Case study

Career development consultant — Maria

After deciding on a career change, Maria explains how studying for a postgraduate diploma led to her current role

How did you get your job?

My previous role was in engineering, however, after having a family I decided on a change of career that was more conducive to a work-life balance.

I began working as a university careers information officer and took part in a project which involved understanding student perceptions of the careers service, through organising practical exercises, focus group activities and online questionnaires.

I developed a keen interest in the delivery of careers guidance in higher education (HE) and this led to being part-sponsored by the university to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Career Education, Information and Guidance through distance learning at Warwick University. After this, I was promoted to career development consultant.

It's important to be proactive and visit careers services in both large and small universities

How relevant is the diploma to your job?

It is very relevant and it was useful to study and work in the careers department at the same time.

I occasionally shadowed a careers adviser during guidance appointments and workshops.

What are your main work activities?

I normally begin the day by checking emails from students, graduates, employers and other organisations. I try to address all email enquiries in the morning and then follow up with preparing group work presentations.

In the afternoon I am on duty for student drop-ins, offering one-to-one advice to students, graduates and staff.

How has your role developed and what are your ambitions?

My role has developed by conducting collaborative career management workshops with other student support service colleagues. I have also started to network with the wider career guidance community through the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS).

My career aspiration is to find effective ways of engaging and motivating students to achieve their career goals and also to use new technologies to engage with students.

What are your favourite parts of the job?

I enjoy the one-to-one guidance appointments with students and helping them to realise their potential. It's very satisfying to see students achieving their career aspirations as a direct result of being supported by colleagues in the careers department. I also enjoy analysing the employability statistics and labour market information.

What do you find challenging?

The most challenging part of this job is trying to find new ways of engaging with students and working with limited resources in the careers department in a small institution, particularly with regard to staff availability and promotional material.

Any advice for people who want to work in this sector?

It's important to be proactive and visit careers services in both large and small universities, as the provision will be very different.

I would suggest getting some work experience in the HE sector and work shadowing a careers adviser in workshops and during face-to-face interactions. Review what the careers department advertise on their website and social media.

Attending a careers fair organised by the careers service would also be useful.

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