'What we want!' - A look into the thoughts of young people attending insight events
As an Early Careers Professional, you’re always looking for the perfect candidate, someone that will help elevate and fulfil your business objectives. Two places where perfect candidates can find these expectations are in the job description and at insight days.
If we’re being totally honest, a job description is typically used for employers to say what they’re looking for and then hopefully those people who match the descriptions apply. However, with insight events - such as work experience days - it may be better to focus them on what the attendees want and need to hear about the company.
There is a tendency to assume we know what is right and what is best for those that tune in. Being at Uptree you realise that this is a place where the mission and priority is clear at every point – PUTTING YOUNG PEOPLE FIRST.
To do this, we work closely with our young people to find out what they want and need. Our monthly sit-downs with our student focus groups offer the perfect opportunity to achieve this.
Most recently we spent time with our ambassadors to pick their brains about key questions
When attending company events, would you rather a one-off event or multiple linked events?
A simple question perhaps but no simple answers!
Multiple company events seemed to garner a difference of opinion amongst students. Some of their responses:
If I was applying for a degree apprenticeship, a series of events would be useful - more insight, taste of the culture, being able to meet different people and network more effectively.
Chance for more engagement and discussion. Students can be more open. Opportunity to take things slower and get a more detailed session on applications etc.
Personally I wouldn’t attend a series of multiple events if they didn’t have a clear theme or if the events could all stand on their own. What’s the point of attending 5 sessions that could be covered more easily in 1?
I liked the way Get Employed (An employability event offered by Uptree) worked - 6 workshops that are clearly linked. You get a reward for attending all 6 (certificate) but you can still attend the sessions even if you don’t attend all - you aren’t penalised for not attending all.
I would be put off by companies saying we are running a schedule of X events that you HAVE to attend, especially if I couldn’t commit to all the dates or I wasn’t interested in one of the sessions.
Our focus group also revealed that many students were in favour of one-off workshops/events. Three key things we discovered:
1. School-leavers mentioned they would prefer the option of a one-off event as well. An alternative, however, into getting students to attend linked events would be when they attend a stand alone event at the end employers can explain the series of events that are linked and why students should get involved.
2. One-off events are usually really effective for main takeaways or call to action. Getting the point across effectively and getting all the information you need in one
3. One-off events are generally more accessible and won’t take up too much of my time
Students attending a one-off virtual event with Equitix (23 March)
In life, younger people are often silenced and told what to do. We think that when it comes to work experience days and student insight events they should have space to voice their opinions.
Like us, young people like to feel in control of their choices. They want to know that what they’re spending their free time on turns out to be everything they want and more.
What are things you look out for on a work experience day that will help you decide if you want to apply to the company?
So let’s see what the student ambassadors had to say in response to this question:
I look out for what I get afterwards - what is the follow up like - am I going to get follow up resources and do they let me know beforehand.
Having actual apprentices or graduates in attendance - especially a range of people from different backgrounds.
Focus groups and breakout rooms where you can have discussions - so it is more engaging rather than just watching someone speak at you.
A common theme here is that students want to be able to engage with someone that is like them in aspirations, goals and diversity. They want someone from a similar background or closer to their age rather than someone who is a lot older and often at times can’t relate to them. This can create a disconnect and lead to a lack of interest about the presenting company.
What else could companies do to capture your attention?
We know how hard Early Careers Teams work to engage young people so hopefully some of our group’s comments help support your strategy and boost your student enquiries:
When students attend an event with a company, they really appreciate when there is a feedback survey where they can tick what industry/roles they’re interested in.
Students would also appreciate, if possible, recommendations on further reading, any other events or applications based around the event. Students would rather this than just getting loads of sources for company content and having to look for the things they’re interested in.
Incentives are appreciated, something that may make them attend one of your events again. One student noted, ‘I like it when there is something special about an event i.e. if you attend there is a chance you might be chosen for another work experience opportunity or fast-tracked onto other events/positions/application’.
A common focus by many students was a good follow up. Students stated that in the past they had tried to email and connect on LinkedIn for further insight but they were neglected or not responded to – this may put them off applying for the company as a whole.
It is clear that students appreciate honesty and transparency. They want to gain authentic insights into what companies have to offer and the culture. They love events that are tailored to their needs which have a mutually-aligned focus.
In order for this to be achieved, they need to be heard.
For them to be heard, they need to be listened to.
Thank you for taking the time to listen.
If you'd like to get more involved, we'd love to speak with you: email@example.com