We are living in challenging and changing times, but that doesn’t mean all the doors are closed to you. Alexandra completed her Architecture degree with the University of Portsmouth in 2016 and is now keen to share her experiences of seeking work during the pandemic.

Alexandra first accessed the Careers and Employability Service whilst studying in Portsmouth. She had previously used the service to access information about local practices and had been made aware by an Adviser that the support is available up to five years after graduation. 

I have had a great experience accessing the support. There is a lot of information both online and in the Careers Centre.The opportunity to book in for telephone appointments was also very useful once I had moved away from the Portsmouth area.”

Alexandra recognises that due to the technical nature of her course, the teaching of soft, transferable skills was not always explicit and therefore when reflecting on her experience of using the Careers and Employability Service, she explains that the support “bridges the gap” between the learning on the course and preparing for future applications and recruitment processes. 

I am more confident about my skills and experience and view job seeking as an

opportunity to showcase my talents. It's less daunting and I enjoy the process more.”

An options discussion with a Careers Adviser, feedback on the development of her CV and cover letters and support with interview preparation were all aspects of the service that Alexandra accessed both as a student and as a graduate. 

Seeking and securing work during Covid-19

Alexandra’s most recent experience of accessing the service has been during the Covid-19 pandemic; reaching out to us in April 2020 having unfortunately been made redundant from her role as a Contractor in March. 

Alexandra explains that she chose to re access the service at this time as an opportunity to improve [her] CV, cover letter and portfolio and that due to the lockdown she did not anticipate securing a role in the near future. She was also proactive in using her time to learn a new language for interest. 

Fortunately, she had registered with a specialist recruitment agency to support her with her job search and having submitted her CV was contacted with an invitation to an interview with a London-based firm. Due to the social distancing measures in place at the time, the whole recruitment process for Alexandra was carried out virtually. She describes:  

I felt completely out of my comfort zone; I was very nervous and felt a little bit overwhelmed.” 

It was prior to this interview that Alexandra had accessed our support to discuss her preparation, including a consideration of the transferable, as well as technical skills she could bring to the job role. 

Following a successful virtual interview process she received a job offer and started her role a couple of weeks later. 

Reflecting on her experience of starting a new job role during the pandemic, Alexandra discusses that: 

The company was very informative - throughout the recruitment and induction process - and I am really enjoying my experience so far. 

Initially it was overwhelming as I haven't met any of my colleagues in person and I have had to familiarise myself with the practice’s protocols online. I do, however, have a work ‘buddy’ to go to if I have any issues and the company also encourages new starters to engage in virtual social opportunities on a Friday evening.” 

Asked what her main advice would be to our students and graduates who are faced with an uncertain labour market at this time, Alexandra suggests

“...utilising the time to improve on their employability skills, application development and interview preparation by accessing the support available through Careers and Employability. I would also encourage them to take up a hobby or to learn a new skill, and, most importantly, to stay positive and be persistent with their job search and applications.

If you feel you would benefit from accessing the range of support available to you through the Careers and Employability Service, please visit our website at port.ac.uk/careers or you can contact us via email on careers@port.ac.uk

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