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Marketability of Graduates

November 7, 2009

I attended the Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning last week and three themes surfaced as I attended sessions and talked with other participants:

ImReady-greenforall.orgPart 3: Marketability of Graduates

Maybe it’s the career counselor in me that tuned in to this theme. In a session on Corporate Partnerships, Phil Ice of APUS posed the question: What is the college experience today? He pointed out that his experience and expectations were different than what you would find today enrolling as a Freshman/First-Year student. I instantly remembered the groan I heard over the phone as I told my parents I had finally declared a major (on the last possible day in my sophomore year at a private liberal arts college). It was Psychology. I think one of them actually said “oh no”. What was I going to do with that? I wasn’t at all sure.

Conversations and presentations addressed the preparation of graduates for the eventual job search.

  • Program and degree advisory panels that include local employers. Why shouldn’t they weigh in on coursework and internship requirements? They are the ones that will eventually receive the resumes from these students and apparently they aren’t as willing to train new employees as they used to be. University as vocational-technical? No, there’s more to it than that, but there is also a practical application side to what students need from the college experience of the early 21st century.
  • Online identities created using web 2.0 and social networking tools. And then marketing oneself professionally by documenting education, experience, and providing examples of work.
  • Vendor/Exhibitor products addressed “helping students reach their career goals”, e-portfolio systems to enhance “career advancement”, and skills and cultural training options offering “virtual business trip” scenarios.

How does online education play into all of this? Are online students different than on-campus students? The market for online students seems to be the working adult who needs to continue education in order to prepare for a career change or advancement while still on-the-job. At least, this is what you see in the commercials. Could the market be changing to include new high school graduates as well? Employability and job stability may be concerns, and motives for enrolling in online education, across the board.

photo credit: greenforall.org, Flickr

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric permalink
    November 8, 2009 6:39 pm

    Graduation is coming in a few months and I am not so sure if I have already obtained the necessary skills to be in this severely competitive job market. I should feel lucky, however, that my current job provides me an almost intern-liked training in an academic environment. Most of my classmates still have no experience that I have had in order to become an instructional designer when they graduate.
    Since the economic recession, many companies have stopped hiring newly graduates (some even started this policy long before recession) in Taiwan. The government had to subsidize those companies who are willing to provide intern opportunities for students who are about to graduate. It works out great. Government can show a much better performance in terms of unemployment rate and corporates can pay very little to have interns to serve their companies. However, the biggest challenge now is the subsidize funds is running out and the government is not willing (or unable) to provide more funds to continue this program. If corporates in Taiwan still unwilling to invest in these future workers, sooner or later it will be a lose-lose situation for all of them.

    • Melissa Venable permalink
      November 9, 2009 11:57 am

      Thanks for your comments, Eric. And for addressing the issue of skilled graduates on an international level. The government internship subsidy program in Taiwan sounds successful, even though its future is uncertain. Is anyone aware of similar programs in the US and other countries? It would be great to have more posts on this topic.

      I agree that your intern-type position will be helpful as you market your experience to employers. Be sure to show examples and talk about the successes, challenges and overall problem-solving you have been a part of! Do you have any recommendations for prospective students who will be entering your academic program in the future?

  2. Melissa Venable permalink
    November 10, 2009 8:56 am

    A related report on Internships – 2009 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that students who completed internships while in school did better in the hiring market after graduation. Read on…http://internships.about.com/b/2009/10/28/interns-fare-better-in-the-job-market.htm What challenges and/or advantages would online students have in seeking and completing internships?

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