Preparing Today’s College Students to Work with AI

Just like the wheel, the internet, and the smartphone transformed the world, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize our personal and professional lives, and it all begins in the college classroom.

Although AI has been around since the 1950s, it’s just beginning to truly take off. According to one recent report, the global AI market, which brought in $388 billion in 2022, is expected to generate a whopping $1.4 trillion by 2029.

This tremendous growth points to a future that is largely AI-driven. To help prepare students for this future, universities and colleges should do everything they can to introduce them to AI and help them understand the jobs available in this exciting, rapidly growing field.

AI: It’s Not Just Robots

When many people hear the term “artificial intelligence,” they think about robots. The fact of the matter is that AI has many everyday applications. In fact, most of us use AI daily. If you’ve ever seen Google autocomplete a search for you or had a conversation with Siri, that’s AI.

Another common AI application is chatbot technology. If you’ve ever interacted with a company online via chat—for example, connecting with Amazon to discuss a defective item you received—chances are you engaged with an AI-powered chatbot, at least to kick off the conversation.

Increasingly, AI is being used to automate repetitive tasks in our everyday lives. When universities and institutions of higher learning invest in chatbot technology, they can do the same while also helping students think differently about what AI is.

How AI Can Improve the Student Experience

By investing in chatbot technology, colleges and universities can introduce students to a broader scope of AI solutions out of the gate. Instead of thinking that AI is an esoteric concept that only the smartest engineers and data scientists in the world understand, chatbots help students understand what AI is and where it fits into society on a deeper, more accessible level.

Colleges and universities that invest in chatbots ensure that their students interface with cutting-edge technology, perhaps even from the first moment a prospective student interacts with the institution. When students are thinking about enrolling in a certain college or university, they will undoubtedly have questions. With built-in natural language processing, chatbots interpret what students are asking using speech recognition, semantics, and syntax—similar to how humans learn languages.

In addition to providing experience interacting with AI, chatbots also empower students to find information at their leisure. Instead of waiting on hold just to find out whether their application has been received or figuring out where the library is, students can pull up this information via a chatbot when it’s convenient, 24/7/365.

Plus, chatbot technology frees staff from having to field repetitive questions over and over again. As a result, employees’ lives become easier, and they have more time to focus on improving the student experience in other ways.

What Skills Do Students Need to Work in AI?

The benefits of AI technology speak for themselves. Even so, many students might think that they lack the technical know-how needed to land a career in artificial intelligence—which couldn’t be further from the truth.

With each passing day, artificial intelligence is becoming more accessible. Thanks to no-code and low-code development tools, this trend will only accelerate over time. In fact, people can build AI-powered chatbots today without any coding experience!

Even if a student isn’t keen on developing AI solutions themselves, there are still all kinds of careers involving AI that they could pursue, regardless of their interests. AI companies need marketers, sales teams, finance professionals, business development reps, and HR departments, after all.

While possessing advanced software development and data science skills can certainly help students land technologically oriented positions in the field of AI, here are more common traits students need to excel as AI professionals.

  1. Critical Thinking Mindset: To succeed in a career involving AI, students need to have critical thinking mindsets and the ability to think outside the box. This trait can help them identify new use cases for AI and also help their organizations determine how to apply AI to their workflows to operate more efficiently.
  2. Curiosity: Ultimately, the best AI practitioners stay curious. Students, particularly those without engineering backgrounds, might see something in AI and not be able to understand it out of the gate. That’s perfectly fine as long as they have the curiosity to try to understand it.
  3. An Open Mind: Whatever they do, students shouldn’t limit themselves to thinking about AI in one way (e.g., robots!). Instead, they need to keep open minds and understand that, whatever things are like today in a certain field, there’s a good chance AI will eventually make a huge impact on the industry. By keeping an open mind, understanding that AI is still in its beginning stages, and knowing that AI will likely be used across all business functions, students can better prepare for working with AI in the future.
  4. Strong Communication Skills: As far as technology goes, AI is complex. That doesn’t necessarily mean students need to know the ins and outs of exactly how the technology works. They do need to possess strong communication skills, however, so they can explain a complex topic in a way that the average person understands.

Are Your Students Prepared for an AI-Driven Future?

By all indications, AI technology represents the future. If educators want to ensure their students are best prepared to enter the workforce, they need to do everything they can to familiarize students with AI and help them think about it realistically.

By investing in AI-powered chatbot technology and helping students develop the skills they need to excel in the field of artificial intelligence, colleges and universities can increase the chances each graduate is familiar with AI and understands that they can make an impact in the field, regardless of their technological prowess. It’s an easy way to transform the student experience while setting up each student for success.

Mark McNasby is the Chief Executive Officer at