Yes, I have gone back to school. Again. While the job market is recovering, it is still difficult to switch careers. Especially when you haven’t had experience or education in a new direction. That’s one reason to go to school: bridge the lack of experience with education.
But a student cannot be passive. You must take an active part of your education. Teachers are not going to spoon-feed you the knowledge you will need. A student needs to be aware, and cognizant of minor details.
As I was sitting today, waiting for time to go by (and eating my breakfast, and reviewing job opportunities in my market), I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Curious, I took a few minutes to observe and confirm my thoughts. True, I have just a few minutes of data to go on, but it appears that today’s students have different priorities than the market has.
I know, that’s not ground-breaking. But here’s what I noticed: both genders do not dress up. True, the weather has gotten wintery (finally). But the numbers of guys wearing boots is half what I expected. And the numbers of ladies wearing boots is just slightly above that. (Fortunately the number of Uggs or similar styles has dropped.)
But what’s depressing (maybe to an older student like myself) is that more people are wearing leggings or athletic leisure pants instead of jeans. Even the jeans that are being worn are casual: fitting but not tight, some wear but maintained, stylish tears but not frayed, mostly pulled up but a couple of low-waisted versions. Only two females have walked by with something other than a leg version of clothing: one in a skirt, and one wearing a skirt over leggings. Even the multiple races that attend have leggings or jeans in addition to traditional garb.
The guys aren’t any better, with three now walking by with pants (defined as slacks or not-jeans or not-athletic wear). Two of those have clearly come from more traditional backgrounds – one guy’s beard was brighter than the snow and roughly the same color. The other anomaly appeared late thirties, and you could hear his shoes before you saw him.
So what does all this fashion commentary mean? To me, it is saying students have a relaxed approach. Not just in studies, but in their view of the world. Most seem to view the structures the rest of the world (I.e., careers and jobs) as outdated. Not that they don’t care, but they appeared past the frustration point that the jobs don’t care about them. It suggests an attitude of combative resignation. The students know some compromise will be necessary, but feel that the companies must also be willing to compromise.
It is not just a casual atmosphere, but it is not the professional atmosphere of the “corporate world,” either. To be fair, not all of these students will head to company jobs where they sit behind a desk. And this experience is at a community college, which already draws a different student mix than elsewhere. But the very fact that this /is/ a community college makes these observations notable. Given the accessibility of specific classes to the business individual, I would expect more business casual fashion. Even from the teachers.
In the time it has taken me to write this on my phone, only one more person of each gender has walked by in non-casual attire. If companies are looking for the trends of the future, I would think that they are going to have to adapt a lot of techniques and thought processes in a very short time. While the clothing might be casual, the drive of these students is not.