Naomi Oosman-Watts is the Assistant Director of Newcastle University’s Career Management department.
Evidence suggests that having a clear career plan and knowing what you want to do upon completing university is one of the most important factors in determining if a graduate will secure a professional/managerial role 6 months after graduation. With this in mind, here at Newcastle University Careers Service, we were keen to see what our students’ career journeys looked like.
Over the last 18 months we have developed a Management Information dashboard which allows us to track individual student interactions with the service, which allows us to better understand the service in different ways. We can identify service peak time and understand which queries we most frequently deal with so we can manage and allocate resources more effectively. We are also able to categorise queries by subject, identifying the concerns and preoccupations of specific student groups, thus allowing us to target specific academic disciplines with information on the topics their students are asking about the most. This means that for those who don’t directly access the service but probably have similar questions, we are providing them with the information they need without them having to ask for it.
In addition to the resource management we can also see how different cohorts engage with the service. An analysis of students from widening participation backgrounds indicated that although 3 years ago they were under-engaged with our service, as we have increased our activity with these students, we have seen a rise in the number of interactions from this group – from 774 (2012/13) to 1331 (2015/16) with a correlated increase in graduate outcomes of 10.7%. Although this analysis was retrospective, it gives us the evidence we need to continue to grow our widening participation offer.
 Planning for success: Graduates’ career planning and its effect on graduate outcomes. Shury, J. et al. Department for Education: 2017.
The range of data we collect also offers us the opportunity to relate these activities back to outcomes data and determine which interactions have the most impact on outcomes. Last year we focused on ‘sustained, long term, experiential’ activity clearly demonstrating that engaging with these resulted in a positive impact on graduate outcomes: