Preparing students to be inclusive and confident going into the workplace

Posted in: community, EDI, employability, harassment, staff development, support, transition

I am delighted to share this guest blog from Vicky Hill, Head of Placements & Partnerships in the Faculty of Engineering & Design, reflecting on the University’s new #NeverOK: Placements, Internships and Exchanges Module. I ask colleagues and students to engage with this new resource and share with others, particularly those due to go out on a placement, internship, research trip or study year abroad in the coming months.  

NeverOK symbol and picture of a student on placementThe University of Bath’s new #NeverOK: Placements, Internships and Exchanges Module has been launched to support students with their rights and understanding of their responsibilities so they can contribute to diversity and inclusivity in any workplace or partner University. The e-module is part of the University’s #NeverOK initiative, tackling all forms of harassment. 

We are proud of our students’ engagement with a wide variety of activities away from the University. This can be summer internships, placements, study exchange, casual work or volunteering. Training our students on equality and diversity in the context of the workplace ensures they will thrive in this environment and support partner organisations to improve inclusion and wellbeing for all. Sadly, some of our students will experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace or whilst studying abroad and we want to empower them to act confidently and know where they can access support should they need it.

The #NeverOK: Placements, Internships and Exchanges module can be accessed by all students and staff via Moodle. 

The key topics covered in the module are:  

  • understand what discrimination and harassment might look like in the workplace  
  • prepare for living, working or studying abroad  
  • take steps to support yourself and find support from others 
  • know where you might find help with legal and HR issues 
  • plan how to have difficult conversations 

Professor Cassie Wilson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience), said:

This new initiative is a brilliant example of collaborative working across the university to improve the experience for our students. This new module for students going out into the workplace or on exchange links closely with our strategic aim of fostering an outstanding and inclusive community, and reinforces the University’s commitment to support those who face any form of harassment or discrimination. I would like to thank my colleagues in Placements, Careers and Student Support & Safeguarding for their hard work and ask colleagues to familiarise themselves with the new resource and signpost students.

So what can students do to prepare for the equality and diversity in the workplace? 

One good step is to learn about inclusive language and how to use this positively. For example, many people like person-first language so refer to '"a woman on our engineering team" rather than "a female engineer". This people-first language keeps the individual as the most essential element. 

However, others prefer identity-first language. For example, a person where their disability is integral to their identity would say "I am an autistic person" rather than "I am a person who is autistic".  

Something else you can do is focus on micro-affirmations. Making sure that the voices of others are heard, especially when working in groups. This is particularly important for people who are from marginalised communities. If someone isn’t being heard, you could try, “I’m really interested to hear more about your idea [name].” 

When you are preparing to go into the workplace, consider building a community around yourself; this could be by joining the LGBTQ+ Employee network at your employer or a trade union which often offers free membership to students. If you have a disability or health issue, do consider sharing the information with your employer, so they can support you better, and letting them know if you have any reasonable adjustments to discuss with them. 

If you are going abroad remember to research carefully before making applications. Cultural attitudes can differ vastly from country to country (and indeed these attitudes will not be uniform even within one country) it’s all part of what makes the world such a naturally interesting and diverse place.  

Should you experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace, you can access support from the University.  

Support and Report Tool 

All students can use the University’s Support and Report tool to report discrimination, misconduct, harassment or assault that they have experienced or witnessed. The Support and Report Tool will help you access wellbeing advice and support from the University. We take all reports seriously. 

Bookmark the Support and Report Tool on your computer and/or mobile phone so you have it if you need it. 

Normally, placement students or interns are an employee of their placement provider and should report any discrimination or harassment to their Line Manager or Human Resources Department. It is possible, as an employee, to request a confidential conversation with an HR Advisor.  

To end on a positive note: Nearly half (49%) of companies are involved in supporting societal issues - from Black Lives Matter to women’s rights to voting rights. The number of employers implementing new diversity and inclusion drives has almost trebled since the end of the Black Lives Matter protests. There has been positive change in the past two years in employees’ confidence about tackling sexual harassment with a third (33%) feeling more confident to challenge it. 

Helen Stringer, the University’s Director of Employability & Student Success, said,

Let’s work together to empower our students as champions of equality and diversity. They need the confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour and the drive to work with employers and effect meaningful, sustained change.


Read my previous blogs here: Professor Cassie Wilson (

Contact me at to ask questions, or request future topics you'd like to hear about.

Posted in: community, EDI, employability, harassment, staff development, support, transition

Access the NeverOK: Placements, Internships and Exchanges module on Moodle


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