Being smart and talented used to be enough in business. In today’s climate, defined by round-the-clock challenges, multicultural workplaces and team members who might be located off-site or even around the world, those qualities are just the start, the bare minimum.
In addition to the academic rigor and hands-on training that community colleges excel at, companies today are hungry for entry-level employees who possess the critical skills to work effectively in a fast-paced, high-pressure global business environment.
Schoolcraft College proactively worked with dozens of area businesses, many of which have global reach, to develop curriculum that addressed this glaring and growing need.
The result: Reality Ready®, an initiative that helps Schoolcraft students win in the workforce. Through an intensive, interactive all-day program, students come away equipped with intellectual and behavioral skills that result in well-rounded individuals who employers are seeking.
Kevin Parkyn, president of Parkyn Group and a corporate trainer and executive coach, was one of the facilitators for the first Reality Ready® symposium, which was held on Tuesday, March 16, at Radcliff Center with a cohort of eight students in programs related to healthcare.
Schoolcraft College partnered with Parkyn Group to develop this specific program in response to the College’s researched needs of local businesses. Based on his 20 years’ experience working with a variety of business clients, Parkyn believes that Reality Ready® addresses an important need in the marketplace.
“Consistently, companies say that 80 to 85 percent of their challenges are on the people side,” Parkyn said. “I’m amazed how often they ask, ‘Why don’t I have in my office the person that I interviewed that’s on the resume?’ The answer is we’ve trained people how to interview really well, but what’s missing are some of the basic skills to be able to interact well with customers, clients and co-workers to be able to accomplish the goals of the company.”
Reality Ready® boosts proficiency in four key areas:
- Emotional Intelligence: IQ isn’t the only thing candidates get assessed by in the real world – EQ is equally important. EQ demonstrates the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
- Conflict Resolution: An informal or formal process that two or more parties use to find a peaceful solution to their dispute through key points of negotiation arbitration and conflict avoidance.
- Professional and Personal Communication: The oral, written, visual and digital forms of receiving and delivering information in the context of a workplace as well as personally. Acquiring nonverbal communication skills and the ability to have clear and concise conversations.
- Networking and Professionalism: The cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. In addition, exhibiting characteristics that can apply to virtually any type of business, including exuding competency, reliability, proper appearance any other qualities.
Communication Skills are More Important Than Ever
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to operate remotely. While technology is a great tool, it can be a poor substitute for face-to-face interaction.
Joan Tobin, owner of J. Tobin LLC, joined Parkyn as a facilitator, adding her expertise developed from corporate training, employee development leadership, communication change management and design training and learning. She said Reality Ready® is especially vital during these challenging times.
“We always knew communication was important, but in a virtual environment you have to be even more intentional and purposeful because you don’t get to see the reactions or feel the energy,” she said.
Parkyn said he encourages participants to turn on their camera during a video conference. “How you say it and what you say is vital,” he said.
Building on Core Abilities
The areas presented in Reality Ready® mirror and build upon the eight Core Abilities established by Schoolcraft College. The Core Abilities are broad outcomes or skills that every graduate of Schoolcraft College is expected to achieve. From a practical standpoint, these universal skills are transferable from one job to the next.
Here’s how Reality Ready® modules connect to Core Abilities:
- Emotional Intelligence connects to Social and Cultural Awareness
- Conflict Resolution connects to Act Responsibly
- Professional and Personal Communication connects to Communicate Effectively
- Networking and Professionalism connects to Manage Information
How Reality Ready® works: Putting theory into practice
Schoolcraft College has addressed the need for an engaging and practical training event for students of the college by creating a one-day symposium led by a dynamic, diverse group of professionals. This approach will create an environment for attendees to attain some sensible “real world” skills that will benefit them in the workplace and provide confidence as they pursue the next chapter in their lives – obtaining a job, getting accepted into a four-year institution, being selected for an important internship and more.
An interactive environment of table teams drives much of the learning. This approach allows a more tailored effect for the students in how they learn because each table had a 1:4 ratio. In real time, the table coach assessed if the students understood the content, provided clarity and coached them how to apply the skills.
Alisha Fisher, a second-year student from Westland who is on the Nursing track, enjoyed the interaction and lively discussions.
“I’ve always tried to take other peoples’ perspective into consideration, but now I’m learning why and how they might be different, which is really helpful,” she said.
Mary Rader, Medical Assisting Program Director, liked how Reality Ready® built upon the Core Abilities and reinforced what instructors already have been explaining in classes.
“It’s reiterating more of my content than I thought it would, so I’m really excited for that,” she said. “The more often the students hear it, the more concrete it becomes. It’s a good match with Core Abilities, which I explain in my syllabus as the skills employers want you to have.”
Allison Faudel, a second-year Medical Assisting student from South Lyon, echoed Rader’s comments.
“I’m really enjoying it,” she said. “I like how interactive it is and applicable to what they’re teaching us. I like having the discussions with everyone and seeing their perspectives. It’s given me a broader understanding.”