What We Know About What Employers Want

A recent survey of 20,000 employers revealed that the number one character trait they feel is lacking in young adults is ‘GRIT,’ defined as the ability to persist, to be tenacious, to try again, and again, and repeat, until the job is done — and done well.

Managers are reporting a rising number of cases of newly hired grads and young workers who become easily discouraged while on the job. When things get tough, these workers sometimes even call their parents for advice (which is okay to do when at home, but not at the office). Recruitment experts say young hires often lack the ability to recover from setbacks and cannot persist in the face of challenges. Some call it grit, others resilience, others professionalism. Many employers credit those workers’ lack of persistence to the fact that most have not experienced enough adversity to build up the tenacity they need to be successful.

College and university staff are worried too. They say ‘helicopter parenting’ is becoming common. This term refers to parents who interfere with class processes and grading systems to ensure their teens pass even when the teens don’t know the material. These higher education officials often blame societal changes that have given rise to a generation that is less likely to persevere — and therefore less likely to graduate from college. Many high school teachers have been quick to agree.

We are here to help correct that situation.

The Internship Depot program lasts for 5 years. While respectful of students’ time limitations, the program is challenging and demanding, and will ensure that participating students have developed the GRIT they will need in the workforce by virtue of the sheer willpower they exerted to complete our program.

We know our program helps students increase their resilience because we have included in our design all three of the activities that Gallop’s research identifies as grit-builders:

  • a mentor who can help the student survive periods of difficulties,
  • work on a long-term demanding project, and
  • get some work experience (internships included) that’s relevant to their coursework and career plans.

The Internship Depot offers all of the above. So students should get, and stay, involved, and encourage their high school leadership to adopt and implement our programs.

But students will need to buckle down in other ways as well.

According to another survey completed by 613 college students who were about to graduate, most believed they were ready to enter the world of work. Those who had a decent GPA and followed at least most of the advice they have been given were the most sure they were ready for employment success.

But most employers don’t agree, according to a recent online survey of 400 executives at private-sector and nonprofit organization.

The students indicated that they felt qualified in areas like written and oral communication, critical and analytical thinking, and applying knowledge and skills to the real world. But employers consistently rated students lower than they rated themselves. For example, while 59 percent of students said they were well prepared to analyze and solve complex problems, just 24 percent of employers said they had found that to be true of recent college graduates.

So students will need to step up their game if they want to get a job, and be ready to persist through all obstacles in order to keep the jobs they get.

*Casey Fabris The Chronicle of Higher Education
*The Grit Institute
*Association of American Colleges and Universities
*Hart Research Associates
*Gallup.com
*Other credible sources on the Internet

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See the Sequence of Programs and Activities Across Grade Levels.