Proud to be recognized in the upcoming Alumni Magazine for my Quill award by the National Association of Experts, Writers, and Speakers ‘Thought Leaders Summit
The top reason students, parents and the public value higher education is to get a good job.
Yet, among bachelor degree graduates from 2002-2016, only 27% had a good job waiting for them upon graduation. It took one year or more for 16% to find a good job, and seven to 12 months for another 6%. Twenty-two percent indicated they were not seeking employment upon graduation, primarily because of graduate school.
This means that more than one in five (22%) graduates who were seeking employment took seven months or longer to find a good job. No college president or trustee could possibly take comfort in these numbers.
If higher education were a constituent-responsive industry, it would take this information very seriously and rigorously measure whether graduates land in a good job — or not. And accreditors — the organizations responsible for quality assessments in higher education — would include this kind of criteria prominently in their process.
But the truth is, higher education institutions and accreditors are out of sync with what the public and students want most from a college degree. And nothing will improve this more than this one step: Making an internship — where students can apply what they are learning in a real-world work situation — a requirement to graduate.
The Benefits of Internships
Here’s why: Recent graduates (those who graduated from 2002-2016) who had a relevant job or internship while in school were more than twice as likely to acquire a good job immediately after graduation. More than four in 10 of these graduates (42%) who strongly agree they had a relevant job or internship as an undergraduate had a good job waiting for them upon graduation, compared with just 20% of those who did not strongly agree.
On the other end of the spectrum, having a job or internship cuts graduates’ odds of taking a year or more to find a good job in half. Only 8% of those who strongly agree that they had a relevant job or internship took a year or more to find a good job, while 21% of those who did not have an internship took a year or more to land a good job.
What’s even more encouraging is that relevant internships and jobs during college lifts the tide for all boats. Sure, meaningful work experiences are most helpful to those in engineering fields — 67% who strongly agree they had a relevant job/internship had a good job after graduation. Yet students in social sciences, hard sciences and business who had a relevant job or internship are also substantially more likely to have had a good job waiting for them after graduation. Even arts and humanities majors who had these types of relevant work experiences in college are more than twice as likely to have had a good job upon graduation.
Acquiring a good job immediately after graduation, however, is just one of several benefits associated with students having meaningful jobs and internships as part of their college experience.
Students with these meaningful work experiences are not only finding good jobs quickly, they are also finding them in fields related to their undergraduate studies. Across all majors, students who strongly agreed that they had a job or internship where they could apply what they were learning in the classroom are significantly more likely to be in jobs that are completely related to their undergraduate studies.
Why Should Colleges and Universities Care?
Relevant internships in college can lead to relevant jobs after graduation. Why should this matter to colleges and universities? Because graduates with work-integrated learning during college are more likely to value their degree after college.
Among these recent graduates, 47% of those who are in jobs completely related to their undergraduate studies strongly agree that their education was worth the cost. Meanwhile, only about a third (36%) of graduates in jobs where their work is somewhat related to their college studies — and only 29% of those in jobs where work is not at all related to their undergraduate studies — strongly agree their education was worth the cost. And those who strongly agree their education was worth the cost are also twice as likely to have donated to their alma mater in the last 12 months.
By emphasizing — or even requiring — relevant jobs and internships as part of the undergraduate experience, colleges and universities set their graduates up to acquire good jobs after graduation in fields where their work is directly relevant to their undergraduate studies. And, as a result, these students recognize the value of their investment in their degree.
Notes from a Marcus Buckingham interview
There are a couple of misconceptions about employee engagement. One, that engagement is something the employer can fix. In the end, it isn’t. It varies massively by a manager – a company can create the conditions in which the manager can engage. But it is really the manager- you get engaged with a manager, you don’t get engaged with a company.
Three questions drive 95% of the variance of every other engagement question you ask. “Do I know what is expected of me at work? Do I have the chance to do what I do best every day? Are my co-workers committed to quality work?” Three consistent drivers of engagement. What it really means that an employee is saying to one self in any company, “Focus me, know me, and surround me with like-valued people and I will be engaged.
I asked Jenny Dearborn, SVP and Chief Learning Officer of SAP, to talk about her secret sauce* – the principles and practices that guide her leadership.
“It’s my deepest responsibility to give purpose, meaning, and joy to the people I lead.”
Jenny said, “The very first thing I think of is purpose. Understand who you are in the world. Know why you exist.”
“My purpose is to serve the greater good.”
“I always had this sense that there was something big and grand that I was part of… I remember my grandmother saying, ‘You’re here to do great things. Don’t waste your talent.’”
“I think about my grandmother every day. The older she got, the happier and more optimistic she became.”
“I try to very purposefully make sure that every day is more open and transparent and positive than the day before.”
Listen to Jenny talk about her grandmother:
Have you always been optimistic?
Jenny said that her home life was wonderful, but school was misery. She barely graduated from high school. “I was told that I was stupid and worthless and retarded.”
Jenny didn’t find out that she had several severe learning disabilities until she was 18 years old.
Jenny said that she became angry and bitter at the system that had oppressed her. “It took probably 10 years to come back to equilibrium.”
“I became a very angry person. A raw nerve all the time. All those wasted years being overlooked.”
Jenny gradually climbed out of bitterness and anger. One tipping point came with motherhood at the age of 27. It felt like a fresh start.
“I wanted to be a person who gave joy to other people.”
Jenny talking about overcoming anger and bitterness:
“It was healing to me to be good to other people.”
Jenny realized that leadership is not just about getting a project done. “You have such incredible influence over other people’s lives. You can make someone’s life joyful or miserable.”
If you have a crappy boss, it affects families and communities.
What’s the difference between pessimistic and optimistic leaders?
Lead by fear.
Need to be the smartest person in the room.
Pessimistic leaders are on a power trip. They serve for the wrong reason.
If I saw you being optimistic, what would I see?
“Optimism doesn’t mean smoke and mirrors.”
Connect. Have skip-level meetings. (Skip-level meetings bypass the manager and talk to their direct reports.)
Stay grounded in realities while working to make the world better.
Consider the the fears people feel.
Avoid hyperbole. Get right to solutions. “Let’s look at reality and figure out the best way to move forward.”
Look at problems and concerns head on.
Create clarity on how we are going to address issues, problems, and concerns.
“Optimism is not putting a sugarcoat on something.” Optimistic leaders dare to ask, “How do we understand the facts and realities?”
From pessimism to optimism:
It seemed to me that Jenny looked at the dark and chose the light. She said, “I could choose to wallow in anger and bitterness for years of mistreatment or I could ask, How can these experiences be used to help other people?”
Use purpose as the channel to address pessimism.
Reflect on what you are trying to accomplish. Ask, “What is the best way to collect all the energy of everyone involved to achieve the goal? What are you doing that either hinders or accomplishes that goal?”
Jenny suggests that pessimists could, “Engage in self-discovery to recognize the role they have in creating a negative environment.”
From theory to practice:
Set purpose-driven goals.
Develop strategies to achieve goals.
What resources and people enable execution?
Two reasons employee engagement falls short from the article recently reported by Gallup.
Why have some companies massively boosted their number of engaged employees, while others have not? It comes down to two reasons.
Many companies simply conduct an annual survey and more or less tell managers to “get better,” but they don’t sufficiently follow up. This has never worked and will never work. It’s not what our most successful clients do.
Any company with an “engagement program” should step back and look at what that program actually entails. If the program is all about arming managers with learning and tools to better engage their people every day, then it’s on the right track. If it is merely an annual survey and reporting exercise, the organization should close it down, regroup and start over.
While great manager education and development can help almost anyone be a better manager, it works a lot better if you invest heavily in people who are already wired to be great in the role. There are scientific ways to accomplish this: psychological assessments, better interviewing questions by hiring managers, etc. Companies need to use this science.