Dr Beth Lawry, Teaching Fellow
School of Biomedical Sciences
What did you do?
We run a successful Employability Ambassadors Scheme which gets students thinking about employability early on in their degree programme. This helps them get the most out of the range of opportunities available to them.
Who is involved?
Dr Vanessa Armstrong
Dr Beth Lawry
How did you do it?
Current students are employed as ambassadors and are recruited based on their extensive and varied range of skills and experience, including those who have been on industrial placement. They work to pass on knowledge and practical tips to other students within their school. Recruitment happens in semester 2 and the current ambassadors are heavily involved in the recruitment process.
The work that ambassadors do is really important to the School of Biomedical Sciences and students. We can see the difference that having a current student’s perspective makes. Ambassadors get involved in a range of activities including:
• practice interviews
• application workshops
• placement talks
• CV advice
• open days
The ambassadors also work closely with the Careers Service to deliver sessions and workshops such as interview skills sessions and a careers bootcamp.
In semester one our students, at different stages, apply for industrial placements, medicine/dentistry degrees and graduate schemes. The students will also begin the process of applying for vacation studentships so it really helps to have the employability ambassadors involved during this time. The ambassadors are very effective at promoting the importance of employability, passing on information about how they approached their applications as well as passing on tips about how to get organised and meet deadlines.
Why did you do it?
Dr Lindsey Ferrie initially started the scheme as she was keen to develop peer to peer support for employability. Her interest in developing this was based on research that shows students can respond much better to advice and information from a fellow student that they identify with.
The ambassador role is a paid role and Lindsey initially applied for a Higher Education Academy development grant which funded the project for 5 years, during which time the scheme has grown and developed. Following the success of the project the School now funds the scheme.
‘I think that the Employability Ambassador scheme has been invaluable to me because not only have I been able to gain some experience in promoting careers events, I have been able to improve my confidence by talking to students about my experiences, which can inform their future career choices. Overall, I would say it has encouraged the entire cohort within the School of Biomedical Sciences to start thinking about career options at an earlier stage, and to understand that there is a wide variety of options open to them during and after their degree.’
Emma McCarthy, Employability Ambassador
Does it work?
Our students, who benefit from the support of the ambassadors, give lovely feedback about the positive impact the ambassadors have.
We have also seen an increase in the number of our students successfully applying to industrial placements with large pharmaceutical companies. Being able to speak to students who have already been on placement gives an extremely useful insight to the process and helps build student skills and confidence when they are applying.
The ambassadors themselves also gain a lot from being involved including, communication, team work and organisational skills.
Interested in trying this?
Here are some tips from Beth:
• Have your own ideas about what activities ambassadors might want to help with but let them run with them.
• Encourage the ambassadors to think about what advice/help they would find useful.
• Identify the key points in the year, for your subject, where students might benefit from the support of an employability ambassador. For us, one of those times is definitely early in semester one when the big pharmaceutical companies recruit for their industrial placements. Other key times include graduate scheme and postgraduate study application times.
• Encourage ambassadors to have an effective way of engaging with other students. As well as the face to face events our ambassadors use social media but there are loads of other methods ambassadors could try.