Elements of a great placement

I have often been asked what makes a great placement, and although I’ve not published this before, the list below is a combination of the best practice I have witnessed and recommendations I propose.WorkPlacementsDoneWell Continue reading

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Don’t be deterred by contractual obligations

Employers – Are you thinking about starting a placement scheme? Great! Are you worrying about the long-term commitment? Don’t!

Organisations considering running a program of undergraduate placements sometimes worry that it will be a long-term commitment. Such fear can completely destroy any prospect of creating a placement scheme. It’s good to remember that these things don’t have to last forever.

Man Signing Contract

[Image courtesy of forbes.com] Continue reading

Got a round hole? Find a round peg.

As I wrote last year, mentors do an important job. Many organisations have excellent schemes for apprentices or graduate trainees and they deliver tremendous results. They have carefully planned development programmes, run by the best people. And they make adjustments when things change, as they surely do, over the years.

But some organisations don’t enjoy the same success despite their best intentions. It isn’t always immediately obvious why they under-deliver. The long timescales inherent in personal and professional development programmes don’t help. But one of the reasons is that the wrong people are involved.

Helping others isn’t for everyone. Some don’t enjoy it; they don’t see the value; or they don’t have the patience. Whatever the reason, some just aren’t cut out for it.

Square Peg Round Hole

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It’s not what you know…

I recently ran an employability session at a secondary school. One of the themes of the day was about what students can do to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers.

Many of the students saw themselves as a trainee Superman or Superwoman – eventually capable of everything, knowing everything. They saw their time now at school and their future time at college or university as being a time for learning everything they needed – forever. And that somehow if they didn’t learn it now, they’d never do so.

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Five tricky questions for First Year students

People go to university for a variety of reasons. One commonly-cited reason is that it helps get on the first rung of the jobs ladder – for many careers, a degree is a mandatory requirement. But why else?

During those few short years at university, a great deal of “growing up” often take place forming the transition from late-teenage years to early-adulthood and the first stages in becoming a “professional”. Some of that transition happens without any conscious effort. The most successful students take concrete steps to drive their development forward so that they’re ready-baked on graduation.

mind map for setting personal life goals Continue reading

“The End”. It never is though…

On 4th August 2012 Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins woke up as Olympic champions with gold medals reminding them that a day earlier they had won the final race in the Women’s Double Sculls at Dorney Lake. But now they felt empty, lost and on unfamiliar ground. For every day of the previous four years all their plans had been about working towards 3rd August 2012. Everything they did in training, every little detail they planned was all about delivering their best performance on that one occasion – the final – with no second chances. The only deliverable which mattered to them was a gold medal on 3rd August. All their plans ended on that date. It was as if 3rd August was the last day ever, and nothing existed after it.

GraingerWatkins winning gold_2 Continue reading

Breaking the cycle

It’s still only mid-September but I’ve already started to see signs up outside restaurants and hotels urging us to Book now for Christmas“. Heck, just three weeks ago I was still enjoying my (late) summer holiday, and Christmas is nowhere near the top of my To Do List.

But this has reminded me of the cyclical nature of our calendar. As day follows night, and summer follows spring, so many of our schedules repeat annually if not more frequently.

header-image-christmas[Image courtesy of LancasterLondon]

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A new approach to recruitment – UnRecruitment

As with so many great ideas, I am left wondering why nobody has though of this before. Its simplicity, sustainability and sheer elegance offers so much that it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking for the catch – there must be one, surely. But no. There’s no catch.

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[Photo: The Spring Project] Continue reading

Stop fighting progress; address the unintended consequences

Surely we’ve learnt from history that it is utterly futile to resist advances in technology? Once something has been invented, it can’t be “un-invented”. Luddites haven’t historically delivered many long-term successes; they haven’t typically been a good investment.

Advances in technology often create new problems – sometimes unintended consequences; other times very much intended. Ultimately, it is the consequences which have to be addressed, rather than the technology itself. It therefore seems odd to me that so much energy is being expended in fighting the adoption of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) – which have been in the news again recently following the publication of an Open Letter to Professor Michael Sandel from the Philosophy Department at San Jose State University.Borsig_steam_locomotive

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It’s time to take more risks when hiring young people

Followers of this blog will know that I am completely passionate about giving young people an opportunity to stand out, to shine, stretch and extend their capabilities. I find few things more inspiring than helping young people develop their skills, enabling them to achieve outstanding results.
mentor1 Continue reading