In a bid to boost students' confidence and increase their employability, the University of Portsmouth has started Brand Me presentations for its Business & Law students. The study published in the journal 'Studies in Higher Education', has shown how 'Brand Me' presentations have led to an increase in students' employability-related self-confidence (ERSC).
'Brand Me' Presentation
A Brand Me presentation is a two to three-minute elevator pitch in which students sell themselves to a prospective employer. One of the authors of the study, Charlotte Harrison, said, "We developed the 'Brand Me' presentations as a way to harness the students' career management learning and provide a focus for the construction of their personal brand."
The students had to give Brand Me presentations at the beginning, middle and end of the module. Measurements of ERSC were taken at each stage from a sample of 105 full-time students in the 2015/2016 academic year.
What They Did?
A carefully trained team of mock employers, made up of anonymous reviewers with experience of the recruitment process, scored the presentations in pairs against measurements such as the student has presented a range of relevant qualities; talks positively about themselves; uses confident language, and uses a confident tone of voice and body language.
These measurements were supplemented by interviews with students and lecturers 6 - 12 months after completion of the module.
The findings showed that measurements of ERSC increased over time, skills were learnt, and new behaviours developed.
Proactive Self-Promotion Skills
While increasing their ERSC, students demonstrated that they could communicate their personal brand clearly and effectively, enhancing their impression management and self-promotion, which researchers said are important for success in the graduate recruitment process.
Charlotte said, "While the data suggests that students found the activity challenging and, at times, uncomfortable, it also indicates that they had learnt the skills of proactive self-promotion and developed their ERSC."
"The study also suggests that self-confidence can be developed through targeted interventions, which brings practical implications in terms of career management teaching," added Charlotte.
As well as the ratings provided by the mock employers, students were able to review and reflect on their presentations. This reflection was enhanced by feedback from fellow students and tutors in class at each stage, plus intervening workshops dedicated to reflection; understanding values; personal branding; skills mapping; and awareness of what employers are looking for in the graduate recruitment process.
Brand Me Presentations To Develope ERSC
Three-quarters of the students who completed the unit participated in all three Brand Me presentations even though it was not a compulsory part of the unit.
The high level of continued engagement indicated the importance of ensuring that career management teaching is authentic and that the real world relevance is communicated to students.
"We recommend devoting class time to repeated 'Brand Me' presentations to develop ERSC. The presentations should be introduced within a carefully managed and structured career developing learning programme, which draws on theories of experiential and social learning. We also recommend that the presentations are introduced in a way that emphasises the real world relevance and authenticity, and that multi-source feedback is employed," added Charlotte.
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