Students leave empty seats @Opportunities

A series of careers advice workshops run by Opportunities@Lincoln was once again under-subscribed. Running from 17th to 19th March, the three workshops entitled ‘Creative job search’, ‘Selling yourself effectively’ and ‘Surviving the interview’ attracted less than 20 students to each session.

Starting at 10am, the three workshops were in a typical lecture format, accompanied by a slide show and some printed hand-outs. Each was run by a different professional careers adviser and were full of useful tips about where to look for jobs, writing CVs and preparing for job interviews. Although 25 students signed up for each day, only 13 turned up on one occasion.

This is a far too familiar story for the opportunities team, who are trying to encourage students to think ahead about their job prospects.Careers adviser Sandra Whitmarsh sympathises with students who have deadlines and exams approaching, but feels students this year need to be more employment savvy than ever.

“With fewer jobs available and a lot of people with the same degrees, graduates need to give themselves an edge. Knowing where to look for jobs and being able to sell yourself effectively can do this,” said Whitmarsh.
Second year Criminology student, Jill Alindayu, was at the ‘Selling yourself effectively’ workshop and found it very useful, but thinks the event needed to be publicised better.

“The session was good. I think being taught how to build a professional CV should be compulsory. I only found out about it through the daily alerts on the university email, and a lot of people don’t even look at them,” said Alindayu.

The Opportunities@Lincoln team is aware of this problem and runs several other services to try to reach more students. They have set up a new mentoring scheme which is aimed at bringing graduates and businesses closer together, and there are also over 100 students a month using ‘drop in sessions’ which run from noon until 4pm on week days. On top of this, a focus group consisting of 16 students has been set up to find ways of making the service more attractive to students.

Sandra Whitmarsh said: “We understand students are busy but they cannot leave career thoughts to the last minute… it isn’t just Lincoln students, I have experienced the same problems at other universities.” Third year Sports Development and Coaching student Jonny Buckley has never seen the need to use the Opportunities service.

“I have known for ages what I want to do after my degree and I have a good idea of how I’m going to get there.” This is a dangerous mindset to be in, according to Employment Opportunities Manager, Lesley O’Donnell.

“We give help to the clued up and the clueless and even if you know exactly what you want to do we can still give you professional advice on your CV and help you get the edge over other applicants,” said O’Donnell.

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