Date posted: 24/06/2020

Future planning: How a career adviser can help university students and graduates

Career adviser Nicole Papworth shares the benefits of seeking career counselling at every stage of your journey, to help you make sense of the present and plan for your future.

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Are you anxious about your career? Does the uncertainty of your career path worry you?

Whether you're not sure how to decide on a major for your degree, looking for your first job after you graduate, or wanting to make a career change – speaking to a career consultant can help gain some clarity.

We speak to Nicole Papworth, Employability & Career Consultant at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), about how speaking to a career consultant over the course of your uni years and beyond can help you shape the future you want for yourself.

Recognise your strengths, interests and value as a professional

Career advisers and consultants help university students and graduates develop skills to become more employable in their job search and design a career path that matches their interests and career ambitions.

Nicole Papworth is an Employability & Career Consultant at UTS who is passionate about helping individuals recognise their value as a professional to achieve their career goals.

As a strong believer in the power of lifelong learning and self-discovery, Nicole encourages her students - which span from first year undergraduates to professionals with 20 years of industry experience - to consider seeking advice from a career consultant, as they are able to help turn an individual's interests into a career, or enhance their skill set for their current role.

"It's important to speak to someone who doesn't have a vested interest in you. A career coach can bring a fresh perspective, and notice certain qualities about you that someone close to you may not pay attention to," says Nicole.

Nicole says that it is never too early (or too late) to start thinking about your career.

With many students questioning which subject they should choose as their university major, or wondering how to seek internship and work experience opportunities, career consultants can help students and graduates understand what options are available to them, and where their decisions can take them.

"The main role of a career adviser is to help students figure out what they're actually aware of, and where the gaps in their knowledge are so we can help them map out their journey," says Nicole

"There are a multitude of different jobs out there. No one can actually know what all the different jobs entail, so it's hard for people to narrow this down in their job search. So many people have this idea that there's one perfect job that will make them happy and successful."

Nicole says that while our interests constantly change - our strengths, abilities and what motivates us stay more consistent over time and understanding these factors about ourselves can help us make better decisions.

"A constant part of my role is asking people questions like: 'What do you think you're good at? What do you think you'd like to do? What are your skills? And what do your family or friends think?' From there, we are able to give them certain tools and techniques to go away and work on."

"Your interests constantly change, but your strengths, abilities and what motivates you stay a lot more consistent. By asking questions and finding out what interests you, we are able to help you make a decision that will impact your future."
Nicole Papworth, Employability & Career Consultant @UTS.

Establish a career path, not just a job

Having spent time in large corporations, banks, consulting and accounting firms studying who they hire and why, Nicole says that a common problem students and graduates have when discovering where their interests lie is their lack of understanding on how a career path can bring happiness.

"The core problem for most people is a lack of self-awareness, and a lack of understanding about what success in life means for them. It is never too late to change, and there is not only one career path for you," says Nicole.

"People think it's really easy to answer questions about themselves, but when they actually get asked by someone, 'what motivates and inspires you?', they often say they are not sure. It is something that everyone needs to work on at every stage of their lives."

Improve your employability and develop your skill set

As well as providing advice and information, career consultants also provide students and graduates with career services that help them improve their employability and develop skills they need to succeed.

"Seeing a career coach isn't just for high school or first year uni students. We are here to support everyone. We are here to help you fix your resume and update your LinkedIn profile so you get job offers quicker. Everyone is going to have some rejections in the job market but by getting support and help from people who have worked in the industry, you're not going to have as many failures," says Nicole.

Career coaches are also constantly developing industry and career insights to provide students and graduates with information to help them either succeed in the job search, or upskill in their industry.

"Career advisers are people who have either worked in the industry or have connections to someone who is currently in the industry, so we are best equipped to help you," says Nicole.

Regardless of what stage you are at in your career, a career consultant can help you improve your employability and prepare you to reach your career goals.

"We try our best to teach students and graduates different skills that they can apply throughout their career. We want to help them design a life that they are excited about and happy with," says Nicole.

"Even though you may have graduated, career advisers can help you find a job, make a career switch or even help you get that promotion. People visit us a lot to discuss salary negotiation, so we are here to provide you with the tools and resources you need to succeed."

Nicole recommends that if you are having a tough time making a decision about your future, seeking the help of a career advisor is a wise next step.

"Come in with an open mind and as much preparation about who you think you are as a person. Career advisers are just the ones asking questions, so remember that it is you who makes the realisation on what you want in life."

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