A bigwig came to talk to the moms at our homeschool co-op today. He's head of the Human Resources department at a Very Large Bank (and also the husband of one of the moms in our group). He spoke to us about what makes for a successful employee at the Very Large Bank.
When this Very Large Bank looks to hire, it considers three factors:
1. Ability. This is broken down in to two components: intellectual abilities/skills and "emotional intelligence". The latter is more important nowadays, because knowing how to deal with ambiguity and failure and difficulty is something today's helicopter-parented children really don't know how to do well.
2. Engagement. Are they intellectually and emotionally engaged in the job/business?
3. Aspiration. Do they want to succeed?
One of the questions asked was whether the speaker thought emotional intelligence was more a matter of nature or nurture. He thought it was about 30% nature (hard-wiring), and the rest was nurture.
But the more he spoke, the more apparent it became that what he meant by nurture wasn't parental nurturing, but having lived in an environment where you'd been allowed to experience significant difficulty, and had developed the ability to bounce back. For, as he said, "Businesses have crises and hard times and occasionally failed projects. And we don't want employees failing for the first time on our watch."
He said that he can choose from hundreds of Ivy-League MBA grads, but increasingly his favorite candidates are those who a) have been in the military or b) have done some sort of out-of-the-comfort-zone work, whether that's the Peace Corps or a two-year Mormon mission, or even a gap year in college. Because there are things you learn when you're 'out there' that you don't learn any other way. There are obstacles to overcome, and there is character to forge, and resilience to build.
Food for thought.