Business schools are now encouraging students to use AI as they race to prepare them for a new jo... - 3 minutes read

Business schools are going all in on AI to keep their graduates competitive in the job market.

Many schools are revising their curriculum to keep up with the rapid changes in the technology. And at some schools, professors are even building their own specialized AI chatbots to teach students soft skills.

In the fall, American University's Kogod School of Business plans to "infuse AI into every part of our curriculum," its dean, David Marchick, said in a video on the school's website. As part of the initiative, Kogod will offer a slate of 20 new classes that span everything from forensic accounting to marketing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Hitendra Wadhwa, a professor at Columbia Business School who studies leadership, meanwhile, recently launched LiFT. It's an AI-powered leadership tool that helps students (and others) "plan, prepare, and practice before high-stakes events," according to a press release for its launch.

LiFT relies on OpenAI's large language models but is fine-tuned with the insights that Wadhwa has gathered from students and alumni in his 15 years of teaching. "Nothing is individually identifiable, but looking at the data, we start to generate a lot of statistics from it," Wadhwa said.

Columbia Business School's Hitendra Wadhwa recently launched LiFT.

Autumn Communications

Users can prompt the tool for help on how to navigate a tough meeting or prepare for an emotionally charged conversation, Wadhwa said. They also have control over the temperament of their coach, so they can opt for one with a more empathetic tone or one that's more direct. "With large language models, we can actually customize what that experience would look like for you."

Wadhwa says that students who spend just 15 minutes with the tool three to four times a week are less likely to make snap judgments, more open to challenging their assumptions, and better at bridging divides between opposing points of view. "Just 15-minute little bursts, little bursts of going into a leadership gym," he said. "That's delivering really good early evidence of value."

The focus on AI comes as employers emphasize technology skills in business school graduates.

About 75% of US employers said technology skills like AI and machine learning, data visualization, and programming skills are important for business school graduates, according to a 2023 report from the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Yet, fewer than half of US employers believe graduates are adequately prepared. More than 60% of US employers said technology skills will become more important for graduates in the coming years.

But professors aren't only thinking about AI as it relates to their students' job prospects. They also want them to see the bigger picture of AI's impact on the future of work.

Ethan Mollick, an entrepreneurship and innovation professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, calls AI usage an "emerging skill" and requires all his students to use ChatGPT.

This spring, he gave students an assignment to automate parts of their jobs and told them to expect to feel insecure about their abilities once they understood the capabilities of AI, the Journal reported. "You haven't used AI until you've had an existential crisis," Mollick told his students, according to the Journal. "You need three sleepless nights."

Wadhwa advocates a more gentle approach.

"My own sort of feeling on this is, look, anytime you engage with any activity in life from a place of fear or a place of scarcity, it's just going to limit the amount of joy you can get."

Source: Business Insider

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