Workforce.com

Never Too Young for Business Education

April 22, 2008
In addition to its work with college students and young workers, Deloitte is also trying to drum up interest in accounting and consulting careers among students in middle school and high school.

    The company is distributing materials for its Pre-College Outreach program to interested schools. An informational career guide is being made available to students, parents and teachers. An interactive Web site is designed to "wake young people up to traditional career-development concepts," rather than simply focusing on vocational training, says Phillip Roark, president and CEO of Insala, a Dallas-based software company working with Deloitte on its career planning efforts.

    Deloitte also partnered with Weekly Reader, an educational magazine, to develop a "virtual team challenge" that enables students to apply their talents and skills to solve simulated real-world business issues.

    Although most companies aren’t actively recruiting youngsters in middle school, Deloitte’s research uncovered some surprising findings. Many adolescents already have well-established college plans by time they are 12. Nearly half of 12- to 14-year-olds have started thinking seriously about their careers. By the time they are 17 to 18, many have chosen a career path.

    Through focus groups, Deloitte also learned that students tend to remember companies that guide them in making "important and wise decisions" about their future careers, says W. Stanton Smith, Deloitte’s national director of next-generation initiatives.

    Another Deloitte innovation is a still-developing virtual online council, known as Deloitte Insiders. These are young people ranging from fourth-graders to college seniors (generally between the ages of 9 and 22), with whom the company plans to consult on a regular basis via surveys. Periodically, virtual "town halls" also will enable senior leadership to interact with the panel. Students will be nominated by Deloitte employees, who are being asked to submit potential candidates from among their family and friends.