Date published: 17 June 2020
This Student Voice report examines the current provision of careers support at Royal Holloway across professional and academic departments, the Careers & Employability Service, and the Students’ Union. Our Policy Inquiry into this area of the student experience began in May 2019, and our research and engagement with students shaped the recommendations included in this report. Importantly, each recommendation lends itself to improving students’ experience of career support at Royal Holloway, or addresses degree outcomes for students. In some instances, it is a combination of both.
The Students’ Union is aware that the list of recommendations suggests a significant amount must change with the way academic departments and the Careers & Employability Service provide careers support for students, and the implementation of these recommendations would occur over an extended period of time.
Below is a summary of the recommendations from the report.
There are issues with the style and format of the Careers & Employability Service’s current events programme.
1.1 The University should consider removing ‘Employability’ from the title of the Careers Service.
1.2 The Careers & Employability Service should establish a greater distinction between introductory beginner’s events with ones that are more advanced.
1.3 The Careers & Employability Service should coordinate a more varied events programme throughout the academic year.
1.4 The Careers & Employability Service should conduct a full, comprehensive review of the annual Careers Fair held in the autumn term.
1.5 The Careers & Employability Service should introduce a separate Careers Fair for postgraduate taught and research students.
1.6 The Careers & Employability Service should incorporate more talks and workshops which discuss the importance of soft skills development.
1.7 The Careers & Employability Service should provide a more thorough calendar of careers talks and events on their website.
1.8 The Careers & Employability Service should upload all content from training talks and workshops to the website.
One of the Careers & Employability Service’s main streams of work should be focused on recruitability training, skills development, and providing students with job application support.
2.1 The Careers & Employability Service should create and upload CV templates, guidance, and a submission box online for electronic feedback.
2.2 The Careers & Employability Service should consider the employers perspective when planning and running workshops.
2.3 The Careers & Employability Service should create cover letter templates and guidance online.
2.4 The Careers & Employability Service should improve information and upload content on assessment centres online.
2.5 The Careers & Employability Service should improve information and upload content on psychometric tests and aptitude tests online.
2.6 The Careers & Employability Service should improve digital guidance on interview preparation as a gateway to in-person support.
2.7 The Careers & Employability Service should provide clear and accessible online content which outlines the traditional timeline of a job application.
2.8 The Careers & Employability Service should offer personalised support during the job application process.
2.9 The University should consider creating a LinkedIn network for the Royal Holloway community to embed the culture of LinkedIn to the institution.
2.10 The Careers & Employability Service should provide a clearer understanding between graduate schemes and graduate jobs online.
2.11 The Careers & Employability Service should build or work with a third-party to provide a service where students can complete online quizzes or activities to help match their interests and skillsets with potential jobs.
2.12 Academic departments and the Careers & Employability Service should work directly with the Centre for the Development of Academic Skills (CeDAS) and advertise how their courses help students in their professional development.
Students should be provided with accessible, specialised, and live information relating to industries and sectors to enhance their industry knowledge.
3.1 The Careers & Employability Service should produce general introductions to sectors and upload this content to the Careers & Employability Service website.
3.2 Each page should also include links to useful resources, and staff should update information as the sector changes.
3.3 Online information could also include person specifications created by high-profile alumni in that particular sector.
The Careers & Employability Service should create a mentoring programme that is open to all students and connects them with alumni and other Royal Holloway employer connections in a variety of sectors. Our research into successful careers services at other higher education institutes has highlighted that mentoring programmes are an extremely successful form of careers support. This scheme should:
4.1 Form a large part of the Careers & Employability Service work, adopt University branding and resource.
4.2 Involve an application that enables students to set priorities for their mentor. These can include personal characteristics, sector or job role.
4.3 Consider including PGT students alongside second-year undergraduates in the scheme.
4.4 Involve a development training opportunity for both students and mentors. This will allow alumni to participate in continued lifelong study, while allowing students to further their professional development.
4.5 Begin with a networking event at the start of each term for new mentors and students, followed by the expectation that students and mentors will meet in-person or communicate electronically once every four to six weeks.
The Careers & Employability Service is not the sole department responsible for providing careers support for Royal Holloway students, and academic departments have a crucial part to play in shaping students’ professional development.
5.1 All academic departments should conduct a review of all modules which relate to professional skills development.
5.2 All academic departments should conduct audits of their courses and create a supporting document which outlines learned skills students are expected to gain.
5.3 The University should consider reviewing courses and module validation materials to ensure skills development in any existing and all new courses.
5.4 All academic departments should seek to introduce ‘X-in action’ modules where students are supported in finding yearlong work experience with an assessment at the end of the module.
5.5 All academic departments should be encouraged to utilise industry advisory boards.
5.6 The Careers & Employability Service should collaborate with all academic departments to incorporate bespoke careers information into a departmental monthly email.
5.7 The Careers & Employability Service should coordinate with academic departments and list all careers-related activity on their calendar.
Internships and workplaces are considered one of the more successful streams of careers support at Royal Holloway, and the recommendations below were created with the intent to build upon these activities.
6.1 The University should expand the micro-placement scheme to all departments and, where possible, increase the number of available placements in existing programmes.
6.2 The Careers & Employability Service should create a guidebook on the micro-placement scheme.
6.3 The University should provide a financial bursary specifically to support travel arrangements for students who have undertaken unpaid internships.
6.4 The University should create a one-stop shop for casual job positions within the University.
6.5 The Careers & Employability Service should ensure greater clarity on the differences between work experience, internships, shadowing, and placements on their website.
Our engagement with students highlighted areas where the Students’ Union could provide more support for students in their professional development.
7.1 The Students’ Union should further their work on communicating information to students about their rights when undertaking work experience, internships, shadowing, and placement opportunities.
7.2 The Students’ Union should expand their leadership support with new development opportunities for students in leadership positions.
7.3 The Students’ Union should work more closely with the Careers & Employability Service.
“This detailed insight captures the concerns of students and challenges they face, and goes further to recommend solutions that can make a real difference. It is encouraging that these recommendations also tackle issues identified across the sector. The whole team looks forward to continuing to work with the SU in implementing and championing the way that Careers support will evolve at Royal Holloway, so that it reaches all our students – and is tangible to each."
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