Case study

Careers, employment and enterprise assistant — Maria Currant

Maria's communication skills and background in education are ideal for working in a university careers service. Find out more about her day-to-day activities

How did you get your job?

After graduating from the University of Hertfordshire with a degree in education studies, I received an email from an old tutor titled: 'Graduate scheme specifically for University of Hertfordshire graduates within the careers, employment and enterprise team'. Something drove me to apply.

The day of the interview I was met with friendly faces and very happy people who seemed to enjoy the department they worked in. It was a panel interview, which consisted of three individuals all of whom had different questions. That night I received a phone call offering me the job.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My degree had some relevance in securing my job, as having a background in education enabled me to understand the role that career departments play in helping students to make the right decisions about their future careers.

The course also provided me with transferable skills, which I use in my everyday work, such as effective communication, working to tight deadlines and making correct decisions after assessing the client's needs.

What are your main work activities?

A typical working day starts with room checks and answering employers' and students' emails, as well as checking our jobs vacancy board called CareerHub. This involves dealing with students' enquires and directing employers to our jobs board to advertise their vacancies, as well as dealing with the more challenging enquiries employers and students make.

Once initial checks are complete, I then start to complete my administrative tasks. These vary depending on the day and can include:

  • delivering business critical statistics, drawing conclusions and building reports;
  • supporting the management team in the administration of the department;
  • administrative tasks, for example photocopying, printing, preparing documents and data entry;
  • maintaining effective filing and archiving systems;
  • ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, health and safety, data protection, copyright and licensing, security, financial and other university procedures and codes of conduct, where appropriate.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love working within a close-knit team who thrive on giving students the best possible experience.

It's always rewarding when a student comes in and tells you that they've got a placement or job after they've had an appointment with you. Knowing how stressful and difficult it can be when thinking about future careers, it's nice to provide a high level of service so students know there's somewhere to go that is friendly, yet professional.

What are the most challenging parts?

Assessing clients' individual needs can be very difficult at times as it isn't always easy to judge from the information you're given.

Also, balancing and managing varied deadlines and priorities needs to be done very carefully in order to make sure things run as smoothly as possible.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I would ideally like to move onto a role within the careers department and become a careers officer; from there, I would like to look into gaining a qualification which would enable me to become a fully-qualified careers adviser.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into this career?

Keep an eye on university and college websites for any graduate schemes they may be running and get familiar with application forms; most university jobs use this method to accept applications and evidencing your skills will be crucial when it comes to securing an interview.

Start to combat nerves before the interview by practising presenting in a lecture or to some friends so that you get used to public speaking and presenting yourself well.

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