Case study

Assistant careers adviser — Lydia Wilson

Learning about societal inequalities in her sociology degree has enabled Lydia to make sure events and jobs offered through her careers services are inclusive and accessible

What degree did you study?

I studied for a BSocSc Sociology at The University of Manchester and graduated in 2019.

How did you get your job?

I developed an interest in working in higher education after completing a summer internship in my second year at university. This internship then led to me working part time in the careers service during my final year of study and securing a 12 month graduate placement as an employability intern at The University of Manchester.

I found my current role at Manchester Metropolitan University on a vacancy website while looking for a job for after my placement. I highlighted my previous work experience in the careers service and desire to work closely with students through providing specialised support and guidance.

I secured my job by proactively getting involved with opportunities that my university offered, i.e. internship and graduate placement schemes. Remember, many universities want to hire their graduates so try to engage with the opportunities your university offers.

How relevant is your degree?

Firstly, part of my role is to ensure that the transition from university to work is as fair as possible for all students. This involves being sensitive to student's socio-demographic background and understanding how different factors (i.e. gender, age, disability, race) can shape a student's university experience. We learned a lot about societal inequalities in my degree and I can apply that in my day-to-day role by ensuring events are accessible, specialised support is available and job opportunities are inclusive.

Additionally, I am currently working with student interns on a project that investigates students from ethnic minorities transition into graduate level work. This involves applying research skills that I developed as part of my sociology degree as I have been training interns to produce questionnaires, analyse findings and create reports. 

What's a typical working day like?

I begin my day by checking my personal emails and calendar for any planned meetings or employer sessions. I also check our shared careers mailbox and Ask A Question to assign myself any relevant queries. The Ask A Question tool allows students to submit their CV for feedback and I often spend the morning reviewing these and providing detailed feedback.

My afternoon then consists of working on different tasks to support the faculty careers team such as writing newsletters, hosting employer events and producing marketing material.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the breadth of my job, as I am answering different student queries, hosting different employer events, writing different newsletters and so on. This means that I always feel like I'm developing new skills and interests.

What are the challenges?

It can be a challenge to manage my time when there are so many aspects to my role. It's important that I keep a to-do list and plan my day so that I don't miss any tasks.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I hope to be working in higher education and to have studied/be studying for a postgraduate qualification, which will help me to progress further in this industry. I would also like to continue doing work that promotes equal opportunities for underrepresented groups.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Try to get involved in a few extra-curricular activities. Sociology is a broad degree with a thousand career options so joining societies, volunteering and attending events are great ways to understand what interests you.
  • If possible, take some free choice modules outside of your degree, I took some politics modules and it helped to keep my academic studies interesting and it's great to talk about in your applications and interviews.
  • Take some time out from studying to enjoy the university experience. You will miss it when it's over.

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