Careers Champion: Working Adviser meets finalist Suzanne Dickinson
In a series of mini-blogs to mark the 8th Careers Champion award, Working Adviser gets to know finalist Suzanne Dickinson – Employer Engagement and Student Opportunity Adviser at York St John University
WA: Tell us a bit about your background and current Careers role.
SD: I work as part of the Careers, Placements and Student Opportunities team at York St John University; my role is Employer Engagement and Student Opportunities Adviser. I came to York St John in 2005 as a mature student to do an English Literature degree and, like many of our students, I never left. After completing my degree I went on to do a Masters in Literary Studies on a part-time basis and quite by chance started doing some casual work in our Careers department looking after the job site and organising some events. Having already had two quite different careers; 16 year in hospitality and 10 year in banking, working in the careers team was a new direction but one that fitted with the skills I have developed over the year. My role in Employer Engagement and Student Opportunities has developed to fit a growing need within HE to build relationships with both local SMEs and larger multi-national companies as well as developing opportunities through internships and volunteering for students to engage with to enhance their skills.
I have also helped to develop both our Student and Graduate Internship Programmes to provide a range of opportunities for our current and graduating students. Both programmes work mainly with local SMEs and help to raise the awareness of our brilliant students to local business. As a university with a high percentage of widening participation students who want to work in the local area once they have completed their degree developing strong relationships with local business has been crucial to getting our graduates into professional roles.
WA: How is Careers work changing and what does the future hold?
SD: With a diverse student body it is our ambition to ensure that when our students leave York St John they not only have the skills and attributes to pursue their chosen careers but that they are also given the opportunity while they are with us to explore their options and gain skills and attributes that will enhance both their professional and personal life.
WA: Finally, what was your reaction when you were confirmed as a Careers Champion finalist?
SD: I was very surprised to have been shortlisted for this award; I work within a very small team of extraordinary people who work tirelessly to ensure that our students get the best opportunities. I could not do my work without the support of my colleagues both within our team and across the university.