More about Ajaz
What made you decide to undertake postgraduate study at NTU?
"I was searching for a University with world-class faculty specialising in the field of career development, with flexible learning options. These were very few in number. After making several enquiries with various institutions in the UK and abroad, I contacted Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and met with the Course Leader who was particularly helpful and understood the challenges of life role salience that can impact an adult learner returning to study. I needed access to latest research and thinking, as well as international best practices in the field of career development."
"I had read that NTU had a strong track record in this field since 1973 and the MA in Career Development was a new and unique offering in the market, which aligned well with my personal and professional interests."
"In addition, NTU was named Modern University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018."
"Also, I learned that NTU received a gold rating as part of the newly introduced ‘Teaching Excellence Forum’ (TEF). This provided further reassurance when making my decision."
What route did you take into your postgraduate study?
"I am a career counsellor working in the Middle East. Prior to this, I had worked at three UK Higher Education Career Services. I completed my PGCE at the University of London, followed by achieving a PGD (distinction) in Careers Guidance at the University of Reading. I was seeking a top-up route to achieving a Masters’ degree and the study mode offered by NTU was perfectly designed for this."
What did you know about NTU before you came here?
"NTU was listed as an accredited course provider on the Career Development Institute’s website. When approaching NTU, I had a couple of conversations and positive email exchanges with faculty staff in the School of Social Sciences. Alumni profiles were not available on the NTU website as this was the inaugural year of the MA Career Development course."
"I received initial advice and guidance from Professor Ann Allen and Dr Phil Mignot. This was followed by communication with the Course Leader (Jo McFadden) with whom I discussed my motivation, interests and aspirations, while learning more about the course details and study mode. The Course Leader was welcoming and supportive from the outset. That meeting left a positive impression with me. I was convinced that NTU was the right choice. I faced several challenges during the registration process being located overseas. Again, the Course Leader and support staff were very helpful in ensuring a smooth enrolment without issue."
What were the key factors that attracted you to the course?
"Flexibility was a key feature. Being located overseas and working full time required discipline, dedication and a course that would provide sufficient flexibility to manage the life-career balance necessary. Initially, the Service Evaluation route for the Masters’ program was attractive, however this changed after attending classes and working through the online learning activities and resources. This combination accelerated my learning of research methods and methodology - I ended up following the Dissertation route."
When choosing a course for postgraduate study, what did you consider it important to have?
"CDI accredited course, access to latest knowledge from a reputable institution, flexible learning and an excellent faculty and course support team were some of my considerations. The course name was also an influencing factor."
Is there anything that stood out on your course that wasn't offered anywhere else you applied?
"Service Evaluation Route – an attractive option for many career development practitioners in full time employment seeking to bring a research focus to evaluating the effectiveness of their services."
How did you find the facilities at NTU?
"The Boots library (City Campus) facilities were excellent and very accessible. I was able to access the computing facilities from multiple locations across the City Campus without any issues and thankfully without any queues!"
"For the majority of my course, I was located overseas. I regularly accessed the NTU e-library facilities to research journals, request e-books and chapters, as well as publications that were ordered from elsewhere. Each request was handled professionally and always within the agreed timelines. This played a major part in enhancing my student learning experience. In particular, Ms Rachel Campbell provided personalised responses which were always helpful in signposting me to beneficial resources and services to support my learning."
If you are working as well as studying, what does your job entail and how do you juggle both?
"I am a career counsellor working at the forefront of introducing Career Services in Saudi Arabia. I provide one-on-one and group career counselling, deliver career development workshops and provide career consultancy to business lines regarding employee career development needs."
"I was fortunate to have received lots of support from my family. My dissertation supervisor and the Course Leader were instrumental in providing encouragement, guidance and direction throughout."
"One of the formative tasks on the course was to produce a research project plan. This was presented in-class with peer and tutor feedback. I posted this on my wall at home, monitoring progress across the research project timeline.
Through check-in appointments (by phone and email) with my supervisor, I received timely, high quality feedback which kept me on-track."
"Occasionally, due to demanding work priorities I needed to negotiate timelines and deadlines. I found both the Supervisor and Course Leader extremely understanding and sufficiently flexible in helping me to continue my studies and guiding me towards successful completion."
How will your course benefit your employer?
"The Middle East is undergoing rapid transformation with a demographically younger population than elsewhere in the world. Career development is considered by stakeholders a means of helping to address several challenges, including: youth unemployment; mismatches in supply and demand of skilled labour within the private sector; structuring of complex labour markets; and social justice issues."
"The Middle East is rebuilding career development policy, theory and practice from an Eastern perspective, rather than transplanting from the West, which might not fit so well with its different historical traditions and cultural context. This presents several opportunities for scholars, academics and practitioners to collaborate."
Have your career plans changed as a result of your postgraduate study?
"The course team has inspired me to consider further study in the future, perhaps at doctorate level. Perhaps an Associate Lecturer role would provide an opportunity to ensure NTU students have access to practice-based research emerging from the Middle East which could be made more accessible to the West, as much as it is the other way round."
What are your plans for the future?
"Establish the career development field in the Middle East. There is so much potential! PhD funded scholarships would further support advancement of knowledge in this field and in the region, contributing to the idea of career as a ‘globally travelling’ idea (Khalil, 2017)."
Do you have any advice for students considering coming to NTU?
"Attend the NTU open day. Contact Faculty staff in advance of your visit and try to meet with them personally to learn more about the course syllabus, teaching approach and expectations. Meet with key people and facilities that interest you, e.g. accommodation, library, leisure facilities, student services and career services may be some."
"Check out student websites and assess your personal experience against that what others are saying."
"For students considering NTU, a relatively quick and useful way to decide whether NTU is for you is to follow the NOW, NEXT, FUTURE model (Dr Dave Redekopp, Canada) which simplifies career development. Ask yourself the following questions:
*Now - what do you need to do in the next few months?
*Next - what might you be doing in a year or two?
*Future - where is this all taking you?
"And finally, who do you need to talk with to think through this major life career decision - family, friends, teachers, co-workers, mentors, career development professionals."