Thomas L. Friedman’s article “How to Get a Job at Google” left me with some unsettling thoughts. In the article, Friedman describes an interview held with Google’s senior director Laszlo Bock, in which Bock explains the qualities he looks for when hiring new employees to work for Google. Bock takes a rather unconventional approach in which he overlooks academic success and educational background of a potential employee, and instead seeks out employees who have five specific attributes that do not necessarily require college education. These attributes include coding ability, cognitive ability, leadership, humility, and less importantly, expertise. Friedman explains that measuring one’s potential by their academic achievements to find employees for Google, is “worthless criteria for hiring.” Bock explains that Google’s company is hiring a rising number of employees who do not possess a college degree. Bock goes on to warn young people that one’s degree is not a representation of one’s ability to do a good job. Friedman describes Bock’s stance, “ The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it).” While Bock may deem an educational background as a “worthless criteria” to determine someone’s potential fit at the Google company, I would have to disagree. I think having a degree shows employers that someone is dedicated and has a lot of fundamental skills and qualities necessary for any jobs. As for Bock's notion of the world caring about what you can do with what you know, I would argue that you have to have some form of background knowledge and understanding to be able to act on or show “what you can do”. This background knowledge and skillset often is mastered in college.
When thinking about the five attributes that Bock discusses, I view a college education as a way to obtain these five attributes, so I do not think one’s education should be overlooked as it is an indicator that a potential employee may in fact possess these attributes. In other words, I think many people would not have strong qualities of “cognitive ability,” “leadership,” and “humility,” if they did not go to college. Or maybe they would, but college is a place where one always strengthens these qualities. In the article, cognitive or “learning ability” is described as having the capacity to “process on the fly.” I can not think of a more apparent place where people learn how to quickly process information, than in college. In college classrooms today, we are thrown real world problems, and are asked to work in groups or share with the class how we would deal with these problems. College class times are often short in length, leaving little time to waste. Students are often put on the spot as they have to critically think and navigate through the discussions that teachers throw at them. In one of my classrooms today, for example, my instructor asked us to create an action plan that will solve a real problem existing at our school sites today. Within this class period, we all collaborated with peers and created the beginning stages of our action plan, a plan that many of us will one day enact to make our school sites a better place for students. This example proves that college is a place where students are learning to constantly “process on the fly.” These lessons in the classroom give us skills that we can take with us to any job. Therefore, while Bock may argue that jobs today don’t care “how we learned,” isn't it important that we have those skills for that job. Sure, I may never tell a future employer about the action plan I created, but the skills I acquired from a task like this one will definitely help me do my job well.
While I may disagree with Bock’s hiring process for overlooking future employees educational background, I am a biased. I went to college, I had a good G.P.A., and I chose a field in education. I therefore highly value college education as one of the best ways people can improve the quality of their lives and the lives around them. At the same time, I can still understand to some degree Bock’s rational. Not everyone can go to college, and that doesn't mean these people do not have a lot to offer companies. We live in a fast paced technological world that now has different demands than before. Skills needed for jobs today are not as black and white as they once were in the past, and are instead changing daily. It is refreshing that Google does allow people to work for their company who do not have college degrees, because they are giving people who may not have loved school or went to college the opportunity to still excel. I will argue though, that college would not hurt any google employees who later might choose to go back and finish school while working with google.
Link to News Article:
Friedman, Thomas L. "How to Get a Job at Google." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Feb. 2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.