Andreia Ferreira is one of the Business School’s careers consultants providing cross-sector career advice to students at MSc and MBA level. She is currently co-leading the Full-Time MBA Careers Programme and is a member of the FMCG, Healthcare and Energy team. Here she shares her advice on achieving career success and the work of the Careers service.
What is the most rewarding part of you role?
I am passionate about supporting students in defining their career ambitions, developing soft skills and achieving their career goals. Meeting bright students from all over the world and supporting them to explore career opportunities across industries and borders is the most rewarding part of my role!
The diversity is incredible. One day I am facilitating interactive workshops to cohorts with 30+ nationalities. On the following day, I am conducting a career strategy session with a physician who is building a community hospital in their home island back in Indonesia. It is an honour to support hardworking, ambitious and well-rounded individuals.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
The urge for an early focus on careers and the intensity of one-year programmes represent the most challenging part of my role. The autumn term can be quite overwhelming for students targeting career opportunities in the UK, especially for those joining us from oversees.
Over the last few years we have made huge progress in managing those first weeks of term, balancing out the support students need with employers’ early recruitment deadlines. Admitted students have now access to core and sector specific careers content four months before starting their programme, allowing them to further their self-awareness, explore different industries and set their own goals.
What are the main barriers to achieving career success?
Not spending enough time exploring your personal definition of success, as well as not acknowledging how the concept of career success evolves in one’s lifespan. When outlining a career strategy it is important to consider interests, drivers and skills, but also the full spectrum of values and strengths that allow for sustained motivation over time.
It is important to pause from time to time and assess your career progression and satisfaction. This is one of the reasons why alumni continue to engage with the Careers team.
What is your advice to someone wanting to change career?
I work with a huge number of students looking to accomplish a change in role, industry or market upon graduation, particularly at MBA level. Often times they aim to change all of the above at once, the famous triple jumpers.
My first step is to explore the motivations behind this career change and how defined the next steps are in their minds. I always encourage people to expand their understanding of this new space through research and networking. Career changers need to understand the challenges of the new industry, speak the language of the new role and identify their value added and target market.
A career change is usually a long journey that is only starting at Business School. Therefore, I always encourage students to come up with a stepping stone approach and a plan B, as well as keep their support network close by even if they are physically miles away.
What is your advice to someone wanting to pursue a job promotion?
A strong performance record is a must but it’s not enough on its own to get a promotion in the majority of the organisations nowadays. Building a strong and reliable personal brand that is aligned with the culture of the company and up-to-date with the trends of the industry is a starting point to increase your chances. Increasing the visibility of that brand within the organisation is the next step; by developing key relationships with potential sponsors and taking on new projects that expand your scope of action and put you formally and informally on the radar of the decision makers. Finally, there is something to be said about being in the right place at the right time, as sometimes a promotion is about being ready when the opportunity arises or stepping up where the business needs your skill set.
As the Forté Foundation representative for the Business School, how do you support to women in business?
Diversity and gender equality have ranked high on Imperial College Business School’s agenda for several years, which has guided specific actions from the Careers service such as a Gender Differences in Salary Negotiations Workshop.
The plan is to build on the excellent work that the Business School and its student-led organisations such as Imperial College Women in Business Society and 30% Club have been doing over the years, as well as promote specific content and networking opportunities that Forté Foundation offers to our female students. I have just started my first academic year as the Careers Rep for the Forté Foundation and I’m working closely with the Forté Fellows at Imperial to leverage the inspiring women in our community and involve other stakeholders in the conversation.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever been given?
At the beginning of my career, one of my first managers encouraged me to “never leave before you leave”, meaning you should work hard every day, always consider new projects and give your best contribution to any team until the last minute. Taking on new challenges and adding value even to the very end of a project/role has been part of my personal brand and has helped me build a strong network of advocates over the years.