Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Above the Meritocracy

This post was previously published in the Mayo Clinic Diversity in Education Blog.

It is without a doubt that we live in a meritocracy; i.e. a society that has a built in rank and opportunity based on certificates, degrees, and records to determine worth.  This is not unique to the realm of science, where indeed we are pigeon holed by our degrees, but can be seen in all sectors of our society.  However, we are not just bound by our degrees but by our institutions and our associations.  While this may not be ideal for your self esteem, it establishes a simplification of social dynamics that is almost formulaic in nature.  Given that we can not radically alter our scholastic training, from scientist to engineer; nor institutional associations, from Mayo to U of MN; we can assume those variables to be fixed.  What is left in the equation is our associations.  How can we rise above the mass of others who have obtained the same degrees and fit the same requirements for a given job? How can we rise above the meritocracy of civilized society?  The answer is networking.  I am not the first to promulgate this point and several others have done it better than I, so I will leave it to you to examine some of the other articles on this subject to get the larger picture. (Here's just one)  However, below are four simple points to help you on your way.