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Thomas Friedman’s Untouchables

Today in the New York Times, one of my favorite foreign policy columnists, Thomas Friedman, writes about something a bit out of his usual discourse. He is not talking about the Middle East peace crisis, Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other large foreign policy issue.
He is talking about careers. Or moreover, how “The Great Recession” will finally end, and what we can do about it.

Essentially, his argument is that education and the workplace are only connected in so much as we encourage American students to be thinkers and to be creative, to come up with new business models, and not be left behind. He explains that those with jobs like “programmers or manufacturers” may get left behind because they are not bringing anything extra to the table. They are easily replaceable.

He also made the very interesting point that though Wall Street took the blame for the great crash in 2008, we have to also look at the failure of the public school system. If the school system does not improve rapidly, we will be faced with more unemployment that is due less to economics, and more to the fact that Americans simply cannot compete.

How does this relate to our generation? It is most on point with the feeling that many of us express that we are just spokes in a wheel, turning without our consent. We are simply along for the ride, collecting what meager earnings we make, and are being spit out the other side. What Brazen Careerist and other new ideas are doing is trying to break that cycle.

Instead of wandering along aimlessly, waiting to be phased out, we have the right to stake the claim that we deserve better jobs, and better lives, because of our value. Our value added to a company is much more important than what we do in the hours of 9-5. Friedman’s advice is interesting because it once again presses the issue of thinking for yourself, but remembering to always remain creative.

It is not enough to do your job, but to do it well. You have to do your job well, and think about next steps. In our parents’ generation, it was enough to do it right – today we have to think about the big picture. The global scope, and how we are going to fit right in.

Ambitious? Scary? Challenging? All of the above.

I have known the feeling all too well of coming to work day in and day out and not making a difference, or just being that spoke. But writing, blogging, releasing our thoughts into the internet atmosphere, or simply being a part of an ever-expanding network is increasing our Value. We are increasing our Education, and Friedman is reminding us that this is exactly what we should do to prevent further disaster.

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