Friday, 17 May 2013

#PlaceNet13 Day 3 & Reflection

The morning after the night before! Following the festivities of Thursday evening, #PlaceNet13 rounded off with a few weary eyes and dare I say it, a sore head or two. That said, the AGM was well attended and all of the night owls who could be found drinking in the hotel lobby in the wee small hours made it on time.

Libby Beck received flowers as a small token of appreciation for her work as a PlaceNet trustee. With her standing down from the role the conference elected Mike Grey as the replacement, while Graham Kaye-Taylor was co-opted onto the executive committee. (Writing about me in the third person is a bit weird, but for the sake of reporting I thought a distinction should be made between me and 'The Placement Officer')
Emily Timson had the uneviable task of delivering a presentation on a Friday morning but gave a very interesting talk about her professional journey within placements, highlighting challenges experienced at different universities.

A discussion took place to decide upon areas of interest for PlaceNet to focus on in the coming year. Thanks were given to Jan and Virginia for their work in arranging the Social and booking the restaurant. Matthias Feist summarised his thoughts on the last three days before drawing the conference to a close.

Afterwards the Trustees met briefly to reflect on the week and get the ball rolling for #PlaceNet14.

On a personal level I found this conference to be extremely rewarding. Any fears I may have had about presenting my work in social media proved unfounded, as it was both well received and started a dialogue between me and other delegates who want to find out more about bringing technology into their provision. I even received an offer to go and talk to students at another university about using Twitter and LinkedIn as part of their placement search and for engaging with employers.

I had a lot of very positive feedback about the blog and there seemed a genuine interest in #PlacementChat from people who had not previously encountered it before. Receiving peer approval for my extra-curricular activities re-affirmed my passion for doing this and I may have convinced some guest bloggers to come forward and get involved.

My professional network expanded and there will be a fair amount of LinkedIn connecting going on over the next few days. The PlaceNet LinkedIn group is already a great resource for sharing good practice and if you are not already a member get yourself signed up and join the conversation.

I'd like to extend my thanks to the PlaceNet trustees for inviting me to the conference and giving me a platform share my passion for engaging through social media. I'm very much looking forward to working with you in the coming months.

#PlaceNet13 has been and gone. Roll on #PlaceNet14.
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#PlaceNet13 Day 2

Day 2 of the conference picked up from where the previous day finished off. A packed agenda full of interesting speakers, sparking ideas and debate. Picking up the early shift was Mike Grey talking about the Employability Advisory Panel he has set up for EC Futures at Coventry University. It was good to hear how he has got employers on board, with some going beyond the call of duty by going along to open days to encourage applicants to engage with placements at an early stage.

Lewis Coakley from the NUS delivered a presentation full of wit, quotations and thought provoking material. 40 minutes simply wasn't enough for him to ponder if education is delivering employability but what he did manage to cram in blew the minds of the audience and led to wider debate later in the day.

Following Lewis was going to be a difficult task and one I was pleased not to be charged with. However Gemma Hunter and Alex Elkins pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat and ran a session that for me was the highlight of the conference. Focusing on change and how we approach it, the session broke off into smaller groups to use our innovation and creativity to think about selling hats in an Apprentice-esque activity. Pimp My Cap will be taking the fashion market by storm in the near future!

The afternoon Q&A session incorporated a live twitter chat, taking questions from the wider placement community as well as from the gathered delegation. The panel featured Lewis Coakley, Katerina Rudiger from CIPD, representatives from Bodyshop and I was there for good measure too. The topics covered ranged from unpaid internships to questioning if recruitment is working. It was a valuable experience and one I was pleased to participate in, even if I'm more used to answering questions via Twitter rather than face to face with an audience.

The PlaceNet social took to the local waterway, incorporating a tour of the Bristol harbour area. Our guide pointed out local landmarks while his assistant kept our glasses filled from the well stocked bar. The evening festivities moved onto the Glassboat restaurant for a fantastic meal while the networking continued long into the night.
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Thursday, 16 May 2013

#Placenet13 Day 1

The first day of PlaceNet13 was extremely productive. Vanessa Gough of IBM delivered an impasssioned keynote speech from the perspective of an employer, outlining the importance of their interns, how they add value to the business but also where they utilise assessment centres as part of their recruitment process.

Gill Frigerio brought a completely different atmosphere in her session about coaching. Participants were encouraged to identify an issue in their life before being given 20 points for reflection.

My own little session, talking about blogging as a tool for engagement seemed to go down very well. I've already had an offer from a delegate to talk to their students so my rambling can't have been too painful.

Day 2 of the conference looks action packed. I'm particularly looking forward to the presentation from Mike Grey as well as the collaborative effort from Alex Elkins and Gemma Hunter. At 2pm there will a Q&A with me on the panel. 

Get your questions ready as they can be asked directly from the floor or via twitter. Keep an eye on the #PlaceNet13 hashtag.
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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Blogging: A Tool for Engagement #PlaceNet13

I have given a presentation at the #PlaceNet13 Conference this afternoon about blogging, and how I see it as a tool for engagement. I offered this blog as an example of building relationships with students, placement officers and employers, and then having established an audience utilising social media to allow the parties to interact with one another. RateMyPlacement joined me to talked about #PlacementChat which has proven an effective platform to achieve the latter.

You can view the Prezi below. I'm hoping to add commentary to the presentation in due course.

(Warning - if reading this article from a mobile device, you may have to download Flash to view the Prezi)

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Bristol Bound: #PlaceNet13

I'm heading to Bristol today to join up with 50 other placement professionals for the annual PlaceNet conference. Looking through the delegate list there will be representation from universities up and down the country for what should be a great opportuntity to reflect on the state of our industry, the challenges we face, and to share ideas and good practice on how to deliver an effective 21st century placement service.

The keynote speech will be delivered by Vanessa Gough, a name well known throughout the industry for her work in recruiting students and graduates at IBM. I'm particularly looking forward to her thoughts on employability, how we as universities can help to bridge the gap between the classroom and workplace, and perhaps glean some insight into the future of campus recruitment.

I'm not just going to #PlaceNet13 to enjoy myself. I'll be making my first conference presentation of any sort for 8 years,  dating back to my pre-placement days, and so there may be a few butterflies before I am called to address the delegates. However, I will be talking about a topic I am passionate about (Blogging as a tool for engagement) so hopefully  any jitters will pass once I get into full flow. Later in the conference I will take my place on the panel for a Q&A session which will incorporate questions from a wider community in a #PlacementChat esque fashion,  and where possible I'll blog and tweet about the procedings.

Follow the hashtag #PlaceNet13 to keep abreast of the conference as it happens.
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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Penny for your Thoughts

Next week I will be heading to Bristol for the PlaceNet Conference, and will be leading a session on using blogging to connect with students and employers. My presumption is that I've been asked to present on this topic off the back of writing Tales from the Placement Office, and so I'm currently reflecting on what I see as the big positives of producing this blog over the last 18 months.

In that time the site has evolved and moved beyond just the musings of one person with an opinion on placements. There have been guest articles written by graduates, recruiters, current placement students and careers websites. The associated Twitter account has built a following in excess of 900 and judging by the regular interaction I get from my tweets they can't all be fraudulent or providing links to dodgy adult material. The birth of #PlacementChat and its development with help from my friends at RateMyPlacement has provided a mechanism for placement stakeholders to engage in meaningful dialogue with the aim of helping students with their search for placements, and in the case of the employers who participate, a new channel for identifying talent.

Ever keen to engage with my readership, I'm interested in receiving feedback on why you have read the blog, followed my tweets or participated in #PlacementChat

If you are a student, what is it that first brought you to this site? What articles have you found most helpful and are there any themes that I've not covered that you'd like to see on here in the future.

Employers and recruiters - what have been your perceptions of #PlacementChat? Are there ways in which we can collaborate to put out the message of your placement opportunities to the students and careers services who follow my blog, or share insights into what makes successful candidates at interviews/assessment centres?

Placement and careers staff, I've not forgotten about you! Thanks for sharing links to my articles with your students or for getting in touch to bounce around ideas. It would be good to hear from you about the things I do which you like, those which you are less keen on, or perhaps if you've borrowed any of my ideas!

Feedback can come in using the comments box below, emailing me or if you can keep it down to 140 characters you know where to find me on Twitter. It feels a bit like cheating by asking for help with my homework, but I'm genuinely interested to hear your perceptions of this blog and its associated activities, and your thoughts (anonymised of course) could well features in my presentation.
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