Here to stay!
When the lockdown was announced in March, UM Career Services immediately started thinking about offering their services online. In the meantime, they can hardly imagine that the online offer will ever disappear completely. And: they are open all summer.
UM Career Services works closely together with the UM Psychologists. That’s why the first online workshops mainly focused on student wellbeing. "When all hell broke loose in Europe, probably no one wanted a training on salary negotiations," said Bibi Linssen, career counsellor at UM Career Services. More practical workshops such as the 'CV check' were restarted from April. She secretly thinks that her colleagues enjoyed having to organize these online workshops. "The time called for creativity and innovation and we were keen to take on that challenge."
“An online workshop does not just mean organizing the same workshop online. We always look for interaction. We don't want to give lectures, we’re not here to tell you how things should be done. We want to involve the participants immediately. How do you make them feel that they can ask questions, that they can provide input? That is why we have worked with break-out rooms [separate sessions for short group conversations] from the start, and the evaluations show that students really appreciate that.”
“Because online the groups are usually quite large (20 participants or more), questions can be asked via chat and there are always two trainers. In smaller groups, participants are especially encouraged to say something. In addition, we experimented a lot with different platforms such as Whooclap. ”
Bibiana (Bibi) Linssen, student counsellor at UM Career Services
You can make an appointment with a career counsellor online. Also, why not have a look at the online workshops on offer or follow UM Career Services on Facebook for inspiration and activities.
This article is part of 'We're Open', a series of stories about the UM community’s many activities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Open all summer
A major advantage of the online offer is that participants can participate anywhere in the world. The workshops are now also offered in the evenings, so that students who are in a different time zone, for example, can also participate. Bibi: “Normally we are closed in the summer because there are no students in Maastricht. But this year, students can participate from home, so there will be workshops all summer and a new online summer programme. In addition, our employees are available all summer to answer questions.” This also applies to the workshops and services of the UM Psychologists.
Moreover, the online offer will not disappear after the summer: "By organizing online workshops in addition to physical workshops, we can reach an even bigger group."
But what do our students think of the online workshops?
"Normally it would be rude to use your phone during a workshop"
Ruqin Hu, UM student Media Studies: Digital Cultures, has attended both online and offline workshops and has a slight preference for online: “Because you don't have to go to UM, you save a lot of time. In addition, it is much easier to keep all things such as notes, books, laptop, telephone, etc. at hand, because you do not have to carry everything with you. ”
Ruqin attended the online lecture “Getting the most out of LinkedIn” and is full of praise, despite the fact that there was less opportunity for interaction: “There was ample opportunity to ask questions. Because I am a bit shy, I don't always have the courage to do so in an offline setting. But online you can often just send a message. And because there are usually two trainers, one trainer can focus on the lecture while the other trainer answers the chat. In the meantime I could update my LinkedIn profile on my phone; normally it would be rude to use your phone during a workshop.”
"All I have to do is open my laptop"
Lieke Maas, UM student Biomedical Sciences and student employee of the Student Guidance Student Team, also believes that it is much more accessible to participate online. She regularly hears fellow students complaining about the time it takes them to come to UM; Lieke is also a peer supporter and regularly answers the Facebook live chat.
Lieke herself participated in a part of the offline workshop "The art of imperfection", in which she mainly did exercises to get to know herself and to set priorities. In addition to the trainer's story, the participants could talk to each other about the theme. That’s what Lieke liked most about the workshop. In the online CV checks she does, she found it difficult at first to ensure that students actively participate in the workshop. Therefore, she tried to involve students as mucht as possible by asking direct questions and making the sessions more fun by including exercises. For example, all students must submit their CV, which they then discuss one by one. Everyone should name a few good things and a few suggestions for each CV.
Lieke has not yet taken part in an online workshop, but the idea appeals to her: “I don't have to cycle anywhere, all I have to do is open my laptop.”
From experiment to expert...
This summer, UM Career Services will further optimize and professionalize the online products. Bibi: “I like it. Most team members are very experienced trainers, but the online component adds something new. A number of us have also participated in an online training about online training. It is nice to see that after a few months you really start to gain expertise. For example, you must be able use the various support systems. In addition, we had to learn to read student reactions. Normally we get a lot of non-verbal feedback during a training, but online we have to look for it more actively.”
Dive into your career
This summer will be "closed" with the first edition of the summer programme "Dive into your career", which is completely online of course. This is a week of online workshops that prepare students to land their first "real" job. Bibi: “The common thread is making a Personal Development Plan and a personal pitch at the end of the week. At the end of the programme, students should feel really employable and ready to enter the job market.”
Bibi is excited to find out if students are actually interested, but she's also happy that more and more students are signing up. Interested? Registration is now closed, but you can still register for single online workshops. More information about this programme can be found at www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/dive.
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