Session two: notes and updates

Student Focus Group session two:

Notes and recommendations

  • Session 2.1 Monday 7 November 2016, 16.30 – 18.30 (14 students)
  • Session 2.2 Thursday 17 November 2016, 16.30 – 18.30 (14 students)

Tabled questions and topics

  • Raising awareness and accessibility of the Careers & Employability Service
  • Events (including employer events and special careers talks)
  • Working abroad
  • Specific support in stage 1 and 2 and final year

Raising awareness and accessibility of the Careers & Employability Service

Main topics of interest or concern:

  • advertising the service to students
  • academic engagement.

Suggestions for improvement

Advertising the service to students:

  • better advertising in and around the immediate vicinity of the Hub and RLB
  • better advertising in orientation/induction across all programmes/stages
  • the CES tile on the Plymouth App to be moved higher (currently too low)
  • advertise the service in the very large screen on The House
  • should have a very visible presence on the intranet
  • radio advertising if we have a radio station at the University
    talk show maybe on Radio Plymouth to appeal to parents/young people
    podcasting perhaps.

Academic engagement:

  • academics should be pushing the service in tutorials/lectures as they have most face-to-face time with students
  • greater emphasis on the development across all stages of the individual not just in final year
  • greater collaboration between academics and careers service across the programmes
  • some compulsory sessions within the academic timetable.


Would like to see:

  • mock interviews for students to assess employability across all stages
  • a welcome event in induction week to promote the service and welcome students to the University
  • employability and careers staff profiles, with pictures on both CES Service platforms and on DLE pages
  • careers advisors to take part in presentation assessments in order to give a perspective on how a recruiter may give their feedback (pitching etc), rather than just academic assessment feedback. This came from illustration and feedback to Siwan Tyack after session for CAs to approach academic for January assessments
  • more content for students who do not study on campus (webinars and web content, course page content).

Additional comments:

  • better balance between international students/home students in the consistency of advertising and encouraging students to raise awareness
  • would like an ‘Open Booking’ appointment system as telephoning in the morning is a barrier to making an appointment for many (popular idea)
  • Accelerate programme is very well received and accessible. Would like to see more skills-based session topics, such as Excel.

Events (including employer events and special careers talks)

Main topics of interest or concern:

  • bespoke sessions ascertaining to degree programme
  • liaison with student reps and tutors
  • participation in events by students inc. increasing engagement and advertising.

Suggestions for improvement

Bespoke sessions ascertaining to degree programme:

  • consistent message that they will engage and find value in events that are specific to their programme and take into account the intricacies of their field. With regard to careers fairs and networking events this is particularly highlighted (e.g in FoB: IR, Lobbying, Think Tank, NGO)
  • holistic ‘day in the life’ of a certain industry (subject specific talks)
  • would very much encourage sessions as part of curriculum
  • timetabled sessions, such as EPIE100, are well received. EPIE100 session was excellent (feedback from one student)
  • sessions are/will be better attended when timetabled
  • careers information needs to be developmental throughout the stages as part of curriculum to be most effective
  • programme of events in induction week (could be subject specific).

Liaison with student reps and tutors: 

  • liaise with both student reps and academics - if subject specific, student reps could talk about in lectures etc.

Participation in events by students inc. increasing engagement and advertising:

  • move some of the sessions to evening to increase participation (twilight sessions for those with full-on lectures, sporting commitments (Wednesday afternoons)
  • C&E newsletter with events included (perhaps subject specific circulations)
  • requires academic engagement. Academics not promoting the service enough. One student - been here three years and no academic has ever referred to the service until this year (FoB student)

Participation in events by students inc. increasing engagement and advertising (continued):

  • careers advisors to produce circulations, specific for the faculties, etc, for students to engage with and match to social media. Particularly so that students know they are being spoken to specifically
  • how do we increase engagement at our fairs: use case studies of alumni that have already done used the service - explained this idea is in progress
    integrate into modules/lectures - academics going with their cohorts to the fairs and use the fair/careers as content of lectures being delivered around that time
  • make sure that things are timetabled suitably as emails are not often read to raise awareness (e.g. this year TH had this timetabled but on the wrong day, the Wednesday, and when fixed, Stage One had a lecture 11 - 1)
  • ask students what they want to see at careers fairs that would encourage them to attend
  • utilise placement returners and their industry contacts to bring those employers onto campus for events.

Would like to see:

  • Big Screen presence
  • programme of events in induction week (could be subject specific)
    academic wall calendars which list event dates - three year 'Where will your Student Journey Take You?' and 'Entrepreneurship' collaboration pamphlet shown and was received and suggestion made this should go to all students
  • to explore the idea of an Internships Fair (not placements only) and a series of seminars on finding an internship
  • workshops on Microsoft Office programmes, such as Excel (funding provided by some schools but not all and is seen as an employability skill)
  • workshops on presenting confidently.

Additional comments:

  • more effective if there is a handout of literature at times when there isn’t a saturation of leaflets (induction, too much being given out)
  • Accelerate brochure not well received. Too small and full of content
  • careers fairs could be run more than once a year. Suggestion that one large careers fair and a smaller, more school-based fair would work better.

Working abroad

Main topics of interest or concern:

  • finding information – help with deciphering resources
  • networks and opportunities to connect with useful contacts.

Suggestions for improvement

Finding information:

  • Information on requirements on the country going to (formalities)
  • visa, volunteering, working rights, living options etc.
  • information about how, not just where and what. GoingGlobal - students not aware of this
  • students feel there are too many different sites to find information - CN, Prospects, etc, or summaries about which site does what. A fact sheet about the different websites and what they can be used for would be useful
  • health and safety, healthcare information, EHIC and Brexit, breakdown of this information across the globe. Information on important laws and increasing cultural awareness 
  • a CES guide to working abroad:
    ‘Things to consider when working abroad’ leaflet
    links to websites/ helpful contacts/ checklists.


Networks and opportunities to connect with useful contacts: 

  • networking event specifically with companies and organisations that offer work and opportunity abroad
  • a list of organisations that offer relocation packages
  • opportunity to connect with alumni who already live and work abroad.

Would like to see:

  • more information and awareness on placements and internships available abroad
  • a clear distinction and information for both UK national, EU and international students on the requirements for working abroad (insurance, visas, health and safety and cultural guidelines)
  • more links to volunteer opportunities abroad.

Additional comments:

  • None.

Stage 1 and 2 support and final year support (specific)

Main topics of interest or concern - stage 1 and 2:

  • consistency of presence from careers staff throughout degree programme
  • embedding careers into module choice decisions
  • support on shorter work placements and internships.

Suggestions for improvement

Consistency of presence from careers staff throughout degree programme:

  • multiple visits throughout the year from careers advisers and sessions across ALL stages and ALL programmes
  • increased presence in Induction Week with each stage (not just stage 1).

Embedding careers into module choice decisions:

  • English have module leader coming into stage and delivering session that also links to careers. It would be great to link this with module-specific careers adviser sessions: “How will this module help make me employable/help with careers?”
  • re-engaging placement returners who may think that they don’t need the service having had industry experience, through module choice and more generally, would help those people engage
  • industry specific and alumni talks, programme/sector specific careers fairs.

Support on shorter work placements and internships: 

  • would like to see a focus on summer internships to cater for those who can’t commit to the full placement programme 
  • we can promote the value of placements by using student case studies and more alumni talks.

Would like to see:

  • education discussed the need for CAs to highlight the value of utilising Wednesday afternoons for volunteering in schools early in their degree programme
  • really pushing careers from stage 1 with realistic advice about time management and thinking about what you should be doing at each stage
  • professional skills development sessions (Excel etc) 
  • more consistent promotion on the value of getting experience early on so that you can make changes/reassess career choices throughout the degree programme.

Additional comments:

  • Accelerate workshops very good
  • career fairs good
  • CV checking is very good (stage 2 mostly) and useful for placement applications
  • students working open day- very positive that there was careers content in welcome talks and that the CES service is open for business on the open day. 


Main topics of interest or concern - final year support:

  • embedding careers advisers into the curriculum
  • diversifying experience (accessing other Faculty/School events).

Embedding Careers Advisers into the curriculum:

  • final year lecture talks by teaching staff are good, but education doesn’t have enough support (other than a society). Would like some help with reassurance and improving awareness for those reaching the end of their degree embedded into programme
  • education have never had employability in the curriculum and would see this implementation as hugely beneficial
  • education school have not had a careers adviser in to give lectures and they would find this useful, particularly as they are out on placement in the spring and can benefit from the connection early in the term. Perhaps offering Skype careers coaching and application support.

Diversifying experience (accessing other Faculty/School events):

  • event session across all subjects for those who would like to diversify their experience to new career roles. Two events per year. Invitations to cross faculty events and talks to ensure all students are able to access new career sectors.

Suggestions for improvement:

  • careers rep for each course; to feedback to cohorts about the employability hub and relevant events and feed through social media platforms. 

Would like to see:

  • networking events relevant to the subject/ sector of interest as well as being able to attend cross-faculty events
  • postgraduate options and information talks and fairs already existing. 

Additional comments:

  • Accelerate workshops (being repeated is great for flexibility)
  • FLUX is a great opportunity to build skills and experiences (particularly for final years needing an extra ‘boost’).