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Careers advice: what was your experience?

(26 Posts)
SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-Oct-13 16:48:51

Afternoon everyone,

You may remember that, back in the mists of time (ie the beginning of last year), a Mumsnetter started a thread asking for advice from those who’d worked their way into rewarding, well-paid careers. The responses were so brilliant (and extensive) that we decided to look into the possibility of building a Mumsnet Mentoring area off the back of it; we’re in the final stages, now, and should have something to show you soon.

In the process of developing it, we joined forces with education charity Inspiring the Future, who offer a free service in which volunteers from all sectors and professions go into state secondary schools to talk about what they do. During the course of their work, they’ve found that girls in particular struggle to hear from relatable role models; to that end, they’re launching a new campaign on October 17th, hosted by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez and designed to give girls the chance to meet a wide range of inspiring women. Before it launches next week, however, they asked us to ask you for your input on your own experiences of careers advice - and those of your children?

They’d like you to answer the following questions, if you can spare the time:

· what was the best piece of careers advice you were given?
· what was the worst piece of careers advice you were given?
· what do you think of the careers advice your children are getting?

If you could let us know on the thread below, that’d be great. And watch this space for Mumsnet Mentoring - coming soon!

EBearhug Thu 10-Oct-13 22:20:57

Best -
I think one of the best pieces of careers advice is that most people don't climb the career ladder, they move across a careers jungle gym, so sometimes they go up, but other times they go across and zig zag back with more and varied experience.

Also, concentrating on the thing which motivate you and demotivate you, and what your values are, then looking for a roles which fits that, rather than focussing on job titles.

Worst -
I did a computer quiz, find your ideal job type thing. One of the suggested careers was croupier. I come from a family with a lot of non-gamblers for religious reasons, and although I don't have that faith, I feel very uncomfortable with gambling. And I have no idea how to play poker or anything.

Don't have children, so can't answer that, but I have recently become a StemNet ambassador, as we need more women in IT, my current field.

Tweasels Thu 10-Oct-13 23:46:12

The best piece of careers advice I was given was to apply for a job at my local careers office (I'm not joking).

The worst piece of careers advice I've had was when picking my A-Levels. There was no support to check they were the right ones or relevant to what I wanted to do and I ended up dropping out and having to start again.

My children get excellent careers advice because I'm a careers adviser grin. Where I live, our service is valued and subsidised by the local authority and I think the children in our borough get a very dood standard of IAG. This is not the case in most other areas though sadly.

CMOTDibbler Mon 14-Oct-13 18:50:17

Best - look at your passions, and find a match for those.

Worst - the careers advice at school.

My ds is 7, so no advice yet, but he gets told about what dh and I love in our jobs and we try to tell him about people we know with interesting jobs/careers.

I hope in these role models there will be non academic scientists - plenty of us work outside universities, but are rarely shown

AnnaBegins Mon 14-Oct-13 19:32:23

Best careers advice was from my DH, who gave me the space and encouraged me to try a few things to find what I really wanted to do.

Worst was at school where a careers advisor went round the class one by one asking what we wanted to do then rubbishing each person's answer confused It wasn't limited to one rogue advisor though, our school had one set route for those who they considered to be vaguely academic, my DH (same school) was refused a careers interview as they expected him to do A levels/university, no support given for vocational paths, and yet not pushed to anything further, with no prospectuses for Oxbridge in careers library, and no guidance on what to do after uni (apart from the standard computer program telling you to be a farmer or tree surgeon because you like the countryside!)

There needs to be a more individual approach with all paths given equal merit, whether vocational or academic.

I don't have kids yet, but I hope they will get a more individualised experience.

MmeLindor Mon 14-Oct-13 20:35:42

I am really pleased to see this - I had hoped that MN would be working with Inspiring the Future after reading the interview with Miriam Gonzalez Durantez.

A MNetter asked me if I was a lawyer, and when I asked why she thought that she replied, 'You write so well, and are good at constructing an argument'. She probably won't remember writing that, but it gave me the confidence to start writing, and to start a blog.

'Don't go into journalism, it is a difficult career to get into', from my parents and my school careers adviser.

Daughter announced recently that she had done a computer test to find out which careers suited her. Apparently she is a 'dolphin' and should look at a career in sales, PR and marketing, journalism or law. Which is exactly the same as I was told when I was her age.

DD is a very talented artist, but this wasn't even a factor in the test she took. I think that many young people are given a list of 'general' careers, and don't even know of some of the really exciting stuff out there.

I would like to see more advice on vocational training (and more availability of apprenticeships) and an emphasis on finding a talent or interest that you love, and making a career out of it.

headlesslambrini Mon 14-Oct-13 20:50:58

Best - do something you enjoy and feel satisfaction from it, you may be doing it a long time.

Worst - what team do you support - yes really!! from my careers adviser in school, he was more interested in talking about football

Children - they will have the best advice possible as I'm a careers adviser. They will be encouraged to think about apprenticeships alongside university. DS is 14 - yr 10 and TBH I wasn't over happy with the level of support he got with his GCSE option choices and this is from the company which I work for

I think parents need to understand that the careers advice which they had in school, albeit good or bad, doesn't exist anymore. Some schools buy in and others don't and will just signpost students to a website. Careers Advisers, like me, will only have 45 minutes, if we are lucky to talk to a student, this isn't adequate to determine whether or not it is a realistic choice and to give them all the options in which they might achieve their goals.

We need better advice and guidance in schools and colleges, not just in those schools which will prioritise it. Also, not just with students which the school tells me to see. It should be a right of a student / parent to request a guidance appointment and for it to take as long as it takes rather than to expect miracles within 45 mins.

LocalEditorPortsmouth Fri 18-Oct-13 20:45:17

Worst - I was given no advice at all when I spoke to my first careers adviser in year 3 (now year 9). He asked me what I wanted to do. I said I didn't know. He asked me what I knew about - I said children - being a child. So he gave me a leaflet on being a child minder.

I changed schools shortly after that as we moved counties. My old school went into special measures. I spoke to the careers adviser in year 4 (10) and he asked me what I wanted to be. I told him I wanted to be a childminder. He asked me why and I explained. He said, I think you could do more and told me to attend the careers fair. He saw me there and directed me to an impressive lady wearing a suit. She was a solicitor. I hadn't even dreamed of doing a job like that. I thought it was beyond me, not something someone from my background (both parents no qualifications and factory workers) ever did. I spoke to her for 10 minutes.

9 years later, I qualified as a solicitor.

My parents had no advice for me. They didn't know anything about the kind of career I went into. They couldn't help me with my homework let alone what A Levels I should take. As it turns out I made poor choices but I recovered it.

I hope that I will be able to guide my children better than my parents guided me. I don't necessarily think a university education is the thing to aim for any more. I will make sure my children know what is out there and that they don't limit themselves needlessly. I have no idea what current careers advice is like. I hope it's better than the first lot I got.

DreaduCated Mon 28-Oct-13 19:13:58

Worst - I said I wanted to work in Accountancy, aged 14. Careers adviser looked at me and said 'Ooh, I don't know anything about that'. End of consultation hmm

Also worst - repeatedly being told that I should/would be a teacher, because I did Education Studies not accountancy at uni. I am not a teacher. I work in a field that makes my degree incredibly relevant, but people couldn't see past the obvious choice.

Best - If you aren't happy, it's not worth it.

joanofarchitrave Mon 28-Oct-13 19:22:36

Best - 'of course you could do that course' by my mum, when I was initially put off a degree by the strident insistence in the prospectus that they only took TOP SCIENCE STUDENTS (absolutely untrue)

Worst - 'go into hotel and catering work' which was the advice for 60% of my classmates when we had official careers advice at school. Despite the fact that I am a slob, showed no interest in food beyond having as much of it as possible, spoke only schoolgirl French at the time and dislike having visitors at home. Can't help feeling that the advice was heavily influenced by the area of the country I live in.

ScaryHalloweenName Thu 31-Oct-13 11:23:53

I have had virtually no careers advice. It solely consisted of a session in school where I was asked if I knew what I wanted to do. I said that I thought I wanted to work in an office, was told that there are lots of office jobs and that was the session over. At no other point in my life have I been offered any advice.

Putthatbookdown Thu 31-Oct-13 16:35:21

Only 15% of people actually ever end up in the position they want to be in These days there are fewer careers as people often find themselves having 2 even 3 careers

itsnothingoriginal Thu 07-Nov-13 20:22:10

I never got any careers advice at school and just chose a subject I was good at for A Level as a degree which was a big mistake.

I then ended up training as a Careers Adviser - a job I love but which sadly, has more or less completely disappeared due to cuts by this government and the onus being passed to schools sad

I think it is utterly appalling that most children are having to make very difficult and complex decisions about expensive courses without any impartial help or advice. I had no advice at school apart from teachers who were usually biased in one way or another (many people are confused about whether they got advice from a Careers Teacher or an independent Careers Adviser at school and is usually the former!)

Sorry for the rant - but I do think parents should be aware of the lack of support out there for their children and what has happened to Careers Services across the UK (Scotland and Wales still have a national Careers Service for young people!).

MumblingMummy Sat 09-Nov-13 20:05:23

What an excellent idea this is. DP's teenage daughter was dismissive of my career until she found out how much I earned.

· best piece of careers advice I was given? A. Do what you enjoy and are good at and most importantly, specialise in your given field. By Coutts Careers Advisor in the 1990s.
· worst piece of careers advice given? A. By my school careers advisor in 1980 - just go into nursing so you can pick it up again after the children have grown. Or a secretary. Even though I was top of my class, it was all that was expected of me in my Midlands market town in the 80s.
· what do I think of the careers advice my children are getting? A. I dont have any but DPs children seem to get reasonable advice (study hard, go to college & Uni).

There needs to be better advice for ALL though, not just children. Those online tests are poor (they are the same ones used by high street careers advisors). The whole process needs to be tailored and holistic. DPs son is doing Engineering at college just because his friends are doing it.

TapirbackFucker Sat 16-Nov-13 20:08:30

Worst: Careers advisor at school telling me that girls would only be working until they got married and had children, so not to bother with anything worthwhile! angry

Best: Being told (by my 5th yr tutor) to find out what I loved, and make a career around it - and being given help to contact various companies/organisations.

Children: My dcs school are fantastic about tailoring their advice towards what the children are good at. My dd was swithering about her choices, but after some great advice, and a summer school session at St Andrews, she's working towards something that she really wants to do.

Charcoalbriquettes Sat 23-Nov-13 21:00:33

Best... I sought advice from the careers advice office at the university I had graduated from on my redundancy, and was told that the best way to find work was to ask around contacts I already had. Yep. That's the best advice I have had.... Bitter? Only a little...

Worst is just the LACK of advice given through my university years. Lots of choices are made along the way, and I think some independent guidance would be helpful. Even when it comes to things like picking modules.

As an adult I cannot get any careers advice now.... I could possibly pay for some private advice, but guess what? I don't earn enough!

TheFarSide Fri 29-Nov-13 00:23:59

Charcoal - if you live in England you can get free careers advice from the National Careers Service. If you get to the stage of booking a face to face interview with them, make sure the adviser is properly qualified (ie has the Postgraduate Diploma in Careers Guidance).

Charcoalbriquettes Fri 29-Nov-13 10:07:16

The far side... Thanks for that. I have tried contacting them.... I guess face to face might be different from their online service... I emailed them, and they emailed back with a bunch of questions, which I answered, and despite emailing the several times since, have had zero follow-up, so I have to say I DO NOT recommend their online service.

EauRouge Fri 29-Nov-13 10:26:55

Best careers advice from my mum, on wondering what I was good at- "Do what you enjoy, because if you enjoy it it means you are good at it".

Worst careers advice- the whole shoddy careers advisory service at school. Utterly useless. Long, boring tests that gave results that confused me. 5 minute meetings with a careers adviser that had never met me. My school was very academic and I didn't want to be a solicitor or a doctor, so they weren't really that bothered about what I did, as long as I did it in another educational establishment <not bitter much>.

TheFarSide Fri 29-Nov-13 11:07:58

Sorry to hear about the poor online service Charcoal. At its best, the service can be excellent but it's run on a shoestring and parts of it are pretty poor. I would urge you to complain.

You may find a face to face interview better, but only if you see a properly qualified adviser (not someone with an NVQ 3 in advice and guidance). If you ring the national number they will put you in touch with local contractors who provide the service (often in colleges and training companies, sometimes in job centres).

TheFarSide Fri 29-Nov-13 11:15:53

EauRouge it sounds like your school paid for Morrisby or a similar psychometric test which can be a useful way of generating ideas, but only if you have the opportunity to discuss the results in some depth as part of a longer careers interview - not just the five minute feedback session you seem to have had.

Unfortunately there are an awful lot of schools who are more concerned about exam results than their students' career aspirations. They have a narrow focus on academic students considering the traditional professions.

Careers advisers often get blamed for poor careers services. There is a need for a well-funded independent and impartial service staffed by fully qualified professionals, but schools (and politicians) need to be on board with that too.

EauRouge Fri 29-Nov-13 12:09:44

Unfortunately there are an awful lot of schools who are more concerned about exam results than their students' career aspirations. They have a narrow focus on academic students considering the traditional professions.

Yep, that was my school to a tee. They just wanted to show off about how many professionals they churned out with little regard for what the pupils actually wanted to do.

Funnily enough, the test I did suggested gardening as a possible career. It was ignored at the time because everyone was dead set on me being a vet, which I never really wanted to do and didn't bother pursuing in the end, but next year I'm hoping to retrain.... as a gardener. grin So maybe there was something in it after all! It just took me another 17 years to figure it out.

slightlygoostained Fri 29-Nov-13 13:26:28

Best advice ever was to apply for roles even if I only matched 40/50% of the requirements.

Worst: everything I got at school. Every single bit was wrong.

Orlea Mon 09-Dec-13 15:46:17

Worst advice I ever got was pre-A-Levels: 'choose subjects you will enjoy studying'. No hint of planning for a career - at my school, unless you had already been put in the doctor/lawyer camp, they didn't bother giving any useful advice. So I did A-Level subjects I enjoyed, and then got the same advice re choosing a degree, did a very enjoyable degree... then spent a few years doing random admin temp roles until I ended up working for an organisation that offered a grad scheme, in an area I'd never heard of before temping there. I applied and got in, and am a few years into my career, and have progressed quite well - 3yrs after that temp job, I was in a managerial role and on a decent salary. So it's all worked out well on paper... except that I loathe and detest my job, and find it extremely stressful. However, I can't just quit and start again due to money.

A good piece of advice for me would have been: 'work out what you think you want to do. Find out how easy it is to get a job in that area, what it pays and long-term prospects. Figure out if it's still worth it to you, and if so, go for it. If not, start again and this time think about what you want to achieve - live to work or work to live. Then try to find something you can bear to spend 40hrs a week doing that will pay you what you need to earn for the quality of life you want to afford, and pick the right courses/qualifications/routes that will get you into that field'.

Sorry if that sounds awfully negative, but it would have helped me to be a lot less idealistic and focus my ambition on practicalities instead. I would love to change from my stressful career to just a job instead so I can enjoy life and stop stressing, but we rely on my income so I can't be selfish and quit just cos I don't like it!

sisterofmercy Tue 10-Dec-13 17:43:27

Apart from a quiz in the early 80s which told me to be a teacher or a librarian I have not had any careers advice. I am not a teacher or a librarian. I don't have children so can't answer the last one but none of my nephews and nieces have had any careers advice yet as they're too little.

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