Career Ready

WhAT skills do Students need to​ be career-ready?

​ Which skills do you see as most important to teach or encourage in your students? Which ones will be most useful for a workplace and jobs that are largely unknown?

Dr. Brooks: Part of what I teach about are 'anticipatory futures.' We bring students from different departments—communications, biology, computer science—and they create a game over three days based on alternative visions for the future. Games are a way of building resilience among students and it builds a capacity for envisioning the future. What I want our students to come out with is an ability to adapt.

Also through arts movement festivals and conferences, what we're seeing is this hunger among the public and students to know how to adapt, to know what we can do to have the futures we want and value. Not just one particular, singular future, but multiple futures and multiple cultural futures as well.

Dr. Greiner: There's a fallacy of patient-centered healthcare; we're still doctor- and institution-centered care. Part of patient-centered care is to begin by saying, 'What is bothering you today? Why are you here?' And then scaling care around why that person is in front of you. That's a shift in the way we think about patients, but it's also building resilience and the ability to adapt to different situations into our students. A patient-centered process would not put everyone through the same process. It requires much more flexibility on the part of the system to be able to accommodate the patient rather than have the patient accommodate the system.

A couple of months ago, I asked some colleagues [in healthcare] what skills they're looking for in the workplace. They told me that we don't need to teach how to insert an IV because they'll do that in the hospital. What employers want us to teach our students are things that I think Dr. Brooks and Dr. Norman would embrace, which is how you interact with people, how do you treat them respectfully, how do you get to what matters for them in their care, and then how do you ensure patients gets treated the way they want to be treated? And that, I think, is a new venture for most of us in healthcare.

Dr. Norman: Those are excellent points. In my [business] management classes, we have a lot of pitch competitions, a lot of public speaking and presentations. In this era, it's all about the pitch, it's all about talking. There's far too little listening, right? Listening and empathy are two skills that are really underrated and we have to think about that in our instruction.

I was thinking I could come up with a listening contest. I've watched [student entrepreneurs] I've coached pitch and where they often blow it is they don't listen to the feedback afterward. And that's really the gift. They're not likely to be walking away with million-dollar investments, but there are good ideas from the people who are listening to the pitch. Too often people start explaining or arguing. The thing to do in that moment isn't to argue, it's to learn to listen, to reflect and come back.

I'll try to relate this to something you said, too, Professor Brooks. Some of the learning I've been doing personally is going to Africa; I'm trying to also center our students on working in a different continent, bringing students there to look at how management is done in Ethiopia, in particular… As you get to know folks there, they'll have you dance. In America, we all dance like we're Madonna and we're the star of the show, but in many cultures, dancing is about listening, right? You listen to the music and react. It's not a competition of who's the best dancer, it's this communal experience.

I'm doing a management exercise at Dominguez Hills now with groups of three students. One person is the leader and the other two people mirror the leader. It's just really interesting to see how foreign that is… We have to break through some of our fears and preconceptions and really interrogate how we can better prepare these young people for a future of severe technological disruption.

Dr. Thomas: I was thinking about things like authenticity. Being authentic requires a level of self-awareness. So how can we help students become more self-aware and really be true to themselves, in their interactions, the way they treat each other?