Op-ed: Making sure grads are more prepared for jobs than interviews

Reevaluating the college-to-career roadmap to help students achieve career success.

college-career-barnesAccording to a recent study, surveyed students may be more prepared for an initial interview than for the skills required for the job—a trend that could ultimately affect recruitment and retention efforts at colleges and universities.

As seniors prepare to graduate in May, job hunting has officially commenced, with students beefing up their resumes, attending networking events, honing interview skills and sending out applications. However, a study conducted by Barnes & Noble College and Why Millennials Matter found that many students today are falling behind on the college-to-career roadmap.

This should be concerning not only for students, but colleges and universities as well. Today, career placement rates play an increasingly bigger role in where students decide to get their degree, and alumni donations also are highly influenced by how well the school helped launch their career. With recruitment, retention and revenue constraints topping the list of higher ed concerns, colleges and universities can’t afford to take this trend lightly.

The “College Student Mindset for Career Preparation & Success” study surveyed more than 3,000 students from two- and four-year colleges and universities across 44 states, garnering more than 17,000 open-ended responses. The study aimed to uncover Millennial student expectations, motivations, influences and preferences in regards to career preparation and early work experiences.

According to the study’s findings, many respondents are simply waiting too long to start building the experience and skills they need to launch their careers. Among those surveyed:

  • Only 36.7 percent of juniors and seniors have participated in an internship, while 42.5 percent have not applied to one.
  • Over half (52.4 percent) of juniors and seniors haven’t begun casual job searching.
  • Only 23-34 percent of all students are using the Career Center to research options.

Students surveyed also aren’t building the skills they need to succeed. They know what skills are important, such as clear communication and critical thinking, but they also identified these skills as those needing the most improvement. Additionally, respondents are more focused on building the skills they need to pass the interview and land the job, as opposed to the skills they need to succeed on the job.

(Next page: 3 innovative ways that a university can invest in student career prep)