There are infinite reasons to move on to higher education. For those in the higher realms of academia, such as Ph.D. students, it may just be the love of learning that calls them to continue. For many students, though, the ultimate goal is to find a job, even a dream job. So how should teachers prepare their classes for the inevitability of the job hunt and a career? Beyond the nuts and bolts of the subject, students need to master the technical skills that make the working world run. Below are a few tools every student should have in their toolbox, and yes—whether you're getting a master's in business or a master's in finance, you need to have a Facebook account.
No matter what your field, you'll eventually need to present your ideas, either to a client or a supervisor. These days, if you come into a meeting with a 30-slide presentation comprised of big blocks of text, you're unlikely to impress, regardless of your great ideas. Teachers should introduce students to unique presentation tools, and have them look for inspiration from other's successes on sites like Slideshare. Style is just as important as content. Think eye-catching layouts, graphics, and a focus on "interest graph" thinking instead of straightforward bullet points. Students should be encouraged to put just as much work into their presentations as they do the research.
You don't need to devote an entire class period to Facebooking. Odds are, almost everyone now has a Facebook or LinkedIn profile, maybe even a Twitter account. However, it's a good idea to devote some time to discussing the care and maintenance of an online presence—not only for a business as a marketing tool, but as an individual as well. A quick Internet search may be a future client or employer's first glimpse of you, so it's irresponsible not to be aware of what they will find. Teach students to manage their accounts, online articles or blogs, and even old photos, to put their best face forward.
Collaboration is a part of any job. In the interest of better preparing your students for post-graduate life, explore alternative communication skills as part of the class. Those looking for international positions may need to interview via online video or phone chat; hone those skills in class by phoning an expert to serve as a guest speaker/interviewer. Have group member’s work together on a Wiki: an editable website with input from all participants. Go over, however briefly, conference call etiquette and the best way to draft an email signature.
By incorporating these tools, you not only add variety to the semester, you introduce ways of thinking that will be invaluable down the road. Academia, especially in advanced fields of study, can be both overwhelming and encompassing; students may face a shock when they move outside the bubble of research and reports. With technology moving at the speed of light, it's part of your responsibility as an educator to stay on top of new trends in communication and technology so your students are not left behind.
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