TikTokHow employers can work with universities to get the most out of digital skills

How employers can work with universities to get the most out of digital skills

Students may be digital natives, but they must learn how to apply these skills in the workplace, as well as adapt to change

Despite encouraging signs from the Institute of Student Employers, which indicate that graduate appointments are back on the rise, students face a challenging labour market. Employers have adapted their recruiting strategies for the digital age, but the pandemic has added greater complexity, according to Clare Tomkins, university recruiting lead at TikTok.

Discussing the digital evolution of student careers at Times Higher Education’s Europe Universities Summit, Tomkins explained that there was often an assumption that – as digital natives – members of Generation Z will understand how to apply technological skills to the workplace.

“University prepares students for the wider world, but that’s driven by a balance of academic study and real work experience. More weight should be given to sharing professional experiences and skills such as creativity, problem-solving and networking,” Tomkins said.

Internships can help bring those skills to life, Tomkins added. Gael Pineiro Banas, who began working for TikTok as an intern and is now a community manager, said her university education had prepared her to solve problems autonomously. “You question things, and it’s your responsibility to work on the project on your own rather than someone telling you what to do,” Pineiro Banas said.

Patrick Browne, intern for talent acquisition, trust and safety at TikTok, said collaboration was an important skill he developed while studying at Technological University Dublin and in work experience placements at consulting companies. “Working with project teams and being able to collaborate, especially in the tech industry, have been the main skills I’ve learned,” he added.

Digital skills continue to be in high demand, and Tomkins believes these fall into three areas: pure tech talent, particularly candidates from under-represented groups; people with a tech mindset, who may be studying something unrelated but can see how technology relates to their role; and the wider student population, where technology is simply part of their everyday lives.

TikTok seeks a diversity of candidates from these groups, and the company is keen to “work better” with universities to understand how to build a mindset that will improve innovation and help new recruits deal with change throughout their career.

Universities have an important role to play in encouraging students to pinpoint the field they wish to work in and supporting them to research companies and opportunities within that field. “Career days are important, but universities could do more to encourage students to research what they want to do,” Pineiro Banas said.

In-person networking opportunities have been scarce during the pandemic, but TikTok has used LinkedIn and other platforms to share stories about potential careers. “We hope this will continue even when we’re back on campus,” Tomkins concluded. “We’re trying to give everyone some exposure to what [working] life is like.”

Watch the session on-demand above or on the THE Connect YouTube channel.

Find out more about TikTok.

Brought to you by