Many students simply aren’t sure where to turn for career support. So how can universities do more to encourage and develop skills that will underpin future success? Adam Campbell from ME+ goes in search of answers.
As career experts, we know that developing certain skills or attributes greatly influences the ongoing success of people throughout their working lives.
A clear sense of purpose that fuels motivation and informs a clear sense of ambition.
The ability to engage others through stories and an unflinching commitment to building ‘helping’ relationships.
A pragmatic and disciplined approach to breaking down ambitions into milestones and actions.
Resilience built by and associated with a growth mindset – a willingness to take risks and continuously learn from success and failure.
We recently put these factors to the test during an employability pilot programme for 200 third-year business management students. And came away delighted with the additional insights we learned when talking specifically to students. ‘Who cares?’
Many students find themselves in a void of support, not knowing which way to turn.
Their drive for independence, alongside the embarrassment of youth, stop them from asking for help.
Genuine care and interest in the success of your students is an essential building block to addressing employability.
“The highlight of my student experience has been this programme, it is the first time that a person has actually reached out to me.” - Genuine student response
Start from the inside out
The words ‘employability’ and ‘careers’ are turn-offs for students. Any intervention needs to take a more holistic approach – talking in terms of university and employer outcomes just doesn’t cut it.
What works better is building an understanding of where their interests and motivations lie.
It’s about finding a spark to ignite the flame.
“The most enjoyable part of my student experience is without doubt the team work, I love the challenge of being in teams and coordinating people and projects. In fact, I really like project management and a job where I could do that would be great.” - Genuine student response
Shape thinking and connect with others
We asked students whether they’d like to be introduced to people who work in business areas of interest and could help shape their thinking. The overwhelming response was ‘Yes’.
This process of shaping thought and connecting with others was a common and repeating theme.
We’ve found it useful in helping students build clarity on their aspirations and extending their network of connections and contacts.
“I want a job. I really would like to start a finance role, but in an organisation that can give me the opportunity to move into different functions and roles at a later date. But I really don’t know much about the type of finance roles there are.”
- Genuine student response
Engaging content leads to engaged students Here’s just a flavour of what our 200 students had to say on the issues of engagement and participation.
“When lecturers make things interesting, you’re more motivated to attend. Some lecturers just focus on the content, but the ones I really enjoy make it practical and focused on real life not the theory – I would do a Masters just to spend more time with one particular lecturer.”
“I kind of go to sleep in most sessions, I have a part-time job in retail and I’m just waiting to finish my degree so I can go for a full-time position there. It’s only because my parents want the graduation picture that I am still here.”
“You definitely make more effort when your attendance affects your final mark!”
Our pilot highlights the influence that academics have on the motivation and success of the students. Where the care and interest is present, it’s far easier to work on and establish the key components of success.
This blog post was written by the career experts behind ME+ – the career management app from Telos Partners. ME+ is free for individual students. See what ME+ can do for universities at me-plus.co.uk.
This is the fourth in our blog series on Developing Student Employability.