Is there a difference between what we know and what we can show? That was a question The Washington Center dedicated itself to answering for student interns completing the Academic Internship Program and their resulting preparedness for the workforce as “career-ready” professionals.
Through the anecdotal evidence that students and partners have shared over the last 43 years, TWC knows its immersive Academic Internship Program enables participants to grow in several key areas that project to professional success. However, in an age of data availability and demand, it has become equally important to capture, analyze and present the development that occurs during the internship in an intentional, measurable way.
That prompted TWC to join a pilot study of new career readiness competencies undertaken by SkillSurvey in conjunction with the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition and the Career Readiness Project. The study selected 15+ higher education institutions and organizations to participate in a cloud-based assessment of data feedback in identified crucial career skill areas.
A three year polling endeavor by the Lumina Foundation and Gallup sought opinion on the importance of a college education in career readiness. Its aim was to contribute to the public discourse on college effectiveness. Considerable discrepancies were learned between the perception on the part of business owners and personnel managers and what students hope their career readiness upon graduation truly are.
NACE conducted exhaustive research with college career services, employer human resources departments and staffing professionals to identify eight key competencies universally identified with career readiness. Those are:
- Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
- Oral/Written Communications
- Digital Technology
- Professionalism/Work Ethic
- Career Management
- Global/Intercultural Fluency
For the assessment, TWC grants an intern cohort access to the customizable email templates provided by SkillSurvey. It is up to the student intern to identify at least two supervisors, coworkers or mentors who will be the recipients of this evaluation. The individuals selected by the intern use a 1-7 scale in evaluating the intern’s performance in the above mentioned NACE competencies, as determined from questions established by TWC as the pilot higher ed institution or organization
TWC students receive a competency report that includes normative data and insights into their career readiness, as compared to the competency ratings of nearly 100,000 entry level job applicants across various industries. The resulting report enables students to see where they stand in the professional world, as well as where they could or should improve. Only those involved in SkillSurvey’s pilot program get to see how they are doing compared to their peers.
[Students] can use their individual SkillSurvey results to identify areas where they excel, deficiencies to improve and shape their employer outreach or additional skill refinement as they begin their career journey.Sherrod Williams, Managing Director, Experiential Learning and Career Readiness, The Washington Center
“Participation in this pilot study positions TWC at the vanguard of career-readiness assessment and presentation,” said Sherrod Williams, Managing Director, Experiential Learning and Career Readiness. “Our students, with an honest assessment of what the internship site thought of their respective career-readiness and ability to perform in the workforce, now have an additional benefit from their TWC experience. They can use their individual SkillSurvey results to identify areas where they excel, deficiencies to improve and shape their employer outreach or additional skill refinement as they begin their career journey.”
TWC has a fierce devotion to improving student outcomes. The SkillSurvey report is another way TWC can know, and show, that our internship site partners are invested in growing workforce skills, our campus partners are rewarded for partnering with TWC and our students are ready to achieve the successful careers we all know they deserve and have ahead of them.