Teaching college grads to dance The Robot.

I've been staring at a blank computer screen today, trying to come up with some absolutely


advice for the group of graduating college students to whom I've been invited to speak.

Waiting for the perfect, sage wisdom to just come flying from my fingertips.

I initially assumed that my presentation to the graduating class from Lake Superior State University's robotics program would also, without a doubt, be laden with inspiring stats, impressive slides and perfectly timed one-liners. Jokes that would assure them that, for an old lady, I'm pretty damned funny.

But then I thought to myself:

a) At this rate, I'm going to be looking at a blank screen until I'm 145, and

b) Why not just talk with these kids? Ask them what they're most excited about during this historic moment in their lives. See what scares them, how they're feeling about the job market as they put their first toe into the "real world' waters. See how their searches are going. Get them to share



rather than assume they'll prefer a pile of my own blather


Surely, I want to give them a few thoughts on the realities of the robotics industry in 2010 (hint: stay away from automotive for a few years), the areas anticipating growth (life sciences, alternative energy and packaging seem to be the biggies), and the importance of flexibility when it comes to geography (refuse to consider a relocation and you could be looking at 7eleven as your first job stop).

I'll make sure they've got the tools to walk into each interview prepared and ready to give it their all.

I'll be very clear on how incriminating their Facebook pages can be through the eyes of an employer.

And I'll insist that they iron the shirt they pick off the closet floor for the interview.

But really? I most want to leave each one of these students feeling certain that they possess talents that will genuinely matter in the business world. That the sky has not fallen (it's just been pretty damned cloudy over the past couple of years.) And that with a little strategy and polish? They're going to kick some serious automation ass.

Then, and only then, will I whip out my boom box and dance The Robot.