It is no secret that today’s career landscape is being transformed by advancing technologies. This generation of “technology natives” would seem to be a natural fit to fill the jobs created by the evolution, yet data indicates unemployment levels continue to rise for young people.
In search of answers, a recent Bain & Company article looks at the underlying causes of this disparity and found a powerful solution: career-connected learning. Denison University is cited as a prime example of how a college can connect academic learning and skill-building experiences that launch students successfully.
Denison’s integrative model is a classroom-to-career framework that synthesizes academics, co-curricular learning, career exploration, internships, and profession-specific skill-building. Each student’s experience is personalized through faculty mentors and advisors, career coaches, and a network of alumni and industry experts.
According to the article’s authors:
“[President] Weinberg didn’t try to separate career building from a firm grounding in the liberal arts. On the contrary, he believed learning how to think critically feeds the kind of curiosity, imagination, creativity, and social and emotional intelligence that employers value. But he also recognized that Denison needed to do more. The university launched a series of majors that weave together courses and experiential opportunities in areas like data analytics, global commerce, and global health.”
Another asset is Denison’s location, only a short drive from Columbus. The state capital is a growing city with hundreds of thriving businesses and an expanding national presence. In fact, Intel’s just-announced $20 billion landmark investment in the suburbs of Columbus, a mere 15 minutes from campus.
The article also cited Denison Edge, a dynamic space where students learn from industry experts and connect with local businesses in downtown Columbus. Skill-building programs and workshops give liberal arts students the career-specific skills and knowledge to launch successfully. These effective resources are also open to recent graduates looking for a career pivot or acceleration.
The final ingredients in Denison’s secret sauce are the extensive career-related partnerships that infuse the campus. Professionals at the Knowlton Center for Career Exploration provide coaching, programs, stipends, and scads of resources tailored to students’ interests. Another popular campus resource offers entrepreneurship and design-thinking project-based learning with real-world clients, personal brand development, and start-up workshops. Many academic programs add hands-on learning through internship requirements. And students have myriad opportunities to gain relevant experience through research and study abroad programs.
“The results have been impressive,” concludes the article. “Outcome surveys show that 96% of recent Denison alumni are working in their desired field or position. And the new career emphasis has become a big draw among students. Since 2013, applications are up 99%, while early applications have soared more than 300%. The demand has been strong enough that Denison had to become more selective. Its acceptance rate has dropped to 28% from 51% seven years ago.”