For students to develop sufficient awareness of employer needs, culture and company selection criteria, it is crucial they are presented with opportunities to meet and hear from a range of employing organisations. Students benefit in a number of ways, including help with their choice of career, developing their commercial and market awareness and useful insight on how to self-market when making applications.
- Business presentations from diverse sectors giving insight into their work and selection and recruitment. Examples of organisations presenting include Audit Commission, Chase Pharmaceutical, Essex Police, Aviva IT, HM Prison Service, Grant Thornton, the RSPB.
- Events for small to medium sized employers such as ‘Stay Local Do Different' held early in the summer that brings final year students, local employers and employment organisations together to explore opportunities in Norfolk.
- Recruitment fairs including the large careers fair in October and other specialist fairs throughout the year such Careers in Law, Writing and Communication and Teaching.
- Skills workshops addressing specific skills and commercial awareness. Examples include confidence building workshops; journalism training (noSweat); commercial awareness for Humanities/ Language students (PricewaterhouseCoopers); and workplace simulations by the Civil Service Fast Stream.
Alumni are an excellent but often under-utilised resource in contributing to student awareness of life after UEA. Many academic staff maintain contact with their alumni, either informally or more formally through the provision of references. In terms of employability students can find the experience of someone who has recently ‘been there' more meaningful than similar information coming from staff or careers advisers.
Schools can help to develop employer links by utilising the wealth of alumni contacts held by academic staff or by contributing to a register of contacts shared with the Careers Service, Alumni Office and the UEA Research, Enterprise and Engagement Office (REEO).
- Alumni careers events have been successfully co-run between the Careers Service and a number of Schools, combining short talks with more informal networking opportunities. Alumni have been located from a number of sources including academic contacts, the UEA Alumni Office, Careers Service contacts and local employers. Depending on the size of School, the number of alumni involved can vary between three at smaller lunchtime panels and 12 at larger events.
- Alumni case studies and biographies can also be a useful resource, increasing student awareness of the realities of finding work in particular sectors. The Careers Service and the Alumni Office are accumulating such case studies, to be made available centrally for marketing purposes or more locally on School websites.