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Using a course wide professional development program to enhance undergraduate career development and employability

J. Choate,1 J. Green,2 S. Cran,2 J. Macaulay1 and M. Etheve,3 1School of Biomedical Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia, 2Careers, Leadership and Volunteering, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia and 3Career Development and Employment, RMIT, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.

We have found that for the Bachelor of Biomedical science (BMS) at Monash there is a critical need to develop career management skills; focus group feedback from final year students indicated that they were unaware of their non-medical/research careers options and they felt they had developed limited employability skills during their course. This was reflected in a survey of first year students, with 51% uncertain of their post-BMS career path (although a course entry survey indicated that 80% would like to get into gradate medicine), 49% unsure about how to develop career experiences and skills and 46% lacking confidence in their ability to communicate their skills, knowledge and abilities to potential employers. Thus, a team of academics and careers staff has developed a course-wide professional development program that aims to build students career development skills, careers knowledge and their ability to communicate their skills to employers. Previous studies have found that embedding a program into the curriculum will be more successful if it involves the whole degree program, not just a single subject, and it is assessed (Ferns et al., 2010; Bridgstock, 2009). Important characteristics of the program include i) embedding a small assessment component to ensure student engagement and completions, ii) integrating components of the program in each semester of the degree program through the inclusion of an employability lecture and a careers development activity (assessment) and iii) the development of an electronic portfolio through the assessment activities. On completion of the program we believe that students will have developed life-long career management skills and produced a transferrable profile that reflects their experiences, skills, knowledge and capabilities, curating evidence of their achievements.

Bridgstock RS. (2009). The graduate attributes we've overlooked: enhancing graduate employability through career management skills. Higher Education Research and Development 28, 31-44.

Ferns S, Howell J, Taylor L, Kosovich A. (2010). Quality curriculum and career development: using an evidence-based approach to embed career development learning in the curriculum. Proceedings of the Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) National Conference 2010, pp. 139-155. Perth, WA: Australian Collaborative Educational Network (ACEN) Inc.