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.
The College recently held its second Reality Ready® symposium, which was held on Tuesday, June 22, in the VisTaTech Center with a cohort of students who work in Learning Support Services, Bradner Library, and who participate in student organizations through the Student Activities Office.
Learning Center Coordinator Elizabeth Kenney moderated the session facilitated by Van Nguyen, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer; Dr. Michael Oliver, Associate Dean of Career Services; Michael Williams, Director of Financial Aid; and Sharon Christian, Director of Learning Support Services.
“I think is this a great experience for any student or anybody in general to get a good understanding and learn from,” said Larson Summers, who is studying business administration and management. “It’s very helpful to learn from people professionally trained on these topics to discuss these matters and teach us how we can open ourselves to these ideas.”
Reality Ready® boosts proficiency in four key areas:
- Emotional Intelligence: IQ isn’t the only thing candidates get assessed by in the real world – EI is equally important. EI 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.
Romina Gega, an accounting student, and Emily Wenzel, who is studying math, found the module on Emotional Intelligence particularly helpful.
“I was most interested in Emotional Intelligence,” Gega said. “That’s been a good topic for me and helped me improve.”
Added Wenzel: “I think it’s very good and useful – most people should hear this. I really liked the Emotional Intelligence portion. That’s really important because everyone needs to know how to be better with their Emotional Intelligence.”
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 1:5 ratio. In real time, the table coach assessed if the students understood the content, provided clarity and coached them how to apply the skills.
“I love it – it’s more than I expected it to be and very interactive,” said Alexis Gibson, who is studying broadcast communications.
She appreciated several topics that will benefit her career.
“Body language, tone, understanding people,” Gibson said in checking off key learnings from Reality Ready® that will help her moving forward. “Things are never going to be perfect, but you have to realize who you are so you know how to lead and what you say is going to affect you and your community. The camera is always on!”