Many friends of mine are seeing their kids graduate from high school this month. My wife’s closest friend from childhood is one of these parents. On the official message and communication device for the Thomas family, our refrigerator, is an invitation to the graduation ceremony for the twin boys as well as a picture of the two smiling soon to be grads. They are dressed very contemporary for today in their jeans and Under Armour shirts. The quality of the picture too reflects the high pixel clarity we have come to expect from even the cheapest camera or smart phone. I know as well that they are both college bound next year. That’s almost an assumption in 2010 isn’t it?
It made me think back (ok, way back) to my own high school graduation and contrast the times. Underneath my graduation day robe, I also wore a pair of jeans and a contemporary shirt. Contemporary then meant a tight fitting, polyester, crazy pattern, oversized collar monstrosity made by Nik Nik or something like that. Photographs of the grads of course were a family requirement, but taking pictures then, way back in the film only era, was not an instant gratification as it thankfully is now. Even the instant Polaroid picture took a minute or so to develop and was a nightmare to share or duplicate for relatives. Of course the quality of the average family camera in the pre-digital days was not near as crisp or high resolution. And for future printing, keeping film created its own set of issues. Not so with the instant sharing and storage capabilities of today.
Social Media, smart phones, laptop computers, the Internet, digital everything…none of the grads in my class had a clue that we would be living in that world today. As far as further education was concerned, about two-thirds of my classmates were college bound. The rest were already working in stores, factories or sales of some kind or had that job lined up right after graduation. Most of us going on to further education weren’t at all certain where we would wind up after college. Only a select few thought that a law school or med school was their target. If someone had told me the future would find me running a web development and Internet marketing firm, I would have responded something like, “Groovy, what’s that? Should I keep my slide rule?”
Isn’t it striking when you look at today’s work force how entrepreneurs have so dramatically changed the workplace landscape and have created companies in so many new fields that were not even contemplated 30 plus years ago? Or how their breakthroughs in old technologies like solar and wind energy have developed into some amazing opportunities? It is striking, it is amazing and it is exciting. It’s almost as exciting as imagining what today’s graduates will create over the next 30 years.
The two grads pictured on my refrigerator are indeed entering into a new world with an uncertain future. But really, how is that any different than the old world and the uncertain, unimaginable future my classmates entered into so many years ago? The future, by definition is uncertain. What is certain is that the our world will be shaped into reality by the entrepreneurs of today and those of tomorrow including many who are just now graduating from high school.
Good luck Class of 2010! Have fun making the world spin!