17 Quotes & Notes on What Employers Want Most & Get Least from Grads

SXSWedu 2015 is over. Educators and edupreneurs are heading back home. What are they taking with them that they didn’t have before? That is going to be different for each person, but following are 17 jewels that I plan to keep, polish and put to good use over the upcoming months and years. Each of these come from a single panel on the last day of the event called, “What Employers Want Most & Get Least out of Grads.”

1. Majors & Work
In a panel on What Employers Want Most and Get Least out of Grads, one of the panelists asked an audience of 150+ people, “How many currently work outside your original field of study in college?” More than 75% of the people raised their hands. This has huge implications for education.
2. 4.0 Does Not Equal CEO
“GPAs are worthless as criteria for hiring. We found that they don’t predict anything other than performance in the next level of school.” -Kristen Hamilton, CEO of Koru, quoting Laszlo Bock
3. What Have You Done Lately?
“The world no longer cares how much you know, but it cares how much you can do with what you know.” – Tony Wager, author of Creating Innovators and Bridging the Global Achievement Gap
4. Schooling Lessons & Life Lessons 
Contrasting schools with what is often needed outside of school. The school focuses on the individual while the workplace calls for teamwork. Schools compartmentalize knowledge the world calls for multi-disciplinary work and thinking. Schools are about passivity and following the syllabus compared to taking intuitive and working together to solve unstructured problems. Schools nurture risk aversion and fear of failure, but the workplace reward innovation, problem solving and taking calculated risks. Schools focus on carrots and sticks but the workplace needs intrinsic motivators who want to make a difference and do worthwhile work. – notes from Tony Wagner’s comments
5. Show Your Work 
“The single most important thing you [teachers] can do tomorrow is to have every student build a digital portfolio where they can display real-work…artifacts.” Imagine the signal it would send if every University admissions office created 5-10% of the entering class spots based purely on digital portfolios. – Tony Wagner
6. Work as More Than a Paycheck 
Engagement is crucial in the work place. Employers don’t want to hire people who just clock their hours. They want people who are deeply engaged in their work. – Zach First of the Drucker Institute
7. What You Do More Than Where You Go
In a Gallup study of 30,000 college grads, they discovered that it is not where you go to college, but what you do while you’re there. There is no connection between prestige of school and engagement at work. – Zach First, Senior Managing Director at the Drucker Institute
8. What it Takes for Engaged College Students
There are 6 collegiate determinants of being engaged: the professor cares, the professor is excited about learning, the professor encourages you to pursue your dreams, there are internships, active involvement in extracurriculars, and working on projects that take a semester or more to complete. Right now, only 3% of college students report having all of these 6, only 6% had 4-5 of them, and only 14% of college graduates report having 1-3.  -Kristen Hamilton, CEO of Koru
9. What it Takes to Thrive in the Work Place
The KORU7 of what employers want and need from graduates and people they hire: grit, rigor, polish, impact, curiosity, teamwork, and ownership. -Kristen Hamilton, CEO of Koru
10. Becoming a Problem Surfacer & Solver
We need to de-program students by throwing them on the street and having them interview customers about the problems in their lives. – -Kristen Hamilton, CEO of Koru
11. Self-Direction, Seeing Needs and Acting
Companies hiring (the growing ones) don’t have job descriptions as much as a buffet of problems. They don’t like hiring new graduates because “They expect us to tell them what to do.” These employers want people who take ownership and just dive into solving important problems. – Zach First, Senior Managing Director at the Drucker Institute
12. An Ownership Mindset & Workplace Skills
Graduates need skills like how to run a meeting, how to write succinct, to ask great questions and be deeply curious, engage in teamwork and have a ownership mindset instead of a victim mindset. -Kristen Hamilton, CEO of Koru
13. From Data-Driven to Evidence-Based
“We are using multiple choice tests with disastrous results. What gets measured is what matters.” We need to move from data-driven to evidence-based, informed by qualitative and quantitative inquiry.  – Tony Wagner
14.  Serial Monogamy & the Workplace
“People used to marry their companies and now there is serial monogamy. If you are not in for the long haul, why should people care or make the most of that short spring fling?” People are not thinking about what is your job, but what is the portfolio of things that you call work? As a result, learning is more important than ever across environments. Look at relationships between employer and employee as learning relationships…that we are here to do and discover things together with the understanding that we will all be doing different things in the future. – Zach First
15. Passion with Priorities 
“Anything is possible, but not everything is possible.” We don’t want to have people drinking 5-hour energy and sleeping less. -Kristen Hamilton, CEO of Koru
16. Note to Parents
Parenting – “This is the chance to let them fail. Let them get to the point where they get to, ‘Holy shit!’ moments.” -Kristen Hamilton, CEO of Koru
17. Schizophrenic Relationships with Technology
Many schools have a schizophrenic relationship with tech. “How often do you see collaboration and communication with tech, when tech in the workplace is not to entertain or engage, but get good and important work done?”