I am thrilled to talk again to Alexandra Levit, who I interviewed back in February, about a new initiative that she is a part of called JobSTART101 that targets college students and recent graduates to supplement their professional skills.  Here are 5 quick questions…and answers!

CR: What is JobSTART101 and how did the idea come about?

AL: JobSTART101: Smart Tips and Real-World Training (www.jobstart101.org) is an online course for college students and recent graduates that introduces the professional skills necessary to succeed in the workplace.  The need for JobSTART101 was identified by The Springboard Project – an independent commission of thought leaders convened by Business Roundtable – who recommended specific actions that would help Americans get the education and training they need to succeed in the evolving economy. The experts urged employers to better communicate workforce needs and expectations to students and increase American’s workplace readiness and competitiveness.

CR: Why do you think this is needed in today’s economy?

AL: Even in a time of soaring unemployment, a survey revealed that 61 percent of U.S. employers report difficulty in finding qualified workers to fill vacancies at their companies. JobSTART101 addresses the gap between employers’ needs and workers’ skills by helping students understand the real-life challenges and expectations of the workplace. 

CR: With so much unemployment, why did you choose to focus on students and young professionals?

AL: Not only are they the largest and fastest growing segment of the workforce right now, but twenty-somethings are the most critical because in the upcoming years, with the Boomers exiting traditional employment and too few Generation X-ers to take their place, the current generation of twenty-somethings, known as the Millennials, will be called upon to take on leadership positions at a younger age.  Without these skills, they simply won’t be ready.

CR: What are the biggest problems that college graduates face when transitioning into the workforce?

AL: College graduates simply don’t realize the importance of effective workplace communication, establishing a strong reputation, and ensuring that you’re making a valuable contribution to your organization.  These are areas we targeted specifically in JobSTART 101, and it’s our hope that a student or young professional who spends 90 minutes with this course will be a more productive employee and experience greater satisfaction in his/her first job without having to undergo extensive – and expensive – coursework or training.

CR: What’s next for you and the initiative?

AL: Prior to this week’s release, a group of college students provided feedback on the course.  Six institutions of participated in the pilot evaluation: California State University at East Bay, Coppin State University, DeVry University, Duke University, Northern Virginia Community College and University of Michigan.  Now that the course is widely available, we are hoping to get even more student feedback so that we can keep evolving it.  We’re also hoping to spread the word to as many managers and HR executives as possible so that they can be better equipped to advise young professionals.

For more information, visit www.jobstart101.org. 


This post is sponsored by Walden.edu.  If you want to take control of your career, consider an online MBA to achieve professional success.