All students now make a huge investment in higher education in terms of time, money, intellectual and emotional labour. The majority of students anticipate that they will benefit in terms of access to professional careers and decent salaries, as well as a qualification which provides mobility across the globe and an international network of friends and peers. At Westminster Business School, our aim is to provide students with access to high quality learning and teaching which is embedded in professional practice and also informed by research. Does a good degree guarantee employment?
A business school education helps to create graduates who have business knowledge and skills, as well as skills in working in diverse teams and organisational skills. Employers out there are searching for bright, ambitious, motivated and go getters regardless of the academic disciplines. As Dean, I regularly talk with employers who are quick to tell me anecdotes about their experiences with Westminster Business School students and graduates. I love to hear the stories about our students who are highly employable and present themselves to potential employers in a positive and professional light. Employers have told me about the students who stand out from the crowd with interesting CVs, a wide range of skills, and often a very entrepreneurial attitude. Sadly, I occasionally hear stories about students who are less professional – arriving late for an interview and, in one case, writing a very desperate e-mail to a potential employer (having received the introduction from an alumnus) which was a big turn off. The message is be professional at all times even if you feel desperate! I am sure all deans hear similar stories but we need to ensure that all Westminster Business School graduates stand out for the right reasons.
Students have access to a wide range of opportunities within their courses, and also in the wider business school and university. The Career Services and the Students Union do an amazing job to give the students extra helping hand to develop graduate employability skills. My message to all students reading this blog is to get involved. There are 100s of opportunities out there. Read the notices posted in the Business School and on Blackboard and sign up for relevant events. Consider internships, placements and study abroad.
Our location in Central London is brilliant. I really advise students to make use of the many different opportunities available in London. I’ve met students who volunteered at the Olympic Games and I am sure that this will really enhance their CVs. Everyone has heard about the games makers and they have a brilliant reputation. Volunteering is viewed very positively. Although the Olympics are over for now, there are still many different opportunities available to volunteer or get involved with a wide range of different activities. It is a really good way of developing your skills, having a good time, making new friends and – hopefully- standing out from the crowd when you come to look for a job.
Finally, remember that searching for employment is a job in itself. Many graduates now have to apply for 100s of positions before they are successful. Talking with a recent graduate, she told me that she applied for a minimum of 30 positions a week for 7 weeks before she was successful. She said that she gained a graduate position in HR as a result of her degree (a 2:1), work experience (3 part time jobs over 7 years plus two work placements), meticulous CV (she learnt later that her new employer binned ANY CVs with spelling or grammatical errors), and a bit of luck. She made her own luck and is now doing really well in her chosen career.