Thinking Outside the Box: Video Transcript

Chris Hines (BA History, Miami, 2008) [Executive Recruiter for Randstad Engineering]: The best thing about the College of Arts and Science specifically here at Miami and the history degree in and of itself, is it really challenges you to think for yourself. A lot of the intangible skill sets that you build in the curriculum of study here at Miami - high volumes of research, data collection, being able to present that data in a formidable fashion that can be used by whoever you are presenting to - those are core skill sets that can be applicable to many different careers in many different industries. Specifically for me, the need to be able to identify candidates for my clients based on the needs that they have, both technical needs to do the job but cultural needs to fit into their organization. They provide me a direction similar to professors did in the history department on an assignment, provide me a direction and I've got to go out and find the information, find the resources, put it all together, and present it in a manner that is useful to who I'm presenting it to.

The resources that were available to me as an undergraduate at Miami that were very helpful, first and foremost, the faculty. I found that my pathway, be it a non-traditional route at Miami, having changed majors a few times before landing in the College of Arts and Science as a history major, was done under the mentorship of great faculty; people that took the time to seek out my strengths, my interests, and foster ideas into me to help that direction to develop organically.

People often joke about "the Miami Bubble" being a very close-knit, college town, you know, smaller campus, just everybody kind of forced interaction. But that forced interaction really helps bring people out of their shells. I was not only involved in on-campus but also off-campus activities. Changing majors three different times before I finally landed on history exposed me to a lot of different people in a lot of different fields of study.

I've noticed that the intangible skill sets necessary to succeed in the business world, the ability to communicate cross-functionally within different departments and different skill sets - the Miami experience provides an environment that is very conducive to training and developing those skills. I've recruited students from all different universities all around the country for the different companies that I work for, and I have found, leaps and bounds, Miami graduates are far more advanced in their interpersonal skills and those intangible skill sets than other universities that may be in a larger metropolitan area or be more spread out, maybe not as economically diverse. Even Miami, which is a little bit known for, you know, being kind of a core demographic, you're still exposed to different people, different thoughts, beliefs, groups, whatever; and the forced interaction of a closed campus really does train those skills very well for the real world upon graduation.

I hear all the time from my clients that I recruit for that they can teach certain technical aspects of their job; they can teach you their process, they can teach you their product, they can teach you their industry. What they can't teach you is how to think outside of the box, because nowadays competitive advantage is in and around innovation, thinking outside the box. How can we give you a direction and you come back to us with an idea that nobody has thought of. It's work ethic, it's, you know, the pursuit and ambition to find an answer that may not be readily available because somebody else hasn't thought of it. And those, again, intangible skill sets can play into any and all industries.

You don't need to become a history teacher or work at a museum with a history major; there's a lot of things that you can do. So my goals in coming back are to help students understand that there is a big world out there that you can use your liberal arts degree for and a lot of opportunity at their hands.

[April 2015]