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Frequently asked questions for academic staff

Our goal is to provide an integrated approach for academic staff to assist students to transition successfully from their studies into related employment. Sample frequently asked questions from academic staff members have been listed below:  


What support is the Careers Service able to provide for teaching staff to enhance student employability?

We are able to assist in a variety of ways, however the exact nature of the assistance we can provide will, of course, depend on which needs in your program you are trying to address. For example, we are able to:

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What evidence do you have that students find Career Management Skills useful?

Numerous student surveys including the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE), International Student Barometer (ISB) indicate that students what much more than just an educational experience at university, students are wanting to work with industry while studying and what better way to prepare our students for the workforce than allowing your students access to Career Management Skills materials.  

During 2010 Career Services analysed student evaluations of CMS packages which were delivered across all Divisions during 2010. Of the ~1,090 student evaluations:

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Including Career Management Skills into the curriculum, is this practice followed by other universities?  

All Australian university Career Services provide some form of work-integrated learning in academic programs, very few institutions have matched UniSA Career Services in terms of scalability of delivery in programs and numbers of students engaging with the content. Taking an innovative approach by focusing on a model of delivery which reaches across the institution, the UniSA Career Services team has greatly increased student exposure to career management skills within programs across all divisions, without increasing staff resources, whilst maintaining quality outcomes for enrolled students. For this achievement in 2010, Career Service was awarded the Vice Chancellors Award for Professional Staff Excellence.  

An interesting paper by Miller & Liciardi (2003) titled 'Tertiary student perceptions of the benefits of professional career management education: an exploratory study', Career Development International, vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 309-315. Summarised student feedback from similar Career Management Skills sessions within one course as follows:  

'Many students indicated that without a subject like this students would find it difficult to understand their career aspirations. The subject appears to have deepened the students' awareness of their own values, their understanding of their preferred work environment and their sense of longer term career direction.

This deeper self-awareness extended to a broader investigation of lifestyle goals, including family, friends and pursuits outside of the work environment but supported by it. Respondents indicated that the subject had provided them with life-long skills and enhanced self-awareness as well as giving them a broader understanding of what a long term career meant, especially the need for balance and flexibility.  

The subject also helped students to assimilate the skills and knowledge learnt in other subjects. It became an integration tool enabling students to see the relevance of their studies to their future work.  

The process of self-exploration, reflection and evaluation gave students an opportunity to examine their underlying values and expectations. Without dedicating time and energy to this process many students would not achieve this level of understanding.' 

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My course curriculum is already full, how do I provide students with this material?

We are not requesting to take a week's worth of academic content out of your course and replacing with Career Management Skills, rather we can add value to your course by discussing with you the Learning Outcomes, assessment structure, suggesting resources to compliment your teaching and work with you to find the best solution to your course requirements.  

Very minor chances can be made such as adding resources on your course homepage to compliment your existing teaching, right through to delivering a 3 hour workshop tailored to your specific cohort needs. Many courses accommodate reflective practice, we have developed guidebooks that form a core part of assessment and would be happy to discuss options with you. Assessment is the motivator for students to engage with Career Management Skills depending on your requirements Career Services can suggest alternative assessment methods currently in use across the university.  

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What is the impact of transcripts and GPA on employability?

In particular first year students need to be aware of the importance of maintaining a reasonable GPA in the event they wish to change programs in second year. Low GPA in most cases will impact on the admissions process in assessing student applications. Students must also be aware that the Official Academic Transcript will list all programs and all courses undertaken. Poor academic performance in any course will be listed in full on the Official Academic Transcript along with change of programs.  

Very few graduate employers in Australia will recruit graduates based primarily on GPA in addition to academic excellence employers demand more than a university degree. Graduate employers have indicated a preference for well rounded graduates with volunteer work within the community, in addition to discipline specific related employment.  

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How best to prepare for placement or practicum?

Placement / practicums are an excellent opportunity for students to find industry mentors and build industry related networks prior to graduation.

Career Services has developed a Student Information Kit (PDF 389kb - opens in a new window. Download Adobe Acrobat) that can be easily modified for your course to provide your students with information and checklists specifically designed for placements that are matched to placement by the School or placements that require students to source their own opportunity.

Academic staff can approach Career Services to deliver 'Preparing for your Placement / Practicum', during the lecture timetable prior to students applying for placements. Career Management Skills covered during this workshop include: Making the Transition from study to employment; Business Etiquette; Communication Standards in the Workplace; Social Media and use of Phones along with practical tips for writing a professional and marketable cover letters and resumes.

Depending on your timeframes interview techniques can also be provided during a tutorial session. Career Services recommends academic staff seek feedback from placement / practicum employers on the calibre of UniSA student applications. Feedback on written applications and student conduct can be incorporated into the next offering of your course with real examples of past student applications and or standards.  

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What is the value to international students of gaining "local experience"?

"The single greatest barrier to international students gaining employment in Australia is the lack of verbal and written communication skills" as quoted by Peg Miller from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia during the 2010 UniSA Career Services International Careers Fair. What better way to practice verbal communication skills than to encourage your students to undertake Volunteer Work within the local community, Volunteering SA regularly attends on campus presentations during Career Services Volunteer and Work Experience Fairs.

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What are the benefits of mentoring programs?

Mentoring has significant benefits to your students and industry partners. Career Services recommends the best practice example offered within the Bachelor of Property, co-signed by the Australian Property Institute. For more information visit UniSA's Property Career Mentoring Program.  

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How can students get the most out of Careers Expos and on-campus industry visits?

Employers participate in Careers Expos primarily to recruit graduates, promote internships, scholarships, work experience and networking opportunities. If your course offers Work Integrated Learning / Practice Based Learning / Collaborate Education / Industry Placements, this is an excellent opportunity for academic staff to network and seek contacts for upcoming placements.

Your students need to be aware that this is a once a year, self marketing opportunity to over 100 employers. The first question students generally ask is 'What can you offer me?' when this question should be 'These are the ways I can add value to your organisation'.

Career Services recommends academics impress upon students to be prepared and capable of marketing themselves effectively. This will involve researching the companies present rather than asking 'What does your company actually do?' 

Career Services provides preliminary workshops 'Making the most of the Employment and Careers Expo' to assist your students to conduct themselves professionally and with confidence on the day.  

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Which employability skills are most useful for graduating students in my discipline?

As well as Graduate Qualities, one excellent resource that conducts mapping of skills essential to the workforce can be found on the Australian Government's Job Outlook website. Type in your discipline and click on 'skills' this can be used in e.Portfolio's for skills identification and building over the duration of your program. However, in general, research in Australia and overseas over a number of years has consistently shown that no matter the discipline studied, the three most desired employability skills are communication skills, team skills and problem solving.  

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What is the value to students of the Global Experience program / professional development course?

Enhance your students Career Planning, Networking Skills and Intercultural Communication Skills. Give your students a competitive edge for graduate employment with this UniSA unique initiative. For more information go to Global Experience.  

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What are the most effective methods for students to store evidence about their academic achievements?

Evidence indicates that students are much more likely to engage with e.Portfolio's if this is advocated strongly by academic staff who are familiar with the software. Career Services would be interested to work with academics in how to use e.Portfolio's for assessment purposes in skills identification and development, capturing and storage of information as part of the resume building process within an e.Portfolio.  

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What are the benefits of career planning and reflective learning while studying?

The benefits of Career Planning include possible reduction in attrition through students making poor program choices in first year, greater student satisfaction and student motivation when enrolled into the preferred program that matches occupational aspirations. When students establish early career goals they are also able to implement a much more targeted approach to their job search, one which matches how their ideal employers conduct their recruitment.

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What are the Fair Work Act implications for students undertaking work experience outside the academic curriculum?

Career Services can assist students with insurance and documentation to undertake, non-credit bearing, unpaid, volunteer work experience as part of our Work Placement Scheme. Our processes and documentation has been updated to ensure UniSA is not in breach of the Fair Work Act 2009.

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How can graduating students ascertain that they are being treated fairly in a working environment?

A range of resources are available for students to learn their workplace rights. In particular international students will need to be made aware of these websites. Career Services outlines this information during Welcome Week and Orientation Week for domestic students. Our recommend websites include:

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What is the value of linking undergraduates with UniSA Alumni?

An example of the value and benefits of your students can be found within the Division of Business. Students have the ability to post questions directly to Alumni.

Members of the Division of Business Alumni Group understand the excitement and challenges faced by students contemplating their careers.  Getting career advice from a graduate of your program, now working within industry is an example of what really is possible to achieve. For more information visit the Division of Business Student Career Development website.   

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Where are Career Advisors located within my Division?

Career Services are based within the Learning and Teaching Unit on the four metropolitan campuses we have one full time equivalent Career Advisor assigned to support each Division.

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