Boosting our students’ employability through our University Business Centres
Small businesses play a vital role in local communities. And, by offering work placements or internships to our students, we can help them develop the types of skills that they need to succeed in the workplace – and learn valuable new ones. In this blog post, Caroline McGinty from our University Business Centre team, reflects on the positive mutual impact that the Centres are having by connecting our students with the businesses that we work with.
Our University Business Centres in Leeds, Wakefield and Halifax were set up with the objective of helping the local economies in these areas by encouraging business growth. The Centres now support a thriving business community of more than 335 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), from a wide range of sectors, with office services and programmes of support to help them thrive and grow.
Our Business Centres form a mutually beneficial partnership between the University’s academic and business expertise, our students and business through programmes such as placements, internships, and project opportunities.
In this blog post, I would like to shine a light on two of our University Business Centre businesses and their experience of employing students from our University on placements and internships.
Jodie Hill (pictured below, centre)- Managing Director of Thrive Law (based at our University Business Centre in Leeds) and part-time lecturer within our Leeds Law School - has hired two paralegals through the Law School’s legal placement module.
Jodie says: “Our work experience students have spoken very highly about how much the placement module has helped them; it provides a real insight into a working day and the role of a paralegal in employment law.
"We have now employed two of our previous work experience students from Leeds Beckett as full-time paralegals at Thrive. From both the firm’s perspective and the individuals, it is a great way to get to know each other, see whether they fit into the team and check their values align with the firm’s.
“It has been an incredible experience to see them grow from students to lawyers and see them excel, now managing their own cases. You get out what you put in, and these two really put in so much effort and are now reaping the rewards.”
Yorkshire Food Guide
Yorkshire Food Guide – based at our University Business Centre in Wakefield - is one company who has worked closely with the University’s Careers & Employability Service to take on several interns.
Tara and Jonathan Harris, Managing Directors of Yorkshire Food Guide, say: “Since 2018 we have recruited several student interns. The students are in the final year of their undergraduate degree or postgraduate MA from a range of courses including English Literature, Media and Cultural Studies, Events Management and photography/videography students from the Northern Film School.
“It is the perfect partnership where the business can provide the interns with a range of new skills and experience and in turn, the interns are a great asset in assisting the business in promoting its hospitality clients. From researching relevant content based on our written articles, upcoming events, and guides, to content creation for marketing campaigns and the business’s social media channels.
“We would highly recommend the students and the work placement scheme. When the COVID pandemic and lockdown first kicked in the students continued to assist with pieces of work while working from home, even after their placement had finished. Some of the students are now working freelance for our business or have gone on to secure PR and copywriting roles.”
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The graduate job market is very competitive - according to the Institute of Student Employers, there was an average of 41 applications for every graduate role in 2020. So, we know that getting work experience through placements, internships or projects whilst at university is vitally important. It will significantly increase our students’ chances of securing a graduate job in the future.
This is a challenging time for businesses - and many may be rethinking engagement and recruitment strategies. Our University Business Centres are committed to working with our business partners and clients to ensure that they remain connected with our students and the emerging talent pipeline.
In the words of Ben Robertson from Beckett Careers: “If a company is thinking of hiring an intern, placement student or graduate, the first thing to note would be that you are making a great decision!”
For any further information please do get in contact with us.