Syd’s story: my time as a Graduate Support Intern 

Syd’s story: my time as a Graduate Support Intern 

Hi, I’m Syd!

I’m the current Graduate Support Intern at the Careers Service. As my 12-month internship is coming to an end, I wanted to share what I’ve been up to this past year.

I graduated in 2022 and started working full-time at the Careers Service in July. I work in the Service’s dedicated Graduate Support team and help in delivering appointments, events, resources and communications for final-year and graduate students.

The position is really flexible and can be shaped to your own interests and enthusiasm. From the very start, I have been encouraged to utilise and develop whatever skills I would like to use in my future career – which could be just about anything!

For me, I really wanted to gain experience in communications and campaign management. I’ve been able to spend time with the lovely comms team here at Careers, contributing to our Instagram and newsletters, and building my copywriting capabilities and social media skills.

I was also given the opportunity to lead a redesign of the Careers Blog, a project that I have found to be really rewarding. It’s really valuable that as a recent graduate, I have been given the space to implement my ideas and been given real responsibility to make a lasting impact during my internship. I have also been heavily involved in the coordination and branding of the ‘Class of 2023’ campaign, as well as in the planning of graduate events, such as ‘InLeeds’.

The internship really is what you make of it, and allows you to have your fingers in as many pies as you choose. From writing articles and hosting webinar sessions, to leading tours around Duke Studios and Jet 2’s offices, this internship has developed my employability skills and has helped me identify my strengths and long-term goals.

I’m really grateful that my first ‘proper job’ out of uni has been in a relaxed and supportive team of people. This has given me the chance to develop confidence in a professional workplace, without feeling intimidated or really out of my depth.

My favourite part about working in Careers?

Well, our office at Cromer Terrace is lovely in and of itself, but it’s the people that work there that really make the place special. I’ve been able to soak up all the wisdom of the career advisers that work here. This has done wonders for my confidence and is something I know will stand me in good stead going into the future.

If you’re a Leeds graduate (or about to be one!) looking for an internship or reason to stay in Leeds, I’d definitely recommend applying for this role. Not only does the job buy you another year on our gorgeous campus, but it’s also a great opportunity to gain experience in a mixture of areas and a chance to find out what motivates you.

Applications closing 30 May.

Meet the Leeds Alum on the Network Rail graduate scheme

Meet the Leeds Alum on the Network Rail graduate scheme

Three ex-university of Leeds students, Lily, Matt and Annabel, have joined the Network Rail graduate scheme since completing their degree.  

Wondering if this is an option for you? Keep reading to find out more about their experiences. 

Lily – Graduate Project Manager: 

It can be so hard to make decisions when it comes to leaving university and starting your career, but it is possible! Network Rail’s graduate scheme has so much to offer, even if you haven’t studied project management or engineering. 

Network Rail’s project management scheme was a great option for me personally. Having completed a BA in Geography with Transport and then MA MRM myself, I did not know that project management was an option until it was directly recommended to me by someone already on the scheme (Matt – who has also written about his experiences here!) After we had an initial discussion about what it involved, I decided to give it a go, and am so glad that I did. Below are some questions that I had, and have been asked since, by prospective graduates. 

“Can I rotate around the business?” 

Yes. Personally, having worked in track delivery, major enhancements, minor enhancements, and electrification, I have found areas of the business in which I am really interested. It’s not just for engineers and for people who have studied project management. With the right support, this is a fantastic learning opportunity on a great salary after university. 

“Isn’t Network Rail/Project Management just for engineers?” 

Nope! You will gain an understanding of general engineering terms, but do not need to be an engineer yourself to do this job. You get the opportunity to work with a variety of disciplines, engineers included, but not exclusively.  

Annabel – Graduate Project Manager: 

Before joining the Network Rail project management graduate scheme, I studied Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Leeds. So, naturally, my biggest concern was that I would have no railway/project management experience at all and everyone else would, however, this was not the case. As soon as I got to know the other graduates and the different teams that I was placed in, it was clear that people come from lots of different backgrounds at Network Rail which was very reassuring to learn.  

My journey on the graduate scheme has been slightly different to others in my cohort. I started in capital delivery projects, focused on delivering physical projects like footbridges and lifts. However, after my first placement I expressed to our graduate manager that I didn’t enjoy the engineering-based projects as much as I’d hoped I would. We worked together to find a solution that would help me feel more confident in my work and still develop me as much as everyone else. I then moved into the change side of the business and joined the Diversity and Inclusion team which was a great experience! 

The opportunity to experience different areas of such a large business like this is extremely valuable and not easy to come across. Before joining the graduate scheme, I did not know what direction I wanted to take with my career, but it has given me these opportunities and allowed me to explore exactly what I enjoy and would like to pursue in the future. 

Matt – Scheme Project Manager: 

I recently completed the Network Rail capital delivery project management grad scheme and am now a Scheme Project Manager working on the multi-million-pound development of Gatwick Airport Station and Track Layout. 

I fell into a career in the rail industry as a placement student with Northern Rail as part of my degree at the University of Leeds. Clearly hooked, I then joined the Project Management graduate scheme at Network Rail based out of York before choosing to move to London to work on major projects in track and civils. 

As a Scheme Project Manager, no two days are the same. That said, I am always guaranteed to use the practical experience gained from my varied project roles within the graduate scheme. The scheme gave me a tonne of learning experience and the mentorship that I was looking for to help me develop as a Project Manager.  

I’m really pleased to have been given the opportunity to join this talented team of like-minded people and play a small part in the mammoth effort to improve the experiences of 1.8 billion passengers per year travelling by Britain’s rail networks. 

In such a diverse workspace it’s important to note that you get out what you put in. There are lots of opportunities for practical and academic development and being on the grad scheme gives you exposure to this, but it’s up to you to decide which aspects of the business are a good fit and interest you the most! 

My Best Bits 

  • Choice! Find an area you’re interested in and make it your passion. 
  • The Project management qualification achieved through the grad scheme is incredibly sought after within the profession and opens doors to Chartership. There is also the opportunity to gain access to funded higher education and postgraduate studies that go a long way both in and out of the industry. 
  • Supportive and clear development path including continued learning 
  • Managing the development of a piece of infrastructure into existence is incredibly satisfying! 
  • A competitive salary 

Want to register your interest? 

You can register your interest by clicking on the following link: Project Management Graduate scheme – Network Rail.

Applications open in September, and this will ensure you are emailed when they do.  

Thanks for reading and hope you will consider us when you’re applying! 

Introducing ‘Career Jigsaw Puzzle’ on LinkedIn Learning

Introducing ‘Career Jigsaw Puzzle’ on LinkedIn Learning

Hey, Class of 2023! We’ve got a question for you…

When was the last time you did a Jigsaw Puzzle?

Lockdown, or a weekend away, or maybe it was with a relative at the weekend? We get that for final year students, juggling your career plans can sometimes feel like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle, without having enough hands or time.

But we’ve got you covered! Begin filling in that Career Jigsaw one step at a time with our Class of 2023 LinkedIn Learning collections to help you jump on that Career Ladder! Every piece counts! 

There are three collections for you to explore:

Career Jigsaw Puzzle: Building a plan 

Worried that you haven’t secured a job after university? Or maybe you are unsure what kind of career you’d like to have.

Don’t you worry! Leaving university can feel extremely daunting and it’s normal to be uncertain about your next steps.

Complete this collection to ease yourself into thinking about your future and start making a career plan. 

Career Jigsaw Puzzle: Let’s Get Hunting 

Ready to begin your job hunt but not sure where to start? 

An important step in every career journey is finding and applying to the right roles for you. 

Start this collection to get top tips on how to find jobs, how to make a perfect application and secure your dream position.

Career Jigsaw Puzzle: Workplace Ready  

Got a role lined up for after you finished university?  

If you have already secured a job after University then firstly, WELL DONE, and secondly, you are going to smash this! 

We know there might be last-minute nerves about entering a new work environment so take a look through this collection to learn about workplace etiquette and most importantly enjoy your time at work.

Already graduated?

You can still access our amazing content on LinkedIn Learning because our grads continue to get FREE access to the platform. All you have to do is complete this brief registration form on MyCareer.

If you have a graduate account on LinkedIn Learning, follow these links to start completing your career jigsaw:

● Career Jigsaw: Building a plan

● Career Jigsaw: Let’s get hunting

● Career Jigsaw: Workplace ready

Craving some bite-sized career content?

Craving some bite-sized career content?

Let us introduce you to Steve Haines, co-author of the book ‘How to Go to Work’ and our new partner who has some productivity tips just for you!

Hey, Class of 2023! 

How are you doing? Here at the Career’s Service, we get that this period can be overwhelming. With exams, deadlines and dissertations there’s a lot going on right now.  

Thinking about the future and starting your first job can be pretty terrifying too – that ever looming question of ‘what’s next?’ can be a big worry for final year students.  

That’s why, as part of our 2023 campaign, we’ve partnered with Steve Haines – co-author of the book ‘How to Go to Work’ to ease your anxieties about the transition from campus and into the world of work.  

Steve works to empower young people and students when starting work and focuses on the importance of making career choices that align with your own personal values.  

 We’ll be bringing you, our Class of 2023, a series of bite-sized videos with tailored advice to ease you into thinking about the future.  

 In this first video, Steve gives some honest advice on how to be productive at work, with some tips and tricks on:

• Getting a job done well  

• Setting a good impression to your boss and team  

• Finishing the workday at a reasonable time – because enjoying your leisure time is important too!  

Keep an eye out as we’ll be releasing more videos in this series.  

 And don’t forget – the Careers Service is here for you even after you’ve graduated. So don’t worry if you are too busy to access us right now – we’ll be here for you for life!  

Make sure to sign up as a graduate on MyCareer so you can keep on accessing all of our events, appointments and resources.  

Final Years’ Checklist

Final Years’ Checklist

Hey Finalists! Congratulations – you’re in the final stretch of your degree!

As part of our Class of 2023 Campaign, we want to remind you that the Careers Service is here for you for life. So there is no rush to access our careers services before you leave campus.

But, to make sure you are able to access our full range of careers support after graduation, we’ve put together this checklist to help you create an employability action plan and ease you into thinking about your future.

1. Sign up on MyCareer:

You’ll need to register as a graduate on MyCareer to secure career support for life after your graduation. My career is the one stop shop for all things careers – you can search for jobs, view our events, access our resources, and book appointments. Register now and we’ll automatically approve your account after you graduate in July.

2. Complete our final year pathways:

Start thinking about your next steps by working through our bespoke career planning pathways. Our Careers Pathfinder quiz will give you personalised suggestions on where you can begin looking to pursue your career plan.

3. Stay Connected with Us:

Just because you’ve finished university doesn’t mean this has to be goodbye! Stay in the loop by following us on our Instagram and make sure to sign up for the notifications of our blog.

4. Browse Vacancies:

Start your hunt for the right opportunity for you. We recommend checking out:

5. Perfect your CV:

Start drafting your CV and use our online CV Checker to get instant feedback.

6. Perfect your LinkedIn profile and sign up for LinkedIn Learning:

Build your profile network, find jobs, and stay connected by creating a LinkedIn profile. As a graduate, you get FREE access to LinkedIn Learning. Completing short courses on LinkedIn Learning is a great way to build your skill set and add content to your LinkedIn profile. To get graduate access, you’ll need to fill out this brief registration form on MyCareer after you graduate.

7. Attend Employability workshops:

Take a look at our events calendar on MyCareer where we have a range of sessions, both online and in person, to help you prepare for your next opportunity.

8. Speak to an advisor:

Book a 1-1 appointment with an advisor about your next steps. We offer tailored appointments for all your needs, including:

  • application support
  • mock interviews
  • career guidance and lots more!

Alumni leadership mentoring programme: a case study

Alumni leadership mentoring programme: a case study

Serena talks about her time on the scheme and gives her insider tips for future students looking to apply.

Hi! My name is Serena, and I graduated in 2022 in BSc International Business. I was on the alumni mentoring scheme in 2022-23 in my final and fourth year of study after doing a Placement Year. 

Application process 

After completing my placement year, I returned to University feeling quite lost on my next steps. Graduating can be one of the most exciting times, but also one of the scariest. Everyone seems to have a plan and sometimes it can be hard to formulate your own. Having a mentor who was alumni of the University, seemed like a great opportunity to learn and chat with someone who had been in the same position and had gone on to achieve great things. 

My advice for the application process for the ALMP, is to thoroughly research the mentor profiles. It’s a two–way partnership and its so important to find a great match in order to get the most from the scheme. Also think in advance what you want to get out of the process. Having really clear goals is a great way to ensure you gain the most from each session! 

Benefits of being on ALMP 

My mentor was Beth who has accomplished incredible things, and is currently the Founder & CEO at boom! – The Global Network for Women in Supply Chain. We connected on our passions for Female leadership growth, as well as our combined interests. Our sessions were a really great opportunity to discuss different career paths, and unconventional routes and accept the exciting challenge of determining your next steps. Beth was hugely helpful for me in learning and mapping out more about what career I would like to create, using tools such as a blueprint. I had so many thoughts and worries whizzing around in my head and taking the time to map out and think about what I love, what I want to do and what strengths I have, was so helpful in calming my anxious thoughts about graduating and creating a clear path for my next steps. As an additional benefit, it was so nice to speak to someone outside of the current University community as it can often feel like a bubble with everyone discussing their plans etc, and having Beth to bounce ideas off and hear perspectives from an industry side was so beneficial for me. 

Next steps 

I always knew I wanted to take a Gap Year, as I am hugely passionate about travel and volunteering. Going through the ALMP, gave me the reassurance I needed that this was okay to do and that not rushing into a graduate scheme that doesn’t feel right is okay. I left University feeling calm and reassured about my future, excited to create a career path that I am excited and passionate about. This was hugely down to my sessions with Beth, and I owe her a lot for enabling me to go forward excited for the next steps ahead, having taken the time to get to know who I am and what I can do in the short-term to ensure I reach my long-term goals. I am currently in Australia where I am on a Working Holiday Visa, travelling and working around the country, learning about different cultures and making international connections, all whilst building interpersonal skills such as resilience, and adaptation that will be hugely important for my professional career and I look forward to continuing my career somewhere across the world! 

How to make the most of it 

My advice to make the most of your time on the ALMP is to go in with an open mind, be ready to learn things you didn’t expect, be open to your mindset shifting and give every session 100% of your time. You owe yourself the time to do this, and putting your all into the scheme will bring benefits and opportunities you never expected. Best of luck with the application process, I’m sure you will love your time with the great ALMP team! 

If you want the opportunity to learn from an expert in the field you’d like to go into after graduating, click the button below to find out more about the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme!

Alumni leadership mentoring programme: case study

Alumni leadership mentoring programme: case study

Natalia talks about her time on the scheme and gives her insider tips for future students looking to apply.

My name is Natalia. I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2022 with a Bachelor’s degree (Ind) in Nutrition. I commenced the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme in 2021 and finished in 2022.  

I applied to ALMP as I have always had a huge drive to be an entrepreneur and I knew this programme would give me an opportunity to learn about business from one of the alumni. Moreover, I knew someone’s guidance and tips given to my particular situation would be of unique value. I would recommend to anyone who goes through the application process to choose a mentor whose major and values are as similar as possible. It will ease the way to get the most of the time you have as it passes by quicker than you realize. 

My mentor was Peter McAteer, who used to work in the mining industry for British Petroleum (BP) and who is currently a CEO of a company which provides an operations platform. Despite the fact our majors were different, we both found significant similarities between us including personality traits and interests. Peter helped me tremendously with overcoming some of my mental struggles. Moreover, he was one of my first customers in my entrepreneurial pursuits, for which I will be forever grateful. His purchase made me realize my product and business concept had some flaws. I believe every failure in our personal or business life brings us closer to our goals. Peter also shared with me some of his tools that helped him plan his goals in a smart way. I was sometimes resistant to some of his tips e.g., focusing on one big project at a time. However, I had to learn this truth the hard way lately.  

What I accomplished while on the scheme? I certainly finished my final year without feeling guilty for not being perfect. I know my mentor played a significant role here. The guidance I received at that time, till this day helps me to understand I am just a human being and that having limits is normal.  

At the time I am writing this post, I am continuing to build a foundation for my business and gaining a variety of skills while freelancing. My goal for the future is to have two successful businesses that will make a positive impact on our planet and society. The scheme definitely enabled me to understand how long the process of building a business takes. It makes me feel calmer while facing the reality.  

I feel like I could have made more of my time with my mentor, however, I had too many commitments at that time. Nevertheless, we were actively setting up tasks and evaluating them and I believe that helped us tremendously to be time efficient. Definitely, keeping a healthy work-life balance will help you gain more from the scheme.  

I would recommend to anyone interested in the scheme to take a moment to think and write down what you really want to get out of this programme and what you can do with it for your future. 

If you want the opportunity to learn from an expert in the field you’d like to go into after graduating, click the button below to find out more about the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme!

Careers staff and their career journeys: Steve Carter

Careers staff and their career journeys: Steve Carter

I have to say that this job was not something I had considered pursuing when I was leaving school; in fact, my only thought was just to leave school.  There was nothing wrong with school, it was just something you had to do until you left, which I did without any GCSEs, or O levels as they were then.

The main aim was to get an apprenticeship or work-based training – four years with day release one day a week at college.  This I, and most of my mates did, becoming mechanics or electricians. In my case I was a foundry apprentice.  The apprenticeship gave me practical skills and the college course, City and Guilds, gave me the underpinning knowledge to do the job and a higher rate of pay than those in semi-skilled and labouring occupations. However, the period of ‘de-industrialisation’ and redundancy in the mid-80s left me without a job.  

Suffice to say that in total, some two years of unemployment led me to a radical rethink of what I needed to do, which turned out to be going to night school to do the O levels/GCSEs in maths and English that I hadn’t done at school.  It turned out that they weren’t as difficult as I thought so I went on to do a couple of A levels in history and politics.  These were a bit harder, but I was interested in them, so I thought why not do these at university? 

University was great but as it got nearer to graduation, like most finalists, I had little idea as to what I wanted to do.  I knew that I wasn’t interested in finance, banking or teaching which were the main things on offer when I went to the careers fair (not much change there then)!  However, Lancaster University had an ‘alternative careers fair’ where they had alumni who had gone into professions that were off the beaten track such as art therapy, journalism and of course, careers advising.

Talking to the careers adviser about careers advising piqued my interest as the notion that you could plan, in some way, what you wanted to do for a career had been alien to me.  I had no plan before going to university as to what I would do on leaving and in some ways, I went just as a way of avoiding unemployment.  The main thing I thought of after meeting the careers adviser about careers advising was that it would have been handy to have had some of this before going to university and to have used the careers service whilst I was there. This led me to do the Dip CG with the aim of working with adults.    

However, this did not come about, as on my graduation from the Dip CG there were plenty of jobs working in schools – real schools! My first job was with Doncaster Careers Service where, ironically enough, the alumni from Lancaster University worked. From 1994 to 2008, I worked in schools across most of South Yorkshire in places like Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham which was fine albeit frustrating as there were few opportunities for school leavers, a side effect of ‘de-industrialisation’. This led to a crossroads where I thought ‘Why not do a PhD?’ and I successfully applied for a part-time scholarship at the University of Sheffield to do one in Politics.   

The original intention was to become an academic, but trying to build up a research profile and work part-time meant that this was not to be. However, the combination of working as a careers adviser in schools, as well as getting teaching experience whilst doing my PhD, gave me the skill set to apply for my current role at the University of Leeds as a careers consultant. So, not a career plan in sight, but vindication for Jim Bright’s chaos theory of careers!

Careers staff and their career journeys: Claire Alford

Careers staff and their career journeys: Claire Alford

At school I received low grades and had nothing planned for my future. I temporarily worked full time at my dad’s food business, which he wanted me to take over, but this wasn’t what I wanted to do. With support from other family members, I decided to go to college to improve my grades and completed a Maths course alongside a Business Studies vocational course (equivalent to GCSE’S).

“I had nothing planned for my future”

I discovered my interest in education and, following this, I started a GNVQ in Media, Communication and Production. I completed two years, enjoyed it a lot, and started to gain contacts through the BBC. I used my connections to interview the DJ from Jazz FM who I had met on work experience at school. My dad also introduced me to a contact from the local newspaper who came into his food shop to buy food. 

Following college, I started an admin role with an electrical and mechanical contractors company based at Astra Zeneca site. Though I really enjoyed this role, I decided to leave it for a higher paid position in a call centre working with customers to deal with their complaints. I had researched the company and it sounded right up my street; it had a young, vibrant, and supportive culture. I realised I really enjoyed listening to issues and helping to provide solutions.  

I completed a careers quiz to find out which roles suited me, and those suggested were Clinical Psychologist, Counsellor and HR. Admittedly, I thought they were too out of reach for me. Back to square one!  I lasted three months in the call centre as I realised repetitive work was not for me. I needed variety and things to keep me engaged. Whilst deciding what to do, I started working at ASDA full time. 

“I completed a careers quiz to find out which roles suited me”

At this point I had started helping friends and family with CV’s and applying for jobs as I had a lot of experience and therefore wanted to help others with what I learned along the way. I found motivating people and helping them articulate their skills in applications to be very rewarding.  

I was twenty years old when ‘Planned Happenstance’ theory paved a way for me. Some friends were heading to college for an open day in Stockport, so I decided to go along. Though I initially just went for the social side, when I was there, I became fascinated by all the subjects on offer and how interesting everyone was.

I spoke to a couple of tutors and found out what the entry requirements were to work out if my very low grades from school would affect being able to apply. Luckily, I was accepted onto a Psychology and Exploring Writing Access Course as I had gone on to college after school to take the equivalent qualifications and retake additional Maths and English. The bonus was… no exams required, yay! I was extremely excited and felt good about it. I also changed my hours at ASDA to work part time around my studies.  

I enjoyed education so much that I decided to apply to university and move away from my hometown, Manchester, to Birmingham to start a Management, Design and Communication degree. I worked seasonally at ASDA whenever I went home. Although I was only twenty-one, I was technically a mature student. I was in class with eighteen-year-olds, quite a few of whom lived at home, so we didn’t get to experience the social side as much. However, I made friends in halls and am still friends with many now. After a fun first year, I really got my head down from 2nd year and it helped that in my final year I was really interested in my dissertation too. It was such a proud moment for me and my family when I received a 2:1. 

Following university, I expected to walk into a graduate level job, even without having my applications checked.  I saw an administrative role at a care agency working in a small team. I really wished I had researched the culture of the organisation before starting the role, as the company and people working there really didn’t match my values or what I needed from a role, so after six months I handed in my notice to go temping until I decided what to do next. I applied for a role at Aston University within admin and was there for two and a half years. In this role I went to a careers fair and spoke to students, careers advisors and employers. That was it, I had an epiphany; I wanted to be a careers adviser helping others.   

“I wish I had researched the culture of the organisation before starting the role”

In 2010, I wanted to move back up North, near to Manchester, so I planned on Leeds. I ended up choosing to do a PGDip Qualification in Careers Guidance (QCG) at Huddersfield University. From university, I went on to work for a training provider delivering the work programme as a work coach. In this role I had a caseload 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.  

Luckily (and the great thing about making connections), I was advised by a friend from the QCG there was a Careers Advisor role going at University of Leeds. I applied, was successful, and started in 2012. Most of my time was spent working in the Careers Centre offering information and advice to students. This included mock interviews along with planning and delivering workshops throughout the academic year. I found it really rewarding. 

I went on maternity leave and before I was due back in 2017 applied for a team leader role within the same team. I was successful and was there for around fifteen months. Then in 2018, there was an opening for the role of Careers Consultant (my dream job). In this role, I provide support and guidance to students, help them with their next steps, teach in the curriculum, and consult with academics and staff. There is much more to the role and a lot of variety. I love the culture of working at the University of Leeds and find working with students very rewarding.  

Careers staff and their career journeys: Sophia Bourne

Careers staff and their career journeys: Sophia Bourne

My route into career consulting is convoluted!  

At school, I was interested in science, and first thought about working in medical research. I had flirted with the idea of studying medicine but concluded that I’d find making life-death decisions too tough. 

I studied for a BSc in Biological Sciences because of its breadth, and then majored in Psychology as I found human behaviour fascinating – and still do! I found it tough while studying for my finals, juggling frantic attempts to get a job and pay off my loan. With hindsight, I probably should have given my career planning more thought. But having listened to advice from friends – rather than Careers Consultants (!) – I ended up looking at jobs in HR management. I was thrilled to be offered a place on the Marks and Spencer graduate management scheme. I trained and worked in HR management, but. left after two years as I wanted to work in a people role in an environment that was less commercial.  

That’s when I went back to my alma mater for an appointment with a Careers Consultant. This meeting inspired me to apply for the PG Diploma in Career Guidance as I saw it was a way of supporting people both inside and outside of work. Government changes in how careers guidance was delivered meant that few of my cohort secured related employment after we graduated. So, I returned to HR management and then pursued opportunities in HR consultancy and then employee research consultancy. Within these roles, I needed to be flexible and professional, as I was providing professional consultancy services to a range of client organisations.

All of these roles gave me great insight into employee performance and satisfaction and exposure to commercial drivers and challenges, as I worked with people at all levels of the organisation. Above all, this period reinforced my desire to support people inside and outside of work, so I found myself moving back into people-support roles, landing a role in community-based adult guidance. Here I worked with people from a variety of backgrounds, both employed and unemployed. This was followed by a period of self-employment as a freelance Career Coach where I loved being my own boss and working with people on a one-to-one basis, helping them reinvigorate their varied careers. Along the way, I kept my CPD going to support my work and future career plans. I studied for qualifications in coaching and personality assessment, and completed a Masters degree in Occupational Psychology. 

After a few years working for myself, I decided I wanted to move beyond career coaching and undertake more work in learning and development – and I missed working in a team. So, I applied for a maternity cover role at the British Medical Association (BMA) and stayed for nearly seven years! I loved this role, supporting medical students and doctors with all matters concerning their professional development and career planning. In this role, as well as seeing doctors and students one-to-one and delivering workshops, I was invited to speak at many conferences and even author a regular Career Consultant feature in the Student BMJ. 

It was then time to move on, so here I am at the University of Leeds working as a Careers Consultant! I provide one-to-one and one-to-many careers support for students and graduates, and work with academic colleagues to surface the many transferable skills taught and practised within degree programmes. It’s a very varied role and brings me into contact with many people: students, graduates and colleagues. And it continues to feed my main driver…as stated in my LinkedIn profile, ‘I continue to be passionate about supporting others in enhancing their personal and professional effectiveness to enable career fulfilment’.   

Looking back, if I was to coach my younger self, I’d probably rely less on advice from well-meaning family and friends and instead seek input earlier from a trained career coach, due to their insight and objectivity. I’d also be less anxious about hanging on for the ‘right’ job – whatever that is.

My career has followed many twists and turns but every single role I’ve held – in work and study – has helped me learn more about the needs of people I seek to support, both in and for the workplace. Along the way, I have learned more about myself (especially my values and drivers) and about the people I’ve worked with – and I continue to do so. So, remain open and flexible to development opportunities as they appear to you, and be brave enough to follow them!