Directions: championing career journeys

Directions: championing career journeys. Our trainee careers advisers

The huge benefits of diversity are becoming more recognised in all parts of our lives, including in the world of work, as more organisations are trying to make sure there is equality, diversity and inclusion in their workforce.

Our differences are something that we should all be proud of. In fact, diversity should be celebrated - it is because we are all different that we succeed as a human race. Let’s face it, how boring would life be if we were all exactly the same? And just like no two people are the same, no two career paths are either.

The ‘Directions’ blog series aims to give you an insight into the nature of career journeys through interviews with people who may, or may not, have expected to arrive at their current destination. 

To kick off our series of blogs, we’re looking at the experiences of four of our trainee careers advisers – Nas, Kate, Danny and Georgina. They’re doing the same job now but check out if you can spot any similarities or differences in their journeys. We caught up with them all to find out how they arrived at C&K Careers. 

Can you describe your career journey so far? 

Nas: on finishing my degree at university, I was destined to take up a job in IT or any other related computing field. During my last semester, some 16 years ago now, I can remember my university professor talking to us about jobs and long-term careers in the computing field. My imagination got me thinking whilst I could hear the professor talking about how this year’s graduates will go on to exciting careers.  

After many interviews, I landed a job at a corporate banking organisation in the financial sector, which was far from the IT field but enough to gain some experience in the big world of work. On my first day I can remember employees entering the building all smartly dressed in suits, this of course created an impression on me. For the next 16 years I worked for many financial organisations across the UK. Of course, my career took a different turn not in IT or computing but financial services that provided a stable career for the longer term. This was somewhat different to what I had imagined all those years ago. 

Kate: after leaving university, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do. I worked as an administrator for a charity for a couple of years, which was a varied role that helped me develop different skills. Then a recruitment agent took a look at my CV and suggested a role as a helpline adviser. I hadn’t considered a career in advice and guidance before but found the role really rewarding. After relocating to Calderdale last year, I saw the position of trainee careers adviser at C&K and am very pleased to now be on board! 

Danny: my first job was a part-time sales assistant job in a clothes shop as a 17 year old, I did this on and off as I left school and went to university. After leaving university, I took a job selling financial services, mainly because the pay was good and it sounded like a job a graduate should be doing, unfortunately I quickly found out this wasn’t the job for me. After leaving that role I found myself taking a job back in retail, basically I needed a job and it was something I knew I could do. I reached the level of store manager in retail and worked in both smaller independent stores and big high street retailers. After 15 years of working in retail I decided I wanted a change and here I am training to be a careers adviser. The thing I take away from my journey is that it’s not always straightforward, sometimes you will make the wrong choice and will have to re-assess where you are and where you want to go but don’t worry, that’s normal! I’m 33 and have just made a huge career change, so you don’t need to panic if you feel lost, there’s always time to do something about it. 

Georgina: when I left school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I went to Huddersfield New College to study A levels, including psychology, which I really enjoyed. After college, I was still stuck, so I decided I’d go to uni. If anything that’d buy me three more years to figure it out, right? Wrong! I left uni, and instead of having an amazing job and earning loads of money, I was living back at home, working in restaurants as I always had. I had no specific role in mind, so I found applying for jobs difficult, all I knew was that I liked working with people. I eventually landed a graduate role in recruitment for the UK advertising industry. I met loads of really cool people and learnt a lot about the sector. It quickly became clear to me that I didn’t really fit in. Then one day, I got a call from a property company who’d seen my Linkedin profile. The company was full of people around my age who had drive and ambition and I instantly felt more at home. 

Sometimes, things happen in life that make you stop and take stock. After three years of working hard in London, I decided that it was time to find something that I loved but was for the long term, so I packed my bags and moved back up north. I applied for a trainee role at C&K Careers, I admired them as I had used their service myself and knew how important it could be to someone who is lost careers-wise, like I had been. 

What were your career goals when you were younger?

Nas: at a younger age I wanted to become a fireman or detective but over time that soon changed to something in the medical profession. Whilst at university the idea of working in the city of London and overseas appealed to me because at the time the thought of travelling was exciting. 

Kate: I had a few quite varied ideas including sports physiotherapist, musician and journalist and decided to study English at university, as it was the subject I’d enjoyed the most at A level. I had a great time at uni but in hindsight, I could have made better use of the careers service in order to gain more of an idea of the options available after graduation. 

Danny: growing up, like most other kids, I wanted to be loads of things when I became an adult: footballer, policeman, Prime Minister ... However, my first real goal when I was younger was pretty simple, I wanted to go to university and get a degree. I was strongly motivated by the fact no one in my family had been to university before and I wanted to do that. I wasn’t too concerned about what career I was going to do after university, I assumed I’d work that out as I went through my degree. It didn’t quite work out like that and looking back, I wish I had used my university careers service more and planned for my graduate career better. 

Georgina: when I was younger I was fascinated by crime, I wanted to be a police or probation officer or forensic psychologist/investigator. I applied for a couple of jobs in these areas but never really wanted to commit to even more years of study and was ready to start working.  

What are you most proud of in your career so far? 

Nas: I didn’t work overseas but still managed to work in the City of London and many more across the UK. This gave me the opportunity to meet lots of people from diverse backgrounds. I gained different skills and experiences from the organisations I worked for.   

Kate: I’ve always felt proud when helping people to achieve their career goals. Some of the most challenging times as an adviser for the National Careers Service helpline were results days, the calls came flooding in and it was crucial to give the best advice possible to young people, to help them make the right decision for them. 

Danny: in my career I have had the responsibility for the development of other staff members, either being their manager or in a training capacity. It always gives me great pride when I see where they have gone in their careers and the positive impact that I have had in getting them there. This in a way is what has led me to where I am now, being able to contribute to the progression and success of others is a great motivator for me. 

Georgina: I am proud of throwing myself into all the different challenges and being able to admit when it wasn’t working or making me happy. Even if this meant moving to or from central London. The last thing I wanted was to end up stuck in a job that I didn’t enjoy. 

What difficulties, if any, have you faced?

Nas: after university and many job applications and assessment centres, I soon realised my degree alone wouldn’t help me across the finishing line. The same words cropped up at every interview ‘experience’ of which I had very little. 

I worked my way up the ladder but there were challenges along the way, I came across employees who were promoted not for what skills they had but rather, who they knew in the organisation. This was frustrating but made me work harder to set myself above the competition and soon enough it paid off. I felt I had to work twice as hard but this didn’t put me off to get to where I wanted to be.  

Kate: looking for work in a new area after moving felt quite daunting. If you find yourself in this situation, I would advise not to put too much pressure on yourself, keep an open mind and try to find a role that you will enjoy. 

Danny: at school, one of the difficulties I faced was that I’m dyslexic. I always did OK at school and because I wasn’t struggling too badly with most subjects, it wasn’t really picked up until quite late on. It can definitely be a frustrating thing to cope with but I have never seen it as something to hold me back. As I have got older and progressed in my career it is something I have learned to deal with better but I have to do more reading and writing in the job I have now, which is definitely testing me! 

Georgina: the most difficult thing for me, was my internal battle. Feeling like I wasn’t doing things the way society expected me to. Saying to myself, 'shouldn’t you have figured it out by now?' This was especially difficult after university, when I was trying to compete in the graduate job market. 

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Nas: on reflection, my advice is to keep an open mind, set short term and long term goals to work towards. Of course, there is no such thing as a smooth journey but what you make of it counts. Get plenty of advice and learn from others who have been there and lastly don’t be afraid of change. 

Kate: keep going! I feel fortunate in that, although I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do at first, I’m now in a role where I can make a positive difference. It’s important to trust yourself and not worry too much if you don’t have it all planned out. 

Danny: be braver! Life is full of opportunities, so go out and grab them with both hands. Go looking for exciting opportunities and don’t be afraid to have a go. It can be easy to talk yourself out of something you may think you can’t do or you think isn’t for people like you but unless you try you will never know. 

Georgina: you don’t have to plan for the next 50 years at the age of 16, things change and life happens anyway. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like you have things figured out, nobody really does. Keep working hard, follow your gut and you’ll get there. 

As you can see, our trainees are now all at a similar point in their career with C&K Careers, yet we have all had very different journeys. We have backgrounds including retail, helpline advice, financial services and sales, yet here we are doing the same job! 

It’s important to note that these four journeys have all seen their fair share of ups, downs and u-turns. Yet all our trainees commented on the importance of keeping an open mind, setting short term goals and trusting your instincts.  

Thanks to Nas and Danny for helping us out with this post

Georgina and Kate 

C&K Careers

If you found these interesting, check out two of our senior managers' career journeys and check out making a start on your career journey

Page updated September 2020

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Our careers advisers are based at:

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