Business as ‘unusual’

A positive career mindset can help shape your career – even in the midst of the ‘coronacoaster’ – and the Graduate Futures programme was just one way our Student Futures team is gearing up to help our graduates and alumni, writes Bianca Praino, Careers Development Consultant.

It is stating the obvious to say that we are experiencing strange times and whilst we wait and see what the new normal looks like, we have no choice other than to embrace the ‘coronacoaster’ and whatever twists and turns it brings. These times have taught us more than ever about the importance of career agility, adaptability and resilience. It has also highlighted how a positive career mindset can help you to shape your career and not allow the external world to shape it for you.

The Student Futures team have certainly embraced the opportunity to adapt, collaborate, and consider innovative ways to engage students in our continued provision of careers and skills support. Within a couple of weeks of working from home, the Career & Skills team transitioned online to offer 1-2-1 career appointments, weekly digital drop ins, virtual mock interviews and e-guidance for CVs, cover letters and job applications. Meanwhile the Employer Engagement team reached out to the University’s key business partners, and gathered labour market information to clarify how we can proceed to best support both students and employer partners at this time. The Placement team focused on establishing the possibility of virtual placements and ensuring that all students could be assessed effectively for their workbased learning. Our Graduate Recruitment team also pushed forward with the development of ‘Grad Plus’ – our digital portal for ENU graduates which will launch in July.

Initially, the biggest challenge Student Futures faced was how best to support students about to graduate and deliver our annual Graduate Futures programme in an online context. It was time to practise what we preach and to go (way) out of our comfort zones to design a comprehensive online career programme that our students would want to engage with. The three-day event comprised a range of webinars and career cafes covering everything from LinkedIn and Virtual interviews to Employer panels and UK career success for international students.

There was great collaboration between employers, alumni and colleagues who all contributed to the planning and facilitation of the sessions. It was a resounding success, with over 680 student engagements during the 3 days and we gave ourselves a huge pat on the back (and glass of wine) at the end of the week! We were really impressed with the positive, professional, proactive approach our students took to focus on their career development in an uncertain time.

We know there will be unpredictable times ahead for our new graduates so if you are an ENU student or graduate seeking careers support, please log onto myFuture to book a careers appointment or mock interview. We are also running a series of Industry Insights and a summer Micro Mentor programme, supplemented with a range of additional skills workshops. More information can be found on myFuture.

So it is business as ‘unusual’ for Student Futures, but it is incredible what can be achieved with a willingness to adapt, support others, think creatively and learn as you go!

With contributions from Emma Hill and Sharon Homan-James, Student Futures.

Bianca Praino is a Careers Development Consultant at Edinburgh Napier University.

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