This Sunday’s end paper for the New York Times Magazine on 2/28/16 presented the latest in the millennial generation’s dream jobs list. The results were aggregated from a 2015 survey organized by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).
The article, The New Dream Jobs was organized by by Jenna Wortham and subtitled “What a survey of millennials might tell us about the workplaces of the future.” The survey results were described as a “scattershot” that “offer a glimpse into the ambitions of the millennial generation.”
The 18,000 participants (high school students, college students, and young professionals) ages 15-29, parsed through a list of more than 200 companies before selecting Google as their top choice. The Walt Disney Company (with an appropriate song lyric, “a dream is a wish your heart makes”) came in second, and St Jude’s Hospital that pioneers research and treatments for kids with cancer and other life-threatening diseases came in third.
The factors that were important to students included employee welfare, flexible scheduling, and a sense of purpose. 89% of the respondents indicated that their dream jobs could be an opportunity to gain job skills. They also expressed their highest interest in medicine and health related and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) focused fields (40%), technology/engineering (21%), science (28%), and arts/entertainment/media (20%).
The exceptionally high level of interest in the sciences may be in part due to efforts over the past several years to engage female students in STEM related activities, noting that there was a disproportionate number (75%) of the respondents were female students. The was, however, a greater diversity in respondent ethnicity: Caucasian 38%, Latino 18%, African-American 21%, Asian 12%.
While there were 200 companies offered in the survey for selection, there were also some (traditional) hometown favorites. Respondents selected Local Hospital at #6, Local Police Department at #53, and Local Fire Department at #90.
What about Education as a Choice?
What is surprising is that the field of education did not have a Local Public School as an option for respondents. Respondents could choose to be a doctor, fireman, police officer….but not a teacher? Instead, what was offered for the education option was the organization Teach for America. While many public school systems require educational degrees, the Teach for America promotion on its website states:
“A degree in education isn’t a prerequisite for you to apply to the corps. However, nearly all corps members must receive a state-issued teaching credential, certificate, license, or permit to be hired by a school and must be considered “highly qualified” under federal law.”
What do students who have attended or plan to attend a four year college for education, understand about Teach for America as a career choice? “Highly qualified” for Teach for America can be the “rigorous summer training program and extensive coaching”, a very different training than college coursework (undergraduate or graduate) in instruction. When the NSHSS offers Teach for America on a list of 200 companies, they communicate that an education is associated with a “company” rather than a profession. Based on the data, it should be noted that Teach for America fallen in popularity from #26 on the Dream Job list in 2014 to #34 this year.
Irony in Dream Job List
The irony is, that without the choice of education as a Dream Job, many of the dream jobs on the list would be unattainable. If education as a profession is not a choice represented on this list (as police, firemen careers are represented) a problem is created for all future lists.
For example, without recruiting best and brightest of scientists to the Dream Job of science teachers, students will not be ready for the medicine and health related careers that they want as Dream Jobs. Similarly, learning to communicate effectively in media jobs comes from attracting excellent English Language Arts teachers, while artistic talents are honed by bringing the finest in fine arts teachers (music, art, drama, etc) to classrooms K-12. In short, this year’s interest in STEM comes from teachers who have communicated a passion for these subject so much, that their students want to continue in that particular field as a Dream Job.
Finally, if one of the qualities that millennials are looking for in a career is the ability to work on a team (40%), then a choice for education is a choice for a Dream Job. Educators know how to work collaboratively as a team: in a district, in a school, in a class. And, of course, educators are the ones who train students to work as a team as well.
On the NSHSS 2015 survey on Dream Jobs, a choice of the F.B.I. (#5) beat out the choice of the National Security Administration (#19). According to the survey, students would rather build up the military by selecting the Army (#42) as a career over Building a Bear (#50)…but note, without educators, building the skills for a Dream Job would be only a dream.
Doesn’t TFA focus on facilitating “teachers” or recent post bach graduates to areas that are in high need of highly qualified, skilled and passionate teachers? The communities that TFA operates in are those that have been historically traumatized and need embedded educators. My dream job: Capacity builder!
I am more concerned that TFA was the ONLY educational choice on the list….with nothing for a millennial to choose if he or she wanted to be a teacher. As for TFA’s reputation, Here are the most recent complaints re: TFA (12/15-present)
From a TFA Alumnus :https://amberkkim.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/tfa-critic-not-a-hater/…”I believe that TFA (covertly and overtly) pushes its corps members to deliver–unapologetically and uncritically–that kind of “rigorous,” “No Excuses” education to the students they serve while in TFA. Then, because of their (limited) experience in TFA, corps members go on to promote, teach in, lead, and create “No Excuses” schools where it is normal to hear “Voices off!” commanded or to see black and brown students marching in straight, silent lines to class. Schools where teachers are armed with their copies of Teach Like a Champion and equipped with robotic and patronizing “behavior narration” in order to improve test scores. Test score equity, though, is NOT equity when the means and methods used to achieve equal test scores are dehumanizing and rely on controlling the bodies, voices, and minds of other people’s children. ”
From Professor Howard Winant, who is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“It cycles teachers through the schools where it works; many do not stay. It substitutes crash-course teacher training for the painstaking preparation that committed teachers should undergo, systematically and deliberately undermining the teaching profession. It provides a second-tier, low-investment teaching cohort for neglected schools in poor areas — largely ghettos and barrios — in which states and local school authorities do not wish to invest. So TFA puts an inadequate “bandaid” on a gaping wound.”
And from Daniel Katz of Seton Hall has written http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danielkatz/advice-for-my-students-do_b_8840714.html and sTates: “TFA likes to claim that a huge percentage of their corps members “stay in education,” but they use marketing language to paper over the issue. Consider TFA’s claim that 4 out of 5 alumni of TFA work “in education or with low income families.” TFA also claims that “the most common profession for TFA alumni” is teaching. These are cleverly stated, but hardly as impressive as TFA wants you to believe. The first claim is worded to encourage you to believe that up to 80% of TFA alumni are working directly in schools, especially in low-income schools, but it obviously means no such thing and can mean something entirely unexpected if the definition of working “in education” is treated very loosely. Finish TFA, go to law school, and end up working with education “foundations” or fake grassroots and advocacy organizations pushing various elements of today’s testocracy and that easily slots in with TFA’s claim.” He notes their their transiency using a study by Dr. Susan Moore Johnson of Harvard University, conducted with TFA cohorts …some with traditional ed background and others without. Beginning 2000, 2001, and 2002 she found that of the TFA without traditional training 60.5% taught in K-12 beyond their initial 2 year commitment, and 35.5% taught more than four years with 27.8% still teaching in their fifth year. 43.6% of TFA members continued teaching at their initial school past two years, but that number dropped to 14.8% at the end of four years. Traditionally prepared education majors made up only 3.34% of corps members surveyed, but 71.3% of them taught longer than four years – well more than double of other corps members.”
Yes, I believe in capacity too…and I agree that should be part of teacher education programs.
Thank you for taking time to respond.