Published on: March 21, 2013
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
Since I've just spent time at USC, will be at Western Michigan University next week, and am preparing to spend July once again teaching at Portland State University, I've been thinking about students lately and what I've learned about the college experience.
One of the things that I think is so important about the way college educations unfold today is the availability of internships - something that did not really exist when I went to school. On NPR's Marketplace the other day, there was a story about a new survey saying that, in fact, internships are a critical factor when employers evaluate a resume - more important than the college that kids attend, the courses they take and the grades they achieve.
And, the story said, the National Association of Colleges and Employers "found that 63 percent of paid interns in the class of 2012 had at least one job offer when they graduated. Of those who did no internship, only about 40 percent had an offer."
So it's a big deal.
It seems to me though, that there's another value to internships - and that's what businesses can learn from them. After all, these young people represent a generation and a way of thinking with which many business leaders may be unfamiliar ... and so not only can businesses teach them, but it is a great opportunity to learn. Businesses using interns should not miss this opportunity.
Now, a word to some of the college students who read MNB ... and we're lucky enough to have a lot of them, in part because some schools actually make it required reading, and in part because they actually like it. (At my age, this is no mean achievement.)
One of the things you really need to do as you interact with business leaders is not be afraid to ask any question, pose any challenge, or throw yourself into any opportunity. That's how you learn ... and my experience with business leaders - at least the ones you want to work for - is that they appreciate enthusiasm and a little bit of chutzpah.
I'll give you an example. Last year, in my Portland State class, we were lucky enough to have the CEO of a major chain fly into town to spend time with us and engage in a dialogue with the class and me. (I won't name the fellow or the company ... the experience was off the record, and I respect that. Besides, I want other executives to come in this summer and, hopefully, in summers to come.)
During the conversation with the class, one of the kids in the class asked the CEO if he'd be looking at stores while visiting Portland, and the CEO said yes, of course. Which is when this kid asked the million dollar question that nobody else asked:
"Can I go with you?"
The CEO grinned, and then said yes ... and my understanding is that they spent much of the next day together. Talking about a learning experience ... for both of them.
That kind of enthusiasm and willingness to put oneself out there ought not be reserved for college students. Maybe businesses in general would be better off if leaders and employees had that sort of chutzpah. They'd worry less about failing and be more focused on taking the kinds of chances that can build companies and careers.
It isn't just in business, by the way.
The other day, someone sent me a link to a YouTube video that I will pass along here. The scene was Vanderbilt University, where singer/songwriter Billy Joel was doing a class in the music school ... and one of the kids asked if he could come up and play the piano, accompanying him on "New York State of Mind." Joel paused for a bit, then said yes ... and as you'll see in the video, it resulted in a bit of music magic ... and we all learn that this kid, Michael Pollack, has musical chops.
We all need to be a sucker for a learning experience.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: