The University of Groningen offers a wide variety of minors, but what exactly is the Career Minor? The Career Minor of the Faculty of Arts offers a varied, multidisciplinary, and interactive programme. The students that participate get the chance to work on concrete projects outside their comfort zones in order to further develop their practical skills.
Third-year students at the UG can choose a Minor Abroad, an Educational, Faculty, or University Minor, or a Career Minor. The innovative Career Minor offers practical assignments and excursions, and presents a very different option within the range of Minors. The programme is aimed at preparing students for the labour market. They learn to apply for jobs, network, and work on practical projects, and do so at companies, for example.
Students following the Career Minor come from various degree programmes within the Faculty of Arts. Although the programme is part of the Faculty of Arts, it is also open to students from other faculties, since some projects are not linked directly to the Faculty. Both international and Dutch students are welcome, as being able to speak Dutch is not a requirement. The companies working with the participating students are looking for fresh perspectives on their challenges. A diverse group of students is actually a plus.
At the start of the semester, the participants follow a course on labour market developments and topical themes to develop their own skills. In addition, they learn basic organizational skills, such as leadership, teamwork and intercultural communication. The Minor includes teaching methods that go beyond traditional lectures; training sessions, workshops, guest lecturers, and excursions all strengthen the students’ employability. Finally, the students can choose a societal theme to specialize in. These themes can align with their interests, educational background, or career wishes.
The second part of the Minor focusses on working on a project. Students can choose from two options here: for 10 weeks they can work for a client as part of a team, or they can carry out an individual assignment. Concrete assignments, which students can work on as part of an interdisciplinary team, often come from the government, industry, or NGOs. By applying the skills they learnt in the first part of the Minor, the students are able to conduct research, give presentations, and set up meetings. This experience is intended for students to become acquainted with an organization and to discover how their own skills fit in there.
One of the most recent projects in which the students participated was the creation of a policy for the ‘Don't Mow Me in May’ campaign by Urban Management (Stadsbeheer) of the Municipality of Groningen. The ‘Don’t Mow Me in May’ initiative strives for people to refrain from mowing grass in May. In this way, insects such as bees, beetles, and butterflies are given easier access to pollen and nectar from flowers. On top of that, longer grass is better fit to survive in drought and heat, meaning that water from the soil evaporates less quickly. The assignment was to set up the campaign's internal communication as effectively as possible, and to guarantee its implementation.
For this project, Bela Geick, Matthew Squire, and Jorik Mossel conducted a literature review and interviewed employees from Urban Management. ‘Through this, we found out that several people compared Urban Management to the “whisper game”. The organization mainly provided information orally, through which information was lost or changed slightly’, explains Jorik Mossel. Based on this knowledge, the students were able to draw up a chart for effective communication. This two-way communication model had to bridge the gap between the policymakers and the mowers of the organization, thus connecting policy and implementation. ‘The advice could also be used for other policy areas’, adds Mossel. Additionally, the three students advised Urban Management to set up workshops for the mowers. These workshops have actually been held, and were rated positively by the mowers, since they could immediately see what the results of refraining from mowing were. The students’ input was valued highly. ‘We presented our final product to a group of Urban Management employees and then to alderman Mirjam Wijnja’, explains Mossel. The Municipality will adopt the recommendations for the new round of the ‘Don't Mow Me in May’ campaign.
‘I chose the Career Minor because after two years of studying history from textbooks, I wanted to experience it in practice. The experiences that I gained in the Career Minor have definitely helped me to get a better picture of what I’d like to do later on. Many guest lecturers followed the same degree programme as me, but have all gone on to different paths after graduating. By following the Career Minor, I have gained a better picture of the options open to me after graduating’, concludes Mossel.
On 25 May, there will be a Minor Fair for University minors and Teacher training minors (the Career minor will not be present there).
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