The art of employability
A careers service can invite companies to the campus, offer jobs databases, and interview and CV training, but is that enough?
Career prospects and the development of transferable skills continue to be some of the most important factors for prospective students in choosing their postgraduate programme, particularly in the current economic climate. Short of providing internships that allow students to obtain real world experience, how do Schools measure up to student expectations? A careers service can invite companies to the campus, offer jobs databases, and interview and CV training, but current students are beginning to look for more.
The University of Glasgow Business School offers consultancy projects on the MSc in International Business & Entrepreneurship and the MBA. These allow participating students to complete a project for a real company - answering a company’s real business problem. These projects have proven successful in previous years, with benefits to both the students and the organisations.
The projects in the MSc in International Business and Entrepreneurship programme focus on providing support for developing international businesses. Projects have been conducted for organisations in hospitality, pharmaceuticals, life sciences and manufacturing. Athol Haas, CEO of Pharmacells, said: “The programme has afforded us access to very high quality research work that would otherwise have been very difficult to achieve.”
Sphere Fluidics Limited recently participated in the MBA consultancy project scheme and Frank Craig, the company’s CEO, was positive about the results.
“The Glasgow University team did an excellent job. I was particularly impressed with the teamwork and synergy from their international group, which gave the project a global dimension. I was impressed by the the speed and efficiency at which the team worked to deliver an excellent presentation within a week. The blend of both analytical practice and creative strategic suggestions was powerful - a creative output is not often seen in consultancy projects, but is perhaps the most useful to a client.”
Sphere Fluidics is a new company working in the pharmaceutical, chemical sciences and biofuels industries. The company is commercialising technology developed at Cambridge University. The project that the MBA team completed for Sphere Fluidics involved conducting an analysis of the biologics market and making recommendations for Sphere’s commercial entry strategy.
Another project from the current MBA cohort had participants looking at logistics for Braehead Foods, producing a distribution analysis of the current costs, and providing a cost per mile figure along with a fuel matrix demonstrating the impact of the ever-changing price of fuel. They then set up a master document to record costs of distribution costs for easy analysis.
Professor Iain Docherty, Convenor of the MBA, introduced the consultancy week projects to the programme.
“Many of our MBA participants are looking to change fields or make the move into consultancy. These projects help them cut their teeth in new areas while providing tangible benefits to local organisations.”
The success of the consultancy project scheme has become an important part of the MBA programme’s focus on careers. The success of the consultancy projects is due in large part to the support of companies like Amazon UK and Clydesdale Bank, which have participated from the scheme’s inception.
Other programmes at the school are beginning to offer alternative solutions to the careers question. Dr Judy Pate, Convenor of the MSc Management programmes, has designed an innovative range of employability activities that will become a core part of the curriculum.
“The Art of…” programme is a series of workshops that look at specific workplace skills. The workshops, which will be limited to 30 students each to enhance the learning experience, will be made up of active exercises, role playing, class discussions, case studies and feedback. Dr Pate designed the workshops to be fun and engaging. She commented: “The training approaches we’ll use won’t undermine the seriousness of the subject matter. They’ll make participants think about and apply their skills to allow help them retain them for practical application once they enter the workplace.”
The skills covered in “The Art of...” series will include negotiation, chairing, delegation and training and developing others.
A series of investigative workshops is also integrated into the MSc programmes, encouraging students to synthesise and integrate their own expertise with established and emerging knowledge, and make a significant contribution to the enhancement of professional practice through the effective use of action research, critical inquiry and critical dialogue.
Students meet and work with people from all over the world, which provides an opportunity to develop an understanding and insight into different cultures, approaches to work and international perspectives. During the Investigative Workshops students are required to work in Communities of Practice with people who are not of their own culture, to develop their understanding of international work. During the course students also complete professional development plans and reflective professional journals to enhance graduate attributes.