Lead What?

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In an effort to help students help secure jobs upon graduation, the University of Iowa recently created an undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies program. The program begins in the fall. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune:

Kelley Ashby is director of the Career Leadership Academy at the school’s career center, which will administer the certificate program. Ashby says the certificate can make Iowa graduates stand out when they’re looking for jobs.

The certificate requires 21 hours of coursework and students will have to complete a hands-on project. Ashby says students studying in any discipline at the university can earn the certificate. The aim is to teach students skills like management, coordination, communication and acting with integrity.

It’s a little unclear if studying leadership actually makes people better leaders or even really helps them get good jobs. The University of Northern Iowa, 75 miles away, has had its own leadership studies program for at least five years. Do these students get better job offers?

One also wonders why leadership is the major thing for a career services office to develop. “Leadership is one of the top skills employers say they are looking for looking for,” says Ashby, according to the Tribune article. But how well will 21 hours of coursework in leadership really prepare Iowa students for entry-level professional jobs? Frankly, first jobs tend to be things where following is way more important than leading. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer