How to prepare students for the future of work — a synopsis of our recent town-hall meeting.

Do not delay explorations until college.

October 24, 2019 — Recently, NATS Tampa had organized a town-hall meeting where I had the privilege of presenting our findings to a group of high-school students and their parents, on how students may prepare for career success in industries of the future.

In our journey with AlligatorZone, we have learned that a vast majority of college-bound students start with undeclared majors and start exploring the world only after they start college. Our AlligatorZone events, where students and startups come together in meeting rooms to have conversations are one of the greatest forms of exploration you can find, and lately, we see high-school students taking an active part in our programs.

Here’s an excerpt from The Hechinger Report that’s worth highlighting.

Nine out of 10 incoming freshmen think they’ll graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years or less, according to an annual national survey conducted by a research institute at UCLA. But the U.S. Department of Education reports that only 41 percent of them do. The average student takes 4.4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree from a research university and 4.8 years from all other kinds of institutions, the advocacy group Complete College America says.

Changing majors is a huge contributor to this. It means many students end up taking courses they don’t need, then scurrying to complete the ones they do. The result is that bachelor’s degree recipients take and pay for 15 credits, on average — an entire semester — more than they need, according to Complete College America. Some give up altogether.

Explorations delayed till college come at a steep cost, both financial and emotional. Such delayed exploration also impacts student-debt.

That is why AlligatorZone has started an awareness campaign for both students, as well as parents, so that families know there’s affordable help.

I appreciate the invitation from NATS Tampa for this town-hall meeting. They do phenomenal work in Tampa Bay.

Given below is a synopsis of the talk, for those students who missed the session.

It’s hard to seek internships when an employer does not know what differentiates you from others seeking internship.

That is why it is important to think of personal branding.

Personal branding can be about something personal, such as a hobby.

The idea is to provide a peek into your mind, by communicating your thoughts, your ideas, your projects, and your view of your world.

This need not be a high-maintenance endeavor. It could be something as simple as a blog.

What is hard is to know what to write in your blog.

The important thing is to learn how to write like a marketer — to influence, inform and impact your audience in a positive manner. After all, we are selling the idea of having an employer give us that internship position, or we are selling the idea of a college official grant us admission to that coveted seat.

That is where the exploration programs of AlligatorZone help. They help you add substance to your style in whatever you create.

Whatever you create is incomplete until you document it.

The next thing to do is to explore where your values will align with how different industries operate, to figure out where you might like to make an impact.

To make an impact, find out what comes naturally to you and what kind of skills you need to develop.

Last, but not the least, learn about a variety of things with an open mind.

Ideas from completely unrelated areas may help you solve a problem in a unique manner.

Some of the parents approached me for one-on-one coaching, so if you want that, please feel free to reach out to me.

Picture credit: NATS TampaALT

Picture credit: NATS Tampa

Other parents expressed interest in our home-based program.

Finding the right information and making various pieces of the puzzle fit to tell a coherent story, is the hardest part.

That is one of the areas where AlligatorZone helps you.

We believe that one can effectively begin on this exploration in the 8th grade. However, I have seen even 5th graders do really well. Our youngest subscriber right now, is a 9 year old girl, who is doing really well.

College students who are still with undeclared majors, or undecided and switching majors, will also find AlligatorZone incredibly valuable.

In other words, it is never too early and never too late to join AlligatorZone.

We believe in the power of story-telling to create hooks for students to start exploring.

That is why we launched AlligatorZone’s at-home program.

High-school students in the audience mentioned that the school counselors mainly provide advice on colleges.

There aren’t many resources to explore the world of work and industry, they say. Our home-based explorations may be a good place to start by visiting

If you think this talk and the ensuing discussions will help your high-school cohort or your middle-school students, contact us and AlligatorZone will present a special townhall meeting for your school.

The no-nonsense generation

October 23, 2019

October 23, 2019 — Over the past five years, we at AlligatorZone, have observed how digital natives connect the dots between what they learn in school or from friends on the one hand, and lessons from the real-world startups we feature and their transformative products, on the other. It makes me tremendously optimistic and excited about the future that the children are going to build.

Our teens and tweens belong to a no-nonsense generation.

The views of teens and tweens on matters such as personal privacy, customer empathy, or use of natural resources, are going to surprise many businesses in the foreseeable future. The children who meet startup founders in our programs are already making eye-opening contributions to conversations about how a product or service ought to be made differently. They do not mince words, and never fail to surprise and delight the startup founders with their robust common-sense, their maturity, sensitivity, and their perceptive understanding of the world of which they want to take charge.

Sadly, their potential is not being recognized, and unfortunately, very few parents can afford to make the time required to inspire their children. Very few of the well-intentioned parents who sign up for our events are able to actually bring their children to the venues. Very few parents have the time to devote to finding good reading material and sources of information for their children. Most parents seem to have resigned to the false assumption that their children are addicted to screens and will only use sites like Netflix and YouTube.

I was recently advised to consider offering ‘video snacking’ to cater to the limited attention spans of the demographic. I must disagree. Uninspiring content gets limited attention. If the reading material or viewing material involves great storytelling tied to a cause they care about deeply, then tweens and teens stay riveted for long uninterrupted sessions to untangle problems and come up with clever solutions on issues that matter to them and to the world at large.

Parents seem to underestimate the capabilities and sense of purpose of teens and tweens, in my observation.

Many parents do not give enough credit to tweens and teens for staying incredibly curious to learn from sources where they see a path to a rewarding future that aligns with what means a lot to them. In our week-long summer workshop, one 11-year old cared so deeply about cats getting euthanized when pet-shelters run out of room, that he worked relentlessly for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, to craft a program to teach people about the joys of cat-ownership and to support pet shelters.

Other examples are that of teens and tweens being really tuned in to things such as what can make something go viral and how to create a movement for a cause. The teens and tweens who come to AlligatorZone events are amazingly engaged with the knowledge they get to soak up. They do follow YouTubers and may watch Netflix or scroll through Instagram and Tiktok, but that’s primarily their source of entertainment. It builds personality and is part of their social conversations, but they are aware, that alone is not enough. Teens and tweens rise to the occasion when a parent or teacher entrusts them with world class coaching, high quality reading and viewing material, and opportunities for greater self-awareness. That is probably because the students we see at AlligatorZone are indeed very aspirational and very ambitious. More importantly, they seem to care about wealth creation for all.

That is why we are painstakingly building our premium at-home learning program at AlligatorZone, with carefully curated and contemporary storytelling to prepare students of today for the future of work. This holiday season, you can gift or buy a subscription for a low monthly fee

Let’s not underestimate how much our children are learning from various sources, and how eager they are to contribute to the world and to make a positive difference. Let’s not be dismissive about how serious they are to create wealth and their ability to make good choices. Let’s just make sure we spread a lavish buffet of real-world knowledge, besides the knowledge they are already gathering, so that they can make those good choices before they get into college or the world of work. Let’s make sure they have the opportunity to develop self-awareness to figure out what they might enjoy doing in life. Let’s make sure we help them position themselves to easily obtain access to the skills required, the coaching needed, and the differentiation to help them become standout candidates on the path to their calling.

The author is Ramesh Sambasivan, co-founder of AlligatorZone, where students meet startups to learn about the future of work.