Working Adviser Meets Careers Champion Finalist: Suzanne Ball
In a series of mini-blogs to mark the 11th Careers Champion award, Working Adviser gets to know finalist Suzanne Ball – Careers Adviser at the University of Hertfordshire
WA: Tell us a bit about your background and current role?
SB: I am a Careers Adviser at the University of Hertfordshire where I currently partner the Business School and the School of Health and Social Work. My role is to support students in career decision-making and guide them through the different stages of applying for placements, jobs and postgraduate courses via one-to-one guidance, workshops/webinars and guest lectures on employability-related modules.
I started in careers work as a trainee Careers Adviser at the London Borough of Enfield (taking the Diploma in Careers Guidance) having previously worked in the public housing and voluntary sectors. Before moving to the University of Hertfordshire I worked in schools, sixth forms and FE colleges in local authority careers services and the Connexions service. I am currently the lead careers adviser for disabled students and have recently become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy which recognises standards in higher education learning and teaching.
WA: What is the most rewarding part of working in Careers?
SB: There are so many elements of careers work that are highly rewarding and I get huge satisfaction from working one-to-one and with groups of students. If I had to single out one aspect it would be helping students to develop career confidence. Working one-to-one with a student to help them see that they already have many of the skills an employer is looking for and helping students build the confidence to demonstrate their skills during the recruitment process never loses its magic.
WA: How is Careers work changing and what does the future hold?
SB: Careers education and guidance has always been a political football, both nationally and within organisations, so pressures such as budgets, curriculum time and league tables are having an increasing impact on the way careers work is structured and change often feels like the only constant. I think the way students engage with technology is driving some of the biggest changes how we deliver careers work as using social media, online resources, webinars and Skype to widen our offering to students who increasingly prefer interacting online at a time that suits them. One encouraging constant is that there is still high demand for impartial, one-to-one guidance from students.
Looking to the future, technology will also be driving huge changes in the workplace over the next decade as existing jobs change or disappear and new roles emerge. Alongside this I have no doubt that careers work will continue to experience periodic upheavals. The challenge for career professionals is to develop ways to help our students thrive in an uncertain and rapidly changing labour-market.
WA: Finally, what was your reaction when you were confirmed as a Careers Champion finalist?
SB: I didn’t know that I’d been nominated for the Careers Champion award so when I first saw the email I thought it was a scam and nearly deleted it without reading it! Once the lovely colleague who put my name forward had assured me that it was genuine I felt touched and very honoured to have been selected. I’ve always been very proud to be a Careers Adviser and it’s great to see the work of our profession recognised.