Tue 14 Apr 2015

Student success often starts with Nikki

Reviving the position of careers advisor at WITT has been a huge success.

Nikki Truman is the institute’s careers and workplace advisor,  a position she’s held since late last year and already she’s  proving to be an invaluable aid to new and prospective students.

Since the beginning of the year, until March 31, Nikki had spoken one-on-one to no fewer than 73 people and drawn up career plans for each one of them.

“Simply put, they’re pathway plans, really.  They’re plans to show them how to get to where they want to go.. The majority were considering applying for a place at WITT, while some were current students needing advice on what courses to take,’’ she says.

She’s also fielded dozens of phone calls and drop-in inquiries every week, which has led to some blunt talking – all in the best interests of the individuals enquiring.

“I don’t want to enrol people who don’t know what they want to do, have no idea where they are going and have no direction so they can be part of WITT’s enrolment figures; they certainly wouldn’t be part of WITT’s success figures, so no one wins that way.’’

Nikki is always pleasant with a ready sense of humour, but that does not stop here from dispensing advice based on the harsh reality of an individual’s needs. In other words, she doesn’t mince her words.

But her success can be measured in the 73 applicants who have already benefited from her pathway and career guidance.

 Nikki’s role also continues after students have enrolled and started classes.

“Today, for example, I spent two hours running a workshop  for  new tutors,’’ she says. “I was telling them that they are also careers advisors for their students. In fact they are the best careers advisors the students could have.

“They know the industry, and so I guide them as to how they can help to get the students to a work ready stage. That’s what polytechnics do now days. The whole point of coming here is to learn something that you can take into the work place. If they didn’t need to learn it they’d have just gone and got jobs.’’

Nikki says  getting students work ready  involves more than just teaching them the skills of their particular trade.

“They also need to know the transferrable skills of teamwork, problem solving, communication, presentation, time management and a lot more. Tutors have to model it and bring home why the students need to learn that.

“Today’s tutors have a huge workload, but I’m here to help and we have resources here to help  students in those areas, including a job search website and help on how to write CVs and gain the skills needed for interviews.’’

Nikki goes into classes to impart those skills. “For the simple reason it’s a more effective way of getting the message across to as many students as possible,’’ she ex[plains

“I’m part of the student support team which is going around every single class. Students at WITT have access to counsellors, learning support, research support, numeracy, literacy and career advice support. ‘’

Nikki has already  visited 19 classes in the first few weeks to make sure they know what support is available.

“I’ve also been going around Taranaki  secondary schools with marketing team member Nicole Goble.  There we talk to the students and the careers advisors so everyone is aware of just what’s on offer and what’s the best way to plan their careers.’’