Third Space Workshop Will Present Young Professionals the Key to Success (Hint: It’s Soft Skills)

From daunting college applications to transitioning into a new job, preparing to take the next step towards your future can present a lot more questions than answers. This is particularly true for first-generation college students and graduates.

On January 24, 2019, Jaime Carias, a fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking, will be running a Third Space workshop with 26 staff members of the USC College Advising Corps, a program run through the USC Rossier’s Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice.

The two-year Corps program places new graduates in full-time College Advisor positions at high need high schools that have limited resources. The aim is to assist underrepresented high school students from low-income backgrounds, making the looming prospect of college a less complex and confusing reality for thousands of potential first-generation college students.

USC College Advising Corps
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“I want to equip them with the Third Space framework to help them navigate the workforce,” Jaime said. “Not only in this short-term transition into their next job, but down the pipeline for their long-term careers.”

Those set to attend Jaime’s seminar are in their second and final year of the program, set to transition into their next role in the workforce. The Third Space workshop will serve as part of their professional development training. For many involved, this program not only provides them with their first job out of college and a plethora of practical expertise but is also a personal experience due to their own position as first-generation college graduates.

Jaime will be sharing the Center’s core ideals through the framework “ACE-IT”. ACE-IT stands for the five core soft skills the Center has found to be crucial competencies in the workplace: Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity, and 360-Degree Thinking.

Jaime Carias presenting a previous Third Space workshop.

The Center’s communication-based methodology, shaped from five years of extensive research, is more critical than ever for young professionals to adopt. In fact, while analyzing thousands of job postings and user data, a study by LinkedIn recently found that soft skills are becoming an increasingly prominent necessity in the workplace. In 2019, 5 out of 25 most sought-after skills are soft skills— creativity topping the list of the most in-demand soft skills that employers look for during the hiring process.

This focus on soft skills is a growing trend. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report listed soft skill training as the first priority in talent development, 57% of senior leaders saying they believe soft skill development is more important than hard (or, “technical”) skills.

The College Advising Corps goal to impact potential first-generation college students is shared closely with the Center, particularly linked with Jaime’s work. Jaime himself is a first-generation college graduate, an experience he is able to channel into the new projects he has been spearheading through the Center.

“The work the program does in education on two levels, with both high school youth and an opportunity for first-generation graduates, aligns with a lot of the work we are doing at Third Space,” Jaime added.

Summer 2019 will see the launch of the new Third Space Youth Institute, a program designed around the Third Space framework for 60 high school students currently participating in the Migrant Education Program (MEP), on track to be first-generation college students. College Advising Corps is expected to present several workshops at the program that will be hosted on USC’s campus.