Over 260 Harold Washington students and recent graduates signed up and attended an event at McCormick Place sponsored by Accenture, my former employer.
The day started with a networking opportunity. Accenture employees and City College students and recent graduates paired up so that our students could ask for career advice. I was proud that our HWC students were sharply dressed and, as more than one Accenture employee told me, asked great questions with poise.
The networking was followed by inspirational speeches by Chancellor Hyman and Bill Green, the Chairman of Accenture’s board. They both shared their stories about how a community college had changed their lives. A few Accenture employees stood up during the Q&A and talked about their own experiences at community college. One woman in their Finance department who has been with Accenture for over 20 years identified herself as a graduate of Daley College (which prompted enthusiastic applause from President Aybar).
Also during the Q&A (with over 3,000 people in the room) one of our Harold Washington students (and a Year Up participant) stood up to ask Bill Green what characteristics he believes make his best employees. Bill broke his response into capabilities and characteristics. The capabilities for good employees were analytical thinking, common sense, good judgment, and getting along with others. He expanded upon analytical thinking, explaining that he views the ability to look at problems critically, break them down, and then logically decide how to begin to solve it, as critical to success. I was pleased to hear that one of the core values of what our faculty hope to provide our students was front and center.
The characteristics Bill outlined were competence, confidence, and caring. He talked about the need to develop deep knowledge in an area. That mastery gives you the confidence to share it with others. You then need to care enough to share it and try to make a difference.
The large plenary was followed by breakouts, where Accenture employees talked about the need to protect your online reputation. The recommended that students join LinkedIn, and that they also guard what they post on their Facebook walls. They learned that companies now routinely search online social media sites in their background checks of individuals. They also said that every Tweet in Twitter is being saved in perpetuity at the Library of Congress. Many students I talked to appreciated the straight talk about how to protect themselves.
All in all, a great day for our students. I thank Accenture for their willingness to engage with our students, and I thank the students who took advantage of the opportunity.