Congratulations to the class of 2020. You’ve officially crossed the finish line — even if you didn’t physically walk across that stage with your diploma in hand.
And, what a ride it’s been.
The turn of the calendar for most high school and college seniors signifies that the end is near — the last furlong between you and the end of the race. Not this year. Not your graduating class. You spent the home stretch of your senior year miscast in a modern-day mixture of “The Twilight Zone” and “Groundhog Day.”
Not only were you stripped of your in-class education, you were deprived of weekends with your friends, prom, extracurricular activities, spring sports seasons, and much more.
You’ve carefully confronted a snarling pandemic that’s already amassed a domestic death toll greater than the Vietnam War, endured worldwide outrage and protests sparked by racial injustice, stomached a deeply partisan and divided political system, and much more.
And, while the weight of the world may seem heavy, tighten your shoelaces, because the race is just beginning.
You’re reading this column because you’re, at the very least, considering a career in engineering. Well, good news. Your talents are desperately needed.
Engineering ranked No. 3 in the Manpower Group’s “Top 10 Most in Demand Skills in the World.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of engineering jobs are set to increase by approximately 4% over the next eight years. In total, more than 113,000 engineering jobs will become available by 2028.
Sure, current unemployment numbers are high, and layoffs continue to plague the country, but look on the bright side — firms that recently cut bloated salaries will be turning to your generation to fill those empty chairs. Make their loss your gain.
Discontent is the Father of progress
Neil Eelman, a 2020 graduate of Drexel University, earning a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, spoke very eloquently on behalf of the class of 2020: “Life is more difficult now than many of us have ever experienced. We are all feeling the impact of the pandemic and long-simmering civil inequalities, some unfortunately more than others. Yet, as David Rockefeller once put it, ‘If necessity is the mother of invention, discontent is the father of progress.’ The necessity and discontent present today are unequivocal. It is clear we need to reinvent ourselves — as individuals, communities, and as a society. The class of 2020 must lead the charge by campaigning for reform, seeking cures, and finding a better way forward. We can no longer hide behind collective inaction as an excuse for maintaining the status quo.”
Whether it’s a killer virus, social injustice, or your fearful first step into your first job at that new firm, it’s up to you to not only write your story but to rewrite what’s possible. It won’t be easy — in fact, the burden’s never been heavier. But, as resilient as you’ve been over the last three-plus months, I know you’re up to the challenge.