Tue 23 Jun 2020

Careers Advice. What's it all about?

When Nikki Truman took on the role of WITT’s Careers Advisor back in 2014, she’d already been working with WITT students as a tutor for 13 years. In that time, Nikki had interacted with hundreds of students from all walks of life.

Nikki said she reached a turning point in her own career when she realised many of the students in her foundations or bridging programmes didn’t fully understand why they were there or what their next step toward a viable career might be.

“So, I enrolled myself in a Diploma in Career Guidance so that I could add value to my students and help ensure they had a focussed journey through their studies. Halfway through that qualification, WITT advertised for a Careers Advisor and I applied for the job,” she said. “Six years on, I still love this role.”

We caught up with Nikki to find out a bit more about what a Careers Advisor does, and how she helps people each day. 

Q. Why would someone need to speak to a Careers Advisor? 

Nikki:  Having a chat with someone who can match interests, passions, skills and capabilities with study that leads to a career path is really valuable for many people. The core of my job is to just listen to people and find out what drives them. 

Everyone embarking on study needs to know what they are studying, and why. The ‘what’ and ‘why’ questions are relevant to everyone, whether they’re a school leaver, in employment but looking to upskill, or a mum wanting to get back into the workforce. These questions are not always easy for a person to answer, especially without a person who can act as a sounding board (like a careers advisor, or a trusted family member).

Not everyone needs to speak to a Careers Advisor, but for those unsure of their direction or whether studying is the right step, it’s an important part of the process.

Q. When someone books a career chat with you, what are some of the important things you talk about?  

Nikki:  One of the important issues I work through with anyone keen to get into study is whether they are ready for it. There is ‘academic readiness’ – which is important – but there is also ‘study readiness’. What kind of study is going to suit this person’s lifestyle, commitments and other factors?

Addressing academic readiness, we figure out what whether the person meets entry criteria (particularly for higher level study such as the Bachelor of Nursing) and put a plan in place that maps the steps they might need to take to get there. That’s not a big problem at all, as we have fabulous foundation programmes that build both confidence and learning skills for higher level study. 

Study readiness encompasses things like finances, support at home, child support, part-time work, computer skills, or any health issues that may impact on ability to study. WITT students are adults, and as adults there is a lot of ‘stuff’ that goes on in personal lives.  Sometimes a full-time programme of study is too much on top of this ‘stuff’; but we can sort out many of these issues or at least make people aware that they need to consider these issues, when we have a chat.

Q. What advice would you give to people who are out of work or looking to change career?

Nikki:  2020 has brought unprecedented challenges for many people and COVID has had a remarkable effect on us.  The lockdown period was a chance for many of us to do some self-analysis and work out those age old questions:  Am I happy doing what I do?  Is there more to life than this?  If I had my chance over again, what would I change? 

Many people lost their job due to COVID-related redundancies and so had the chance to ask those questions.  Some of us, including myself, asked them anyway because life is too short to be unhappy in your job. My message is simple:

  • It is never too late to change career paths;
  • It is never too late to improve qualifications;
  • It is always a good time to upskill – either within your job, or in preparation to step up. 

But people need to match what they love doing with the type of jobs that incorporate those passions. As a starting point, I encourage people to complete the Careerquest questionnaire on the Careers NZ website.  It only takes 15 minutes and is a great way of matching interests with job types.

Q. What do you love most about your job?  

Nikki:  I know it is a bit of a cliché, but Graduation day is the best day in the WITT calendar for me.  I love looking at the faces of those students who come up on stage and receive their qualification and I remember meeting many of them in my office at the beginning of their journey. 

The transformation from nervous, non-confident, unsure people to qualified, work-ready, self-assured graduates is astounding.  It’s great to see the determination of ‘I can do this’ turn into ‘I’ve done it!’.


For more Careers resources visit www.careers.govt.nz. To book a chat with Nikki over the phone, in person, or online, head to https://www.witt.ac.nz/Study-at-WITT/Career-Advice/