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Industry-Informed Career Workshops: Helping Students Move from Employer-Ready to Employer-Competitive

Written by Jennifer K. Henry on Jul 23, 2021

Related content: Program Services, Strategic Partnerships, Outcomes

Just like the curriculum for 2U-powered boot camps, the wealth of resources in our Career Engagement Network (CEN) is driven by deep insights and data-rich feedback from 2U’s extensive array of industry partners. These resources include our ever-growing roster of online career workshops and industry engagement events, which come standard for boot camp students as part of their learning experience.

By the end of the month, our CEN will be available to students and alumni across all of our educational offerings, enabling us to help even more students bridge the gap between what they learn in their courses and how they can apply that knowledge to establish a successful and fulfilling career. We’ve developed our career workshop series to give students a robust set of industry-informed tools and wisdom to help them gain a competitive edge with employers.

Employer-Ready Versus Employer-Competitive

Across 2U’s Workforce Engagement team, we’ve connected with thousands of employers to learn exactly what they look for in top job candidates. And through these conversations, we’ve found consistency in how they describe the talent they need: employer-competitive candidates.

Unlike employer-ready candidates who have simply completed the minimum requirements to begin a typical application process, employer-competitive candidates go beyond preparing exemplary professional materials. They seize networking opportunities, perform detailed company and industry research, and demonstrate a clear enthusiasm for ongoing learning. These candidates pursue jobs they desire with effective outreach and follow-up strategies—from attending professional meetups and setting up informational interviews to constantly seeking ways to expand their skill sets.

While employers deem both types of candidates as qualified, the difference comes down to breaking through a crowded job market and standing out at the right time and in the right way. With luck, employer-ready candidates may get noticed by hiring managers in a tall stack of resumes. Employer-competitive candidates maximize their time, resources, and potential to land the targeted job they want and deserve, and on their terms.

We elicit feedback from our industry partners to not only create new workshops, but also update the ones already in place, so that they remain hyper-relevant to today’s hiring landscape.
— Jennifer Henry, SVP of Workforce Engagement, 2U

Topics Informed by Industry Experts and Student Feedback

This kind of industry intel has directly informed the composition of our career workshops to help students become more employer-competitive. We’re tapped into what employers say works and doesn’t work in interviews, which skills they most ask candidates about, and what makes a candidate truly shine. We elicit feedback from our industry partners to not only create new workshops, but also update the ones already in place, so that they remain hyper-relevant to today’s hiring landscape.

The feedback we get from students who participate in our workshops also informs our programming. Through surveys, we ask questions like what the most (and least) engaging aspect of a topic was, which additional topics they’d like to learn about, and how they feel we can improve. As with employers, we use student responses to enhance our offerings and develop new sessions.

Our current suite of workshops encompasses more than 40 topics. Students can sign up for live guidance and advice led by 2U experts on foundational subjects like resume crafting, job searching, and networking. Other sessions dive deeper into such areas as addressing employment gaps on a resume, building emotional intelligence, overcoming imposter syndrome and age bias, and one of my favorites, debunking job search myths.

A sampling of career workshops and industry engagement events from our Career Engagement Network

Relevant, Hands-On, and Direct from the Field

Career relevancy is everything, so many of our workshops connect directly to students’ specific job tracks. For example, we offer a workshop on interview prepping just for jobs in cybersecurity—and other ones for jobs in coding, data analytics, and UX/UI.

Two of our most popular topics, salary negotiation and cover letter writing, are perfect examples of how many of our workshops include a hands-on resource for students. During the session, students can download a 2U-crafted worksheet, guide, or template and start adapting it for their own purposes to take actionable steps toward their goals.

Representatives from our industry partners frequently join us for workshops, too. These invaluable opportunities give students direct insight into the work of professionals they aspire to be—how they’ve navigated the job market, what their day-to-day role is like, and what advice they have for standing out. We’ve hosted everyone from Google and Apple to startups and international brands across dozens of industries. Nothing beats hearing from real-life examples of success.

More Learners, More Topics, More Success

At 2U, we’re here to help students reach their educational and professional goals—and our CEN is a key component of that mission. I’m excited to see how the expanded rollout of our career workshops offers even more students to take charge of their future. The topics are certain to keep growing and evolving so that we can continue to meet the needs of learners at any stage in their career journey.

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Are you a student or alum of a 2U-powered program? To access and learn more about our career workshops and industry engagement events, reach out to CareerWorkshops@2U.com.

Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.