In the next of our “Meet our staff” series we meet Claire Alford, as she tells us about her role as a Careers Advisor.
What is your job at the careers centre and what does it involve?
I am a Careers Adviser; most of my time is spent working in the Careers Centre offering information and advice to students. This includes the drop in service where students can come in to the centre without an appointment. Whilst on drop in I provide information and advice to students or I can refer them for a mock interview or longer guidance appointment with a Careers Consultant. I also conduct mock interviews myself and this includes tailoring each question to meet the job specification and providing constructive feedback throughout. Another part of my role is answering queries on eGuidance along with planning and delivering workshops throughout the academic year.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I find it really rewarding when a student goes away from a drop in meeting happy with the service I provided. There is a sense of achievement and the hope that the student will use the tools or advice I have given to help them make the right choices about their career. Another aspect of my job I love is after a mock interview, some students will send me feedback whether they were successful or not, and be positive and constructive about their experience. Although I have to say, it is an added bonus when I see the words ‘I got the job ’.
Additionally, things that make my job worthwhile are knowing I have a great pension, an NUS card with great discounts along with the chance to attend The Edge sports centre which has a variety of classes. Zumba is the one I enjoy the most as I don’t have to take myself too seriously whilst dancing around all over the place!
What skills are important for your job?
Exceptional communication skills are key as it is a student facing role and I am representing not only the Careers Centre, but also University of Leeds as a whole. I communicate in a variety of ways including written communication via eGuidance, emails or when planning a workshop, and verbal skills when I am face to face with students on drop in or when I am delivering a workshop. I also communicate regularly with other colleagues in and around the Careers Centre.
Other skills important for the role are organisation and time management as I have to split my time between various duties along with the preparation for each of these duties. I manage my time by keeping a list of things to do in order of priority using deadlines and also utilising my Outlook calendar and keeping regular check-ups with my team and manager to ensure things are completed on time.
What training or previous experience do you have that has helped you in your current roles?
I gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Careers Guidance in 2011 at Huddersfield University and went on to work for a training provider delivering the work programme as a Work Coach. In this role I had a case-load of 100 customers who were a mixture of long term unemployed adults and young people. I had to help them get back into work by offering them training, college courses and employability support.
What top tips would you have for students and graduates?
Use the Careers Centre to help guide you what to do next, don’t be intimidated by new things and how to go about doing them. I completed a degree in Management initially and went on to work in Administration. I gained many new skills from the role and started networking and researching as I realised I had a skill in my personal life of advising people how to get jobs and helping people with CV and cover letters. I then used these qualities, studied again and found a job that not only matched my personality, but is also something that I am good at.