Blog Post

How to Ensure Students’ Future Success: Building Bridges from College to Career for Gen Z

By Subha Barry
February 15, 2024

With a rich history rooted in research, Seramount partners with a global network of more than 500 companies to address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and talent challenges. Our commitment to empowering inclusive workplaces and bridging the equity gap from college to career is a steadfast priority.

Higher education institutions play a pivotal role in preparing students for a seamless transition into the workforce. It is imperative to understand the challenges faced by early-career talent and the critical need for collaboration between academia and corporations to create a diverse and more equitable talent pipeline.

The pilot program launched by Seramount in 2022 that set out to decrease inequities in early-career recruiting has offered impressive results. The program focused on holistic assessments, going beyond GPA and emphasizing the potential of every candidate, which eliminated bias and avoided algorithms. The statistics demonstrate the success of the program: 75 percent of matched students were offered interviews. But even more interesting, 91 percent of the students were from one or more historically excluded groups.

This is important to note. Gen Z, the most diverse generation in this country’s history and whose members are currently enrolled in colleges and universities across the United States, is set to make up one-fourth of the workforce by 2030. Gen Z’s values, challenges, and aspirations demand our attention, especially their commitment to a more fair, just, and equal society. DEI is dynamic. It evolves, and we, in turn, must adapt. We are moving toward a world where inclusivity is not just a buzzword but an imperative. The student population is changing, and higher ed institutions are the guiding hands that can help shape their success in the workplace and in life. 

This is one of the reasons colleges and universities should remain committed to DEI efforts despite challenges and legal setbacks such as the overturning of Affirmative Action, legislative restrictions at the state level, pushback on DEI as “woke,” and continuing political headwinds. There is so much we can’t control, so we must focus on what we can. Let’s focus on creating environments where students can engage in respectful and inclusive conversations, preparing them for diverse workplaces, multigenerational teams, and differences of opinion. They can be a part of the solution instead of fanning the flames of disagreement.

The relationship between habits built in college and their impact on workplace success is an intricate one. Higher ed institutions serve as the vessel where diverse perspectives are encountered, and the ability to navigate these differences (whether of thought, background, race, religion, political affiliation, etc.) becomes a crucial skill for the workplace.  

Drawing inspiration from educator and writer Irshad Manji, I suggest a 5-step formula for productive disagreements:

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Create common ground.
  • Ask a sincere question.
  • Listen with intent and thoughtfully.
  • Ask another question. 

Building these habits of intellectual curiosity, inclusive behaviors, and gained insight, along with maturity, will lead Gen Z to workplace success.

Gen Z is a beacon of hope. They are the catalysts for change and a more inclusive future, but they need support. I am challenging higher education institutions to strengthen their own commitment to DEI and to think about how to make a difference in these young people’s lives and forge a future where every student, regardless of background or circumstance, finds a place to thrive.

Contact us to learn how Seramount can support your inclusive talent strategies.

About the Author

Subha V. Barry
Subha Barry