Session five: notes and updates

Session Topic: The Careers & Employability Hub (infrastructure, staffing and services available)

Monday 6 February 2017 (16 students)

Session Overview

The ethos behind this session was to give students, who were split into three teams, the opportunity to discuss the physical space of the Careers & Employability Hub, Ground Floor RLB. They were invited to walk around the space, look around the interview pods, review the furniture and printed materials available and suggest solutions they felt were achievable over three timescales. These timescales were set at: immediate, two years and long-term (five years plus).

The following text identifies the main features of these changes under the time category, with a space following for areas student feel are positive and should continue.

Immediate Changes

1. Big TV screen
a.   Students felt that use of the big screen (already used for Plymouth Connect) is ideal for promotion of the CES Hub due to its proximity and visibility. The group felt that it could direct students to the space, through an arrow or sign, which highlighted the location on campus. It is visible from North Hill, meaning those who pass it in the evening will see it clearly.

2. Jobs boards in window
a. Students were positive about the window frontage and it bright appearance. It was suggested that on the external facing of the signage, which currently lists job descriptions, larger font was needed and less detail on the adverts and more advertising for students to come in to the Hub to ask for details or pick up the job details on the other side of the board. They felt this would be more attractive and encourage students to come in the Hub, as people were less likely to come close enough to the window outside to read the details.

3. Front Desk
a. Signage: Students felt that signage was not clear where the Employability Assistants & Student Jobs split on the front desk, or that they were people they could easily walk up to and speak to with an enquiry. They would like to see much more visibility, through larger signs regarding who people at the front of the Hub were. Students particularly like the Library’s use of a life-size cut-out of a staff member offering help. They felt it is eye catching and would suit the entrance of the Hub.
b. Staffing location: There was discussion over proximity of the front desks to the entry door and some students felt this was intimidating to see 4 – 6 staff sat at the entryway. They felt a solution to this would be for staff to be either: 1. Split throughout the Hub or 2. Moved to the opposite end of the Hub (although infrastructure changes would be long-term).

4. Photo by the names of staff by the door
a. Service wide staff photos: Students raised that they would like to see staff photos by the entrance, across the whole service. They felt it would add value to add the faculty association for each staff member.

5. PCs for students to use in the Hub
a. Students felt that making PCs/Laptops/iPads available in the Hub, perhaps along the window frontage, would encourage students to use the Hub to use job sites, apply for roles, research vacancies and write CVs etc. The benefits to this for students were listed as follows:
i. Draw for students to access the service as a ‘one stop shop’ for advice and taking action
ii. Students using the Hub in the visibility from outside of the building would project the Hub as a friendly and ‘used’ space
iii. Students would like to have instant access to human resource if they have a question and use of a guide/resource list of website by faculty/generic sites to hand by the computer. Helping staff to share familiar websites and students having a ‘quick start’ guide.

6. Moveability/Flexibility of the space
a. Students felt it is a huge positive that the space can be adapted to be used for different events and for different occasions.
b. We asked: Would you know you could just use the space? Students said they wouldn’t automatically know that they could use the space to sit and work on CV etc or that their societies could use it for a career event. This could be promoted through SM channels and by putting a sign on the outside, inviting people in.
c. Advertising: Students felt the CES Hub should be advertised around the university and particularly in the library, as it is the one of the busiest areas of campus as are faculty reception areas, where they exist.

Team Mid-Term (Two years)

1. Use the space as a quiet study or preparation area

2. Established use of the space for programme level careers events
a. Establish the space for societies to use for their career events, including networking events- this generates further advertising through the social media promotion and brings staff, students and employers to the Hub

3. Pods/Interview Rooms
a. Students found the pods useful and private, but could be intimidating as they are quite small. Open or ‘drop-in’ space for appointments would be an attractive offer, and so a designated space for this would be welcome. Give students the option of going into a pod or using the hub space.
b. A Hub or Appointment FAQ document could be created to explain to students what the pods are and that the option not have your appointment in a pod is available.

4. Pictures and description of what each staff member does by the door so you know who you want to meet/are going to meet. Videos online touring the space and staff personal profile videos for YouTube to introduce what to expect in the space would be a positive way to encourage students to use the service and visit the Hub.

5. Welcome events
a. Students felt it would be positive to invite course reps to special events in the Hub to introduce our service, particularly as they have a responsibility to share information with others.

6. Update on resources
a. Some resources are unknown or out of stock by the time you come into service and so students would like an online catalogue or updates included in the Hub newsletter about printed resources in stock. The service could tweet about the resources we have are available.

7. Advertise the pods to make students aware of their uses
a. Skype interviews: for students abroad or living away from Plymouth/with children/carers
b. Telephone interviews: for students abroad or living away from Plymouth/with children/carers or only able to talk on a lunch break
c. Interview preparation: to rehearse Skype job interviews and pre-recorded interviews.

8. Use the space for accelerate workshops, talks and networking events
a. Students noted that over the next year/two years they feel that using the Hub for skills sessions would build a consistency for the students so they know where the sessions will be and will know to attend and direct others.
i. Discussion point: we noted that the frequency of Accelerate sessions and the use of the Hub for students in 1-2-1s would mean that not all training and events can take place in the Hub, but that some would certainly be suitable and that we already use the space for events.

Team Long-Term (Future)

This team dealt with the long-term future of the Hub and any large design or infrastructure changes.
1. Have a strong, clear message and articulate this better:
Quotes from students in this group:
a. Everything here screams complexity, deterred from coming in because not sure what we do and it seems a bit out of reach.
b. Good identity of the service but difficult to establish simple goals straight away
c. Almost too sophisticated- gives the idea of professionalism that may not have been developed yet
d. The entrance feels like an office at the moment and is not inviting
e. Keep it simple
i. This group of students felt they would like ‘an idiot’s guide’ to careers and employability and our services. They want this to be straightforward with simple objectives, and not too much content. For example, the map is bright and gives the idea of a journey, but the wiggly line indicates unsteadiness and a feeling of complexity – particularly with so many ‘stops’ along the way. A clearer guide to what students could/should be doing at each stage would be useful.
f. Rather see the objectives/aims/support available from the service in the window than job advertisements. They felt that having jobs advertised in such detail in the window meant students who did not use the service were less likely to come up to the window and come in.

2. Take the doors off some of the pods
a. Make them booths/moveable doors might be more appealing to students who need a space to use, but do not want the enclosure of a pod or need a space to work without being locked-away.

3. Workshops in the Hub
a. This group stated that they felt the service identity would be best served by delivering employability workshops from the Hub space (as per previous group). They felt that this would give the message: ‘This is what we do in the place we do it’. As per previous discussion, this could work around the perimeters of other service delivery.

4. Links with lectures:
a. Hub tour early on in induction and as part of the academic timetable would be an excellent way to create a sense of partnership between academic staff and students, and the CES.

5. E-appointment system:
a. Removing barriers to booking appointments and accessing human resource. This is a recurring theme in SFG discussions and students in this group suggested some solutions to what they perceive to be a difficult process.
i. Using the Careers & Employability App to book appointments. The library and laundry room have facility for students to view free devices, could we do this with appointments and drop-in services?
ii. Use an online booking system to book appointments (as with many Doctor’s surgeries) and have an email generated reminder with FAQs for the appointment.
iii. Laptop or iPad to book yourself an appointment or to view availability as you walk past
iv. Drop-in sessions so you can just turn up ‘would be good’

General Comments

1. Bright, welcoming, eye catching, bright, adaptable, spacious, inviting, comfortable. Students felt it was good to be able to see in from the outside.
2. Resources shelves are very useful:
a. Subject specific/ Faculty/Occupation organisation would be good
3. Alumni case studies in the window- make them more interesting/engaging/obvious that they are alumni that have used the service
a. They work as they are inspirational, encouraging. They could be added around the resources shelves and around campus (specific to the careers service) as students felt very positive about them.

Next Meeting: Thursday 23 February 2017