October 18, 2021

Essential Skills For Success In Careers Development with Mark Herschberg

What Inspired Mark To Write His Book, ‘The Career Tool Kit’

At 00:20, Mark explains how he created the book by turning notes for students into a general book for everyone. After working for 20 years at MIT, he realized that more people other than the students needed the essential skills to succeed. His initial idea was to put the content online to make it available to people as a course, but they did not have enough resources for that. He opted to write notes for the class, but what he thought would be about 20 pages went past 100 pages and turned into a book. 

How Mitty's Career Success Accelerator Program Started

Mark has been working with MIT’s career accelerator for 20 years after helping them create the class. Before this, companies that worked with them by hiring their students lamented that the students were smart, but they lacked some skills they were looking for, such as leadership, communication skills, team building, negotiation, ethics. According to Mark, people aren’t trained in these skills, and that is why they stepped in to address the issue by creating the career success accelerator program. To hear more about the program, tune in at 01:08

What Career Success Accelerator Program Offers In The Space

At 02:08, Mark describes what they offer in the career accelerator program. They have various events and workshops throughout the year. They do both large groups where they bring in experts and small groups where they do fireside chats. 

Besides that, they have a lot of hands-on activities, role-playing, and case studies where students get to try different skills. From his perspective, the mental shift from how people approach skills like leadership, networking, or negotiation is very important. It helps readers to look at things differently and to open up to possibilities to develop.

How Career Accelerator Program Works and How It Has Evolved

According to Mark, it was a little chaotic at first, the person who was organizing it had just joined, and he had no budget, no staff, no faculty, no students, and no content. After hearing about it, he got involved. He thought he would help put together materials for the class, but he ended up being part of the whole project. Mark also explains how they designed modules as they moved along to bring home what they prepared for the students. To hear more about the program, go to 05:41

Why essential practical skills have been marginalized in academia

University education system dates back about nine hundred years. It’s not designed to teach essential skills like leadership, teamwork, negotiation, and ethics which are essential in every stage of an employee's development. According to Mark, having a degree doesn’t mean you are great in your discipline, a good employee, teammate, or leader. It simply means you've taken off the classes. 

A degree was sufficient back in the mid-century where you just sat there and did what your boss told you. But in today's world, we have interdisciplinary teams, and companies expect you to take initiative. Just knowing those mechanical skills of your discipline is not sufficient. You need a broader set of skills to be more effective. To learn more about these essential skills, go to 07:56

What Evokes A Challenge In Career Progression In Workplaces

At 11:06, Mark explains why people in the workplace find it difficult to evoke a challenge going forward in their own career progression. According to him, people are often left on their own with no guidance or toolset after being tossed into the world of careers. They are not given basic training to help them acquire skills outside their career knowledge, such as project planning, refining, and implementation.

How To Enhance Career Skill Development In Your Organization

Mark emphasizes that we’re all leaders, and in any organization, managers have a moral responsibility to help employees develop their skill set. From his perspective, there's a lot of benefits in doing this the right way. Sending them to a two-day training course is an expensive shot deal that doesn't work. 

Mark recommends creating small groups that use peer learning. Create groups of about six to eight people and provide them with content in the form of books, videos, articles, or even podcasts. Allow them to read and discuss every week. Mark says there is no simple formula to memorizing leadership or communication skills. They’re experimental and they can only be achieved through experiential discussion based on learning. To hear more on how you can create an internal program, go to 13:38

Mental Shift That Comes With The Development of Skills

You’ve to get the skills before getting into the actual task that you need to accomplish. At 16:29, Mark describes this using networking. According to him, networking is not job hunting. If you're networking now to find a job, it's too late. Your network is something you have to build ahead of time, so it’s there when you need it. Your network can get you a job, but it can also get you employees, customers, partners, and information. 

Networking is a tool that can help you expand your options and you can use them in different circumstances. When you switch your mindset from networking to find jobs to networking as a tool that you need to build constantly, your approach will change. To hear more about how you make networking available as a future beneficial tool, go to 16:29

The Changes in the marketplace and workers support Landscape.

According to Mark, recent data shows that two out of three employees are actively looking to change jobs to move to a greener pasture. Unfortunately, it might be greener for some and only look greener for others. People haven't been taught how to proactively plan ahead. 

As employees, we can enhance the change by identifying what we want out of life and our careers and plan for it by articulating to employers. If we can't do that, then we cannot blame employers for not creating those opportunities and paths for us. To hear more insights on how you can build the opportunities you want, go to 18:36

About The App That Mark Created For His Book

The app comes from the recognition that books are not sufficient. Mark explains that books are actually out of date. They're a technology that goes back literally thousands of years with no change. You can read a great book, get great insight, but you will only remember a handful of vague concepts. This is because we lose information. Mark says his job is not to sell you dead trees but to help you transform, change and improve. 

The book is part of that, but it's not sufficient. From his perspective, learning and transformation are based on repetition, and that is why he created the app. It’s a free app that will help you reinforce what you read to make the book stickier and more valuable. Tune in for more at 20:39

Technology Platform  Mark Created To Teach Finance At Harvard Business School

Harvard is a big believer in case studies, but there are some cases where the case studies are not ideal, like finance. At 22:36 explains how they created a trading platform that felt and looked like a real trading platform for the student. On the platform, students can look for arbitrage opportunities to buy low, sell high, and make money. Their grades are tied to the money they make. 

In more advanced levels. Mark says that students can do things like investing in buying a seat in the exchange for faster access. They can also buy analysts, reports, and interesting things such as hiring a consultant that can potentially give them an edge, just like in real life. This helps the students learn practical concepts of stock, bonds, and forward contracts that they can apply in real life.  

What Have Changed In Career Development For The Last Two Decades

There have been different changes over the years. First, the universities are finally getting the wake-up call that effectiveness depends not just on academic skills but also on practical skills.  Second, many more vocational training institutions are coming up because the university system is not the right path for everyone. 

Additionally, Mark also speculates that there will be a hybrid model with people having weeks on and off, working from the office and home, and working together and away. However, according to Mark, this will impact their ability to form relationships within the office and the industry.  To hear more about the changes in career development, go to 26:22

Key Nuggets

[00:20] What inspired Mark to write his book, ‘The Career Tool Kit’ 

[01:08] How Mitty's career success accelerator program started

[02:08] What career success accelerator program offers in the space

[05:41] How career accelerator program works and how it has evolved

[07:56] Why essential practical skills have been marginalized in academia

[11:06] What evokes a challenge in career progression in workplaces

[13:38] How to enhance career skill development in your organization

[16:29] Mental shift that comes with the development of skills

[18:36]The changes in the marketplace and workers support landscape

[20:39] About the app that Mark created for His book

[22:26] The technology platform Mark designed to teach finance at Harvard business school

[26:22] What have changed in career development for the last two decades


Books: The Career Tool Kit, Essential Skills For Success

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