Feb 12 2019

From this term, Personal Tutors are encouraged to have a careers support discussion around the Careers Aspiration Strategy: E3 framework with their tutees.

We recently caught up with Dr Richard Hawley to find out more about the role of Personal Tutors, and how he and his colleagues have been adapting these new resources to ‘dovetail’ with existing careers-related Personal Tutor activities in their departments.

Richard is also Associate Dean, Deputy Head of Department for Student Experience, and a Careers Liaison Tutor, and Senior Tutor in the Department of Classics.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role as a Senior Tutor?

In my Department, I co-ordinate our support for student experience, particularly for our undergraduates, from Welcome Week through graduation to their later relationship with us as alumni. In the Classics department we have always prided ourselves on going the extra mile to support our students, so the relationship we have with them individually as Personal Tutors is core to that support. Whether we are teaching them or not, Personal Tutors act as a reassuring consistent contact for ongoing academic guidance as the students navigate their often anxious, transformational journey through their degree. As Senior Tutor I oversee my colleagues’ implementation of the Personal Tutor system, respond to their queries, and collate and pass on the feedback that we get from students through those meetings.

2. As part of the College's Careers Aspiration Framework, Personal Tutors are now encouraged to use the E3 framework toolkit for staff. Could you tell us a bit more about the toolkit and how you and your colleagues have been adapting these new resources to activities in departments?

The new toolkit is an invaluable resource for Personal Tutors. Often academic staff worry that they are asked as Personal Tutors to give careers and employability support to students when they are not careers experts. These clear and current resources are compiled by those experts in the Careers Service, so as Personal Tutors we are given the practical support that we need so we can encourage students to reflect on their progress towards a career, using the questions and links included in the toolkit. Furthermore, the resources are helpfully organised by year of study, with a range of options, so Personal Tutors can choose what will be the best fit to support each individual student they meet.

3. You also sit on the College’s Employability Working Group which shaped the Careers Aspiration Strategy and framework – why is the three Es framework important for our students?

We all know that for the majority of students the aspect of their degree study experience which they find most daunting is taking that first step towards a career. They need to develop the confidence to take that first step as independent, responsible adults. The E3 framework helps both students and staff to work together to build that confidence as it grows in a clear, staged development. Signposting each stage – Evaluate, Explore, Enact – helps to make the individual student’s careers experience less intimidating and more reassuring. Everyone has to go through these stages to find the job that will be their first step on their careers ladder, but not everyone moves through these stages at the same pace.

Our role as Personal Tutors is to support and guide our students through their own individual career awareness development, as they reflect on their passage through each E3 stage. Careers Service events signposted with these E3 stages steer students gently towards what will be the most helpful and effective careers experiences.

4. What's your favourite term at Royal Holloway and why?

I’m going to be a bit cheeky here and, instead of nominating one term, I’ll give two weeks at either end of the academic year. Welcome Week is such an exciting time for academic staff. We meet our new students, who are bursting with enthusiasm to start their study with us, and for whom so much is still to be learnt. Returning students come back noticeably more mature in outlook; with each year we see how much they have changed.

In Graduation Week we realise clearly how far our students have come, both academically and personally, as they successfully complete their short time with us. We recall how different they were just a few years previously and watch them, often with a mixture of pride and sadness, as they leave us and move into their own new career and life experiences. These two weeks remind me why we are here and how important our role is as tutors.

5. What do you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway?

I’ve been here now for 27 years  - more than a lifetime for our students today - and I’ve seen a lot of changes. What has been a constant guiding principle for me, however, is the philosophy of our Founder to foster education, in its widest sense, for young people from all backgrounds as we respond together to a changing world. I have always found that our students genuinely value our support as they develop their own individual potential. Some may be leaders, some may be key players, but all will, in some way, make a difference. For me Royal Holloway, unlike other universities, uniformly across both academic and professional services, sponsors that culture to encourage students as individuals to make their own kind of difference, whether through their academic experience, volunteering, sport, or the acquisition of wider life skills.

6. You may have seen our latest recruitment campaign, ‘Find your why’. We are interested to find out what Royal Holloway has helped you to discover about yourself…

I have always had a philosophy of life to help others. Royal Holloway has encouraged me to develop and direct that philosophy to help both students and colleagues. Sometimes it may sound like recruitment rhetoric to speak of the ‘Royal Holloway community’, but I have always found that as genuine and supportive. I have found that I have a passion to lead and encourage best practice in teaching and learning, student voice, and student support. Royal Holloway allows me to explore and develop that passion.