Episode 106 - Alternatives to Traditional Higher Education: The Workflow Academy

President Scott L Wyatt and Solutions for Higher Education host Steve Meredith are joined by Peter Fuller, president of Workflow Academy. The trio discusses Workflow Academy and how it upscales students, preparing them for placement in cloud technology related careers.

Full Transcript

Steve Meredith: Hi again everyone, and welcome to Solutions for Higher Education, a podcast featuring Scott L Wyatt, the president of Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. I'm your host, Steve Meredith, and I'm joined today in a new studio, a new spot anyway for our recording, by President Wyatt. Scott, it's good to see you again.

Scott Wyatt: It's good to see you, Steve, and I like the digs.

Meredith: Do you?

Wyatt: Yeah.

Meredith: Well, we…those of our listeners at home know that we have recorded for, really the entirety for the set of episodes that we've done so far, in the Bradshaw House, the Center for Music Technology here. And we decided that we COVID, we needed a larger space and we moved out into what is the dining room of that space and all of the sudden we had visitors in the middle of our recording and street noise and some other things. And so, we decided we'd just move it over to SUU on Main, which interestingly, historically was the old liquor store in Cedar City. So, here we are in our new studio over at the old liquor store.

Wyatt: Yeah, there's something about just being in here that makes me feel a bit more loose and…

Peter Fuller: Yeah, it's Steve's office and there's a hot tub in here, it's really nice.

Meredith: That's right.

Fuller: We're going to be jumping in there afterwards.

Meredith: Yeah, absolutely. Anyway, President, this is our Spring 2021 run of podcast episodes, and we had determined that we very much liked the idea of interviewing people who are competing against us, and getting their sense of what they think and what students who are participating in their products get about the value of an education that we offer versus the type that they offer and where they intersect and maybe where they don't. Anyway, we have a special guest joining us today, and I'll let you introduce him.

Wyatt: Thanks, Steve. Well, we have Peter Fuller, and Peter has driven all the way up from St. George to meet with us here in person. And Peter is the president of Workflow Academy. Thank you for joining us, Peter.

Fuller: It's excellent to be here. I'm really excited to just stick it to the bureaucracy, stick it to the man and…[All laugh].

Meredith: Well, we're the guys to stick it to, I imagine.

Wyatt: We…before we went on the air, I mentioned to Peter that our audience really is a higher education audience, so it's kind of an industry audience. And Peter, you should feel completely free to tell us what you think.

Fuller: I appreciate that. I have a lot of nice things to say. I have a degree in Russian literature, so I can't exactly just excoriate higher education. So, yeah, I'm excited to talk. Thanks for having me.

Wyatt: But we both have missions that are similar.

Fuller: Exactly.

Wyatt: And we go about it in different ways. And when I say "similar," they are similar in the sense that we're preparing people for jobs.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Wyatt: Well, tell us about Workflow Academy?

Fuller: So, Workflow Academy, the focus is job placement essentially. We are looking to upscale students to a point that they are able to get a fairly…with a high amount of confidence, get an interview and a placement in our niche. What is our niche? Well, we've picked a really fast-growing, easy, low-hanging fruit niche: cloud technology. It's a super fast-growing industry, we work with a particular subset of products called CRMs—customer relationship management. If you've ever heard of Salesforce, HubSpot, ZoHost, CRM, Infusionsoft, etc., those are the types of products we're talking about. And what we've found is there's an incredible demand for this software in the marketplace. The way I always term it is if you were a web developer, a website designer in 2003, your door was getting banged down day after day after day by big companies that weren't quite ready for the internet revolution and needed your help putting together a good website. In 2020, there's Squarespace, Wix, etc., that niche has kind of been filled. I consider our niche of cloud-based technologies or automating and organizing a business's processes, we are the 2003 of website design, except it's 2021 and there's still a whole, blue ocean of companies that need what we can set up. That's really the vision, and with that vision and with that demand comes an immense demand for human capital, an immense demand for people who know how to set up and implement these systems. We fill that gap. Rapid training, 30 to 100 hours currently—we are going to expand that probably to a max of about 200 hours—it is delivered 100% online and remote. It is also, I'll use a fun buzzword because I'm on an education podcast and not many of my students get this when I tell them, it is asynchronous. About 95% asynchronous.

Meredith: Yeah, baby, we love asynchronous.

Fuller: Which is a huge boon to us. It means we can scale without having to add too many new instructors and mentors. The 5% is career planning and education and mentorship and answering questions as students get up and running. But really, it's a practical, focused…I've had students take it in two weeks and get interviews at the end of the two weeks and have a job within four total. So, that's…that I guess is what I pit against the four year degree to say, "We have a turn-around time of potentially a month, up to three months, at a much lower cost and a much lower time investment versus four years." And it's not quite that simple, but that's maybe where I could start sticking sticks into your bicycle wheels. [All laugh]

Wyatt: Well, Peter, so what is the…give us a description of the average student?

Fuller: Good question. Again, in this space, we're still kind of…when I tell people what we are teaching, a lot of people get a little nervous and they think, "OK, so I need to be a programmer, right?" Or, "I want to be a McKenzie consultant that wants to work in software, right?" No. Since this software first came out maybe 20 years ago, over time, so much effort has been put into making it far more easy to implement. The idea that more people…if more people are able to implement it, then more people are able to buy it, sell it, and get use from it. So, what we're looking at now is we get students from all different walks of life—I had mentioned to Scott the 55-year-old bookkeeper from Arkansas with no college degree, she has a lot of business acumen, she's a hard worker, and she understands QuickBooks, so it wasn't that hard to parley her knowledge of existing technology and bookkeeping into a role where she's implementing automated software for companies trying to solve bottlenecks. She doesn't come from a traditional educational background, but she has business acumen in spades and feels comfortable on a computer. That's really what it comes down to. If someone is 18 and has those skills, someone is 55 and has those skills, it really doesn't matter to us, as long as you have that business acumen, we can usually do something with you. So, I mean, that's…I'm even describing the lowest hanging fruit. If you don't have business acumen, we still might find something for you. As a developer or a project manager, but really, our ideal student is one who gets excited by solving problems for businesses and feels comfortable working remotely on a computer.

Wyatt: So, you're describing anyone from a high school graduate all the way up to a late/mid-career?

Fuller: Absolutely. And we've gotten more interest, honestly, from the late to mid-career than we have from the kind of traditional hiring pipelines of graduating seniors and college.

Wyatt: Would a late career person be more successful in this role?

Fuller: Potentially. What we've found, again, if you're talking about the two different skill sets of business acumen and experience versus your comfort on a computer, more of our late career people come with the former and less with the latter. Whereas the earlier career, younger generations feel far more comfortable on a computer, but maybe don't have the experience, but again, the other thing to say is our niche is so talent starved, there has been not nearly enough effort put into finding and…I don't hold higher education culpable, but the fact remains that there is a huge gap. And so, you don't necessarily need to be a perfect candidate. You don't necessarily need to have five years of experience in this field. People are happy…the employers that hire from me are happy to take a smart…a generally competent and smart person, slap a coat of technical training paint on them, and get them into an apprenticeship, internship, entry-level job, and figure that they'll learn on the job.

Wyatt: What kind of salaries do these students expect to range?

Fuller: See, that…it makes it real easy for me to pitch my training when I can tell people, "All of the positions that we have hired out to this point…" First off, before we even talk salary: remote work, flexible schedule. I took my son to the gym this morning, he went to the daycare, I went and walked on the treadmill, I talked to a client, we then drove home, I made him a sandwich, we hung out for a couple of hours and then I went back to work. Flexible schedule, remote schedule, starting wages…for the lowest I've seen is $45,000 a year, generally with benefits. The highest I've seen for entry-level is $60,000 and it just grows from there. The capability for wage growth is immense. Those are really…entry-level to us means a lot of on the job training. If you prove yourself, there are many people two years out of programs like mine with multi or six figure salaries. $110K, $120K, $150K. And then there's multiple entrepreneurship opportunities as well. Start your own consultancy, start a software company building on top of these platforms. There's just an immense amount of opportunity for people who come out, and I worry that higher ed might not be fast enough to build the infrastructure necessary to teach people what we have to teach. Because, I'm not saying it's going away, but the immediacy of the talent need is right now. We need to make solutions right now.

Wyatt: And of all the things that, Steve, all the things that higher education is famous for, one of them isn't…

Meredith: Speed? Is that what you were going to say?

Wyatt: Speed.

Meredith: Yeah.

Wyatt: Yeah, we have committees and we really think things through and it takes us time. And then we have to get it approved through the committees and then we have to get it approved through whoever the governing board is.

Meredith: That's right.

Wyatt: And then we go through accreditation and so, there are a fair number of processes that we're very happy with, but they aren't fast.

Fuller: Yes.

Meredith: Yeah, if you were to bring in, to equate it to a dry cleaners, if you were to bring in something, we'd slap down a little thing at the end and say, "How's a year from next Thursday for your pick up?" Because it just…and we even move pretty quickly, President. I think at SUU, we're actually on the fast end of higher ed, and that does not make us fast. It just makes us faster.

Fuller: Agreed.

Wyatt: I agree.

Meredith: Yeah. We famously had a conversation with our former governor, who said he was frustrated by higher ed because it moved at the speed of peanut butter, and he very happily gave us the idea that we moved at least at the speed of warm peanut butter here. So, I think that's a pretty apt analogy.

Wyatt: [Laughs] What kind of…for those that you're working with, how many of them have college degrees? Have you been able to…how long has Workflow Academy been…?

Fuller: So, we've been out of beta testing for about three months, so we did 13 beta testing students. Every single one of them got multiple job interviews. Two of them elected to not move on and find a job anyways, the other 11 have been hired. And of those, college education-wise, I think we're at about 30%. So, let's say four of them had college degrees. The interesting thing to note is one of my best graduates, who—he has already had about 75K a year since he got hired because he's just done that well—his degree is in mechanical engineering, bachelor's and master's, from the University of Utah. Did that prepare him for this job? Absolutely, I can say that his higher ed prepared him in parts for this job. Do I think that he required six years+ of mechanical engineering education to be prepared for this job? No. and I think that's maybe the biggest quibble that my students have had with their higher ed is you are bolting on lots of extraneous, you could say, education. And we could argue about whether political science or general ed is extraneous. I'm more talking about thinking about all of the technical, mechanical engineering curriculum he went through to end up never using. He ended up not quite finding a role in mechanical engineering, it never quite fit for him, then he was out of college for too long and his master's made him overqualified for entry-level positions, and all of a sudden he came to our door and found a niche that he really likes. So, yeah. Those are…I'm interested in maybe a more philosophical conversation about this because…yeah.

Wyatt: Yeah. Well, so…we should follow up on this discussion in a couple of years when you've seen hundreds and hundreds of students go through.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Wyatt: And it would be interesting to see, based on the profile of your student coming in, how their success is two or three years later.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Wyatt: It would just be interesting, wouldn't it? But let's go philosophical.

Fuller: So, philosophically…again, I mentioned at the top of this, my degree is in human resource management and kind of general business management with a focus on human resources and then Russian literature. Double major. I went to Brigham Young University, adored my time there, loved my professors, research assistant, thought I was going to be a professor, got my PhD applications done before having a change of heart. And I would not give that away for the world. At the same time, I can say that in my current role as a technology consultant and educator, I do not often quote Tolstoy, and if I do, it's more for rhetorical flourish than for any actual use to the person I'm talking to. So, you can make the utilitarian argument: was it worth it to me to go and get my degrees? Was it worth it to me…could I be doing what I am doing now without having taken the courses that I took and gone through the entire saga of my education? I mean, we can banter…I think that I needed that education, it made me a more whole person, but again, I wonder did it have to take four years? Did it have to take four+ years? Is there some extraneous element of that coursework that I could have lopped off without any detriment to my future career or personal success? And I think there's a case to be made there.

Wyatt: Yeah, there's a couple of reasons. And this is a philosophical discussion we oftentimes have within the university amongst ourselves, which is, "What is our mission?"

Fuller: Mhmm.

Wyatt: Right? And one of our leading missions, of course, is to prepare people for jobs, and another one is just to prepare people for good citizenship, to be participants in democracy, to develop an understanding of other people and ideas and places and things so that the world gets to be a better place.

Meredith: And we seem to have done spectacularly well at it.

Wyatt: Yeah. And you understand Russian literature, so your outlook on people from that part of the world might be more informed than somebody else.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Wyatt: So, we've got a couple of different missions. But let's just stay on your track for now.

Fuller: Yes.

Wyatt: I'm…neither Steve nor I are doing what we were trained to do.

Fuller: What were you trained to do? I know Steve was in music and, I mean, he's running the podcast right now, so kudos to Steve's music education.

Meredith: Yeah, that's right. But, to be fair, part of my music education in my life was recording.

Fuller: Yeah.

Meredith: But I did not get any of that from the universities I attended.

Fuller: See, that's fair.

Meredith: Yeah. And so, I often…in fact, Scott and I at a previous institution partnered on a commercial music degree where he was the president and helped us get it prepared and approved, and I, when I sat down to write that degree, I thought, "Well, I'm going to write down 25 things that I wish my university degree had told me about being a professional musician." And I stopped when I got to 63. And I thought, "Oh, yeah, we really do need this degree program."

Fuller: Yeah.

Meredith: And so, anyway…it's not just the length, it's the accuracy.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Meredith: Even when we purport to prepare someone for a lifetime of work in a certain area with a degree, we very often miss fairly wildly.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Meredith: Either because we don't know exactly anymore what it takes to be part of that industry, the people teaching are too far removed from actually doing it…

Fuller: Yes.

Meredith: Or we simply don't have any interest in really providing that kind of nuts and bolts education.

Fuller: Yes

Meredith: We're theoreticians, not tacticians.

Fuller: Absolutely. And that is where I see, again, from the standpoint of a businessman trying to make money helping train people up to a certain level of competence, the thing that higher education does so much better than I can do, is a) general preparation, but then b) getting outside of the idea of student preparation, you guys provide an incredible administrative bulwark to funnel smart people through and make it easy for me to come at the end and pick up generally competent people. And like I, maybe it's a crude metaphor, but slap an extra coat of technical training paint onto them to make them employable. So, if I were to argue about…if I were to say a massive opportunity that I see, one that makes me try and partner with SUU and with other universities, I want to tap the immense talent pools that you've done such a good job of preparing. And I…the implicit message there is you've prepared them 80% of the way, right? But in many students' cases, even in my own, I was prepared extremely well, but I didn't have that final—call it a niche, call it a unique skill set, call it a marketable skill set—I didn't have that final little "umph" that goes onto a resume that makes an employer feel like, "OK, this person understands what work is like in my industry and I would like to have them."

Wyatt: Yeah, the certain life skills…

Fuller: Yes.

Wyatt: And experiences that make it easier…

Meredith: President, you went to law school, right? You were an attorney, we've talked about that many times, did law school, which at least ostensibly is a professional school, did it prepare you for the profession?

Wyatt: So, I will answer that without a yes or no.

Meredith: Just like a lawyer. [All laugh] The answer is "yes," it did prepare you.

Wyatt: I have an undergraduate degree in economics, so, maybe my answer could be, "It depends." [All laugh] The…when I started into law school, law school was still basically theoretical.

Fuller: Mhmm.

Wyatt: There was just starting…it had just really begun to do some kind of internship type experiences, and I jumped into one of those and so, I went down to the Salt Lake City attorney's office and prosecuted a couple of cases under the guidance of a full-time prosecutor, and it was just because it was something I was interested in doing for experience, it wasn't that I was interested in being a prosecutor at the time. But that was 30 years ago, and I think that law schools are just a little bit more helpful on careers, but when I went to law school, there wasn't a single job on running in a law office, how do you bill, how do you do any of those kinds of things? It was purely theoretical, and I recall in a property law class with the professor going on and on about some archaic rule from old England, and someone said, "What's the rule today?" And he gave the student this weird…my fellow student, gave him kind of a weird look and said, "Why do you care?" [All laugh] And the goal of the faculty member was different than what we thought.

Fuller: Mhmm.

Meredith: Right.

Wyatt: And we were probably both right and probably both wrong, but the professor was trying to teach us to think like a lawyer.

Fuller: Yeah.

Wyatt: And we were trying to learn how to practice law.

Fuller: Yes.

Wyatt: And that analogy with you, that we probably both can benefit from each other.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Wyatt: But we need, in higher ed, we need to learn more on how to do what you've done.

Fuller: Yeah.

Wyatt: Which is, "How do we pivot quickly? How do we develop programs to keep up with a rapidly changing market? And how do we get people so that they are genuinely prepared to start working the first day?" My first days, Steve and Peter, in my law firm, I walked in, looked around, and I didn't have a clue.

Meredith: Right, you had to ask the paralegal to…

Wyatt: Yeah, we didn't even really have paralegals. We had what you could call a legal assistant, but I had to go to her and say, "Help me figure out how to do this." And she could help me with the forms, but she didn't know the deep thinking behind…

Fuller: See, you can make the argument, again, putting this back into my line of work, you can make the argument that a four year degree doesn't prepare a student at all for what I'm doing. For what you need to be able to do to understand a business's processes, find the bottlenecks, and be able to find software solutions that help solve those. But, and you could make the argument, "Hey, if you had had a single class in college of actually, you are setting up a demo system of this, then cool, you have the skill." The thing that college provides that I'm forced to admit, you can't only get it at college, but it definitely engenders this skill, is, "What about the brain to be able to look at a business and isolate those bottlenecks?" You still need the skills in software to build the software to fix those bottlenecks, but to be able to recognize them in the first place, process-based thinking, writing proposals, it's an easy argument to make that college doesn't prepare, but you do in a more nebulous way that's harder to point exactly to, but you know it when you see it.

Wyatt: Yeah, my first law partner…people came to see him for legal advice, partly because he understood business so well.

Fuller: Mhmm.

Wyatt: So, they could come in and talk about their business problems, and he knew, he really understood their problem.

Fuller: Yes.

Wyatt: He understood banking, he understood how to get loans, he understood every aspect of running a successful business. And so, his advice was much better than a pure technician.

Fuller: See, and what interests me the most about partnering with higher education, and if I were talking to the higher educators listening, it would be find people like me that…we have pure industry experience. That's what we are doing, we are not academics, all we do is industry experience, and there are entrepreneur in residence programs at plenty of universities…I guarantee that there are tons and tons of providers like me who are trying to fill talent niches, and if we were more closely involved with the education processes, a) we could build our curriculum into existing courses so that students are graduating with skills that they've gotten as part of their coursework. But far more importantly is that idea of the internship. The idea of actual hands-on work experience in the field. I feel like if we could partner more closely together, I have so many employers that would love to hire SUU students, especially if they knew that they came with a predetermined modicum of training and talent that…like, that concept of partnering before the students leave. So, much of the career development and placement happens right before the student graduates. But if I could have had access to students in their freshman, sophomore, and junior years, I could have formed their education more around a potential career path that they might fall into.

Wyatt: Yeah. Yeah, we…one of the things that we do wrong, at least we do wrong for many students, is not necessarily our fault because half the students that show up don't know what to major in.

Fuller: Mhmm.

Meredith: Right.

Wyatt: They're still trying to figure that out. But one of the things that we do wrong is we focus on majors.

Fuller: Mhmm.

Wyatt: So, "What do you want to major in?" And, "Here are the requirements to work through that major." We should almost have majors as an afterthought.

Fuller: Yes.

Wyatt: It should be, "What do you want to do as a career?"

Fuller: Yes.

Wyatt: And then, "Let's design the pathway to get there." Because for me, there were 50 majors I could have pursued…

Fuller: Yes.

Wyatt: To go to law school.

Meredith: Right.

Fuller: Absolutely. And that's again, to me too, sometimes when I'm posting jobs to higher ed—a lot of you use Handshake—you post a job to Handshake and it says, "Would you like to target any specific majors?" And it's like, "No. Do you have a setting for me to target smart people?" [All laugh] "Do you have a…can I filter by smart people?"

Meredith: "Smart people, please."

Fuller: Again, there were so many kids in my…almost none of my Russian literature major cohorts went on to become doctorates in Russian literature and teach in the profession. Most of us went on somewhere else, and that…I think you're absolutely right, Scott. I think that if I had been able to get into college and say, "Instead of a major, these are maybe some careers that interest me that I would love to do a three month internship in." It's kind of that idea of a road you drive down. You're either going to like that road and keep driving, or by driving down it, you'll realize, "This is the wrong road for me." But so many students don't even get close to answering that question until they're at the end of their college or even after graduation. I was thinking on the drive up here about people I know of and their higher education experiences. I have a good friend who just graduated with a degree in English. He worked as, essentially an orderly at a mental health hospital, enjoyed his work, enjoyed working in mental health. But kept saying, "I'm not going to stay in mental health. This is not my career, this is just a job to get me through college." But he never quite found an internship or an opportunity that developed and worked on the skills he got in his degree path, and so guess what he did when he graduated? He stayed on as an orderly at the mental health hospital. That's what he knew. So, that's…something that Brigham Young University did fantastic that I really appreciated is they have a lot of on-campus internships. 3-credit class where they actually work with enough employers that they just say, "We have enough projects for everyone." The employer gets free work and to feel like they're contributing, and the students get a nice little resume booster. And it's not…again, it's kind of a forced thing almost. You don't have to be a proactive student to go out and find it. The university says, "We've attracted enough for you, you have to do this. It's for your own good." And I think they get rave reviews. I think it's an awesome program.

Meredith: So, Peter, where you…we talk about this, actually, all of the time in our realm here, and we have had I think a legitimate excuse being in Cedar City that we're not surrounded by a bunch of industry.

Fuller: Oh, that's about to change. That is changing, Steve.

Meredith: Yeah, and so I'm particularly interested in your thinking about that. Because your whole world is remote work.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Meredith: And what does remote internship look like? How does that work?

Fuller: A remote internship works honestly, I think, better for many students than an in-person one. And the thing that you sacrifice is you do sacrifice that being immersed in an actual office lifestyle, getting to know lots of different people, just kind of being there on premises can have some value, and I won't detract from that. However, being able to work essentially a fairly flexible schedule according to your school schedule, being able to…I mean, with the interns we've brought on, we talk with them two or three times a day one-on-one. We also…we do make it a point to fly them out if we need to in-person at least once in their internship. That flexibility allows us to tap talent pools in literally any university or any city or state in America. And it allows also…I mean, I'm going to get a little bit technical, but I want people to capture the vision that I have for this. In a niche like mine, there are total, over the next three years, I'd say between 5,000 and 8,000 total jobs that will be available for the people that are smart enough to get those jobs. If I dispersed those 5,000 to 8,000 jobs out across all of America, then I'm going to have a couple of people in Oklahoma, a few in Chicago, and it won't make any real major impact on any one geographic area. But, if a university like an SUU or a Brigham Young University or especially the smaller schools that don't have a lot of industry surrounding them that are looking for kind of a differentiation factor, if they pushed and say, "Hey, if we're smart enough and move fast enough, we could get 500 of those 8,000 jobs by achieving economies of scale, by having coursework and bringing on instructors and having certification programs and running an internship program through here. I mean, I'll pose the question to you guys: what would be the impact of 500 new tech internships and follow on full-time jobs? What would be the impact on the SUU career placement metrics if I dangled that carrot out there?

Wyatt: It'd be pretty big.

Fuller: Especially in Cedar City.

Wyatt: Yeah, that's pretty big.

Fuller: And that's the opportunity that I feel like a smart institution is going to jump on. Scott made the point when we were talking about this before, the problem with niche education is, "What happens when the niche dies out? Right?" I'm describing a niche. The good news in my particular niche is I can guarantee that for the next at least 20 years, skills in remote work, cloud computing, computer and business acumen, that's not going to go away. Those are skills that don't go away. So, I feel like we're kind of in a…it feels a little 1849-esque Goldrush trying to find the right outfit, trying to find the right tools to tap this market.

Meredith: The old Goldrush.

Fuller: Exactly.

Meredith: I've actually been reading about that right now, and I think in many ways, this realm that we're working in right now that we're talking about is sort of the Wild Wild West for higher ed.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Meredith: These types of partnerships and…

Fuller: Well yeah, you're being forced into uncomfortable positions with…

Meredith: This whole set of podcasts is going to be an uncomfortable position.

Fuller: Exactly. You're being forced to engage with 26-year-old Peter who built a site in a few months. You have entire institutions and years of thought that's put into your curriculum and armies of professors and curriculum developers, and I'm coming and saying, "I can do that much faster and much simpler and deploy it much quicker." And it's uncomfortable for both of us, because I…we maybe won't talk about all of the concessions I've had to make that you guys do a lot better than I do, maybe you do want to talk about that to assuage some bruised egos that might be listening, but yeah.

Meredith: I don't think we've bruised anybody's ego. These are good conversations.

Fuller: Yeah.

Wyatt: Well, let's see. What advice have you given us? You've told us, if I just read into the whole discussion, what have we got to learn? One of them is we need to find ways of creating programs more quickly.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Wyatt: We need to find ways to help students, even if a student is studying Russian literature…

Fuller: Yes.

Wyatt: We need to help students figure out a pathway so that they can continue to read Russian literature after they graduate...

Fuller: Absolutely.

Wyatt: A job, a career, something that gives them the stability that then they can have leisure time to continue to study and read.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Meredith: So, that's actually a really interesting thing. You know, we talk about the fact that general education serves a variety of purposes, and one of the things, Peter, that you mentioned specifically about general education, should it take that long and so forth, and should we be doing it? And this is certainly a conversation that we have, but one of the biggest roles that I see is that general education must be such that it inspires a desire for lifelong learning.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Meredith: On that particular subject. So, do you still read Russian literature?

Fuller: Absolutely.

Meredith: You do it because you love it, right?

Fuller: Yes.

Meredith: And it's not part of your daily grind, but you do it because you love it. And so, helping people to find out what they love is actually a pretty big, important part that the university has that's separate from career education.

Fuller: Yes.

Meredith: And so, it's…Scott, you were a philosophy major, I know you still read philosophy. I know that's very interesting to you, right?

Wyatt: Right.

Meredith: And so, despite the fact that it's not…I mean, it is part of your daily life too, you have many philosophical conundrums and lots of legal conundrums as the president of a university, but nevertheless, you're love of the mind, the life of the mind, is one of your defining characteristics. So, it was great that you were able to study that.

Wyatt: Yeah, some people say…because I have a dual major, Peter, just like you I had two majors. And some people say, "Well, they weren't hiring a lot of philosophers when you graduated." And one of my answers is, "I'm a philosopher every day."

Fuller: Mhmm.

Meredith: Absolutely.

Wyatt: Because I think every day. And the founder of the first university so far as we know is Plato.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Wyatt: So, Plato and I have that in common.

Meredith: That's right.

Wyatt: We both study Socrates.

Meredith: You both read Plato. [All laugh]

Wyatt: We both read Plato. We didn't both read Socrates because Socrates didn't write…

Fuller: Didn't write, exactly.

Wyatt: But we both studied Socrates. Yeah, but that's an interesting piece, isn't it?

Fuller: See, I think what Steve is getting at though is I feel like a lot of students feel some cognitive dissonance of they would almost rather…it's like, "Yes, if I have a job in the bag, then I would love to kind of in the next rung of my hierarchy of needs achieve a love for Russian literature."

Meredith: Yes. And not only am I saying that, I'm also saying, "Does it take 16 weeks, 50 minutes, three times a week to instill a love of Russian literature in someone? Or to at least cover that?" I think there's much to be said about the delivery of general education.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Meredith: About the life love part of that.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Meredith: That we just have done it, we've done it the way we do everything else.

Fuller: Yes.

Meredith: We just do it in our very most traditional, Socratic way.

Fuller: Yes.

Meredith: And maybe that's not the best way anymore. I don't know.

Fuller: Yeah, content delivery is an entire separate discussion. Like, my wife is a teacher and is into pedagogy. We can talk about flipped classrooms for all the live-long day.

Wyatt: What else have we learned from you?

Fuller: If I were to hammer in kind of what I wish I could communicate to higher education, and I assume that this podcast will be listened to and implemented by every higher ed administrator in the country, so this is my big shot…[Laughter] I'd say that internship and/or career focus, it does not need to be even an entire four-year focus. Do not underestimate whatsoever the impact of a one or two month internship on the trajectory of an entire student's career. Of an internship, of a mentorship program where they get to talk and shadow people in industry. I think that…again, the whole four-year degree does not have to be an internship or always be focused on career, but far too many students graduate four years without any sort of industry experience and they don't know where to go. So, that would be the…that's maybe the number one takeaway. The number two, and this is more a product of my being in a particular niche, I think that especially smaller institutions, like SUU nestled in smaller towns, need to…I mean, I'm sure you've all read The Innovative University by Clayton Christensen thinking about competitive advantage and what is it that you strategically do better than other people? I think that universities more and more need to find niches. You can no longer just get by by teaching a similar general ed curriculum, a similar business curriculum, a similar curriculum as pretty much anyone else, because those skills more and more are not enough to get people placed and get people jobs. I really, again, with the speed that we put together this curriculum and have seen success with it, I'm realizing there's no reason that at an SUU or a Brigham Young University or some of these smaller schools, that there shouldn't be a program dedicated to cloud CRM development. And maybe it's not a major, maybe it's an emphasis, but I really, I'm fairly sure I could take almost any of your business graduates and get them a job in my space. With the right amount of training and prep, get them a job. And I want to push you to find those niches. There are so many other niches like mine, that if you find the right industry talent and bring them into your fold and say, "Hey, we're going to…" You don't need to write them a blank check, but say, "Hey, we'll cut through some red tape for you." I think there's a lot of good that could be done for the students at the end of it.

Wyatt: Well, that's really interesting, and something for us, Steve, to continually remember.

Meredith: Indeed.

Wyatt: Internships in particular, massively important. And interestingly enough for me, and I'll give you this, I had what could be described as an internship when I was in law school, and it kind of discouraged me from becoming a lawyer. And it wasn't actually until I was a lawyer that I said, "I like this." Because the tasks that I was given as an intern were not at all similar to the tasks that I had as a lawyer. I was doing the grunt, undesirable work rather than the rewarding work, which was working with real people and helping them solve their problems.

Fuller: Mhmm.

Wyatt: And so, I think one of the values of an internship is, is that it gives us that experience and it also helps us understand whether this is a career that we want to go into. But we have to remember that sometimes, the internship is a far cry from the actual job.

Fuller: Absolutely.

Meredith: Yeah.

Fuller: Yeah, and that's completely fair. And that's where…I don't want to load your plate up too much with stuff you need to be thinking about, but a good…it's often said that if you could give up your salary for the first two years post-college and have a really, really, really good mentor as a boss, it would be definitely worth it to you to sacrifice that short-term salary in order to gain someone who can help you build a much better career. Obviously, I don't want people sacrificing salaries, but mentorship on the job is, I would say that the mentors that I had in my job had as profound as an impact in a much shorter time than some of my best professors.

Wyatt: You've almost described medical school.

Fuller: Yeah.

Wyatt: Because you go to school, and then you go out and you spend a couple of years just working for almost nothing.

Fuller: Yes. See, and I…

Wyatt: Super interesting.

Fuller: Have you heard, I don't want to get down a rabbit hole, but I'm sure you've heard…there's the Purdue, I know they're a university that did this, the income sharing agreements where you get free tuition in exchange for an income share agreement on your first three years of employment or until your job makes enough to pay off your tuition. I think it's like an 18%-20% income share off the gross. So, it's a ton of money, but it's ideas like that, and again, you mention medical school, where I think a lot of students would be thrilled to trade off some of the…I mean, they're trading off short-term gains for long-term success by going to college. I think a lot more of them would be willing to do apprenticeships like that and trade off the monetary gain in order to find something that they love and that has a lot of upward income trajectory.

Wyatt: Steve, we've got enough to go another whole podcast on this subject.

Meredith: We do.

Wyatt: We're probably running out of time. Peter, this has been super interesting.

Fuller: Well, thanks for having me.

Wyatt: And at 26 years old, congratulations for starting a business and a successful one where you're training lots of people who are getting great jobs.

Fuller: I appreciate that, Scott.

Wyatt: And I'll be excited in a couple of years to hear more stories about the successes of your students. And then hopefully by then, we'll be able to report back that we've continually improved on our side as well.

Fuller: I love that. I'll have you on my podcast when I get big enough to start having existential crises about whether my model is good enough for my students. [All laugh]

Meredith: You've been listening to Solutions for Higher Education, a podcast featuring Scott L Wyatt, the president of Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. We've had as our in-studio guest today Peter Fuller, he's the CEO of the Workflow Academy. You should check out Workflow Academy online, and we thank Peter for joining us, and we thank you, our listeners, for listening. We'll be back again soon, bye bye.