|English and Related Literature|
|Victorian Literature and Culture|
|International Employability Officer|
|University of York|
|Large business (250+ employees)|
More about Jessica
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A day in the life of a International Employability Officer in the United Kingdom
This role was the perfect combination of my personal and professional experience.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
I work for Careers and Systems, at the University of York.
What do you do?
I am the departmental specialist in International Student Employability, and my role covers a lot of ground! I work with the colleagues in my department and across the University to ensure the careers support we provide is relevant and useful for international students.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
This role was the perfect combination of my personal and professional experience. During my degree I had an erasmus year in Sweden, so I had a personal understanding of how challenging it can be to study in another country. I also really enjoyed my previous role in the Careers department, and was looking for a new challenge.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
When I finished my MA I was so sure I was going to go on to do a PhD I had already secured a supervisor, and was looking into funding! I ultimately decided against this for family reasons, and discovered I also had a passion for (and was good at!) Careers support. There's a huge amount of data analysis and self directed work in my current role, both of which I gained extensive experience in during my degrees, which has been a very pleasant surprise.
Describe your most memorable day at work
My most memorable day at work was one of our Summer Careers Fairs, when I was just a few months into my role. We knew a lot of international students planned to attend, and so I had created a new session to help international students prepare for the fair and resources for the employers to help them understand the visa options they might be asked about. I got really good feedback from both sides which helped me improve my resources for the next fair, and encouraged me that what I had created was actually useful!
What’s your work environment and culture like?
My work environment and culture is great! I have the option to work hybrid, and I tend to choose to spend four days per week in the office. People tend to dress smart casual: when I started I dressed more on the smart end, but I now enjoy dressing more casually. The department has three principles which everyone is expected to abide by, and I agree wholeheartedly with all of them, which means I find the culture very positive and easy to work within. People are friendly, professional and really happy to help when different teams need support.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
One thing I really enjoyed about University was the opportunity to try out different areas of work alongside my studies. I worked for YuCall, the Open Day team, Access and Outreach, Events, Marketing, and my department. This helped me learn more about what kind of work I enjoyed, and the working style I liked: whilst I enjoyed fundraising itself, I found the evening shift pattern very challenging so I knew I ultimately wanted a predominantly 9-5 role. I also discovered that I enjoyed events because of the natural opportunity to reflect and improve once the event is delivered, and so I sought work which involved events. Most of all I noticed that across all the roles I performed I really enjoyed working with people.
In addition to this I did a year abroad in Sweden during my undergraduate degree, and I attended a summer school and was President of the Printing Society. Whilst balancing all of these commitments alongside my studies was ocassionally challenging, and I definitely enjoyed some experiences more than others, I am glad I did so much. It really benefitted me in my graduate level interviews, and I could evidence a much wider range of skills from a huge variety of roles and work environments.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Do as many extra curriculur activities as you can sensibly manage. This will allow you to learn about what kind of work you enjoy, as well as the working pattern and ethos you want to engage with long term. Try to ensure you are gaining as wide a range of work experience as possible, and take advantage of the opportunities to gain graduate level work whilst you study (for example through placement years and internships). If you are struggling, reach out as the staff are always happy to help!
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
Working in higher education, working in careers, transitioning from study to work as a mature student.
If you like the look of Jessica’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Jessica a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Jessica to be your mentor.