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Work Related Learning

 

Final year students, Shannen Browne, Moya Bradley and Megan McKenna were on placement with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and are shown with Ms Carmel Fyfe, Eco-Schools Manager (2nd from right)

 

Final year students, Shannen Browne, Moya Bradley and Megan McKenna were on placement
with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and are shown with Ms Carmel Fyfe, Eco-Schools Manager (2nd from right)

 

Liberal Arts students have returned to College after an extended period of Work Related Learning. St Mary’s has included integrated internships in the Liberal Arts Degree Programme from its inception fourteen years ago in the year 2000.

During their placement, the students pictured above contributed to the events management of the 20th Anniversary Year of Eco-schools in Northern Ireland, which took place at the Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt. The Minister of the Environment, Mark H Durkan MLA, was among one of over 2000 guests on the day with more than 160 schools attending. The sponsors included SSE Airtricity, Translink and Trócaire. The guests had the pleasure of taking part in the wide range of exhibitions and workshops. Some of the most popular workshops with the school children included “Scientific Sue”, “Cyclepods”, “Ballinderry Rivers Trust” and “Trócaire Art Sculpture”. Shannen, Megan and Moya were involved in the general administration tasks required to put this event in place, and, on the day, they became involved in the planning, setting-up and supervision of the Guinness World Record attempt. The whole day was a great success, filled with fun and engaging activities for guests of all ages. Eco-Schools will most likely remain alive for another 20 years to come.

The Work Related Learning component of the BA (Hons) Liberal Arts Degree Programme has the objective of introducing students to the theory and practice of organizational development within the regional economy. Participation in placement facilitates the student’s contact with the work environment and engenders a culture of lifelong learning that enhances employability.

During the second and third years of the programme, St Mary’s places students in a business or organization for a six-week period of work and study. At this stage in their degree, students will be in a position to link aspects of theory covered in the Work Related Learning lectures and seminars to practical experience gained in the workplace. The nature of the work, negotiated with a business or organization, will emphasise skills development and should represent a gain to the employer and the student. Skills development typically will include the following areas: oral and written communication, application of number, use of information and communication technology, work with others, improvement of learning and performance and problem solving.

Assigned tasks while on placement should further develop the student’s transferable and employability skills and might include the following opportunities:

  • Opportunities to complete tasks assigned and supervised by a member or members of the placement organization that involve the student in working as an individual or as part of a team.
  • Opportunities to carry out general administration or communication tasks, which may include attending meetings, participating as a member of a team working on project planning or engaging in event management.
  • Opportunities to assist with the management of a workplace-based project, initiative or campaign, which might include completing investigation-based tasks and presenting feedback to management. (Students are encouraged to support such tasks making use of the skills and knowledge gained from their St Mary’s Liberal Arts courses.)
  • Opportunities to shadow or to become aware of the particular responsibilities of various roles in the workplace, i.e., the role of coordinators, team leaders, project managers, department or section managers.
  • Opportunities to learn about work policy management and associated procedures and training.

 

Final-year student Alexandra McGurran is at the right end of the couch in this picture, taken during her placement with YMCA Lurgan.

 

Final-year student Alexandra McGurran is at the right end of the couch in this picture, taken during her placement with YMCA Lurgan. This youth organization works to support marginalised, disadvantaged youth who are at risk of drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, sectarian violence and antisocial behaviour. During her six-week placement, Alexandra acted as one of the youth workers supporting a variety of programmes and organising a number of events. She realised the importance of teamwork and experienced the collective contribution required of all team members to successfully complete one of the many funding applications vital to qualifying for the grants that enable the continued existence of charitable and community-based organizations. When she graduates, Alexandra wishes to take forward her interest in a career in the area of youth justice.

 

Ciara Quinn (Belfast Media Group), Nikki McKeown (LA 2 History student) and Professor Peter Finn (College Principal)

 

The Belfast Media Group and Aisling Awards Event Team are long-time supporters of the Liberal Arts Degree at St Mary’s. This year, they facilitated a placement for Nikki McKeown, who is a Liberal Arts with History second-year student.

The photo above shows Ciara Quinn (Belfast Media Group), Nikki McKeown (LA 2 History student) and Professor Peter Finn (College Principal).