Providing Students Access to Workforce Technologies

Match education experiences to the evolving needs of business.

by AT&T / June 11, 2019
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When new students arrive at Howard University’s School of Business, they are enrolled in the 21st Century Advantage Program (21CAP). 21CAP is an innovative program that introduces students to college and business life through mentoring and a three-semester course designed to prepare them for business careers.

21CAP was launched in 1993. As the years progressed and technology became integral to business, 21CAP organizers sought ways to better connect students with the working world. The university turned to the business community for help. In 2016, AT&T joined 21CAP, “adopting” a team of freshmen each year. The student teams conduct presentations and develop hypothetical AT&T products.

“Engaging collaborators like AT&T is extremely helpful in giving students exposure, knowledge and awareness of the skills and the tools they’ll need in the workplace,” says Karen Nash, recently retired director of 21CAP.

“When students are immersed in technology in school, they are better prepared for a workplace that increasingly relies on technology. That’s a critical component of building the talent pipeline.”

The program also allows Howard’s School of Business to better pivot with the business world.

“The business world tends to move at a much quicker pace than education,” says Dr. Kanika Magee, assistant dean of student affairs for the School of Business. “This program allows us to better understand what businesses need and ensure the educational experience students get matches the evolving needs of business.”

Some students also join AT&T for internships.

“A lot of what we achieve in life is determined by what we see around us,” says Nash. “21CAP surrounds students with professionals from a variety of industries and many levels within those industries, so they are able to experience working for a technology organization in a hands-on way and envision where they want to go in their lives.”

In addition to Howard University, AT&T works with other organizations to provide internships designed to expose students to workforce technologies. For example, Genesys Works links high school students to internship opportunities at AT&T and several other corporations. Year Up, a national nonprofit that enables urban youth to move from poverty to professional careers, includes a six-month full-time professional internship at a corporation.

To inspire educators and the private sector to help prepare students for the future, download the guide: “Leading the Future for Students, for Educators, and in Technology – Transforming education today to build the workforce of tomorrow.” Click here to learn more.

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