“Since we live in an age of innovation, a practical education must prepare a man for work that does not yet exist and cannot yet be clearly defined.” -Peter F. Drucker
Recently, my colleague Jeremy Stoddard was leading an activity as part of our school-wide strategic planning process. In a design thinking approach, he asked us to identify what core elements of the William & Mary experience we should strive to maintain as well as those practices and approaches that we should consider letting go of or changing in some way. As part of the process, he shared an article from the New York Times written by Thomas Friedman called How to Get a Job at Google. It was an interesting angle for us to consider within the context of a university founded in 1693.
What skills might students need?
In the article, Friedman shares five key hiring characteristics that Google looks for according to Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google:
- General cognitive ability – Bock contrasts this with both IQ and specific disciplinary knowledge (i.e., computer coding). Rather, they look for “...the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.”
- Emergent leadership – Contrasted with formal leadership roles, Google looks more for the ability to step in and lead as part of a collaborative effort – and to know when to take a step back to let others lead.
- Ownership – Google values employees who take ownership of their work and the challenges they encounter, demonstrating a willingness to do what needs to be done.
- Humility – While Bock values both leadership and ownership, he suggests that they must also have the humility to step back and let others lead as well as to be willing to learn.
- Expertise – Interestingly, Bock purposely listed expertise last in the list of hiring characteristics. He argues that if you identify people with the other four characteristics, they can develop expertise related to their job in the context of their work.
In concluding the essay, Friedman notes, “Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers.” It seems to me, though, that we might be able to find ways to integrate these and other skills and dispositions within the context of our instruction.
What skills might you add to the list?
Please add your comments below.