How UF is preparing students for a new world of work
With artificial intelligence and other technological innovations poised to create major workforce disruptions, today’s college students are likely to change jobs many times over the course of their careers, experts project.
“UF is leading the way in preparing students for this fast-changing environment, merging traditional skill and career training with an emphasis on nimbleness and flexibility,” said Ja’Net Glover, senior director of UF’s Career Connections Center (C3). “The Career Connections Center makes initial contact with students from the moment they step on campus. We realize our students are entering a changed world when they leave UF, so we prepare them with the tools necessary to succeed and reach their full potential.”
Some of the ways UF is preparing students for tomorrow’s fast-changing landscape:
UF’s AI Across the Curriculum Initiative
UF has committed to being the country’s first “AI University” and is the first institution to adopt an “AI Across the Curriculum” approach, providing every student in every major the opportunity to acquire competence and expertise in AI and data science. UF’s AI Initiative is anchored in a partnership with Silicon Valley-based technology company NVIDIA, which donated one of higher education’s most powerful supercomputers to the university.
Prioritizing student success and industry exposure
Student engagement with C3 starts at freshman orientation. As students progress in their studies, they are required to complete career expectations learning modules and activate career profiles to connect them to tools and opportunities available within the university community for their success. UF’s signature career event, Career Showcase, is the largest campus career fair in the southeast. Career Showcase provides opportunities for students to explore internships, part- and full-time jobs and co-ops. Last fall, over 350 employers attended the event to expose students to various career options and employer partners interested in UF talent. Employers from across the state and the nation attend the event and represent a diverse array of industries in both technical and non-technical professions.
An emphasis on experience
The career center emphasizes the importance of students being active and gaining experience during their time at UF. Participating in experiential learning gives students the opportunity to learn from direct, hands-on experiences rather than in a traditional classroom setting. Direct experiences can range from internships, job shadowing or service learning, to field research or studying abroad. These opportunities enhance the academic experience and allow students to develop relevant competencies and networks to be competitive in a global economy.
A focus on networking and relationships
With an engaged alumni base and a large network of industry allies across the country, students at UF have access to a variety of professional connection opportunities. C3 creates a culture of mentoring by offering opportunities such as Gator Career Consultants, a unique opportunity for an alumnus, parent, employer or friend, to educate and mentor a current student to their next career step. This informal mentoring program allows students to gain important industry knowledge while growing their connections in the workforce. C3 also offers one-on-one career-coaching services up to a year after graduation, and other professional development services for free to students and alumni for a lifelong after graduation.
Flexible options for lifelong learning
U.S. News & World Report has ranked UF as the top institution in the country to offer an online bachelor’s degree. UF Online provides pathways for traditional and non-traditional students, including veterans, mid-career professionals and people with a variety of life circumstances to gain career mobility from the flexibility and access available online. UF also provides upskilling opportunities for professionals who are already in the workforce, including micro-credential and certificate programs.