To the Point

The Making of Tomorrow’s Leaders

We all share a responsibility to help prepare those who represent the future of our industry.

College graduates from the class of 2016 can toss their caps in the air this year with a little more confidence: 67 percent of employers plan to hire them. That’s the highest percentage

since 2007, according to a recent survey from CareerBuilder. Both the improving economy and a rising number of retirees are creating room for advancement and, in turn, openings for entry-level candidates.

But don’t celebrate just yet, grads (and your parents). “Just because there are vacancies doesn’t mean college students are always ready to fill them,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, said in a recent press release. Some employers are not convinced new college grads are ready for the working world. Their chief complaint? Too much emphasis on book learning instead of real-world experience.

Of course, this survey included employers in a wide variety of business sectors, and is not necessarily indicative of the meetings and hospitality industries. But it does make this month’s CMP Series article on internships all the more relevant. Convene Digital Editor Kate Mulcrone talked to two college professors about how they support internships as part of the learning process, as well as two meeting professionals who employ interns, for insights on how to make it a valuable experience for all parties. 

It’s clear that the onus for preparing students for the real world shouldn’t only be on universities. As employers and industry stewards, we all share a responsibility for helping those who have a genuine interest in the meetings industry to get enough first-hand experience to understand how it works. 

Offering internships or mentoring opportunities is important. But as our article points out, it’s critical that those internships help prospective employees participate in the day-to-day work in a meaningful way, and that they aren’t just given menial tasks and limited exposure to the ins and outs of your business.

For those of you already in the working world, don’t forget about your own ongoing professional development. Recent graduates aren’t the only ones who will move from job to job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, younger Baby Boomers have already changed jobs about 12 times, and that number is sure to go up as they finish out their careers.

No matter where you are in your career, getting exposure to new and different industry roles is a move that is likely to pay off in the future. That can be accomplished not only through internships and job hopping, but via volunteer positions, networking, mentoring, and reverse-mentoring. There’s much to be learned from younger generations, especially when it comes to their digital mastery. And who knows? That recent college graduate you work with today may help make a connection for you in the future.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.