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Get inspired! Best practices for preparing for the job market

From interview training and competence tests to internships and contact with alumni. At Leiden University there are many ways for our students to prepare for the job market, but the support available is often too fragmented and hard to find. How can we best prepare our students for a job market that is changing rapidly?

One of the ambitions of Leiden University's vision on teaching and learning is to give job market orientation more prominence in our teaching programmes. To achieve this ambition, a reference framework [in Dutch] has been developed as part of the Job Market Preparation project that will help programmes put together a full array of ways to prepare for the job market. Developing skills, gaining practical experience, exploring different jobs and careers and reflecting on their own profile and development are some of the ideas that students can apply. These are all important aspects that have a key place in the framework because they can give our students more confidence when they enter the job market. But how can you incorporate these plans in your teaching practice?  Let yourself be inspired by these examples of best practices in innovative teaching. 

Example 1: Learning with the City gives students the opportunity to work together on societal issues

In the Learning with the City project, students can gain practical experience, or experience with research, by working on societal issues in the city of Leiden. The initiative is intended to resolve urban issues in the city together with local organisations and residents. In The Hague, too, students can work on societal issues in city labs that are part of the Creating Knowledge in The Hague project. Students learn through real-life experiences in the city, which encourages active citizenship and greater social awareness and involvement. In this project, students, teachers and researchers apply their knowledge and experience to help resolve societal issues. Organisations in the city can use the knowledge available in academia and students develop valuable skills for the job market. 

One teacher's response: 'By carrying out applied research on a societal issue students experience how they can use the knowledge they have gained during their studies to make a contribution to society. This is important because it is often difficult for students to think about the kinds of things they can do once they have graduated. It is also a good way for students to explore the field of work and gain some interesting contacts.' 

Want to know more about Learning with the City (in Leiden) or Creating Knowledge in The Hague? [In Dutch]

Example 2: Leiden University mentor network brings students and alumni together 

Leiden University aims to make use of the knowledge and experience of Leiden alumni to prepare students and young alumni well for the job market. The Mentor Network was launched to put this into practice. Alumni who are part of the network have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they are happy to offer students to help them prepare for the job market. This could be an internship, a work visit, a package of courses or a first job. There is always an alumnus in the Mentor Network who will be happy to advise a student who needs some assistance. It is a good, low-threshold way for students to start building their professional network because these alumni are keen to help students with their study career or with exploring the job market. Our alumni can give tips, mentor students and help them gain a better idea of the career they want to pursue (and hopefully will actually enter). 

Want to know more about the Mentor Network?  

Example 3: ‘Deep History’ teaches students to reflect on the societal relevance of their specialist field

Why do you do what you do, and how can you make it clear to other people why it is important? Professor David Fontijn believes this is something that everyone should think about, and he encourages his students to do just that. It makes sure that you do your job as well as possible, and that you can communicate effectively with people who don't have the same specialist knowledge as you. This is an important skill in archaeology, and it is equally important  on the job market. In his lectures, David focuses on how archaeology contributes to society in weekly essay assignments and discussion groups. He wants to make students aware that Archaeology is not just about excavations, and aims to give them the skills they need to convey this awareness to a broader public. There is a constant indirect focus on the job market that students will find themselves entering, where they will have to relate their studies to potentially very diverse fields of work. The lectures and assignments focus strongly on self-reflection, reflection on society and consequently reflection on the job market. 

Want to know more? [In Dutch}

The Vision on Teaching and Learning website is being updated. In the coming period we will gather and highlight more best practices and inspiring examples. Check out the website regularly. 

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