Life in a virtual world

Life as a Careers Adviser in the education team with C+K Careers has always been fairly cyclical with this time of year focussing especially on Y11 students, helping them to prepare for the transition to post compulsory education whether it be 6th form, college or an apprenticeship. We visited the classrooms to talk through their options and then made sure we got through all the Year 11 interviews.

Then came Covid...!

I found myself, over the summer, learning how to use Zoom including group meetings, sharing my screen and online group sessions. The latter was a steep learning curve… who knew that students would put their music on and draw rude symbols on your PowerPoint?! Then I discovered the power of the mute button and that I had the ability to stop people scribing! Ground rules were quickly drawn up for other advisers. At our annual Get Inspired Event I was presenting online to 200 people covering the options available to Y11 students after compulsory education. The question and answer session was highly interactive with people able to put their questions in the chat box. This perhaps is a more inclusive way of dealing with individual questions as they were anonymous and didn't require people to put their hand up in front of a large audience.

The summer passed with a series of virtual appointments using Microsoft Teams and email to try and get ahead of the game; schools understandably would be focussing their efforts on students catching up academically come September. The social divide has never been more stark with some capable students with up to date IT equipment and a private space for study blossoming in an environment without distractions. However, this leaves others in crowded homes, with a lack of computer access or possibly even without wifi - the basic necessity of home learning ... How schools have tackled this is admirable - laptops are being delivered to homes and dongles provided to help access. However, still the less able students flounder without the personal support of their teachers. As a career adviser, I have been working with teachers, the pastoral and SEND teams to see the more vulnerable students on a one to one where feasible and the rest on Google Meet. Sharing a screen has been a Godsend when trying to explain applications and CVs and the more practical side of advice and guidance. However, something is undeniably lost in the lack of personal interaction and communication, it is most definitely a challenge to see all the students that I should. On the flip side being able to beam myself to the whole of year 11 for tutorials on applications and personal statements is certainly something I will take away with me and virtual appointments I'm sure are here to stay as part of the process. All in all, life as a school based careers adviser during Covid has been a bitter-sweet experience.

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