Friday, 30 May 2014

Conference Feedback

In the aftermath of #PlaceNet14 the Trustees will be circulating a survey to attendees to gauge opinion and thoughts on how the conference went, which will be used for the planning of future events. Judging by the informal feedback we have already received, we may not have to tweak the formula too much.

Here are a selection of tweets from delegates and presenters on their PlaceNet experience

Thursday, 29 May 2014

#PlaceNet14 in Review

Between 21-23 May, Trustees, Members and Presenters gathered for the PlaceNet Annual Conference. #PlaceNet14 was held in the Leeds Marriott Hotel with a delegate list including representatives from 28 universities. In addition to regular attendees were a number of fresh faces, new to PlaceNet or having recently joined the industry. For the first time, the conference was sponsored, thanks to the Cogent Placement Service.

Following a welcome speech from PlaceNet Chair Matthias Feist, which included the announcement of the 4 July event in Coventry, the conference got underway with the first of several pitches from presenters to the floor. This was a new innovation for the conference, in which presenters from parallel sessions were given a couple of minutes to provide an overview of their topic before delegates voted with their feet. First up there was RateMyPlacement who talked about student engagement, while in the break out room were representatives of Sagar Wright discussing their experience as a small company of working with a university placement office to stage an assessment centre to recruit interns.

Martin Edmondson of Gradcore addressed the conference to offer insight into engaging with small and medium sized employers, before Charlie Ball from HECSU discussed DLHE, and how the work of Placement Officers impacts on employment outcomes. Delegates enjoyed an impromptu drinks reception courtesy of Sagar Wright before dinner, while the evening networking session sponsored by RateMyPlacement proved very popular. There was even time for a bit of television celebrity spotting, with Mr Tumble posing for 'placement selfies' with delegates.

Thursday saw the conference hall filled to capacity with the addition of day delegates. Dr Lorna Warnock kicked off proceedings by giving a very interesting presentation about how York University has been developing PhD internships, before sharing a competency framework that has been created to break down for employers what they can expect when hiring undergraduate, masters or PhD students.

The first 'pitching contest' of the day saw PlaceNet Trustees Mike Grey and Sarah Sheikh go head to head with Faizan Patankar from the Career Geek Blog. While Mike and Sarah offered an insight into international placements, Faizan shared his perspective on the use of social media in engaging with students. Speaking as a former intern and international student, he explained how an effective use of technology could help break down barriers for international students in accessing careers services. Faizan also talked about different social media platforms and offered examples of good practice.

In the afternoon session, Jo Chester from Cummins who hire 150-170 placement students a year, gave a recruiter's perspective on writing CVs, highlighting that there is no perfect formula but it is vital to target both the employer and the role, while a cover letter is the opportunity to demonstrate enthusiasm. Meanwhile, Pauline Maden from Cogent talked about the Cogent Placement Service, the background behind its creation and goal to reverse the trend for reducing numbers of placements in the life sciences sector.

Rounding off the afternoon was James Waring from Nicholas Associates who provided an overview and then a demonstration of the All Together work placement software. James and his colleague Charmian Roberts had also been on hand throughout the day to speak to delegates during breaks. Thursday's networking session left attendees shaken not stirred receiving a course in cocktail making in the 1871 Bar. Dinner followed in Bibi's restaurant  while evening drinks were provided by conference sponsor Cogent

The final day of #PlaceNet14 got underway in a rather light-hearted fashion. Trustee Alex Elkins compered a session on When Placements Go Bad, during which he recounted anonymised anecdotes submitted by delegates of when a placement had ended in unusual circumstances. Prizes were awarded to Emily Timson for most prolific conference tweeter, while Martin Perfect lived up to his name and was rewarded for making the best cocktail during the Thursday social event.

The important business of the day got underway with the PlaceNet AGM, in which accounts were presented and Trustees Matthias Feist, Jan Fielding, Virginia Goodwill and Sarah Sheikh were re-elected for a further three years. The conference was brought to a close by the PlaceNet Chair who thanked presenters and delegates for attending, and praised the work of the organising team for putting on a great conference.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A Free Day of Workshops for PlaceNet Members

Friday  4th July, 10am - 3pm, Coventry University

Following on from the annual conference in Leeds, PlaceNet are offering a FREE day of workshops featuring insights into some of the key new trends and initiatives occurring within UK Universities around the placement and employability agenda.

This is aimed to provide an excellent follow up to the annual conference and a further opportunity to network with colleagues from around the country and share best practice.

The event will take place in the new £56 million Engineering and Computing Building at Coventry University. The event is free of charge to PlaceNet Members, lunch and refreshments will be provided. Non-members are welcome to attend too, at a charge of £50 per person.

The event will run to the following schedule:

Welcome + Coffee and Networking
Enterprise Placements and Entrepreneurial Learning (Graham Baty, Northumbria University)
Running Modules in Partnership with Employers – Intel Project Module (Harminder Kaur, Coventry University)
Developing Employability through Mentoring Schemes (Katherine Walker, Nottingham Trent University)
Launching and Growing a Placement Scheme (Emily Timson, Leeds University)

To register your interest for this event, please email 

Monday, 19 May 2014

#PlaceNet14 Preview

Ahead of this week's conference, PlaceNet Trustee and placement blogger Graham Kaye-Taylor shares his thoughts on what is to come in Leeds.

Is it really that time of the year again already? It barely seems like 12 minutes since #PlaceNet13 drew to a close, let alone 12 months, but here we are on the eve of another conference. The Trustees have been working hard behind the scenes to piece together what we believe will be our best conference yet and I for one can't wait for Wednesday lunchtime to come around.

From where I sit, the placement industry appears to be in a period of change. While it is too early to generalise, 8 months into working with the first cohort of £9k sandwich placement students I can see anecdotal evidence of how the fee changes has impacted on at least some of my courses. Employability remains high on the agenda and I'm seeing more postgraduate courses offering mandatory or optional internships. With that in mind I'm particularly looking forward to hearing from Dr Lorna Warnock and Dr Hilary Jones regarding their study into producing competency frameworks for postgraduate internships. The session on International Placement Perspectives strikes a chord as my institution plans to expand overseas work experience opportunities for our students. As somebody with more than a passing interest in Social Media, I'm also excited to hear what the founder of Career Geek Blog has to say.

Away from the conference floor comes plenty of opportunity for networking. We've tapped into the local knowledge of our members to book Bibis restaurant. Our Thursday afternoon social remains wrapped in secrecy but I'm assured that this year it does not involve boats. We have also introduced 'Fresher's Drinks' which are loosely themed networking sessions. Wednesday evening I will be hosting (with sponsors RateMyPlacement) drinks for delegates 'New to the Profession', while Thursday night (sponsored by Cogent) offers the chance to network regarding 'Progression in Career'.

This will be my third PlaceNet conference and I expect a very different experience from previous events. In Liverpool I arrived as a relative unknown but received a warm welcome both from the Trustees and delegates. In Bristol last year I was given the platform to speak to the conference and participate in the Q&A panel session. This year, I'm very much part of the establishment and have a greater appreciation of all the hard work that goes into organising an event such as this.

Have a safe journey and my fellow Trustees and I look forward to welcoming you to Leeds.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

#PlaceNet14 - A Word From Our Sponsors

PlaceNet is pleased to announce our sponsors for this year’s conference. Premier Sponsor of #PlaceNet14 is Cogent, sector skills council for the science industries. In addition to working with industry to identify skills needs across the sector, Cogent operate their Life Science Placements Service through which students and graduates can access scientific placements and work experience. The inaugural UK Life Science Skills Awards are being held in London on 15 May, celebrating excellence and achievement in the sector including the contribution of placement students. Pauline Maden and Martine Cooksley will be representing Cogent at #PlaceNet14 and will be on hand to talk to delegates about how the Placement Service can work with their university.

We are also delighted that RateMyPlacement will  be joining us in Leeds. I’m sure they will need little introduction as their excellent website, placement guides and the National Undergraduate Employability Awards are well known across the land. What you may not be aware of is their monthly university newsletter which provides placement services with useful news and information from the world of placements. Francesca Hall and Lizzie Brock will be attending #PlaceNet14 and RMP is sponsoring Wednesday night’s ‘Fresher’s Drinks’ networking session.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Join the growing list of delegates at #PlaceNet14

#PlaceNet14 is barely a week away but there is still time to book your place. In doing so you will be joining fellow placement professionals from the following organisations who have already signed up for the conference, taking place in Leeds 21-23 May.

Birmingham City University
Brunel University
Canterbury Christ Church University
City University
Cogent Life Science Placement Service
Coventry University
De Montfort University
Kingston University
Leeds Metropolitan University
Leeds Trinity University
London Metropolitan University
Northumbria University
Nottingham Trent University
Regent's University London
University College London
University of Bradford
University of Brighton
University of Derby
University of Greenwich
University of Leeds
University of Liverpool
University of Portsmouth
University of Salford
University of Warwick
University of West London
University of Westminster
University of Wolverhampton
University of York

Please send any queries you may have regarding the conference to or find us on Twitter @placenetuk