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Day in the life …. Careers Information & Guidance Coordinator

Introducing a semi-regular series on our blog… “Day in the life”. We’ve invited ARLG NW committee members to tell you about their days to reflect the range of roles we represent, and hope you enjoy the results. If you, as an ARLG NW member, would like to contribute your own day, please get in touch with the committee by commenting on this post or tweeting us @ARLGNW

First up is Sarah Mallen, one of our Twitter managers and a Careers Information & Guidance Co-ordinator at the University of Manchester.

Sarah - info team.jpg

Sarah (on the left) and her team at Christmas.

Background

I work at a University in the Careers Service. My job title used to be Information Manager & when I started many years ago it was all about managing paper resources; thousands of employer brochures and application forms plus a large Careers Library.

As you can guess the internet changed all that, now all the employer information is online and my role is more about making online information accessible to students.  I manage the student facing website and a team of staff including information and advisory staff.

A typical day

There is no typical day, and that’s what I like about this job and why I have stayed in it for more than 15 years now.

The year is basically split into times when most of my day is spent talking to students and times when it’s quiet and I work on the website, publications and random other stuff. It’s February so it’s busy at times particularly in the afternoons and in-between lectures. Typical enquiries at this time of year range from helping students with getting started thinking about career options, help with interviews and assessment centres and students who have multiple job offers and need help deciding between them (lucky them).

Enquiries come by phone, email and in person, usually the best thing is for us to have a chat to determine what level of help is needed and then we can either help the student ourselves or book them an appointment. Most of our phone calls today seem to be student cancelling appointments at short notice – like the NHS, nonattendance is a big problem for us. Fairly typically one of our advising staff had a home emergency which could have meant cancelling all their appointments with no notice. Fortunately that was averted as it’s never a happy task as we don’t have spare staff to see students so they have to wait longer.

Today is our first live day trialling some live chat software, it’s a very soft launch while we get used to it, but it will be publicised for an event next week.  We are all on alert waiting for the ping that means someone is talking to us. We all got very excited when our first student asked a question!

It’s the start of our second semester and we only have a short window when students will be interested in Careers before its Easter and assignment deadlines then exams. We have lots of events and programmes that launch over the next week so there has been a lot of last minute web editing getting it all ready. Unfortunately changes to the website often mean changes to our publications, as I updated them all over the summer to make them disability compliant I have delegated the job this time.

In other news, I have also taken on responsibility for our staff website and am currently working on a short questionnaire to go out to staff to find out what they want from us and what format they want it in. I’m currently looking into costings for a kiosk so that students can check themselves in for appointments. Currently we use a PC near our desk but it would be much better near the entrance.  The biggest sticking point seems to be getting estates to come out and give me a quote for power and data!

Some days seem to consist of nothing but HR paperwork, timesheets and rotas, but generally I can decide what I want to do when around the enquiry work. It’s an interesting place to work if you like hearing people’s stories and helping them make sense of the world.

What would I save if there was a fire? (humans excepted)

The biscuit tin, I’m not sure the team could survive a fire without biscuits!

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