What have I learned during my time at City?

With three weeks to go before I launch Graduate Transitions I’ve spent a lot time reflecting on my experience at City University London, thinking about what I’ve learned during my four years as Director of Careers.

I’ve been fortunate to work at City during this period. The university remains very focused on graduate employment and investment has seen the careers service grow considerably since 2011. I’ve had the chance to witness first hand major changes in the Higher Education landscape: the introduction of increased undergraduate fees in 2012 and the changes to the undergraduate and postgraduate recruitment processes have all had a tangible impact on student expectations, and the behaviours they exhibit as a result. Universities have had to respond to meet these changing demands and this is creating new opportunities for employers. Campus life feels very different to that which I remember when I ran my first skills session at Brunel (“How to tackle group exercises at assessment centres”!) almost eleven years ago.

Wind the clock back to September 2011, my first “Welcome Week” on campus at City, and I remember saying to myself on many occasions: “Ah, that’s why things didn’t happen the way I expected when I was running events for Logica…”. Student behaviour that was a mystery when viewed from the perspective of an IT recruiter suddenly made sense when I was immersed in the university environment every day. More than three years later I’ve seen countless examples of great employer engagements on campus, as well as a few where things did not go quite according to plan.

If I had my time as a recruiter again I’d certainly do things differently, ask more questions, and try to build stronger relationships with the careers services I worked with. And that’s why I’m taking the big step to leave City: to try to help universities and employers to understand each other’s worlds, using the perspective that I’ve been lucky enough to gain.

Scary and exciting in equal measures, the adventure begins on 16th March…


  • Hugh Jones says:

    Good luck with the new venture, Gary.

    There’s a really important role for people with cross sectoral experience like yours to share that knowledge and help to make study and work more joined up. More power to your elbow!

    • Gary Argent says:

      Thanks Hugh! I really appreciate all the advice you have shared with me so far – in particular, your recommendation of Mike Johnson’s book “Starting Up On Your Own” – an absolute must-read for anyone thinking of following this path!

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