By Thelma Sardin
Local community colleges are working hard to prepare students for careers in the global marketplace. At the McCormick Place on May 20, the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) partnered with Accenture to help students attain skills needed to find jobs and get off on the right track in their careers.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 215,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.
During Accenture’s annual meeting in Chicago, over 800 CCC students and alumni networked with nearly 3,000 of the company’s employees during a “speed networking” session to help the students refine critical interpersonal skills needed to seek employment. Students also learned to use targeted keywords in their resumes to attract employers during online job searches.
Through its Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship initiative, Accenture is working to prepare 250,000 people globally by 2015 with the skills needed for employment or entrepreneurship.
Mike Scimo, Accenture Chicago Managing Director says the company has been working with CCC for nearly six months.
Scimo says strong communication skills, confidence and exercising good judgment are some of the skills students should possess when entering the workforce. “They’re key aspects of being a professional,” he said.
In a recent e-mail, CCC Chancellor Cheryl Hyman explained why Accenture’s CCC partnership is important.
“…it establishes a direct connection between the City Colleges of Chicago students and a successful business and its employees. Most importantly, the relationship is giving our students a leg up by offering them the opportunity to develop the “soft skills” that employers require and the chance to make connections early in their career.”
Hyman also added that the Accenture partnership is an “ongoing and long-term relationship.” “Accenture has developed several unique programs that give our students practical and relevant advice, including how to navigate the 21st century workplace and how to present oneself to a prospective employer.”
The Accenture partnership is also part of educating students for jobs in a global economy. “Accenture is a global management consulting company on the cutting edge of business trends. Our relationship with Accenture offers students’ access to information about growth areas in the job market and the skills needed to be competitive,” Hyman said.
The networking portion of the McCormick place event was successful.
“Our students responded very positively to having the chance to interact with Accenture employees and learn more about what they do and how they got into their careers. It was an educational and rewarding experience for our students,” Hyman stated.
The chancellor also explained how CCC is preparing students to be competitive in job market. She said the city colleges is reviewing all of their “programs and operations with the goal of ensuring our students’ success – whether that is securing or advancing in a job or pursuing further education.”
Additionally, she explained how such programs will meet the demands of the workforce.
“As part of this effort, we are working to make sure our programs align with the demands of the marketplace so that our students are earning credentials of economic value. The Accenture partnership specifically is giving our students critical exposure to the demands of the 21st century workplace so they are ready to hit the ground running. We look forward to building similar partnerships with more area businesses.”
Chancellor Hyman also reiterated some of the same skills Scimo said students will need in the job market.
“I like what Accenture Chairman Bill Green said during our Q & A session. To be successful in business — in any job — first, you need to be competent: That is, be good at what you do and master your job. Second, you need to have confidence: People want to know what you think. Third, you need to care: You have to care about the people you work with and care about the company you work for. And I want to add, seek out mentors, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and always work hard and do your very best.”
One community college in south suburban South Holland is also preparing students for the workforce.
For the past 20 years, South Suburban College (SSC) has hosted a community job fair. This year’s job fair was held on May 17 and the school worked in cooperation with Thornton Township. SSC serves the residents of District 510 which encompasses twenty-one south suburban communities.
JoAnn Morgan, SSC’s Coordinator of Career Development said the college hoped to “expose community members to employers who are looking to hire people.” Students and community residents were able to network with employers and attend an information gathering session.
Morgan said SSC is preparing students for the job market by assisting with job searches, faxing resumes and job applications for students and conducting mock job interviews.
According to its website, SSC offers a free Employer Services web-based Job Posting Board. Register at: www.collegecentral.com/southsuburbancollege