The WIT Careers Development Centre has won the award five times in a row and it took the pandemic in its stride ensuring continued success in employability
The WIT Careers Development Centre has been awarded the Association of Higher Education Career Services in Ireland (AHECS) Excellence in Employability award for Supporting Student and Graduate Employability for 2020-2021.
This is the fifth year in a row that the WIT Careers Development Centre has claimed the award.
New ways of adapting
WIT’s Head of Careers Development, Angela Collins, described how the centre adapted to the pandemic. “The pandemic may have halted many things, but not the WIT Careers Development Centre’s determination to support our students. In the early days of the pandemic, many students felt at a loss. We decided to support students with a Virtual Careers Fair and Employability Week hosted entirely on social media.”
The Virtual Careers Fair and Employability Week consisted of interviews conducted by and with WIT graduates, employer presentations, webinars and Q&A sessions. These all emphasised that despite the difficulties posed by Covid-19, many employers were still operating and recruiting more or less as normal. This provided a great reassurance to final year students coming to terms with a very uncertain world.
One particularly noteworthy aspect of the week was the conversations with graduates who left WIT in 2008 just as the Celtic Tiger crashed. They were asked to provide advice to the graduating class of 2020. The judges for the award were: "particularly impressed by the idea to engage with 2008 WIT graduates who had experienced the Celtic Tiger 'crash' and how they shared 'if I could give you one piece of advice' with current WIT and other colleges students. Great credit to the WIT Careers Development Centre in 'reinventing' itself on its feet.”
Onwards and upwards
Feedback from students about the Virtual Careers Fair and Employability Week was overwhelmingly positive. Speaking of the event, students commented; “[it] was a great idea and the timing was perfect coming just after exams” and “[the centre’s] personal approach in promoting the week and the line-up of speakers were both excellent.
“I feel a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders I am not as worried about my future anymore. It’s very encouraging that the Careers Development Centre adapted so rapidly to the new and virtual environment we're in”.
Employers expressed their delight at being afforded an opportunity to keep their visibility high amongst graduating students and to let them know they were still recruiting.
One alumnus who is also an employer had this to say: “Being asked to be part of the Virtual Careers Fair and Employability Week was an honour. In the midst of Covid-19, I was keen to share my experience with students and demonstrate how, after 11 years of working in industry, a pandemic has totally changed my role.”
Webinars and interviews were recorded and shared with academics and work placement directors were able to incorporate this up-to-the-minute content into their modules.
One academic staff member had this to say: “As a course leader I had many final year students asking me for advice and information. I found that after participating in the week I was better informed of what the real situation was and was better equipped to help.”
Angela Collins highlighted the importance of the Careers Development Centre team in the Centre’s success. “A big thank you to all the team in the Careers Development Centre, the students who motivated us to host the event and supported it in such numbers and to the employers and graduates who contributed so enthusiastically to the events during the week.”
Collins thanked and acknowledged the exceptional help of the team and a volunteer member in particular. “This event could not have been as successful as it was without the skill, creativity and dedication of Emma Collins who was volunteering with us at the time. Emma was only with us for a short period of time but in this time saw the project through from the initial planning stage to its successful implementation."
You can find out more about the award-winning endeavours by WIT Careers Development Centre in 2020 here.