During two weeks, the Computer Science School at UPC (http://www.fib.upc.edu/en/fib) hosts short workshops/seminars of 9 hours each, where professionals from ICT companies present different aspects of their companies. It is an optional activity for students, who decide which sessions they want to attend. CA Technologies (ca.com) is one of the companies participating in this activity every year, involving employees from different departments.
The activity includes several stages:
STAGE 1 - INITIATIALIZATION
During the initialization stage,UPC publishes a call for participation and the potential dates for the seminar at the Aula Empresa website (http://seminarisempresa.fib.upc.edu/seminarisempresa/2017/). The goal is to attract and get contacted by ICT companies that are willing to give a free seminar to students.
STAGE 2 - ORGANISATION
In the organization stage, companies internally decide topics to present and find the right individuals to deliver the seminar to the students. Once a tentative agenda has been decided, the company sends the agenda and its availability (based on the previous potential dates set by UPC) to UPC.
STAGE 3 - ENROLLMENT PROCESS
Once all companies have provided their agenda and availability, UPC can officially start the Aula Empresa enrollment process. All accepted seminars are published on their website, so students may choose in which sessions they wish to enroll.
Parallel to the enrollment process, companies prepare their seminar internally.
STAGE 4 - WORKSHOP IMPARTED
When the enrollment process has finished, the workshop is imparted at UPC’s facilities. Companies’ representatives use the allocated time to hold their seminar. Its format is chosen by each company, although it is expected to be a simple presentation.
STAGE 5 - FEEDBACK
After the workshop ends, UPC asks students to provide feedback about the workshop and seminars. This information is later provided to companies so they can improve their seminars in consecutive runs of Aula Empresa.
TOUCHPOINT 1 - DIGITAL MEANS
Companies mainly interact with the University using digital means (e-mail): i) to send the proposal for the seminar; ii) to receive feedback.
The University interacts with the students by digital means, through its website, during the following stages: i) publishing the call for participation; ii) enrollment process; iii) request for feedback.
TOUCHPOINT 2 - FACE-2-FACE PRESENTATIONS
Companies interact with the students in face-2-face presentations: they are mostly presentations, but sometimes companies do short workshops where students interact more.
There are different success factors in the touchpoints: i) being communication mainly digital, planning in advance is essential, so that both companies and students can block their calendars for this activity and avoid schedule conflicts; ii) using the potential of the website and ensure that the message that Aula Empresa offers an added value to all the stakeholders is highlighted. In the case of face-2-face communication, involving highly motivated company representatives, with excellent communication skills, is essential, as well as adapting the format of the activity to what students prefer. Feedback from past students showed that they prefer working sessions rather than presentations, for example.
The main barrier to digital communication is that, given the wide offer of optional activities at the University, Aula Empresa could be just another activity with no special interest: Aula Empresa needs to be properly disseminated, appealing and well prepared. Regarding face-2-face presentations, another barrier could be the lack of motivation from company or university representatives, thus resulting in boring and useless presentations or format of the activity, and reduced interest from students.
Being this an optional activity for students, its main success factor is the ability from both the University and the companies to present topics and activities that catch their attention. This is an essential requirement for all the players: i) the company wants to detect and attract talent, so its focus is to reach to students that are highly motivated with its areas of interest; ii) the School wants to increase employability of its students; iii) students wish to know potential employers and to grow their business experience. Therefore, a second success factor is the ability of presenting topics in a practical way, showing aspects of the day-to-day work and the company culture.
The main barriers are other optional activities that may be more interesting and profitable for students. For the company, not catching the attention of talented students is a loss, whereas, for the School, not being able to attract enough students makes it difficult to launch future calls of this activity.
As a conclusion, Aula Empresa has a tremendous potential for all stakeholders: detect talent, find a potential job, provide students with skills not related specifically to technical topics and necessary to work for a company.
The key point for a successful experience is the capacity of the University and companies to react, in an agile way, to the changes in technological trends of the market, in students’ interests and motivations, and adapt the format and the content of Aula Empresa and its presentations accordingly.
- Engage companies as soon as possible to avoid conflicts with other events or meetings.
- Publicize Aula Empresa among students as soon as possible and as widely as possible.
- Ensure that students understand the value of Aula Empresa.
- Align the agenda to new trends and students’ interests.
- Use student’s feedback to better shape future instances of Aula Empresa. Make an effort to improve each instance and adapt it to the needs of technology trends.
- Engage motivated company representatives.
- Use catchy names for your seminar.
- Reuse materials from previous sessions / talks: the format and the content of the session needs to be constantly updated and adapted to new students and new technology trends.