Dear Business Leaders, Please Hire My Professors as Interns

In Chamber Blog by admin

If you completed a business degree in the 1980s or 1990s, you could confidently assume that the skills you learned would be relevant for your entire career. That’s just not true anymore. According to research by the World Economic Forum, many of today’s business school skills are out of date in less than five years. 

Right now, machine learning is still in its infancy, but the rapid advances in artificial intelligence are forcing digital transformation on all businesses. The good news is that technological advances are creating new, more highly-skilled jobs. The bad news is that these same technological advances are destroying traditional jobs in every industry and financial sector, and in the process, forcing business schools to adapt and find new ways forward in terms of relevance, curriculum and delivery. 

One way forward is to offer business professors two-week paid internships with your company. Why? Because taking professors out of the classroom and putting them in your business for two weeks pays multiple and immediate dividends for you, for the business curriculum, and ultimately for the quality of graduates you hope to hire in the not-too-distant future.

When you bring a professor to work, you are getting someone who is highly educated and deeply interested in understanding your business operations and processes. This person will most likely have advanced research skills and be intellectually aligned with current management theories, supply chain concepts, data analytics, or programming languages. (S)he will observe, listen, take notes, and ask questions. Most importantly, (s)he will learn about the challenges of business today. 

When the professor returns to the classroom, (s)he is different. (S)he knows what is happening in the real world. (S)he now knows firsthand what kinds of scalable skills new hires will need to be successful in your business. Her/his lectures are more robust and her stories more animated. The problem sets (s)he presents are more timely, realistic, and important. Best of all, her/his students are more engaged because they are learning about real issues that have real consequences for business.

The results of this simple partnership are magnified many times over in various ways. On your end, you are now connected into a pipeline for student interns and work-ready graduates. You become a regular presenter in our business program and help us by providing insights and recommendations into curriculum upgrades. On our end, as an AACSB accredited business school, we achieve our mandate of societal impact, engagement and innovation. 

What is clear to most of us in Higher Ed is that the static concept of education as it has been promulgated for hundreds of years is no longer adequate for a highly technical, global economy in a constant state of change and adaptation. The future of success today is predicated on our ability to rapidly learn, unlearn and relearn. Business professors must be the ones to disrupt and reinvent the curriculum, but they can’t do it without the help and input of business.

This is why hiring professors as interns and at the same time inviting you into our classrooms to work with us are two of the simplest and fastest ways to make business education more relevant, purposeful, and truly preparatory for the age of acceleration.

This blog post was written by Astrid Sheil, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Business, Shenandoah University