Last year at my work we had a handful of students join us for a summer vacation scholarship program here in Sydney and also in Melbourne. Although the students seemed to have a good time, I’ll be the first to admit that there were a number of…. let’s call them key learnings.
To start with, despite advertising 6 projects on various university websites in Sydney and Melbourne we actually only managed to fill 5 of them. 1205 people looked at the positions, but only 40 people applied.
Many of the applications were unsuitable, and one of the candidates was appointed and terminated less than two weeks later for unsatisfactory conduct. The responsibility of the recruitment and supervision of this position was handed from the supervisor to a young person who had only just arrived in Australia a few weeks before.
So what did we learn? In a nutshell:
• Our advertising strategy wasn’t very effective. The project descriptions were full of jargon and possibly intimidated applicants. As a result we didn’t receive a good amount of quality applications
• Supervisors didn’t conduct proper interviews with the students and poor selection choices were made
• We didn’t promote the program while it was happening or engage students that we hope to recruit in the future
• We didn’t have any information on the experience of the students to use as advertising material for the next year i.e. no photos, videos or accounts of what happened or why others should participate
• We didn’t promote the company as a great place to work for young Australian uni students
Sounds pretty hideous and like a bit of an epic fail. So this year, I put together a plan and my management team actually gave me a workable budget to get it going.
So here’s a bit of my plan:
PHASE ONE: Awareness
The purpose of this initial phase is raise general awareness around the Program. We would achieve this by utilising low cost channels such as contacting lecturers and university staff (we would create a flyer for them to circulate), and updating the web site to announce the upcoming program.
In addition we can set-up a Facebook fan page to enable students to post enquiries and ask questions in real time to gain insights into what they can expect during the Student Scholarship Program.
Getting last year’s participants to upload photos and their experiences from the previous year and join the group would be a great way to ensure engaging content is available to entice students into applying.
Setting up an email account and ask people to register their interest would allow us to create a database of people interested in the program who we could email with information as it becomes available.
PHASE TWO: Advertising
Phase two will focus on driving registrations for the Program. There will of course be advertising posted on the Careers site, but in addition we will utilise University Career hubs and specialised graduate recruitment sites such as GradConnection to advertise our projects.
PHASE THREE: Sharing the experience
Phase three will focus on promoting the student experience while also allowing us to engage other students interested in working in the industry. This additionally creates a supply of content that can readily be utilised in next year’s efforts to promote the Program.
Students taking part in the program will be invited to contribute to a blog about their experiences and upload video/photos through this system. These can then be viewed and commented upon (comments will be moderated) by families, friends and other students.
The introduction of a blog allows the opportunity to create additional content such as Podcasts from scientists explaining what it is like to work here and why they are passionate about their jobs. All content can be promoted through the communication channels established in phase one.
PHASE FOUR: Promoting Big Day In (presentations of projects by students).
Phase four will focus on promoting awareness of the Big Day In. A Media release will announce the event publically while the Blog can push information to the existing user base. It would be great to have a live online stream from the day’s event allowing outsiders which may not be able to make it to take advantage of the presentations. In addition users could vote for their favourite presentations online. All presentations can be filmed and posted to the blog after the event (or kept as content to advertise next year’s event). Not sure how much of this is possible, but you have to dream big sometimes 🙂
Whilst this approach hasn’t been completely smooth sailing because I’m not as tech savvy as I’d like to be and there are some restrictions and processes that need to be followed when working in government, I am very excited about what’s to come.
After just one week we have already had 502 views and 17 great applications. I hope they keep coming in because it’s a fantastic opportunity to gain real work experience. I’ll keep you posted with how we go. Fingers crossed!