Robin advises getting as much experience as possible working in a university to gain an understanding of careers work in higher education...
I have an undergraduate degree in philosophy and spent a number of years working in recruitment as a headhunter before completing the PgDip Guidance at the University of Huddersfield.
Although it was not an essential requirement for the role, my postgraduate guidance qualification certainly helped me get my job as a careers and employability adviser at York St John University . I was able to answer questions at interview about my approach to guidance work and understanding of group work activities, and I use the guidance and group work skills I gained on the course on a daily basis.
My placement in a university was hugely valuable in developing my understanding of what careers work in higher education (HE) is all about. I also did some voluntary work with students before undertaking my PgDiploma, which also helped.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role is its variety. Whilst I see students for guidance appointments throughout the week, I am also just as busy delivering careers-related sessions for different degree programmes, teaching on modules, developing online resources, and looking for new and interesting ways to engage with our student body. That's one of the things that attracted me to working in HE - every day is different! Even the guidance appointments vary hugely, from students who wants some proper careers guidance because they don't know what they want to do after they graduate to those who want help with interview skills or their CV checking.
Also, HE is generally a really friendly and community-focused sector to work in, and I've enjoyed getting to know and work with colleagues from across the institution during my first year or so in post. My career ambition is to one day manage a careers team or even move into a broader student services leadership position, although I know this would probably mean I spend less time actually working with students.
The variety of the role can also be a challenge, since you quickly learn you can't be an expert in all the possible career areas that students are interested in, and you have to remember the importance of providing guidance as opposed to trying to always be a source of information. It's also frustrating when students don't turn up to sessions; most careers activity is completely optional, so you can spend ages preparing what you think is going to be a really interesting piece of group work, only for hardly anyone to turn up.
My advice for anyone thinking about becoming an HE careers adviser is to get as much experience as possible working in a university. Before doing the PgDip Guidance, I went back to my undergraduate institution and helped the careers team by delivering some CV writing and interview skills sessions. Doing this, and speaking to the advisers there, I was able to develop a good understanding of the nature of working in HE. This experience really helped me on the course when writing assignments, at my job interview, and in the early days in this role.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.