Graduation reflection

23 Jul

GraduationAnother university year ends with another spectacular graduation ceremony. Graduates are moving on to new things, leaving their lecturers to draw strength to start the process over again.

Amidst all the talk of grades and feedback, what have I achieved or learnt this year? It’s a humble list, but here goes:

  • Many of our graduates have already started work – some in big name consultancies and corporations. While I worry about the effect of the economic downturn, I don’t sense that we’re over-producing graduates, or giving them the wrong tools. (But we need to keep alert to this possibility over the next year.)
  • I agree with our Vice-Chancellor that coaching is often more important than teaching. Our influence is often subtle and unpredictable, but it was pleasing to hear so many words of thanks today.
  • Challenge and responsibility are a good thing (at the right time). I know to trust my own instincts, but I’m learning to trust the ability of our better students and involve them in research and presentation challenges.
  • Something old, something new: young people expect and revel in novelty. But I need new challenges too. The teaching I most enjoyed was when I was delivering new material and exploring new approaches to engaging students.
  • We assessed some 180 students out on full-year work placements across this faculty this year. In general, their employers have praised their skills exceptionally highly; this is encouraging.
  • So many of my conversations today (and this year) have revolved around dissertations and placements. This makes me feel that we have the balance between vocational and academic about right. (And the students with the best dissertations, who tend also to have been on year placements, are those who’ve been quickest to find graduate jobs. So I don’t sense any major conflict between the vocational and the academic.) 

5 Responses to “Graduation reflection”

  1. Chris Norton 24/07/2008 at 11:55 am #

    Having graduated a number of years ago from this course I think I can safely say that the most useful element of it for me was the placement I did in my third year.
    It made me stand out from the competition when I applied for a job at an international agency in London. It also gave me experience to draw upon in my final year and in my opinion, on the whole, the 4th year students seemed to have a much better understanding and grounding than those who had not undertaken a work placement.

  2. papercutoutgirl 25/07/2008 at 1:32 pm #

    Just wanted to say how much ive enjoyed reading your blog recently. As someone who is about to start my PR course in september its been really useful to have an insiders knowledge. I also wondered if I could ask what you think of Mark Borkowski’s latest ‘stunt’ to promote his agency(his Fame Formula competition Ive been told i have to pick a PR professional to do a case study on during my second term, and whether Borkowski would be a good choice? I’d appreciate your thoughts!

  3. Richard Bailey 25/07/2008 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks for the supportive words, Chris (and for giving several of our students placement opportunities).
    Congratulations, ‘papercutoutgirl’ for doing some research BEFORE starting your degree course.
    I think Mark Borkowski would be an excellent case study: he’s clearly one of the most visible PR practitioners around – and in my opinion one who represents the industry well through his newspaper columns, blog, and TV appearances. (Others may feel he represents the frothy side of our industry, but I didn’t say that).
    There are so many questions to ask him: how distinctive is PR when dealing with consumer brands or celebrities (it’s the bit of PR that’s closest to marketing)? What is the role of ideas in shaping campaigns (I think you’ll get a strong and positive response on that one). What’s the role of the professional bodies (negative on that one…)?
    I’d love to hear more from you. Good luck with the course.

  4. papercutoutgirl 25/07/2008 at 3:56 pm #

    Thank you Richard – great ideas for questions. I’ll certainly let you know how it goes!

  5. Ben Cotton 30/07/2008 at 5:11 pm #

    Hi Richard,
    I agree on all counts, especially the quite remarkable employment rate. A quick straw poll (by no means scientific) amongst my 11 closest friends from the course reveals we are all working or about to commence employment in the PR industry.
    I know friends from other courses and other universities who find it much harder to find employment or work out what they actually want to do!
    The graduation festival at Leeds Met is a great strength of the university and the whole experience generates tremendous amounts of goodwill and good PR amongst graduates families and friends.
    As I didn’t get to see you at the ceremony I would like to say, thanks for your advice during my time as a student, particularly my final year!

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