Posted February 5, 2014 by Scott Reed 

A Top Ten Outcomes Approach

Many of us in college unions have been developing and tweaking our student employee development programs for years. By attending conference presentations highlighting the many great programs and from being involved with our program for years, for the most part, we seem to all be seeking a logical outcomes base for how we create these programs. The logical base idea is to develop outcomes and then to assess them in gauging our progress. Outcomes can be based around many resources including theory, productivity, etc., but one idea we have used for years is a simple look at the base element of the top skills that employers are seeking from college graduates.

Through a simple Google search, we can easily find several skill lists that are based on market research that employers are seeking from college graduates. The primary source we have used is a Top 10 list from the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AACU).

Though the sources and associations that create these lists vary greatly, we have found that the top ten skills seem to be consistent from source to source as long as the skill focuses are not industry specific. Interestingly, after looking at these lists for years, the top ten skills seem to generally remain in the top ten but the order does seem to vary over time. The good part about the list remaining constant is that it leaves a good long-term base source for developing programs and experiences for our student employees that will, in theory, directly assist them in finding a job after graduation. Another advantage to using these skills is that student employee graduates may leave knowing how to articulate their experience in these skill areas.

Listed below is the latest skill set order from AACU:

  1. The ability to work well in teams—especially with people different from yourself
  2. An understanding of science and technology and how these subjects are used in real-world settings
  3. The ability to write and speak well
  4. The ability to think clearly about complex problems
  5. The ability to analyze a problem to develop workable solutions
  6. An understanding of global context in which work is now done
  7. The ability to be creative and innovative in solving problems
  8. The ability to apply knowledge and skills in new settings
  9. The ability to understand numbers and statistics
  10. A strong sense of ethics and integrity

Applying intentional learning opportunities around these skills to a student employee environment is the next step. For us, in a recent mid-year leadership retreat, we designated an entire afternoon discussing these skill sets through awareness, dialog, group application ideas, culture-building ideas, and individual mentorship brainstorming. Through applying some infusion ideas this year, we hope that having an intentional base for student employee outcomes will help supervisors, student employees, functional areas, and the leadership team to have a good outcomes frame work to create a mix of direct and subliminal mentorship around these desirable skills.

Scott Reed

Scott Reed is the Associate Director of Student Centers and Activities at Virginia Tech.

Scott oversees and directs services, operations, and facility management needs for four student center buildings. Through this role, he has overseen renovations, served on the campus sustainability committee, led safety planning for the union, and is currently co-chairing a facility management software transition team. A long time member and volunteer for ACUI, Scott received his bachelor’s in sports management from Western Carolina University and his master’s in kinesiology with a concentration in sports and recreation management from James Madison University.


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