Industrial Mentors at Birmingham City University
- Published: Monday, 16 July 2018 14:29
- Written by Birmingham City University
Birmingham City University has a commitment to pursuing excellence that is practice-led, knowledge-applied and employability-driven.
The Industrial Mentors (IM) initiative was developed to prepare students on our BSc Music Technology and BSc Sound Engineering and Production courses for careers in the dynamic music and audio industries. It aims to facilitate the development of students’ competencies through engaging with those already working in industry.
The initiative offers an interface whereby students can interact with industry professionals via Moodle, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment. This allows students to gain confidence in dealing with industry specialists and enhances their employability.
Career paths for graduates of sound and music courses are varied and disparate and students’ perceptions of graduate destinations can be narrow. This initiative aims to broaden horizons and allow students to explore a range of potential career paths.
Through the forum, students explore their developing knowledge and its industrial context in a ‘safe’ environment. Mentors are able to share expertise as and when their time allows. They also benefit from the students’ perspective, posting real-life scenarios and issues that they are currently working on in order to explore students’ ideas. The forums have been used to supplement module delivery with module coordinators instigating activities that require feedback from industry professionals.
The initiative is also a useful way to sustain links with alumni and informs course development.
After starting with a small group of key, established industrial partners, the project has expanded to include 50 mentors, including 25 alumni. There is potential for further development; opportunities are being explored to cascade the project across the University.
260 students across all years of the BSc Music Technology and BSc Sound Engineering and Production courses have access to the forums as well as 70 students at the University of Rochester. The site has had over 9,000 views since it was set up, with over 750 posts.
Students across all years have used the forum in different ways. Some discussions come from assessment-orientated research including the development final year projects. Others focus on exploring particular techniques. Students have used the forums to draw parallels between what they are being taught and how this is mirrored in industry.
The Faculty has a partnership with the University of Rochester in the USA, with several students each year taking part in an exchange. The forum has been opened up to audio and music engineering staff and students from the university. This allows the benefits of the partnership between the two institutions to be cascaded beyond the few students who undertake the exchange.
The forums also include a range of video interviews with graduates. The videos serve to inspire current students and provide guidance regarding securing initial graduate positions and career development.
The initiative has led to student placements and graduate roles: The Music Tribe has taken on more placement students in 2016/17 than in previous years, and employed a Music Technology graduate. Opportunities for ongoing engagement through the forums have contributed to this success.