Hannah did French and English at university. She is currently a key worker, supporting clients with advice and guidance.
Hannah is a key worker, supporting clients with advice and guidance. Previously she worked as an information and advice worker for Next Step.
I originally did a French and English degree. When I graduated, I didn’t know what to do; but I did know that my strengths lay in working with people and communication. At first I got a job working in travel for around six months and then applied for an administrative role at the University of Surrey. I enjoyed the people contact in this job, but wasn’t as happy with the administration or the IT.
A friend told me about her role working in Next Step, which interested me. I saw a job advertised in a local newspaper for an information and advice worker, applied and got the job. I enjoyed the variety in the role, but I sometimes found it frustrating only to be able to work with clients for short amounts of time and after two years I knew I needed to move on.
I kept an eye open for internal vacancies and eventually saw an opportunity for a key worker based in North Hampshire, which I applied for and succeeded in getting. The new role allows me the opportunity to manage a caseload and give clients more in-depth support. Now I feel that I can make a real difference as I develop quite a rapport with my clients, often seeing them on a weekly basis.
My project offers a unique service. We are funded to work with participants for up to 40 weeks. The role involves listening, advising, supporting and challenging. We also get involved in mentoring, confidence building and advocacy. I do a lot of work around CVs and interviews and I also have to liaise with employers. It’s important to be able to maintain good relationships with other organisations for referral.
I like my work because no two days are the same. There’s lots of variety and I interact with a wide variety of people and get out and about visiting different venues. On the other hand, the lack of stability in terms of contracts and low levels of pay can be frustrating, and some clients are harder to help than others.
It’s not a requirement to have a degree to be able to do this job, but I have found my English to be useful, especially when I’m helping with CVs. I also think it helps that I’ve been through a process of learning and so can describe this to my clients.
To get into this work, it helps if you’ve had advisory or support-related roles. Customer service experience can also be helpful - in fact anything that proves you have good communication skills. Personality is important, especially an ability to empathise with people.
I’m currently doing an NVQ 4 Advice and Guidance and in the future I hope to progress to a lead role, perhaps supporting other key workers. Although I didn’t make a conscious decision to enter this type of work, it does tick a lot of the boxes for me.
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