If you couldn’t tell already, we have commencement on the brain in this issue. So why not carry the theme, and celebration, a bit further? We asked four of our most dedicated and thoughtful contributors to the Wharton Blog Network the following question:
What is the biggest challenge facing the Class of 2013 as the graduates enter the “real world”?
“I believe the biggest challenge facing the Class of 2013 is focus. Innovation is accelerating, exciting new concepts pop up daily, and we all communicate 24/7. Jumping on version 3.0 or 4.0 is tempting. This is an exciting time, but it can be distracting and lead to short attention spans. It’s challenging to keep your head down and persevere when there is always a newer and shinier concept/technology/ framework drawing you in. Staying the course can be truly difficult right now, but it is the best path to real success.” —Stacy Blackman, W’93
“Whether to work for yourself or someone else. Graduates today have the unprecedented opportunity of starting their own business right out of college. But before one takes the leap either way, ask yourself these questions: Do you want to learn from the success of others? Do you want to know how to be the best possible employee and how to manage people from great managers? Or do you want to learn all that by trial and error on your own? I believe, in the long run, first learning how to run a business from great bosses is priceless.” —Bruce Blechman, W’61
“I think the biggest challenge you will face will be the challenge of finding a way to own and shape your own personal brand. In today’s environment, it’s unlikely that you will work for the same company for the rest of your career. Everyone I know has changed jobs at least five times since graduation. And while your job title may change, your personal brand will stay with you forever. Managing that brand is just as important as anything else you will do. So what’s the brand you want to portray in the market?” —Dave Scott, WG ’98
“I think the most difficult yet the most rewarding challenge facing the Class of 2013 is identifying their unique ‘sweet spot’ and ways to leverage it in an increasingly global economy. There is no doubt that the focal point of economic activities has shifted to developing countries. The exploding growth in these countries must be supported by strong managerial talents to sustain it in the long run. Western-educated talents bear a significant advantage on this front; however, effectively articulating their strengths in the global context and skillfully applying their knowledge in a way that’s culturally relevant are key to their success.” —Arlin Tao, WG ’09
Editor’s note: Read blogs from Bruce, Dave, Stacy, Arlin and our 100+ other contributors at the Wharton Blog Network at whartonmagazine.com/blog.