Adult Careers Coaches
RNN Group was one of the first college groups in the region to bring in adult careers coaches to support our 19+ learners to help them achieve their career dreams and be successful. Careers advice is usually only really viewed as something for senior school learners, but here at the RNN Group, we believe in an inclusive approach to ensuring everyone has the advice and support they need.
Andy and Ben, our two adult careers coaches, have kindly agreed to be interviewed for this week’s RNN Group blog!
What was your favourite job before you started working at the RNN Group and why?
Andy: My favourite job ever was working in a chocolate shop when I was at University. It was in York and attracted lots of tourists from around the world, and some celebs! It was straight next to the Minster, and I’d walk home through that beautiful city, as the sun set, full of chocolate!
Ben: The one that jumps to mind is when I was an activity instructor down in Kent. I was able to experience such a vast range of activities with different students including from abroad, and we offered abseiling, climbing, team building, aero-ball, Laser tag and loads more. I even taught English to the international students and got to take them out on trips around London! I loved being able to hold sessions outside of a classroom environment and encourage thinking outside of the box. I always loved hearing the teachers feedback on how they’d never expected the kids to do so well/ acted completely differently to how they expected. That was a super rewarding job.
What experience do you have that makes you qualified to support adults with their careers?
Andy: I’ve worked in education my whole life, I went to school, sixth form, university and then started working at Universities after graduation. I’ve had other jobs, second jobs, Saturday jobs and I’ve earned my own money since I was 11. I come from this area and now I get to give hope and opportunities to others. I really have the best job in the world.
Ben: I feel like my experience comes from being in the same boat as a lot of the adult learners. I’ve tried a lot of different jobs across sectors – retail, bar-work, care work, customer service, military training, teaching – and didn’t return to education until I was a mature learner. I did the Access course at North Notts College in 2014 and went to University from there. I understand what it’s like to be unsure of what you want to do and be faced with the path of gaining qualifications to get the career you want, so in that regard I relate to a lot of the learners and the journey they have ahead of them, which I believe puts me in a really good position to give advice.
How do you help adults here within the RNN Group?
Andy: I give hope and opportunity to people and help them create a roadmap for their future. I can help people, even if they don’t know what they want to do – how do I do that? Well, I narrow down options by asking what they definitely don’t want to do. Do you want to work with animals? Do you want to work outside mainly? Do you want to work in an office? By the end of these and other questions, people will often tell me a dream job they have always wanted to do and I then get to assess the practicalities of getting to that job (education needed, experience) and where ever possible, I try to make it happen for them. It’s up to them to put the hard work in – and it’s always hard work – but sometimes, having someone behind you giving you support, is half the battle won. And then I get to see them go off to do that job, and it’s amazing.
Other times, I help people from overseas with confirming their qualifications. Recently people from the Ukraine have needed assessment to prove their qualifications meet our requirements for work in the UK, which I can do. I also help people with retraining, getting experience to move them forward in their current jobs and sometimes, I help people with imagination and flair go into business for themselves!
Ben: I’ll often support with things like career pathways, CVs, cover letters, applications, interview techniques, UCAS forms and personal statements. Many of these things I find people have some form of anxiety over; it’s not very often I’ll meet with someone that’s confident with all of them, so in my experience it’s completely normal to want that extra support. A lot of the time it can be as simple as encouraging people and letting them know that they have the skills needed to succeed, so many people lack confidence and find it hard to imagine themselves at their end goal, but nine times out ten, it’s something that they absolutely can do! I like to set out a pathway from where the student is now to their end goal so they can see how with some hard-work and dedication they can achieve. So, the ways I help are really the following: give information, give advice and guidance and cheerlead!
What is the most common question you get asked?
Ben and Andy both said – Cost! The reality is, many adults have created a life and have responsibilities and many adult learners are concerned about paying additional money on top of their ever-increasing bills, a completely understandable worry. I (Andy) am always reassured that I work for a College Group that will try and make the courses we offer as free or inexpensive as they can as well as providing extra support in terms of bursaries to assist with travel costs, food, childcare. We also offer support in the form our welfare and counselling for anyone struggling and sometimes just having an ear of someone to listen, often about financial worries, is a real benefit to a lot of people. Another common question (Ben) is just about how they can get where they want/what qualifications they need/how long it takes to get there, at which point I can create a timeline to give a clear pathway, sometimes it can take a long time, I always say the important thing is to continue making positive steps towards your end goal and the best time to start that is now, no matter how small and ensure you keep moving forward.
What one piece of advice would you give to adults now about their learning journey?
Ben: Embrace it, learning can be so much fun and so beneficial in enriching our lives. Talk about what you’ve learned, talk about your projects with friends and family, be proud of the things you’re doing as you can find a lot of happiness in that space. It might be hard, it may take a long time, but that’s even more reason to take pride in what you’re doing.
Ben concluded “I like my job. Ultimately, I’m here to help, but the joy doesn’t come from writing CV’s and personal statements, the joy comes from the people I can help along the way, the wide range of people I’m able to talk to, discuss future plans and really helping them get to grips with the reality, which as I said above is often: “You can do this!” We have the ability to improve upon ourselves and create better lives and the moments when I get to briefly guide people down that path are fantastic.
Andy: Don’t put it off any longer. In 12 months’ time, it’s best to be looking back at what you’ve achieved than looking back wishing you’d started. Come and see us, let us help you make a plan. We will give you the realities of the path you want to take and we can really help you!
Andy added: You’ll never stop learning; no job is the same after 2 years or 5 years. You’ll learn new things all the time, learning to drive, learning to make new meals, learning to change a nappy. There’s really never been a better time to become an adult learner, or pick up new training to help you aspire and achieve, so isn’t it time you learned something to get you further? Come and see us, we are there to help you!
For more information on the adult careers coaches, visit our websites and adult courses where enrichment and support information is listed. You can contact Ben and Andy for advice and guidance on email@example.com