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									                English Subject Centre



Liz Hagger
Graduate Prospects

April 2007

                                                   The English Subject Centre
                                         Royal Holloway, University of London
                                                     Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX
                                         Tel 01784 443221 Fax 01784 470684
Enhancing Careers Services to English Students

It is a widespread view that English graduates are not good at ‘selling’
themselves to employers. This is not to say that they lack the skills, attributes
and enthusiasm that employers seek: research conducted by the English
Subject Centre shows that English graduates are doing as well as, if not
better than, most other graduates three to four years after graduation.

Employers value the skills in critical thinking, communication and analysis that
English graduates usually possess, but our students tend to underestimate
the relevance of these skills to the workplace. (The ‘student profiles’ project
undertaken by the Subject Centre produced a template which helps students
link the skills listed in the English Benchmark Statement to those typically
sought by employers.) English students need assistance and encouragement
in articulating, in a way that is interesting and relevant to employers, the skills
and attributes they have developed whilst studying and engaging in extra-
curricular activity.

For this reason, the English Subject Centre has sponsored small projects in
Careers Services which tailor materials or events specifically to the needs of
English students. About ten projects were undertaken, covering such activities
as interview technique workshops, alumni presentations, web-based
resources and careers open-days. Details of all the projects can be found on
our website at:
6.php . This document is a report on one of these projects.

The English Subject Centre
Royal Holloway, University of London
Egham, Surrey TW20 OEX
T. 01784 443221

Our bid to enhance careers services to English students used our Careers
Chat Live software, allowing students to communicate online in real time with
Careers Advisers and then view the resulting transcript.


The chats were planned to take place on three consecutive Thursdays in
February: 8, 15 and 22 February. This timing was chosen as being outside
the winter and summer exam season, but also around the time that many
penultimate year students begin their career planning.

Publicity for the chats was varied:
 Careers Chat Live forthcoming chats list on with an
  invitation to send advance questions by email for anyone who was unable
  to attend a chat
 HTML email to 5,870 English students and graduates registered with My
 newsletter message
 Mention in Prospects Graduate, fortnightly digital magazine
 Careers Services Newsletter to HE Careers Service staff for them to
  encourage student attendance and inform English academic staff

Each chat took place over one hour with two Careers Advisers from our
regular team answering the questions. After the chat, the questions and
answers were edited to remove typing errors and the transcript with all
questions and answers put into the chat archive at, where the transcripts will remain
accessible for 18 months.


Date of chat         Student and        Questions           Hits to the
                     graduate           answered at         archived chats
                     participants       each chat           to date
8 February 2007              20                21                  359
Focus on English:
Future careers

15 February 2007            09                 15                  195
Focus on English:
Options and skills

22 February 2007            14                 21                  272
Focus on English:
Careers guidance

             Total           43                    57                826

Three people each attended two chats.

Transcript excerpt

The following excerpt is taken from the first live chat.

Sweet           Can you tell me how I could go about getting into publishing?
Irena,          Ideally, a relevant postgraduate qualification in publishing can
Adviser         help you stand out as an applicant and gives you an extra
                booster. There are many different courses available, and you
                can explore these on the Publishers Association website -
       It's useful to gain experience early on
                from being involved in school magazines, student
                newspapers, student magazines and so on. If you're still at
                university, get involved now, so that you can put this on your

Feedback from participants
A brief questionnaire was sent out by email to all chat participants. However,
only two responses were received.

The following questions were asked:

   1. Was your question answered to your satisfaction?
   2. Did you gain information / knowledge about your career options from
      the chat?
   3. Overall, how did you find the chat?

Both respondents were graduates and were very satisfied with the chat and
made the following comments:

 “I was given very useful sources of information other than the prospects
 “Thank-you for providing a much needed service!!”


The numbers attending the chats were not as high as anticipated, but the
questions submitted were genuine and the advisers were able to provide
answers to meet the questioners’ needs. The transcripts went live very soon
after the chats and in the two months since the chats over 800 hits have been

The transcripts will remain a valuable source of information and advice for
English students and graduates over the next 18 months.

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