Lauren Ferguson

BA (Hons) Human Resource Management

UK
Careers Assistant, University of Stirling

Briefly describe your career history to date:
My first taste of employment was with Abbey National (Now Santander) as a Customer Service Adviser (Retail Banking Call Centre).  I held this role on a part-time basis throughout my studies at Stirling. I got the job as I volunteered to take calls when the centre was involved in the annual Children in Need appeal. This gave me experience of call handing and when the job came up I applied and was successful. Working for a large banking organisation was a great way to get access to lots of really useful in-house training programmes on areas such as customer service, conflict resolution and team building. I was also able to get involved in mentoring and training new staff. I still remember lots of the things I learned in this job and use them today!  When I left Stirling, I got a job as a Financial Administrator/Pensions Administrator with Hazell Carr (now Xafinity Paymaster).  Although I studied HR, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go into a career in this area and, as I had financial service experience, customer service and complaint handling skills, I applied for a role as a Financial Administrator working on mortgage endowment complaints. After 2 years I moved to their pension’s team however I didn’t enjoy it as much as there was very little customer interaction, and the work was very technical, involving complicated pension legislation. During this time however, I did get the opportunity to complete three Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) qualifications and an SVQ and Modern Apprenticeship in Business and Administration.  In 2008, I returned to the University as Careers Assistant within the Career Development Centre.

What attracted you to this career?
I definitely wanted a job where I felt I could help people and use my customer service skills. I also really enjoyed my time at university in Stirling and the beautiful campus, so I thought it would be a good environment to work in.

How did you get into your current job?
I had been looking for a new job for a couple of months and was trying to decide what would be the best fit for me. I thought I might be suited to working in the public sector and saw the job at Stirling advertised on the university website. This job was exactly what I had been looking for as it involved a lot more interaction with colleagues and the opportunity to help and support students, I applied and was successful.

Describe what your current job involves:

  • Working at the Career Development Centre reception on a rota basis to answer the phone and greet students as they arrive and find out how we can best help them.
  • Planning and promoting careers events and preparing materials for these. 
  • Working with the information team to keep our Facebook page and website up-to-date in addition to helping students find information about different career areas. 
  • Running the Insight into Teaching programme which is a work experience programme to help students who are interested in teaching get classroom experience in local primary and secondary schools.
  • I recently completed my PgD in Career Guidance and Development, which has allowed me to get more involved in delivering careers workshops and working on a 1-2-1 basis with students to help with their career planning.
  • Administering the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey.

Describe a typical working day:
My job is usually 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday although there are some occasional evening events. I get into the office for 9am and start by checking my emails and the Facebook page for updates or messages from students. I also look after our general email box so I check this for messages and send replies. If I’m covering reception then I’ll be meeting students as they come in, answering queries, making appointments and answering and directing calls. During semester when we are running events there will usually be some planning and promotions work to be done for these. I might be involved in delivering a careers workshop or meeting students for guidance appointments.

In what way did your time at Stirling shape your career to date?
I don’t believe I would have got my first graduate job without the experience I gained through my part-time job so practical work experience to go with your degree is really important. Studying HR gave me a good idea of what employers look for in a CV, job application forms and interviews. Going to university also made me much more confident about meeting new people and developed my time-management and organisation skills through balancing assignment deadlines with part-time work and social activities.  

List three things that you love about your job:
Meeting students from all over the world.
Feeling like I can make a difference and help people.
The team of people I work with.

List three things you dislike about your job:
Not many opportunities for promotion or development.
It can get very quiet in the summer when the students are away and I much prefer to be busy.
Can’t think of a third!

What advice would you give to current students in terms of preparing for life after graduation?
Take advantage of any training opportunities available to you in your part-time job or through voluntary work. It gives you something extra to put on your CV and impress employers. Visit the Career Development Centre! We can give you lots of help and advice on finding work experience and preparing for life after graduation. It’s a great resource that is open to all students and graduates to take advantage of. 

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