Preparing students for work and relying on Employer partnership

01 Feb 2021
Jammie plaza
01 Feb 2021

UCT Careers Service is proactively preparing students for an even more rapidly changing world of work and relying on Employer partnership.

Developing new resources

Being flexible and creative are top of the skills list for student employability, with Careers Service harnessing those very skills to engage, support and develop students on their career journey whilst they navigate physically distanced learning in 2021.  We will be identifying final year classes that stand to benefit from raised awareness of our contemporary advisory services and resources. In 2020 we developed resources geared towards effective engagement in the virtual environment, like preparing students for virtual interviews through the Mock Interview Programme, and new resources specifically focused on acing virtual interviews and AI screening processes. We will continue to develop resources aimed at ensuring our students are ahead of the curve.  

We regularly reach out to the spectrum of UCT students ensuring that they receive targeted communications packed with direct links to practical tips and tools for CV design, selection prep, vac work, bursaries and/or Graduate programmes on offer MyCareer and more. 

Entrepreneurship is increasingly recognised by students as an empowering career path, and we are increasingly growing resources and support in this area. We also play an active role within the rapidly expanding UCT Entrepreneurship Ecosystem and ensure that student Entrepreneurs are supported with relevant information and advice. 


Connecting students to opportunities

As Careers Service is the platform that connects students and employers, we have to ensure maximum reach despite the impact of various levels of lockdown during the pandemic.

We have a line-up of virtual recruitment focused on this goal e.g. we have created a user-friendly virtual platform for networking and exploration of available opportunities. These include Virtual Career Expos, Employer Presentations, and Virtual Mock Interviews to name a few. All events will be advertised on the MyCareer portal Students Configuration, a UCT-specific platform all students can access and communicating to students via Faculty emails and our fortnightly student newsletters. We also have a large network of, class reps, student societies, undergrad and postgrad faculty councils, residences, and course convenors who receive regular updates and can share these with their networks.   

Throughout 2020, Careers Service had to rethink and adjust existing offerings by being aware of the needs of our diverse student population.  Understanding the challenges of adjustment faced by students, we took a flexible approach around presentation times and recording sessions for later download and viewing  Repurposing employer content played an important role in getting messages and career opportunities to students. Many students have expressed an interest in understanding the world of work better, and our Career Conversation series is a way that students engage with graduates who return to share their professional journeys in a light and helpful way. The format allows students to ask questions and gain rare insights.  

To ensure that final year students would enjoy uninterrupted support, we re-designed our Mock Interview Programme into a Virtual format so that students were still able to receive instant feedback on their CVs as they prepared for interviews, experience practice interviews with employers, and get direct Employer feedback on how well they did in the Virtual interview. Mock interviews allow final year students to polish their CV and practice interview skills in a low risk, constructive environment. Demand for this programme consistently exceeds the available spaces and the willingness of Employers to provide students with this practice opportunity is a significant drawcard. 


Adapting to new demands

An important shift we made was to make our Advisory services available online MyCareer and to extend our office hours. We found that many students were reaching out for advice late in the evening or in the early hours of the morning and by drawing on the diversity of our team’s availability, we were able to match the new demand. We also partnered with a fellow CHED department to develop an online student support service called UCT Cares (, which re-directed requests for support to appropriate services such as Academic support and student wellness. 

The employer partnership that exists with UCT Careers Service is used to maximise student engagement.  When planning any recruitment events, it is always best for employers to check dates and timing with the Careers Service and leave plenty of time for marketing of the events. Ideally not planning anything during periods leading up to exams and during exams, ensures that both the employers and students can get the most out of the events. 

By establishing a secure means of communication with students, having unique marketing material that showcases employer brand identity will make organizations and any employer event stand out. 


Partnering with employers

As the Covid-19 pandemic has had global financial impact, students are concerned about the number of job opportunities available. We can allay these fears by presenting them with as many job opportunities as possible, highlighting postgraduate study opportunities and drawing their attention to Entrepreneurship career pathways. If they are intending to take up formal employment, they may also fear the process of induction and integration in a remote work situation due to COVID-related regulations.  

Students commonly look forward to their graduations and the absence of these was keenly felt by all in 2020. This may well be the case in 2021. Our services are geared towards drawing students’ attention to how they are poised to make a difference in the world and urge them to begin to visualize that, particularly given the absence of the Graduation ritual. 

The employer partnership that directly exists with UCT Careers Service, offers a unique opportunity for students to prepare for the world of work.  Exposure to employers always helps students do necessary reality checks, gives them an insight into professional engagement and the practice of gives them the confidence needed during interviews. The willingness of employers to host events and discussions with students and work in partnership with us to make such opportunities available to students is incredibly valuable. 

By ensuring that we are informed of employer’s unique value proposition and the support the company offers in these changing times, we can convey these insights to students.  

By using every opportunity to be involved with students, advertising opportunities early, by remaining active throughout the year by engaging in career service initiatives, attending key virtual events such as online meet and greet events where students can ask questions and by being open to participating in new activities like providing opportunities for virtual internships, students feel valued and encouraged. 

We constantly develop new resources, and it helps us tremendously when employers have input into these. Our events and resources are built off recent data so by employers participating in Careers Service surveys helps us to make sure we are giving students the most up to date information about current recruitment processes and opportunities directly contributes to the effectiveness of our service to students.