The Eternal Optimism of Youth

I had the delight yesterday of addressing a class of communication students (seniors) at San Jose State University regarding a contest in which they can participate related to the Silicon Valley IABC chapter which I presently lead. It had been a long time since I sat in a college classroom – much has changed, but also not so much.  Class opened with a pained discussion around a few students who simply couldn’t get into classes they need to graduate – this was blamed on budget cuts.  Somehow, I remember this same challenge from 2X years ago when I was a student. Still, they were determined to find a way to make it happen.  The young, eager faces, smart as heck, asked savvy questions lazer-focused on the most salient information they need to know – how will xyz help me get a job? and questions so related.  My reactions were mixed – I was so happy to see this young talent pursuing my chosen field, understanding communication has increasing value in a society that can feel it’s spinning out of control; I was concerned for their prospects upon graduating – will the economy be better? Will there be jobs for them? I was also struck by the instructor’s comment that traditional communication as we’ve known it is dead – I hope not, but the channels sure have changed.  In the room, young people commented that they barely use email anymore, don’t use voicemail and may not even answer the phone.  I must ponder how a new set of communication norms (I’m not really sure what they are yet) is going to meld with or reshape corporate modes that are deeply entrenched but already showing stress fractures as Millenials come into the workforce.  Eager students fanning across the campus – I wish you well.

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