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Careers Consultant at St Mary's University
Careers Consultant at St Mary's University
Kathy is a careers consultant for The Careers Group and is currently based at St Mary’s University where she has careers consultant responsibility for the schools of Arts and Humanities and Sport, Health and Applied Science.
She studied a BA in English Literature at Sussex University and an MA in Cultural and Creative Industries at King’s College London. She is also currently completing a PhD in Cultural Policy and Management at City University, researching the links between cultural work and the production of space, alongside a Postgraduate Diploma in Careers Education, Information and Guidance in higher education at Warwick University. She has worked in a range of educational contexts including higher education lecturing, secondary school teaching, arts education and teaching English as a Foreign Language.
How do you balance your work and continuous learning?
The important thing for me in terms of balancing work and continuous learning is to constantly find links between the two, applying ideas and theories to my everyday work. So this could be finding a link between a Careers Guidance theory I’m reading about and a client I’m currently working with, for example. If I am able to discuss this theory and its application with colleagues then this makes it come to life even further and keeps it interesting and engaging.
Another example is finding links between the wider context of the challenges faced by Careers professionals in HE and the specific challenges faced by the Careers service within which I work. Keeping an eye on the bigger picture helps with my strategic understanding of the work I do day to day.
What do you think are the skills and traits that someone wanting to become a careers consultant needs to have?
I think the most important thing for a careers consultant, similarly to professionals working in other teaching and learning contexts, is to be highly organised and yet very flexible! It’s important to plan well but also to recognise that you might have to adapt to a changing situation at short notice. For example we had an external organisation booked to run a Leadership session a few months ago, which had involved a lot of careful planning, but when they pulled out at the last minute I needed to step in and facilitate a session around this topic at short notice. The great thing about The Careers Group is that at times like these, there is a wealth of resources to draw upon and colleagues are always happy to help.
Are there any resources or sources of information you would recommend for people wanting to find out more about working as a careers consultant?
There are a range of useful websites to have a look at; including the website of the organisation you are applying to, careers pages of different universities, as well as the Prospects page on working as an HE Careers Advisor and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) website. Additionally, once you have done some research, talking to people is a great way to find out more, whether by arranging an informal chat or doing some work shadowing.
Can you describe the environment of your careers service, and the colleagues that you work with?
It’s hard to describe the environment I work within because it’s so variable. It is always welcoming, open and engaging. For a lot of the year it is also dynamic and fast-paced but at some points it is a calmer and a more reflective place to work.
I work in a small team, led by an inspiring manager and with brilliant colleagues who are all extremely adept at juggling multiple priorities and managing to do it with a smile. It’s a supportive and nurturing environment, which is not to say though that it’s without its challenges. In a busy week I might run up to 10 Careers in the Curriculum sessions, see around 30 students for one-to-ones, have meetings with academics, and run an employer event too! So that means switching quickly from one headspace to another and working closely with colleagues. I’m lucky enough to work in a team where we all communicate well and I can rely on my colleagues, and I hope they feel they can rely on me too.