Case study

Careers information adviser — Lauren Cole

Lauren studied her degrees out of a love for the subject, but has found a passion for helping students in her role within a careers service

How did you get your job?

I studied a part-time MA in History at the University of Bristol, graduating in February 2019. Before that I studied a full-time BA in History at the University of Bristol, graduating in 2016. I've been at Bristol for a while!

I was a student worker at the University of Bristol Careers Service while studying for my Masters. I started off doing events work to support myself financially, but was encouraged to apply for other student roles. I enjoyed doing CV reviews, as I found the opportunity to help students very rewarding. When a staff role in careers support came up as I was finishing my Masters I jumped at the chance.

After six months the careers information adviser role came up as a secondment, and after badgering everyone in the Service for advice on my application and interview, I started in May 2019. There's been some 'right place, right time' luck to this, but behind all of these moves was a good deal of networking.

What are your main work activities?

In the morning I make the most of quiet time at my desk. I might look at developing a CareerHub workflow to help students access CV reviews when they're ready, or tick off another resource from my summer resource development spreadsheet.

The middle of the day could be meetings with other teams in the service ensuring our communications are on brand or developing the website. In the afternoon I get out the front to help students, either in one-on-one information appointments, CV reviews or running talks and workshops. Every day revolves around student need.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Helping students really energises me, and that's the entire focus of my job whether I'm alone at my desk developing processes or talking one-on-one about converting to Law, for example.

What are the challenges?

You could get involved in almost any project across the spectrum of careers, so you have to set your boundaries clearly or you'll spread yourself too thinly and not deliver anything. You also have to manage competing priorities - everyone naturally thinks their resource is the most important! Having a robust resource process can help with this.

How relevant are your degrees?

Although History isn't relevant to my job, the skills I developed while studying map over really clearly. My degrees were all about researching information, assessing it for validity, and presenting it in a certain format - this is exactly what I now do with information resources.

Managing my time effectively and juggling competing deadlines also prepared me well for managing projects and people in my role.

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

As I'm new to my role, there hasn't yet been much development. However, these kinds of roles are flexible, so I've chosen to focus on web-based resources as I'm a process-based person and I'm really interested in user experience.

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

Think about your motivations. What would you like to get out of studying a Masters? Maybe you've got a specific career goal in mind, so consider which programmes and institutions have good employer connections and are highly regarded by employers.

Maybe, like me, you're doing a Masters because you love the subject. Institutions that value employability will help you develop this whilst doing what you love, so look out for those.

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

  • First off, get some careers experience. With a role like this you need a top-level awareness of, well, pretty much everything in careers, so the more you immerse yourself in it the easier you will know how to present information.
  • In terms of skills, develop your researching and writing. You'll need to identify quality information and present this in an engaging and accessible way.
  • As with all roles, networking is key. This is the kind of job that cuts across many different parts of a careers service, so knowing the opportunities and challenges in different teams is really important - get chatting!

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