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Case studies

Young people case studies

Paul, Year 12

...Paul doesn't seem to care much about his current course. In fact he is wondering whether to carry on, or go and 'do something in catering' as he has had some experience working in a fast food outlet.

Paul joined the Sixth Form of one of your schools with a clutch of GCSE grades D, E & F. He is taking the GNVQ Intermediate Business studies. You have been asked to him because he is regarded as 'at risk'. From seeing Paul around the school, you have got the impression that he hasn't really made any new friends, but you are not sure he has made much effort to do so. He had a poor relationship with the teaching staff at his secondary school. He feels this was largely their fault, in that they wanted to 'pry into his affairs', which he felt were none of their business. He also thought they 'did him down' and never considered he was any good at anything. He then goes on to tell you that he doesn't get on with his parents, and when they start to argue, he 'just clears off'.

Paul doesn't seem to care much about his current course. In fact he is wondering whether to carry on, or go and 'do something in catering' as he has had some experience working in a fast food outlet. He thinks he could always re-sit the GNVQ in year 12. Paul also says that he doesn't always have time to do his homework, because he has to write stories. When his hand itches, he knows there is something he has to write. Most of his stories are about dead people coming back to life. He says he 'sends them off' but has never had one published.

Renuka, Year 11

...Renuka attends her interview at school wearing traditional dress. She speaks very good English and tells you she speaks Urdu at home.

Renuka attends her interview at school wearing traditional dress. She speaks very good English and tells you she speaks Urdu at home. She attended the local primary school before transferring to the present school. She says she wishes to go to medical school and wishes to discuss whether she should stay on in the sixth form or transfer to a college do take her 'A' levels. An exploration of current school subjects reveals that she is good at, and confident with English, Maths and Science. Predicted grades for these subjects are A's and B's. History, Business Studies, Economics, German and CDT are all going well, though she finds both Business Studies and CDT boring. Physics is the subject with which she is experiencing most difficulty because she 'doesn't get on well with the teacher'. Probing this, Renuka says she doesn't feel that he takes her seriously.
He never asks her to answer any questions, even though she often knows the answers. When she has spoken up after experimental work in class, she says he makes her feel stupid. She says she just tries to keep out of his way, now, but recognises how important this subject is for a career in medicine. She clearly has the ability and enthusiasm for 'A' levels in Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Maths, but says she has thought about transferring to the local college, to get away from the Physics teacher.

Towards the end of the interview, Renuka discloses that she may not, in fact, be able to take her 'A' level exams, because she will have to return home for an arranged marriage.

Nick, young unemployed person, 17 years old

...You meet Nick at a homeless person's day centre. He's slept rough for two weeks - driven from his previous 'Bed and Breakfast' by the antisocial behaviour of other guests, many of whom were heroin users.

You meet Nick at a homeless person's day centre. He's slept rough for two weeks - driven from his previous 'Bed and Breakfast' by the antisocial behaviour of other guests, many of whom were heroin users.

Nick originally was taken into Local Authority care in his hometown of Hull at the age of 18 months. He lived with foster parents until he was 16. Arguments brought things to a head and it became impossible for him to stay at his last foster home, where he had lived for four years. He is dyslexic, and left school with three low grade GCSEs. He was moved from school to school because of difficulties with his behaviour.

When he left his foster home, he travelled to Southampton. At first, things went well. He got a bedsit, a job in a retail warehouse, and made new friends. However, he was fired one Monday after arriving late, and took this hard. He has made a many unsuccessful attempts to find work since then. He had to move out of his bedsit because he couldn't pay the rent, and started moving around the country. He started to experience anxiety, depression and panic attacks - with incidents of self-harm and bouts of bingeing. He has been prescribed drugs, which he accepts were successful in calming him down, but he stopped taking them because they made him feel drowsy and made it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

Leanne, 16 years old

...Leanne was a persistent non-attender at school and took no examinations. She comes from a very poor home. Her father is long-term unemployed and her mother is an alcoholic.

Leane lives with her boyfriend, Sam, in a small, poorly maintained flat. Youth Justice has referred her to New Start. She is just two weeks away from a court appearance for theft and criminal damage. Her boyfriend, who is 18, has no offences pending but has been a frequent offender in the recent past with outstanding fines to pay.

Leanne was a persistent non-attender at school and took no examinations. She comes from a very poor home. Her father is long-term unemployed and her mother is an alcoholic. She has three brothers and a sister, all of whom are younger than her. Throughout her school career, Leanne had to stay at home regularly to help with her brothers and sisters because her mother often 'wouldn't get out of bed in the morning'. Her father, she tells you, was just 'too lazy'. Consequently, she missed so much school that she says 'there was no point in even trying to take any exams'. As soon as she was old enough to leave school, Leanne left home to live with her boyfriend. She relies heavily on him since her immediate family give her no support.

She tells you that she thinks she might be pregnant and asks if she can look for a job if she is.

Dean, Year 12

...Dean has wanted to join the Police Force since he was little, but his family, friends and members of his community have warned him against this career aim.

Dean is 17 years old and describes himself as Afro-Caribbean in origin. Last year, he achieved eight GSCE subjects at A-C level. He is now taking English, Geography and Sociology 'A' levels at a college of further education. In the first ten minutes of the interview, he volunteers the following information.
Dean has wanted to join the Police Force since he was little, but his family, friends and members of his community have warned him against this career aim. They have told him that whilst he will probably be accepted into the Police Force, because recruitment targets for minority ethnic groups now have to be met, racism still exists within all Forces, and his life will be a misery. He has also been told that going 'over to the other side' would be a betrayal of his own kind. Recently, any attempts to discuss his ambition with close family have been met with silence or anger. This is making Dean miserable. He feels that black officers have much to contribute to law and order, and it's important for black people to have representation in the Police Force. He's aware that racism exists within the force, but thinks things must be changing. He has tried to argue this viewpoint with family and friends, unsuccessfully.
Dean's younger brother has been in trouble with the police for a shop-lifting offence, for which he received a formal warning. Dean is concerned this will be taken into consideration and affect his application, and really wondering whether pursuing this career ambition is worthwhile.

Adult case studies

Emma, 19 years old

...Emma wants to return to residential social work, but feels that it would be hard to survive on the wages.

Emma is a very relaxed and articulate person. Her family is close and she got on well with both her parents. However, she attended a number of schools and described a violent school life, which she explained, was a response to peer pressure. Her first incident of violent behaviour was at primary school when she beat up another girl because she was jealous of her coming from a family that was financially better off. She was leaving the school anyway, as her family was moving to a larger house. As a consequence of this incident, she was asked not to complete the final two weeks of school. Emma found the transition from primary to secondary school difficult and felt it would have been better if she had been eased in to the change in a gradual way. At secondary school, she 'hated' the teachers and, after two suspensions for beating up teachers, was finally expelled. Whilst Emma's home life was characterised by supportive parents, she got involved in drinking and crime from about the age of 14 onwards. She started smoking cannabis at 13 but did not progress on to more serious drugs, although she did get involved with drug dealers later (but did not sell drugs herself). She also began to drink heavily at the weekends. Emma was also violent outside of school and was charged on more than one occasion for ABH.

After being expelled, Emma went to school for children with behavioural problems. She was there for six months and got a lot out of the experience. Emma did two hours a day at the school, which had 12 pupils and 3 staff. She also did 4 hours a day at an old people's home as work experience, which she really enjoyed. Her father, a teacher, then taught her at home before she did a two year NVQ in childcare, followed by work in a nursery. She left the nursery because she was offered a better job as a residential social worker. There, she found that she could relate to the residents in ways that the other staff could not. However, when she became pregnant, her employers felt that it was inappropriate for her to be in that kind of work. She challenged the decision, resenting the loss of a job which she really valued doing. Since then, she has been unemployed, but would like to do similar work in the future, feeling that she has a real aptitude for it. Her son is about to start school. She no longer sees his father.

Emma wants to return to residential social work, but feels that it would be hard to survive on the wages. There is also the problem of having to find work in school hours. Looking back, Emma regrets how her life had developed: “I missed out on everything - my exams, going to a proper college.”

Isabel, 56 years old

...I got a secondment from a London Borough to do a one year training for careers. Then worked in and around the London Boroughs for a few years until I spotted a job as careers adviser at a Polytechnic. Got the job, but within year (cuts!), I was ‘redeployed’ to teaching – which I stayed with for 22 years!

Attended an old style (state) grammar school – where careers advice in the 6th form consisted of access to the Headmaster’s study at lunchtime to read University prospectuses. Chose Durham because of the striking picture of the river and cathedral on the front of the prospectus (honestly!). Did a Joint Honours degree (bad choice – far too much work!) in Sociology and Anthropology. During my third year, had an appointment with the careers adviser, who identified a vacancy with the civil service or teaching as suitable careers for me. Was astounded by the idea that I could ever be a teacher – so took the application form for the civil service (can’t remember which department) away from the careers interview. Got so exasperated with the detail and length of this form that, half-way through completion, I tore it up!
Consequently, left university without any ideas or any plans. Went to the US for the summer with a friend. Worked in a factory to earn the money for a Greyhound ticket and then just travelled around until the money ran out. Returned home, to Yorkshire, in early autumn and worked in a department store (selling coloured glassware) for the two months before Christmas. Had had quite enough of retail by then so decided to take a chance and went to London with a friend. Found a flat and applied for a 6 month post-graduate secretarial course at a London Poly. Left with 45 wpm and 90 word shorthand, which got me a job at Chelsea College (University of London) on a 3 year project as PA to the project manager. Luckily, she transferred me from the secretarial job into research after 3 months! The project was examining the transferability of school learning to engineering training. The research sample comprised 1,800 first year off-the-job apprentices (all male). I got very interested in transitions!

When the project ended, I got a secondment from a London Borough to do a one year training for careers. Then worked in and around the London Boroughs for a few years until I spotted a job as careers adviser at a Polytechnic. Got the job, but within year (cuts!), I was ‘redeployed’ to teaching – which I stayed with for 22 years!

So the University careers adviser was right – but I didn’t know it at the time!

Philip, 23 years old

...went into the Army at 16, with 4 good 'O' level grades in maths, physics, chemistry and geography and successfully completed an apprenticeship in electronic engineer

On a form completed before the interview, Philip indicated that he has recently been made redundant. However, within the first ten minutes of the interview, he discloses that he was actually dismissed from the Army six weeks previously because it was discovered that he is homosexual.
He went into the Army at 16, with 4 good 'O' level grades in maths, physics, chemistry and geography and successfully completed an apprenticeship in electronic engineering. He has served overseas, including Northern Ireland and during the Gulf War. Philip tells you that he had really enjoyed his life in the Army and was devastated when it ended. In particular, he liked the work he did, which was very physical (maintenance of equipment and vehicles) and was often undertaken in varied locations. He also liked travelling around and often being out-of-doors. He also liked the companionship and life-style of what he refers to as 'Army life'.

He tells you that there's a sense in which he feels relieved that everything about his personal life is now out in the open - trying to live a double life placed a considerable personal strain on him. The crisis that precipitated his dismissal from the Army forced him to come out to his family. Although at first very shocked and disbelieving, they have now accepted Philip back into the family - though Philip expects there to be a long period of adjustment before he is fully accepted.

He now wishes to find out what type of employment may now be open to him. He would like to be 'out' in the workplace, but is unsure of how feasible this would be for him.

Gillian, 33 years old

...completed a two year course in Beauty Therapy and quickly got a job in a 'Hair and Beauty' saloon in the West End of London. After 9 months, she left and set up on her own, working in clients' homes. She established a clientele, and worked successfully for 18 months.

Gillian left school at 18 with three 'A' levels in Biology, English and History (grades B, B and C), and went to the London College of Fashion. She completed a two year course in Beauty Therapy and quickly got a job in a 'Hair and Beauty' saloon in the West End of London. After 9 months, she left and set up on her own, working in clients' homes. She established a clientele, and worked successfully for 18 months. However, she became dissatisfied with her work, feeling it was superficial, and decided she wanted to contribute to peoples' health and well-being. She applied to a training centre for acupuncture, and financed herself through the three year course by continuing with her beauty therapy work. Once qualified, she worked freelance for about two years, and was then accepted by an established 'Alternative Medicine' practice in a suburban town.

Fifteen months ago, Gillian had her first baby. Her husband is employed in a highly pressurized job in the financial sector, which keeps him away from home for long hours. Gillian takes primary responsibility for childcare. The baby is not a good sleeper, and this has had a very negative effect on Gillian. She returned to the practice part-time, six months after the baby was born, and has 'struggled' ever since to combine child care with her job. She feels it's become impossible, since acupuncture requires intense concentration and precision. She's tired all the time, and fears she might harm patients. She's requested careers guidance because she feels she needs to re-evaluate her career and find something that would be more compatible with child-care, even if this means re-training.

Heather, aged 30+

...When leaving school, I was encouraged and inspired by my own careers adviser and at that point felt the job had many of the characteristics that would appeal to me...

Careers advisers often say that careers guidance is a job for those who haven't themselves known what career to follow. This was not my experience. When leaving school, I was encouraged and inspired by my own careers adviser and at that point felt the job had many of the characteristics that would appeal to me and that I possibly had some of the attributes that would allow me to be effective in the role. I was interested in social sciences and my careers adviser suggested a degree programme which would both stimulate my interest and prepare me for the role of careers adviser.
Prior to completing my degree I toyed with the idea of social work. However after a voluntary placement in a social work agency I recognised that the specific orientation of careers guidance appealed more. I completed the postgraduate diploma in careers guidance and obtained a 'younger leaver' officer's post with a local education department. After 2 years I became an 'older leaver' specialist seeing only those pupils aspiring to higher education.
Marriage affected my job opportunities and I moved to the other side of the country where I had a generic careers advisers post. I truly appreciated working in a rural community setting. I was later seconded to develop the council's adult guidance service and provide guidance training for a wider access programme.

My next career move was stimulated by family circumstances. Two small children and a job opportunity for my husband took us back from whence we came. I was in a dilemma. There was little specialist adult provision in that area and I was reluctant to go back to generic guidance work. At that point a job came up at a postgraduate careers guidance course centre. The post was looking to develop adult guidance. I applied and was successful in what has been one of the most rewarding, frustrating and for me, demanding of jobs. I felt I 'fitted' the role of careers adviser and for quite some time I was wistful of the students who were progressing on to work as careers guidance advisers. Now, 10 years on, my concern is for careers guidance itself, how and if it will be delivered, and by whom.

Joan, aged 46

...Joan had hoped that her present job as an administrative secretary in an FE College would be one that she could have stayed with for a year or two.

Joan had hoped that her present job as an administrative secretary in an FE College would be one that she could have stayed with for a year or two. She had her own office and was able to do some editing, which she enjoyed. She had been a temporary employee there all year, but needed the security that would come with a permanent appointment. Joan liked her supervisor, who she felt valued her contributions and ideas. At first, the job was interesting, but soon, the responsibilities had changed. The work had become more detailed and routine, which Joan disliked. Sometimes, there wasn't enough work to keep her busy. Her attitude started to deteriorate, and she started coming in late nearly every morning. Now, she has just been told that she can't continue the job even if she wanted to. Once again, she was facing the need to find a new job. At the age of 46, she still had not found satisfying work and was without financial security. She felt depressed, paralysed and a little ashamed.

Joan had completed 'A' levels and taken a BA in English. Her father was a dentist. She left University with no idea about careers. 'I'm very shortsighted in terms of planning and rarely think ahead. When she was younger, she had some interest in becoming a librarian'. At the time, her boyfriend was moving to a different part of the country to work and encouraged Joan to go with him. She looked for a job as a librarian, but soon realised she needed specialist training. She took a few jobs as receptionist, which never lasted very long because she quickly got bored. She was enjoying her social life, and tried not to worry about her lack of progress.

Eventually, her parents persuaded her to go back home. Then 25, she started a course to train to become a librarian. She found this a struggle and would have left if it hadn't been for her father pressurising her to finish. After this, she moved away from home, to be with her boyfriend. She got a job as a librarian, but left after six months. She took two months off working, and then got another job as librarian. This lasted about eight months. She left because she didn't like being in the same place all day and following orders. The relationship with the boyfriend ended and Joan returned home. She was then 28. For the next seven years, Joan worked as a secretary in various organisations. The same pattern recurred. She liked the job for a while, then lost enthusiasm, got depressed, starting coming in late for work and then usually left or got the sack.

Since then, she has either been unemployed or in secretarial jobs. She says that every time she thinks about what career or job she would like, she gets anxious. She's afraid of more failure, but she is also afraid of success. Recently, she has been researching technical writing and working in a children's library. Her goal is to get a job that she's excited about!

Robert, aged 60+

...In 1945 I passed Rab Butler's new 11+. Everybody was surprised – 'Why Bobby?'. Why indeed? I had just-as-bright – and brighter – cousins and neighbours. But I was the first in the neighbourhood to get to grammar school.

Upbringing in 1930s east-end was not just by mums and dads: grandparents, aunts-and-uncles and grown-up cousins all took a hand. For the first ten years of my life I lived on a street where I couldn't spit in any direction without hitting a relative. It's where I started my course on how to be a working-class lad.

The learning centre was my Nanna's house. Three feet above my head there was a perpetual buzz of complaining, declaiming, retorting, laughing, story-telling, interrupting talk. I got the separation down to two feet, then one... growing up meant being tall enough to have your say. I was working on that.
But my working-class class was interrupted. In 1945 I passed Rab Butler's new 11+. Everybody was surprised – 'Why Billy?'. Why indeed? I had just-as-bright – and brighter – cousins and neighbours. But I was the first in the neighbourhood to get to grammar school. Of the next three, one was my cousin, Tony; the other my brother, Norman.

rammar School was a wonderment. Dad was wary, Mum was curious, none of the three of us kids got much beyond seeing that we might not go 'on the busses' (a family tradition) - we would get 'office jobs'.
I remember coming out of the posh wrought-iron gates, at the end of each school day, and watching most of the others turning west - towards the big houses in Wanstead, Chingford and Highams Park. Very few of us turned towards the little houses around Lea Bridge Road. I knew that split-stream of traffic must mean something, but I had no idea what it was.

But Grammar School, in those days, meant a blazer. And, by the time I was 15, my blazer was giving me unanticipated access to a wider range of girl friends. My bike also helped. I got to see Highams Park from the inside. That's where I fell head-over-sixteen-year-old-heels in love. She eventually broke my heart. But her parents – Hilda and Max – took an interest. I was made welcome – to the tufted carpet, garage (with Ford Prefect), 'phone, writing bureau, books, 'classical' records. And to a different kind of conversation, with no need to hone interruption to a scalpel point. This was the-likes-of-which-I-had-never-seen-before, peopled by the-likes-of-whom-I-had-never-met-before.

Like Maurice, a friend of Hilda and Max, and a teacher – but not in my school. I had never known a teacher who took me seriously. But Maurice would actually catch a 35 bus (driven by Uncle George?) to our upstairs-rooms. He wanted to listen to my records. He said that Duke Ellington's 'I let a song go out of my heart' reminded him of the slow movement in The Karelia Suite. That got me started on Jean Sibelius.

Maurice also said I could do better than an office job. It came as a bit of a surprise. However bright they were, radio characters who talked like me always had subservient roles; like cockney Snowy, who always accepted what well-spoken Dick Barton (special agent!) knew to be correct.
A clash of cultures here, then: Nanna's lot in their position, Hilda's in theirs. I was tall enough now, and I just loved the arguments at Nanna's: Uncle Ed (one of the funniest story-tellers I've ever known) interrupting my account of talking with Maurice, with '...he says Elllington reminds him of Jean bloody who?'.

So when - during National Service - I caught up with my A-levels, Nanna, Ed, Mum and the others tried hard understand why I was giving up my office job. I started work on a degree, living cheaply at home (the bike got me there-and-back every term-time day for three years). Dad still didn't know why; but he loved his sons, so he passed me the tax rebate he got for me - his 23 year-old dependent.

I don't know what I would have done without them: Nanna and her lot, Hilda and hers. Debts of honour – every one.

When I grow up I want to be a (famous) career-development theorist. I believe that much of social science is autobiographical. So, the idea that career is a personal, rational, planning decision, made in a social vacuum... well, if that's what you say, you can bloody-well pull the other one!

Mary, aged 50+

...I decided whilst at a traditional girls grammar school that I wasn't too bright so wouldn't bother with HE. I went to see a careers advisor to get some information on being a hotel receptionist, which I thought was pretty glamerous!

I decided whilst at a traditional girls grammar school that I wasn't too bright so wouldn't bother with HE. I went to see a careers advisor to get some information on being a hotel receptionist, which I thought was pretty glamerous! I was given this information, but nobody checked as to my strengths, weaknesses & abilities. This was unfortunate as I intended to work in a 'posh' London hotel & the course to which I applied at an FE college required, among other qualifications, a good foreign language GCE grade. Whoops!

So stayed at school to take resits & A levels. It was the head teacher who hauled me up before her & told me I was bright enough to go to college. As college meant teaching to me, I duly applied & eventually became one.
I became interested in careers much later when my elder daughter was choosing colleges & courses. She did this at the same time as filling in her UCAS form, by flicking through a little book she had been given. I was appalled! This experience stayed with me so when I saw a careers advisor shortly after this about a change of career & he suggested Careers Advisor, I jumped at it.

I absolutely loved doing the F/T Dip CG. The style of teaching & learning really suited me & for the first time I really wanted to learn, found several of the subject areas fascinating & enjoyed the experience. I also became aware of how values & beliefs can affect our behaviour, attitude & choice of profession.

Whilst doing my MA, I was sounding off about a lecturer I had known previously, who I believed to have a limiting negative attitude. I also suggested, I think rather arrogantly with hind sight, that I would never display a similar attitude if working in that field. On the strength of that I was offered some temporary work at UEL! Since then I have continued my association with UEL & also assess careers related work & write & deliver training in this field. This work has 'evolved' rather than being planned & has nearly everything to do with networking. I really enjoy it.

The high level of autonomy I have was reflected in a personality questionnaire I took whilst training for Level B psychometric testing. I took the CPI test, published by Oxford University Press. This is a test designed to measure personality traits, mainly used as part of job selection process. It is based on single or combinations of traits. My results showed a very high score for 'need for autonomy'. My work reflects this. In all areas measured, the CPI questionnaire accurately reflected my dispositon & characteristics appertaining to the work place.
As Trait & Factor theory is primarily about innate characteristics, how does this fair when compared to theories compounding learnt behaviour as the prime source of character & personality?

Pauline, aged 40+

...In common with many of my friends, my first career idea was to train as a teacher. This could be attributed to the fact that the Careers Adviser who worked in the Girl's High School that I attended only had three alternatives to discuss with us.

In common with many of my friends, my first career idea was to train as a teacher. This could be attributed to the fact that the Careers Adviser who worked in the Girl's High School that I attended only had three alternatives to discuss with us. If you were good at sciences, he suggested Medicine; modern languages, becoming a translator; the rest of us were told teaching!

I was the first person in my family to consider applying to University and it was expected by the school. It never dawned on me at this stage, that I had the alternative of finding a job with my A levels, even though I had a Saturday job in a department store that I really enjoyed. My Departmental Manager tried to persuade me to apply for the Retail Management scheme, but I decided that I wanted to get a degree.
In the 6th form, I researched teacher training and had a half day per week placement in a local primary school for one term as part of General Studies. I decided that secondary teaching was probably more for me, and decided to take a degree in History first. My teacher advised me to consider some of the new courses at Polytechnics, as well as those at Universities, as she felt that I would be more suited to a more varied range of subjects, and I was hopeless at Latin – an entry requirement for most History courses! I ignored her, didn't get the grades I needed, and was abroad on holiday when the A level results came out! I ended up in Clearing and in the space of a week was rejected by my two University choices and accepted by all five of the Polytechnics that I applied to. I was well advised by the Area Careers Officer, who happened to be my Headteacher's husband, and ended up on a BA Modern Studies (Modern History, History of Politics and Maths) at Sheffield Polytechnic. Whilst I was in Sheffield, I decided that teaching was definitely not for me. And applied for various Graduate Retail Management schemes (along with thousands of others), but had no job lined up when I graduated.

I met my partner whilst I was in Sheffield and as he had found a job as an Assistant Hotel Manager in the village where my parents lived, we moved to East Yorkshire and I got a temporary job in retail. In a chance conversation with the store manager, I said that I was interested in working in retail as a personnel and training manager. He advised me to get some interviewing experience and told me that the personnel manager had done this through working as an Employment Adviser in the careers service. By chance, there was a vacancy, which I applied for and got. I had never thought of training as a Careers Officer, but working in support of them and observing their work, I realised that the job combined a lot of my interests. I enquired about training and was advised by the PCO that several careers services offered traineeships. At this point we started managing two careers. My partner was offered a job in Newcastle – I applied for and got a post of Trainee Careers Adviser. I was seconded to the DCG in September 1980, completed my probationary year in June 1982 and then started to think about what I wanted to do next. I enjoyed working with a whole range of clients, so working as a specialist with specific client groups didn't appeal. I was promoted to Assistant Area Careers Officer in December 1982, a post that meant I still had a lot of client contact, but gave me supervisory/management responsibilities. I had the opportunity to cover a post as Area Careers Officer whilst a colleague was on maternity leave in 1983/4, and I had also started to develop an interest in staff training and development, mainly through supervision of probationers and students on placement. I trained as a trainer in 1984 and started to run internal and regional training events.

My partner had progressed through various jobs during the same period and then changed direction when he became a Financial Controller with the hotel group that he worked for. His first move was to Carlisle, so we moved house to be half way. The second move within 12 months was to Cheltenham – not a commutable distance - so I was job hunting again. Again, the timing was spot on – there was a vacancy for an Area Careers Adviser, so we were moving house for the third time in 2 years. I got increasingly involved in regional training activities and by 1990, I realised that I didn't want to spend the rest of my career as an Area Careers Adviser. A vacancy arose in Dorset combining the role of Deputy Principal Careers Adviser with responsibility for staff training and development. This time I moved first, and our luck with timing failed in that it took my partner nearly 3 years to find a job and move to Dorset.

With the privatisation of the careers service company in April 1995, my role became much more operationally focused and I became engrossed in contract management, business plans, management information and quarterly reports. Although I enjoyed this side of the work, I preferred the contact with people rather than spreadsheets! The offer of redundancy as part of the introduction of Connexions gave me the opportunity to follow the advice and guidance that I had been giving to clients for years and to re-appraise my career. I now have a job where I'm responsible for initial training for the profession and a whole range of professional development issues and lots of contact with people!