There are 9 Tips to Improve the Employability of College Graduates – To Improve Establishment Preparation For Work From College Graduates Really Needs Self-Readiness Now There Are 9 Ways To Make It Easier.
Doubts about the work readiness of college graduates run rampant in the U.S. Mixed in with rising college costs and growing college alternatives, these work readiness doubts have created a new generation of college shopper among prospective students and parents: the ROI generation. The ROI (return on investment) generation is asking tough questions of colleges and universities about career outcomes and they are prompting many higher ed leaders to create intentional and scalable initiatives to improve career readiness and outcomes for students. Here are nine immediate steps university leaders can take:
1. Provide academic credit for internships and require that all students have at least one internship or co-op experience as a graduation requirement. These could come in many forms – micro-internships, virtual, in-person, shorter duration or longer.
2. Establish internship scholarship funds to support all underserved students who typically are unable to take lower paid internships and/or work in expensive areas where summer internships are concentrated (think NYC, DC, Silicon Valley).
3. Offer students the ability to add an industry-recognized credential to their degree – what I coined as a “credegree” in 2019. This helps them become the ideal graduate that employers are looking for: one that is both broadly educated and specifically skilled.
4. Revamp work-study programs to ensure they have academically integrated linkages. Although intended as a mechanism to help underserved students afford college, work-study has rarely been woven thoughtfully into the academic core of higher education.
5. Lobby federal and state government to include funds attached to Pell grants and incentives for employers (matched funding) to create more paid internships for underserved students. Unpaid internships and a lack of access to parental professional networks has made work readiness for underserved students a massive equity issue. This must change. If it doesn’t, no employer will ever fulfill its diversity, equity and inclusion goals.
6. Create externship programs for faculty. Many college and university faculty have never worked outside of academia. Given a chance to be exposed to modern workplaces and work challenges, faculty will find innovative and creative ways to weave more work-integrated learning into their curriculum.
7. Ensure every student does at least one long-term project that takes a semester or longer to complete. These long-term projects mimic the kind of work that happens in nearly every workplace.
8. Establish an office or role that does nothing but build local/regional employer partnerships to create more internship programs and case studies/examples for long-term projects for students. Institutions such as Northeastern, Drexel and University of Cincinnati have done this for a century. It can be done effectively and at scale.
9. Expand career service advising to include not just generalized career advice (resume reviews, building LinkedIn profiles, doing mock interviews, etc.) but also access to industry- and role-specific advising so students can gain a deeper understanding of specific roles, industries and career pathways.