Careers advice, that horrid little meeting at secondary school where you were basically given vague advice on how to get the job you wanted at the time. In sixth form, the meeting gets a little less vague but it was not until I got to university that I actually saw the careers advice service as something useful.
At Liverpool John Moores University there is an entire department given to the careers advice service; they even offer a certificate called World of Work (WOW) which is split into three levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Every student has to complete the Bronze level in first year, then in second year we had to attend the classes but the essay in order to gain the accreditation was optional, and in third year the whole thing was completely optional.
While at first these classes were deemed annoying by students (especially in second year), it has been in my third year that I actually used the careers service properly.
One of the problems with careers advice is to get any useful information you need at least some idea of the job you eventually want, which, let’s face it, a lot of us didn’t know while we were at school, or we were too shy to admit to our ambitions so we kept things as vague as possible. It was only in my second year that I finally realised what I wanted to do, so I booked an appointment to see an advisor after a friend told me how useful the meetings were.
When booking the appointment you are asked what you want to talk about specifically so that the staff know which advisor would be the best for you to talk to. I’ve spoken to the same advisor three times now and they have genuinely been brilliant every time.
After finding an advert for a training scheme, I took my application with me for the advisor to look over, I was only applying for the sake of it really, I wasn’t expecting to get past the first stage, but after my advisor looked at my letter, cv and the advertisement for the scheme I left feeling like I could actually be in with a very good chance of getting the job. I didn’t in the end, but it turns out I got further than most applicants.
Hit and Miss
Not every university offers such an extensive service. Other students I have spoken to have mentioned sparse services that only cater to third year students (or seem to want to only speak to the third years).
Some universities like Leeds got great reviews for their careers service, but the unfortunate thing is that careers advice seems to be very hit and miss.
Not everyone will use the service, I know people who are about to graduate who have no idea what they want to do, and didn’t see the point of going to a meeting. Other students may do courses that have very clear career paths, like medical courses where you will work for the NHS for a few years after graduation because of the bursary.
If you have a rough idea of what you want to do, then I would advise at least one appointment with the careers service. If nothing else, you’ll find out whether or not the careers service at your university is good or not.
Let us know what you think of university careers services in the comments below!