In the January 14, 2020 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a college student worries that not doing enough homework might hurt chances of getting a job.


collegeI have a year to go until I graduate from college. I’m not the best student, but I do pretty well. I’m here to learn, but there is a lot more to college and I take advantage of it. But now I’m a little worried. My grades could be better. I could spend a little less time at the pub, and more on academics. However, homework seems like a redundancy to me. I learn in lectures, in section classes and in assigned readings. Don’t misunderstand, I crank out the papers and I get ready for tests. But doing homework? It has nothing to do with preparing you for the real world. Even people who work long hours leave the office behind at the end of the day.

I know my school has a good career center, and companies recruit there all the time. The purpose of the center is to attract good companies and jobs. My “job” is to interview well and get hired. I don’t think I’m that different from most students. I just want a good job when I get out of here. But something is nagging at me, and I’m worried as graduation gets nearer. I’m afraid I’ll get lost in the system or the system won’t work for me. I’m afraid I won’t get a good job. There, I said it. So what should I do?

Nick’s Reply

People with jobs do homework all the time — at work, if not at home. Homework means studying extra material and practicing new skills, often on your own time. You may be able to avoid this, but not if you want your grades to be better. While I don’t advocate regularly taking work home from a job, or working 60-hour weeks, I also know that the more I invest in my skills and knowledge, the better I’ll perform at my job and the more successful I will be in my career.

College, jobs & homework

I agree that college is not just about academics — you should enjoy everything it has to offer. But those boring friends of yours who are cracking the books while you’re at the pub are probably several steps ahead of you. They aren’t waiting for someone to lecture to them, or to assign readings — they take the initiative to study more on their own. (I didn’t miss that you do read, and you write papers. That’s homework, but it seems you may be realizing you’re not doing enough of it.)

Life and work require lots of homework. The same is true about getting a good job. The purpose of your school’s career center may be “to attract good companies and jobs,” just like your professor’s job is to teach you through lectures. But you’re not going to be a successful student by consuming just what your professor delivers. Nor will you find a good job by waiting for your career center to deliver it. “The system” isn’t going to “work for you.”

Please hand-write this on a piece of paper 10 times:

“Finding and winning a good job is my own challenge. No one will do it for me. I will do the extra homework myself without excuses or I will fail.”

Sign it. Tack it to the wall in front of your desk. Every time you rely on the job listings at your career center, read what you wrote. Then do the homework of looking for a job yourself.

Job-hunting homework?

There’s lots of study and preparation that goes into getting a good job. Every step of job hunting and being successful at work requires doing homework.

  1. Finding a good job requires homework. (Pursue companies, not jobs)
  2. Getting a good manager’s attention requires homework. (Some tips.)
  3. Learning what a manager’s or company’s problems are requires homework.
  4. Preparing something useful to say to the manager requires homework.
  5. Figuring out whether a job is for you requires homework.
  6. Deciding whether to accept a job offer requires homework. (Protect yourself from exploding job offers.)
  7. Showing up Day #1 ready to impress your new employer requires homework.
  8. Doing the job well requires homework.
  9. Getting better at it requires homework.
  10. Keeping your job requires homework.
  11. Being successful requires becoming a master at your work. That requires constant homework.

In fact, your ability to do homework well — to study, learn, and practice — is what a company is paying for when it hires you after graduation. In the list above, I’ve provided a few tips to help you, but I’m going to leave it to other Ask The Headhunter readers to suggest examples of what kinds of homework will help you achieve each objective. Please check the comments below.

Don’t get lost in the system

Please read this article to learn how good managers hire people: Manager goes around HR to recruit and hire. It suggests that the “system” you’ve been told will get you a job isn’t sufficient. The manager in that article isn’t waiting for resumes to appear in e-mail. He’s doing his own homework to meet people who’ve done the necessary extra work to get his attention.

If you wait for a career center or a company recruiter to do the homework for you, you’re right — you’ll get lost in the system. So spend this year honing your homework skills. Start applying them to the job search that you ought to start today, a year before you graduate. Yes, it will take that long if you do it right. This doesn’t mean you can’t go to pubs.

How much fun you make it is up to you. I wish you the best!

Okay, folks! Help me help this college kid get a job. Please review the 11 objectives above that I think require considerable homework. (Feel free to add more.) Then, for each objective, please list one good example of “homework” our young friend needs to do to achieve it. We could be creating a new college course! Thanks for your help!

: :

  1. Even retirement takes homework. I read at least five or six books and dozens of articles before I took the leap. I’m now three years into retirement, but I still take “refresher courses” to make sure that I stay on track.
    Even death takes homework. My parents died less than optimal deaths, largely because they didn’t do their homework. Death is a process that takes a lot of work. I once thought that dying well just required a good attitude or a solid religious or philosophical base.
    I was wrong. You need to do your homework.
    When I was working my 30-year job as a warehouse manager, I did a lot of homework to keep current and stay profitable.
    When I was tossed out of that job during The Great Financial Fiasco that began late 2007, I fell into clincal depression. My shrink assigned me a lot of homework.
    I maintained my subscriptions to professional publications during the nearly two years that I was out of work so I wouldn’t fall behind in my homework. Fine-tuning my resume while looking for better work after I latched onto a survival job took a lot of homework.
    On a regular basis, I scan my library’s new books shelf looking for extra-credit homework.
    I guess you say that I’m addicted to homework.

  2. I could be your grandma and I just graduated with a very hard masters degree. GPA 4.0 cause I did every bit of the hard work. Many students wanted to do as little as possible like you describe. While you may learn by hearing and doing, your lack of self discipline is announced by your GPA. Some employers will care and some won’t about your GPA. An attitude of “this is too hard” or “I am too lazy” is difficult to hide during job interviews and definitely shows up on the job. Mostly, the refusal to do the hard thing will mean you may give up easily in job hunting. So if you want to create change within yourself, now is the time to start.

    You have every right to take a lazy attitude towards life and school – the world is full of average followers. But do know that in the real world, you aren’t special nor will others give you favors or special status just because you are you. My generation has taught your generation that the world owes you because you are special and wonderful and should not have to work hard or learn to cope with the hard things in life. So many people see themselves as victims as you do, which I believe many of us parents inadvertently instilled in your generation. Homework too hard, poor you – the system is against you (victim). Can’t get a job, poor you, the career center isn’t spooning it in your mouth and creating a miracle (victim). We have done your generation a huge disservice. I hope you become willing to change and do your hard work in life.

  3. I’m a bit surprised to be the first pointing out that not all “homework” is created equal. All through my formal education, even in graduate school, I found that a portion of assigned homework was busywork, or what Tim Ferriss calls “work for work’s sake”. Sadly, a great many jobs out there are also heavy on “work for work’s sake”. Job hunting in “the system” carries a very real risk of ending up in such a job. On the flip side, following Nick’s system gives the best possible chance of avoiding such jobs. Applying Nick’s system takes a lot of work, but it is/should be focused on getting desired results, not spending x amount of time. Hard work is not enough. Smart work is not enough. Working hard at smart work is the path you want to pursue.

    • @Flamingo: Congrats for being the first to point out that some homework is merely busywork. But maybe it takes doing some homework to learn the difference! :-)

  4. #Millenials

    I get dozens of these entitled kids a year, they expect 100K salaries in year 1 because they barely graduated college and spend the day on social media and youtube. Their mommies aren’t in the job place to give them Participation trophies (though some show up and try).

    Then I get the occasional kid raised by a grandma who has real values, shows up early, stays late, wears a tie, works hard, asks how he can help, asks how he can get ahead, takes Certification courses on his own time and own dime (homework), does reports overnight (more homework)… that’s the kid we keep. That’s the kid that gets promoted while Lazy McPubcrawler whines about his degree having no value and student loans he can’t pay off while drinking every night. (Your bar tab coulda paid off your loans, or paid for certs or more training.)

    Newsflash Millennials… Life is Hard. Hard work over long time makes it better. There is no easy button unless someone’s daddy gives you the job. Homework is eternal… if you don’t like homework, drop outta college …and become a sign spinner or sandwich artiste.

    Starting your own business? 10X the homework as working for others.

    My advice to homework hater, join a frat, get paddled on the @$$, use your pub skills to make bonds, use those bonds to beg for jobs from your great boys’ daddies. Because if you come to work for me, it will be my distinct pleasure to fire your @$$.

  5. Kudos to you for having the self awareness to recognize a problem.

    I’d encourage you to change your entire mindset on employment. The entire college experience is a self centered endeavor. What do I want to learn, what do I want to do, what services can I take advantage of, and how much effort am I going to put into a degree. In college it’s all about ME, ME, ME and TAKE, TAKE, TAKE. That attitude will reek of selfish incompetence, and no career center can overcome it.

    So what to do? First realize it’s not about you…it’s all about the problem you solve for the employer, so find out their problems and mold yourself as the solution. This requires “homework” and extra effort. A “Good Job” is one where the thing that comes easiest to you (your wheelhouse) is applied to further the goals of your employer or boss. That’s it, and if you can’t be a solution, why would you expect anyone to trade a portion of their payroll budget for you time and energy. College is TAKING and employment is GIVING. As long as you are GIVING to you employer more that you are TAKING from them, you will be just fine and the captain of your own career.

  6. Nick,

    What a great turn you have done by fielding a question by a college student who hasn’t even started his career. I hope he takes the advice after having the incentive to write and ask for a path to follow.

    Like Kathy and Elias, I too am a cranky baby boomer. However, the feedback seems a bit harsh. First I would point out the student is likely in the iGen demographic, not a Millennial. (Remember, the oldest Millennials turn FORTY this year.) Secondly, although his study habits could use some sharpening up, at least he has owned up to the fact and states he knows he could do better.

    As far as the job search, my feeling is that it is appropriate to use the school’s career center along with Nick’s proven approach. Personally, I would advise students who are not as close to graduation that an internship for a semester would be a great way to get your foot in the door. But there are plenty of other opportunities. Ask the friends of your parents to bring you to work for a day or two. That way you’ll see how some companies work and meet people (like the parent’s boss) who could be helpful later down the road. Me, I would be impressed if a young person showed up at the office for the day and asked intelligent questions about the business and what role they might play in that industry after graduation.

    Same thing for industry trade shows. Many have free admission just to wander the aisles. The school career center will let you know who is hiring, a few mouse clicks (thumb taps in the student’s case) will reveal what industry the hiring business is in. Check out their competitors; they may be hiring but may not be interested in working with the school’s career center.

    Great question this week, and something different!

    • @Larry B: I agree with you. Older workers who are understandably frustrated (angry) about their own experience in today’s over-automated, dumbed-down “job market” often vent on the new generations of competitors. I’ve been in this business a long time, and I’ve seen many new generations come and go. They all face much the same challenges and create much the same stirs as previous ones. I don’t think Millennials (or any gen) is any more me-me-me than any other has been.

      More important, thanks for your excellent suggestions — especially about turning to friends’ parents. That’s a tip I’ve offered to new grads and students myself. It works!

  7. When I was going for my engineering degree I had an engineering co-op or part time engineering related job.

    When I went for a degree in organ performance and church music, I was the organist/music director at a church.

    See a pattern here?

  8. Nick put this so well as did following comment, so there’s not much to add but perhaps some more of the same.

    there’s 2 kinds of home work. What must be done & what you want to do.

    I spent a lot of working life on death march schedules…where no one had enough time in the day to do what had to be done. Go in the high tech world…it’s still going on, with people happily pointing out their sleeping bags hanging on the door. Just join a start-up if you want to experience it. And many aspects of 100 hr days offered differing opinions as to whether it was busy work…something you felt wasn’t needed or necessary. But one one asked your opinion.

    As to educational homework? If you’ve ever trained, lectured, taught front of a diverse might empathize with a professor…When I did those things I’d tell people I didn’t know what they knew, & I didn’t know what they didn’t know…so sorry if I tell you things that insult your intelligence & give you homework that in your view is redundant with your vast knowledge. And as the discussion shows…perhaps homework is an intro to a real working life and not just busywork.

    The other kind of home work is comprised of what you WANT to do, to know about e.g an idea you have that you simply can’t find time to develop on your day job…..or perhaps it’s something in your view that you decide you need to do..e.g. some skill, know how etc giving you a competitive edge on your career, bolster what you feel is a professional weakness…

    Outside of work hours is perhaps a better term than home work as you may not do it at home. e.g cherry picking a course at a community college, teaching one at a community college. learning good business writing, technical writing…or joining Toastmasters to learn how to speak on your feet.. these all take extra time outside of work and will pay off much better than time in the pub..or griping about something you were asked to do that YOU don’t think important.

    Anyone can do a smashing job on things you love to do.. In my view the mark of a real to do a good job on something you hate to do….. So do your homework…well.

  9. Nick —

    Your call to “learn how good managers hire people” brought back a memory from about 15 years ago (and we apparently haven’t learned much since then).

    I was helping a young man (I’ll call him A) in his job search. He had a friend (we’ll call him B) who worked at a (still) internationally-known company. B’s manager told B that she (the manager) needed to hire someone in her department. B recommended A, and gave A a glowing recommendation. The manager told B to have A apply for the position. A applied. The ATS (this was 15 years ago) rejected A. I took A’s resume and a paper application to the manager, gave A a legitimate recommendation, and urged the manager to at least look at A’s application and then make up her mind, rather than allowing him to be rejected out of hand. She replied that she was very interested in A but couldn’t do that, couldn’t look at A’s online application at all.

    When I asked why not, she replied … are you ready for this? … here it comes … that if she looked at A’s application (and she was a department manager) she would be fired.

    Now in the past 15 years, AI and ATSs have supposedly gotten much more sophisticated and much more “helpful,” and companies say they have a talent shortage and are doing all they can to recruit better.

    To which I think a good reply might be, “Yeah, right.”

    • @Chris Hogg: I can testify that managers “lose” candidates they want because HR won’t “let” them do an interview. I can also testify that there are managers who will ignore HR, conduct all necessary interviews, write up an offer, then hand it to HR and tell HR to make the offer. HR makes the offer. It’s all about who the manager is and how he or she views their own role.

      “Yeah, right” AI and ATSs will put HR out of a job, too, eh?

    • Cynical me can’t help but think if A had been a diversity hire of some sort, the company response would have been “damn the ATS, let’s interview.”

      At the very least, they probably would have figured it was easier to ask forgiveness than ask permission.

  10. Nick’s advice to the college student is sound. But I would like to disabuse the student of the notion that the sole purpose of his college’s career services office is to attract companies and jobs. They also help students who are planning to go to graduate school, students who are looking for internships, and can provide the names and contact information of alumni who work for employers and in fields in which students are interested. Yes, many college career services offices also host employer fairs, graduate and professional school fairs, and many will help students write résumés and cover letters, loan out materials for preparing for the MCAT, GMAT, LSAT, GRE, etc. The student should not wait until the second semester of his senior to pay a visit to career services. Some employers will contact career services at colleges and universities and ask those staff not only to post information about available jobs and internships but some employers will use career services to do some of the pre-screening. At one of my alma maters, career services often get calls from employers asking them to send people to them for various jobs. This is where the student being more proactive about using career services can help (assuming that he’s a good candidate for jobs). Getting a recommendation will help him be better able to go around HR and all of the other roadblocks that companies build to keep people out. It won’t be a guarantee that he’ll get hired, but a recommendation can help.

    As for his issues with homework and his GPA, yes, SOME homework is busywork, but not all of it is. Good homework will require him to apply the theories he’s learning in class to new situations and problems. If he doesn’t do the homework, he’s not learning as much as he could.

    Some employers won’t care about his GPA at all, while for others it will matter very much. Without professional work experience, employers tend to give more weight to GPA because there’s little else they can use. Additionally, if at some time in the future he realizes that he needs to further his education by earning a graduate or professional degree, his low GPA may hurt his chances of admission to more select graduate and professional schools.

    It is good that he recognizes the problem, and even though he’s a junior, it isn’t too late to change his study habits and improve his grades.

  11. My “homework” at my University was on Saturday mornings riding my bike to a local commercial radio station to read on the air local farm (agriculture) news for free to get used to talking on the radio.
    That homework and other on and off campus RELATED volunteerism and enterprise got me ready for the “real world” of local commercial broadcasting.
    Through a friend of friend of a friend of my Father’s friend I (years and years ago) scored a summer job working in, on and around a live TV studio at exactly $1.00 and hour as a homeworking doing intern.
    After graduation I got a job promoting a local radio and TV station. Not a lot of years later doing my homework and helping others get what they wanted, they turned around and helped me get what I wanted, more responsibility. I only worked for three companies in 35 years, where I was a “officer” of each of them before going into business for myself. Voluntary “homework” continued to this day. Offering replies in retirement is my homework of choice. PS – I have done most of my end of life homework too. I have prepaid my funeral costs and donated my cadaver to a local medical school. Homework never ends, does it?

  12. It is easy to bash any generation for their foibles, they all have them, and this one (whatever label you use) is no different. I call them the Great Generations because their social awareness and tolerance has changed the world more than any other, even the WWII Generation.

    Nicks advice, as usual, is spot on

    Please hand-write this on a piece of paper 10 times:
    “Finding and winning a good job is my own challenge. No one will do it for me. I will do the extra homework myself without excuses or I will fail.”

    Signing it makes you take ownership.

  13. The education system’s job is to create predictable consumers that fit into economic models. If you want more out of your life than being the way someone else earns money, you will need to go above and beyond school.

    Homework is just doing more than the baseline effort. Do more or be mediocre. Its your choice.

  14. This kid clearly doesn’t sound like an entitled snowflake (I’d be less sympathetic if he had exhibited this), but a young man who’s had a wake up call. And for the record, the inclemency and sweeping generalizations some of my fellow Boomers have in their commentary is their opinions, but unwarranted, IMO. Didn’t they ever screw up when they were young? I’m not talking about something egregious either. I’ve been there, done that, had my nose rubbed in it, and had a life sentence imposed on me by HR and other ilk for making a bad or ill-informed job decision somewhere in my past. Big deal! Doesn’t define me anymore than it defines this kid for maybe not applying himself more than he could have.
    This kid didn’t apply himself 100%. Maybe he made a good faith effort, but wasn’t so academic?
    But this is not a career “death sentence”. Outside of some STEM majors, college is a highly overrated, and highly overpriced, scam! I don’t know what this kid’s major is, or if he’s earning some “toilet paper” degree. If I were him, I’d follow the editor’s lead, and target some employers that catch his fancy. I’d also network heavily. Most of all, I’d be open to less glamorous industries, where personality, skills, soft skills, being trainable, and personality carry more worth than GPAs, what fraternity one pledged to, did one graduate from the top tier schools, etc. The kid needs a fair start, and doing a satisfactory job, will help erase whatever stigma he feels now. Once he’s out in the workplace, many employers could give a rip about his GPA or college educations, but are more concerned about skills, if he’s a cultural fit, and if he can perform the job duties.

  15. Does it feel like a conveyor belt? You’re right, it can be. I saw this time and again at the university. Students haven’t yet figured out how the machine works so in the meantime they obediently check off the boxes, all progressing in step through the same program like so many indistinguishable penguins on an ice floe. Students process assignments, check off the boxes of required courses, then outsource their future to the career center. At graduation they drop off the other end of the conveyor belt panicking if the limited number of employers at the career fair didn’t pick them up.

    It is less important to blast through a degree and more important to distinguish yourself from the other polite, interchangeable faces who will be interviewing with exactly the same subset of employers courted through the doors of the career center. A high GPA is good but I’m thinking more in terms of your academic life showing a specialization or differentiation. My approach was to focus on independent projects relating to a particular technology, but you can think of other ways of accomplishing differentiation.

    Preparation for matriculating to employment begins in lower division where internships can help establish connections and industry experience. Rather than settling for whatever pickings show up at the university’s buffet of potential employers, do some industry research now so you can be proactive in determining where you’d like to work rather than passively accepting whichever suitor makes an offer.

    If you’re looking to stay local, the regional business journal should have lists or publications of companies by industry along with their annual revenues and other pertinent considerations. Or search at the library by SIC codes. If you were to follow that with inquiry phone calls, what would be the likely job title of those you’d want to contact? (Hint: Mondays are busy, do it later in the week.) Your initiative will help distinguish you, especially if your peers are intimidated at the prospect of cold calling people who are strangers at the moment. Let somebody else be the one who takes that accidental job with “one of our county’s fine local merchants” just because they showed up. Let somebody else wind up as the night manager in the fishing rod department.

    My alma mater had an alumni consulting program where students could meet with an established graduate for advice; perhaps your school offers a similar program…

  16. There’s a difference between getting a degree and getting an education. Unfortunately the primary focus is obtaining the degree and giving little, if any thought, to securing an education. In today’s environment college students must take the initiative on getting the education. This entails doing whatever is necessary to make them more employable and to set themselves apart from the crowd of job seekers. This individual will have a degree but very little education. He will be confronted with a choice once entering the real world; take a job that requires little or no critical thinking and limited skill-set or one that has opportunity for the person who is innovative, passionate, and desirous of developing skills. The first lends well to becoming a government bureaucrat that affords security without actually proving oneself. The other requires continuous “adult education” whereby you do what is necessary to learn and develop skills the marketplace values.
    To get a degree all that is required is to follow the catalog of courses as outlined for a major, keep a 2.0 GPA and you get the piece of paper attesting to completing the requirements for a degree. An education on the other hand requires passion, zeal for your chosen field. Interestingly surveys going back to the ’70’s and still pertinent today reveal that 89% of all college graduates end up in careers they did not obtain a major field of study or degree in.
    This young man needs to focus on what is his passion, zeal, and true interest level and obtain skills for that field of endeavor and pay less attention to the degree.

  17. Nick is right, with everything in life, there’s always homework to do if you have the motivation to increase your knowledge and skills. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so not doing homework always felt like heresy to me, though even I realized early on as an undergrad that much of being academically successful relied on the ability to anticipate and deliver according to each professor’s preferences and expectations. I suppose that helps train us to do the same for our managers after we graduate. There’s nothing wrong with seeking a good GPA. As others have mentioned, it’s important to some employers, less so for others. I will say, a good GPA makes it easier to apply to graduate programs if that ever becomes of interest. Maybe in the midst of a four-year degree that sounds absurd but 5-10 years out of school, you might feel differently and wish you had applied yourself more.

  18. I ascribe to the view of Mike Rowe “don’t chase dreams, chase opportunities”. For 7 years, I’ve supplemented my day job teaching part-time evenings as an adjunct instructor in a 9 month welding program at a community college. The semester just started, and in my class, there are young Z Generation kids who haven’t bought into the myth that “you need a piece of paper” in an often worthless degree, and lots of debt, in order to be successful. But I’m also seeing a trend of Millennials who got these degrees in “Canine Anthropology “, “Gender Studies”, or “Romantic Literature”, have $50K+ in debt, and are working several minimum wage service jobs to boot. I’m even seeing young men coming into the welding program with degrees in Mechanical Engineering after having done exhaustive 1+ year post-graduation job searches, and no engineering jobs. These are guys who had stellar grades, went to the best engineering schools in our region, asked for entry-level wages, were willing to move anywhere, and don’t have an entitlement mentality. They’re learning to be entry-level welders just to get “employed”. Yesterday I visited with a good account who’s a large metal fabricator. He pays high wages, offers competitive benefits, production bonuses, lots of overtime, merit raises, yet he struggles to find welders and fabricators. He’s tried on the job training, and sending employees to trade schools for night classes (on his dime too). He told me “if these young people can’t run a computer, they’re completely lost”! Another plant manager for a chemical company told me his struggles with finding skilled multi-craft workers. They too pay high wages with all the perks. He told me about having a pile of resumes on his desk, all from I.T. types. “There’s too many computer jockeys, and not enough people who can turn wrenches” he angrily said. The day job I have currently of 7 years, and my current employer’s direct competitor where I spent the previous 6 years, doesn’t require any post secondary education, in fact, most everyone of my jobs over 40+ years now didn’t require a college degree. I think young people have been sold a bill of goods by predatory educators, and helicopter parents.

    • Yes, Antonio, the answer to everything isn’t: ‘Learn to Code’.

      • True! I’m watching decent jobs in manufacturing going begging. Training or delegating people to a life of flipping burgers, delivering pizzas, emptying bed pans, or answering phones in call center makes no sense!

    • “There are plenty of jobs for mechanical engineers.”
      — Pennsylvania Dept. of Labor and Industry, 1991

      “We need more engineers.”
      — STEM Instructor, Northampton (Pa.) Community College, March 7, 2012

      “Haven’t you noticed that it’s really certain college/university professors who are lamenting the lack of STEM people? (‘Professor keep thy classroom full and thee shall never want.’) The politicians are just parroting them.” (
      — Omar Schmidlap and (?), January 22, 2013, and (?)

      I’ve lived this phenomenon on-and-off starting in 1978. I’ve seen others doing the same. In 2002, I attempted to tell the bigwigs of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) that this was occurring. You can imagine how much traction that got.

      In 2014, I participated in a survey, “Why Men and Women Stay in Engineering,” in response to an invitation from Thomas J. Perry, PE. (This survey was related to an earlier study, “Stemming The Tide: Why Women Leave Engineering.”) I remember commenting, “I did not leave engineering; engineering left me.” Apparently, the report has yet to be published. I’m wondering how mendacious it will be when it finally appears.

      Thank you, Antonio Zoli, for independently verifying something that I already knew.

  19. This article brings me to a deeper question regarding hiring. Do you value experience over intelligence? I have met candidates who are extremely intelligent but lacking experience. I know they can learn the job quickly and probably be better than the incumbents. Conversely, someone with experience may not be as intelligent but they can perform the job competently. Comments are appreciated.

    • I like to know that my work is valued and appreciated where I work. Right now, my company is having a hard time keeping me busy. As they face a transition in the industry, I do think my position should be eliminated.

      Likewise, I am searching for a job AND working on forming my own startup (I’m meeting with my business partner on Saturday).

    • Sometimes I think intelligence is not desirable if you’re interested in securing a decent job. Intelligence means (among other things) you pay attention, make observations, and often have credible suggestions for improvement/streamlining/efficiency. In other words: you’re more likely to rock the boat, and more often than not that is something the muckety-mucks do NOT want. They’re looking for worker bees, not queens or drones.

  20. @Elias It’s not just millennials. I work with a team of folks not interested in any homework or doing the work actually required daily but still want to be promoted, valued and praised for merely showing up everyday. One person described her long commute as a sacrifice and implied we should be thankful for her presence. None of them are millennials. Not One. GenX or older.
    It all about choices, adapting to change, embracing the not so fun parts and doing homework for where you want to be in life, or a career. Our company offers an endless supply of ‘get ahead’ courses and tools but you have to get off your butt and take advantage of them.

    • Yeah, it’s not just Millennials or Generation Z. There’s no shortage of Generation X, and Boomers, with an entitlement mindset, or a “donut dunker” work ethic! From my lips (a 62 year old) to your ears.

  21. I like this particular column. I can’t recall a job that didn’t require homework. In college, homework falls into two categories, learning on your own and practice. In math, sciences, programming, engineering most homework is ‘practice’ and ‘verification your knowledge is complete’ – equations, problem analysis, etc. In other classes, homework is expanding and elaborating on what you learned, and learning about the ‘next thing’. I can’t imagine trying to succeed in class without doing that.

    In work, or better said, in your career, the homework is the same. Do you want to be the best in your field? Practice and verification increases your speed and reduces errors. Do you want to be promoted or get that next job? Expand and elaborate means you are ahead of your peers and when that opportunity/ new direction comes up and the regional staff meeting, your manager can say ‘I got a guy who has been working with that…’. A bit of advice I got early was, practice the skills you need today and learn the skills for the next job.

    One last point the college student needs to understand, jobs are like relationships. You can’t ‘accomplish’ them – you have to work at them continually. I see people who get a job, then just do the minimum and wonder why they never get promoted.