Twenty years ago, Aimée Eubanks Davis taught low-income, black students in a New Orleans middle school, reports Gabrielle Emmanuel on NPR. She was proud when former students earned college degrees, but many first-generation college graduates “didn’t know how to get that good, first job,” the teacher discovered. They didn’t know successful professionals. They had no career networks.
Black and Hispanic college graduates are less likely to find employment than white classmates and earn less over their careers, researchers have found.
Eubanks Davis created a nonprofit called Braven, which has partnered with San Jose State and Rutgers. Professionals from the working world teach workplace skills to small groups of college students.
Yannick Kpodar, a consultant by day, teaches Braven students in an evening class at San Jose State. Students do most of the talking, while he critiques their presentation skills.
Acting as consultants, Braven students analyze data, conduct interviews and recommend solutions to the student debt crisis.
One group says colleges should solicit corporate sponsors to pay some of the costs, while another plans to itemize everything — the gym, the library, the student union — so students pay only for what they use. A third group proposes giving students a lifetime to repay college loans.
Braven students are more likely to stay on track to graduation, reports San Jose State, which has made the program a for-credit course. Braven students are twice as likely to find internships and other work experiences.
“It’s extremely difficult for college graduates to figure out what they need to do to best prepare for the workforce,” writes Jeffrey Selingo. “One recent study predicts that nearly half of American jobs are at risk from automation and artificial intelligence.”