Bridging the Gap

22 November, 2017

The American University in Dubai hosted an event Monday about Education for Employment, tackling the challenges and expectations of academia and the industry. At the Auditorium, six spokespersons and representatives from companies such as Linked In, Nestle, and Interns Me offered advice.

The speakers were asked questions about the university experience and if it prepares students to enter the workforce successfully. Most of the panel agreed that skill building is the most important factor for students to become more employable. Skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and leadership were emphasized by the panel as they stated are hard but important.

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Ghassan Talhouk Linked-In stated that they are trying to create economic opportunities and bridging the gap between the supply and demand. Their findings showed that 8700 are graduates of economics and business majors, and 2000 are IT, but the demand in the workplace is on the IT majors. Hence they took it upon themselves to communicate with universities to inform students that the demand is often placed on unique majors and colleges.

Jean-Michel Gauthier of Interns-Me also agreed with findings of graduates and demand on other majors, adding that 50% of internships are targeted towards marketing or finance majors, leaving the more technical roles unfamiliar to the industry because there are fewer internships available. However, he suggested that students should be interns for whatever they find, such as sales and marketing internships because “investing time in sale and marketing is valuable because the skills are cross-transferable.” He urged students to be flexible to what is being offered in the market.

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The panel emphasized the importance of work experience more than high grades. Alizeh Batra Merchant of the University of Bath stated that “students put too much emphasis on grades. It’s not what we’re seeing increasingly,” highlighting the value of self-learning because the GPA is written on paper but will not be beneficial in real case of dilemma in a work place setting. She encouraged students to study and by their junior or senior years of college, apply for internships to build networks and learn about the functionality of the industry.

Agreeably, the representative of Interns-Me said employers want interns that will make an impact and “make us miss them when they’re gone.” They are searching for interns that by the end of the 3 months, will keep in contact to potentially hire them. He advised the audience, saying “embrace any learning experience you can have,” as maybe students will find their passion years later after working in a different major. Linked-In representative also added “keep learning, even in work, you don’t just learn in university. Keep on developing yourselves.”

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