University of Zagreb Boosts Student Career Opportunities
At the doorstep of her alma mater— treasuring this long-awaited moment of true accomplishment – Anja has just graduated. Soon enough, along with the delight of receiving the degree certificate a sense of uneasiness arises. What awaits for Anja in the fast-evolving world of employment? Is she “career ready”? The Student Support and Career Development Center (CPSRK), an interactive employability platform, forestalls the concerns of Anja and many other University of Zagreb students well in advance, by assisting them at all stages of the preparation for their dream careers.
The success of students’ transitions from higher education to work lies at the heart of the work of CPSRK in the Faculty of Organization and Informatics (FOI) at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. Initially established as a response to a student body request for more integration of practical curriculum and internship support, CPSRK has moved beyond its initial purpose. It now sets its sights on a greater aim, to serve as an “ice-breaker” between the student body and the human resource needs of the local/regional business community through an open model of faculty-business interaction and a set of supporting activities.
Increased student and business visibility
CPSRK has much to offer to foster UBC, principally by involving students and business in a variety of different modes of interaction. The Centre organises company visits, invites professional external lecturers, seeks financial support for the incubation of student start-ups, holds employer pitch and networking events, and much more. This carefully designed combination of activities effectively helps the platform to increase the visibility of FOI and develop quality formal and informal personal interactions between students and the companies, while catering for the needs of both.
What is less expected and very innovative on the part of such a platform is the provision of branding services for companies. CPSRK collaborates with interested companies to design customised advertising material, which is designed to increase student interest in potential internships and future job positions. To facilitate these relationships, CPSRK has introduced an online internship platform, where nearly 500 businesses make their information available to students. This effective connection platform has to date facilitated the hosting of more than 1,500 interns by registered companies.
The activities at CPSRK are not only customized for businesses and students. To ensure a well-rounded approach to student employability at FOI, CPSRK communicates with academics in order to connect them with companies for the development of joint curriculum projects. This focused strategy allowed the Centre for Application Development at FOI to launch a website where academics and companies communicate to ensure the projects both fulfill business interests and course requirements.
Positive responses from all stakeholders
CPSRK plays an integral role in FOI student and alumni development processes, as the most recent evaluation demonstrated. Students’ improved perception of the connection between theory and practice is among the most cited impacts produced by CPSRK’s activities. Similarly, companies have pointed out that the branding services have helped them to communicate their needs better, which in turn has enhanced their recruitment processes. The results appear very promising: one in every three students receives a job offer from an internship host they encountered during their study. After graduation, 75-95% of students using CPSRK services report being able to find a job.
What lies behind these promising figures and positive endorsements from students and companies? Well-planned and targeted multi-partner communication mechanisms, a well-functioning information dissemination platform, and the ability to quickly respond and flexibly adjust to demands for skilled personnel from the region’s business community all appear to contribute to the success of the CPSRK team. It seems the enthusiasm and commitment of all stakeholders to address one of the most challenging experiences a student must face is indeed what makes CPSRK truly special and a fine example to follow.
If you want to learn more about CPSRK, a full case study is accessible here.
©all rights on images used in this article belong to the University of Zagreb.
Meet the authors
Alexandra Zinovyeva, a trainee at UIIN, is a recent graduate from Erasmus Mundus Master course in Research and Innovation in Higher Education (MaRIHE). She also holds a Bachelor of Education in Teaching Foreign Languages from East Kazakhstan State University. As a part of her bachelor and master courses, Alexandra has studied in The US, South Korea, Austria, Finland, China and Germany, and is a recipient of a number of national and international scholarships. Alexandra previously worked at private educational institutions in Kazakhstan and interned at Fulbright Commission in Finland. Her research interests revolve around topics of university entrepreneurship, university innovation management and interdisciplinary higher education.
Richard Woolley is a researcher at Ingenio (CSIC-UPV) at the Universitat Politècnica de València. He is currently collaborating with the TIK centre at the University of Oslo on the OSIRIS project, which is investigating the impact of science and research on society.
Hacer Tercanli is a recent graduate of an Erasmus Mundus Masters course, Research and Innovation in Higher Education (MARIHE), and since November 2016 a Project Officer at UIIN. Previously she has worked in public and private higher education institutions in Turkey and completed a Fulbright Master’s program in Applied Linguistics in the US. As part of her Erasmus Mundus Master Hacer studied in Austria, Finland, China and Germany. During her studies she has participated in HE development projects that involved mapping digital learning environments in Germany and facilitation of internationalization in Turkey. In addition, Hacer has also been involved in EU projects at the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre in Munster, Germany. Among her recent interests are university-industry cooperation and quality assurance in international joint degree programs.