- Dave Carter
Senior Careers Consultant at UCL
Senior Careers Consultant at UCL
After graduating in Business Economics, I was an unsuitable accountant before subsequently moving into advertising and marketing account management.
I currently work at UCL full-time, co-ordinating ‘GradClub’ - a team of 5 staff providing specialist careers provision to UCL graduates for 2 years after leaving us in addition to supporting the Management, Science and Innovation department.
What are the 2 best things about working as a careers consultant?
One of the unique aspects of working for The Careers Group is that they serve the needs of multiple University of London colleges as well as offering commercial consultancy services. In reality, that means that I’ve had the opportunity to work in lots of different settings, with different cohorts and responsibilities all without ever having to change employer which is one of the reasons the job still seems fresh and I’ve been here for so long.
One of the attractions of this role was always the idea of helping students and graduates make sense of what for many of them is the very complex and daunting prospect of understanding what their next step is. My role on GradClub allows me to work with individual graduates (in some cases over a period of many months) coaching them through the process of learning more about themselves and their place in the working world, sharing the lows of rejection and despondency to the highs of future success and that cherished job offer.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
When I first started I remember I was slightly terrified by the idea of having to get up and address anything from 25 to 250 students through careers presentations, workshops and seminars. I spent a lot of time in the first few months watching as many colleagues as I could, borrowing styles, material and techniques from everyone until I began to develop my own. These days, presenting is one of my favourite aspects of the job and I’m constantly tinkering with content and exercises to improve the learning experience.
These days, the biggest challenges I face are often related to juggling my roles working on UCL GradClub and my departmental responsibilities, project-work and co-ordinating a team focused on how we can best attract fantastic future careers consultants along with all the other elements that go into such a dynamic, varied job.
How much opportunity is there to develop specific aspects of the role that interest you?
The great thing about working at an organisation the size of The Careers Group is the opportunity to get involved in a huge range of different projects and development opportunities.
In the last few years, I’ve become increasingly interested in the power of coaching and was fortunate enough to be selected to train as a UCL Staff coach through an intensive training course of workshops, coaching circles and my own personal coach. I now coach up to 3 UCL staff at any one time on issues such as conflict resolution and change management and have been able to deploy a whole new range of coaching techniques in my day to day careers work with students.
When we were re-designing our UCL GradClub website, I had the opportunity to learn how to design and structurally create a website from scratch. One of the most fulfilling experiences of my time as a careers consultant was being able to write copy, source graduate case studies and create and edit videos that we could use for the website to market the service we provide to a wider audience.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get to where you are?
I found my way into careers work after deciding to press the reset button and get some professional careers support, latterly through The Careers Group Consultancy, a careers support service offered by The Careers Group, where I spoke to Karen Barnard (current Director of UCL Careers). Given I was weighing up the options of both teaching and careers work, she arranged for me to get some shadowing experience at the London School of Economics, which was incredibly interesting, and that provided me with a network of contacts I could grill about the realities of careers work in different settings.
My advice would be to do as much as research about the realities of careers work not just in higher Education but in other settings by ideally talking to as many people as you can. People love talking about themselves and what they do given the opportunity.