young Black woman working in a fashion design classroom at V C U
VCU's new Interdisciplinary Career Readiness Skills minor is designed to help students draw from courses that are “interdisciplinary in nature but are specifically aimed at career readiness skills that prepare [students] for moving into the workforce after they graduate,” said Zach Hilpert, director of the Interdisciplinary Studies program. (Allen Jones, University Marketing)

Get the job: New minor helps students develop skills that employers seek most in new hires

The minor, offered through VCU’s Interdisciplinary Studies program, focuses on job preparation, and homes in on problem solving, digital technology, global and intercultural fluency, teamwork and leadership.

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s Interdisciplinary Studies program is offering a new minor for undergraduate students this fall that allows them to take courses that emphasize and teach some of the most sought-after competencies employers seek when hiring recent graduates.

The Interdisciplinary Career Readiness Skills minor will enable students to build on the eight career readiness competencies as defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which include critical thinking and problem solving, oral and written communication, teamwork, leadership, work ethic, and global and intercultural fluency.

“The ICS minor will help students from any major on campus deepen their competency in the skills that employers most value,” Constance Relihan, Ph.D., dean of University College, said in August when the minor was announced.

Students will earn the minor by taking classes across a variety of disciplines to meet the 18-credit hour requirement. Coursework could include classes in business, computer science, philosophy, management, information systems and English. A complete list of eligible courses for the minor is published on the Interdisciplinary Studies website.

“An interdisciplinary minor like this one allows students to explore multiple areas of inquiry across the university,” said Zach Hilpert, Ph.D., director of the Interdisciplinary Studies program. “At the same time, students can also tailor the minor to their specific needs — bringing together courses from all disciplines relevant to their career plans.”

Hilpert said the minor is designed to help students draw from courses that are available all over campus that are “interdisciplinary in nature but are specifically aimed at career readiness skills that prepare [students] for moving into the workforce after they graduate.”

“All combined, they add up to a job preparation minor that we feel is preparing students for the kinds of complex and challenging jobs that they’re going to find after they graduate,” he said. “I would recommend it to anybody who is looking to get themselves a leg up in the job market. It’s designed to help people go into job interviews, then their jobs, and be able to demonstrate the kinds of skills that employers are hoping to see in a college graduate.”

Samara Reynolds, director of VCU Career Services, said the minor can be a benefit to students as they both develop skills employers value — and then enter job interviews looking to showcase those skills.

“First and foremost, even for students to be able to put on their resume that they minored in interdisciplinary career readiness, it’s a conversation starter,” Reynolds said. “The minor uses terminology that our employers use and are used to. I think it could be a great way for students to show that they’re serious about their career pathway.”

Reynolds said the language and competencies used in creating and describing the minor are important “because it’s a particular way of talking about the skills that you’re building.”

“This minor gives that clear language where students can say: ‘I am majoring in this,’ or ‘I’m studying this and here are the exact skills that employers say they want that I am building through my course selection and through the things I’m doing at VCU,’” she said.