My Internship and Future

The Leicester Graduate Internships Programme internships last for 6 months. My internship in the Students’ Union as Education Representation Officer was due to finish on March 18th 2012, however has been extended. The Students’ Union have extended it for 1 month until 18th April and even better GENIE, in the University Genetics department, have extended it until 18th June/July!

The Students’ Union has kept me on to continue looking after the Course Rep system, with the main reasons being that we are hoping to elect and train reps in the Summer term rather than in October, and as their accreditation needs marking. They however are not able to fund me for any longer than the end of April.

I currently coordinate the Employability Project which is run by GENIE and the Education Unit (see previous post). Professor Annette Cashmore is in charge of this project and has been impressed by my contribution to it and therefore would like to keep me working on it past April. For this reason GENIE will fund me for an extra 2 or 3 months meaning i will continue to work here until the end of June/July depending on the work load and funding available. As well as working on the Employability Project and running the Course Rep System this means I will also work on other projects led by GENIE, which are yet to be confirmed.  as well as being based in the Students’ Union I will spend 1 or 2 days a week in the GENIE offices.

Before my internship I had no idea what career I wanted to go into. The parts of my internship that I have enjoyed most so far have been designing the and delivering the training to Course Reps, keeping databases of project staff and Course Reps and interviewing for student staff positions. Based on this I am now looking to persue a career in Human Resources.   My first step towards this is to d some work experience in the University of Leicester HR department. I have spoken to our Interim Head of Organisation Development who is happy for me to go over to the HR department for a 1/2 day each week whilst I am still working here. The details of this are still to be confirmed, however it is definitely going ahead and will be a great opportunity.

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The Employability Research Project

The Employability Research Project is run by GENIEin the University of Leicester genetics department and the Education Unit in the Students’ Union (SU). The team working on this project is a composition of 8 students and staff from both the SU and the University. I act as coordinator, which involves chairing the meeting and running the overall process directing the rest of the team. The project has been running since Novemeber 2011 and is ongoing.

The aims of the project are:-
•To find out what students and staff think employability skills are and where students and staff think students are getting these skills whilst at University
•To find out other ways that student and staff feel employability skills could be further embedded in the curriculum and developed in activities outside of academic studies.
•To produce specific guidelines to develop and improve the ways in which employability skills are embedding within the curriculum.

The research methods used to gather staff and student’s views include a survey, focus groups and one on one interviews with students and employers. Two staff and two student focus groups were conducted and each student working on the project conducted an interview.

There are two surveys, one for staff and one for students, both of which have many similar questions in order to draw comparisons between the views of the two groups. These surveys are available online via the following links and as hard copies.

www.surveymonkey.com/s/employabilitystudent  

www.surveymonkey.com/s/employabilitystaff

A lot of thought went into the content of these surveys by the students and staff working on the project. The content was discussed at several of our weekly meeting, which take place on a Tuesday morning at 9am. My role at these meetings is to plan the agenda, chair and set tasks for the students. A link to the online version was sent round to all staff and student by email via the department secretaries.

A week of promotion was carried out in which students working on the project actively encouraged students to fill out the survey on campus. For this I ordered pens (click to see design) showing the link to the online survey, flyers (design shown below), posters, box stands and lollies to encourage people to take. The students promoting were equipped with both hard copies of the survey and iPads to allow people to fill it in online.  As well as the students already working on the project we also hired some more promotional student staff. A huge incentive was given to students to fill in the survey which was that they would be entered into a draw to win an iPad!

Employability Flyer and Poster Design:

 

Other promotion which ran for longer than a week included using the designs for the poster and flyers as profile pictures on Facebook and putting them on the TV screens around our Students’ Union.  A Facebook event was set up giving people details of the project and the link to the survey. Lecture shout outs were given and emails were sent round via departments and to societies and sports clubs.

As a further push during the last week of term (week commencing 26th March) we put on a lunch in the Students’ Union allowing people to get free food in return for filling out the survey. We also added an extra incentive of handing in 3 surveys in exchange for a creme egg.

A picture taken at the promotional lunch, also showing the box stand:

Data collection will finish on 30th March 2012 after which a report will be written including the following:
•A literature Review
•Methodology
•Data Analysis
•Focus Group and Interview write up
•Conclusion and Recommendations

The report will be primarily written by the student staff who have all been assigned a section. A member of academic or Union staff will oversee or look after the students working on each section. I will oversee the whole report ensuring everyone is contributing and that everything is running smoothly.

A presentation of this report will be given by two or three of the student staff at several different academic committee meetings across the University.

So far the project is going really well. Student and staff input is on track meaning hopefully we will get some good results and be able to use the finding to improve the student learning experience and increase their chances of gaining employment following their studies.

Course Rep ED Advisory Committees

The ED Advisory Committees (ran by the Students’ Union) were held on Thursday 15th March 2012. There were a total of 4 sessions throughout the day, two for each college with two colleges attending the same session. The colleges are as follows:

Arts Humanities and Law paired with Social Sciences

 Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology paired with Science and Engineering

It was a chance for Course Reps to talk to other Reps in their college and highlight any similar issues or concerns students across the college might have, in a safe environment with no academic staff present.

My role here was to organize the sessions, planning the ‘agenda’, booking rooms and inviting the Course Reps to the relevant time slot. Although there was an agenda the sessions were very much student led as we wanted them to think about their role and engage with each other. The Agenda is shown below:

ED Advisory Committees Agenda 

Brief update/reminder about:

Student Task :

  • Write one thing on the post-it that you have achieved as a course rep e.g. chairing a meeting
  • Write one thing on the post-it that you would like to achieve (wish list)
  • Sort them by similarity under the college headings on the wall
The idea of the task was to get the Course Reps thinking about there role and experiences so far.

Below is a consolidated version of the notes made throughout the day, giving details of the common issues that tended to span across several departments and colleges. The notes also contain details of the College Academic Committee Reps, including what their role is.

Ed Advisory Committee Notes

Overall the day was a success and attendance was pretty good.