U:Professional is an interactive and highly engaging session that is run for commencing UTS students during orientation. It focuses on the importance of professional identity and why it is necessary to commence planning your career from day 1 of your university journey. It teaches students about success and what steps they can take starting today to improve their employability outside of what they learn in the classroom. The session introduces them to coordinators of leadership programs on campus for students to get involved in so they are able to develop professional soft skills.
Demonstrated benefit to tertiary students, graduate employers and/or tertiary institutions
BENEFITS TO TERTIARY STUDENTS:
- It brings their attention to the importance of developing their career (personal brand; online profile management; professional identity) from day 1 of their university journey.
- It breaks the myth that ‘I’m just a student so I don’t have any skills’ right at the beginning of their degree in that it talks about transferable skills and everybody has these and can build on them. This readjusts the student’s mindset about their employability value at this stage in their life.
- It outlines exactly what students can be doing from that moment to start strengthening their employability and building their professional identity by delivering information about leadership growth opportunities on campus, such as volunteering programs and leadership programs which can develop their local and international leadership skills.
- It presents evidence in this session that work integrated learning and industry experience while studying at University is a vital component to securing a job upon graduation and also informs students about the Internship Service available to them.
- AND it tells them where to go and what information to seek out on campus, which is UTS Careers.
- It aligns developing their professional identity and employability skills with the same level of importance as getting their degree.
BENEFITS TO GRADUATE EMPLOYERS:
- Since UTS students are introduced to the idea of professional identity and are encouraged to develop their employability skills from the first day of their degree, (where students from other institutions are not) they spend more time on their employability development than other institutions students and therefore are more likely to be employable upon graduation.
- As students are told about the value of work integrated learning and industry experience and are actively encouraged to complete an internship before the end of their degree, UTS students have a strong level of graduate attributes and are arguably more suited to employment straight out of university than other institution graduates.
BENEFITS TO TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS:
- The model of U:Professional has proved to be quite effective with 91% of students during Autumn Orientation in 2016 believing that it is important to take steps from the first day of university to develop their professional reputation.
- The structure of the session and the manner in which it is delivered can be duplicated at other tertiary institutions.
- The aim of the session is to kick start students looking at their professional identity and employability skills so they spend more time developing these before graduation which means the overall graduate employability attributes of the institutions students will be stronger.
Potentially or currently benefits the NAGCAS organisation, its members and the career development industry
The U:Professional session can easily be replicated by other institutions through their careers service if they are able to acquire space within the Orientation program that is run at their institution.
The key learning outcomes of the session can be delivered through the professional knowledge that would be available in a careers service. The current structure of the 75 minute session has been tried and tested since 2014 and found that when the level of engagement of students is high the information is well received.
A degree of innovation
U:Professional is innovative as it is a session specifically designed to be delivered in Orientation for new commencing students. The inclusion of careers sessions in orientation is arguably not done in most other institutions as orientation programs are usually full with introduction to your degree and university life information.
U:Professional brings the idea of professional identity and development forward to the start of a student’s university journey and aligns it with the same level of importance as successfully completing a degree. Innovation is also seen in the way the session is delivered. The session is not a standard ‘talking heads’ session, rather it uses entertainment and pop culture to connect and engage with the students, also strongly encouraging student participation and online engagement.