Case study

Employability coach — Heledd Ager

Drawing on her own experience, Heledd explains to students how their study path does not always need to be directly related to their career choice

How did you get your job as an employability coach?

I was originally a leatherworker for a handbag company, but realising I wanted to spend more of my working time with people, got a job as a placements administrator at Bath Spa University.

As I learned about career guidance, I began to take on more responsibilities to build up my experience. This involved carrying out placement visits, managing placement schemes, delivering workshops and running placement drop-in sessions.

Luckily, my current role was then advertised, and I was successful at interview. Part of the condition of being offered the job was that I needed to undertake a professional qualification in career advice and guidance, which I was thrilled about.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Having any degree is helpful for working in a university, even an unrelated one. My undergraduate degree was in textiles, completed at Bath Spa University. However, although it wasn't directly relevant, it has given me a solid understanding of the career challenges facing graduates of creative subjects. It also helps me prove my point when I tell students their degree does not always need to be directly related to their choice of career.

The postgraduate study I completed with the CDI after that was relevant, as I took a diploma in the form of a QCF Level 6 in Career Guidance and Development. I completed this in March 2022, and it is directly useful in my careers advice role.

What are your main coaching activities?

I work with students on a one-to-one basis, deliver group workshops on career related topics and offer advice and guidance online doing CV, cover letter and job/placement application reviews.

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

Having only recently qualified my role is largely the same as when I applied. However, I have a few ideas for projects and initiatives that I am hoping to work on over the next couple of years.

Long term, I would like to continue to develop my knowledge and understanding of the HE sector. I also intend to gain as much experience as possible of different client groups. For example, school children, new mums returning to work and individuals changing career direction later in life.

What do you enjoy about being an employability coach?

I like that the students ask for advice and guidance on such a wide range of career topics, from interview help to career direction. I enjoy the variety that this brings to my job, and it keeps me engaged in my work.

What are the most challenging aspects of giving careers advice?

I naturally want to provide the answers and make things easier for my students, but guidance is all about facilitating the students to develop the career research and development skills they need in the long term. I sometimes find it challenging to allow space for this to happen.

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

Take any opportunity you can to gain experience. Shadow as many career guidance professionals as possible, everyone has their own style and approach when it comes to career guidance.

Also, embrace the fact that this is a career in which your learning and growth will never end.

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