The DCU structured mentorship programme received nearly twice as many applicants this year than in 2016 says Head of DCU careers services, Yvonne McLoughlin.
The programme, which aims to pair second-year students with alumni mentors to assist them in career development, received 226 applicants this year compared to 120 applicants the previous year.
The scheme runs each academic year between October and March and matches students with mentors based on their area of professional expertise, the student’s course, and their interests.
McLoughlin described the student feedback as “very positive” and believes the programme helps guide students who are unsure of their career prospects after graduating.
Business student Róisín McGovern described her experience with the scheme as a successful one. McGovern said being paired with a mentor helped greatly when preparing for the interview process of her Intra applications. She also met with her mentor, who works in Guinness’s Marketing Department, six times over a six month period.
Megan Conway, a Journalism student, also spoke highly of the programme saying: “I got a really great mentor who’s opened up a lot of opportunities for me”.
Conway explained that her mentor assisted her in areas including structuring a CV and looking at options for work placement next year. Conway did however mention that she knew of students who were left waiting some time to be paired with mentors.
One student, Adam Daly said that he was never paired with a mentor despite his application on October 7th and follow up inquiries while another student said that she wasn’t paired with a mentor until the end of November after she applied in early October.
When asked about the influx of applications to the programme McLoughlin said that the careers services will conduct a full assessment of the scheme in order to expand and improve on it.
“There’s appetite now with the 2nd years. They’re recognising the importance of mentoring.” She then added “I suppose you have to recognise that dynamic in any assessment of the programme. The numbers did double and effectively that doubles everything,” said McLoughlin.
Students taking part in the mentoring scheme were introduced to the DCU Loop Reflect E-portfolio this year. The site allows students to create their own online profile in which they can showcase their academic skills and extra-curricular achievements.
“It’s been something the president has wanted to get in for a long time so we’re very excited that it’s actually come to fruition,” said Lisa Donaldson of the Teaching Enhancement Unit in DCU about how the trial of the site went this year.
Donaldson explained that pilot groups including the mentoring scheme were used to examine initial student reactions and also test the usability of the site. Donaldson believes that the portfolio will be particularly beneficial to students who are either looking for work placement or post-graduate jobs.
“When students need to go out into the marketplace and they need to demonstrate in an interview that they are creative and enterprising it’s all there [online]”.
Donaldson said that only a very small number of mentor programme students had not set up a profile. There are currently 4763 users on the Loop Reflect programme which is still introducing pilot groups including Chemical Science students taking part in their Intra placements in the coming weeks. Donaldson hopes these numbers will increase following the full launch to students in September.
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