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Case studies: Accommodation officer: Teresa Byrne

Although Teresa had no experience of working as an accommodation officer, she had developed strong time management, communication and planning skills, ideal for a job in the housing sector

I have a BA English and French and currently work as an accommodation officer in the student accommodation team at the University of Northampton. Prior to this, I worked as an office administrator for a private lettings company.

I was relocating from London and looking for a job that would involve helping people. I enjoyed the challenges that my role in the private sector role presented, but it mainly involved administration and there wasn't much opportunity for me to work directly with clients. I had an interest in the housing sector (particularly dealing with legal issues) and wanted a role that would encompass this and also allow me to help people.

My current role at the student accommodation office was advertised on the university website. They were looking for someone with experience of working within the private sector as well as someone who could demonstrate that they were capable of providing pastoral care and support.

While I had not worked with students before, my time studying within higher education and living in halls enabled me to empathise with the students and gave me some awareness of the housing issues that they may face. Listening skills are also a very important part of this job role and I was able to provide evidence of these through my volunteering role at the Samaritans.

While my degree subject wasn't within housing, there are a range of skills that I have developed through studying that I regularly use within this job role. For example, it is essential that I effectively plan my time as there are a range of deadlines to meet. Planning and prioritising assignments has provided me with experience of this.

The role also requires liaising and communicating with a range of clients, so it is essential that you are an effective communicator. I gained experience of this from my degree by meeting new people and working within groups to deliver presentations.

My role is varied but we tend to work to an annual cycle. A large part of my job is to produce the annual student housing lists. This requires liaising with landlords, inspecting properties and ensuring that they meet the required national recognised standards.

There is quite a bit of administration work, which involves inputting data and producing letters, and this is perhaps one aspect of the job that I least enjoy.

On a daily basis I am dealing with clients and their enquiries and these can range from issues within halls of residence to problems with their landlords. I promote our services on university open days as well and this gives me the opportunity to continue to engage with the students. 

A large part of my job role is providing advice to both students and landlords and in the future I see myself remaining within the advice sector where I can continue to work on a 1-2-1 basis and be hands on. Most importantly, I would like to work within a job where I have my own caseload and I can follow a case through to its completion. Often in this job role, you can provide the initial advice but the student does not always return to let you know the outcome. 

Updated by AGCAS editors
February 2014

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