Wednesday, 16 March 2016

EESE Careers Event

For the second year running, Helen Watson, Electrical Engineering student and chair of the Electrical Engineering Society, has been enterprising and made the November 2015 EESE Careers Event a big success!

The first question I asked myself when I heard about Helen’s enterprising activity was ‘why on Earth was she asked to organise a careers event?’ The EESE department had originally organised this event, however, it was largely unsuccessful, with only around 15 students turning up. As a result, the EESE industrial liaison officer approached Helen and a couple of other students to come to the bottom of this problem!

Helen kindly volunteered to take on this big responsibility as co-ordinator and started organising for this event as early as September 2015! Helen discovered that the main reason why the previous careers events had such a low turnout was because they were poorly publicised and there was nothing to make it ‘stand out’ from other careers events. Helen, as part of the group she coordinated, came up with ideas for advertising. They really wanted to emphasise the fact that it was organised by students for students and so, they went for an informal theme. Students were much more interested if they knew that their fellow students had had an input.

In order to advertise the event, Facebook events were set up and they gave lecture shout-outs. Helen and her team even designed posters. The posters, as ‘risqué’ as they were, (they even had to take one down!) turned out to be their biggest selling point. Puns were deliberately incorporated in order to gain attention, they were printed in A1 and were displayed down all corridors. When advertising for the event, Helen stressed there would be free food (because students love free food, right?). For example, at the November 2014 careers event, they provided free pizza. There was such a massive turnout that Helen admitted she had ‘never seen pizza disappear so fast!’. The food added to the informal atmosphere of the event as it encouraged a networking lunch.  

The November 2015 careers event was even more successful than the 2014 event. Although slightly less students did attend, the students stayed for much longer (and not just until the pizza ran out) and had more in-depth conversations with employers. Helen also conveniently timed the event for when the maximum number of EESE students would be available e.g. straight after a lecture, by looking at all students’ timetables. In order to avoid assignment deadlines, she decided that holding the event in November would ensure the best turnout. The event also took place in ‘The Link’ – a large informal room with sofas, tables and chairs (it was much less intimidating than the Great Hall!). Students could just sit down and chat rather than awkwardly approach a company.

So, what sort of employers came in? Employers from a wide variety of sectors came in, not simply electrical engineers. For example, some finance companies came in. In total, around 15 employers came. Prior to the event, Helen ensured students were even emailed a list of companies that would be attending and a paragraph about what each company did/had to offer. This meant that, on the day, students were prepared and could target a specific employer. This was especially useful when it came to local companies which had a lot to offer but nobody had really heard about.

How did Helen’s enterprising ideas benefit the EESE students?

In total, the event had around 200-250 attendees. Student feedback had shown to Helen how beneficial the event is for students. It's a great networking event and some students have even been successful at securing a job through the event. Last year’s graduates even came in to talk to students and were able to offer bespoke careers advice to them, telling them how the skills acquired in their degree helped them in the ‘world of work’. The EESE is likely to continue being a successful event, with employers approaching Helen at the end, asking her to inform them of the next EESE careers event!

What enterprising skills has Helen gained? 

Helen told me her confidence had drastically increased as a result of organising the event, especially when it comes to talking to employers. Also, her communication skills have improved from having to advertise the event. Having had the role of coordinating her team of three, her organisation and time management skills have also boosted. Most importantly, she has event been offered a graduate job with Arup, a company she discovered at the first EESE careers event she organised. Her role in organising the careers event was a great thing to talk about in interviews – it was a ‘real-life’ example of a time when she encountered a big problem and found a creative way to solve it!

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