Student teams: What they are and why you want one

BY Joanne Mitchell |

What is a student team?

A student team is a group of students allocated to an in-company project. A team usually consists of 2-5 students, however can be larger based on the scope of the project. The team can be made up of students from the same discipline and focused on a specific area of the business or, if the project requires a more varied skill set, the student team can be multi disciplinary. 

What's the difference between a student team and just taking on a few interns?

A student team differs from a normal internship placement in that the students are with the company for two weeks rather than standard placements which typically last around twelve weeks. The students also work on dedicated projects, rather than tasks. 

The idea of the program is to allow students to work on their research and analytical skills whilst using a real life scenario from a company. In turn, this offers a real life tangible benefit. Students are asked to deliver a final presentation to their host company with their findings including recommendations. The arrangement can also be more flexible, with students sometimes working remotely. 

What does a student project usually look like?

It's important to keep in mind that a student team cannot come into your business with an in depth understanding of your industry or company. However, they are coming to you with the most up to date academic knowledge from their studies and a fresh perspective. 

Exploratory research projects are great for student teams. They can draw on their own learnings and theoretical framework taught at their universities. Where possible, try to avoid mission critical tasks. Let your student team be an extra source of information, but don't rely on them to solve your business problems on their own. 

Do I want to take on a student team?

Time is scarce and mentors aren't sure that a student project team can add value. Student teams offer not only a fresh set of eyes but also allow your employees to lighten their load by letting a student team contribute to the business. 

How does my company benefit?

Development opportunity for your employees

Managing a graduate is a great development opportunity for a team member who may not have much experience managing a team or delivering a strategic project. If you select your project manager well, time spent on the project is an investment in them as much as it is your student team. If they see it as a development opportunity, if they know the outcome is important to you, they will teat it seriously and help the team to deliver a good outcome. 

Tap into graduate talent

We often find that an internship is a great opportunity for an organisation to see how someone fits in their business. Sometimes a student team will bring new strengths into your company. Host companies can request to keep on certain members of their student team - or even the student team as a whole for a longer internship at the conclusion of the project. This allows the graduates to see the next phase of development or see the project to completion. For a host company, this allows the opportunity to increase the value add for the business and provides extra hands on deck that are familiar with the project and company objectives. 

Inspire advocates for your company

It won't be long until these students are in the workforce. Who knows where they will end up or who they will influence? They could be working for your clients, your competitors or even for your own company. Everyone remembers their first. If they take their first career step with your company, this could very well set the tone and their perception of your business for the rest of their careers. Maybe one day they will return the favour. 

Check out our blog Helpful pointers to achieving great outcomes from Interns to make the most of your student team. 

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