For the longest of time, I have floated the idea of an "individual course" to map where all our graduated media technology students work and what they do. I started plugging the idea more than half a year ago and I know for sure that I have reached all our (current) students (around 250 or so). Despite this, no-one has expressed any interest in doing this - until now. In short time no less than three students have gotten in touch with me and expressed interest in doing this task.
My original idea came from seeing the wonderful information about work/employer as well as information about personal networks that is accessible in LinkedIn. I never initiate, but almost always accept LinkedIn invitations from students of mine. I thus have an extensive network of contacts and I can also see their contacts and LinkedIn networks. I'm sure it is possible to find most of our alumni through these (LinkedIn) networks and then sift through the information about current (and perhaps previous) employers and what they work with. Are they consultants, entrepreneurs or web programmers? Do they work with video conferencing systems, in the game industry or with audio books?
I have this far refrained from elaborating on the exact character of the mapping task that a student should do, as I think it is more appropriate to do this elaboration together with the student in question who take it upon him- or herself to do this task. The thought was to craft this task according to my and the student's own interests (and where my interests represent the interests of the whole department). We know way to little about what our students do, but would sure all like to know more about it. An individual course comes in different flavors so it would be possible to do this task for credits representing 4, 5 or 6 weeks of full-time studies (160 - 240 hours of "course work").
As it turned out, two persons got in touch last week and we had a meeting together just in the beginning of this week. It now seems the plan is for them to expand the size and the scope of the task and shape this into a bachelor's thesis project that they will do together. It is as of this moment unclear if they can do their thesis (with me as their advisor) now/during the autumn, or if they have to wait and do it next spring together with all the other third-year students. I myself am divided about this issue. On the one hand it would be a drag to wait until next May to have the results of this study. On the other hand it is much easier and more convenient for them and for me if they do it within the structure of the bachelor's thesis "course" - and that course is only given during the spring term. Our (mine and their) preferences might anyway be moot as it is not clear that they will at all be allowed to do their bachelor's thesis outside of the course (more work for everyone involved, less structural support for them).
Anyway, it is all very exciting that some students have finally risen to the challenge. From their perspective, they are equally or more interested than the faculty in finding out what our alumni are doing nowadays. Just as we (teachers) would like to know more about this, so would the students themselves (both these individuals and the larger student body) like to know where they will work in the future! So beyond a personal interest, we all feel that this project would in part be a "civic duty" that many others would be interested in and benefit from.
As it so happens, right after my meeting with the students, yet another student has gotten in touch with me to ask about doing this as an individual course. I might involve her too, she might be able to do some work that would be of use to the other two students (especially if they will not commence their bachelor's theses until next spring). I will involve her in our soon-to-be four-way talks and we'll see how it turns out...