|Introduction to Work Based Projects: A Quick Guide for Students |
Queen’s Making the Most of Masters (QMMM) offers opportunities for Postgraduate Taught Masters students (PGTs) to translate their learning from an academic to a real-world setting through a Work Based Learning Project (WBP). This project is undertaken with an external organisation such as a business, public sector or non-government organisation (NGO) instead of a more traditional dissertation. The WBP is typically proposed by the external organisation and a member of that organisation will act as a mentor. An academic supervisor is compulsory to ensure the project is realistic and meets the academic requirements of a Masters level dissertation project. WBPs will normally be based oﬀsite (the student is based at the University) but may be based onsite (the student works at the organisation) or mixture of the two.
QMMM is a great opportunity to undertake an employer-defined project and to place what you have gained from your studies into a ‘real world’ setting. It is also an important step on your career development journey.
|Frequently Asked Questions|
Why do a Work Based Learning Project (WBP) for your Masters?
Undertaking a WBP has many potential benefits:
- You will be working on a ‘real world’ project defined by the organisation’s needs. This is likely to challenge and reward you and increase your motivation.
- In addition to enhancing your specific skills (e.g. technical, intellectual), it also oﬀers an opportunity to further develop your generic skills (e.g. communication, team working).
- By working closely with an organisation you will be able to gain an insight into that organisation and the sector in which it operates.
- This is an opportunity to refine your career plans
- You could use the opportunity to network and raise your profile or to ‘try out’ a sector which is new to you.
- You will gain valuable experience of the workplace and of managing a project within it
- Completing a WBP will enhance your employability as well as provide you with material for your CV and to talk about in interviews.
Can I arrange my own project?
If you have a very clear idea of the project you would like to work on this may be possible, it depends on your programme. In the first instance speak with your Programme Coordinator, they will be aware of live projects already developed which are suitable for students participating in QMMM and might meet your aspirations. If not, they will be able to advise on specific requirements and timelines if it is possible for you to arrange your own project.
What additional resources are there to support me to undertake my WBP?
A range of resources will be developed to specifically support students who are undertaking a WBP. Preparatory Workshops and training will be available, please ask your MSc Module Co-ordinator for details. Resources will also be available online via the University virtual learning environment. For more information, please refer to the 'Support for Students' section below.
|Before you begin your project|
Prior to beginning your project, it is a good idea to have worked out and agreed:
- Your expectations and those of your host organisation and your academic supervisor
- Routes of communication between you, the host organisation and your university supervisor
- Everyone’s roles and who is responsible for what during the project
- What the final deliverables are and the deadlines
- Any specific requirements of your academic programme
Using a Project Agreement is a good way to ensure these points have been addressed and documented should you need to refer back to anything at a later date. Your academic supervisor or QMMM coordinator can provide you with a Project Agreement template.
Make meetings useful
Whether you only meet with the organization on an occasional basis or are based within the organisation, you will find yourself attending meetings. To ensure you use them to your best advantage:
- Prepare for the meeting – be prepared to take responsibility for the meeting
- Consider what you want to achieve
- Read the agenda circulated to others attending the meeting, or set an agenda yourself and circulate in good time
- At the end of the meeting, check whether there is anything else anyone would like to discuss.
- Set a date for next meeting
- Circulate action points following the meeting
|Support for Students undertaking a QMMM Work Based Learning Project|
A range of resources will be developed to support students who are undertaking a WBP. These resources will be available through multi-disciplinary and discipline specific interactive workshops and online via the University virtual learning environment. You will also receive support from your academic supervisor, your organisational contact and Queen’s Making the Most of Masters (QMMM) Co-ordinators.
QMMM Student Support Sessions
Supporting sessions will include:
- Interactive Interdisciplinary Introductory Group Session for students interested in QMMM, including an introduction to Work Based Projects, to enhance your skills and insights and enable you to make the most of your work based learning opportunity (½ day)
- Multidisciplinary Interactive Lecture to encourage you to reflect on your own assumptions and experiences, to consider how they could impact on your research and what you understand about yourself in the role of a researcher (2 hours)
- Simulation Session for Masters students who have committed to participating in QMMM (involving students from different Faculties) to help develop thinking and research skills and learn about multi- disciplinary teamwork in preparation for their Work Based Project ( ½ Day)
Other resources will cover a number of topics including:
- Project Management – Practical tools to prepare for the work based project - Developing a Project Plan, goals, measuring and completing the project etc.
- Design Thinking – 5 stages of design thinking – Introduction to the process and practical workshop and presentation back to group on solutions
- Creative (Design) Problem Solving – ½ Day Session
- Presentation Skills - Effective Communication – ½ Day Session
- Effective Team Working & Networking – Roles & Responsibilities of working with external organisations and the importance of building a network/networking
|During your project|
- Put your plans into action, learn about the sector and those who work there
- Build good networks and maintain them
- Consider how you can present the experience to potential employers
- Keep a record of what you are doing and have achieved – it will be very useful later when you present the experience to potential employers
- What skills and experience do you bring to the project?
- What are the areas you need to develop further?
Knowing What’s Available
- Take every opportunity to talk to people and learn about their career path, the industry and organisation
- Consider how can you use this time to enhance your employability?
- Given what you know about yourself and what you can gain from this opportunity where will you go next?
- What goals will you set yourself and how do you plan to achieve them?
Finishing your project
- Ensure you have completed everything you said you would and provide the QMMM Co-ordinator/organisation with a copy of your final report
- Maintain the networks you have built up – share contact details and connect with colleagues via LinkedIn as these could be useful in the future
- Reflect, review and evaluate the project – how do you feel the project went, what would you do differently next time? What went well? (you could also ask your supervisors for input to this review as well)
|Further Information and Support|
More general Careers Support activities and resources will be provided by staff in Careers, Employability and Skills, including:
- Career development planning support
- Marketing yourself, CV’s, covering letters, application forms
- Advice on attending interviews and practice interview sessions
- CV checking services