Maybe it’s because the name itself conjures images of your career counselor in high school. Or maybe it’s the fact that most of us have only been on the interviewee side of the table, and never the interviewer. Either way, if you haven’t done them before, informational interviews can be one of the more awkward aspects of your job search.
Poor alignment of American businesses with the schools that train their workers is creating a "skills gap" that may make it hard to fill as many as 650,000 technical- and science-based jobs by 2018.
The country needs a shift in how industry and educational institutions relate to each other, economists and business executives say.
It’s 10:15 AM, and the professional who’s graciously agreed to let me shadow her for the day has just finished answering my questions about her career path, what she likes and dislikes about the job, and how to break into her industry. Now she is staring at me. I smile back. The panic that plays across her face as she realizes she has no idea what to do with me for the next six hours and 45 minutes is painfully obvious.
“Um, so, I’m just going to do some stuff on my computer now.” She says awkwardly. “Do you want to just hang out in my office?”
What is Tuition Reimbursement?
Just as it sounds, tuition reimbursement is something that many employers offer as a way to pay back employees for education expenses. Those who choose to participate still have to pay out of pocket for the courses they take. When the course is over, the employee can get back some or all of the tuition expenses. At some institutions, students with financial constraints may qualify to defer payment until their coursework is complete.
Employee development is modified to fit the position, industry, job duties and employees’ career plans. Likewise, different forms of training are better suited for certain jobs, such as apprenticeships for skilled trades and mentoring and onboarding for professional occupations. Training or mentoring programs are flexible in terms of time and amount of instruction they provide. Commonly, apprenticeships and onboarding are for shorter, defined periods. Job shadowing and mentor-mentee relationships can support continuous employee development over an extended period.
Several years ago, the company I worked for offered — and most likely still offers — a benefit I find valuable: a free education. Included in the benefits package was reimbursement for certain tuition expenses. The company would pay ninety percent of all costs of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in any field as well as the same percentage of expenses for earning a master’s degree related to the employee’s field. Job-related certifications were also covered by the employer. There were some caveats for receiving the reimbursement, but there weren’t many hoops to jump through.
All 18 organizations (that participated in an EY/MENTOR study about mentoring) encourage employees to mentor, making it possible for them to volunteer during business hours, but that mentoring happens in many different ways.
Tuition assistance is an employer-provided employee benefit that is a win-win for your workplace. In a tuition assistance program, an employer pays all or part of an employee's cost to attend college or university classes. Tuition assistance helps employers build employee loyalty and longevity. Tuition assistance is an employee retention tool.
Carl Jones works at Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., but he wants to be an astronaut.
What will his employer think?
Actually, Jones' employer not only supports his lofty ambitions, but pays for Jones to follow his star. Ball fully reimburses Jones' school expenses as he studies for a master's of science in aerospace engineering, with a focus in bioastronautics.
Businesses have a vested interest in their communities. They need a strong pool of local workers to choose from and consumers who can afford their products. Many businesses want to give to the community and invest in it, but sometimes they aren’t sure where to start. Schools can also benefit from these partnerships, providing students with opportunities for success in the workforce.