We Even Hire Pirates: Updated

An article published on Thursday about 40 jobs at The Summit sparked outrage in Ireland and rightly so. It became, according to Newswhip (a fantastic Irish analytics startup), the most shared article on social media in Ireland for 24 hours and then some more. It centred on this: The Summit only hires people with firsts from 6 of Ireland’s 7 universities, and ignores the rest!

Eh, no. Not true.

We have no such requirements for any of our 40 full time positions. And never have. We also hire people from all over the world.

On Friday evening the article in question was finally clarified to reflect reality in this important regard.

It was clarified just to be clear because:

    1. The criteria which caused the understandable firestorm do not apply to any of the full time jobs advertised, including graduate positions. And that was always clearly stated on every relevant job page.
    2. If you’ve worked or done something interesting outside of sitting exams, we don’t care for one moment how you did in college or even if you went to college. For lots of positions, including perhaps our most senior, we require zero formal education.

For some more clarity on my long held views on academia and the intellectual class in Ireland, I’ve also written in a national newspaper about my disdain for many of them, especially the acquiescent type.

More importantly, many of the best engineers, sales people, entrepreneurs and more have never attended college. And as for school, for many of these same exceptional people, school often simply wasn’t for them. Or in some cases they didn’t have the opportunity to even go to school, never mind college.

So there you go. All 40 full time positions are here.

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If you want to understand why for our temporary intern position we do place incredibly tough, incredibly crude and incredibly blunt requirements, I’d suggest listening to the second half of this interview on Thursday with Pat Kenny on Newstalk.

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The vast majority of our intern applications come from students and recent graduates with non-specialised degrees, in other words arts and humanities degrees. We get far, far too many applications for any one person to handle. In the first 24 hours, despite firestorm, we’ve had 74 intern applications (update: we’ve now had 137 intern applications as of today, Sunday May 11th).

Applications aside, if you want to understand why I believe from experience that a 3 year arts and humanities degree, in particular which make up the bulk of our intern applications, is not equal to a 4 year arts and humanities degree, then I’ve a long, boring post coming next week.

That post will also outline why in my opinion the presumption that similar degrees, diplomas or courses in different colleges are of the same standard is a function of sparse information on standards in teaching and learning outcomes. In my view, there is some imperfect evidence to suggest a disparity in standards across some courses of a similar nature between colleges in Ireland. And yes that means Trinity is almost certainly not better than other colleges in a whole range of courses.

There can be a huge range of reasons for those disparities, including funding, faculty, facilities, entrance criteria, duration etc. But if disparities exist, students should I believe know about them. And they should also know if overall standards in teaching and learning outcomes have fallen for their college. That knowledge, properly measured and tied to incentives for colleges, and then openly shared, would I think encourage colleges to stay focused on preserving or improving the standards in student education that have been built up over decades.

If, however, parents and prospective students are largely kept in the dark with regard to teaching standards and learning outcomes, some students may toil away for years, sometimes paying for their degree, in particular at a masters level, and get what appears like a great grade. Only to then realise after graduation that their degree and grade compared to seemingly similar degrees and grades elsewhere, be it at a Level 6, 7, 8, or 9, is worth less in the jobs market.

Perhaps no student in the history of Ireland has experienced the above. Perhaps there isn’t the slightest whiff of a false economy in any corner of the third level sector, and yes that includes Trinity. And perhaps the trends I see in data from the Undergraduate Awards, while admittedly imperfect, are to be wholly disregarded.

It’s important to note that aggregate level data or averages normally ignore the brilliance of exceptional outliers, who exist in all walks of life, in all colleges, in all courses and in all corners of the planet. My interest, however, is in the whole or the average, and not in any one individual. I’ll try to tread more carefully going forward.

More next week.

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