My journey of collaborative working with Enterprise Rent-A-Car commenced some five years ago when I first arrived at Newman University as a Senior Lecturer in Business Management. My initial responsibilities when I first arrived included acting as an academic supervisor for students who were working with employers. One student, Catherine, worked with Enterprise and what struck me immediately was the care, professionalism and tremendous level of opportunity the company offered her in the workplace; an experience that fully complemented her undergraduate business studies. I decided from that point forwards to look at ways of developing a more collaborative approach with the company.
To fully expedite this intent and realise the full potential of the collaborative venture took longer than I initially anticipated. Other priorities pushed to the front, it could also be argued that any venture such as this takes time as trust and understanding need to be established. However, slowly but surely our relationship built, this was initially through guest speaker inputs and working with the company to instigate competitive work placements for students, where curriculum vitaes were jointly screened and shortlisted candidates were invited for interview.
From these small beginnings success started to flourish, students selected for work placement moved onto paid internships with Enterprise. One student who graduated this year and went through this process, was employed by the company and fast-tracked onto their management development programme. But this was only the start.
With Regina’s, Julia’s and Louise’s enthusiasm and ‘can do’ attitude from Enterprise, this academic year significantly raised the bar in terms of what both parties realised could be delivered collaboratively. While competitive work placements and guest speaker slots continued, further initiatives were undertaken and included:
The establishment of an Enterprise Student Champion, whose task is to raise brand awareness on campus and communicate to other students what working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car could do for them
The delivery by Enterprise of an assessment centre activity to first year students studying a ‘Self-leadership’ module. Every student received individualised feedback from the Enterprise team and several were asked to apply for Summer Internships with the company. Several first-year students commented that they did not realise how competitive they had had to be.
A consultancy activity based on an existing final year undergraduate module. Students were given the opportunity after receiving training and a comprehensive information pack from Enterprise Rent-A-Car to go into the company’s rental branches across Birmingham and assess the level of customer service against an agreed quality framework. During this enquiry students were actively encouraged to email Enterprise with questions. Findings and subsequent recommendations were presented by students to Enterprise Senior managers in a board room setting for company feedback, and then subsequently written up in report format for academic summative assessment. This final activity proved invaluable in terms of raising students’ aspirations in terms of what they are capable of contributing to the workplace. One student said the experience had been life-changing for them.
I have no doubts that this Institution’s collaboration with Enterprise Rent-A-Car will continue to grow in the forthcoming years. It has proved an extremely enriching experience for all involved.