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Career Management Skills

SDU teaches students how to get their careers off to a good start

Since 2014, University of Southern Denmark has taught students about how to get their careers off to a good start after completing their studies, and the figures now show that this has worked

By Stine Charlotte Hansen, , 10/9/2018

Recent graduate Jannik Sommerlund has found a job ahead of several of the people he studied with. He was among the first students at SDU afforded the opportunity of choosing the Career Management Skills course. A course that prepares the students in managing their careers when they have finished studying.

“I learned how to describe my competences, the importance of having a good network and how to make a good strategy for my job hunt,” says Jannik, who attended the M.Sc. in Economics and Business Administration programme.

“I had already secured an internship for a student job during the course. And I have used the tools to find my job since graduating.”

Career preparation course

SDU’s career advisers started to offer the career preparation course in 2014. The course helps students to become more aware about how they will manage their job hunt.

“In the past, we saw that students started to think about their career and job hunt way too late after they had finished studying. The consequence of this is that they will be unemployed longer than necessary.

That's why we started the course,” says Jacob Krummes, Head of Section for career advisers at SDU RIO (Research & Innovation Organisation).

Less unemployment

The first group of students who were on the course are currently looking for work. The figures for Jannik Sommerlund's M.Sc. in Economics and Business Administration team show that the unemployment rate for those who have taken the course is six per cent, while the unemployment rate for those who did not take the course is 15 per cent.

Rie Thomsen, head of the research unit in Career Guidance at the Danish School of Education at Aarhus University and Denmark's first Professor of Career Guidance, does not find this strange. Getting a handle on career thoughts and ideas is not a waste of time.

“The course gives students the space to explore career possibilities and prepares them for managing their future. These are good results, and to be expected when you look at the research and the theory behind it,” she says.

Inspired by English universities

​The career advisers at SDU work with methods inspired by foreign universities such as the University of Warwick and the University of Dundee, who are the major players in this field.

“We have been very conscious of the fact that the career teaching is based on research and not just drivel,” says Jacob Krummes, who has been in charge of the career advisers for a number of years.

“It is the strong research foundation in this field that makes the difference. It provides career teaching with what it takes to enable students to manage their future in a way that is right for them,” says Professor of Career Guidance, Rie Thomsen.

Room for investigation

“Creating career education is a challenge, as it is not about making students determined and focused.

SDU's career advisers have been engaged with the theories and methods behind career education as an academic field, and this is what creates the good results. 

They point out that it is about creating a space where students can collectively investigate where they want to go in their lives, and to allow them to see that there are many ways to have a working life,” she says.

​SDU offered the course on four programmes when it was first started. In 2018, the university offers the course on 18 lines of study.

“We can see an overwhelming interest among the programmes at SDU in starting up the course as part of their offer to the students,” says Head of Section Jacob Krummes.

“And our evaluations show that the students are very satisfied with the course. We are therefore also pleased to see that it works when the students leave university,” he says, and adds, “Aarhus University is offering the course for the first time this year, much inspired by the work at SDU.”

Statistics and motivation

During his job hunt, Jannik Sommerlund has spent time finding statistics concerning the competences that employers find most important.

He has also been thinking about what motivates him and how he sees his future career – all of which he has learned to do in the career preparation course.

“It has helped to clarify which types of jobs are suitable for me and, perhaps even more importantly, which jobs would not work for me,” he says.

The effect will extend into the future

Professor of Career Guidance Rie Thomsen explains that the effect of having good career preparation will extend far into the future for the students – also long after they have left the university.

This is because once the students have learned to manage their careers correctly, they will be able to do so the next time they need to and, not least, it will be possible for them to seek career guidance whenever they need it.

“SDU not only prepares students for the first transition between studying and the labour market – but also for the next time a change occurs and the time after that. This is important,” she says.

Career learning at The University of Southern Denmark

The career advisers work with implementing career learning in Career Management Skills and a range of other activities.

Read more on career learning

Demand for knowledge on career learning

Career advisers from several European universities met in May 2019 at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense to exchange knowledge and learn about the Danish experiences within career learning.

Read more about the exchange of experiences