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Are We Missing Job Opportunities in the Tech Industry?

Too Cool
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Want to work for a cool company? You’re definitely not alone.

Dorie Clark wrote in her article for Forbes, “Where College Students Want to Work ‒ And Why,” that when students were asked what companies they wanted to work for, eight out of ten of the top companies were Internet or high-tech businesses.

Here at AfterCollege, we’ve also been gathering feedback from over 624,000 students and recent graduates in the United States about which companies they’re most interested in working for. Companies like Google, Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Facebook, Amazon, and Cisco topped the list of employers tech students wanted to work for.

But it wasn’t just tech students who were interested in these companies. Intel Corporation, Google, and IBM also topped the lists for engineering and business students.

Tech is such a big part of our lives now; most of us are connected from the moment we wake up until right before we fall asleep.

We want an app for everything. Just the other day a friend and I were talking and he jokingly said, “When are we going to be able to push a button and have drones deliver us pizza and beer?”

We laughed, but we were only half-kidding. That’s actually going to happen soon, right?

Gone are the days of super geeks like Peter Parker or Bruce Banner. If you’re playing with tech and inventing an app that makes anything faster, then we’re going to love you (without the super powers).

If you still need further proof that being a techie is cool, I have just one word to say to  you… Tinder.

Tech has LITERALLY become sexy!

So what? Why do I care?

Am I paranoid because I read Dave Eggers’s book The Circle? Do I want us all to revert back to simpler times when instead of Facebook messages, people exchanged four-page letters back and forth?

No, but I have just finished reading an article by Yiren Lu, “Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem,” which brought up a lot of concerns about how our generation is approaching the tech industry.

Lu’s argument is that the need to create the newest viral app, and to work in a company that “isn’t your dad’s company,” has trumped the desire to create something truly meaningful.

Referring to Snapchat turning down a $3 billion offer, and her classmates’ desire to work there, Lu asks the question: “Why do these smart, quantitatively trained engineers, who could help cure cancer or fix healthcare.gov, want to work for a sexting app?”

Because it’s cool! We want to work for places like Snapchat and Instagram because they’re fun. And I don’t just mean in the tech community. It’s not just engineering students talking about these apps, but the entirety of our generation.

Lu spoke with Sanjit Biswas, co-founder of Meraki, a company that makes networking equipment. None of their products (wireless devices, routers, and the software used to manage them) are what you would consider “sexy.”

But they are “the products that form the foundation on which all of Web 2.0 rests.”

When the founders of Meraki left graduate school to work on their company, they were not met with the same intense competition that many other start-ups face. Everyone else was working on bike-sharing apps or the latest Twitter reinvention.

Biswas and his friends pain-spotted within the tech world and saw a place where tech needed to be improved. They worked to bring these necessary, but perhaps more “boring,” products into the streamlined world of today. Within six years, they were a pretty big name in their market.

Despite this success and the usefulness of their product, young and talented engineers are not jumping to work for Meraki.

Lu quotes Biswas in his article: “You say, ‘I work at Pinterest,’ and people know what that is—they use Pinterest. You tell them you work at Meraki, and they’re like, ‘What’s that?’ Once we explained our culture and our approach, we were able to hire great talent, but it’s always a challenge.”

Even though these products are necessary infrastructural elements, they’re just not as attractive to us as the newest viral web app.

Meraki, with its quick, streamlined, and easy to use networking devices was just bought by Cisco, an older networking equipment supplier. Lu talks about Biswas’s fear of what will happen to his company now that it has been bought by the older generation Cisco.

There’s the fear that young engineers who would be willing to work for Meraki, with its fun start-up feel, won’t want to work for the large, more traditional Cisco.

Trust me when I say I understand our generation’s desire to be a part of something “cool.” I’m guilty of following trends (Tamagotchi anyone?) but, after reading Lu’s article, it really got me thinking.

Does this awe of the latest app have us missing job opportunities in the tech industry?

Are we putting too much emphasis on what’s “hot” and ignoring parts of tech that are a little more “boring” but just as important (maybe even more important)?

Homework time! While Exploring job opportunities, don’t dismiss a job because you haven’t heard of the company or it seems boring. Take some time to look at what the product or company really does. Maybe it’s “cooler” than you think (or the company culture is actually young and innovative).

P.S. Tell us what you think! Is there too much focus being placed on creating the next big thing?

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One Response to “Are We Missing Job Opportunities in the Tech Industry?”

  1. Claire

    “Why do these smart, quantitatively trained engineers, who could help cure cancer or fix healthcare.gov, want to work for a sexting app?” That, right there, is the key to many of the issues permeating Silicon Valley right now. I couldn’t agree more!

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