Case study

Careers coach — Comfort Asaolu

The transferable skills Comfort developed during her degree help her to communicate effectively with students in her coaching work

How did you get your careers guidance job?

I applied via the university's vacancy portal following interaction with the business school students in my previous job. Since graduating, I have provided careers advice and support to students at various institutions and have undertaken some training courses to improve my careers guidance and coaching knowledge.

What's a typical day like in your role?

A typical day involves attending team meetings in the morning and responding to urgent emails and other student enquiries. I then deliver one-on-one career coaching consultations and career workshops. These range from topics such as mock assessment centres, and how to create an effective LinkedIn profile, to sessions on how to prepare for video interviews and psychometric tests. I also work on other bespoke projects designed to enhance the overall student experience.

What do you enjoy most about being a careers coach?

I love how dynamic the role is and how there are lots of exciting activities and projects to get involved in. I also enjoy using my active listening skills in my coaching appointment to fully understand the student's needs and as a result, provide the appropriate advice and guidance. It's especially fulfilling when students come back with positive outcomes in their job applications.

What are the challenges in your coaching role?

The main challenges of the role are around the visibility of the career service and student engagement, which were exacerbated by the pandemic. Also, conversations around resilience and dealing with disappointment following a difficult application process can be challenging to have.

In what way is your degree relevant?

Although my biological sciences degree is not very relevant to my job, I find that the skills I gained at university are transferrable. For example, my analytical and research skills help me to keep up to date with the graduate labour market and to analyse key trends affecting student employability. Similarly, my problem solving and communication skills help me navigate difficult conversations with students and adapt my communication style accordingly.

What are your career ambitions?

In five years' time, I hope to have completed a Masters in career development and management and to be working as a consultant. I would ideally like to be a specialist in the role that I am working in.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this role?

Work experience is extremely important for jobs in higher education and will improve your ability to provide career support to students in education. Gaining further training or qualification is the best way to show that you are actively interested in being a careers coach or adviser.

Immerse yourself in the experience university offers and get to know yourself and your strengths. University offers a range of activities to get involved in and provides the ideal opportunity to try different things and work out what you like and don't like.

Develop your interpersonal skills through various types of work experience and create a skills audit in order to better understand your skills and the value you can bring to an organisation. The more you can evidence your skills by using a range of examples, the more employable you will be.

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