Informational interviews help undergraduate students at the mid-point of non-vocational STEM degrees confirm their career aspirations
Higher education institutions are expected to produce career-ready graduates who are equipped for the challenges of the 21st century. Employability experts argue that this can be achieved by integrating career development learning (CDL) into the curriculum. The informational interview helps students learn more about a career by interviewing a professional working in a field of interest, and helps students to make decisions regarding their career plans. The aims of the study were to determine students’: 1) preferred career paths and career identity at the midpoint of their non-vocational degree; 2) experiences and perceptions of an informational interview module. An informational interview module was embedded into a second-year human biosciences subject taken by students in undergraduate non-specialist health-related STEM degrees. Students indicated their preferred career, learned about informational interviews, and conducted an interview with a professional working in the field they wished to enter. After the interview, students completed reflection activities, responding to open-ended and Likert-scale questions. 91 student reflections were analysed to determine students’ career identity, and their experiences and perceptions of the module. Descriptive statistical analysis was conducted on Likert-scale answers and inductive thematic analysis was conducted on open-ended answers. Students’ career preferences were wide-ranging, with allied health the most popular. Career identity was reasonably well established in this cohort. The student experience was overall positive, and students’ thought the module was useful in supporting their career planning and career development. In conclusion, an informational interview assignment is an effective career development tool for human biosciences students.
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