#137. “You’re Hired! From Book Smarts to Street Smarts”

Posted on | The Agurban
“You’re Hired! From Book Smarts to Street Smarts”

A few weeks ago, we included a series in our Agurban called Preparing for the Future. This series included information on the lack of, and critical importance of, “soft” skills. Soft skills include being able to work comfortably with people from other cultures, solve problems creatively, write and speak well, think in a multidisciplinary way and evaluate information critically. In addition, professionalism and work ethic, including personal accountability and effective work habits (punctuality, working productively alone and with others, time and workload management) are considered soft skills.

We received many responses to the series, but one response from Dr. James Jordan-Wagner, Chair of the School of Business at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL, told us of a program at EIU that addresses this issue. The six week program is called “You’re Hired! From Book Smarts to Street Smarts”. During the sessions, students work with facilitators and business professionals to learn collaboration, work styles, communication skills, professionalism, ethics and workplace survival skills. Funding for the program was provided through a generous gift from Mr. Stan Hollis, an EIU alumnus.

The skills introduced in the “You’re Hired!” workshop are skills that employers nationwide see as crucial to success in entry level positions within their company. As we know, research has indicated that recent college graduates are deficient in these areas. This type of collaborative effort with business and industry is an important factor in the effort to help students acquire the required skills and make the transition from student to professional.

The program was initially piloted in Fall 2006, with a second session in Spring 2007. Due to the success of the program, it will be offered both semesters during the upcoming school year.

To learn more about the program, or if you are a business and industry professional and would be interested in serving on one of the workshop panels, contact Kathy Schmitz, Director of the Student Center for Academic and Professional Development at EIU’s School of Business at kaschmitz@eiu.edu.