Arc of our Ambition

As Measured from a COVID-19 Shelter in Place

“What are we looking for in our ambition? What do we hope to find at the end of our aspirations? In Augustine’s experience – like our own – the answer is complicated. There is a bundle of hopes and hungers bound up with our ambitions, but so often they boil down to the twin desires to win and to be noticed, domination and attention – to win the crown and be seen doing it…When our ambition settles, as it were, when we imagine that our goal is to be noticed or to win, or both, we are actually lowering our sights. We are aiming low. The arc of our ambition hugs the earth…”
– James K. A. Smith “On the Road with Saint Augustine

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COVID-19, for all of its unwelcome inconvenience, sheltering for all, and suffering loss for far too many, clarifies. It delineates essential from extraneous. It reorders priorities, closes countless doors, and presses humanity toward a shared and noble cause – a single ambition – safeguarding life from a virus.

Healthcare workers battle on the front lines as the rest of us step back to support and make room. Substantial personal sacrifices are made easier in light of our shared purpose. Loss of freedom, finances, work, school, and gathering all find their sacrificial value underneath the arc of this ambition that now unites us.

It’s been my privilege to get to know and engage with students in its shadow. And I’m personally moved by the experience. I’m surprised by what I see…

Students, many of whom have taken on substantial debt in pursuit of higher education and professional training, have left campus and its vibrant social scene perhaps for the balance of the school year including graduation. Now, they are literally stuck at home facing a suppressed and fragile economic outlook and job market. If like me, you spent your days talking to them, what would you expect to hear? What do you imagine would characterize their disposition and outlook?

Dedicated. Bold. Steady. Patient.

Despite my surprise, you could almost see it coming before corona came into view. Today’s students and graduates are generally not in it to make a quick buck or to secure their win at another’s expense. When you ask them what they want from their career or first job, they regularly describe a mission of caring for others and the world. Regardless of job function, they want to somehow help. It’s consistent with how they’ll consider the human and environmental cost before buying food, clothing, and transportation. In favor of fast food and fast clothes, they’re pioneering “slow food” and “slow clothes” movements. They make personal sacrifices to achieve a greater public good and are already shaping corporate strategies by how they reframe work and consumerism. It’s not that they don’t enjoy luxuriating if and when they are able, but they more apt to incorporate global, systemic thinking into their decision-making.

And so I am impressed and inspired by how amidst the difficult demands of COVID-19, they set their faces like flint – often unflinching in handling the setbacks and making the requisite sacrifices. Granted, there are many lingering and important questions requiring attention including tuition/housing cost reimbursement and providing student relief and assistance, but in my new Wonderbench work, I draw courage from their posture – dedicated, bold, steady and patient.

I am learning from them how to shelter in place, work and rest.

And back to the start, James K.A. Smith showcases in his recent book, how Augustine, African Saint, thought deeply 1,600 years ago about freedom, justice, human ailments, and the arc of ambition. He also helps me at this time…

“The arc of our ambition hugs the earth as we expect to find fulfillment from people looking at us. What if you’re wired not to be liked but loved and not by many but by One?… Resting in the love of God doesn’t squelch ambition; it fuels it with a different fire. I don’t have to strive to get God to love me; rather, because God loves me unconditionally, I’m free to take risks and launch out into the deep. I’m released to aspire to use my gifts in gratitude, caught up in God’s mission for the sake of the world.”

WonderBench Mark – January 2020

“We must open the doors of opportunity. But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

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As we begin the new year and decade, we take a look at college student internship & post graduation job availability in the San Francisco Bay Area.

See the Shortage
First to get a bearing, consider the U.S. ratio of college students to internships.

Sources: Statistica, Forbes

U.S. Students (~20M) outnumber internships (~1-2M) on a ratio of ~13:1. In light of recent findings from Forbes that internship experience can outweigh academic credentials, 8 out of 10 students may be working through another case of FOMO.

Now, consider the San Francisco Bay Area with its ~234,000 college students. Here in January during the early internship posting season as many students are beginning to actively pursue an internship, Indeed and LinkedIn combine for ~3,000 Bay Area positions.

If the U.S. ratio serves as a guide and applying a conservative 80,000 internship cap, we might ultimately expect to see ~18,000 (=234,000/13) internships as a minimum healthy threshold (green min in chart) to support our thriving high tech economy and job market.

Estimates based on Indeed / LinkedIn San Francisco Internship postings 1.22.2020

While it’s early in the year and other job boards may support a larger number of posted positions, current internship supply is currently running low. Debt-laden students are clamoring for these coveted spots. In reviewing job titles, even though the largest group of college students are business majors, we note that nearly 50% of the available internships are technical – engineering (1st place) and software roles (2nd place). Marketing comprises ~17% of internships in the 3rd place.

Source: Estimates based on Indeed / LinkedIn Internship Postings 1.22.2020.

San Francisco and San Jose top the list of Bay Area city locations and top 10 hosting companies including Tesla, Facebook, Hewlett Packard, and Google among others comprise ~20% of all internship positions.

Initiate the Infusion
In upcoming editions of the Wonderbench Mark, we will do our best to track newly posted Bay Area positions, but the current data suggest the Bay Area lags the country in its ratio impacting both students and businesses. While leading companies have programs in place, others should consider moving quickly during this early phase of internship hiring season to attract and recruit talent for the summer and beyond.

Power the Pivot
Looking ahead to the job market post graduation, based again on LinkedIn and Indeed postings, we note a healthier job market of 60,000-90,000 entry level and intermediate positions paying ~>$50K. Once again, technical positions (engineering and software development) comprise 50-60% of available jobs – a proportion similar to that of internships. Excluding technical positions, sales jobs, somewhat surprisingly, comprise nearly 1/3 of the remaining posted positions.

Source: Estimates based on Indeed / LinkedIn full-time entry level/intermediate jobs >$50K annual salary postings 1.22.2020

Neither student college major choices nor college internship experiences directly guide or prepare most students for an early career in sales post graduation. Who is helping companies and students prepare for success in what may have been an unanticipated early career field?

Once again, larger companies have taken a lead in partnering with select universities in fast-growing Affiliate Global Sales Leadership and Professional Sales Institute programs. While some may lament the further commercialization of the University, it’s clear that companies outside of such programs will need to find a way to work together with students to pivot as they reorient to this job market reality post graduation. In our discussions with graduating students, many are attending universities without such training programs. As much as this change might catch them by surprise, we see our students open to coaching, adapting quickly, and boldly positioning themselves to enter the job market. They are savvy, flexible and ready to pivot with a smile – and with our help.

Students, We’re here to help! Getting started takes 10 seconds!

Employers, It costs nothing to check out our candidates. Interested?

Welcome Wonderbench!

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There is a time for everything…a time to be born…a time to plant!
It’s time for Wonderbench! Along with our “2020” new year featuring its snappy aesthetic and vision-infused mania, today’s college students need more than “the right” college name and career passion to deliver on early hopes and aspirations. Forbes reported last week that practical work experience with strong companies is deemed more helpful in finding career success than graduating from a top university, but college students are often challenged to gain access. While a few organizations dedicate resources to internship and new grad programs, most companies struggle to build this key to their future success.

Welcome, Wonderbench!
Inspired by those people who took a chance on us to give us our first big break (thanks Allen, Rolf, Roger & Vidya!), Wonderbench helps students with compelling potential to get in front of more companies to land internships and post-grad jobs. Wonderbench believes a recruiting firm focused on college students ignites early careers while making it easy for any company to run world-class college internship and new grad recruiting programs. Students more quickly find pathways of meaningful ambition while clients more nimbly address current business issues and build a strong leadership bench for a better future.

Friends & Family!
Years ago, my dad started a real estate company building spec homes – looking for buyers, and now here we are building a strong pipeline of diverse candidates ready for placements. A number of folks jumped in to help my dad along the way:

  • Friendly agents who got the word out
  • My brother optimized pricing
  • I swept the floors so under-construction houses were always “show-ready”

I’m thankful for all the people who have helped me along the way in my journey. Thank you! Please feel free to help us get the word out!

  • Send students here to begin targeting that dream job. Wonderbench will help with assessments, virtual interviews, candidate packaging & placements.
  • Follow us on social media (see below) and send employers here so Wonderbench can help them college recruit big-league style.
  • Lastly, reach out to the people who gave you your big break. Thank them for believing in you and then do the same for someone else!

Here’s to building a better future together in 2020!