Workforce Spotlight

Allegheny College: Graduates Equipped for 21st Century Jobs

December 09, 2020

The workforce of the 21st century requires a different approach to education and training to meet the needs of domestic and global businesses and nonprofit organizations. Just as the Industrial Revolution brought about a shift from an agricultural to an industrial economy, today’s fast-evolving marketplace -- given the influence and fast pace of innovation and technology -- demands a different and broader set of skills in the labor force.  


In a 2017 article titled “Building a 21st Century Workforce,” Thomas J. Donahue, then-president and now CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote that “50 percent of available positions in America go unfilled becausequalified candidates aren’t available, and 40 percent of businesses can’t take on more work because they can’t fill the jobs they have.” Allegheny College is poised to address this skills gap and the fast-changing nature of jobs and careers, many of which do not even exist today.


Founded in 1815, Allegheny College is one of the nation’s oldest and most innovative four-year colleges, where multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold. Allegheny also is one of the few colleges in the country that requires students to choose both a major and a minor in different disciplines, providing students with a cross-disciplinary path in the sciences and humanities for educational depth, intellectual growth, and the creative, big-picture thinking that is desired by employers. Located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Allegheny is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.” In its 2021 rankings, U.S. News & World Report recognized Allegheny in its Top 20 Best in Undergraduate Teaching and Top 30 Most Innovative National Liberal Arts Colleges. Allegheny nurtures students to acquire the tools, skills and competencies needed to solve complex practical problems faced by business organizations and nonprofit institutions.


There are at least 999 combinations of majors and minors at Allegheny College that are possible today. Examples include a student with a major in Global Health Studies paired with a minor in Biology who identified patient risk factors to help prevent hospital readmissions. The scientist who can present her research in an engaging yet persuasive manner will be more successful in her career; likewise, the international aid worker who can quickly integrate the latest quantitative data will be that much more effective in his work. Other combinations that have been springboards to great careers have been a mathematics major with a minor in Chinese, a major in biology and a minor in Latin American and Caribbean studies, a biochemistry major with minors in philosophy and economics, and an economics major with a minor in religious studies.


Allegheny College’s partnership with the PA Chamber of Business and Industry has been solidified through the College’s Prize for Civility in Public Life in Pennsylvania, which has been awarded each of the past three years at the PA Chamber’s Annual Dinner (editor’s note: the prize was not awarded in 2020 because the Annual Dinner was cancelled due to COVID-19). The prize, which has been awarded nationally as well since 2010, honors public officials from both sides of the political spectrum who have conducted themselves with noteworthy civility. Allegheny’s focus on interdisciplinarity and on training its students to see the world through multiple lenses, makes it uniquely appropriate to celebrate civility in this context, which requires stepping outside one’s own viewpoint to see an issue through another lens.


Allegheny College intentionally fosters a growth mindset that expands students’ horizons, challenging them to think critically, communicate creatively and question everything. “As Allegheny continues to strengthen its focus on interdisciplinary thought — achieved through our major/minor requirement in two completely different disciplines — I am encouraged by the increasing public understanding that connecting different approaches and seeing through different lenses are indeed key to future success in solving the large-scale issues confronting our world,” said Hilary L. Link, Ph.D., Allegheny College president. “I am excited for Allegheny to become an even more prominent leader in championing this type of multi-perspectival approach to problem-solving, which is essential for today’s fast-changing labor landscape.”


Allegheny’s faculty combine pioneering scholarly expertise with a deep commitment to teaching and advising. Allegheny students apply what they learn through the College’s award-winning undergraduate research program, international experiences and other life-changing opportunities offered through an Allegheny education. The College also offers more than 100 student-led clubs and organizations, giving students a chance to employ their personal passions to fuel success and make a difference. Likewise, Allegheny emphasizes civic engagement and encourages students to give back not only during their time on campus but also after they graduate. Many Allegheny alumni secure positions in service organizations such as the Peace Corps, Teach for America, City Year, and AmeriCorps, where members complete domestic one-year community service work in the fields of education, public safety, healthcare and environmental protection.


More than 80 percent of students complete one or more internships while attending Allegheny College — the national average is 50 percent. Internships are a vital way to fuel the workforce, and the skills gained through an internship equip Allegheny students with the confidence and ability to take on more responsibility. 


Over 90 percent of Allegheny College graduates are either employed or in graduate/professional programs within eight months of graduation. “Allegheny College’s educational approach is distinctive, one that supports our graduates in becoming precisely the adaptive, broad thinkers that employers want — and that prepares them with the attributes most likely to create life success as well,” Link said. “We can point to example after example of Allegheny students and alumni who exemplify that philosophy, as well as to faculty and staff who model it.”


The College has long emphasized the importance of developing individuals who are committed to success in the workforce and to bettering their communities. Allegheny is eager to partner with new organizations to expand internship and employment opportunities for students. The College’s Career Education Office networks with various partners to develop internship programs and employment leads to assist Allegheny students and alumni with attaining meaningful career opportunities. For more information, and to post employment and internship opportunities, please contact Allegheny Career Education at 814.332.2381 or