Today’s school programs would benefit from a platform which would offer higher integration of students with local businesses aimed at fostering an environment of mutual benefit. This type of effort could launch a myriad of possibilities such as improved cooperative education programs, joint research and development programs, courses lead by business personnel, and mentor advisor relationships between students, faculty, and business people. The big idea would be aimed at bridging the chasm between the typical student that traditional education turns out and the human capital that modern business needs to be successful.
School curriculums should be geared more toward developing analytical skills and problem solving in general. Often I have found it is not only what you do know, but knowing how to apply what you know to solve a problem that does not have a clear solution. Most problems are not black and white and do not have one correct answer. In my experience, the challenge is in selecting the best solution to a problem that has no clear resolution.
I have found program availability is not enough. Looking back, it seems to be about the choices I made as a student. I sought out programs that helped me build skills that prepared me for my chosen career path and unforeseen challenges ahead. These skills combined with the desire to continually learn and improve myself provided the strong foundation for my success in a heavily male-dominated industry that is both technology- and engineering-centric.
I wish I had taken more math and science classes. I recommend students today focus in these areas, as well as technical writing and public speaking. Look for your areas of weakness and focus on improving these with your core strengths. When something seemed uncomfortable, I embraced it. I built skills to overcome it. I may not claim it as a true strength, but I have invested in my skills to attain a level that was above average. I took advantage of cooperative education programs and intern programs as soon as possible in my college career. These experiences provided a wealth of insight that no classroom experience could replicate. I began to build my future network and I gained significant confidence in entering my professional career.