The second year gap

University students tell that the first year there is excitement and focus on social events. Second year is when life hits hard...

Photo of Marina Paronetto

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During their second year students start to feel the pressure of their professional life. They start to understand all the different decisions they need to make and how competitive it's. They start to be exposed to professional environments where they have a boss and not a teacher and what that means... They feel scared, overwhelmed and distracted. Some teachers think students aren't paying attention because the lectures are boring or they are uninspired...but might not be the case.

Quotes from 20+ students enrol in Marketing course in Melbourne, Australia

"in terms of the information that has been given from each subject, it’s actually really just basic. It’s basic but it doesn’t really relate to digital marketing, like how can I apply it, to my lifestyle or with social media. It’s more like here’s the theory, apply it to this, and have an example. It’s just like school, you know, going through the motions of learning. So there’s not much about how it all applies to digital marketing."

" the uni as a whole can encourage 'think for yourself'; like self-development, get out of your comfort zone. But in terms of what to do, I guess just provide those opportunities, and like have classes on how to present and how to write, or how to negotiate, and those kinds of things like those essential business skills. How to communicate, and do teamwork, and how to delegate, and leadership, I think leadership skills are very important"


[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe what you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research. (Ex: Good advisors make a difference.)

Students need a way to close the gap between what they learn and the professional reality.

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Photo of Dan Ryder

Capturing student voices around these challenges is so fundamental to identifying legitimate solutions -- so thank you for that and bonus points for the use of Post-Its.

I'm super curious if you feel the quotes above are representative of the whole and also if there were any really fascinating little outliers.   Sometimes what spurs me to action is that truth a student puts out there unlike any of the others, yet resonates beyond the immediate peer group.

Photo of Marina Paronetto

Hello Dan, thanks for the comment - sorry the delay! 

To clarify, they weren't amongst peers when we were asked these students a couple of questions.  I don't think these quotes represent the whole, but they expose insights about their thinking when articulating the university's role and their perspective on what it takes to be ready for their profession. 

Photo of Dan Ryder

My turn to apologize for the delay!

Thanks for the clarity.  I wonder if there would be any shift in their responses were they surrounded by their peers?  I wonder what additional insights might come from a social exploration -- the plusses and minus of both.
I'm constantly struck by my circular thinking when we start collecting up stories and insights and I start getting all meta about how we acquired them and what insights we might gain from this dynamic or that dynamic.

And then I have to remind myself: there will always be more stories than I have time to collect and always a way of collecting them that works better for this user than that user.   

Photo of Marina Paronetto

Hello Dan, love your passion and investigation on 'how' we collect data and what is the impact of that 'how'..

Photo of Dan Ryder

Design thinking has really pushed my intentional brain into places I didn't anticipate when I first started dabbling a few years ago.

In light of this particular challenge, it seems more and more important as we so often preach in soundbites and armchair philosophy about the importance of college and play the "you know what they should do is . . ." game.  We even hear of efforts and movements that start but peter out rather quickly I think in large part because relatively little attention was paid to intentions and a great more was paid to the aesthetics.  It's going to be interesting to see what happens here in a few days when we transition into the next phase of this collaboration.

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