With UTS’s ambitious goal of every undergraduate student completing an internship or internship-like experience, getting the message out and engaging students can be challenging. Having recently returned from presenting at a video experience conference in New Orleans, UTS Careers’ Simon Jaeger talks about his creative use of ‘lean forward’ tactics to get important messages to students and compelling them to act. 

UTS is renowned for producing work-ready graduates. Graduates who hit the workforce running, with not only theoretical insights, but a background of practical-based, work integrated learning. 

And to do so, we place a huge emphasis on the importance of students undertaking internships. 

With the ambitious goal of every UTS undergraduate student undertaking an internship or internship like experience, the Careers team began the task of consulting with our key partners: employers, UTS staff and UTS students. 

The challenge

With our Internships microsite up and running, we noticed our page visits and engagement were good, but nothing near the 34,000 undergraduate students we needed to reach.  

Whether you’re academic or professional staff, we all know it can be challenging to engage students, so we had to think outside of the box. 

It was also really important to help students understand the things they need to think about when considering an internship: 

  • Is an internship a compulsory requirement of my course?  
  • Will it be paid? What are the implications if it’s not paid?  
  • Will I have a mentor while doing my internship?  
  • What type of organisation would be best? 
  • What kind of activities will they actually have me doing at the internship and are the activities ethical and will they be suited to my level of experience?  

Our challenge was to design a ‘lean forward’ style experience to make this topic appealing and engaging for an undergraduate student audience. 

After some serious brainstorming, we came up with the idea of creating a gamified and interactive video campaign. Finding an internship, where students ‘choose their own adventure’ through a number of scenarios, collecting tokens and key messages along the way, was born. 

Collecting tokens and key messages in Finding and internship

It’s a fun and humorous way of walking students through some of the decisions they need to make and how those decisions might play out in real life.  

Basically, the viewer is presented with a scenario, followed with a question relating to that scenario and finally three options to choose from. 

If they choose the correct answer, they’re shown the result of the correct answer, presented with their token and they progress through to the next level. 

If the user selects the wrong answer, they’re shown the result of the choice they made, and sent back to the question to have another go. 

So did it work?

The short answer is yes.  

We saw impressive increases in our key metrics: 

  • 259% increase in the number of users 
  • 261% increase in the number of sessions 
  • 174% increase in Internship handbook downloads  

While this format was effective for awareness raising, I can also see it being used to explore scenarios and decision making in the classroom.  

Key lessons 

  • Be ambitious. If you have a creative idea in regards to producing a lean forward experience, no matter how wild, there is technology that can support it. 
  • Commit to innovation. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. Think – how can you improve on what you’ve done before? How can you make the user experience better?    
  • And then finally, be agile enough to try new things. Of course, make sure you test. But try something and see what works for you.   

You can view UTS Careers’ interactive learning experience here. If you’re interested in getting tips to make your own interactive video, get in touch with Simon.Jaeger@uts.edu.au.  

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