A major problem higher education is facing is that the skills and jobs of today will be outdated tomorrow. In order to address that concern, UNT held its eighth annual Student Portraits Symposium on May 2 with the topic of Future Proofing UNT Graduates.

The symposium, sponsored by University Information Services, Data, Analytics and Institutional Research and the Division of Student Affairs, is an annual gathering of faculty, staff and students to share data and best practices impacting retention and student success.

“In his State of the University address where he spoke of a not-too-distant future where our society would be faced with driverless cars and robots working in factories and in the classrooms, the UNT president highlighted the need for disruptive thinking and charged each of us to educate the next generation of college students to invent, to create and to discover—to fill needs in society that even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence agent cannot,” stated members of the 2018 Student Portraits Symposium Planning Committee. “In other words, he called upon our faculty, staff and administrators to ‘robot proof’ our graduates and set them on a path for success.”

Ryan Jenkins, a noted speaker and author who helps organizations gain clarity around Millennials and Generation Z, served as the keynote speaker. Jenkins provided insightful guides into the mindset of the younger generations and offered strategies to help UNT prepare for future student populations, which included:

  1. Teach adaptively. The Information Age has individualized the classroom. Achieve agility in order to respond to the individual learner.
  2. Communication. Use visuals and video. Help Generation Z visualize themselves taking the action you want.
  3. Technology. Enhance the student experience. The impact your processes, procedures and policies have on students.

You can view Jenkins’ presentation and materials here.

Student Portraits Symposium 2018A panel consisting of UNT employees, students, alumni and employers also was held in which participants addressed topics such as the skills employers are looking for when recruiting college graduates. Panelists included: Billy Johnson, executive director of the UNT Professional Leadership Program, who served as moderator; Holly McDonough, campus talent acquisition manager for Cintas Corporation; Mark Pullam, university relations manager for Fidelity Investments; Brian Hirsch, assistant director for the UNT Career Center for the College of Business; Blake Anglin, business development officer for Wells Fargo; Julian Sanders, UNT doctoral student (higher education); and Justin Roberts, UNT freshman (computer engineering).

Student Portraits Symposium 2018Throughout the event, posters illustrating UNT research were on display with the researchers on hand to answer any questions. Topics included:

  • Determining Effective Health Program Outreach Strategies
  • Impact of Coaching Model on Student Loan Exit Counseling
  • Training Peer Mentors as Paraprofessionals
  • Conservative Millennials Dislike Millennials: Political Ideology and Intergenerational Attitudes
  • Connecting Students Beyond a Handshake
  • The Big Five Demonstrate Different Relationships with Ageism and Aging Anxiety
  • Taking Flight Job Shadowing—A Glimpse Into Your Career
  • Future Proofing Graduates on Afro Latinx Communities
  • UNT in the Past 25 Years

Symposium attendees also were able to attend three different session blocks with a wide range of topics, including as A New Kind of Athlete: The Rise of eSports; Career Connect: Future Proofing our Students Across Disciplines; and How Can We Prepare Students for Jobs that Don’t Exist Yet?

The closing plenary featured Jason Simon, assistant vice president for Data, Analytics and Institutional Research, who discussed how participants could translate the information gained from the symposium and personalize it for their own needs. He also shared strategies for attendees to future proof their own careers and outlined the four required mindsets needed to be nimble and flexible for future career success.

View photos from the eighth annual Student Portraits Symposium here.

Visit DSA News for the latest happenings and successes in the Division of Student Affairs.
Contact: Ray Willhoft, 940-565-2464, raymond.willhoft@unt.edu