After initial discussions with Adrian Orifici (Deputy Head, Learning and Teaching, School of Engineering), a process was undertaken whereby existing content of the Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical, Aerospace, Manufacturing, Sustainable Systems and Automotive Engineering) programs was mapped against the career development learning outcomes (link). This process highlighted an opportunity to further strengthen existing CDL within one of the final year capstone courses, Professional Research Project 2 (OENG1075). This course already had CDL activities/assessment embedded within it, as students are required to complete work-integrated project done either in conjunction with industry or in a simulated engineering work environment. As part of this project, students are also required to complete 12 weeks of Engineering work experience and write an Engineer Experience reflective report. Further discussions were held with Senior Lecturer, Abhijit Date, who identified that Engineering students were struggling to make meaningful connections between their university coursework, placement and project experience to their professional selves as early-career engineers. It was clear that the existing learning and teaching activities only required slight refinement to incorporate career development learning to support such student reflection.
There is a growing trend for employers to request video resumes as part of job applications for graduate engineer positions. Therefore Abhijit and Adrian wanted the final year Engineering students to create a digital artefact (i.e. video resume) that captured their skills and experiences in a way that would engage future employers and encourage students to reflect on their professional identity. The Careers & Employability team supported the inclusion of a video resume task (60 seconds in duration) to enable students to identify which generic skills they had developed throughout their program (including those acquired whilst working on projects and other experiences at university and industry), provide examples as evidence and to begin identifying how they perceived themselves in the graduate labour market as engineers.
Abhijit as Course Coordinator of OENG1075 subsequently incorporated a video resume assessment task (see attached) due in Week 12. This activity would also form the first part of the oral assessment requirement (the second being an oral presentation with panel asking questions) and if done to a high quality, could also form part of a student’s professional portfolio/digital identity (e.g. uploaded to their LinkedIn profile). An RMIT Careers Consultant (Emily McDonald) gave a short, in-tutorial presentation to students on how to best prepare for a video resume several weeks prior to the due date of the assessment task, in conjunction with providing online support resources which can be found in the RMIT Careers Toolkit (insert direct link).
Outcomes and Feedback
As of the end of Semester 1, all students had submitted their video resumes for assessment. Feedback as follows:
“Students were very thankful for providing them this opportunity. Students strongly supported this assessment task of video resume and acknowledged the importance of this activity to put them at the front of the fellow graduates from other universities in the competitive job market.” Abhijit Date, Senior Lecturer
“We have received outstanding course experience survey score for OENG1075. And students liked your lecture on perfecting elevator pitch. Thanks for all the help you provided last semester” Abhijit Date, Senior Lecturer."A presentation task for BEng (Hons) capstone thesis project in Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering that was previously a technical summary and re-hash of their thesis was converted to more of a job-interview styled task. A panel of at least 3 academics was convened. The panel reviewed and marked a "me in a minute" video before the student arrived. Students then gave a 3 minute summary of their thesis, and the panel followed with a series of specific technical questions, general knowledge questions in the field of the thesis, and soft skill questions. Students were also allowed to submit a 1-page summary of their thesis.The response from students was overwhelmingly positive. They went out of their way to thank the course coordinator for introducing the task, and the supporting tutorials on career development learning skills. The task gave students critical training in interview-relevant skills, and forced students to confront aspects such as soft skills that they previously had never considered. On the other hand, there was resistance from some staff, particularly around the soft skill questions, so panel members needed to be appropriately selected.Also, it was an eye-opener to see our students as potential employers do, as many significantly under-performed in the question and answer session, particularly the general knowledge and soft skill questions, to the extent that issues with employability of the cohort were evident. This provides us with real insight into the problems at hand, and the urgent need to get more of this aspect of their communication skills integrated earlier into the programs." Adrian Orifici, Deputy Head, Learning and Teaching.
Sample video resumes from engineering students
Videos were collected through blackboard and then manually transferred to oral presentation / exam rooms and this was a very labor intense task.
Initially some students had difficulty keeping the video file size small enough to be suitable to be uploaded on blackboard. But eventually students figured out how this issue can be solved.
This activity was reasonable to manage as this was the first trial with a small number of mid-year entry students. I am expecting this activity to be more challenging in semester 2, with around 300 student expected to be enrolled in this course (OENG1075).