Career advice from you

Getty ImagesGetty ImagesThe best moments on a blog occur when a conversation is sparked and readers engage with one another, or with the blogger, and minds are changed. I'm happy to report that I've had several of those moments while writing this blog over the past few months. Here are a few recent highlights:

A post asking whether online higher education will replace the bricks-and-mortar kind inspired a flurry of informed comments, including many from people who had worked in online education or taken online courses themselves. Readers pointed out that students need to do their homework before enrolling in online courses to verify whether an online institution is accredited, whether course credits will transfer to other schools, and whether online courses even make sense for a given course of study. Readers who had been students of online education weighed in on the benefits (convenience, affordability) and drawbacks (absence of a physical community, wide disparity in quality of programs) of online education. They also challenged my choice of headline ("Will online education replace the Ivy League"), which suggested that the future of elite private educational organizations was the big issue with online education, when there are so many (and probably more important) issues to talk about when it comes to online learning.

One reader ("Ahleah") pointed out what will always be missing from the online experience -- ". . . cramped dorms, bad cafeteria food an opportunity to meet a lot of new people you wouldn't have otherwise interacted with and to deal with a lot of situations," sentiments echoed by "Fools_and_Sages," who wrote that college campuses offer chances to see plays and symphonies, hear public speakers, study abroad, or lunch with professors -- all of which are missing in an online experience. The debate over online education will certainly continue as the business of online education grows.

Two posts - "Are your work habits making you look old?" and "Is 'old' a dirty word?" inspired by Pamela Redmund Satran's book, "How Not to Act Old," drew a firestorm of comments, convincing me
that age is a topic about which everyone has something to say.

Many readers agreed with Satran, that there is an age divide on things like whether to leave voice mails. As to everything else, comments were all across the spectrum. One reader, "Mrs. B," wrote that at "57 years young," she feels that having some "snow on her roof" and looking her age has served her well as a nurse since patients tend to see her as experienced. Others, like "B.J." haven't found the workplace as hospitable to aging workers. "I'm treated like nothing because I don't have a Facebook, MySpace or Twitter account," she wrote, adding that a young person could be "treated like the new 'messiah' because they are focused on what's new and coming soon." On a comforting note, many writers wrote about being comfortable with their age -- whatever that age is -- and valuing the knowledge, confidence, and experience that comes along with the years.

A post about Jobnob, a new company that matches up job-seekers willing to volunteer with start-up companies needing help, generated a remarkable number of comments. Some were vocal about their opposition to working for free (one reader, "Rebertajamison" called it the "slavery of the 20th century"). Others were supportive of "volunteer" work as long as the arrangement had some limits. Still others wrote about volunteer efforts that eventually led to paying jobs. A reader named, "Che," offered these two anecdotes: A friend of mine wanted to learn martial arts. At a local dojo (gym) the sensei (master) took him on. He slept in the attic and besides learning martial arts; he learned how to run a business. He did the maintenance and every possible thing related to the business as an apprentice. Another high school friend's first job was at a gas station, back in the days of full service gas stations. He pumped gas, checked the oil and washes the windshield for minimum wage but hung around after hours and learns how to be a mechanic. Eventually he became the ultimate automobile mechanic.

Thanks to all of you for sharing your advice, stories and for challenging me from time to time.

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