Students are being employed to support careers services at universities. ISE CEO Stephen Isherwood explains the benefits for institutions and employers.
Putting students on the front-line has helped many universities increase engagement levels with the student body, particularly amongst hard to reach groups.
Several hundred students and recent graduates now work in university careers services across the UK.
Peers in careers
The ‘peers in careers’ model originated in the US and many UK universities now employ trained students in a number of roles. The thinking behind the model is similar to that used by employers hiring students as campus ambassadors.
Students are trained to run drop-in sessions, they co-create materials including social media, and they help deliver careers events.
‘Peers in careers’ was discussed in a recent ISE webinar. Students explained what works and what doesn’t. Careers leaders at Leeds and Manchester Met universities shared their thoughts, plus there was expert analysis from Cibyl and Gradconsult.
Analysis of student behaviour often shows that students who are at the very start of their carer journey, those that don’t know what they want to do, can be reluctant to engage with a careers service. Using fellow students as the first point of contact can help overcome initial barriers.
Feedback from universities that have implemented the model shows that students feel more confident discussing career planning with their peers.
The model also helps a careers team develop their services. The employed students provide deep insights into the student mindset and how best to engage with them.
Employers too can benefit from these insights. Students in peer-to-peer roles can provide unique perspectives on employer activities that work for students. For example, students on the ISE webinar discussed the importance of transparency and authenticity.
Working with students to engage other students is proving to be a powerful collaborative approach that ensures more undergraduates and postgraduates engage in careers activity.
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