Employers plan to hire 4 percent more new college graduates nationally from the Class of 2018 than they did from the Class of 2017, according to the National Association of College and Employers’ Job Outlook 2018 survey.
While this is slightly lower than the hiring projections over the past several years, it continues to point to a positive job market nationwide for new college graduates.
With the complexities and competitiveness of today’s interdependent, globalized economy, students must be prepared for their next role, as future business leaders, teachers, nurses, or graphic designers.
The vast majority of today’s employers value a college degree, and a student’s “soft” interpersonal and critical thinking skills.
But they also highly value and, in many cases, expect students to have had opportunities to apply their textbook knowledge to the real-world, through experiential learning, such as internships, senior theses, faculty-student research, and community-based engagement projects.
A 2015 national survey of business and nonprofit leaders by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found 94 percent of employers are more likely to consider hiring a recent college graduate if they have completed an internship, and 87 percent favored a student who has been involved in a senior thesis or project.
Providing students with opportunities to apply their learning in a real-world setting as soon as and, ideally, as often as possible, helps students cultivate important, professional-development skills, like the art of client-service, negotiating, and problem-solving, aptitudes which cannot be fully realized, or appreciated, in a college classroom.
Thanks to the support of the many local business, healthcare and educational leaders who comprise Indiana University Northwest’s eight professional Advisory Boards, our campus gains critical insight into the competitive professional landscape, as we build responsive, adaptable curricula and applied learning opportunities, to best prepare our students to become tomorrow’s leaders and active citizens.
With three-quarters of IU Northwest alumni keeping their talent local, we realize, and are very proud, that our campus is contributing substantially to building this region’s professional workforce.
By preparing our graduates for lifelong learning, ethical practices, effective citizenship and successful careers in the Knowledge Economy, we are building and advancing our communities through the intellectual capital of our 25,000 alumni.
Innovative Pathways to Success
Students, like employers, recognize the worth of hands-on, real-world learning experiences, with 89 percent agreeing participation in an applied learning project would increase their likelihood of being hired.
But, like many other regional campuses, it is imperative that IU Northwest offers innovative, real-world learning opportunities that fit our students’ often complex lives. Up to 90 percent of IU Northwest students are already working while earning their degrees, making it difficult for them to accept traditional, often-unpaid internships. So IU Northwest remains committed to applied learning through coursework, clinical experiences and practicums that directly engage our students in community-based and pre-professional settings.
During the last academic year, more than one-third of IU Northwest students contributed more than 214,000 service hours in Northwest Indiana organizations and communities.
By partnering with local businesses, not-for-profits, school systems and healthcare facilities, our students’ academic experiences are amplified by practical, hands-on opportunities that enhance their resumes, portfolios, competitiveness and, most important, their confidence.
And, in return, our community partners received fresh, innovative thinking and solutions to some of their most pressing business needs, as well a potential pipeline of future employees.
Finding innovative pathways to meet the professional expectations of today’s employers is a challenge. But with this challenge comes great opportunity. The benefits extend beyond any single student or business, but are, indeed, compounded, further strengthening our regional quality of life and economic resilience.
So, I ask this of Northwest Indiana business, healthcare and educational leaders: Please consider connecting with a local college or university, so that students may have the chance to apply their skills directly to your operating needs.
It is the role of the entire community to enable Northwest Indiana’s students to learn and practice the liberal skills, professional knowledge and perspectives that create the foundation for a fulfilling life and career, so that all students have the opportunity to take their place as active citizens and community leaders in our region.