Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Case study: Synthesise Your Career – Year One Module for Chemistry

Self-awareness is crucial to confident career decision making and important for employers in their decisions of who to hire. With this in mind, an optional Year One Careers Module has been designed that helps students develop ideas, get experience and connect with people who can share information on career routes.

The 3 x 1.5 hour sessions are built around discussions and activities, looking at concrete examples of skills employers look for, exploring where Chemists are employed in the workforce and setting participants the task of interviewing an alumnus. The module will be offered again in 2018/19 and rolled out in Statistics, to compliment other work in departments.

Department(s) / colleagues involved

Sessions facilitated by Charlie Cunningham, Senior Careers Consultant. Space in the curriculum supported by Lynne Bayley, Director of Student Experience, Chemistry. Session feedback provided by students, Anne Wilson, Head of Careers and Millie Tissut, Senior Careers Consultant.

Our aim was to …

Our aim was to show students the value of reflecting on their personal development and employability skills – research has shown that students may be unaware of how their course is providing them valuable workplace skills such as resilience, quantitative skills and digital literacy.

We also wanted students to be empowered to engage with alumni and recruiters early in their degree as a tool to aid career decision making. While employers are targeting students earlier in their degree compared to ten years ago, students may underestimate how eager alumni are to help them and how eager employers are to connect.

What we did …

We created a programme that used publicly available resources and resources developed in-house (funding from our Science Faculty supported production of a series of ten videos of alumni talking about their jobs in their workplaces). We timetabled the sessions alongside lab modules so the students would be working in familiar lab groups – this was supported by Chemistry’s Director of Student Experience, Dr Lynne Bayley and Department Undergraduate Administrative Officer, Lucy Johnson.

The outcome has been …

Although the first year pilot was a learning experience, feedback showed participants really valued three things:

  • Understanding what skills words mean and why employers want those skills
  • Finding out about careers/roles they may not have thought about
  • Learning about Linkedin and the support available from alumni and employers

We will therefore offer the module again during 2018/19 in Chemistry and additionally in Statistics.


The benefit/impact has been …

As outlined above, participants fed back that the module had generally got them thinking earlier about “why” reflection on personal development is important. They were more familiar with career routes they could follow and finally they understood how to seek out alumni, employers and other sources of advice and information.

This supports the Education Strategy by …

This programme supports the overall aims of the Education Strategy to nurture collaborative, analytical and resourceful students through their student journey. It also moves us forward in our aim to “develop and embed at departmental and University level the building blocks of employability: disciplinary skills, employability in the curriculum, internships and placements, employer and alumni engagement.”

It particularly focuses on the aim to “ensure that students and staff are able to articulate and access key skills for professional development and employability”.

The response of students / staff has been …

The response of students and staff has been positive. Students feel that focus on skills, career paths and alumni/employer engagement was the right thing for them, keeping things practical and concise. The department has agreed to include the programme in the timetable again this year – it will be integrated with a module that will prepare students for 12 month and shorter placement options.

Our next steps will be …

Our next steps will be to deliver the programme in more departments, and seek to develop the programme based upon student feedback and departmental requirements. We will look at the option of the modules being credit bearing and integrating more with Moodle as a virtual learning environment.

To find out more, you can contact …

Charlie Cunningham, Senior Careers Consultant, Student Opportunity - c dot cunningham at warwick dot ac dot uk