Case study

Careers adviser — Danielle Warr

After completing a postgraduate diploma in career guidance, Danielle helped to launch a new campus careers service at the University Of Wales Trinity St David's Birmingham campus

How did you get your job?

The University of Wales Trinity St David job was advertised through and I completed an application form on the university’s website. There was a formal interview which was a hybrid of face-to-face with the Birmingham operations manager and Skype interaction with the executive career adviser.  

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My business studies degree has been helpful in understanding the economy and labour market statistics. It also helps that two thirds of the undergrad courses we currently offer at the centre are business related so I have affinity with the subjects and can aid the students in action planning and goal setting. My PGDip taught me how to incorporate career education into a wider curriculum, as well as strategies and structures for effective interactions, and methods for encouraging participation.

What are your main work activities?

At the moment, I am working remotely so all my appointments are on the phone or online. I do regular embedded drop-in sessions to virtual classrooms, discussing topics like CVs and interviews, transferrable skills, and work experience. My last job of the day is to write up interaction reports so ongoing support is more effective and ensure I've completed any actions promised like forwarding any resources.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

The Birmingham Learning Centre is relatively new, and never had an active careers presence on site before. I was able to essentially define my own role. This was a challenge but also a massive opportunity to work with the wider Student Services team on campus and the academic staff to build a service that worked effectively for the particular needs of the students. Becoming a career adviser has been my goal for a few years now, so I won't be leaving any time soon. I would like to develop this role further as the centres grow and student numbers increase.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I am the only career adviser at Birmingham but have tight links with the wider Career Service, I have a good level of autonomy when it comes to my role but also the support of a team. I enjoy working with the students who have diverse backgrounds. I learn new things all the time about countries, religions, and cultures, and how these contribute to their career goals and ambitions. I get a great sense of satisfaction knowing my advice has been taken on board and has made an impact to a student's aspirations or a new perspective on their existing skills and strengths.

What are the most challenging parts?

Some of our students aren't used to asking for help so engagement is a struggle, and many don't have the traditional academic background of GCSEs and A-levels so they face challenges returning to education and balancing paid work, family life and academic study. As a result a lot of my role involves boosting confidence and self-awareness, broadening awareness of the job market, and raising aspirations. I am not from Birmingham, so had a steep learning curve discovering the regional labour market information for the West Midlands.

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

If your degree was quite generic, like health and social care or business studies, try to find something more specialised. You want to build on the knowledge and skills you gained from undergraduate degrees rather than repeating it.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Experience of interacting with people is key; try to find a role where you can provide advice and guidance, a mentor programme or something like Citizens Advice.

Talk to existing careers advisers in different settings, the role of a career adviser can be very different from a role working with pupils in a school or adults outside of education.

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