Industry Insights

Building Long-Term Career Viability in an AI-World: A C-Suite Q&A with Bryn Mawr College’s Associate Dean Katie Krimmel

Preface:  Between 2000 and 2010, of the approximate 5.6m lost US manufacturing jobs, 85 per cent of these losses were attributable to technological change — largely automation.[1] With one forecast stating that robots could replace 800 million jobs by 2030[2], Dr. Krimmel shares her top three recommendations to build a sustainable career in an AI world.

Q. With US News reporting that Bryn MawrCollege ranked among the top ten of all colleges and universities in percentage of graduates who go on to earn a Ph.D.[3], shouldn’t most of your students be fine since I recall a statistic which showed doctoral degree holders having the lowest unemployment rate?[4]

A. While close to a quarter of our 2017 graduating class chose to continue their education immediately after Bryn Mawr, a number of our students also pursued career paths at Fortune 500 firms, non-profits, and other organizations. As the leader of our school’s Leadership, Innovation and Liberal Arts Center (LILAC), our team helps students forge connections between their experiences at the College and the world beyond Bryn Mawr. For example, by providing a wide range of career planning services, we help to prepare students and alumnae/i for their winding career journey, whether it’s joining a non-profit to combat homelessness, entering a top-three consulting firm to solve a client’s revenue problem, conducting research in a lab, or pursuing a graduate degree.

Q. But if one report’s projection (that by 2030, it is expected that 8-9% of the world’s 2.66 billion workforce will be in new occupations[5]) comes true, how can you prepare students and alums for jobs that have not even been created?

A. Artificial intelligence (AI) and other technology advancements are rapidly changing the work force model. Other accelerating changes, such as the World Economic Forum’s recent projection that the majority of the workforce will freelance by 2027[6], only amplify the urgency for people to take control of their own career journeys. To address these challenges, one needs to continually look at evolving skill sets that are projected to be in demand. So, while of course learning computer languages can be helpful to land that first job after college, what about the next series of jobs? With AI, machine learning, and other developments; even certain technical jobs can be commoditized. Now more than ever, being prepared means being a continuous learner. At Bryn Mawr we not only prioritize building digital competencies, but also focus on developing skills like communication, creating connections and working with others, thinking both creatively and conceptually, making decisions and taking action, engaging with diverse communities, and behaving ethically in relation to groups and communities.  No matter what happens with AI, I believe these skills and fostering a fierce desire to be curious will always stand the test of time.

Q. As students and alums strive to build their sustainable careers, what are the top three recommendations that you have for them?

A. First, one should take early personal ownership of her or his career development. Unfortunately, some students wait until senior year before taking the steps to reach out to their career centers. As a parent and/or caregiver of a student, you can help coach them to reach out during their freshman year versus later. Exploring interests early on keeps options open; students don’t need to know the direction they are headed to come see us. Invest in yourself by building relationships with people who can help you develop ideas and connect with opportunities. Of equal importance to alums, a number of career centers have recently updated their support offerings to not only students, but also their alums. It’s a huge potential time saver in terms of preparation for securing that next job.

Second, have a growth mind-set.  A recent study by psychologists at Yale and Stanford examines the differences between a fixed theory of interests and a growth theory[7].  The growth theory is the idea that you can develop your interests over time.  The fixed theory can be likened to the idea that people search for their passion.  The programs and experiences Bryn Mawr College offers through LILAC follow the growth theory.  If you are interested in something, try it, explore the area, and talk to people who are doing it.  Of equal value is concluding that you are excited about your exploration or that you want to go in a different direction.  Life will always provide unexpected twists and turns.  Adapting to those curve balls is part of everyone’s journey.  Spencer Stuart’s Jim Citrin, who wrote a number of best-selling career books, talks about the need for an entrepreneurial mindset and making the best of every opportunity. Each of us must learn to be the CEO of our life, adapting and responding to the world in ways that work for us.

Finally, leverage your career centers’ networking and mentoring collaboration channels, be they online or traditional ones for alum/student engagement. With some academia, Fortune 500s, government and non-profits having four generations in their workforce, mentoring and reverse-mentoring can provide enhanced communication skills to engage with co-workers as well as other career benefits. Building connections takes practice.

Dr. Katie Krimmel is the Associate Dean of Leadership, Innovation and the Liberal Arts Center (LILAC) at Bryn Mawr College. In this role, Dr. Krimmel leads a team which provides a comprehensive array of professional and personal development opportunities for Bryn Mawr students and alumnae/i.  She was also the Senior Associate Director of the Wharton Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania and an executive manager for the Target Corporation. Dr. Krimmel obtained her Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Management at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also has a Master of Education degree. As an undergraduate student at Penn State, she was a Schreyer Honors Scholar and today she volunteers as a student mentor through the Liberal Arts Mentor Program and as an admissions interviewer for Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College.

[1] Cocco, Federica, Most US manufacturing jobs lost to technology, not trade, Financial Times, December 2, 2016

[2] McKinsey Global Institute, Independent Work: Choice, Necessity, and the Gig Economy, October, 2016

[3] US News Best Colleges report,

[4] Bureau of Labor Statistics,, March 27, 2018

[5] McKinsey Global Institute, Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained, Workforce Transitions in a Time of Automation, December 2017

[6] Kasriel, Stephane, 4 Predictions for the Future of Work, World Economic Forum, December 5, 2017

[7] Khazan, Olga , Find Your Passion is Awful Advice, The Atlantic, July 12, 2018


Associate Partner, IBM Global Enterprise Transformation

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