NIC Scholarship Program Encourages New Grads to Choose Senior Living as a Career
As America’s senior population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, the need for a larger, well-trained workforce is becoming imperative. And while the growth of the seniors housing and care industry offers exceptional career opportunities for those entering the workforce, the industry at large is still often over looked.
To support its mission of leadership development, NIC has established graduate and undergraduate student scholarship programs for research support and conference attendance designed to increase the visibility and awareness of seniors housing and care. At the recent National Conference in Washington, D.C., Future Leaders Council (FLC) members met recent scholarship recipient, Vivien Wu, Wharton School MBA candidate, to discuss her impressions of the conference and the industry as a whole.
FLC: How did you become interested in the seniors housing industry and how did you first hear about NIC?
Wu: Initially, our school’s career office had posted information on NIC’s internship program. I logged on to the website and was impressed with the number of recognizable companies active in this space—Berkadia, Wells Fargo, Ventas, CBRE. I realized this was not a niche industry but a possible career path. Over the summer, I interned with CBRE and had the chance to learn more about the seniors housing industry. By working with developer/operator clients and equity placement opportunities, I began to understand the inner workings of clients’ business models and their needs. When offered the scholarship to the National Conference, I was excited at the possibility of learning more about the industry as a whole.
FLC: What were your expectations prior to attending the NIC conference and how did those change after attending the conference?
Wu: I knew the NIC conference would be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge and meet people throughout the industry, but I was surprised by the amount of thought leadership about the business model itself—the emphasis on quality of care issues and resident/ family experiences, and the ability to hear about field-level perspectives and their effects. The session discussions were not limited to independent living and assisted living but expanded to the roles and impacts of skilled nursing/rehab, as well as the role home care plays within the industry. Overall, I was impressed by the friendship, collaboration, and desire to see the industry succeed as a whole.
FLC: What presentations did you attend and what did you take away?
Wu: I was able to attend several of the NIC Talks presentations and was impressed with how they pushed the message of the senior living experience. As our population ages, the re-envisioning of retirement or senior living as a second-life experience similar to going away to college was intriguing and really resonated with me. In addition, the concept of older workers or the impact of second careers was also interesting.
FLC: Overall, do you feel attending the NIC conference changed your impression of the seniors housing industry, and if so, how?
Wu: Overall, I came away with a feeling of dedication and commitment to the industry at large shown by so many of those at the conference and the expanded possible career paths available to new graduates.