This is a guest post by Sarah Bastow, who is the project lead for the ‘Putting the workplace into the Humanities Curriculum’ This is one of the 2013 Teaching and Learning Innovation Projects funded by TALI. It is the fifth of 11 guest posts by TALI funded project leaders.
The project has three key aims to
- To ensure that students in the Humanities see both their subject specific skills and their transferable skills developed via their studies as marketable and desirable skills and that they present themselves and their skills in a way that employers in the wider external world would expect.
- To facilitate peer support and learning through the placement process
- To increase employer engagement in the Humanities curriculum
In order to do this the project aimed to develop three key areas and all of these have got off to a good start in the first few months of the projects since its launch.
Project Team: Sarah Bastow: Rebecca Gill: Paul Atkinson; Allegra Hartley; Nic Flatt; Maggie Bullett; the Careers and Employability Service
Developing a series of ‘mock’ job specs, on line application forms and associated resources
Mock job specifications were created in a variety of career areas. They ranged from traditional humanities areas such as publishing, curating and public relations to less traditional areas such as social work and the emergency services. Each specification provides the student with application tips specific to the career in question. These advise them on what particular qualities would be wanted by the ‘employer’ as well as how to best present their skills and experience.
These will form a vital part of the final assessment for the module, with students undertaking a mock application process in applying for one of these jobs. This is intended to give them the experience of writing an application form and personal statement, allowing them to present the skills and experiences gained both through this module but also via their studies more widely.
Establishing web based resources
A Facebook group has been set up for students to use. This can be accessed via the student’s own personal Facebook page and provides them with updates on placement opportunities, careers talks and other events. The intention is for the students to continue using the page whilst they are away on their work placements. This will enable them to easily access advice and information from the university as well as provide them with a sense of communal support from fellow students.
In addition a Twitter account has also been established (
@hudwbp) and will come into use from 2013. This will allow students to keep up to date on what is happening on the module and facilitate the exchange of ideas and information. We aim to use these sites as a communication hub for the students, regularly updating and advertising various placement opportunities and posting miscellaneous notices.
We have also encouraged students make use of the on-line Preparation for Practice assessment tool developed by Human and Health Sciences.
A brand for the module to be used on the videos and external sites such as Facebook has also been designed to help students identify the module visually as well as the via written text.
We have also begun the production of talking heads style videos to be used primarily on the university’s web pages. This has begun with the production of two video interviews of students who have previously completed the module. They have been filmed talking about their experiences whilst they were on placement, and explaining why a student can benefit from participating in a work placement. These videos will be used inform future students of what is involved in the module. Work based learning is a new experience to many students studying Humanities based subjects and we hope hearing about the module and its benefits from their peer group should help ease any anxieties about going on placement. This process will continue as the year progresses to reflect the experience of more students.
Workshops and Guest Speakers
We have begun a series of workshops that invite guest speakers from the external community to engage with students regarding specific career options. Through this process we are beginning to build links between the university and external contacts.
These workshops and talks began on October 2012 and we have invited internal and external speakers in to talk to students about a range of career and placement opportunities. We have had talks from PGCE tutors relating to studying towards and then teaching in both primary and secondary education. An alumnus of the university, Rebecca Kane, has visited to speak about her experiences of setting up her own business after studying for a History and English Literature degree. The Churches Conservation Trust (http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/) made a visit to tell students about possible placement opportunities bringing students from other universities with them to give a student based perspective on the value of volunteering projects. We have also had speakers discussing the fast track civil service programme. Still to come in 2013 we have: a representative from English Heritage talking about careers in the heritage sector; Workshops on careers in the Museums and Archives sectors; A talk on how to get into publishing from a local publisher Bluemoose Books and a talk on working in the Education sector of government and the civil service.
We hope that these developments will allow student to see their year two placement as a real step on the way to gaining employment after their degree and allow them to reflect on the placement experience and the skills they have gained from it.