This week, DCU hosted a special event in The Helix to mark the start of its award-winning Access to the Workplace Programme for 2023. 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. This kickstart event invited participating companies to hear from expert speakers Professor Niall Moyna, Susan Madigan, Will Burke and Mariana Kobayashi, who delivered presentations designed to promote a positive work environment for DCU students participating in the programme.
Prof Niall Moyna is a Full Professor of Clinical Exercise Physiology in DCU. Prof Moyna emphasised the important effects of movement on long-term mental and physical health, and addressed how this can be facilitated in the workplace.
This year, the Access to the Workplace programme expanded to allocate 10% of the placements to neurodivergent students. Susan Madigan, Senior Occupational Therapist with DCU’s Disability and Learning Support Service, spoke about the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace and how best to support neurodivergent staff.
Will Burke and Mariana Kobayashi represented LinkedIn at the event, presenting on the importance of networking and how to optimise LinkedIn as a platform. This event followed on from a student orientation the previous day in the Dublin headquarters of LinkedIn, where the student participants were advised on workplace etiquette and shared their hopes and fears for their upcoming internships.
The DCU Access to the Workplace programme has provided 245 high-quality summer internships for DCU Access students at leading Irish companies since 2019. In 2022, the programme won first place in the Times Higher Education Awards for Widening Participation Initiative of the Year.
Speaking to the participants, DCU Educational Trust Director of Development Jason Sherlock said:
“(The award) would not have been possible without the tireless work of our Access team, and the generosity of all of you who open your doors to our Access students. Your support has already made a real impact on over two hundred students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, preparing them for the workplace of tomorrow.”
Concluding the event, Access to the Workplace Programme Coordinator Inís Fitzpatrick said:
“This is a chance for students to gain essential workplace experience, to build a network, and to apply their academic learning and skills in the real world. Each one of our talented students is ready to make the most of this unique opportunity.”
Student placements range from four to twelve weeks and take place between May and August 2023. DCU Access to the Workplace is supported by LinkedIn Ireland, which has enabled the programme’s growth and development from 2023 to 2025. The full list of partner companies can be viewed here.