Higher education careers adviser
Caroline balances the demands of a busy role with the satisfaction of helping students achieve their aims…
How did you get your current job?
After I graduated in 2012, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I started working as a customer service adviser in a telecoms company. I hated this role but it made me realise that I wanted to work face-to-face with people and help them on a more personal level.
It was only when I went to see a careers adviser for myself that I recognised this was the type of role that I was looking for.
I completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Careers Guidance in 2013. The course included work placements in a multi-agency youth service and in schools, which gave me a variety of experience.
To fund the course I worked part time as an information officer in a university careers service. I really enjoyed this role and it gave me a great insight into working in a higher education (HE) environment and the key trends in the sector. From there I progressed into my current role.
Volunteering, shadowing and work placements within educational careers services can really help you to understand how they operate
Is your degree relevant to your job?
I studied history, which isn't relevant at all in my current job, but the skills I gained from the course were useful when applying. Written communication and research skills are essential in my everyday work.
I also got involved with mentoring projects and group work at university, which provided examples of how I met the job criteria.
Describe a typical working day
Every day is different but mainly it involves contact with students. A lot of advice is through 'e-guidance' by email and phone. I present careers and employability group sessions, which require a lot of planning in order to make them interesting and interactive for students.
I also work with tutors and employers to arrange guest speaker and skills sessions, alongside raising students' awareness of work experience opportunities, placements and internships.
On top of this there is the usual admin, emails, meetings with colleagues and training events.
How would you like to develop your career?
My ambition is to make this role really prominent in the students' HE experience. I want students to know they are supported at every step when it comes to getting experience and planning their career, and to equip them with the skills they need to manage their future career decisions.
Collaborating with guidance colleagues, employers, and curriculum members of staff is really crucial to this, which I plan to focus on to develop relationships further.
What is the best part of the job?
I love working with students and the fact that every appointment or question is different. The most rewarding part is when a student tells you they got the job or opportunity they were seeking as a result of the support they received. A thank you email from them makes everything worth it.
What challenges do you face in your job?
Trying to cover all aspects of the role such as student engagement, working with employers, delivering a consistent appointment and drop-in service, group work, working with curriculum staff and keeping up to date with news, vacancies, training and opportunities.
It is hard to get the balance right as it's a never-ending role, but that's also one of the great things about it.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to get into this career?
Be flexible in your approach and the roles you take in order to get there. My first role in a university careers service wasn't as an adviser and involved more admin duties, but without that experience I would never have got this job.
Volunteering, shadowing and work placements within educational careers services can really help you to understand how they operate, and can provide some great examples of how you meet the criteria when you come to apply for HE careers adviser opportunities.