Colby B. Jubenville, PhD is an accomplished author, speaker, professor, business advisor, entrepreneur and inventor. He holds an academic appointment at Middle Tennessee State University as Special Assistant to the Dean for Student Success and Strategic Partnerships in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences and is Principal of Red Herring Innovation and Design, an agency specializing in helping people and organizations become better known, better understood, and better understand the unique value they deliver.
In 2015 Jubenville accepted an invitation from the Washington Times to write about self-reliance, developing an entrepreneurial mindset and teaching people how to “go their own way.” In that same year he received the Nashville Emerging Leaders Impact Award presented by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville. The award honors one of Nashville’s top leaders who has made a significant impact on Nashville’s YP demographic. I interviewed him for insight into how college graduates can reach their career goals in this challenging time.
Brian Shulman: Even after earning a degree, many of today’s college graduates continue to struggle to find meaningful work after graduation. Why do you think that is, and how can we fix it?
Colby Jubenville: The most important word in your question is “meaningful.” Especially when you consider how the “meaningful” is viewed from the student perspective. I believe students make a bet with their time, money, and energy that higher education has the people, resources and networks to help them become gainfully employed. Gainful employment is not simply trading time for money. Gainful employment is where you find some kind of psychological benefit (meaning) for the work you do.
Today’s students are taught to select a major or a course of study for a career without becoming self-aware about their ideal career—the one they are most suited for and would most enjoy. Because of this, many students end up seeking or gaining employment in a career that is not the right fit for their talent, their passion, or their conscience about specific needs in their world.
The 5 to Arrive program here at Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Student Coaching and Success begins with self-reflection in the application process, and this reflection process continues through each individual coaching session. Also, the Center has partnered with Harrison Assessment Technology. Harrison Assessments not only assist the students with uncovering their ideal career, they provide an opportunity for students to understand their strengths, challenges, enjoyment and interest levels, and provide a roadmap of next steps to help navigate the discovery process. The data gathered by the assessment helps our students really get to know themselves through detailed reporting and one-on-one coaching.
From an employer perspective, while a college degree is crucial, the top personal qualities employers seek are transferable, competency based skills. Organizations today are aware that in the past they have hired for eligibility (the degree and experience) and fired for suitability (the transferable people skills). The cost of a bad hire or a hire that is not the right fit for the position or the culture of the organization is costlier than finding a candidate that is the right fit and teaching them the eligibility skills needed to be successful in the role.
In addition to supporting students’ academic development, it is also imperative that we prepare our students to demonstrate certain competencies for a successful transition into the workplace. Today’s employers are looking for workplace competencies like critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, collaboration, leadership, emotional intelligence, professionalism, work ethics and career management. Our 5 to Arrive model and the Harrison Assessment help us to measure and develop these competencies.
Brian Shulman: What are some challenges that students have when they come to your program? How could high schoolteachers and/or college professors of freshman classes help better prepare them?
Colby Jubenville: The key is becoming self-aware. From my vantage point, students typically have not yet been given the opportunity to truly discover their ideal career, their priorities, values, strengths, life themes, what’s important to them for career success or how to articulate who they are. If we can start earlier in helping students become self-aware, we can assist them not only with finding gainful employment in their chosen career path, but prepare them to navigate the world of work and self-manage the career building process.
Brian Shulman: What do business leaders say they want to see in new college graduates?
Colby Jubenville: Many of the business leaders that provided feedback on our 5 to Arrive program confirmed that a college degree is no longer enough to guarantee a graduate a satisfying career and life. Our graduates must be able to attain and demonstrate the competencies for a successful transition into the workplace. Business leaders and employers are looking for critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, collaboration, leadership, emotional intelligence, professionalism, work ethics and career management—all of which the 5 to Arrive Model addresses.
Brian Shulman: How can today’s parents help prepare high school students and support them when they come to college?
Colby Jubenville: I think it starts with understanding the blurriness, the noisiness and the distractions of life today. This is significantly tied to a combination of parenting, technology, impatience and environment. Parents need to teach their kids to become an “active participant in their own rescue” and help provide them with opportunities to build confidence, learn patience, learn social skills, build relationships and find a better balance between life and technology. Maybe start simple. Ask their kids to live by the following: show up on time, do what you say you will do, and if you can’t do what you say you will do—explain why and use manners.
Brian Shulman: How do you plan to take the 5 to Arrive model and scale it to impact more students?
Colby Jubenville: We want to help as many students as we can transition from education to employment. The 5 to Arrive programming is a turn-key package that includes all the tools and a step-by-step playbook for educators and coaches to guide their students through the journey to becoming gainfully employed in their chosen career path prior to walking across the stage at graduation. Right now we are focusing on refining the model and getting feedback to help MTSU students do just that.
Brian Shulman is a pioneer in educational technology, healthcare services investing and youth sportsmanship initiatives. Follow him on Twitter @brianmshulman.