With Spring classes over and Summer classes yet to begin, I figured I’d write a blog for people other than my students. This one is for my colleagues, administrators, and anyone else who cares about what’s going on in our college.
If I could get everyone to understand one thing about the College of Business’s career development classes it would be this; the classes are not about HOW to get a job, they are about FINDING a job. Seems to be a small, and insignificant point, but if you’ll follow me for a moment, you’ll understand it makes all the difference!
Colleges and universities underwent a major change over the last couple of decades. For eons they were places where the people who created knowledge shared it. Faculty would perform research, lots of research, lifetimes of research, to understand something. It might be a big something. It might be a small something. Then they would stand in front of people and talk about their something. Some groups would fill an auditorium. Some groups were small and intimate.
In large groups the faculty spoke TO the assembled students. In smaller venues they spoke WITH them. But the goal was the same, they knew something and were going to tell the other people there about it. Students took reams of copious notes. Exams were given to test how well the student committed this new knowledge and understanding to memory. Time marched on.
Today the role of faculty has changed. Many traditional faculty remained focused on their research. But the job of teaching large numbers of students shifted to faculty who just taught. Colleges and Universities responded with resources to help these subject matter experts better manage a classroom. They offered support to develop lesson plans and experiences that leveraged emerging educational theory. In primary school you have trained teachers who learn the subject matter. In college you have trained subject matter experts who are learning to teach.
And that’s where we get to the career classes. Typical career classes developed by typical teachers take a typical approach. They teach you about yourself. They teach you about the job market. They teach you about the tools you’ll use. They teach you about the skills you need. What they don’t do is kick you into gear to go get a job. The learning outcome isn’t “about” things, it’s “a” thing. A job.
In our case, I went and found a book that tells you how to get a job. It’s a great book that was recommended by my students. Then, I built a class around that book about getting a job. I take Alex Groenendyk’s “Job Cycle” and added activities. Students take quizzes…it’s my way to make them read the book!…but a large part of their grade comes from the activities they do. In this way, they learn stuff but they also DO stuff. Stuff that will help them get a job, snag a promotion, or launch their own business.
For faculty who want to replicate our success, I offer one word of caution. Forget everything you know about teaching. This isn’t about you, or your lecture, or your subject. It’s about action, activity, and outcomes. It’s about your students doing what they need to do to get the job. For faculty who shrug this piece of advice off and want to just teach a regular class, that’s cool. I ask you, what’s the better outcome… Knowing how to get a job. Or GETTING a job?