As graduates from Estherville Lincoln Central, North Union and Graettinger-Terril walk across the stage to receive their diplomas this Sunday afternoon, they will have more of an uphill climb than their parents or grandparents did a generation or two ago.
A college education is no longer a guarantee - nor is a job in your chosen career field after college. While college costs have skyrocketed in recent years, salaries have remained flat in most areas. Those who do manage their way through four, five, or even more years of college will face a highly competitive job market with thousands of dollars of debt. Many will not find jobs in their chosen career field - at least right away. And those who do will probably have to continue the same lifestyle they did in college, with a roommate to help share expenses.
This is not to say graduates face a dark and dreary future, though. For those who are able to read that future, predict trends and capitalize on them, there will be many of opportunities.
As America's Baby Boomers age, opportunities will continue to grow in travel and health care. And as technology continues to advance, those who continue to keep abreast of changes in the digital world will find themselves highly employable. And those who keep tabs on cultural changes and are able to use technology to reach people through online marketing will be riding waves of success.
Ironically, those who prefer to spend time on Facebook, Twitter and playing games on other social media could very well be developing hard skills for the workplace. For them, it's going to be a very interesting future indeed.
We salute our graduates and wish them the best. Along with honoring them, though, we think it's important that they keep their eyes open and be aware of what's on the horizon and prepare for it. They should make the best of networking opportunities - in person and online - and they should keep a very important thing in mind: Those who are most successful are those who are able to provide others with what they want, when they need it.
Congratulations, grads. And the best of luck in your future.