Careers Appointments By Skype

If you’re a University of Manchester student or recent graduate (postgrad or undergrad), did you know that we’re starting to offer careers appointments by Skype, if you can’t get into Manchester to see us in person?

We’ve offered advice by e-mail or telephone appointments for some time if you can’t get in to see one of us face-to-face. However, these have their disadvantages:

  • You often need a conversation to sort out what the real issue is, even with CV feedback, so e-mail is definitely second best.
  • Phone appointments mean you can have that conversation but it’s often difficult to hear properly, there are no visual clues to pick up on (eg. if you’re shaking your head or looking quizzical) and it’s hard to read a document over the phone!

Skype allows us to see each other, to transfer documents quickly or share screens to show you websites, and if you’re on an inclusive broadband package (or free wi-fi) it’s cheaper than phoning us from another continent.

One further advantage seems to be that if you’ve been away from the university for a while, you can feel a bit isolated as you either carry out your field research or search for a job after graduating. Having a face-to-face conversation, albeit through a screen, with someone who understands what being a postgrad means, can make you feel just that bit less alone.

We’re gradually rolling this out across more careers consultants (bit of a hiccup while the university makes us change our desktop image) so you may not find it available immediately, depending on which consultant you need to see. However, I’m all hooked up and ready to go – does it surprise you that I’ve been piloting Skype appointments for some time now 🙂 ? I’ve even started doing practice interviews by Skype when students have an interview coming up.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • You need to call the Careers Service as usual to arrange an appointment. Tell them you would like a Skype appointment and they’ll see if we have someone who could do this at a time suitable to both of you. Otherwise, we may have to offer a telephone appointment instead.
  • We’re not planning to train you on how to use Skype, so you need to be familiar with it already if you want a Skype appointment.
  • You do need to give us your Skype username (accurately!) so we can send you a contact request before the appointment.
  • We’ve had a problem with a contact request not coming through in time, so we’ll try to send you an e-mail through CareersLink, giving you the careers consultant’s Skype username, so you can send  a contact request to us as a back up.
  • You need to login to Skype a short while before the appointment, and accept our contact request.
  • You should wait for us to call you, in case we’re with another student (quite likely, if we have back-to-back appointments). However, if you’re over 10 minutes late in getting a Skype call from us, try phoning us in case there’s an unforeseen problem (though if it’s a fire alarm and we’re standing outside in the rain, there’ll be no-one to answer the phone either!).

So that’s the latest Careers Service innovation we’re bringing to you. The university has some concerns about whether the network will keel over if we’re all on Skype at the same time. However, if I can Skype my mum in Scotland from my home in a village with a slow broadband connection, I’m holding out that a university which claims to have played such a large role in the development of the computer, can cope!