April 30, 2013, by Simon Gosling
Careers “Speed Dating” with the School of Geography
Simon Gosling, Lecturer in Climate Change and the School of Geography Careers Rep, talks about a unique careers networking event he organised with students last week.
Over 100 students attended the event, which was held at the Ropewalk near Nottingham city centre. The venue was deliberately chosen for its popularity with students and because it was a unique location off campus.
“I really wanted the event to have an informal feel about it. Hosting the event at a popular pub in Nottingham seemed like an obvious choice” (Simon Gosling).
“The informality and set up of the event was a great aspect. The Ropewalk was a perfect location. The event had an off-campus relaxed feel” (Student attendee).
Geography students from all three undergraduate years came to chat with nine guests employed in a variety of sectors. The event was organized in a “speed-dating” style, so that groups of around 12 students spent about 10 minutes talking with each guest around a table. When the 10 minutes was up, they circulated round to the next table to chat with another employer.
“It was helpful to have the rotation to ensure we could hear from each employment area – if we had just been left to choose which people to talk to I may have missed out on things I learnt from companies that I previously hadn’t thought would interest me at all” (Student attendee).
“The best aspect of the event was the general informality that allowed us to feel comfortable to ask whatever we wanted and the speed dating aspect that allowed everyone the opportunity to speak to all of the guests” (Student attendee).
All but one of the guests were School of Geography alumni, some of whom had graduated from Nottingham as early as last year. This meant that the guests were in an excellent position to provide friendly advice about career options, employability and applying for jobs after graduation.
“It was great that the guests were Nottingham Graduates. It was a relief to know they have experienced what we have. You could speak openly and frankly about your interests and in return good quality advice was gained. It makes a change from the formalities of a careers fair” (Student attendee).
“It was great to engage with alumni from a wide range of industries in such a relaxed social environment” (Lydia Bell, GeogSoc President).
The invited guests were from a diverse range of sectors and organisations that included:
- Marketing (Dunnhumby; Katy Winter)
- Teaching and studying for a PGCE (University of Nottingham; Natalie Batten)
- Environmental consultancy (Golder Associates; Chris Willans)
- Retail and GIS (Tesco Site Research; Jo Roberts)
- Tax, consulting and corporate finance (Deloitte; Natalie Hogan)
- Conservation (The Woodland Trust; Ann Rooney)
- Real estate management (AXA; Adrian D’Enrico)
- Postgraduate study (University of Nottingham; Joe Bailey)
- Countryside management (Derby City Council; Gemma Gregory).
“The range of employment sectors that the guests were involved in was a brilliant aspect, there was somebody for everyone!” (Student attendee).
There’s a lot of enthusiasm from the students and employers to make this an annual event, especially given the very positive feedback received from all those who attended.
“I thought the event was brilliant, best careers event I have been to!” (Student attendee).
“I enjoyed the way it was relaxed so we could interact more with the alumni. It was a really friendly and enjoyable event” (Student attendee).
In an online survey completed by students after the event, 88% felt they were able to engage more effectively with employers than at previous School careers events (10% didn’t know), 93% would attend a similar event in the future, and 98% felt that it had helped them to think about how to improve their employability. Some of the student statement responses to the survey have been quoted throughout this blog.
“I think the set up was perfect, there was just the right amount of time to chat to everyone and get the information you needed. Everyone was very friendly and informative” (Student attendee).
The event was funded by a grant from School Employability Fund from the University’s Careers and Employability Service (CES), following a recent £1m investment in the careers service at the University of Nottingham.
“A great range of careers was represented. There was a real buzz in the room from the large number of enthusiastic students who attended. Definitely worth putting on a similar event again” (Maggie Wolff, Senior Careers Adviser, CES).
“It was great to see such a diverse range of employers interacting with a very engaged student group!! The turnout was fantastic as well!! A very successful and beneficial event for all involved!” (Daniella Dutton, Employability Officer for Faculty of Social Sciences, CES).
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