Today’s recruitment process has become a sort of Corporate Tinder. Hiring managers frantically, swiping left and right, hoping to find the right match with the required qualifications, skills, and behaviours... Getting started in the first job is a landmark moment for young professionals. Still, the transition from student to professional is tumultuous and often tedious. Besides being thrown out of the cosy blanket of being a student, they must face the reality of navigating organisations and delivering results that count. This leaves recruiters expecting new hires to seamlessly assimilate into the labyrinth of corporate life with a seemingly different mindset.
Our education has trained us to think in silos, forcing us to solve problems through specialised knowledge rather than thinking beyond the comfort of our discipline. The biggest challenge we face as educators, today, is that we are preparing our students for jobs that are changing every day and roles that don't yet exist. Numerous surveys have shown that more than 50% of graduates are not equipped with the skills to perform in their first job, and close to a third believe that their degree failed to provide them with future-ready skills. Given this context, entrepreneurship education may help develop a problem-solving mindset to help young professionals thrive. ‘Being entrepreneurial’ is a valuable competency that can ensure our students remain relevant, regardless of the kind of job they have been entrusted with. This leg-up in the professional world can be facilitated.
Inter-and cross-disciplinary collaboration
An entrepreneurial mindset promotes cross-disciplinary collaboration and allows students to develop critical-thinking abilities when approaching a problem. This gives students and instructors numerous "real-world" possibilities for growth. This interdisciplinary mindset creates T-shaped learners who possess deep capabilities in a core function (the vertical part of the T) and broad capacities in diverse areas (the horizontal part of the T). Companies are angling towards investing in T-shaped professionals to allow the horizontal movement of new employees as they adapt to the constantly evolving business landscape. This makes the exposure to every discipline — from basic statistics to political philosophy — just as significant as the depth of knowledge in any field. An interdisciplinary perspective encourages students to structure problem-solving in different areas and allows them to identify what needs to change in their approach to problem-solving.
When young adults are given the opportunity and space to think critically, they also develop the ability to choose what information is relevant. This has become increasingly important in the age where ‘WhatsApp University’ is the primary source of knowledge. University of Washington professors Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West offer a course, which trains students to identify and call out misinformation. “We wanted to show our students that you don’t have to have a Master’s degree in Statistics or Computer Science to be able to call b******* on this stuff,” says Bergstrom to Forbes. They emphasise that statistical correlations are valuable tools, but students should ask whether the relationships make sense. An alert student can connect the right dots in their story when constructing their arguments amidst the plethora of data and opinions. Ultimately it is about being a meaningful curator.
Getting things done
One of the hallmarks of being entrepreneurial is not waiting for the perfect set of resources. Scholars of entrepreneurial studies refer to it as “effectuation”. Effectuation has been a part of how we think from time immemorial; the French called it bricolage, the Indians call it jugaad, and contemporary business authors refer to it as the Art of Getting Things Done. While many universities offer courses in leadership, a course on ‘excelling at execution’ is not seen as often. This leaves many students believing that their first job will be all about leadership, little about followership and delivering on the ground as a creative problem solver. Making the best of the means at hand is a little jugaad that must be managed gracefully.
The world is changing faster than ever, and this requires young professionals to be learning equally swiftly. Inculcating an entrepreneurial mindset sparks the inclination to discover, evaluate and execute. As a society, we must reward and celebrate this spirit of problem-solving and exploration, as the curious will curate, connect and create.
The writer is the Head of Department, Entrepreneurship, Director, InfoEdge Centre for Entrepreneurship, Ashoka University, and founder of IndiaPreneurship.