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Introducing the Careers and Employability Team

The Careers and Employability team provide an essential service at the University and have a range of activities you can get involved with, from work experience and volunteering, to industry-based internships and networking opportunities. We grabbed a coffee with Helen Webster, Information Point Co-ordinator to learn more about her role and the various ways in which the careers service can help you.

Our Careers and Employability team aim to deliver a service that is inclusive, impartial, welcoming, informed and tailored to your personal goals and aspirations.

What is a typical day at work for you?

After an early morning stint at my PC answering students’ questions and dealing with CV review requests, the Information Point is opened at 9am for students to come into the Careers and Employability Centre.  There is a team of three who staff the Information Point, making sure there is someone there all day Monday to Friday, to speak to students and advise them on what we have to offer and what they can participate in. Queries I receive can range from career-related questions, to students needing support, along with a host of other things. I can be booking students in for career planning appointments, welcoming them to guidance appointments, drop-in’s, employability training sessions or employer events, reassuring them while they sit waiting for a job interview to take place in the Careers Centre, and most recently, advising what haunted houses to visit in North Wales! 

What is your favourite part of your job?

I do love speaking to students as I love to hear their stories.  I know it sounds a little cheesy, but to help someone who really needs support and to see them progress over their time at University feels fantastic to me! I see timid and unsure people coming through our door who leave as confident and able people ready to make their positive mark on the world.

Do you have any exciting upcoming projects?

Students shouldn’t miss out on our fun, seasonal campaigns that we run throughout the year.  These range from pumpkins and Christmas trees to pancakes and Easter hunts.  The serious side to this is to demonstrate to students and graduates how approachable we are as a service, and how you can have fun thinking about your future career.  We want to encourage students and graduates to join us in our projects.  These include meeting our employers, getting involved in extra-curricular activities to complete The Chester Difference Award, gaining valuable experience with one of our fantastic employers by undertaking a paid internship, and supporting us with the delivery of our initiatives to fellow students by volunteering at our events or working with us in the Careers and Employability Department.

What has been your proudest moment whilst working at the University?

My proudest moment has to be seeing the introduction and growth of our Information Point and personally playing a big part in what it is now; welcoming, supportive and fun. I am really proud of the Information Point team that I manage as we employ wonderful, inspiring people who are committed to going above and beyond for our students, graduates and colleagues across the wider University.

Can you think of one of your greatest student success stories?

I can’t think of one specific success story in particular, however each year I help out at the University’s graduation ceremony. I feel proud to see our success stories pass through and achieve their degree, proudly show off their achievement. This year I am looking forward to attending the graduation ceremony of one of our wonderful, award-winning Psychology students, who it has been a privilege to see grow and develop into the capable person she is today.  This student completed her Work Based Learning placement with us in Careers and Employability and she has championed our service, often bringing in her friends (and dog) to see us.  It will be a complete honour for me to see her graduate.

Tell us about the benefits of the Chester Difference Award

The Chester Difference Award recognises all of the extra-curricular activities students take part in on top of their academic studies, including part-time work, volunteering, being a Student Ambassador or undertaking essential employability training, amongst many other things.  The Award opens students’ eyes to what they can take part in and allows them to develop their confidence and recognises all of their successes.  Careers and Employability support students by offering advice and providing students with the experience of what it would be like to take part in an assessment centre.  This ensures that students are ready when applying for jobs and that they are recognised and rewarded for going above and beyond during their Chester journey.

What advice would you give someone that doesn’t know what career they want to go into?

I would just say come and talk to us!  You don’t have to have a clear plan or idea.  It’s important to know what you like and what your skills are, and how to apply them throughout your time here, whether that be through volunteering, assisting at campus events, being part of University societies and teams. Come and listen to our employers to find out what they are looking for, try things out and gain vital experience by undertaking a placement or an internship, and just enjoy discovering who you are and what you are good at.  Keep talking to us throughout the whole process and you’ll be amazed how much confidence, understanding of yourself and skills that you’ll gain to apply to your future career.

Can you tell us about any exciting and interesting events you offer?

An exciting event that we offer in Careers and Employability is our annual careers fair - Careers Fest - which takes place every November.  We invite a host of employers, who want to talk to our students and graduates about what job opportunities they have to offer, to exhibit.  Careers Fest is a fun event and the atmosphere is fantastic!  Come along, no matter what year you are in and explore the possibilities open to you. Each year our Employer Engagement Team bring in a host of employers for students to speak to and network so that they can get the inside story about what they are looking for in future graduates. 

We also have our Venture Programme that runs throughout the year.  Venture shapes, supports and develops students and graduates to either start up their own business, enter self-employment or start freelancing, and equips students with entrepreneurial skills to innovate within an organisation - a skill sought by employers.  Venture enables you to listen to inspirational entrepreneurs and speak to financial advisers about what you need to think about financially.   You can also pitch to win funding and business support prizes. These are just a few of the events we offer, however there are many more!

Can you summarise your ‘Chester story’?  

I began as a student at the University of Chester in September 1999 and never quite left!  I have met such inspirational people during my time here, have listened to some fascinating stories, particularly at our annual Diversity Festival, and have not stopped learning.  The mentoring that I have received in my job role has made me who I am. However my story continues, to where I don’t know, but I am certainly up for the ride.

Choose a movie title for the story of your life.

It is going to have to be Paddington; a bit clumsy, not quite getting the gist of things, often getting lost and leaving chaos in my wake but forever trying!

If you could have a superpower what would you choose?

Of all the superpowers out there, the only one that I want is to understand what animals think and say.  I often wonder what Millie, the campus cat, thinks about being the star of the University of Chester!



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