Collaborating With Business for Experiential Learning

Director of academic initiatives at the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), Nancy Woolever, tells AACSB about the opportunities business schools have to collaborate with business practice for experiential learning.


Nancy Woolever: [00:17] I think that the biggest increase in experiential learning is coming by business schools collaborating with organizations in the local community. Typically, and in the past, it used to be only internships, but we're seeing, especially in HR, students leveraging all kinds of opportunities in order to gain experience. The students are the ones who know that the more relevant experience they have in the field, the better candidate they're going to be when applying for a job.

[00:48] For example, HR students have a tendency to take multiple internships, but they also do things like seek out service-learning and experiential-learning courses in their bachelor's or master's program and work on projects or research projects—we call them directed work projects or directed research projects—under the supervision of a faculty member, but also in collaboration with a local HR professional in the community.

[01:15] We recently surveyed faculty who teach HR and employers who hire recent graduates in HR, and the increase in the amount of HR-relevant experience that one must possess before even getting a foot in the door for an interview came out to be over 90 percent of them said at least two years of HR-relevant experience to even get an interview, for an entry-level job. It's shocking.

[01:46] The last time we did the research was in 2013, and the percentage was 92 percent said six months to a year. Now it's over 90 percent is saying two years of HR-relevant experience. Well, how are you going to get that experience to get a foot in the door for the interview if you don't leverage everything that's at your fingertips?

[02:07] Internships, part-time work, full-time work, work-study, directed project, directed research. We're seeing an increase across the board, with all the schools that work with us, which is about 450. All of them are moving in that direction of providing more of those types of experiences, because it's all about graduating students, getting them placed, getting them started in their career.

[02:30] Then the other thing that we've added to the mix to help students come out with both a degree and a certification—for every student that attends a program that aligns with our curriculum guidelines and has X number of hours of relevant experience, they'll be able to take the SHRM Certified Professional certification exam in their final year of study. We're hoping to send students on their way much better prepared and much better credentialed.

Filmed April 2017 on site at AACSB's International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM) in Houston, Texas, USA.