Preparing students for a successful career

While the job market has never been tougher for graduates, students at Birmingham can rest assured they will be in a strong position for a successful career.

This was confirmed in the autumn with the announcement that the University had received the prestigious award of University of the Year for Graduate Employment from The Times and Sunday Times – making it the leading institution in the country for securing a graduate-level job.

The award reflects the work done by the Careers Network to provide a wide range of opportunities and initiatives for students to develop employable skills and experience, with graduate employability rising year-on-year to 86.7% in 2013-14.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir David Eastwood, said: ‘When students choose to go to University, they are making a big investment in their future. When they choose to study at Birmingham they are choosing a university that is profoundly committed to preparing them for a successful and fulfilling life ahead, as well as a world class education.

‘At Birmingham employability is a shared agenda delivered throughout the University and sits at the centre of the student experience. From the moment our students arrive we strive to equip them with the necessary knowledge, transferable skills, and confidence to go on to succeed in their chosen fields.

‘To achieve this, we have invested £5 million in the expansion of our student employability services, our unique Careers Network guidance service and access to mentoring from some of our most successful alumni. Our students have also benefited from bursaries to support their development through work experience and national award-winning internships, along with placements in the UK and around the world.’

Alastair McCall, editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide, added: ‘The fact that work placements are embedded in so many courses, coupled with the University’s outstanding academic reputation, makes it no surprise that Birmingham is one of the “go to” places for graduate employers.

‘Winning our University of the Year for Graduate Employment award is testimony to the work done by the University to ensure its graduates leave ready to make an immediate and significant contribution to workplaces regionally, nationally and internationally.’

Among the services available to students are:

  • College Employability Teams, providing a bespoke localised service for each of the University’s five colleges
  • The Student Engagement Team, with undergraduates and postgraduates delivering a support and advice programme
  • A wide range of recruitment fairs and other activities with employers
  • Access to internships, work experience placements and bursaries across the globe
  • Mentoring programmes to enhance student employability and maintain strong relationships with alumni
  • Active support for budding entrepreneurs and potential postgraduates
  • The Personal Skills Award programme to enable students to develop, recognise and articulate their professional skills as they prepare to enter the graduate job market

Case study: William Preston 3rd year - BSc Mathematical Economics and Statistics
‘At the start of my second year at Birmingham, I got involved with the Careers Network as I began to consider internships and work experience. Firstly, I signed up for the Personal Skills Award, which is an employability programme. I began the term with a Commercial Awareness module, which has since been invaluable given how often I am asked about it at interview. I was also still unsure of which exact career path I would like to pursue, so booked a one to one advice session with a Careers Consultant.

‘After applying to a few internships, the Global Challenge programme offered by Careers Network caught my eye. I was eventually offered a fully funded eight week finance placement at GSK in Casablanca. This kind of opportunity would have been impossible without Careers Network: neither funding nor securing the placement. It has left me with not only a wealth of experience but also a stand out and differentiable addition to my CV, which has already come in useful in applying for graduate jobs this year.

‘Careers Network really did help me at every stage of the internship process, from considering what route to take through to taking part in invaluable work experience. This has continued this year as I complete my Personal Skills Award and apply for graduate jobs. I only wish I had started with them in my first year!’