Providers should be more creative about inspiring students into the labour market, writes Andrew Bernard
Imagine you’re just queuing up for a sandwich and you get a subtle nudge towards becoming a nutritionist.
Or waiting for the bus, you see a sign that piques your interest in architecture, or urban design.
Perhaps while you’re walking up the stairs towards the science block, the steps tell you the HE pathway you need to become a medical professional.
These are examples of “guerrilla careers hotspots”.
What I want to share is how easy and cheap it is to make subtle changes to your college environment to highlight future aspirational pathways – by catching your students off guard.
1. Stop before you start
Before you – a tutor, lecturer, careers leader, or member of the senior leadership team – start trying to do careers advice, just stop and think.
You’re looking for creative and innovative ways of getting careers information into the eyes and minds of the students in your college, aren’t you?
But you’re very busy. Why would you do this, if it’s not actually your job? Creating guerrilla careers hotspots is perfect to set as a student competition or work-experience project.
So if you can secure a budget or sponsorship from a local company or local business group, you can set this project for your students. After all, they know how to appeal to their peers.
2. Make the brief
Create a project brief and work with the design, business and art teaching teams to agree the scope of the project. Don’t make it too complex, and don’t forget it’s supposed to be fun.
Your brief could be linked to college assignments, work experience or an internal project.
Just decide team sizes and then get the competition promoted. Is it compulsory or voluntary, which groups, which subjects, what are the prizes? All the deadlines and details need to be clear.
3. Find local supporters
Get networking. Ask local designers, printers and marketing agencies to support your project. Would they come into the college and talk in person or virtually to share examples and provide inspiration? Could they mentor the winners?
4. Set the challenge
Announce the deadline, sign up teams and issue the competition brief, then wait until the entries come in. (Leave your door and inbox open for questions and send gentle reminders in the run-up to the deadline.)
5. Run pitches
Get your friendly designer back in, a governor and the principal or someone from SLT to listen to the teams’ five-minute pitches and their ideas.
6. Get active
When winners have been chosen, give them the freedom to work on the guerrilla careers installations, and see the impact around the buildings.
7. Run a review
What have students achieved? Hopefully, real-world creativity, feeling trusted in a realistic situation, teamwork experience, some external public relations for the college and partners, and thousands of eyes seeing careers messages in unexpected places.
Finally, I will leave you with some actual guerrilla careers ideas:
- Cubicle careers: posters in the loos about becoming a plumber or health professional.
- Look UP: stickers at eye level to stop people in rooms and corridors and make them look at posters/prints/projections on ceilings (positioned in areas of the building where it’s not going to be dangerous, of course).
- Look DOWN: let’s use this space for careers in engineering, maintenance, interior design, etc.
- Posters and stickers in changing rooms about careers in sport as physiotherapists, personal trainers or in coaching roles.
- Tray liners in the canteen with information about becoming a chef or nutritionist –this could also work with paper cup printing and cup sleeves.
- Digital displays resembling departure boards at airports, promoting careers that use geography and languages.
- A college-wide art show, where each exhibit is related to a career. The invitation card could have a QR code that integrates with an apprenticeship, university prospectus, the National Careers Week website, BBC Bitesize Careers or other source of information.
Now, go off and recruit some guerrillas to the cause today!