Doreen Thompson-Addo completed our PG Certificate in Career Development and Coaching Studies in 2019. Doreen is now a Careers Consultant for The Careers Group, based at Royal Holloway, University of London. We spoke to her recently about studying with CLL and how she is finding working from home during these unprecedented times.
What drew you initially to studying at Warwick?
I was researching several universities that offered a careers related qualification and I was drawn to Warwick because not only is it a world leading institution, but the flexibility of the course was perfect. I was working full time and was seeking an opportunity to study part-time, flexibly and with a distance learning option. Warwick offered all 3.
What did you enjoy most about the PG Certificate at Warwick?
The mix of theoretical learning and practical application of the course was excellent and really enabled me to develop as a Careers professional. Added to that were the brilliant tutors and students I got to study alongside.
What advice would you give to applicants who are considering the PG Cert?
If you are looking for a quality careers qualification that offers a good balance between theory and practice, then I would highly recommend this qualification. Regardless of your previous experience in careers, this course is excellent for beginners and experienced professionals alike.
What was your best memory of studying at Warwick?
The 2-day residential was the best memory as this was an opportunity to meet with other careers students face-to-face, share our experiences and learn from each other. The relationships built last beyond the course and I am still in touch with students who attended the residential.
Can you tell us a little bit about your career history prior to starting the PG Certificate?
My career has predominantly been within the Third Sector, developing and delivering employability and skills development programmes. I spent 7 years at the Hammersmith and Fulham Volunteer Centre managing a range of programmes for the BAME community, young people and low-income families. I also set up an award-winning Employer Supported Volunteering programme, enabling corporate companies in the local area to volunteer their time and skills for the benefit of the local community. I then spent 6 years at the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust overseeing employment and skills programmes aimed at the local community and BAME young people.
What does your current role entail?
As a Careers Consultant for The Careers Group I am based at Royal Holloway, University of London. My role is multifaceted and includes conducting 121 career coaching appointments with a range of students, delivering careers workshops (in-class and online) and working with specific academic departments to embed careers within the curriculum as well as deliver a range of subject specific careers activities.
What does your typical day look like?
Currently I am working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic. As I write we are still adjusting to ‘the new normal’ and working out ways to ensure that all students can access quality careers support. A typical day will start by having a daily team meeting with colleagues to ‘check-in’, discuss priorities and challenges and effectively plan for the week. This could be followed by virtual 121 careers appointments (using MS Teams). Students are understandably nervous about their future career prospects and so these virtual 121 appointments provide a good opportunity to encourage students and give them the continued support and guidance they need. It’s important to stay connected with colleagues during this time and so I tend to have virtual lunches as a way of keeping in contact informally. My afternoon could then be spent preparing for a careers workshop which will be delivered online to students using MS Teams. No two days are ever the same, and even though this is a period of adjusting to new ways of working, it is also a period of learning and developing new skills which will hopefully benefit our students in the long term.
What are the most challenging parts of your job in HE?
I have only been in my post for 6 months but one challenge I have observed is how we can ensure that all students can easily access the careers support and guidance they need. With a large student population and a small team of Careers Consultants it’s not possible to see every student on a 121 basis, so it’s important to come up with creative solutions that will enable all students to effectively manage their careers. This includes how we work collaboratively with others, how we use digital technology and how the academic curriculum can embed careers.
How would you say (if at all) your PG Cert has helped you in your current job? (any transferable skills?)
It would have been much harder to be in my current role without this qualification. Many Career Consultant roles I wanted to apply for required a careers qualification, so my transition from the Third Sector into HE Careers is largely due to obtaining this qualification. My role requires me to be an effective coach and the Coaching module I took as part of the course was extremely beneficial in giving me the practical tools and skills to deliver a quality coaching session (such as listening skills and using a framework to conduct coaching sessions). The Career Development Theories module has expanded my understanding of how individuals perceive careers, which has subsequently enabled me to provide a better coaching service to the students I see.
Finally, what employment-related advice do you have for current students at the Centre?
A careers qualification at Warwick is highly regarded across all sectors and will provide you with the skills, knowledge and networks to progress in your career. You will be able to put into practice all the learning from your qualification and if, like me, you are hoping to move into a different sector then it’s a great qualification to have on your CV!