Careers service: A Taught undergraduate credit-bearing module in Internships for English Students

Employability & Enterprise, The Subject Centre in Scotland

Project Description

The Careers Service currently delivers a taught undergraduate credit-bearing module in Internships which is available to students in the Schools of Humanities, Social & Environmental Science, Psychology and Life Sciences. This module is taught at Level 2 and the students gain academic credit towards their final degree mark. The students participate in a 30-hour placement with a local employer or organisation over a period of 10 weeks. In addition they receive 20 hours of seminars on careers-related topics. Students are assessed by a range of academic work, including a PDP ePortfolio.

The Careers Service proposes developing a strand of this module specifically and exclusively for English students. This would involve sourcing placements suitable for and solely available to English students. The students would be encouraged to take up placements in a wide variety of fields including ‘traditional’ English destinations such as journalism, publishing and teaching as well as less obvious destinations such as business, marketing and the third sector.

Resources would be required to assist with the sourcing of placements specific to English students. Additional resources may also be required to incentivise the placement experience for the employer and to cover travel and other sundry costs incurred by the students to ensure they can gain maximum benefit from suitable placements.

This is one a series of projects. You can read about them all on the main project page.

Project Report

Benefit to English Students

As English is a ‘non-vocational’ subject, there can be a lack of awareness about graduate employment opportunities amongst this group. In addition, this group of students can be slower to take advantage of opportunities for work experience and internship placements. The University of Dundee Careers Service’s own statistics reveal that English students show a low uptake of placement opportunities when compared with other vocational and non-vocational subjects. During the past 2 years of the undergraduate Internship module approximately 65 students have undertaken the programme while only 3 of these students listed English as their main degree subject. Records from the Careers Service’s placement service, The Placement Basement, show that just 4.4% of students offered placements have been English students.  This is despite all placements being open to all students across the university and many being highly suitable for English students. By offering dedicated places on this module for English students and by sourcing placements of particular interest and benefit to English students, it is hoped this project will redress this imbalance, widen English students career aspirations and enhance their employability.

The University of Dundee Careers Service has considerable experience in delivering quality placements for students and the English students involved in this project will benefit from this. The Careers Service has successfully delivered the undergraduate Internship Module for the last 3 years with high pass rates and consistently positive reports from the external examiner.  There is a highly successful Placement Service (The Placement Basement) which places students from all disciplines in high quality work experiences and has just received approval from the University to deliver what we believe will be the first graduate level internship programme (The Scottish Internship Graduate Certificate) in 2010.

Additionally, a similar bespoke strand of the module was developed for Geography & Environmental Science students in 2007/08 with funding secured from the Scottish Higher Education Employability Network to facilitate the sourcing and supporting of specific projects for these students.

Ways in which the Project is New or Innovatory

The undergraduate Internship Module run by the University of Dundee Careers Service is an innovatory programme in itself, with few other universities offering a comparable credit-bearing module in internships to such a range of non-vocational students in their second year of a four year degree. In the last year, the programme has evolved to begin to target specific subjects with bespoke placements. This funding offers a timely opportunity to expand this aspect of the module to the benefit of English students.

English students at the University of Dundee do not currently have any formal opportunities to gain work experience through their degree studies and throughout Scotland there are no branded internship opportunities exclusively for English students. The English strand of the module would therefore represent a unique opportunity to promote the importance of work experience to this group of students and offer a practical solution to enhancing their employability through internships.

Outline Plan of Activities

  • September 2008 – December 2008: intensive employer liaison work to source and secure suitable placement for English internship module students. Buy out time for existing Employer Liaison Co-ordinator and Module Tutor to liaise with employers to promote the scheme and secure placements. Additional incentives may be offered to placement providers offering placements suitable to English students. This would include offering to cover on-costs such as the purchase of new IT equipment etc.
  • December 2008 – English students matched to suitable placements through guidance interviews, application forms and employer interviews. Buy out time for existing Module Tutor to conduct interviews and administer matching process.
  • January 2009 – March 2009: English students study on Internship Module. This involves 20 hours of teaching on topics such as Team work, Working Cultures, CV Building and Presentation Skills plus 30 hours on placement undertaking a S.M.A.R.T project with benefits for both the student and the organisation they work for. Teaching of the module would not require further resources as the English students would be taught alongside the other students undertaking the module. Additional buy-out time may be needed to assist with the conducting of on-site placement visits to the additional English students.
  • March 2009 – All students are reimbursed travel and sundry expenses. Additional English students on the module would represent an extra cost in this area.
  • March 2009 – April 2009: Evaluation of the scheme and write up of the report. Time for Module Tutor to do this will be necessary.

Other Information

It is anticipated that we would be able to provide 5 – 6 English students with bespoke placements in the first year (2009) and would seek to grow and strengthen the number and quality of placements in subsequent years.

Contact Details

Sophie Calvin
University of Dundee