Case study

Careers adviser — Iga Seczkowska

Being able to evidence relevant experience in her interview helped Iga get the careers adviser role she wanted

How did you get your job as a careers adviser?

I found the job advert for a careers adviser at The University of Buckingham, on, and applied using the site. I was able to draw on experience I had gained working in a higher education (HE) careers department in a non-careers guidance role.

I also evidenced the time I had previously spent supporting health challenged and unemployed people into employment. Having relevant experience of this type really helps you compete for a role like this.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

The postgraduate course I completed in career guidance at Coventry University has proved to be very useful, even though it was not HE specific. I chose to top-up that study a year later, to gain a full MA degree.

It provided me with the essential career guidance and coaching skills that I now use when offering support to students and graduates. The course also helped me to understand the basic principles of constructing a teaching session.

My graduate psychology degree is relevant too, and there has been some overlap in both degrees, especially in topics of counselling approaches.

What are your main work activities as a careers adviser?

As the only careers adviser in a small careers department I wear many hats. A typical day may involve one-to-one meetings with students or graduates where I provide them with career information, advice and guidance.

The queries really do vary and may include CV feedback or career coaching. I may be delivering an employability lecture as part of the curriculum or attending meetings with faculty staff or employers when organising career events. I am also regularly involved in student communication via social media and looking after the CRM system.

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

This is my first careers adviser role and in the past two years it has evolved to suit the needs of the university. Although the core aspects of my role have remained the same, I have had the opportunity to get involved in additional projects such as implementation of a new CRM system. Moreover, I am increasingly more involved in in-curriculum design and the delivery of employability content and employer liaison.

My careers ambitions are to continue working within the HE sector as I really enjoy it. I would like to further develop my teaching skills and continue to build strong employer relationships.

What do you enjoy about being a careers adviser?

I most enjoy that I am often able to make a real positive impact on someone’s life and that my role is multi-dimensional.

What are the most challenging aspects of giving careers advice?

I work at a university with four teaching terms per year and quite short breaks in between. This means that I have very limited time to spend at a drawing board planning for the upcoming term.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to become a careers adviser?

Talk to people who are doing this work in different settings (e.g. schools, HE, National Careers Service) to better understand the difference between each.

If you want to work as a careers adviser in the HE sector, ensure you have a good understanding of what the role of a careers department is at a university.

If you have no prior experience in this area, learn about some of the key labour market information relevant to the people you will be supporting, as well as the common recruitment practices used. This will be useful at an interview stage as well as in your role. 

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

It's important to do research about the course and if possible, speak to people who are currently doing it to find out their opinion of it. Also, consider your learning preferences and what you personally want to get out of the degree.

I chose the course at Coventry University because I liked that it included placement learning, which I knew would give me exposure to career advice in different settings, such as a school. I also appreciated how structured the whole course was.

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