Tag Archives: PebblePad

An interview with Sam, a Career Ahead student

Did Monday’s Career Ahead post interest you? Want to find out what the course is like? We interviewed Sam Curran, a final year teaching student here at the University of Cumbria – he tells us all about the award and how it has helped improve his career prospects.


Hello Sam! Why not tell us a bit about yourself, your course and your ambitions – let us get to know you!
My name is Sam Curran and I am a final year secondary maths teaching student at the University of Cumbria. I am 20 years old and from Darlington in the North East of England. I have quite a cosmopolitan mixture of ancestries: Italian, English, Irish, French, Scottish and Austrian. I enjoy playing football and sports in general and I am an ardent follower of Manchester United. In addition, I also enjoy cycling and reading.  My main ambition in life is just to be happy and fulfilled and have a career of some constitution in education.

What made you decide to undertake the Career Ahead award?
With over half of school leavers now going to University and obtaining a degree, I knew that I had to do something to differentiate myself from the crowd. A degree is a valuable platform for any vocation but the supplementary and extra-curricular activities you do can really show employers a lot about you as a person. This is the main reason that I opted to do Career Ahead, as I knew it would give me that little something extra to improve my employability. However, the multi-faceted nature of the award also appealed to me- it is very personalised and you can gain and develop a plethora of skills when completing the award.

How has the award improved your employability?
The award had a strong vocational focus: it helped me tailor and adapt my skills to suit a job application. I felt more proactive when doing the portfolio- it motivated me with my work and also inspired me to undertake a thorough self-audit of my skills and explore further avenues of professional development such as taking a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course. It has given me a multitude of transferable skills such as self-initiative, organisation and interpersonal qualities.

How did the mock interview prepare you for future jobs?
The mock interview aspect of the award was a fantastic simulation of applying for a real job, and it felt very realistic. The assessors gave me some very constructive and helpful feedback on both my portfolio and interview manner and presentation. This will prove invaluable in my search for a job in education as I now have a good idea of the attributes that employers are looking for. Without Career Ahead, I would never have got that opportunity.

What have you learned about yourself?
All throughout my life, I have never had much confidence in myself. I never thought that I was a leader in any respect. However, by documenting all the examples of leadership I had shown in the Career Ahead e-portfolio, it made me realise that I actually was a natural leader; I just never thought that I was. This was quite emotional for me and gave me a big boost of confidence. Putting down all the things I had done made me realise that, whilst I have done a few things, I still need to keep striving to get the best possible life for myself. Furthermore, I realised my ability in English through composing and completing the award. I had always though of myself as being good at maths and nothing else, but I learnt I had some literacy acumen, I had just taken it for granted in the past. This could open some doors for me in life.

I credit Career Ahead for giving me the motivation to carry on through some tough and testing times at University.

Sam is currently offering his proofreading skills to University of Cumbria students. He has proofread professionally for the last 2 years and has edited dissertations, undergraduate essays, masters level work and non-native English speakers’ work.

Please email samcurran@live.co.uk for details of cost and for more information.

An Introduction to Career Ahead

graduation - career ahead

What is Career Ahead?
It’s an employability award run by the University of Cumbria which enables you to develop your employability skills to get a good job when you graduate. You complete the award in your own time online through PebblePad, and it is a way to evidence your extra-curricular activity while at University.

Why should I complete the Career Ahead award?
Employers want graduates with good employability skills. They don’t just look at your degree; they want to find the candidate with the best skills for the job. According to High Flyers (2011): “new graduates who’ve not had any work experience during their time at university have little or no chance of landing a well-paid job”. Career Ahead allows you to evidence the skills you already have, develop those skills that you want to develop, crate effective employability tools such as cv and cover letter writing skills, interview skills and allows access to free workshops, both face-to-face and online. In short, Career Ahead enables you to be job ready when you graduate.

So what do I have to do?
The award is broken down into three elements: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Bronze relates to personal development – completing a skills audit and a reflective diary to identify your career goals and skills gaps. Silver relates to skills development – you develop four employability skills, and undertake 100 hours of extra-curricular activity, as well as two online employability workshops. You also create a reflective diary of your progress in your web folio. Gold relates to career management and enables you to search for the job you want, create a targeted CV and cover letter or application form, and develop your web folio to evidence all your activity. Once you have completed and passed all 3 elements you will also have the chance to take part in a mock interview with an employer.

What workshops are available?
Some of the options include leadership, teambuilding, applications and CVs, interview skills, personal branding and mentoring.

What do I get at the end of the course?
Upon completion you will receive a University of Cumbria certificate, as well as having your web-folio evidencing your progress, skills and experience. Most importantly though you will have gained the skills you need to get the job you want!

What next?
Once you have completed the bronze silver and gold elements you can undertake the platinum award – you will complete and extra 50 hours of extra-curricular activity, mentor a bronze or silver student, as well as submitting a reflective diary of your progress. You will also get the chance to organise an event, share a skill, complete a placement or start up your own student enterprise!

If you would like to find out more you can:
Come along to the Introduction to Career Ahead presentation today at the Fusehill Street campus (room LG101) at 4.15 pm.
Take a look at the Career Ahead areas on the University’s website or on BlackBoard (at the top of the page when you log in).
Email mailto: careerahead@cumbria.ac.uk to ask advice, find out more or register onto the award.