Planning your next steps – The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre is here to help

Chris Davison, Deputy Head of the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre, talks us through the Centre’s services.

370,000 students graduated from higher education last year. Your Careers Team is here to help you to plan your next steps towards the life you want, and stand out from the crowd as you progress. Please remember – it’s never too late to use our support – we’re open all year round on weekdays, apart from bank holidays and in between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, and will always be pleased to see you. Lots of students use our support in Easter term and after exams in their final year. We’re also here for you after you’ve graduated!

We do this in lots of different ways, and students therefore use us in lots of different ways – it’s not a “one size fits all”. There are many ways in which you can receive our help on your own individual journey. We’re often concerned that a lot of students don’t have an awareness of the range of our work, or how to engage with us, and we’re hoping that this article can help a little with that.

Thinking about next steps can’t start early enough, especially since many of the larger graduate recruiters provide placement and development options as early as year one. They usually have recruitment programmes which cover the whole academic year, and offer vacation schemes, internships and postgraduate traineeships, supported by information and awareness raising sessions. This usually involves application deadlines before Christmas, followed by shortlisting in Epiphany and interviews/assessment during Epiphany and Easter terms.

Other graduate recruiters tend to recruit as they need to, without long lead ins, or advertise their vacancies closer to the later stages of the academic year.

That’s why you see our large Careers Fairs are attended mostly by larger graduate recruiters in Michaelmas term, and our events after Christmas are more about exploring options with employers and learning about less mainstream opportunities.

Having a degree or postgraduate qualification is not enough for success, so we spend a great deal of time and energy in supporting self-awareness, skills development, work experience, and exploring ideas and possibilities, as well as helping students to find vacancies, make strong applications and prepare well for assessment and selection.

Most people think that careers work is just about one to one planning and support sessions and talks. However, we help departments and colleges with their employability programmes, and link in with societies when we can, alongside running a wide range of events and activities.

Our central programme includes large and small events and fairs, employer-led workshops, placement support, skills development (employability, enterprise and the Academic Skills Programme), talks and workshops in departments and colleges and small business development. We run special programmes at different times of the year, such as Explore Careers and the Focus On Your Future programme runs in the first week of June. A particularly popular and well-respected programme of ours is The Durham Award – helping students to highlight and evidence their employability skills and the “Durham Difference” to employers – a widely recognised brand which many employers value and respect.

Of course we also provide a strong and developing vacancy service (graduate and postgraduate opportunities, work experience and part-time work to support your living costs) and one-to-one support with skilled, experienced and qualified careers guidance staff.

There are times of year when access to some of our services is in very high demand (e.g. one-to-one Careers Adviser sessions during Michaelmas term), and we recognise the resulting frustration that this can cause – please be persistent, or catch us at the events we run. For example, CV support is very popular, so we often run additional CV development events and have “drop in” support linked to larger events.

We offer two types of Careers Adviser one-to-one sessions, and this sometimes confuses people:

The ‘Quick Queries’ service consists of a 20 minute appointment with a Careers Adviser. It can be booked online, up to one week in advance, via the Student Services Portal. To log onto this you need to enter your CIS username and password. All scheduled appointments for the next seven days will be displayed by date, time, location and adviser; simply select the available appointment that is most appropriate for you.

Quick Queries are an appropriate service to use if you have:

  • · Quick questions that you would like to ask a Careers Adviser
  • · An enquiry relating to an application form, CV or course
  • · An enquiry in respect of an interview or assessment centre.

The Guidance Appointment is a 45 minute consultation with a Careers Adviser where you can have an in depth discussion relative to your specific career support needs. They can be booked up to two weeks in advance and can only be booked online after speaking to a member of the Centre’s Information Staff or a Careers Adviser either in person or by telephone. It is of particular pertinence if you:

  • · Are confused by the range of options that may be open to you
  • · Have a broad range of multiple questions or issues to discuss with a Careers Adviser
  • · Have more complex issues that may affect your career choice (including health or disability)
  • · Are unhappy with your course and considering transferring to another one or are thinking about discontinuing your studies altogether.

More information on appointments is here, https://www.dur.ac.uk/careers/s/help/ia/, and you can contact us as follows:

Telephone: 0191 334 1437 (Durham) 0191 334 0202 (Queen’s Campus)

Email: careers@durham.ac.uk (Durham) careers.stockton@durham.ac.uk

Online through the Student Services Portal (click ‘My Bookings’)

Our website is a good first place to visit, as it summarises most of what we do and gives access to the student portal to view and book appointments and events, and look through our vacancies and opportunities. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook too.

We also provide a weekly Careers News email bulletin, highlighting some of the headline events and opportunities coming up, and of course our information rooms at The Careers Centres are available between 9am and 5pm on the ground floor of the Palatine Centre on Stockton Road (next to the library) and the ground floor of the Ebsworth Building (next to reception) at Queens campus. You can use them to browse through our information (from online selection tests to careers information to computer facilities and a relaxing area to research) and talk to our skilled and knowledgeable information team who can help signpost you and answer your queries.

Bruno Martin, a second-year Biology student, reflects on his experiences using the Careers Service:

“My experience with the careers centre so far has been fantastic. During first year it was easy to ignore all the services the career centre offers, with so many new experiences to focus on and the prospect of a full-time job far in the distant future. However, when opportunity knocks, you’ll be glad to have invested some time in making use of their fantastic services.

Several times now the careers advisers at Durham have impressed me with their expertise – they are clearly pros at what they do. I would especially recommend booking a one-on-one appointment if you need personalised help with a job application, interview or you simply don’t know where to start! I got help to prepare for my first big job interview, which definitely boosted my confidence on the day.”

So, look out for us across the campuses, within departments and colleges, and keep an eye out for our events (check our email bulletin and the screens across the university). Pop in to see us at our Careers Centres too, and make good use of our website and social media feeds. We’d love to see you soon.

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