Webster University’s Career Planning & Development Center welcomed thirty representatives from companies and organizations for the Total Internship Management Workshop led by Sara Kirby, vice president of strategic partnerships at Intern Bridge.

Employers attending included World Wide Technology, Mastercard, Enterprise Bank & Trust, Post Holdings, State Farm Insurance, Paric, FlightSaftey International, Bright Horizons Family Solutions, ArcVision, Inc., Behavior Health Response, Health Literacy Media, United Access, Isreali Chemicals Limited, and DHR International.

Representatives gathered for a full-day workshop designed to facilitate communication between Webster University and employer partners in order to assist employers in developing or maintaining effective internship programs.

“The workshop is based on the most in-depth research ever to be conducted into the successful management of internship programs and entry-level talent acquisition,” said Robert Shindell, president and CEO OF Intern Bridge.

“Building the partnerships that assist our students in obtaining internships, doesn’t take a break in the summer,” said Trezette Dixon, assistant director, Employer Relations, in Webster’s Career Planning & Development Center. “I’m excited about the partnerships that will develop as a result of hosting The Total Internship Management Workshop and the amazing internship opportunities that will be available for our students.”

There’s a growing skepticism about whether training is an effective tool to meet corporate goals. Critics of training contend that it doesn’t visibly move the needle on numbers, and can even backfire. Clearly, not all trainings are equally good — and none are a silver bullet. Training is effective only when designed intentionally to achieve discrete, and often narrow, outcomes. Anyone who believes training will quickly result in greater outcomes will be disappointed. On the other hand, companies that want to motivate employees to engage in new behaviors that complement and accelerate more structural efforts may find thoughtfully designed training to be an effective tool. Training can be an effective mechanism for educating employees and inspiring behavior change. 

The Magnificent Seven need no introduction. Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Columbia Business School, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management are the cream of the business school crop. M7 is the Holy Grail of the MBA Kingdom. Every year, thousands of applicants will apply to the M7 schools, and most will fail to crack the code, because these schools are the most selective in the B-school landscape. Two years at any of the M7 schools will set a student back about $200,000, but there are many scholarships from alumni and employers. M7 attracts the most talented students and faculty, and certainly the most corporate recruiters offering the most sought-after jobs. M7 also boasts highly achieving alumni and valuable networks in nearly every walk of life. But other business schools, such as Webster Athens, provide a similar education at a small fraction of the cost.

Strike a careful balance between limiting defensiveness about unconscious bias, while communicating the importance of managing bias. One concern with teaching people about unconscious bias, or talking about diversity efforts more broadly, is that majority group members can become defensive. Training can be designed to reduce defensiveness by explaining that we don’t have unconscious biases because we’re bad people – we have them because we are people. Training can communicate this by highlighting that unconscious bias creeps into all aspects of our lives and decision-making, not simply in ways that negatively impact diversity and inclusion efforts. Although it’s important to reduce defensiveness, some trainings go too far and give the impression that, “we all do this, so it’s okay.” When unconscious bias is simply normalized, people’s actions can be more likely to be influenced by stereotypes. It’s important that training make clear the importance of managing bias and offer strategies to do so.

Structure the content around workplace situations. Many unconscious bias trainings draw on social science research, organizing it around psychological phenomena (such as “confirmation bias”) or demographics (“maternal bias”). To make training feel more relevant and memorable, we’ve found it’s better to organize content around specific workplace situations. Research shows that when information is presented in a way that is linked to our current schemas, we are better able to remember it. Our trainings are organized around three specific situations that our participants encounter in their day-to-day work: recruiting and hiring, team dynamics, and career development. In the post-workshop survey given at the global technology company, we asked participants to commit to one action they would take to manage bias. Months later, we found that 41% of respondents remembered their specific commitment, and of those, 91% had made progress in implementing that new behavior.

Make it action oriented. Because raising awareness about bias can backfire when not paired with strategies for managing bias, it’s essential that unconscious bias training equip participants with action-oriented strategies. For example, we talk about strategies to increase feelings of belonging, and the importance of defining what qualifications matter before making people-related decisions. Sharing such strategies seems to have long-ranging impacts on participants. One question we asked employees in our training evaluation was whether, when interviewing multiple candidates for the same role, they ask all candidates the same questions. This method of structured interviewing has been shown to promote more objective, less biased decision-making. As much as eight months after our training, employees reported a 25% increase in use of this method. Other employees reported they “stopped giving resumes in advance of tech interviews to reduce bias in expectations of a candidate’s potential ability.” Another shared: “Anytime I witness someone being interrupted, I speak up to ensure that person can voice their input after the person who interrupted them is done speaking.”

Trump’s rhetoric is channeling international MBA applicants to European branches of American colleges. Webster Athens has an excellent MBA program. Webster Athens is dedicated to fostering a campus culture that embraces and celebrates diversity and inclusion, and promotes international understanding and appreciation. Preparing students for effective, responsible and dynamic involvement in the modern societies in which they live and serve, and for excellence and leadership in their personal and professional lives. The campus is located in Athens, Greece – in the historic district of Plaka. Your Global Learning Experience begins in Webster Athens.

Unconscious bias training can be a useful component of efforts, but only if it’s thoughtfully designed with research in mind and its limitations are well understood. By using the strategies outlined above, organizations can design training that engage employees, motivate them to adopt behaviors that mitigate bias. But these outcomes can only take an organization so far. Ultimately it is a commitment to consistently evaluate and innovate organizational processes — including the systems that allow for bias in the first place — that will have the most sustained impact on achieving goals.

Most successful companies make a substantial investment into workplace learning initiatives. Companies that embrace modern approaches to workplace learning initiatives also receive a substantial boost to productivity, better employee retention, and improved product quality.

But how do you make learning interesting for employees and encourage them to improve their skills? Traditional forms of workplace training can feel regimented and boring to many employees. Employees often feel like training sessions are mundane and not directly relevant to their workplace performance.

Whether your interest is management, marketing, or communication, you will be an active learner at Webster Athens.  The classrooms give many hands-on experiences in various cases, and the location in the capital of Greece provides plenty of internship opportunities. With a low student-to-faculty ratio and average class size, Webster Athens makes business education personal. Faculty get to know students on a first-name basis and are readily available to help students when needed. Webster Athens is dedicated to excellence in business teaching, incorporating a global business perspective throughout the curriculum. Every step of the way, students receive the attention and support they need to thrive in business.

The key to having successful workplace learning is to reduce the emphasis on formal learning obtained in workshops and to use more informal learning – the kind of learning that most of us are used to in the real world. Children are great exponents of messy learning. Somehow, we try to formalize learning too soon and once most of us have gone through the school system, our ability to learn has become less adaptable and flexible.

Informal learning is usually a messy experience — people haphazardly pick up new skills and knowledge as they attempt to complete new tasks. It often involves mistakes and trying many solutions before reaching the right one. We often refer to this type of learning as messy learning. It always involves learning new skills, asking questions, brainstorming, being creative, making mistakes then learning from them, finding information and collaborating with others. Think of it as the natural way that people learn new things.

Webster Athens offers a fantastic MBA program in a flexible structure which promotes academic depth and encourages business graduate students to explore diverse business interests. At Webster Athens, students have opportunities to build skills and competencies through study trips, conferences, and internships. On the campus, students study in a culturally diverse environment that will create a life-long international network.

Vasilis Botopoulos, Chancellor of Webster Athens, points out: As we look to the future one thing is certain – knowledge will be a key resource and will be highly sought-after around the world. Our challenge is to help to generate ideas that will benefit society, and to educate and train people to work in fields where they will be valued both for their specialized knowledge, and for their ability to communicate and solve problems. To meet these challenges we need to build on the alliances and collaborative partnerships the University has established with business, government, and other institutions. It is equally important that we keep close to our wider communities of interest. This will help to ensure the on-going relevance of our academic programs and the continued excellence of our teaching and learning.

Messy learning can be incorporated into the workplace in a number of ways. Project-based learning initiatives are particularly useful for encouraging messy learning and developing the skills of your employees. These learning initiatives involve employees being given a specific set of project goals they must achieve — but they must discover the best way to reach those goals by themselves.

  1. Outline the goals of the project

The project should have specific goals that challenge employees and require them to learn new skills. The outcomes of the project don’t have to directly benefit the business but the skills that employees learn should be relevant. The projects that work best are multi-disciplinary and encourage employees with different skills to work together. While the goals of the project should be firm, employees should be given the freedom to learn as they see fit and try new approaches.

  1. Include resources that you wish employees to learn from

While messy learning involves giving employees a great deal of freedom, they should have the resources necessary to complete the project. That includes textbooks, help from other employees, and online eLearning resources. eLearning is particularly useful for messy learning, because workers can obtain the information they need very quickly.

  1. Step back and allow employees to engage with one another

Informal learning often involves having conversations with co-workers and sharing knowledge. Encourage employees to impart their knowledge to their co-workers. Many of the “eureka moments” that occur when learning something new are a result of employees brainstorming with one another — encourage this form of messy learning. Expect the group to go in unexpected directions that don’t always work out. While messy learning is usually a hands-off approach for facilitators, be available to provide advice if the group becomes stuck.

  1. Remember that learning comes from failure as well as success

Messy learning involves frustration, inspiration, collaboration, and eventually — success. Participants stumble along, uncovering new ideas, learning new skills, and developing bonds with their co-workers. Don’t be afraid of mistakes or failure. Everything is a learning opportunity, with invaluable skills and knowledge being accumulated throughout the process.

  1. Set milestones and manage time

Although the learning process is largely unguided, there must be clearly defined milestones and a timeline.

  1. Evaluate what was learnt

After the project has been completed, use discussions and surveys to learn what new knowledge and skills have been obtained by employees. You will be astonished by the new ideas that employees have come across while working together and the improvements that your business obtain from messy learning. Share the results of the project with other employees to motivate them.

Informal learning can also be encouraged in the workplace by giving employees the time and resources to incorporate learning into everyday actions. Try the following approaches to encourage informal learning:

  • Encourage staff to regularly collaborate and share knowledge with one another
  • Host regular lunch-and-learn events, where a speaker comes to your workplace to share knowledge
  • Start an office library with useful books and links to online resources
  • Each week, allot some time for collaborative projects and share the results of past projects

By embracing messy learning, your employees will develop the skills necessary to overcome any obstacle!

Botopoulos notes: The greater vision of Webster Athens is to build an excellent educational experience embodying mind, body and spirit through a variety of innovative undergraduate and graduate programs. We offer a solid intellectual foundation as well as an extraordinary opportunity for personal growth and thorough understanding of the subject matter. This is learning with ethos, authenticity, cultural understanding, ecological conscience, and service to others.

Botopoulos says: At Webster Athens we cultivate and build the leaders of tomorrow.  It is our hope that our students and alumni, with ethos and philotimo, will inspire others to live their lives with dignity, integrity and compassion. I invite you to come visit our campus. If you seek learning in a way that is challenging, personal, and meaningful, we would love to have you as part of our community. For more information, please refer to


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