doing a “job shadow”, to see what life was like in the “real world” of engineering. They toured our office and lab, sat in on an overly long meeting, saw some of our test equipment, did some basic data acquisition by hand with a bit of spreadsheet data crunching, and had individual meetings with a few folks in my office, including yours truly. They luckily didn’t bring out their smart phone, but from what I understand, that was at least something they told them before they showed up. All in all, they got a good quick overview of what engineers do, and all the logistical stuff that goes along with running a business.
When sitting down with the student in our one-on-one, I said at some point, words to the effect of, “Sorry for leaving the world in bad shape; you are going to have a rough ride.” Now, that might have taken them by surprise (this was to be a simple job shadow), but we do have to start having these discussions with young people. It is one thing for their parents or teachers to harp on them about doing well in school, but occasionally, they do need to hear to voices of folks outside of the mainstream, and those who can see a bit further down the road, to the resource limited, pollution amplified, likely overcrowded world they will inhabit.
As noted in the post before last week’s, The Green Pill, there were some books that were in my parent’s library that got me thinking about The Future, but nothing was mentioned at the dinner table about a different world that I might inhabit. Getting a college degree and working for a big firm for twenty or more plus years seemed like a distinct possibility many years ago, but things changed. The price of a college degree has gone up wildly with respect to the CPI, and so that advice might not be the best you can give. Even advice about getting a good civil service job might not look too good, given the pension crisis of a few municipalities. Likewise, joining the military has a few drawbacks of its own.
There are risks everywhere, to every decision, but there must be good, common bits of knowledge that you can give.
- What do you tell the children/young people about the upcoming world?
- What books, movies, or other things can give them a realistic snapshot of things to come?
- What do you wish you had been told earlier on in your life/career? Do you think it would have mattered, given that many young people ignore the advice of their elders?
- As noted many times before regarding this darker world view, “We could be wrong,”; what counter-arguments and resources would you give to a young person to have them prepare for the possible everything-is-going-to-be-great world?
- What other advice would you give?