Developing T-shaped Professionals

Well-rounded and versatile, Saunders students are ready for business

In addition to taking business courses in the first year of college, the highlight of The Freshman Experience: Biz 1+2 program is the “Third Hour,” a series of professional development seminars that introduce students to business topics with a focus on learning outcomes. The Biz 1+2 program places an emphasis on creating the skills to become successful business people through strategizing and the development of business plans. The "Third Hour" in particular helps to identify and refine the soft, career skills and competencies necessary for success after graduation.

Taken in the spring semester, the “Third Hour” brings in numerous alumni and practicing business professionals to speak to students about skills, collaboration and the characteristics of successful business people, or T-shaped professionals, as students work to finalize their business plans. The guest speakers and student panelists educate first-year students about the challenges and lessons of being an entrepreneur, personal branding, social media and professionalism. The first-hand knowledge allows students to put the skills into practice from day one to be successful throughout their education and in the business world.

In addition to numerous guest lectures and team activities, the course places an emphasis on the competencies and soft skills that are required in the workforce, such as empathy, collaboration and emotional intelligence. Employers are increasingly interested in T-shaped prospective employees that can think-outside-the-box and create disruptive solutions that meet the complex needs of both clients and customers.

The vertical shaft of the “T” represents the depth of expertise/skill that a person exhibits, while the crossbar of the “T” represents the amount they are willing and able to collaborate. People who are T-shaped are well-rounded and versatile. They are better able to contribute their ideas to a discussion and are able to take on a variety of roles.

We strive to ensure all students develop T-shaped competencies. Students develop deep knowledge base and skills in a specific discipline, but also work to enhance a broad range of boundary-crossing competencies, including teamwork, communication, critical thinking, and global understanding. RIT has made a commitment to ensure all graduates are equipped for the workforce with in-depth knowledge as well as broad soft skills. As a charge in the University's 10-year strategic plan, RIT will continue to build upon programs like the "Third Hour" to enable all students for success.