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Down from Plympton Street comes news, of an experiment to be tried out at Harvard which, from the student's point of view, leaves little to be desired. According to the CRIMSON, plans are now under way for the establishment of various "Junior Training Units" in business concerns throughout the East and Middle West, and the Harvard Secretary for Student Employment is receiving applications from members of the Junior Class who wish aid in obtaining employment during the coming summer.
The obvious purpose of this experiment is intimately connected with the problem of employment after graduation; it is an attempt to give the student a certain amount of practical experience in his chosen field, and to remove in some degree the uncertainty which faces the Senior upon his entrance into the outside world. Added to these are the benefits which accrue to the employers and companies who cooperate in the plan; advance knowledge of a graduate's capabilities, and removal of the risk in selecting men, many of--whom later prove to be a disappointment and a burden.
Whether such a plan would be workable at an engineering institution such as Technology is a debatable question. The plan as instituted at Harvard is intended primarily, indeed even exclusively, if one may judge from the comment published in the CRIMSON, for business students. But surely the professional student has just as great a need for the practical knowledge which only outside work can impart. It was in recognition of this fact that the cooperative courses were designed; but these courses are limited to certain branches, and besides, comparatively few students care to spend in this manner an extra year which might better be used in graduate work, in liberal studies, or even in steady employment.
Another feature of the graduate employment situation is of interest. Every year a number of engineers and personnel directors from several of the large manufacturing concerns are invited to speak at the Institute on the advantages of obtaining positions with their respective companies. Inevitably they have pictured the prospect in rosy, colors, and told of steady advancement and benign supervision. But many students, after listening to one of these men, have been found to exhibit a feeling of uneasiness; a fear, perhaps not altogether unwarranted, that in accepting such a position they will automatically become mere cogs in a huge machine; that they will become nothing more than small-salaried white-collar men, with routine jobs not quite to their liking. Discussion of that side of the question is beside the point; but the Junior Training Plan might well be considered as a means of giving the student an insight into the matter.
The plan is faced with at least one practical difficulty, which is the reluctance of manufacturing concerns to employ men for the short space of three months, especially when there is no promise on the part of the student to accept permanent employment with any particular company after graduation. This is merely another form of the difficulty, that employers are unwilling to take over the apprenticeship or education of students without some immediate and tangible benefits to themselves. In an age of efficiency and sharp competition they can hardly be blamed. But in spite of this it is possible that a workable solution might be obtained.
The scope of plan would naturally preclude its applicability to a large number of students, at least at its inception. There are many men who find it necessary to work during the summer in order to finance themselves during the subsequent school year, and who are forced to take any job which comes to hand, whether it be in their line of work or not. For these men especially the Junior Training Plan would be of inestimable benefit.
Success should attend this experiment in which Harvard has taken the first step. Already several companies have taken an interest in it, and Juniors wishing summer employment with business firms are being urged to make their desires known. Perhaps as the experiment progresses its field will widen, and Technology will see fit, to undertake a similar endeavor. The Tech.
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