Case study

Student career coach — Ashley Liddle

After graduating with a degree in business and applied financial management, Ashley has used her skills and experience to support students as a career coach, while studying for her PhD

How did you get your job?

I have learned a lot about my own personal and professional development through volunteering and networking. In addition to this, the transferable skills I developed throughout my degree have supported me in securing my role as a student career and skills coach, working for the University of Sunderland within the Centre for Graduate Prospects. I am also studying towards my PhD (The Professional Identity of Scholar Practitioners). 

Volunteering is a big part of my life and I volunteer as a teacher for Novus Education and for Universify Education, while I work towards QTLS qualified teacher learning and skills status. 

The work I do as a student career and skills coach assists my PhD research, as it provides me with qualitative data on the transitions that students make in their career journey and the process of transitioning their mindset from academic to commercial settings.

How relevant is your degree?

My degree provided me with a wide understanding of business management, with an employer focus in every module. The skills I developed on the degree such as time management, teamwork in projects and independent research have all supported my career progression.

In the third year of my degree, I completed a year-long industrial placement at Proctor and Gamble. This placement experience provided the opportunity for me to apply the theoretical knowledge I gained at university to the practical experience I undertook in the work placement.

What's a typical working day like?

Each day I start with reflection from the previous day. I update my journal impact plan, which helps me to reflect and refocus. In my student career and skills coach role I meet students in one-to-one appointments, supporting them with CV reviews and helping identify their own skills and experience. 

After work during the week I attend the PhD hub to research. I also spend time writing for my 'Blog of PhD Life,' which I write with the aim of helping other researchers. I hope to have my blog published in the future. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The autonomy that I gain from being both a PhD student and from my role at the university is something that fits with how I believe I work and learn best. Working in the education sector allows me to see firsthand the wider impact of my role.

What are the challenges?

Keeping up to date with the changes and developments within employability, for example skills shortages and how that can impact a students potential for success.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

My aim is to work within the education sector as a teacher where I feel I would be able to give back to others, and to develop new students with the skills and experience I have gained through my varied experiences. A particular area of interest and focus for me would be as an advocate of university for non-traditional students.

What advice can you give to others?

  • I would advise other students to be open to a range of career options, business management can take you in a variety of career directions.
  • Embrace each opportunity on your student journey and network with other students, academics and employers. This is a great opportunity to establish contacts and find new opportunities.
  • While studying and during projects, make the connection between what you are being taught and the world of work - how that theory can be put in to practice.

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