Internships: The key to connecting students to the world of work

Deb Mumm-Hill-2By Deb Mumm-Hill, Director of Student Success

So, what is the employment outlook for young adults? The good news for college students is economic forecasts indicate 66 percent of jobs in 2018 will require a post-secondary degree. The tough news is industry needs specific skills to go along with the diploma, so a degree with no industry experience makes it difficult to land a job within a specific degree area.

In the 1980s, industry hired large groups of recent college graduates with very little work experience and invested in three- to six-month training programs that prepared young hires to hit the ground running. In return for this investment, the expectation was that employees would stay with the organization 10 to 20 years as they aspired to climb the corporate ladder. Times have changed in an era with tight corporate budgets. Managers now realize it is not a wise investment of resources to train a millennial employee who only stays 18 to 36 months before moving on to a new company. So how can colleges and industry more wisely prepare the millennial for the world of work?

The professional degree programs like nursing, education and engineering have a fluid pipeline from college to work because their courses of study have partnerships within their industry that create internships and field experience. But what about the business, general science or liberal arts graduate? How can those students better partner with industries that are also on a global talent search for their skill sets? The answer is internships.

It takes guidance and career mapping that begins during a student’s freshman year to land not only their target job, but also a meaningful industry. Each day I am privileged to work with college students who have hopes and dreams of making a difference in the world, but they don’t always have a road map for how to achieve their career goals. Our IDEA Center office is creating career maps for each field of study. We work with students to create a LinkedIn account and begin building a network of connections with people who can give them advice and broaden their awareness of the skills needed in their field of work. Better yet, students could spend a summer in a solid internship, obtaining the skills needed to land their goal entry-level job.

So, to my fellow LinkedIn users, if you receive a request from a student asking for 30 minutes of your time for an informational interview, please take a few minutes to help guide this millennial generation. Share skills and personality traits you seek in a new hire, be transparent about what you would have done differently in your career path, and connect them to others who can help navigate them down the road that leads to an internship opportunity.

Deb Mumm-Hill is the director of student success in George Fox University’s IDEA Center, dedicated to helping students achieve exceptional life outcomes after graduation.