Before Lucius Fox built the Batmobile, Easy Reader taught us to read. Playing a groovy 70s hipster, Morgan Freeman taught those of us growing up at that time that reading was cool. As the first generation raised with television, our parents were genuinely concerned that children would stop reading and just watch TV. The Electric Company’s Easy Reader would tell us, “Top to bottom, left to right, reading stuff is outta sight!” Ok, so it’s not Shawshank Redemption quality dialogue, but we were in elementary school…
I’m now older than my parents were back then. So I don’t feel bad saying I’m concerned that most students don’t read enough. Not all of you. We have a CBA Ambassador who was recently attacked by her collection of books. She fought them off valiantly, and escaped without injury. As she said, some people have babies, she has stories. But her’s is the rare case.
I walked through the BA buildings recently to take an informal survey. Speaking to about a dozen students I asked one simple question, “do you read?” Maybe half said yes. To those answering in the affirmative I followed up with, do you read for fun or information? Most said fun. One said he’ll read a recommended business book on occasion.
This concerns me for two reasons. First, smart people read. Really really smart people read voraciously. When you read a lot, you don’t have to go look up words like “voraciously” or have to figure out through context that it means “a lot.” Business professionals have to read everything from books and manuals to reports and articles. They use this information to make informed decisions and give themselves a competitive edge. They read to collect data, to collect facts, to learn things. Why? You can’t know if an action or strategy is sound if all you do is listen to other people’s opinions.
Second, reading is like any other activity, it’s harder to get back into it when you’ve slacked off for a while. If you’re a gym rat you know how hard it is to get back into shape when you’ve had to lay off for a while. Go grab your bike or skateboard out of your parent’s garage and try to replicate your best moves. If you played an instrument in high school, go pick it up. My son played guitar in high school. Got so good he got a girlfriend. I heard him playing the other day; the boy got rusty!
In high school your teacher made you read novels. There might have been one that moved you, others you may have just moved through. Then you got to college and classes became more technical and specialized. Instructors assigned a text for the class, but they also gave you a study guide and PowerPoint notes…mostly developed by the people who published the textbook! Why read lots of words when I can read the same thing with fewer words. All I’m gonna do is go barf this information up on a test.
In each Career Professionalism class you will read two career-focused books. One will be general, the other more technical. In GEB 3003 I’ve selected What Color is Your Parachute, by Richard Bolles and The Recruiting Snitch, by Alysse Metzler. From those two books you could learn everything you need to know, and more importantly, everything you need to DO to find a job in your target career before graduation. Whether you are a traditional student or a “non-traditional” working professional these are books that will help you move forward in your career.
Because this is a class you will also take exams on the content of these books. Your finals in the Career Professionalism classes will come from the books and guest speakers. Since these aren’t textbooks and the speaker lineup can be fluid from one semester to the next, there are no Study Cube notes and no study guide. I will expect you to read, process, and understand the information without outside assistance.
So here are some suggestions… First, READ! Read the assigned books. Skim through it to get the gist and then read it again. Take notes as you read. Second, use the information in the completion of your assignments. The goal of these classes is action; action on your part; action that leads to that super cool groovy job that you want. The research assignment in GEB 3003 isn’t a snipe hunt (do you need to Google that saying as well?), it’s what you need to do to make an informed career choice. Third, find a buddy. Maybe a circle of buddies. People who want the same job as you and people who want a different job as you. People with your same level of experience and people with a different level of experience. There are going to be around 1200 students in this class, there are a lot of you out there to choose from! Finally, talk about what you read. Talk to your buddies. The old ones you had before the class and new ones you have in the class. Talk to your boss, your mom, your significant sweetie, your mentor, other professors, and Dean Jarley (@pauljarley). I don’t have to tell you what to talk about or when to talk, open your freaking mouth and talk to someone!
Or go back to watching Netflix, satiated in your ignorance…