The Future of Work With Jacob Morgan

Cindy Parnell is the Executive Director at Arizona State University Career and Professional Development Services.  At 103,000 students, ASU is the largest university in the country. Parnell’s team of 35 serves all students.

Career services is a unique department in that it has multiple constituents including students and alumni. Career advisors are specialists who know and understand trends. This drives the programming and it is helping students by getting targeted information to help them move to their next steps.

Traditional education is focused on theory, knowledge acquisition - the true liberal arts education that is embedded with research.  At ASU they take a more real world approach. One option is for students to work in a team in an interdisciplinary approach. The students who make up the team come from a variety of programs, so there could be students who are studying engineering, law and business alongside students studying art, communication, and teaching. They come together to work on a ‘real problem’ and then present it to the company which posed the problem. This allows students to work together to produce solutions around real world issues.

Parnell says, “The new wave of education is around creating ‘master learners.” ASU is creating a group of master learners. The jobs don’t exist for many students that are just beginning their college programs, so it is about creating opportunities to practice critical learning skills. Non routine jobs will most likely be what exists for the students when they leave college. So ASU realizes they need to teach that.

To do this they create environments for students to come to together to practice and then to debrief. Then the students will know how to adjust. ASU wants to drive learning and can allow missteps – without real world consequences and teach the students to then move along.

Some of ASU’s Innovations that are discussed are:

  • Public service academy – an optional program for students with all different majors to learn and work in cross sector organizations. They are exposed through a variety of internships
  • ‘Eventithons’ and hackathons hosted by Fulton Schools of Engineering – the faculty drive these. They work with employer partners so employees from these organizations work alongside college students. It gives students opportunities to gain skills and connections
  • A new course being implemented- it is open to any student, of any major - for a 6 week course they work alongside a corporate partner to work on a project. This allows for students to see how working together with different people can create new things and they will eventually present to the organization.


Parnell’s advice to employers is to connect with students earlier. Don’t wait until they are applying for jobs, connect with them while they are just starting college.

Parnell’s advice to parents is to let the students dabble and try different classes to see what they can excel. It’s ok to for them to change majors. It is important for students to get relevant experience.

What You Will Learn In This Episode:

  • Thoughts on the ‘return on investment’ - ROI - of a college education
  • How important is the brand of a university
  • The role of diverse teams
  • How companies are partnering with ASU to connect with students on a personal level
  • What are ASU Takeover days
  • Innovative ways ASU is preparing their students for the future of work


Direct download: Cindy20Parnell20Podcast-DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 7:38am PDT