Thursday, March 6, 2014

Are employers looking for well-rounded students?

On Messages and Myths: Are employers looking for well-rounded students?

Student interests and the Rochester Curriculum often yield double majors and minors, and self-
designed academic plans.  Students are encouraged to expand their academic interests.  Do potential internship hosts and employers respond to that?

Often with dissonance, students seek to synthesize divergent academic themes and topics, and rationalize their relationship to the world of work.  The resulting answer to the typical interview question “why did you choose your major” may not present qualifications in the best light (preferably a well focused laser).

How can we facilitate students prioritizing and targeting rather than synthesizing, or should we?  Given the increasing number of college candidates and graduates, and relatively small numbers of internships, research opportunities, and jobs, should we inspire clear, concise, and field, function and firm focused goal expression?  We at the Greene Center say “yes” loudly and strategically.  We ask early and often regarding realistic career goals and how academics evidence qualifications; not  how quantity of experiences reveal personal qualities and, likely, mythical transferable skills.  Our best and brightest students seem to fear focus the most.  How can we, together, diminish this anxiety and reinforce that it is okay to state priorities, without giving up eclectic intellectual pursuits? A faculty member once insightfully shared with me that potential employers in a specific field require “monastic focus” and the specific language, vocabulary and technical skills that arise as a result.

What are you sharing with your students?  How can our messages, not myths, best help students express and attain goals?

Burt Nadler
Director Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center • 585.275.2366

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