Here are five things CIOs can do to influence college curricula — and help themselves:
1. Join an industry advisory council. Many computing departments have one; they’re typically made up of alumni, CIOs, CEOs of tech companies and even an academic or two, and they meet once or twice a year. Joe DeTullio, CIO of Universal Music, serves on one at American University’s Kogod School of Business (dubbed the Information Technology Executive Council). It advises the school on its undergraduate and master’s level curricula. DeTullio says the group had a lot of influence in curriculum design.
2. Participate in an industrial affiliates program. “Most leading computer science departments have one,” says Maria Klawe, dean of Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. For between US$5,000 to US$25,000 a year, companies usually receive a one-day program through which they can get early access to student research. Klawe adds that executives also get the opportunity to lobby students and faculty about the kinds of research they’re interested in.
3. Host a co-op or an intern. Not only do you get cheap labour, you create partnerships with local schools and often get first dibs at hiring the interns after they graduate. It’s also another vehicle for you to offer input into a school’s curriculum.
4. Talk to classes. Professors often invite business people to speak to students. Why not practice a little public speaking, and at the same time tell teachers and students what kinds of skills you recommend graduates get? And you can leave your business card.
5. Get involved in your local professional IT groups. They provide great opportunities for meeting local faculty.