By Mike Stover. As I considered this month’s Sustainable Development Goal #8, “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”, I felt the need to step back from my normal work at Auburn and evaluate the goal from a different perspective. This process has helped to refocus and center me in the true spirit of what we do every day in our office.
My role in the Harbert College of Business is focused on working with employers from companies across the country in numerous industries to help our students identify high-quality internship and career opportunities. In addition to my work, we have an entire team of career coaches who work with our students through classes, programs, and individual meetings to prepare and equip them with the tools necessary to not only find their first job, but to manage their careers well beyond Auburn. This work is tremendously rewarding, and we can see the results almost immediately. However, it can be easy to fall into a routine and become complacent in our work and forget that there are populations of students that might need additional support and outreach. We strive to be mindful that all students do not arrive at our campus with the same tools and baseline understanding of the world of work. Constantly working to reach students that need more support or encouragement in their professional development is paramount to making sure students don’t leave Auburn without taking advantage of the resources that are available.
Working with students in a College of Business can also find you in a mindset that most of our students are seeking a role in a for-profit business with goals to quickly grow and advance their career. However, there are certainly students in our College that aspire to work in a more philanthropic or service role using their business education to make a positive impact in various ways. We work with several foundations and non-profit organizations that do tremendous work in not only the United States and other first-world countries, but also in much more disadvantaged and developing areas of the world. Using business acumen and entrepreneurial mindset, these organizations help build sustainable business models that make a significant impact on their communities and citizens. Utilizing their business education to benefit others, creating sustainable economic conditions, and productive work. This is the core of SDG Goal #8.
Outside of a business education environment, I think we all have opportunities to impact students and young professionals to encourage tenets of this mindset to benefit the world. Regardless of a student’s chosen major or career path, there are core principles we can work to instill these goals.
For example, encourage mentorship – both as a mentor to peers or younger professionals, but also encouraging finding their own mentors to promote professional growth.
Encourage identifying and cultivating diverse personalities, backgrounds, and points of view. Be intentional in seeking out perspectives and different experiences, which makes each work environment more inclusive.
When possible, seek out opportunities to consider additions to your team that might have obvious challenges but could still be productive members of the team. For example, companies are now intentionally identifying roles for developmentally challenged individuals where their weaknesses are minimized, and strengths are utilized. A great example is Microsoft hiring individuals on the autism spectrum for software testing roles because of their extremely high attention to detail. There are often opportunities to put forth effort to overcome a short-term challenge that has a long-term benefit to the organization if you are open to this different perspective on candidate skills and abilities.
Keeping these ideas in the forefront of our mind as we move throughout our personal and professional lives, we can continue to make progress toward a sustainable work and economic environment.
Post Contributed by Mike Stover, Assistant Director, Employer Relations, Harbert College of Business