Nearing the end of a degree brings the pressure of final assignments to hand in and exams to take, and also a looming awareness of the big job search just around the corner. Graduates might be equipped with the latest knowledge and excited about starting work, but it’s not always easy to find an employer prepared to take on someone with little or no experience of the work they’re newly qualified to do.

On the flip side, employers can often find it difficult to access suitable students and graduates for those ‘starter’ job opportunities within their organisations.

AUT is helping to solve this conundrum with its new on-campus recruitment service, Internz, aimed at matching graduates who want jobs with employers who need them. It’s a scaled-up version of a programme that’s been running since 2014 to help recruit students for overseas internships, with a much stronger focus now on matching graduates with New Zealand employers.

Supply and demand

Anna Williams, director of student employability at AUT, says they have a steady stream of graduating students ready to be employed in a huge range of industries and roles.

“We’re seeing a growing demand from employers who want an easy way to access students and graduates for work opportunities, so the service is about supply and demand – putting the two together, treating them both as clients and providing as much support as we can to both employer and graduating student. The support for graduates includes personalised coaching and job-seeking assistance.”

To ensure students know how to access the service, Internz is getting the word out through on-campus advertising, social media, referrals from the careers team and word of mouth.

“Once a student expresses interest in using the service, we start alerting them to roles we advertise that suit their programme of study,” says Williams.

“With a student body of around 30,000, it can be challenging to ensure that everyone knows about our service, but the general reaction when students learn about it is very positive.”

Internz is being run at the city campus in AUT’s employability hub, a place where students are used to coming for career advice and work-readiness support, and Williams says this makes it a natural fit and means students can be referred between the two services.

As with any recruitment process, candidates will access the service by applying online for roles they see on the AUT job board.

“They may be interviewed by our candidate manager, who is a recruitment professional with several years’ experience, then if they’re the right fit they’ll be added to the shortlist for the employer.”

Benefits for candidates and employers

A significant difference from what was offered previously at AUT is that there is now a dedicated relationship manager at Internz for each client group – candidates and employers.

Williams says another enhancement is in improved technology to allow targeted marketing of roles to students and provide a candidate management system. She notes that students benefit by using Internz rather than registering with traditional recruitment firms.

“At Internz, we’re advocating to employers about the benefits of employing graduates and students. Our candidates are never going to be told by our recruiters that they don’t have enough experience to apply for a role.”

Employers benefit too, because while they’re getting the same professional client service they would with a traditional agency, they also receive insights and support around engaging new graduates and a millennial workforce. Millennials – those born between 1982 and 2004 – now make up over a third of the New Zealand workforce, according to Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey.

Williams says Internz also makes it very easy for employers. “They phone or email our recruiter and give a brief. Then they wait for a shortlist of suitable and work-ready candidates.”

Many employers now look at the whole person rather than just the one-dimensional qualification when interviewing a graduate. AUT has responded to this outlook by offering a number of programmes to complement students’ academic study.

“We have many great programmes,” says Williams, “but my favourite is the AUT Edge Award, where we formally acknowledge students’ involvement in volunteering, leadership and employability activities, and it’s even acknowledged on their academic transcript.”

Last year 7,200 students graduated from AUT and Williams really hopes that most students preparing to graduate this year will make use of Internz.

“We may not be able to find roles for every graduate from AUT, but we’ll give it a good go.”

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