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I can still recall the feeling of being totally out of my depth when the first client came through the door

At the beginning of September I started the next stage of my working career as an Assistant Professor within the Career Studies and Coaching team at Warwick. After more than twenty years’ experience as a career development professional it was time for a new challenge, and I am proud that I have landed here, working within a team with an international reputation for developing career and coaching practitioners.

As I begin the journey of developing this new professional identity, my mind shifts back to the millennium – an auspicious time if ever there was one to kick off my career as a career practitioner! I had been working in welfare rights advice and studying a postgraduate diploma in housing with the intention of specialising in housing advice. The closure of the housing rights centre in Oxford tolled the bell for a paid role and by chance I ‘fell’ into a new role within the new IAG career partnerships.

Armed with some boxes of books, I was tasked with setting up a career drop in centre located in a portacabin of an East Oxford playground. Heady days! I can still recall the feeling of being totally out of my depth when the first client came through the door. I am not sure how helpful I was to that young woman who wanted to become a nursery nurse – I admit to not even knowing what a nursery nurse did, however she did get there and years later she greeted me at the nursery my youngest went to and I breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn’t totally scuppered things for her.

And so, 23 years later, I find myself revisiting these feelings as I shift my working identify to a career in academia. Meeting CLL students at the start of their journey during induction workshops has been an energising joy. As they reveal their hopes and fears at the start of their studies, I can see a perfect mirror for my own feelings. The desire for new knowledge, for personal growth, a new challenge sitting alongside fear of being good enough, that there is a lot to learn and that it was some time ago since the last time you asked your brain to do this work. New students I hear you!

As I develop and grow in this new academic identity, I expect this to feel challenging, yet navigating this new path can feel hard as we cling to small wins and slowly build a jigsaw of this new world piece by piece. I am reading Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra looking for advice and encouragement along the way.

Most of all though, I am excited to be at the start of this new adventure and looking forward to working with many students and helping them develop their own professional identity as career professionals, whether they are new to this work, or building on solid foundations of experience.

About the author

Lynne Campbell is an Assistant Professor in the Career Studies team. She joined the team based in the Centre for Lifelong Learning, from the Open University, where she was the Learning and Professional Development Manager for the Careers and Employability Services.

Wed 01 Nov 2023, 13:23 | Tags: staff postgraduate Careers Studies

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