An interesting young man recently started a discussion in a LinkedIn group for Students and Recent Grads by asking the question “Do you think university prepared you for the workplace?”. I honestly expected to read multiple posts answering “Are you kidding? No. My university education did NOT prepare me for the ‘real world’. I’m still looking for a job!”.
There were a couple of comments of this nature. I’ve had my fair share of conversations with upper year (ready to graduate) and new alumnae who expressed shock and frustration over not being able to find employment despite being university educated. I’ve also heard many rumblings in the halls of my institution over the years along the lines of “Where am I ever going to use [insert topic] in the ‘real world’ anyway?” or “Why do we need to know X?”. This is why I assumed that most students would respond negatively.
I was surprised. Very pleasantly surprised.
The majority of comments were really insightful. Most posters agreed that the university experience (both inside and outside the classroom) provides the OPPORTUNITY for students to develop and refine essential life and workplace skills, gain new knowledge, expand networks and build relationships but it certainly doesn’t guarantee that this will happen.
The posters also expressed the need for students to take action, be proactive, take risks, and even do things that feel uncomfortable in order to get the most out of the university experience.
The bottom line is that a university education does not equal job training but it certainly provides the OPPORTUNITY to prepare individuals to do something meaningful after graduation.