Introducing the IET Solent Network Young Professionals team

IET Solent Network Young Professionals team leader Joe Dunn talks about the team and what it offers students at Southampton, Portsmouth and beyond…

solent-yp-team For a number of years the IET Solent Network has been proactively working with Young Professionals (YPs) and the three local universities in the area: the University of Portsmouth, the University of Southampton and Southampton Solent University.

Who are the YPs?

YPs are students in further education and professionals in the early stages of their career, up to ten years after graduation, and represent the future of the IET and the engineering industry. The Solent Network YP team was established to ensure that the YPs in the area receive careers advice, site visits, workshops, competitions and lectures of interest and relevance from the IET.

All three universities are participating in the IET Academic Partners scheme, so each annual intake of students on qualifying courses is offered IET student membership funded by their university. To help retain membership after graduation, the new central IET Advantage programme has been set up.

On campus teams

Three IET on campus teams have been created as a result of collaborations between the Local Network (LN) and the Academic Partner points of contact at each university. These teams vary in size and all team members are current students.

Throughout each year the Solent Network YP team works with the IET on campus teams, organising and promoting events of interest to the students at each of the universities. The teams act as the voice of the students to the Solent Network and vice versa. They are also invaluable for advertising events, booking rooms, organising refreshments and representing the IET at promotional events such as the university fairs during fresher’s week.

Working with three universities poses a number of challenges. The three student populations are very different in their interests, skill sets, demographics and desired topics with different ratios of full-time to part-time students. Each university has its own timetables so the dates and times for each event need to be carefully planned with each IET on campus team to avoid sports afternoons, university holidays, examination periods and coursework deadlines.

These challenges can only be overcome through close communication with the teams.

Young professionals events

By working with the universities it has been possible to define three types of YP event in the LN:

  • Public events are open to all YPs and are organised and funded by the Solent LN often but not always held at a university venue;
  • Student-specific events take place on-campus with a room provided by the university and refreshments, when required, from the most convenient means at relatively low cost, for example supermarket drinks and takeaway pizzas;
  • Closed IET on campus events are arranged internally by the university teams themselves with assistance from the IET YP team if required.

All event types are free to attend and IET membership is not required. With this structure it is possible to plan and tailor more events in a programme than would be possible if every event were run as a public LN funded event.

Previous and current events

Events organised by the IET Solent Network YP team each year include:

  • The IET Great Egg Race engineering challenge, with cash prizes, repeated at each university with a different engineering challenge each year;
  • An LN heat of the annual IET Present Around The World presentation skills competition with cash prizes;
  • An interactive workshop repeated at each university with a different topic each year;
  • Two IET Lifeskills courses with a different course chosen for each and an IET HQ-supplied tutor;
  • A site visit to local industry with a different site each year;
  • The annual IET.tv YP broadcast organised by IET HQ and relayed by the Local Network;
  • A YP targeted lecture;
  • A joint lecture with another professional body, usually the Portsmouth and District Physical Society;
  • A joint lecture with the main Local Network

Previous interactive workshops have included a wireless network vulnerability workshop and a mock graduate assessment centre. A Raspberry Pi programming workshop is planned for this year.

Information on events can be found on the IET Solent network's community page.

Looking forward

Looking to the future, the IET Solent Network YP team intends to:

  • Make better use of social media both within the universities and for reaching professional YPs;
  • Attract and appeal to students outside the expected science and engineering university disciplines;
  • Establish new links with local companies with graduate intakes;
  • Establish new links with other local professional network bodies;
  • Continue to revitalise the YP team itself

If you are interested in helping to shape this future, or for more information, please visit the IET Solent network community page or contact Joe via email