By Joe, Civil Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham
There are a number of services offered by the university to help students gain skills to increase employability outside of the lecture hall or exam room. I have personally been fortunate to take advantage of the personal skills award (PSA), careers appointments and the mentoring scheme.
The PSA is the university’s employability programme for students. It recognises and celebrates a student’s involvement in campus life whilst offering taught modules and online courses to prepare for real-world recruitment processes. As the culmination of comprehensive online training, I was given comprehensive feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of a mock written application and spoken interview. As a result of completing the PSA, this achievement is stated on my university transcript and I will be keen to utilise these skills in future job applications.
I have also attended a number of careers appointments throughout my time at UoB which have been helpful in guiding my career decisions. I recently sought advice on my plans for post-graduation, as I am undertaking a short summer placement with a consultancy before starting a PhD. During a careers appointment, I realised that my summer placement will be important in giving me a flavour for design engineering and that I should treat it as though it is the beginning of a graduate scheme, to help work out if I can see myself undertaking this line of work once I have completed my PhD. Such help and advice is a privilege that is retained after graduation, meaning that as an alumnus I will be able to return for further careers appointments if so desired.
Finally, I have found the opportunities offered related to industrial mentoring invaluable. During the spring before my year in industry, I applied for an industrial mentor who would be able to guide me through my first few months of working for a contractor (which was a new experience for me at the time). I was trained in how to be an effective mentee and subsequently I was paired up with a geotechnical engineer at Arup who had graduated five years prior. Since geotechnical engineering is the branch of engineering that I am most likely to pursue, I was able to learn immeasurable amounts from my mentor. Furthermore, many of my concerns and hurdles that I experienced at the beginning of my year in industry were made to feel easily conquerable as a result of our conversations.
These three opportunities are just the services that I have engaged with at the university and exclude the monumental help I received when securing my year in industry through the RESPECT scheme through the engineering department (my year in industry experience is mentioned in a previous blog post). Overall, the support available seems boundless which is congruent and in alignment with UoB’s impressively high statistics related to graduate employment.