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Evolution of Technology: With Greater Connectivity Are We Less Connected?

EACE Blog contribution by Anne Marie Gercke, Associate Director of Career Services at University of Pennsylvania

In the year 2000, hip phones were flip phones, dial-up was still a thing and visiting Blockbuster could easily be part of the Friday night agenda. Today, 15 years later, smart phones may as well grow from our limbs, information is at our fingertips (literally) and movies can be streamed at any given time from personal devices we keep in our pockets. In fact, we don’t just use technology these days, we also wear it! It’s a brave new technologically-run world and at times it’s hard to keep up.

However, this concept of marveling at how quickly technology has evolved over the decades is not novel or rare. I often think back to some of my first interactions with tech from the early 2000s and laugh at my inability to even conceive how things were about to change. My first cell phone that wasn’t just for “emergencies only”…my first iPod (it was a pink mini!)…joining Friendster and then MySpace and later Facebook, the one that stuck. Our vocabulary has changed since then. Words and sayings like “social media” or “#tbt” would have had little to no significance. Other terms had totally different meanings: comment, text, post, like, feed, follow, endorse and timeline, to name a few. Toward the beginning of the century, most of us didn’t know to be wary of Big Data, we surely didn’t take selfies and we usually had to at least have a slight sense of directions before getting on the road.

As a result of its drastic growth, technology has changed the way we communicate. It affects how we are connected to one another and how we interact. It impacts our lives in more ways than we may even conceive.

But does having instant communication actually mean we’re less connected? Less communicative? Is it changing the employer-student relationship? With technology as our main form of communication, what skills are we starting to lose? For instance, will a shy student who grows up behind the shield of text-based messaging miss out on the very social conditioning that may help him/her to one day succeed in an interview? And if so, what are we, as career services professionals, doing to help?

I think this is a great opportunity for targeted programming, and I’m sure many career centers may even be focusing on it already. Beyond the standard networking workshops, are there any career professionals out there who have conducted programs focused on face-to-face communication? If so, care to share?

 

Anne Marie Gercke

Anne Marie Gercke

Anne Marie is an Associate Director on the University of Pennsylvania Career Services team that works with College of Arts and Sciences students. She’s been at varying roles within Career Services at Penn since February 2012 but she currently provides career and internship guidance to undergraduates and alumni. Anne Marie’s professional background spans several industries, including education, media arts, writing and editing, technology, recruiting and human resources, project management and marketing. She also has traveled and backpacked different parts of the globe for periods of time, including Europe and Australia. She completed her M.S.Ed. in Higher Education at Penn’s Graduate School of Education in August 2014.

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