POWERst Spring School 2023

As an integral part of the project "POWERst - emPOWERing first generation STudents", the POWERst Spirng School 2022 aimed to empower first generation students from all partner universities of the project by providing tailored support in the form of empowerment workshops and coaching on career perspectives as well as a platform for international exchange with like-minded people.

Looking back at the POWERst Spring School 2023

After the great success of the POWERst Summer School in September 2022, the POWERst Spring School took place from 02/27 ­– 03/03/2023. Under the slogan 'Graduation... and then?’ the POWERst project once again opened its doors to students from the University of Stuttgart, Sciences Po Bordeaux and Amsterdam UMC to give them the chance to exchange their experiences with like-minded people on an international level and to contribute to establishing a Europe-wide network of and for first-generation students.

Focusing on career entry, the POWERst Spring School took up a topic that oftentimes causes uncertainty amongst first-generation students. That is because they, in comparison to students from academic backgrounds, usually receive less support through their families when it comes to career entry and often lack a corresponding network. Therefore, the goal of the POWERst Spring School was to provide the participants with an overview of possible career paths after graduation, to support them in taking the step into professional life, and to give them the opportunity to network with each other as well as with doctoral students and alumni from a variety of disciplines.

Over the course of the week, the participants received support in the form of interactive workshops and discussions on a variety of topics relevant to starting a career. In addition to workshops in which students could reflect on their own situations and potential careers, networking events in cooperation with the StartScience program of the University of Stuttgart and with volunteers from Arbeiterkind.de gave the students the opportunity to explore the option of a PhD as well as a career in the private sector. The complete Spring School program can be found here.

The positive feedback of the participants on the POWERst Spring School shows that such support measures meet an actual demand among the target group. One participant, for instance, reported back, "I take away from the Spring School that I belong and am valuable. I am at university because of my talents and not because I am lucky." Referring to the Spring School slogan 'Graduation... and then?" another participant commented, "I feel empowered, stronger and confident enough to tackle the journey ahead of me”. With regard to the networking aspect of the Spring School and Project POWERst in general, another response was, "I learned that we [as first-generation students] can grow together by helping each other, not by competing with each other."

In order to structurally address the day-to-day challenges that first-generation students encounter at university, the POWERst team is developing a toolbox for teaching staff and other university employees. This toolbox provides information on social background and its influence on the study situation as well as tips on how to make lectures and courses more inclusive with regard to the social background of the students.

This image shows Christine  Sälzer

Christine Sälzer

Prof. Dr. phil.

Head of Project

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