On Wednesday, 8th December, Dublin City University hosted a special online event entitled “Creating Workplaces Where Talent Belongs” to mark the launch of the DCU Access to the Workplace Programme for 2022.
DCU Access to the Workplace was launched in 2019 as an additional support to enhance the career prospects and social mobility of DCU Access students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Since 2019, the award-winning programme has provided 152 high quality summer internships for DCU Access students, hosted by leading Irish companies who also make a philanthropic contribution to support Access scholarships.
To celebrate the launch of the programme for 2022, an audience of over 100 business leaders tuned in to a live stream from the Helix in DCU where Tommy Kelly, CEO of ESW and Business Person of the Year 2020, joined Samantha McCaughren, Business Editor of the Sunday Independent, to discuss the role of internships in creating workplaces that promote diversity, inclusion and belonging.
Attendees at the event also heard from DCU Law and Society student, Natasha Maimba who completed an Access to the Workplace internship in 2021 with Maples and Calder, the law firm of the Maples Group in Dublin. Steven Colgan, a Solicitor with DWF and former Access graduate also spoke about his experience of coming full circle from being an Access student in DCU to mentoring DWF’s Access to the Workplace interns today.
In an inspiring address to attendees, DCU Access student Natasha Maimba explained what the experience means for Access students:
“The Access to the Workplace programme looks like a service which simply links Access students to amazing internships. But, if you were to ask many of the Access students who took part, they would agree that so much more was offered. We were encouraged to attend regular sessions, which aimed to equip us with the skills we would need to best present ourselves to potential employers. This included training sessions on presentation skills, CV and cover letter sessions, interview skills and work etiquette. While some of this may seem like basic knowledge, often times Access students have never been in an office, a professional environment, and more than likely we don’t have parents who can help us with this either.”
Speaking at the event, Jason Sherlock, Director of Development with DCU Educational Trust spoke about the importance of the programme and plans for its expansion in 2022:
“DCU Access to the Workplace is an important additional support for DCU Access students, helping to level a playing field where data from the Higher Education Authority has shown that students from disadvantaged areas earn less than their peers from more affluent areas after graduation.
Last year, thanks to our incredible partner companies, we were delighted to place 88 DCU Access students and we are aiming to increase this to 100 internships in 2022. We will also be introducing a small pilot to expand the programme’s benefits to other student groups, starting by allocating 10% of places to neurodiverse students next year.”