Letting students #workplacefail prepares them for real-world technology jobs

I’ve just put 7 years from experience helping students win jobs into a book entitled, Be Employed When You Graduate. In March, I’ll give a solo presentation at SXSWedu about the strategy outlined in my book. The concept is derived from the Digital Corps at Ball State University. The success of our Digital Corps students is phenomenal with one recently getting venture capital for his app, Rumr, and another selling his screenplay to a Hollywood production company. 

 
The Digital Corps, quite simply, gives students an unparalleled work experience while still on campus. While a student’s major gives him or her depth of knowledge in a particular field, the Digital Corps structure provides a safe place for tech minded students to “#workplacefail” and learn the workplace skills required to be successful. The Digital Corps students go through a series of workshops each year designed to get them ready for an internship or real job. They emerge from college with a few years of real world work experience under their belt making everything from movies to apps to 3D printed computers as well as the savvy to navigate the employment market.
 
At some level, this concept is simple. Technology makes it easy for students to share their work with the world. Why have “homework” and “real work”? Why not get started while you’re still a student? Students who have digital literacy take these skills for granted. There’s no reason a student can’t have real world feedback on real world projects when he or she graduates. 
 
Receiving a one star review on iTunes might hurt, but it’s better to get that when your job isn’t on the line. Even if a Kickstarter project fails, there are many lessons to be learned. Why not fail when you’re still a student?
 
With all the concern about employment and student loan debt these days, I wanted to provide a way for every student to find meaningful employment both during and after graduation. Although the Digital Corps has its roots in innovative tech minded students, I share the simple techniques that work for all students.
 
Jonathan Blake Huer is Director of Emerging Technologies at Ball State University. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator, an Adobe Education Leader, and a Campus Technology Innovator. His first book, Be Employed When You Graduate, is now available on paperback, iBook, and Kindle. 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joshua Hall is editor of techpoint.org. He writes about Indiana tech companies, jobs, people & events. @joshua2349