Lacking professional confidence
Social Science candidates from the UiB have so little professional self-confidence that they need a pep talk before going for a job interview, according to the facultys employment panel. But they have more knowledge and expertise than they realise.
By Åse Johanne Roti Dahl
Whilst newly fledged social scientists are far too modest when they leave the confines of the university, candidates from NHH and BI enter the outside world with self-confidence to spare. The low self-esteem of social science candidates was one of several topics discussed at the first meeting of the employment panel at the Faculty of Social Sciences. The new panel provides a common meeting ground for the faculty, the students and the business sector.
Feedback from employers indicates that they appreciate the academic competency of the candidates. The candidates themselves however, are not convinced. They stammer and stutter during job interviews and lack self-confidence.
The main problem is, how we are to strengthen their professional identity and self-confidence, says Olaf H. Smedal, leader of the employment panel and Vice Dean for Education at the Faculty of Social Sciences.
Smedal mentions the UiB alumni project as one of several initiatives that can perhaps strengthen professional identity and self-confidence by showing how and where the various academic educations can be useful.
We are not far enough into the project yet, but several institutes at the faculty are currently working on initiatives for the alumni activity, says Smedal.
Sponsorship week has been mentioned as an arena for encouraging professional identity and self-confidence. Smedal also draws attention to the trainee scheme for university students. The Department of Comparative Politics has currently a trainee position that allows students to do some training at different companies and write a report about their experiences afterwards.
This type of trainee position gives students the opportunity to find out how well they function as employees and how they can use their education. This can help strengthen their professional identity. This type of trainee activity is however challenging to maintain, according to Smedal.
We must make haste slowly and try out different initiatives. We must also inform the various academic milieus about the problems involved, and invite them to make suggestions on how to deal with them, he says.
Having it both ways
The employment panel was established so that the Faculty for Social Sciences could be systematically evaluated by representatives from various companies, as universities provide candidates for enterprises outside the sector. Smedal also makes it clear that it is not the universitys job to produce servile bureaucrats.
We must remember that some of our students will take doctors degrees and eventually become professors. We cannot find our own replacements in places other than the university. We must arrange things so that both those who want to stay at the university, and those that wish to leave, receive the type of education they need, he says.
This is where the employment panel will be invaluable, according to Smedal. He wants the panel to have an open dialogue so that it is possible to ask the members for their advice on different matters, especially when planning the introduction of new subjects. The panel will also be asked for advice in connection with ongoing work concerning the educational benefits. He also points out that many of the panels members received their education at the UiB.
If they feel that something is about to happen at the university or react to what is happening here, then they ought to be able to discuss the matter, says Smedal.
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