Get with the program: Evolving with the modern workplace

I can honestly say that the best motivational speech I have heard involved the speaker, Dr. Bernard Franklin, a prominent civic leader and author, yelling at me.

As in directly at me, with his hands waving everywhere.

Why did I like it? Because he broached a subject we, as students, would like to know about but don’t really prepare for – the future workplace.

I e-mailed the good doctor recently and asked him to elaborate on the tips he gave in his speech, and here’s what he had to say.

1. Knowledge of business writing isn’t just a plus anymore – it’s essential.

Remember how important cursive writing sounded in the second grade? How we would use it for the rest of our lives? Well that certainly didn’t pan out in the least, and many students feel that same way when classes cover subjects like writing memos or composing a project outline. Resumes have always been important, and plenty of people know how one mistake can damage an entire resume. However, if you don’t know how to properly address co-workers or business partners through former channels, your superior can’t pick up what’s going on. At that point, don’t expect to be kept on the payroll for too long.

Dr. Franklin added that with the advent of the internet and computers over the past 30 years, business interaction changed entirely, rendering penmanship and typewriting altogether nonessential, and we shouldn’t close ourselves off to the idea that an idea could very well revolutionize communication yet again in the near future.

2. The American workplace is evolving.

The premise of tightly woven networks on an international scale was introduced as early as when Marshal McLuhan asserted that “the globe has been contracted into a village by electric technology” and coined the term “global village.”

Picture a virtual Olympic Village, with American companies making up the American tent and other countries right across the block. Companies are expanding internationally, and although even most large companies only hold satellite locations internationally, Dr. Franklin believes this is only the beginning. We have to be prepared to accept the idea that we may be looking to retire in Brazil, or Russia, or China in the home stretch of the 21st century. As a result of these developments…

3. Companies are looking for more of a global citizen.

Do you have a passport? Are you fluent in a second language? International travel experience and a second language are truly beginning to make a difference when applying for certain occupations, or deciding who gets to design a project or collaborate with an international office. In a world where English holds considerably less influence and international business relations are vital, it’s never a bad idea to look to the outside world for new ideas or potential business ventures.

4. Consider taking classes to keep up with changes in the workplace

Many companies are now offering work exchange programs or the chance to cover fees for foreign language education classes, and Dr. Franklin stresses that we must always look for these opportunities. Marketers now look for people familiar with computer technologies such as Adobe to design project scenarios or help get the ball rolling on commercial ideas.

So here I am, YELLING at you to take advantage of opportunities and get prepare for a world others will not expect! After all, the world is spinning at a rate we cannot even begin to comprehend, and we could use all the help we can get in the attempt to catch up.


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