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artificial-intelligence

Bhavaraju argues that businesses seek employees with a wide range of skills, both technical and soft, and can work collaboratively to create solutions from multiple fields.

Credit: Christina Prudencio

It was recently announced that a new course, Artificial Intelligence for Business, will be offered by Wharton to undergraduate and MBA students in 2021. This class has been initiated in light of the changes in the business world because of AI such as the reliance of industries (like shipping and medicine) on AI to conduct multiple processes. Considering the ways in which industries are evolving and requiring new skills from the workforce, there is an urgent need for Penn students to review the role/application of our studies much more clearly. 

No longer is it enough to have intensive training in a single field. Businesses need employees with a wide range of technical and soft skills, who can work collaboratively and who can create solutions from multiple fields. In this era of rapidly evolving dynamics, with business conglomeration and mass media convergence, what is most valuable is to learn how to learn. In other words, students entering the workforce need to be able to adapt to industry changes and learn new skills as they progress, rather than remaining static in terms of their job. 

According to the Pew Research Center, experts suggest that workers of the future will need to learn how to deeply cultivate and exploit creativity and abstract and systems thinking. And there is only so much that classes can offer in terms of fostering such elements, especially considering the transactional nature of picking classes because of our sector requirements. Oftentimes, we think of subjects of study only in terms of courses that need to be completed rather than understood. And the reason that is harmful is because it is based on valuing outcomes much more than the process. So even though some courses can help us fulfill requirements in time, they might not prepare us to sustain careers in dynamic industries. 

Part of the solution is to pick classes more openly, with more emphasis on the appeal of the subject material than the nature or number of requirements they satisfy. At a recent event, I asked Willow Bay, Dean of the USC Annenberg School of Communication, the question of how students should learn in college to facilitate adaptability to industry changes. Her answer was not some single, clear formula to use. She said that students should chart their own path, build on intellectually stimulating experiences, and find their own unique specialization based on their collection of learnings. That means that it is essential to choose not only our majors purely on interest and curiosity, but also choose other supplementary classes based on how much we can actually absorb from them rather than how many requirements they would satisfy.

TEJASWI BHAVARAJU is a College freshman from India, studying Mathematical Economics and Cinema Studies. His email address is tejaswib@sas.upenn.edu

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