In a series of mini-blogs to mark the 10th Careers Champion award, Working Adviser gets to know finalist Amy Haworth – Careers Adviser at the University of Birmingham
WA: Tell us a bit about your background and current role?
AH: After a degree in Psychology and some time spent travelling, I went to work in human resources at an FE/HE college. I loved working in education, but I much preferred the hiring side of HR to the firing and I wanted to experience working in the private sector, so I took an exciting opportunity in graduate recruitment marketing for Ernst and Young. I really enjoyed going to the universities and talking to the students about their interests and passions and knew that careers was the direction for me. I got my first careers opportunity as Careers Officer at University College Birmingham and progressed from there to Careers Adviser at University of Birmingham when they expanded the careers team in 2011. It was great to be part of the new and dynamic Careers Network and I have been very fortunate over the past eight years to be involved in lots of ground breaking projects that have made a real impact to a wide and diverse range of students.
WA: What is the most rewarding part of working in Careers?
AH: The most rewarding part of my role is supporting students to move forward in their thinking. I love hearing people’s stories and helping them to evaluate what’s really important to them, even if this means rethinking their ideas. When you can see that someone has had an ‘a-ha’ moment, be it in a workshop or face-to-face, it is so gratifying.
I am always looking to engage the unengaged, for example,through embedded activity in the curriculum, establishing a tutor referral system for at risk students in my departments, and supporting on innovative marketing campaigns for Careers Network. These activities, amongst others, support in unblocking the perceived barriers to students seeking and accessing careers support.
I love the variety in my role and have benefitted from working in a learning environment, continuing my own learning and getting involved in various collaborations that have impacted on under-represented groups of students.
WA: How is Careers work changing and what does the future hold?
AH: In Higher Education, employability is high on the agenda and it’s a high priority for students, parents and the institutions as a whole. This has brought many benefits including greater recognition of the work that we do and improved/increased working relationships with our academic colleagues. It has also lead to greater scrutiny and the need for us to account for what we are doing and show how our work aligns with institutional priorities. With increased demand for our services, we also need to work in new, innovative ways and use technology to support our practice.
There is also rapidly increasing use of data across the HE sector as a whole, and the data we are collecting in HE careers services has the potential to be put to great use in informing our practice to make an impact on an even greater number of students in the future.
Additionally, amongst the more recent cohorts of students, we are increasingly encountering resilience and confidence issues and need to adapt our support to address these issues in a careers context and collaborate with welfare colleagues as appropriate. There is also a need to support students in recognising their skills and ‘future proof’ themselves for the changing nature of work.
WA: Finally, what was your reaction when you were confirmed as a Careers Champion finalist?
AH: I was over the moon to have been shortlisted as a Careers Champion finalist. I felt very grateful to my colleague Yasmin for taking the time to nominate me and I am excited (and slightly nervous) to be part of the public vote! I love that the remit for Careers Champion nominations is – people who are doing fantastic Careers work that should be recognised. It is so lovely to be acknowledged for doing work that I am genuinely passionate about.
The 10th Careers Champion online final runs until Tuesday May 14th. You can cast your vote by visiting the Careers Champion website here.