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Ready for Work: 7 Ways to Better Prepare Millennials for Work

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How can we better prepare millennials for the workforce? The U.S. unemployment rate for people aged 20 to 24 is nearly twice that of those aged 25 to 34, according to the bureau of labor statistics. While there’s been plenty of talk about the challenges millennials face as they enter the workforce, there’s been less discussion of how to actually fix the problem. In an attempt to move this conversation forward, Bentley University asked leaders in higher education and business how they would solve it. The outcome of those conversations, supported by survey research conducted by Bentley and KRC Research, is Bentley’s “Ready for Work: 7 Ways to Better Prepare Millennials for the Workplace.”

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Ready for Work: 7 Ways to Better Prepare Millennials for Work

  1. 1. READY FOR WORK: 7 WAYS TO BETTER PREPARE MILLENNIALS FOR WORK
  2. 2. SHARE: 2 OVERVIEW HOW CAN WE BETTER PREPARE MILLENNIALS FOR THE WORKFORCE? THE U.S. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR PEOPLE AGED 20 TO 24 IS NEARLY TWICE THAT OF THOSE AGED 25 TO 34, ACCORDING TO THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS. While there’s been plenty of talk about the challenges millennials face as they enter the workforce, there’s been less discussion of how to actually fix the problem. In an attempt to move this conversation forward, Bentley University asked leaders in higher education and business how they would solve it. The outcome of those conversations, supported by survey research conducted by Bentley and KRC Research, is Bentley’s “Ready for Work: 7 Ways to Better Prepare Millennials for the Workplace.” 20-24 25-34
  3. 3. SHARE: 3 Colleges should blend classroom teaching and hands-on learning Students in all majors should be required to take at least one business course Career services should begin freshman year 7 WAYS TO BETTER PREPARE Internships should be mandatory for all students regardless of major Business professionals should lecture in the classroom All students, including business majors, should be required to take liberal arts courses Businesses should work closely with colleges to shape their career service offerings and inform the curriculum 7 WAYS TO BETTER PREPARE MILLENNIALS FOR THE WORKPLACE
  4. 4. SHARE: 4 MUST WHILE TEXTBOOKS AND LECTURES STILL SERVE AS THE CENTERPIECE OF A COLLEGE EDUCATION, finding opportunities to put the knowledge gained in the classroom to work is what will transform a college student into a desired employee. In our national survey of more than 3,000 employers, parents, higher education leaders, students and recent college graduates, 94 percent of respondents agreed: College learning must incorporate both academics and hands-on learning. COLLEGES MUST BLEND CLASSROOM TEACHING WITH HANDS-ON LEARNING WHAT DOES THAT MEAN IN PRACTICE? Students who pair in-classroom education with hands-on learning such as a case study-based curriculum, internships, service-learning opportunities, study abroad and leadership roles in clubs and on-campus sports teams will develop teamwork and decision-making skills, as well as important leadership traits. According to the Great Jobs, Great Lives Gallup-Purdue Index, college graduates who pursued this dual track doubled their odds of being better prepared for and engaged in their first jobs.
  5. 5. SHARE: 5 According to Karen Kaplan, CEO of advertising agency Hill Holliday, hands-on learning opportunities are essential for preparing students for work. “Participating in an internship, for example, not only gets your foot in the door and allows you to show a company and prospective future employer what you have to offer, but is also a golden opportunity to test drive a career and discover if it’s what you’re passionate about,” she says. “Even an internship that helps you decide what you don’t want to do is useful because you’ve been able to eliminate a possible career path without investing a lot of time in it.”
  6. 6. SHARE: 6 Even students who study art, music or philosophy should be required to also take at least one business course during their college career. While a liberal arts education, like a business education, fosters important skills such as communication and critical thinking, every job – from museum curator to journalist to physical therapist – requires business knowledge. TAKING A BUSINESS COURSE WILL NOT ONLY EDUCATE STUDENTS ON HOW COMPANIES OPERATE BUT WILL TEACH PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS, SUCH AS MANAGING PERSONAL FINANCES. AT LEAST ONE BUSINESS COURSE STUDENTS IN ALL MAJORS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO TAKE AT LEAST ONE BUSINESS COURSE
  7. 7. SHARE: 7 According to Dan Everett, dean of arts and sciences at Bentley University, our educational system too often separates business and the arts and sciences into separate silos. But outside of the university walls, these practices are integrated, which makes their fusion in a college’s curriculum so important to prepare students for the working world. “Even if you are writing music or creating sculptures with your hands, you need to know how to take your ideas and sell them,” says Everett. “Even Shakespeare had to manage and sell his plays. At Bentley, we have history majors interning at accounting firms as archivists,” he says. “One of our alumni, a Global Studies major, now reports on Hillary Clinton – including her economic policies and social programs – for CNN. These liberal arts students are able to do this because they have an understanding of business.”
  8. 8. FRESHMAN YEAR FEELS LIKE AGES AWAY FROM GRADUATION. THERE’S PLENTY OF TIME TO NETWORK AND JOB SEARCH LATER, RIGHT? WRONG. When asked what would better prepare college students to enter the workforce, 85 percent of survey respondents said students should begin working with their college’s career services as early as freshman year. While most college freshmen haven’t declared a major yet, never mind established a career plan, becoming familiar with the career service office early will help students understand the resources available to them, learn which skills and experience are essential for the industry they want to enter, and find a career adviser who can serve as a resource through their entire college journey. CAREER SERVICES SHOULD BEGIN FRESHMAN YEAR SHARE: 8
  9. 9. 9 Susan Brennan, executive director of career services at Bentley University, believes that engaging with career services during freshman year helps students think about how to make the most of their four years on campus. Students who are career-oriented can get a head start on identifying the tools that will help them succeed upon graduation. Students who are unsure of their direction can begin the career exploration process, digging deeper into what their talents are, how to use them, and in which areas they will be most effective. “At Bentley, we have a seminar for first-year students that gives them a sneak peek into the career preparation process,” says Brennan. “From self-discovery to telling your story through your elevator pitch, resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and mock interview, students are able to build confidence, refine their skills and set the trajectory for the remaining three years of their college career.” SHARE:
  10. 10. As many companies still struggle to get back on their feet following the recession, some have cut training budgets and entry-level jobs. As a result, many companies are looking for employees to arrive job-ready at all levels. RAISED EXPECTATIONS FOR ENTRY-LEVEL APPLICANTS MEANS HAVING AN INTERNSHIP IS MORE CRUCIAL THAN EVER. In fact, 82 percent of our survey respondents believe internships should be mandatory for all college students. According to the Wall Street Journal “internships are the new entry-level jobs.” Internships not only give a student on-the-job experiences that will allow them to hit the ground running when they land their first job, but they can also help students decide whether they like a career path they are considering. At the same time, internships enable an employer to evaluate a prospective employee before making a long-term commitment. SHOULD BE MANDATORY FOR ALL STUDENTS REGARDLESS OF MAJOR SHARE: 10 INTERNSHIPS
  11. 11. 11 Kathryn Horgan, executive vice president of Global Human Resources at State Street Corporation, believes it’s critical for students to have at least one internship while in college. “By having completed an internship, a student has a very tangible way of demonstrating that they are serious about gaining real-life experience in a work environment,” says Horgan. “This type of experience gives employers confidence that the student has an awareness of expectations such as meeting deadlines, working as part of a team, problem solving and being held accountable for work.” SHARE:
  12. 12. ASIDE FROM AN INTERNSHIP, 85 PERCENT OF OUR SURVEY RESPONDENTS SAY THE BEST WAY FOR STUDENTS TO GET A TRUE UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THEY WILL FACE IN THE WORKING WORLD IS FOR SOMEONE IN THAT WORLD TO TELL THEM ABOUT IT. By listening to business professionals lecture in the classroom, students can begin to understand what managing a project might look like, how certain industries are affected by current events and which practices work best to manage client expectations. Involvement in college classrooms also allows business executives to identify talented students they may want to recruit come senior year. BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS SHOULD LECTURE IN THE CLASSROOM 85% SHARE: 12
  13. 13. 13 For Larry Hughes, CEO of BNY Mellon Wealth Management, having business professionals lecture in college classrooms provides benefits for both the students and the company. Having lectured in classes himself, Hughes notes the value students find in hearing from someone who is currently working in a specific industry. “College students are very enthusiastic to learn about the ‘real world,’” says Hughes. “While oftentimes a professor has previously worked in a given industry, it is difficult for them to be as current as someone who is in the field now. From a business professional’s perspective, lecturing at a local college or university provides access to a whole group of future potential employees and customers,” he adds. “Additionally, interacting with them while they are still in college gives insight on the incoming entry-level workforce – how prepared they are and what they care about. Students today are much more interested in a company’s social responsibility policy and work-life balance. This is important for us to know as we look to recruit and retain this generation.” SHARE:
  14. 14. SHARE: 14 STUDENTS IN ALL MAJORS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO TAKE LIBERAL ARTS COURSES The value of a mixed curriculum can’t be overstated. While business classes help graduates get a job, arts and sciences provide the broader knowledge base that they need to advance throughout their career – and 84 percent of our survey respondents agree. In fact, Forbes named critical thinking and complex problem-solving as the number one and two skills that will get you hired. Recognizing this, many colleges and universities are introducing courses that integrate professional elements with the arts and sciences. It takes a well-rounded skill set to work as part of a team, come up with innovative ideas and think strategically. Management majors should take a writing course so they can put forth strong, clear and organized ideas in emails and reports. Marketing majors should take psychology classes to better understand the thinking of their customer base. And finance majors should take philosophy courses to be able to think critically and react to market fluctuations.
  15. 15. 15 SHARE: Kathryn Horgan, executive vice president of Global Human Resources at State Street Corporation, says that having a willingness to try new things is an important element of being successful in today’s work environment. “Exposure to the liberal arts ensures that students will gain a more well-rounded view of the world,” says Horgan. “In addition, by being exposed to topics they may not care for but are still required to learn, students may find an area of interest they were not aware of before.”
  16. 16. BUSINESSES SHOULD WORK CLOSELY WITH COLLEGES TO SHAPE THEIR CAREER SERVICE OFFERINGS SHARE: 16 IF ONE THING IS CLEAR, IT IS THIS: the business landscape is much different than it was even five years ago. Employers and job candidates now connect on LinkedIn before ever meeting in person, interviews can happen casually over lunch or coffee, and in some industries, the business suit has been pushed aside to make way for casual attire. Because of these changes in what employers expect from job candidates, business executives must be involved in the career service offices of their local colleges and universities so they can communicate these changing expectations. And 87 percent of our survey respondents agree. From resume tips to interview preparation and job search skills, business professionals hold the keys to a vast array of knowledge that college students need to succeed in the working world.
  17. 17. 17 According to Larry Hughes, CEO of BNY Mellon Wealth Management, “One of the most valuable things a business professional can do is serve as a mentor and adviser to students while they are still in college, covering everything from mock interviews to resume tips to advice on what it’s going to be like when you show up to your first day on a job.” While Hughes agrees that much has changed in terms of how job candidates network and make an initial connection with hiring managers, he adds that “Many millennials today looking for their first job seem to overly rely on technology, like LinkedIn, and not enough on actual personal networks, whether that is an alumni network, professional connection, or family contact.” SHARE:
  18. 18. SO WHAT WHILE MILLENNIALS BRING NEW ENERGY, TECH-SAVVY AND CREATIVITY TO THE WORKPLACE, HOW CAN WE HELP THEM TRANSLATE THOSE ATTRIBUTES INTO SUCCESS AT WORK? Our analysis of more than 3,000 survey responses makes it clear that both higher education institutions and businesses have work to do to ensure college seniors are ready to take on all that the working world has in store for them. From internships, a mixed curriculum of professional and liberal arts courses, and increased involvement from business professionals in college career services and the classroom, we have just begun to scratch the surface on ways to bridge the preparedness gap. The debate is shifting from “What are millennials’ workplace strengths and weaknesses?” to “What can we all do to better prepare them for success at work?” As we saw in our most recent survey of millennials, this generation represents a pivotal shift in culture and behavior that holds great promise for society as a whole. A recent Pew Research study found that millennials are better educated than previous generations. There is no doubt that they will accomplish great things. They just need the right tools to succeed. ABOUT BENTLEY UNIVERSITY Bentley University is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit bentley.edu. ? SHARE: 18

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