Harvard Grads Becoming Babysitters. This may not be a bad thing.

mommy_perks_imageForbes recently posted an article titled, Harvard Grad Seeks Babysitting Jobs.

This article made me ponder two primary points:

1. Is college for everyone?

2. Could ‘babysitting’ make a resume more attractive?

Is college for everyone?

To start, the article begs the question, “Is college really for everyone?” Once upon a time I would have said, “Of course! What a silly question.”

I’ve changed my mind, over the last few years. I believe that the author of this article is spot-on: college is not for everyone and furthermore, many people attend college only to be told, “We hired someone else who is more fitting for the job. Thanks, anyway.” My brother-in-law graduated not long ago, found an Internship job, and was then let go. He later began working at Starbucks, attempting to feed four kids on minimum wage. He certainly didn’t need that college degree for a job at Starbucks. He’s now going back to college, for a second degree, and changing his major. The first degree didn’t provide what he needed in order to take care of his family. Let’s hope the second degree does. Or…he may end up starting his own business; something my sister has already hinted at.

Rick and I have mentored numerous teens over the last few years. We recently wrote each one a letter, expressing our sadness to be leaving the town, and pointing out their strengths and character attributes. We wanted to leave them with something special and meaningful. While writing their letters Rick and I talked about how two of the kids were wonderful college prospects. The others will do better (and likely feel more fulfilled) attending a trade school or seeking employment that doesn’t require a higher degree. That doesn’t make them sub-human. It’s simply a reality. Not all of them would succeed at college and by attending, would likely feel like failures and end up working a skills-based job, anyway, with college debt to boot.

My husband has two degrees: Political Science and Theology. He’s been running his own business since 1986. He doesn’t regret the education he received but he’d be the first to point out – his degrees have done very little to help him in the job world. In fact, he points to his time as the President of the ASU Student Body as a more educational experience than many of his courses.

I recently ran an interview here with Rudy DeFelice from Bizinate. Rudy told me:

I take a “different strokes” approach to education.  Higher education is a great experience, but you can lead a full life and have a great career without it.  You are wise to consider the costs and benefits and not choose college automatically.  I went to College, then Law school, then Business school, because I love education and wanted the experience.  But some of the best entrepreneurs I know dropped out.  It has never been easier to be successful without a pedigree.

While I imagine that many Harvard Grads aspire to high paying corporate jobs, a good many of them attend school for the education but end up in non profit careers, by choice. Some of them may even end up working with children, by choice. As one of the comments stated:

What’s wrong with a babysitting job? I’m at Harvard and a lot of my friends are considering paths which they know won’t pay them tons of money but which enables them to do what they love in the end. Yeah, babysitting jobs do not make you millionaires but they pay fairly for what they are worth, and to me (and a lot of other people, grad or non-grad) good and honest options for some extra money, as a side to an exciting internship for instance, like for the young man you mention…

Could ‘babysitting’ make a resume more attractive?

I’d like to point out that although a higher degree is an impressive resume mark, working with children is an education of its own. I was a nanny for 16+ years. I have worked in Preschools and volunteered in classrooms, through grade 4. I’m a mother of four ranging in age from 9 months to teen. I also attended college part time and some day hope to complete my elementary ed degree. Even if I don’t get hired as a teacher, I’d like to know that I finished what I started: it’s a personal goal for me. However, my life experience gave me far more than my college classes ever did.

I have held down many jobs, been promoted by most bosses, and I’ve learned a great deal from those experiences. I can safely say, however, that I’ve learned the most by working with children (for 25 years now). I’ve learned to turn throw-away items into recycled toys, I’ve learned to shop on a budget, I’ve learned to be creative and quick thinking, I’ve learned to appreciate the little things, I’ve learned to stay calm during emergencies, I’ve learned that not all people have the same personality and each one needs to be treated according to their temperament, I’ve learned to be patient and to use my negotiating skills on a daily basis, I’ve learned about the importance of play, and much, much more.

The interpersonal skills learned, by working with kids, really can’t be matched. My friends Wendy (Kidlutions), Ava (Listen To Me Please) and Louise (Signing Families) have all worked with, and around, kids for more than 25 years. If I were a large company, seeking to hire, these ladies would be at the top of my list: human resources, company negotiators, business planning, employee training, employee incentive programs and more. Their backgrounds would find them appropriately suited for anything related to relationship marketing.

I recently interviewed the owner of The Southern Sitters & Nannies. I asked her, “I’m a former nanny myself, of 16+ years. In your opinion, what makes a great nanny/sitter?”

She replied:

A great nanny has a genuine passion for spending time with children.  They are reliable, patient, resourceful, creative, educated (meaning some college education and childcare experience), and able to multi-task. They keep a child’s safety in mind and are able to respond in an emergency.  They understand how to be a great role model.

That sounds pretty impressive to me. I bet many corporations would love an employee or PR person who is reliable, patient, resourceful, creative, educated, capable of multitasking, and calm under pressure.

I find it commendable that the man mentioned in the Forbes post is willing to spend time with the Mini Humans, working hard, and building up a history of work experience. Rather than sending out countless resumes, refusing to see the writing on the wall while feeling entitled to a grander job, he’s taking action to pay his bills and work an honest and ethical position. It might not be Wall Street and he may not wish to babysit for the rest of his life. When he doubles back for a corporate job, however, perhaps the corporation would do well to consider babysitting as an asset on his Harvard Grad resume.

Something to ponder, anyway.


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