Monday, 24 February 2014

Maybe we don't need a Careers Service website

I've thought a lot in the past about how careers services present themselves on the web, and starting in Bristol has given me the opportunity to think about this with a considerable sense of urgency.

After a meeting with Urfan and Ben from our web team on Friday I had the rather radical thought that perhaps we shouldn't have a Careers Service website at all. Let me explain...

Anyone who's give much thought to web architecture and user experience knows that the starting point for a site should never be the organisational structure but rather what the users of the site actually need/want from the service. So I mocked up a site on Google Sites (I might share it some other time) which I tried to base on user journeys rather than organisational structure, This got me thinking about things from an institutional perspective - in having a Careers Service website maybe I would just be doing the same thing at a different level i.e. creating a website around an organisational structure and so reinforcing organisational silos rather than thinking about things from the student persepctive. Instead of a Careers Service site perhaps we need a 'Help me get to where I want to be when I graduate' site, which is a lot broader and pulls in a much greater breadth of services and student experience (although clearly the name needs some work!).

Having said that, the Careers Service needs a profile and an identity in order to encourage student engagement with it, so I'm not sure I entirely agree ith myself; just thinking out loud.

I'd be interested in your thoughts though.

More to follow...

Monday, 17 February 2014

University of Bristol students - I need your help!

I've had three full weeks now as Director of Careers Service at the University of Bristol and this is the beginning of my fourth. I've had a really friendly welcome and I'm looking forward to getting more stuck in.

I'm using my first 90 days to get my head around the context. So far I've had one-to-one meetings with nearly all Careers Service staff, plus a series of meetings with senior managers within the University and Students' Union staff and Elected Officers, all of which have been very useful. There are more senior managers to meet, particularly academics, and many of these meetings are happening in the next few weeks. However, there are two things that I need to begin to focus on in particular in the next month or so:
  1. Observing first hand the services that we provide 
  2. Hearing directly from students who don't use the Service

Observing first hand the services that we provide

I'm looking forward to seeing much more of what we do - guidance appointments, information work, employer engagement, work within academic departments, central provision etc. etc. Some of these observations are already lined up - others are yet to be scheduled. I'm excited about seeing first hand some of the good things I've heard about.

Hearing directly from students who don't use the Service

This is the main point of this post... we have data and feedback from students who use the Service, but what I'm also interested in are the views of students who don't yet use the Service. In particular I'm interested in the answers to the following questions:
  • What do you think the purpose of the Careers Service should be?
  • What matters to you in terms of how the service is delivered?
Clearly, I (along with the rest of the Careers Service) have views on the above two questions - but we're not the users of the Service. So I'm hoping to find ways of asking these questions to as many students as possible (both those who use the Service and those who don't). So if you are a student at the University of Bristol you could comment on this post, drop me an email, send me a tweet (though less than 140 characters could be challenging!). Or perhaps better, meet up for a chat - individually or in groups. Also, suggestions on where best to meet students to ask these questions would be helpful - open study spaces? halls of residences? cafe areas? gym? And feel free to re-share this post.

In terms of what I intend to do with the information I gather - I'll reflect on it with my team and then use it to help us think about where we should particularly focus our attention. And then post my thoughts up on here...