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Congratulations, You've Graduated. Time to Burn Your Textbooks and Embrace the Unknown.

Class of 2012, you’ve heard it before: you will graduate into a world transformed by the global financial crisis. Unemployment among young people is at its highest rate since WWII, and the average 22-year-old now enters adulthood with $23,000 in debt. The total amount owed by students in the U.S. has reached the trillion dollar mark, surpassing the amount owed on credit cards. “Follow your passion,” while hard to argue with, is an inadequate career plan.

But times of uncertainty are also times of immense opportunity for those who can turn obstacles into advantages. It’s no accident that one of the most innovative companies in history, HP, was born in a garage in Palo Alto during the Great Depression. Or that Microsoft was founded by Harvard dropout Bill Gates in 1975, a time of high interest rates and low investment. (CNN and MTV both debuted during the economic slump of the 1980s.)

The Millennial generation, with its entrepreneurialism, tech savvy, and passion for all things social, is likewise poised to succeed in an atmosphere of disruption. As the first real digital natives, you have as much to offer your future employers as you have to learn from them.

And we want to help. We've put together a nine-week online course called Big Think's Summer School for the Real World, which will bring you advice from the world's leading experts, helping you to develop the skills you possess and build the ones you’ll need to thrive in the 21st century workplace. You'll get a crash course on the essential knowledge they never provided in lecture hall and the critical skills not found on any syllabus, featuring, among others:

  • PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel on how to think beyond professional tracks to set yourself apart from the crowd
  • Ken Segall, designer of Apple’s “Think Different” campaign on crafting the perfect pitch to get your foot in the door
  • The New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell on the secret of his professional success
  • Warren Littlefield, the man behind NBC’s Friends, ER, and Seinfeld on achieving your goals
  • Michael Ellsberg, author of The Education of Millionaires, on the power of networking and persuasion to help you defy even the grimmest prospects 
  • Anthony Scaramucci, founder and managing partner of Skybridge Capital, on the essentials of success in the world of finance

You can access the course for free. Content will be posted at midnight every Monday morning. Sometimes job-seeking can be a full time job, and Big Think’s Summer School for the Real World offers the guidance you need to master it. Class starts June 11, 2012.

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