Irishman David Casey started as the new director of UCT's Careers Service in December 2011. Casey was previously deputy director of University College Dublin's Career Development Centre, after extensive experience as a careers advisor at both the University College Dublin and the University College Cork in Ireland. Prior to this, Casey had set up and managed a graduate training programme in Connecticut, US. He graduated with a degree and higher diploma in education from the National University of Ireland, a higher diploma in school guidance counselling from the University of Limerick, Ireland, followed by a master's in education leadership from the University of Hull, UK. He began his career as a careers guidance counsellor at high schools in Ireland. We spoke to him briefly.
What does 2012 hold for UCT's Careers Service?
The first priority will be to align the delivery of careers education, information and guidance with the university's strategic plan. We have to also enhance the UCT curriculum through the development, delivery and assessment of a series of careers education modules. The Careers Service aims to help all students make the most of their university experience. We facilitate informed career decision-making and development, and educate students about graduate attributes and how to manage effective transitions from UCT. Our priority in 2012 will be the total redevelopment of the Careers Service website. The new site promises to host a range of online services that will be available to students and alumni 24/7. Such initiatives include an online careers library, assessment tools, and e-guidance incorporating social and other online media at web 2.0 standards. One of my key strategic goals is to make the department outward-facing. UCT's Careers Service currently works from a model of generalist careers advisors; moving forward, we are looking to place specialist careers advisors in each faculty to work with staff and students to promote students' continuing personal and professional development.
From student to employee: how can UCT's Careers Service help along the way?
Academic achievement alone will not guarantee the majority of graduates employment. In addition to a solid academic record, potential employers also consider relevant work experience and extra-curricular activities like voluntary work in the community and university club/society involvement. The key to successful career development is early engagement with students, starting at the pre-admissions stage to understand initial career decision-making. We take students through the paces of developing career management skills by providing career information, advice and opportunity services. We strive to achieve this through the following interventions: a well-resourced Career Information Centre, workshops and quick-query advisory sessions, part-time work opportunities, employer events and recruitment programmes as well as a Careers Service email alert system.
What made you decide to take up employment in distant South Africa?
As a careers advisor I always encourage students to look at the broader application of internationalisation, and I hadn't practiced what I preached. The time was right and I felt I had the skills and experience I needed to make a positive difference at UCT. We, at UCT's Careers Service, have great expertise and knowledge. It's a very good team to come into and they're ready and willing to take the department to the next level. Game on!
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