As Graduate Career Coach for the Welsh Graduate Programmes, I have been focusing on key initiatives to support our graduates during these unprecedented times.
The impacts of the coronavirus and the UK wide lockdown have been felt by us all, businesses and employees have had to adapt quickly to new legislation, working from home and social distancing.
The employers on both our Financial Services and Data and Analytics Graduate Programmes are some of the biggest and most established businesses in Wales but even they haven’t been immune to the impacts of the coronavirus.
We’ve all experienced significant change in both our personal and working lives and understandably, it’s been an unsettling time for everyone, including the Graduates on our programmes.
I’ve been working closely alongside all our graduates since the lockdown and have implemented a range of initiatives to minimise the impact of these changes on their day to day jobs, their learning and their overall wellbeing.
Before delving deeper into these initiatives, I’d like to start with the really positive news that we’ve managed to safeguard all the graduates on our current programmes meaning everyone will continue into their next placements and will be able to complete the programme with all its benefits and experiences.
This has been thanks to the huge commitment of the employer consortium and the strength of their collaboration with the Welsh Contact Centre Forum.
The lockdown itself has resulted in widespread changes in the way we go about our work. It was key for us that the graduates on our programmes felt fully supported throughout these changes and in the longer term. This led me to make some changes to our processes and offer some additional support.
Communication has been vital throughout this experience whether it’s been sharing important updates, offering additional support or simply just keeping in touch with everyone to ensure they’re coping with the changes. I wanted to establish a method of communication that would link the graduates to each other and to the wider network and Slack offered these features.
Setting up different channels on the Slack App has enabled us to have real time contact with everyone to discuss more general updates. Graduates have shared pictures of them working from home and it’s been a great way to keep in touch informally.
Equally, I’ve been supporting the needs of individual graduates with regular video calls via Zoom and one to one calls. This has been particularly important for any of the graduates who live alone and those who may be feeling isolated at this time.
Supporting the wellbeing of all our graduates is a huge priority and technology has played a big part in keeping us connected.
In order to keep our graduates motivated and engaged we have provided them access to Udemy, an online training provider which offers courses across a vast range of subject areas, and offered them the opportunity to join several Bitesize Training sessions via Zoom to enhance their skills.
Many people have more spare time on their hands being at home and this offers a fantastic opportunity to keep busy whilst enhancing their skills. Many of our graduates have opted to develop their skills based on their next placements which shows great initiative.
Furthermore, I have personally been offering online coaching sessions if there have been topics our graduates have wanted to develop in for example CV writing and employability training. These sessions have also been a great way to inject some human interaction into our daily routines which currently might be lacking in it!
The Programme team, our employers and University partner, USW, have all been impressed with the resilience and positivity shown by our graduates at this challenging time. We will continue to support everyone as best we can until a sense of normality resumes.
Until then, follow our social media pages for the latest updates and initiatives and most importantly, stay safe!