Gen Z graduates impress; Barnes & Noble rebounds; Authors Against Book Bans: Newsletter 3 July 2024

Fotos Héctor A. Suárez De Jesús

Newsletter 51. A tribute to the grueling journey of this year’s graduation class. Plus, ableist ChatGPT, foot traffic to bookstores improves, plus three people to follow and three books to read.

Spare a thought for the college Class of 2024

About 4 million people will complete a college degree this year. This is a class that needs your help.

In 2019 and 2020, when most of these graduates began their quest, COVID had just kicked in. People who expected to have a campus experience were living at home instead, attempting to connect with their classmates by video instead of in person.

Their professors were struggling mightily to convert their teaching methods to be fully online. Since this was a very new way to do things, many of those classes weren’t yet optimized for online learning. It was a hard time to teach, and a hard time to learn.

Ask anyone who graduated in the last two years what that was like. The combination of spotty instruction and social isolation was brutal. Many became depressed, anxious, and discouraged.

In the last year, many have also dealt with divisive campus protests. In some with activists were encouraging Jewish and Muslim students to find reasons to hate each other. In others, local and state police violently attacked and injured protesters. This was no easy time to be finishing your senior year.

Anyone who soldiered through that experience and completed a degree has accomplished a lot. Completing a degree is always a cause for congratulation, but this class deserves extra appreciation for their efforts.

The best students in this class had both the smarts and stamina to power through this with top grades. But the next tier down isn’t quite like their peers from a few years back.

Their transcripts have a lot more classes than you’d expect marked W for Withdrew, I for incomplete, or C for didn’t quite get everything done. And there are more gaps, where they may have taken a semester off before resuming their question. Not everyone finished in a neat and tidy four years.

Now these Gen Z students are applying for jobs. And it’s tough out there. Especially in the technology sector, where they’re competing with over 300,000 experienced tech workers laid off in the last two years.

Hiring managers (or worse yet, AI-powered resume screeners) look at transcripts like this and see red flags.

But the Class of 2024 is no ordinary class. They were soldiering through a rough economy and a pandemic like the rest of us, while simultaneously attempting to complete degree programs under extreme duress.

Every graduate of the Class of 2024 deserves more than our admiration. They deserve a chance to get a decent job.

Give ’em a hand up. I think you’ll find the character, creativity, and resilience of any Gen Z student who graduated this year to be impressive. I’ve certainly been impressed with the ones I’ve met.

News for writers and others who think

Racism, sexism, ageism, and ableism are vile shortcuts — they allow people to judge others instantly based on characteristics that have little to do with skill or ability. And, pretty much inevitably, AI tends to repeat these patterns. Now ChatGPT is judging resumes based on determining that the subject is disabled.

According to Placer.ai, foot traffic at Barnes & Noble is up. Traffic in May 2024 was 11% higher than the same month last year.

More than 1,500 authors have joined Authors Against Book Bans. If you sympathize, why not join them?

Three people to follow

Lisa Hurd-Walker , super-smart marketing executive.

Josh Linkner , bestselling author, 5x company founder, and innovation expert.

James Gregson , brand marketing wizard at LEGO.

Three books to read

The Connection Cure: The Prescriptive Power of Movement, Nature, Art, Service, and Belonging by Julia Hotz (Simon & Schuster, 2024) How social connections, rather than drugs, are an effective prescription for recovery from depression, anxiety, and other conditions.

Six Feet Over: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach (W.W. Norton, 2022). What really happens after you die? Notes from the wittiest nonfiction writer on the planet.

Say Less, Get More: Unconventional Negotiation Techniques to Get What You Want by Fotini Iconomopoulos (Collins, 2022). Tactics for negotiation that work, based on sound emotional principles.

One weird trick for authors

I must be desperate to use that heading.

Anyway: Just to me a favor (if you haven’t already): click here to fill out the author survey.

I’ll tell you where you stand with other authors on July 21. And you get a free copy of a report about the survey data. Hundreds of authors have already participated.

Last ping, I pinky promise.

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