Recently FBE announced its Deans awards in areas of Curriculum innovation, Program leadership, Student experience, First year experience, Research supervision, Research excellence and Leadership and External engagement.
We caught up with some of the winners and will bring you their stories, as part of this 4 part series of the Deans Awards.
First up today is Steve Erichsen, convenor of FBE204 (Becoming a Professional) for his contribution to Curriculum innovation to the faculty.
Steve met me at the Wallys Walk coffee cart after a class and it became pretty clear quickly why he was deserving of the Award. He is passionate about the importance of incorporating professional practice into university education. He comes from an eclectic background himself, having worked across several industries (mostly in sales) and running his own business, which gave him the liberty to be engaged in all aspects of a business.
Set up as a pre-internship course, FBE204 is a new unit. Essentially Steve thinks of this unit, as a way to help students build the skills that will help them get a job, and then flourish in that job. He says, “It is well placed as a 200 level unit. This is when students need to start thinking about graduate roles.” He hopes this unit will help to start giving students an idea of what the various industries and the individual companies offer. So when in a year’s time, they are looking for jobs, they have a clear idea of what their strengths are and which corporate is best suited for their specific expertise.
Steve designed FBE204 in a way that students go through the following three stages to become better professionals, and he hopes that he is making his class more workforce ready.
* Self-awareness: Steve considers self awareness key to being a better employee. He emphatically points out that only if students understand their own strengths and weaknesses, will they be able to engage meaningfully and empathetically with others. He uses self reflective journals as tools of personal and professional development. They are also used as an assessment task to ensure it is completely embedded into the unit.
* Group work: Once the students have a bit more understanding of themselves, they start working together in groups, and give presentations. “Work environment now is clearly team based, project based,” says Steve, so this activity helps to re-enforce that idea.
* Career path: Finally, students move on to their career progression piece.Steve runs this section in close collaboration with the FBE Careers team. They have designed a very innovative task for this section. Steve uploads 3 CVs and 3 cover letters and asks the students to choose any 2 to come in for an interview. The resumes are different in the sense that they have varying levels of content knowledge vs soft skills. The idea is to inculcate in students an appreciation of building a well rounded personality. For this part of the course, Steve works closely with the Careers team within FBE and they look at writing CVs, cover letters, doing interviews etc.
A lot of what is used in this unit is based on Steve’s experience with running the PACE unit, MKTG304. Having worked closely with P&G, PWC, Optus etc he realised quickly that what these corporates are looking for, is energy, enthusiasm, communication and technical skills. He places great importance on developing these skills. “It would be great if we were the absolute go to university for graduates, because of what we produce in these holistic skills,” and this unit was designed to be a critical step towards that.