How to get the best from Universities (Part 3 of 5)

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In the third of a 5 part series some ideas on how to get the best from Universities

With 2.2 million students in UK Higher Education alone, and with so many graduates with strong A levels and getting a 2.1 (see my last blog) it is crucial to find ways to effectively target the right talent on campus. What can the Universities themselves offer to help you recruit your interns & graduates?

Firstly, which Universities to target? If you know the courses you want to target use www.unistats.ac.uk to find the Universities who run those specific courses.

Also think about the type of individuals you want to hire – for example, do you need more practically / vocationally biased in which case you may want to target the newer Universities. The other factor in who to target should be how easy the University make it for you to work with them – in other words good, old fashioned customer focus. So don’t just automatically think target the Top 10 Universities.

This decided then, one of your first ports of call should then be the University Careers Service. They have always been used to promote graduate & intern vacancies & opportunities. Although it is important to remember that Careers Advisory Services (to give it their full name) are not there to tell students what they should do as a career or persuade them to follow a certain route (i.e. work for you!), their role is to advise.

Activity on campus as an employer has changed – gone are the days of only needing to turn up at a University for a careers fair, the old fashioned ‘milkround’, and expect to meet all the relevant and engaged students you could ever need. There are just too many students wanting too wider range of careers, with all kinds of other time pressures on them for this to be effective on it’s own any more; as well as a huge amount of other much more focused activity being undertaken by employers all seeking to grab the attention of the best.

You need to use new methods to get onto the radar of graduate talent such as business games or challenges & case studies. These can be organised through the Careers Service.

Increasingly Careers Services are innovating themselves and with a real focus on directly improving the skills of students ready for the world of work such as the ‘Achieve’ Programme being launched at the University of Liverpool next year (http://www.liv.ac.uk/careers/) or the ‘WoW’ programme at Liverpool John Moores (http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/courses/114715.htm) . As well as some great, tried and tested highly participative events like ‘Tomorrow’s Managers’ at the University of Leicester (http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ssds/sd/careers/events/tm) or the ‘Insights to Management’ at Loughborough University (http://www.lboro.ac.uk/service/careers/section/events/insight10.html).

Another route, as well as Careers, would be targeting Academic Departments directly.

Working with key academic departments to provide, for example, ‘Guest lectures’ is not quick to make happen but is very effective; other activities include sponsoring faculty prizes; involvement in research projects, the list goes on.

The reality is to consistently recruit great intern and graduate talent year on year, you have to invest in building links with key institutions, and the good news is they are increasingly keen to build links with the commercial world – more so each year.

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