Enhancing Employability through Student Engagement in Pro Bono Projects
AbstractThis paper discusses the findings of a survey carried out by the School of Law at the University of Sheffield, placing it in the context of international research on links between student participation in pro bono projects, and employability. The aim of this survey was to establish whether students’ pro bono experiences assist them in obtaining training and employment. Over the summer of 2016 a survey was sent to current students and to alumni who were (or had been) volunteering at one of the two longest-established pro bono projects run by the School of Law. The paper explains how the survey was designed, conducted and analysed, and discusses the methodological issues which arose. Although the original aims of the research were not achieved, and perhaps could never have been, the responses to the surveys yielded very useful and rich data. No direct questions were asked about skills development, but the respondents’ unanticipated and unsolicited qualitative comments can be positively mapped onto the key skills and attributes that constitute ‘employability’. The findings set out here therefore add to the small amount of existing literature about student perceptions of how their experiences as pro bono volunteers assist them through placement, training and employment application processes.
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