Professional internships in Business

Laurie Murphy, James Cook University

Assoc. Professor Laurie Murphy from James Cook University on ‘Professional Internships’ in Business. This recording is from our 2022 Brisbane, Australia MiniBash community event. Videos are for educational personnel only and require a live educational email to watch. You can read the video transcript below.


Alright. Thank you. And it’s a pleasure to be here this afternoon and get so inspired already about all the great things that people are doing.

I’m from James Cook University at the townsville campus in the college of business long governance. We also have a campus in Kansas, Brisbane, Singapore, and teach online. So what we do in the work integrated learning space needs to happen in all those places, which can be challenging.

So and a great learning coordinator for our college. I’m responsible for in the final year students do a capstone subject, which is connecting them and what they’ve learned through the degree to industry.

As I mentioned, we’re doing this across multiple campuses in multiple places.

So it could be over six hundred students a year that we’re engaging within this space.

We do start with PebblePad, and I’ve been using PebblePad for more than ten years, and we are incorporating it from first year. And I’m so excited that this semes trimester for the first time we have a career development subject in first year, where we’re introducing them to Pebel pad and a workbook with graduate capabilities. And getting them intentional about where they wanna be at the end of their degree.

So we see this tool is really important in terms of students’ ownership and having agency in where they want to end up from the degree. So the career development element is coming in, and we use it in assessment in a lot of subjects the workbooks etcetera, so it’s not just the portfolios and will.

And the reason why we have the new first year career development subject is to better prepare students both for this Capstone will experience and industry because we were finding, you know, sometimes when they’re getting ready for an internship or submitting resumes that were like, well, I don’t know that we can really send that off to three partners. So we did co curricular stuff, which was challenging to get them to engage with. And so now it’s good, I guess like you. We’re embedding stuff in subjects as well as co curricular on the side.

So when they get to third year, they can either do a multidisciplinary project subject where they’re a mix of disciplines in a group around a table every week and doing a project for an industry partner. So, we use PebblePad, minutes and agenda templates, etcetera, and that. Students that are already working can be approved to do a project in their workplace, whether tackling an issue or problem outside their normal role. And today, what I’m gonna focus on is a professional internship subject.

So in that subject, students can either self source or secure an internship from a preapproved provider.

And the challenge there, I guess, is that we have students from multiple disciplines and a business degree, going to all sorts of different types of businesses, large organizations small, self sourced ones may never have had a student intern before. So, you know, not everybody is clear on expectations, and every internship is different.

So we want to make sure we set things up at the start, so everybody is clear. And both the student and the internship provider get the most from that experience.

So we have The first workbook we use in the subject is a placement plan workbook.

When students do some stuff in that, before the the subject starts, including some of our paperwork, you know, code of conduct stuff to get signed off on.

But importantly, we’re doing research with Edith Cowen University on a range of graduate capabilities that we’ve developed with industry that align very much to all the different terms we’ve used today about skills and transferable skills. So we get students to evaluate themselves before they start their placement.

Now they’re doing this in first year as well. So that’s a good thing. It’s this is not gonna be the first time I see it. So where are you now? What are your strengths?

Then they use that to summarize what are my skill strengths? What are the skills I’m bringing to the table with this placement?

And also my discipline knowledge. So we have a meeting with the placement provider, the student, and a JCP rep. At the start of each placement where we discuss those skill strengths.

But also, the students say, well, these are the skills I really wanna work on acquiring as well. So that the placement provider knows, okay. Well, I know you’re competent to sit down and do the reconciliation stuff in the accounting thing, but you want to learn more about audit, So we’ll also let you sit in on meetings or engage in some activities in that space as well.

So by the end of that meeting, we have agreed learning outcomes that come from those skill strengths and what they want to develop.

And a set of tasks, activities that they’re going to be working on that will contribute to achieving those learning outcomes.

So these are all fillable, expandable tables. And this is due it’s fifteen percent it’s due within one week of them have had that meeting. So that And the supervisor, you know, they run it past them and they approve it. So we know from the start, everybody knows what the student is there to learn, and what the student knows what they are there to do.

Part b of that same workbook. And these these auto submit to Atlas workspace that only the student and JCE staff can see, not the internship provider.

The student rates themselves again, at the end, how to have I developed those capabilities?

They reflect on achievement of those learning outcomes that were said. Did I achieve them how and what ways and they can attach evidence of some of the work they did?

They can Also, and we try to get this deeper reflection happening, and I’m really I don’t think I wanna get them to start saying things instead of just writing things as well, identify two critical incidents, and they always think, oh, but nothing bad’s happened. I’m gonna say, no. Not about bad things happening. It’s about when did you have a light bulb moment?

When did you challenge yourself for the first time and think, oh, well, I I presented at a meeting for the first time and that was challenging. I learned this and next time I’ll do something different. So it’s more about just trying to connect the dots get them thinking about the experience they’ve had and how that’s developing them. And we give them some tips, give them some guidelines, videos to watch as well, and other areas.

They also then reflect on their personal development and their professional identity. So how is this placement help them develop what have they learned about themselves, what have they learned about the career area that they’re they’re moving into, and what is their overall experience.

So this gets them trying to connect the before and after and think about how this is preparing them and taking them into the future.

The second workbook we use is one that the external supervisors have access to. So, it’s in another workspace. And it’s a diary where they copy over their learning outcomes and have this fillable table where every time they they’re on placement, They log the hours, what did I do, what learning outcome did that relate to? So that autofills, when they get to fifty, So students can either do a hundred hours or they have a new elective one that lets them do some extra hours as well.

So we’ve had to expand our workbook. But at fifty hours, they get confirmed by the external assessor. So Again, we have students spread out everywhere. This is a way we can monitor.

Are they turning up regularly? They’re halfway through. They both check-in. Journal supervisor says, yeah, they’re turning up the ad’s going okay.

Back in that workbook part b in the placement plan, the student also gives us a little update and there that we can see but not the supervisor. So if something, you know, they they have an issue with, we can see it then follow-up.

So the Atlas space is really important for us to see when’s the last time the student has evolved on their activities diary. It’s been two weeks. What’s up? Let’s start chasing them up.

The in that workbook as well at the End the placements, so at the end of the hundred hours or the extra hours for the elective, the supervisor also assesses those students on the graduate capabilities. And this is either achieved not or not applicable. It’s not on the rating scale. So by the end of a place that we know where the students started, where they think they ended up, and we also know what the supervisor thinks they’re at in terms of that level of graduate capability.

And in in in addition to the assessment of those graduate capabilities, we get them to evaluate.

There is thirty son of their mark is on how well they performed and and true in achieving and learning outcomes performance in the workplace and the quality of their output. So that activities diary has the complete assessment at the end of it.

We also have another piece of assessment in this subject, where we’re getting students to practice their that ability to present to industry, the the skills they have. So the students actually find a real job ad. They find three and tell us why they’d want to apply for that one, and they pick one that they’re going to go forward with, and they create an e portfolio.

As if they’re applying for that job. And that includes we try to get them to find ones that have clear selection criteria, so there’s skills based tabs they can create.

And the idea is to get them to identify their skill, talk about how they’ve developed it, provide evidence that’s linked. They have to have at least three pieces of assessment in that portfolio, so they’re connecting the dots between an assignment. And a and a relevant skill.

We they can upload any other certificates of things I get outside of uni as well so we encourage them to to upload all those assets.

But again, this process is about getting them to be able to articulate in a job application and evidence the skills they’ve developed.

So within that subject, that’s how we’re we’re using PebblePad. Hopefully, as we have this new first year career subject, they’ll be better prepared even when they get to that one. They will have uploaded more evidence along the way. Because we do find all the assignments do.

Oh, I don’t there’s an assignment. Oh, no. My computer broke or something.

If you’d uploaded it to PebblePad, it’d be in the magic cloud and you would have it. So I think it is anytime that it’s not linked to a subject, it’s it’s challenging to get students to engage so the more we can embed what we’re doing like we are with a career development subject, They’re going to be engaging those graduate capabilities all the way through if we can get staff to say, hey, that assignment is these three skills. Upload it tag it map it, the better we will get, but it’s kind of, you know, you’re herding cats on two different sides of students and the super academic, so that’s a challenge going forward.





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