Imparting the Skills Employers Seek: Community-Engaged Learning as Career Preparation

Elizabeth Otto, Elizabeth Dunens


This paper explores the potential for postsecondary community-based educational experiences to impart the skills employers most desire from new college graduates. We gathered one U.S. university’s community-engaged learning (CEL) stakeholders to collect detailed descriptions of the behaviors students practice during CEL. Students, faculty, and community partner participants had at least one semester of service-learning or nonprofit internship experience coordinated by the university’s Center for Community Work and Learning. Qualitative responses generated from 46 participants were coded and then compared to the top skills business executives and hiring managers reported in 2018 as priorities for new college graduates. Data analysis yielded clearer understanding of the intersection between career readiness and CEL, as well as a potential tool to aid students in better articulating the skills they gain from CEL to future employers.


career readiness, community-engaged learning, civic engagement, service-learning, nonprofit internships

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