If colleges are going to help build the talent pipeline, they need to have more skin in the game

Universities need to rethink how we prepare students for successful careers. The current approach is to provide minimal support to students towards the end of their undergraduate studies. Traditionally, once students graduate, colleges and universities assume that these students are no longer their responsibility and require no further guidance or support.

We could start by giving more support to current students. If the goal of college is to unleash the potential of students to be the architects of their lives, shouldn’t a college do everything it can to help pave the way for students to enter the workforce?

But we also have to be aware that most students will need support as recent graduates. In fact, this is possibly the most crucial moment when students need support and are ready to accept it. Most colleges are not geared or organized for this work. But they could be.

Here’s the problem. While many students are successful in their careers right from the start, some will not. And even those who graduate with a good job may quickly find that the career path they’ve chosen isn’t really what they want to do with their lives. So you have to turn. That first career turning point is even more important than that first job out of college.

In the most successful cases, a recent graduate hits the right ramp and sticks with it. But even these young graduates need support as they work towards their first promotion. Here, too, universities could provide more support to speed up this process.

READ :  Colorado hires Deion Sanders to flip football program | Sports

The goal should be for all of our recent graduates to be fully launched in their lives and careers by their fifth reunion. Why five years out? This is usually the point at which students should have made their first pivots and learned a lot about themselves.

We conducted a comprehensive survey of our graduates five years after graduation. There are three takeaways worth sharing further:

• Continue to offer direct career support. New grads need help with job search, interviewing, and networking. They also need more knowledge on how to build early career paths.

• Often fill small but important skill gaps. This can include basic skills such as MS Office and more job specific skills that are more technical.

• Help them develop the financial literacy they need to navigate portions of their careers and the intersections of their lives and careers. This ranges from simple questions like how to negotiate that first raise or how to maximize the benefits a company may be offering.

Career Services Offices are not typically designed to provide this type of postgraduate support. The good news is that it would be easy to retool many of our existing efforts to fill many of these gaps by doing the following:

• Continue to offer career service programs to young alumni. Many colleges offer great programs covering the above subjects, but we usually do this for our current students. Often our current students do not participate because they are not ready. With Zoom and other platforms, we could either open our current programs or make other versions available for our recent alumni.

READ :  More than 15 Italian universities make their opportunities available to students

• Restructured our alumni relations efforts to focus on early career success for new graduates. We need new programs that help recent graduates connect with alumni who can share their knowledge and open doors for them. At Denison we started something called ReMix. We bring 60-80 alumni back to campus who share a common professional interest. We mix the generations and they spend two days exchanging ideas, networks and often stories. We mix current students into the event. Our alumni learn a lot from each other and find it useful and entertaining to exchange ideas with our current students and former alumni.

• Curate programs and platforms that are high quality and affordable. Many of the hard skills college graduates need can now be acquired quickly using online resources, but college graduates often find it difficult to know where to find them or what online resources are good. Our Careers Services website would serve as an easy one-stop shop for finding opportunities for advancement.

One of the outcomes that students rightly expect is a successful start in their lives and careers after graduation. Taking the extra time in the years after graduation to help them do just that, rather than shooing students out the door and wishing them luck, might be one of the most important ways schools are life that students can enrich.

print article