Bridging the University to Work Gap
The transition from university to the world of work can be difficult for both graduates and their first employer. Belgian universities have a range of programs to help bridge this gap and ensure their students find rewarding work opportunities.
For example, the HEC Management School at the University of Liege (HEC-ULg) partners with corporations to develop programs and workshops that make the transition easier for everyone involved. “One of the biggest mistakes is for the student’s first job to be their first experience with the corporate world,” says Thomas Froehlicher, Director General and Dean, HEC-ULg.
Career Days Popular
HEC-ULg regularly organizes Job Days and on-campus recruitment fairs where companies can meet prospective employees. Students get an idea of the type of jobs available, the skills that are being sought, and have an opportunity to practice their interview skills.
Vlerick Management School in Gent has three main events where companies and students can meet. The first is in September for Vlerick’s closest corporate partners. A second event is held in October, which is targeted at the financial and consulting industry, while the final event in February is open to all companies.
Around 60 percent of Boston University’s Brussels students are ‘non-traditional’ and have returned to study to gain a skill they need for their careers. “Typically they are already working and do not need help,” notes Pam Dalby, Student Affairs Manager. As a result, Boston concentrates on providing advice on internships with specific organizations that might need the student’s skill-set.
Like HEC-ULg and Vlerick, Boston relies on their network of former alumni to feed back information on vacancies and other opportunities within their companies to the school.
Specific Workshops and Seminars
HEC-ULg recently created the Workshop to Prepare for Hire. Each workshop is designed to be a real-life experience for the students with sessions conducted by companies, recruitment consultants and coaches. “In the end, our students are excited about how ready they feel to apply for a summer internship or their first job,” says Sandra Delforge, Head of Corporate Relations.
Vlerick offers a two-day career skills seminar. “Each seminar teaches students how to prepare resumes and cover letters, they can do practice interviews with recruiters, or receive direct coaching,” says Joke De Leeuw, Careers Adviser. Personal feedback is available to each student on request.
The school also maintains a password-protected careers website where companies can list details of traineeships or jobs they have available. Students can upload a resume for companies to search. The school also offers an optional lecture that helps students establish themselves on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.
Opportunities for in-company training are often limited for Masters candidates. Vlerick’s programs include a component that sees small groups of students spend around three months working for a company to complete a specific project. Many are hired directly by the host companies as a result of this work.
Boston University offers two internships to the US mission to NATO. While only open to US citizens, taking Boston’s Master of Arts in International Relations or Masters of Science and Leadership, they are highly sought-after. “It is a very prestigious position,” explains Dalby.
All three universities offer highly valuable education programs that makes sure their graduates are quickly taken on by employers. The additional support provided to each student by their university ensures that almost all should quickly find rewarding and fulfilling careers after graduation.
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