What can you learn from business leaders?

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Donna is a first year Business and ICT student, who took up a recent opportunity to meet business leaders at the Higher Education Academy in York. Here she tells us what she gained from the day…

Through the Careers and Employability Centre I recently had the opportunity to attend an “Experience” day at The Higher Education Academy. During the day I had meetings with the Head of Business Development, the Head of Business Administration and a Business Analyst. I also attended a Programme Board meeting, where department heads gave updates on their business areas.

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This was a fantastic opportunity for numerous reasons but primarily because it allowed me to get an idea of what future career I want to follow, as while you can read job descriptions it isn’t the same as someone sitting down with you and telling you what they do in a typical day. Secondly it allowed me to apply what I had been learning in my modules to a business setting. Being told the theory is one thing but seeing how it is applied allows you to make connections between topics that you may not have been able to do previously.

Finally being able to socialise with business executives allowed me to ask if they have any advice for me – what did they wish they had known at my age or when they were first starting out in business. They stressed to me the importance of deciding what career I wanted to follow as a target, and then I can develop my learning around this to allow me to gain the skills that match the job description of my target job. This would enable me to be the perfect candidate for when I am ready to apply.

In addition they gave me advice in terms of the importance of continuous development. There are always going to be changes or updates in your chosen field, and if you don’t keep up with them or invest your own time in attending workshops/seminars then you may become stagnant.

Finally they stressed to me the importance of social media and creating a database of contacts who could support me in my career. With this advice in mind I have attended sessions held by the Career and Employability Centre. A key workshop for me was “Learning to use Linked In” as with me being a business student this is something my future employers will check when considering hiring me and the earlier I build connections within my chosen field the more opportunities I will be made aware of.

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Another workshop I have attended is “Creating your own Brand”. I really enjoyed this as we went through creating a business persona and deciding how you want other people to view you ie. do you want someone to think you are creative? intelligent? knowledgeable?

In conclusion it was a great opportunity that taught me loads, reinforced my knowledge and allowed me to create connections with people who could help me in my future career.

Student Led Assessment Centre Support Day with IBM

by Dr Andy Hirst, Course Leader Business and ICT, Department of Computing

One of the hardest tasks facing tutors across campus is building the confidence in 2nd year undergraduates to tackle their first assessment centres. So some of our final year students decided to develop their own solution. Get those closest to the problem to provide the solution.

On 3December current students on placement and current students in their final year put on a Mock Assessment Centre day. The invitation was sent across campus to students in Computing, Engineering and the Business School. The goal was to arm students from SHU with the necessary recruitment ammunition to propel their career prospects to another level. The students who organised the event, who are currently on the final year of their Business and ICT degree, are Pete Smith, Joe Patterson, Stan Nedev and Dominique Brennan.

The team developed the marketing and social media campaign, invited the guests and organised the location and times.  The team was supported by their course leader and by a number of willing volunteers from IBM.

Placement students currently working at IBM came up to support the task (some were not even SHU students) and they all recognised the need to help those working hard to break through. IBM as a company understands the role of “giving back” and helping others and puts social responsibility and business ethics high on the agenda for their staff.

This is not the first time that Business and ICT students have volunteered to support their course mates. The course regularly has past students coming back to visit and pass on their career experiences. Michael Taylor, a 2010 graduate, recently gave up his time to support our students by helping them hone their CV’s during a two-hour workshop. As an undergraduate Michael spent his final year building a psychometric test question bank for placement recruitment tests. Michael knows how important placements are to undergraduates, because for him it was a one-year job interview. Now Michael enjoys a successful career with Xerox!

Without any prompting or initiation by tutors this student-led scheme now seems to be an annual activity. It’s a true testament to the collegial atmosphere built by our students.

And of course the benefit of students supporting each other works both ways. The organisers build and develop their employability skills for their next career step, whilst improving the career prospects for the next year group. As course leader I see the direct benefits; students gaining confidence and self-satisfaction by using their talents to make a difference at SHU.

For more info

Student Team @SPPTeamSHU

IBM @IBMUKCareers

Business and ICT Course Leader Andy Hirst A.Hirst@shu.ac.uk