realWorld - Student Placement Application Portal Project
This report describes the procedures involved for students from the Computer Science department at the University of Manchester both applying for work placements whilst still working towards their degree and currently away on placement. In addition, it describes the tasks that the members of staff carry out to support these students. The report highlights some of the problems faced and describes ways in which they might be addressed through the implementation of a new web-based system. This report explains how the system has been designed and implemented using appropriate tools and technologies, and how successful the implementation has been with regards to the original system requirements. Finally, there is a brief discussion on ways in which the project could have been extended, had there been more time available.
For Computer Science students at the University of Manchester, there are various opportunities to gain industrial experience whilst working towards a degree. Students enrolled on the ‘With Industrial Experience’ (WIE) courses are able to take a year out between their second and final year in order to gain experience in the ‘real’ world working in a technical role. In addition, students at any stage of their degree course can opt to spend their summer working for a company. The vision for this project is to provide support for two sets of people within the department. Firstly the students, with the hope of increasing the number of those obtaining work experience which could prove useful in later life; and secondly members of staff, to provide them with more useful data and to increase the efficiency of various processes.
Students that have spent time working for a company at some point during their degree, often return with a much clearer idea of how they see their career progressing in the future and are highly motivated during their subsequent years of study. It boosts self-confidence and provides a unique experience of business life. However, due to intense competition, the application process is often laborious and stressful. Most recruiters require applicants to send a CV, fill out lengthy application forms, undertake interviews and participate in assessment days where there could be any number of tasks such as giving a presentation or getting involved in group exercises. It can take several months from the initial application to actually securing a job. This, coupled with the added pressure of working towards a degree, can mean that students get put off and do not gain the vital work experience that could help them in the future.
Given the advantages, there is an identifiable need to support both students applying for and students already on these placements in the best way possible. This project aims to do just that by consolidating useful information and enabling broader communication between students within the department via a new web-based system.