Case study: An effective career-enhancing initiative for students
900 Students, 61 Workshops, 31 Business Presenters, highlights of the University of Portsmouth’s successful IMPACT week 2017
From time to time I am challenged by businesses as to whether our students are equipped for the world of work. At the University of Portsmouth it is written into our Education Strategy that we will:
“ Ensure that every student participates in career-enhancing activities” and “ Raise educational expectations”
How do we do this? This year the Faculty of Business and Law ran a series of 61 workshops during a week in October; where Enterprise and Employability were given centre stage, with resilience as the theme. What makes this such a great initiative, is that the majority of the workshops delivered were by business people, from all types and sizes of businesses, who instead of criticising, took a different approach and coached, educated, interacted, and engaged with 900 of our students.
Our students come from across the globe, diverse in age and life experience, but all are at University to learn and better their chances of being successful in their chosen field. We want our students to hear from those who are prepared to talk about their achievements and success as well as their failures and learnings. We want our students to hear what worked for business people; be it how to develop a great LinkedIn profile, how to develop a professional image for business, how to maximise your personal effectiveness, through to tips on how to fast track your career in a large enterprise, and to learn the top 10 ways to increase your influence. Most of the workshops were delivered by business friends of the University, who saw this as a great opportunity to “give back”. They gave their time and expertise freely.
Neville Merritt, Director at Pure Potential ran a series of workshops around “Choosing the right job: an insider's guide to business” stating “I have a son who has recently graduated, a daughter at university and I have run a number of graduate on-boarding programmes for a large software company. I am acutely aware of the steep learning curve for graduates entering the world of full-time employment. Anything I can do to help them make the right choices and be able to make informed decisions in those early months of their careers will make a difference, maybe even an important one!”
There were a number of great workshops the University arranged, like the impressive Digital Garage sessions by Google delivered by Craig McHugh, and the highly informative session given by Jerry Page, Finance and Insurance Director from Mercedes-Benz Retail Group.
Students who attended his event now know that employers want them to demonstrate their achievements, talk about their interests, find a way to stand out, be flexible, be committed, have built up relevant experiences and be grounded.
Collaboration with businesses furnish our students with an extra “learning layer”. Guest speakers from business people provide authenticity, they are role models for our students, who can imagine their future selves. The feedback from our students confirms that this type of support from our business contacts is truly valued.
This quote from Yavor Atanasov an international student studying for a BSc in Economics sums it up perfectly:
“IMPACT Week provides wonderful extracurricular information about non-academic activities which are connected with job opportunities or general advice about having a successful career.”
“The events are a nice change of pace from the regular lectures and the speakers are people who share their story and how they got where they are today in a relatable way to the students, because most of them were in our shoes once.”
“The other amazing thing about IMPACT Week is that students have the opportunity to ask questions in person about a company or an idea that they are interested in or just attend the event and find something new, even if they have no previous knowledge or information of the subject.”
Impact for Business
IMPACT Week has not only been beneficial for the students but also for the speakers. “I delivered 3 sessions during IMPACT Week and as a result I was contacted by International House London to deliver a Young MBA programme to students from across the world.”
How to get involved
Building on the success of this year, we are committed to delivering impactful workshops through 2018. If you are a business person who would like to find out how you can get involved with this initiative and connect with our talented students, please contact author of this piece.
Pat Smith, Enterprise Development Manager at University of Portsmouth Faculty of Business and Law