You are here

From the Dean

Preparing Students for Careers

Story by
Robert Stacey

An arts and sciences education offers much more than just a path to a job. It instills in our students a sense of curiosity and engaged citizenship that lasts a lifetime. That said, students have a right to expect that their education prepares them to succeed in the world of work. In the UW College of Arts and Sciences, we are confident that it does, as the achievements of the alumni profiled in this issue of Perspectives demonstrate. Nonetheless, the transition from education to employment can be bumpy, even for our best students. Across the College, we are working hard to smooth that road as much as possible through career-focused programs and partnerships.

Dean Robert Stacey

One example is our partnership with KORU, a Seattle-based company (with offices in Boston and San Francisco) that runs intensive training programs to prepare arts and sciences students for careers in business, with a particular focus on high-growth companies. KORU also works with companies to help them do a better job of identifying and hiring people who are likely to excel. KORU’s research has shown that grades and college major are not reliable predictors of success in the workplace; our partnership with KORU, now in its second year, is identifying more reliable predictors of success and helping students develop those qualities and demonstrate them to potential employers.

A number of our academic departments have also created programs to help their majors understand how their academic studies are preparing them for a wide variety of careers. In the History Department, the History Fellows Program sponsors talks and workshops in which recent graduates of the department help current majors present themselves to potential employers. In the Economics Department, an active and highly successful mentorship program pairs current seniors with business leaders. The English Department’s service learning courses place students into internships that allow them to see how their academic writing and research skills can be valuable assets in the workplace.  Many other departments are launching similar programs tailored to their own majors, all of which emphasize the value of an arts and sciences education as preparation for a rapidly changing and constantly evolving job market.

...the transition from education to employment can be bumpy, even for our best students.  Across the College, we are working hard to smooth that road as much as possible...

In April, the Center for 21st Century Liberal Learning—working closely with CoMotion, the University’s innovation hub—will launch the College of Arts and Sciences’ first “Ideathon” to provide our students with practical experience in design thinking. For the intensive 48-hour exercise, students working in teams will be asked to propose solutions to a complex challenge that requires them to analyze, model, test, revise, test again, and ultimately “pitch” a proposal to a panel of judges, with prizes awarded to the winning teams. Programs like this build organizational, time-management, and teamwork skills that are more and more in demand by employers. The topic of this inaugural challenge is “The Future of College in the 21st Century,” and I can’t wait to see the proposals our students produce. And who knows? Perhaps some future issue of Perspectives will share how an idea that began in the 2016 Ideathon has become an essential part of how we educate arts and sciences students in the 21st century!

Robert Stacey
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences