As someone who has worked quite a bit in the campus recruiting space, I know what it’s like to live by the academic calendar in Fall and Spring. Those are the two peak times of year for campus recruitment, with Spring semester more focused on intern hiring.
This has been top of mind after reading that a large number of employers are finding new college grads are not prepared for the workforce.
60% of employers surveyed by one study said that new college grads lacked basic “communication and interpersonal skills”- about a 10% increase in the past two years. Another survey by global staffing company Adecco reported that 44% of employers cited soft skills like critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills as the biggest gap.
Further, a recent survey of 200 employers by the National Assocation of Colleges and Employers (NACE) showed ability to work in teams, think critically, solve problems, and effectively prioritize work as employers’ top priorities in new hires.
How to solve this gap? Obviously, universities need to be studying these results and reviewing how they are integrating collaboration, peer feedback, and other key soft skills into their curriculums.
But the biggest key for any student is to do at least one (if not more) internships during their course of study. Internships are real-world work experience; they provide a realistic preview of what will be expected in the workplace. Internships are also a phenomenal way to build upon their in-class learning in an experiential setting. I used to perform exit interviews with our Summer interns, and almost all of them stated that their work experience had opened their eyes to what would be expected of them. More than a few realized they needed to change their course of study to better prepare themselves for a future job.
In fact, 70% of students who complete paid internships consider themselves ready for the workplace vs. 44% of those who do not. (Having interviewed students from both groups, I can state a large number of the 44% are not as ready as they think.)
So students, if you are reading this: it’s time to seek out an internship. Trust me, both you and your future employer (who, if you do a great job in your internship, could be one and the same) will benefit.