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Careers, Employability and Work-based Learning for PhD Students

The newly accredited Careers, Employability and Work-based Learning (WBL) 10 ECTS Module, led by the Trinity Careers Service, successfully launched in early 2022 and will run again in January 2023. The module is open to students in Years 2, 3 or 4 of a full-time PhD (years 2 to 6 of a part-time PhD) across all disciplines.

The WBL experience (100 hours in total) is a compulsory component of the module and presents a unique opportunity for organisations to partner with us and provides Trinity’s diverse, high quality PhD student talent pool with meaningful opportunities to enhance their learning experience.

Why should I offer a WBL experience on this module?

While each WBL experience is unique, all will meet the following learning outcomes so by the end of their WBL experience, students should be able to:

  • Critically reflect on skills developed through practical experience related to the workplace and on how these skills can be developed further
  • Critically evaluate industry partner feedback in relation to their work-based learning experience
  • Analyse the work-based learning experience in terms of their personality, values and fit with organisational culture
  • Critically evaluate their work-based learning experience in terms of future career direction

The key benefits for partner organisations are:

  • Top talent: Trinity College Dublin offers a world-class research environment that attracts and develops the very best talent and allows our PhD students to excel during their time in the University and beyond. Trinity has research strengths that span the Sciences, Medicine, Engineering, Arts and Humanities and boasts a truly international PhD community.
  • Relevant skills: Trinity PhD students come equipped with many relevant, in-demand skills such as applied research, problem-solving and critical thinking. Depending on your industry sector, many of our students also have advanced technical skills and knowledge which will allow them to actively contribute to key projects and tackle strategic business challenges in your organisation.
  • Student diversity: Students from Years 2-4 of a full-time PhD programme (Years 2-6 part-time) from across all disciplines will participate in this module so you will have an opportunity to engage with a wide variety of students, bringing new ideas and innovation to your organisation.
  • Build brand awareness: Hosting a WBL experience is great way to increase awareness of your organisation, communicate your culture and build your brand on campus.
  • Spot future talent: It presents an opportunity to talent spot students and to develop a talent pipeline for future opportunities in your organisation.
  • Flexibility: Many PhD students are flexible in terms of their schedule so that a mutually beneficial working arrangement can be arranged.
  • Partner with us: It is an opportunity to establish and/or develop a partnership between your organisation and Trinity College Dublin, which may lead to future collaborations.
  • Convenience: You can advertise and promote your WBL experience opportunities through the Trinity Careers Service, allowing interested students to apply direct to you.
  • New initiatives: It is an opportunity for your organisation to play a key role in this new and innovative module.

What types of WBL experience are included?

Organisations can offer three types of WBL experience for this module to be undertaken over an agreed time period and with a duration of 100 hours. These are:

  1. A mini internship, which for the purpose of this module, is defined as an approved and supervised immersive work experience with a host organisation of 100 hours in duration, that meets specific learning goals consistent with module learning outcomes above, is appropriate for a student at PhD level, and is within the scope of the Trinity Internships and Placements policy.

    The mini internship may be completed in one block or in separate blocks e.g. a day per week, half days or specific hours. The purpose of the mini internship is to offer students a general exposure to a research or professional organisation, which will include induction, observation and an immersive work experience that creates real value for the host organisation and valuable learning for the student. This includes on-the-job interaction with an assigned supervisor or mentor from the host organisation.

    Students will develop professional skills, increase their awareness of a given sector and benefit from the opportunity to make new professional contacts.

    Sample breakdown of time required:

    Breakdown of weeks/days Mini internship
    Induction 0.5 day
    Observation of key activities 2 days
    Immersive work with a focus on key deliverables 2 weeks
    Total student effort 2.5 weeks (100 hours)
  2. A consulting project, which for the purpose of this module, is defined as an independent project which is undertaken in collaboration with a host organisation over an agreed time period totalling 100 hours, that meets specific learning goals consistent with module learning outcomes above and is appropriate for a student at PhD level.

    The purpose of the consulting project is to give students exposure to a specific consulting scenario or challenge in the context of a research or professional organisation, which is likely to include defining the brief, applied research and work on deliverables e.g. proposal of actionable insights and/or solutions in a report and/or presentation. Analyses and recommendations will be evidence based, grounded in academic literature and/or based on organisational tools and approaches.

    Students will develop communication and applied research skills, increase their awareness of a given sector and benefit from the opportunity to make new professional contacts.

    The host organisation is expected to provide all necessary data and guidance for the project, including an induction and introduction to consulting if required. The organisation will also provide feedback on the quality of the student’s deliverables e.g. report and/or presentation. It is expected that the student critically assesses the consulting scenario or challenge and proposes insights and/or solutions that account for the strategic intent, capabilities, resources, mission, values and culture of the host organisation.

    Sample breakdown of time required:

    Breakdown of hours Consulting project
    Contact hours with host organisation - initial brief, identification of scenario/challenge & progress meetings 8-10
    Reading, applied research, scenario/challenge analysis 50-52
    Work on deliverables e.g. final report/presentation 40
    Total student effort 100 hours
  3. Another suitable experience which meets specific learning goals consistent with module learning outcomes above and is appropriate for a student at PhD level, to be agreed with TCS, e.g. development of a new business idea or entrepreneurial venture, community learning.

Contact us at employer.careers@tcd.ie to find out more.

How do I offer a WBL experience as part of this module?

Please contact employer.careers@tcd.ie to offer a Work Based Learning opportunity to a PhD student.

How do I develop a specification for a WBL experience?

Trinity Careers Service will work with your organisation to develop a WBL experience for students that will bring you positive results and make a real impact on your organisation. We will provide advice and guidance throughout the development phase, and market your opportunity directly to students.

Industry partners provide a ‘wish list’ of skills (e.g. data analytics, project management) and areas of focus (e.g. sustainability). This information is used to create a WBL specification, which will detail:

  • type of WBL experience – mini internship, consulting project or other
  • key activities and deliverables required
  • timing and length of experience available
  • skills level (both general and discipline-specific) required to undertake this experience
  • specific skills which will be developed through undertaking this experience
  • details of the recruitment process e.g. CV, interview and associated application deadline

What is the timeline for the WBL experience?

The timing of the WBL experience will depend on the student’s research schedule and that of the host organisation, so they can fit it around their research commitments. TCS will advertise WBL opportunities developed with industry partners once a year for experiences to take place before the end of that academic year.

What is the guidance on pay to students on the WBL Experience?

It is recommended that students are paid an appropriate stipend in line with worker directives for all WBL experiences undertaken as part of the module, up to a maximum of 100 hours. Students may need to become employees of the host organisation to facilitate payment. In such cases, the Careers Service must be satisfied that any employment contract offered to students does not impact on the conditions of their PhD funding. Working hour directives will also apply for non-EU students.

I’d like to find out more about offering a WBL experience

If you would like to speak with someone please contact our team at employer.careers@tcd.ie who will be able to provide further guidance.

I would like to support PhD student employability at Trinity but am unable to offer a WBL experience. Can I participate?

If you are unable to offer a WBL experience, you can partner with us to develop and deliver skills webinars, offer site tours, and/or run a virtual assessment centre for Trinity PhD students enrolled on the module. We will work with you scope out each activity in full. Contact us at employer.careers@tcd.ie to discuss further.

Skills Webinars
As part of the module, you could offer a skills webinar on topics such as:

  • CV Skills, tailored to a Faculty (academic/non-academic)
  • Interview Skills (academic/non-academic)
  • Skills for Employment
  • The Future World of Work in your sector – opportunities and challenges
  • You may have other ideas which we are happy to explore with you