"2013 Work Ready Festival"
The 2013 Work Ready Festival, held in early semester 2, was designed to showcase and facilitate varying approaches students can take throughout their time at Curtin to increase employability and career success. WRF 2013 enabled students to meet employers, discover opportunities and gain expert advice across a range of industries, both at the physical event and online. As a pilot, the success of the festival, has paved the way for a similar approach to be rolled out on a larger scale for the semester 1 recruitment fair, which historically has attracted 140 employers to Curtin.
Benefit to tertiary students, graduate employers and/or tertiary institutions
The festival connected students with over 80 employers across a diverse range of industries, both in person and via online profiles, live chats and Q&As. The online delivery of this initiative was integral to ensure our students had access to the resources and opportunities globally. The design and delivery of the festival was informed by a survey sent out to all students, asking for input into what they wanted from the festival.
The online delivery featured you tube videos created by staff within the Careers and Employment Centre on the topics of resumes, selection criteria and interview skills as well as a specific video on job applications for careers in academia. The value of gaining experience and preparing for the workplace was highlighted through videos and articles where employers, current students and recent graduates shared their perspective on these topics. Access to this content prior to the event, enabled the students to research organisations to target communication with both on the day and after the event, as well as space to reflect their engagement with industry and formulate future action.
The physical event held on Wednesday 14th August, featured the “Work Ready Zone” in addition to exhibiting employers and internal Curtin extra-curricular programs and activities. As part of the Work Ready Zone students could:
- Get resume feedback and practice their interview skills from employers and Careers and Employment Centre staff
- Network with entrepreneur minded professionals who are either self-employed or run a small business
- Bring along their creative portfolio for feedback from an industry professional
- Browse CareerHub for current positions of interest
The addition of the Work Ready Zone facilitated employer engagement for disciplines that are usually underrepresented at traditional career fair events, as well as exposing students to the support they can access year round from the Careers and Employment Centre. This format also enables professions and industry areas, who traditionally would not attend a career fair event, to connect with talented students and share their discipline specific knowledge and expertise.
For all employers involved in the festival, they were provided with a number of ways to engage with students, rather than being restricted to the three hour on campus event. This range of engagement options facilitated greater branding opportunities and profile raising with a more long lasting impact and visibility, providing a greater return on investment. Employers were also able to tailor their content and engagement specific to the disciplines offered at Curtin and our student demographics. The festival format also provided an avenue for employers who could not physically attend the on campus fair, such as Small to Medium Enterprises (who lack the resourcing to attend on campus), international, regional or employers in states outside Western Australia.
Various stakeholders across the universities where consulted as part of the planning and implementation of the festival. Co-curricular support services and activities were invited to be involved at no cost, to promote the unique experiences they offer they build students employability. The career fair event was part of the universities place activation schedule, designed to enhance campus life and build a sense of community for Curtin as a vibrant destination to work, study and play.
Benefit to NAGCAS
The Work Ready Festival is a model of effective blended service delivery that enables students irrespective of mode or delivery of study to engage in career development learning and the stakeholders that support this: Career Service Professionals and Graduate Employers. As NAGCAS members face issues with student and employer engagement, this approach strives to incorporate alternative methods to connect the diverse student populations that we work with. The approach could be adopted by NAGCAS members within their own intuition or region, as universities may pool resources together to deliver a similar festival and event.
For those working in the career development industry we need to diversify our skill base to be able to keep up to speed with the emerging technologies required to more effectively deliver our services and products, as well as how we engage our target audiences. The WRF was an opportunity for the Curtin staff to commence reskilling and develop confidence in the use of social media and online delivery.
The WRF was a collaborative approach within the, led by the Employer Engagement team but underpinned by career development learning. All staff members where involved in contributing content to the online portal and facilitating activities within the Work Ready Zone on the day of the physical event. The appointment of an Engagement Officer and Multimedia Officer to the Careers and Employment Centre reflects the changing skill sets and roles required within a Careers Service to deliver our products and services through more engaging and innovative methods. The WRF also enabled the Careers and Employment Centre to deliver more widely with less resourcing, through can be modified according to budget allocation.
WRF was innovative from a career development perspective as it enabled the seamless integration of online career development advice and support with a career fair. This coupled with the employer perspectives/videos/online chats ran in conjunction with the physical fair was something not done to this level before. Attention to non-traditional pathways and industries that participate in career fairs, also demonstrated innovation in how we can engage these professionals and small to medium enterprises (SME), which is a significant employer type that recruits graduates, often without the connections established through Career Support Services. Engaging SME’s also facilitated opportunities for informational interviewing within a safe environment.
Social media was used in addition to the centralised festival 'portal' to create live, organic and personal interactions. Facebook formed the hub of online activity, supported by Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. These platforms facilitated the delivery of live festival updates, video workshops, live chat sessions and Q&As – allowing students off campus to interact and gain real value and development in a virtual space.
Specific links to popular videos featured through the Work Ready Festival online portal
- Resume Advice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AAw3xoN7Js
- Cedric’s experience as an international student http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CkheI3dVbY
- Value of work experience- employer perspective http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as-jBUTsRVU
- Preparing for the workplace- employer perspective http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYvTKZ5z9ng