Undergraduate and graduate students that pursue their higher education at various universities around the U.S.A undergo a bittersweet experience during the months of May and December every year. It is because they dream about and anticipate these two months throughout their student tenure. However, they also cause a lot of stress and anxiety among the soon-to-be graduates, as they transition from the safe and secure environment of their universities into the harsh world of work. Anyhow, new graduates need not feel stressed out and worried about their fast approaching commencement day, if they have prepared well for their most awaited transition during their student career. The question then arises, “How can new graduates look forward to their transition into the world of work by being proactive, instead of being reactive?”
New graduates can enjoy their transition into the world of work if they develop and enhance the most sought of skills essential for career success in the 21st century such as creativity, critical thinking, risk taking, fearlessness, and problem-solving that lead to innovation in the workplace. Contemporary graduates need to think out of the box in order to use their creativity to innovate their career path for themselves, which provides a sense of achievement and self-satisfaction, along with helping them become financially sustainable. Therefore, they can focus their attention toward creating their own working niche instead of looking elsewhere for work. The fields of STEAM lend themselves very well to help new graduates carve their own niche by enhancing their creative and innovative abilities, along with providing them opportunities to become better team players through communication, networking, and collaboration. Thereby, they can better prepare themselves to enter or re-enter the workforce as “Entrepreneurs”.
Entrepreneurship would serve as a better option for working adults that already have a certain amount of work experience, and an awareness of the pros and cons of the world of work. It also works well for adults that went to graduate school to acquire new skills in any area of STEAM. It works the best for adults that have to care for very young children, as it is a very flexible career option. Individuals with prior experience as sole proprietors can easily excel as entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship suits the needs of individuals that are very dedicated, committed, hardworking, creative, and wish to innovate their career of their own accord. It provides unlimited earning potential and a feeling of security, as there is no need to keep searching for a new job due to unemployment that occurs from downsizing or layoff by a current employer.
Universities should adopt the revised version of Anderson and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy (2001), instead of the original Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956), as shown in Figure 1 below to develop entrepreneurial abilities among students and prepare them for the world of work during the 21st century.
Figure 1: Diagram to differentiate between Bloom’s Taxonomy vs. Anderson and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy (adapted from Diagram 1.1 Wilson, L. O., 2001).
The faculty at universities can use the revised version of Anderson and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy (2001) to restructure the curriculum of STEAM programs by incorporating real world projects into various courses to develop the abilities of creativity and teamwork that drive innovation among the students. This will result in the mandatory participation of undergraduate and graduate students in real life hands-on projects to gain both theoretical and practical knowledge and skills by applying various theories and models related to a specific course content to complete the projects. The real world projects will automatically develop and enhance their abilities of creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, networking, collaboration, communication (both oral and written), and project management while pursuing such project-based courses. Thereby, students can perpetually build an e-portfolio of real life projects on their website for potential clients to review in near future.
Apart from completing real projects for real clients, students can also write case studies related to the real life projects providing details of the real life problem faced by a client organization and the methods and models adapted by the student team to resolve their problem. This will enhance the ability of student teams to become fearless and express themselves clearly while dealing with clients as professional entrepreneurs. Although undergraduate and graduate students might experience various hurdles while completing real-world projects for real clients, they will also be able to rejoice when their professors provide an opportunity for them to publish their case studies in professional journals and magazines in their field. Therefore, universities can develop future entrepreneurs of the 21st century to become producers of new knowledge, skills, and jobs, instead of just being consumers of the already existing knowledge, skills, and jobs. Figure 2 depicts a simple infographic created to show the transition from being job consumers to job producers using Easel.ly.
Undergraduate and graduate students can conduct a result focused Internet research for short- term courses that are free or cost-effective to gain the skills required to build a WordPress website and establish their Internet presence. There are various easily accessible online tutorials and online courses to learn the tips and tricks of leveraging various social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, along with SEO and SEM best practices to drive traffic to their website. Creating original blog posts and self-publishing them on LinkedIn Pulse is the easiest and best way of social networking and collaboration with like-minded professional entrepreneurs from around the globe. Future graduates can register themselves by posting their updated resume on various freelance websites solely meant for entrepreneurs such as Upwork, People Per Hour, Gigmood, and Gigscribe, along with a link to their LinkedIn profile and portfolio. They should then reserve some time every day to search and apply for gigs on these websites when they just have a semester left for graduating from their undergraduate and graduate programs. Hence, they can obtain paid internships as entrepreneurs to build their clientele base, along with gaining experience and confidence to work as professional entrepreneurs upon graduation.
Thereby, universities can ensure that future graduates develop the ability to prove their extraordinary creativity and mental strength by innovating a professional future for themselves and others by breaking into the field of Entrepreneurship to achieve financial success and sustainability to survive the rapidly evolving economy of the 21st century and succeed in a global gig economy, he-conomy, and she-conomy. Thus, future graduates can wholeheartedly enjoy their commencement with a positive mindset and assurance that any future changes to the economy will not dishearten them, but make them strong instead.
Do you have any other practical ideas and/or suggestions related to how universities can better prepare their future graduates to survive and thrive in a rapidly evolving global economy of the 21st century? If so, please reply to this post with your comments.
Your comments to the above question will help the future graduates of all STEAM programs, including e-Learning to better prepare themselves to survive and thrive in a rapidly evolving global economy of the 21st century.
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Wilson, L. O. (2013). Anderson and Krathwohl – Understanding the new version of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from http://thesecondprinciple.com/teaching-essentials/beyond-bloom-cognitive-taxonomy-revised/
Yablonski, C. (2015, September 6). The monster list of freelance job sites. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from http://www.freelancebusinessguide.com/2015/09/the-monster-list-of-freelance-job-sites/