As seen in the latest issue of Deanmail at Assumption College:
"And Now a Word from Your Future Employer"
"It is advising time, and Assumption's students are thinking about selecting courses for Spring 2010. They are gathering information from sources good, bad, and indifferent.
(By the way, what would be a good source? Faculty advisors and department chairs, college websites like ours at <http://www1.assumption.edu/advising/>, academic catalogs, advice from Career Services. What would be bad? Ratemyprofessor.com, jaded upperclassmen, word of mouth, lore, cranky anecdote. What's indifferent? Facebook acquaintances, MySpace buddies, well-meaning but uninformed friends at other colleges and universities. Some students may even be consulting -- or at least hearing from -- their parents, which may be good or bad, but is rarely indifferent.)
But one voice is not generally consulted: employers. What do your future employers suggest you take?
In 2006, the American Association of College and Universities commissioned Peter D. Hart and Associates to ask a wide variety of employers what fields they'd like higher education to "place more emphasis" on teaching. Here are some of the topics and skills employers wished their college-educated job applicants had more of:
1. 82% of respondents, the biggest percentage in the study, named science and technology as something colleges needed to place more emphasis on. Maybe that science requirement isn't so bad. Taken a computer science course yet?
2. Teamwork skills in diverse groups and intercultural competence were tied at 76% of respondents. What courses expose you to other cultures and ways of being, and which involve some group work or team projects? Ever taken an Anthropology course? It's a global economy. Have you started a language yet?
3. A whopping 73% of employers wanted job applicants to be better at written and oral communication and critical thinking and analytic reasoning. These go together. We know that clear, critical thinking comes from reading, writing, and speaking about complex things, and getting critical response from other people. ENG130 and LTE140 are our starter courses in this regard, and if you are a first year student you ought to be enrolling in one or the other this spring. Upperclassmen: have you taken a Writing Emphasis course yet? Ever considered Speech? What's on offer that might stretch you in this regard?
4. Integrative Learning, which for the purposes of this study means "applied knowledge in real-world settings," was named by 73% of the participating employers as something they wanted to see in their job applicants' resumes. Have you taken a Community Service Learning course yet? Done an internship for credit? Studied abroad? All these options link learning in the classroom to experiences outside.
(For complete findings of this study, see www.aacu.org/leap <http://www.aacu.org/leap>.)
I wish you all the best as you inform yourself, and make your choices. Getting a job is not the be-all and end-all of a liberal arts education. But it turns out that what we are really best at teaching is what employers are crying for. Get ready."
Eloise Knowlton, Ph.D.
Dean of Undergraduate Studies,