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In conversation with...Natalie Sem

In conversation with

Welcome to our ‘In Conversation with…’ series, introducing you to some of the learners from our grade 2-5 development programmes as they reflect on their experiences.

Our learners contribute so much to our programmes bringing such a richness and diversity of experience and insight to them. We want to bring the programmes to life through their experiences – and give you an opportunity to get to know them!

Natalie Sem (Peer Support Assistant, Careers Centre) attended the Careers Information, Advice and Guidance programme. The programme consists of three modules to support career planning and development and looks at:

  • Effective CVs, skills profiles and job profiles
  • Effective interview skills
  • Mock interview practice

What was it that first attracted you to the programme?

I joined the Career Development Programme Module due to my strong interest in professional development. This programme covers crucial aspects like interview skills, mock interviews, and crafting traditional CVs, which I knew were areas I needed to improve to advance my career.

How is the programme run?

The programme is delivered in a group setting in person, which I found to be a highly effective approach. Each of us had our own devices and could take notes while Harriet and Jo presented their slides. This allowed us to make real-time notes ensuring that we didn't miss any valuable insights.

One aspect I particularly enjoyed was the practical application of what we learned. For instance, we had the opportunity to work in pairs to create self-descriptions that best represented us to recruiters. Sharing our descriptions within the group and receiving feedback helped fine-tune our qualities that stand out to potential employers. This hands-on practice was invaluable.

Additionally, OD&PL followed up with us after programme via email, summarising what we covered and providing guidance, which I found to be a helpful resource for reference. Overall, the programme format was an engaging learning experience.

What did the programme cover?

We delved into effective interview skills, learning how to present ourselves confidently and make a lasting impression on potential employers. We also had the invaluable opportunity to engage in mock interview practice, which sharpened our abilities and helped us overcome interview nerves.

Another crucial element of the programme was the in-depth exploration of CVs and job applications. This included a focus on crafting traditional CVs, a topic I was especially keen to explore, having previously tailored my CVs to creative positions. Learning to structure a CV to suit a broader array of job opportunities was very helpful.

What about the programme did you find challenging?

What I found challenging was the "on-the-spot" practical exercises. I'm a perfectionist, and I typically prefer preparing everything meticulously. However, being put on the spot was a valuable experience. This type of challenge required rapid thinking, quick recollection of relevant examples, and a heightened awareness of delivering the most impactful responses. Ultimately, it enhanced my ability to communicate effectively, especially when applying the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure my responses during interviews.

What was the most impactful aspect of the programme?

It was the consistent reassurance and guidance provided from start to finish to us as a group. We were not expected to be perfect, but rather, we were encouraged and reminded that personal growth is a gradual journey. This resonated with me because I tend to seek immediate results. What stood out most was the process of gaining insights and actively working on self-improvement, which was emphasised throughout the sessions, especially in the CV, interview, and job application workshop.

Additionally, the programme highlighted the importance of adding value to these documents and explaining why we are the right fit for a position. It reminded us not to feel intimidated but to confidently express our skills and the unique contributions we can make. This empowerment was the most impactful takeaway for me.

What do you know now that you didn’t know before you attended Career Information, Advice and Guidance?

Attending the Career Information, Advice and Guidance programme has significantly expanded my understanding of career development and self-improvement. Prior to the programme, I hadn't fully grasped the power of gradual progress. It taught me that personal and professional growth is a continuous journey rather than an instant achievement, a concept I previously overlooked.

The key takeaway was the importance of adding value to application documents like CVs and job applications. I now understand how to effectively convey my skills and why I'm a strong fit for a position without feeling daunted. This newfound confidence in self-expression is a valuable skill I gained.

It has also opened my eyes to a new career path that I hadn't considered before, underscoring the significance of exploring diverse opportunities for career advancement.

Would you recommend the programme to others?

Absolutely, I wholeheartedly recommend the program to others for its valuable insights, confidence-building, and career-enhancing potential.

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