SASiety is very grateful that Lucy Hawkins gave us some tips and tricks on how navigate through the jungle of career options and opportunities. She shared valuable information not only in her webinars but also by passing on her personal experiences. We asked Lucy a final set of questions in advance of the last webinar on career options.
In the third and final webinar tomorrow, July 6th, Lucy will dive into one of her area’s of expertise: the heritage sector and freelancing. She will tell us how we can enhance our academic and professional experience for these career paths. The webinar starts at 1pm and you can still register for it here.
If you missed the webinars about careers in the higher education sector and beyond, there is still time to catch up om them! These previous two sessions are accessible via the careers group resources on study online.
Monja: Do you have an encounter that stuck with you? If so why?
Lucy: I worked with someone who was in a senior manager in a charity, whose role was being made redundant. She wasn’t getting interviews and was frustrated – she had a great track record, and we as even doing a Masters part time.
I remember that this client taught me lots about assumptions. She came across as very confident, and it took a while for me to realise that she struggled with ‘imposter syndrome’ like so many of us. She had hired lots of staff, and it took a while for me to realise that she didn’t know how tailoring makes an application score higher. She multitasking so well, and it took a while for me (and her) to realise that she couldn’t juggle a full job hunt too.
She also held assumptions – about the labour market, herself, her Masters. Spotting the assumptions helped everything become a lot clearer. Not always magically easier, but clearer, and thus we could build a plan of action that fit much better.
Monja: Freelance is often scary and many consider it as an unstable / unsustainable option. Having worked as a freelance consultant for a bit, do you have any tips on how to approach this field?
Lucy: I’ve been freelancing since 2018, and I love the autonomy, and the fact that when the work is good you can earn more for the hours you do (which allowed me to reduce my hours).
I found it helpful to test the water first – I spoke to a few people in my network about whether they’d hire me, how much, and with what frequency they used freelance help. I ran a low-cost career change course locally to test the waters for my private client practice and to learn a bit more about that market.
I also find it helpful to have defined criteria in place to spot when it isn’t working: for example, if over a three-month period I don’t bring in my income target, that’s my first clue that I need to change what I’m doing or consider other employment. Every three months I have an hour booked in my diary to do this, as well as and a general finance check for missing invoices etc. Other criteria include whether it’s working for my family (is everyone tired and grumpy?!)
Monja: Do you have any advice on how to overcome obstacles when establishing a career in freelancing?
Lucy: Although things have been good at the moment, I always have a clear plan for what to do if things change. I have insurance in case I get ill and am unable to work for more than a month (no sick pay as a freelancer!) I have savings so that I know I could cover bills to allow myself three months to job hunt if I needed to go back to employment. I also have a social enterprise that at the moment is a minor part of my work, but offers growth potential in the right circumstances.
The biggest obstacles have been that it’s often lonely working for yourself, and that it’s tough to take a vacation – you’re either doing work, or winning work, and the work is often short notice.
Monja: In one sentence: what is one of the best things, in your opinion, a student can get out of your services?
Lucy: Clarity about what to do next – whether it’s an application form or a career change.
The School is dedicated to supporting the career and personal development of its students and graduates. The SAS Careers Service provides support for students and recent graduates across all the SAS institutes. We offer one to one careers advice and coaching, as well as providing workshops and careers events.
SAS students can access a 1-2-1 appointment with the SAS Careers Consultant, Liz Wilkinson. Liz has 30 years of HE careers experience in supporting masters and PhD students and graduates to achieve career success.
1-2-1 guidance will help you plan your next steps and give you support and advice to achieve your career goals, whatever they might be. All careers sessions are currently offered remotely via phone or MS Teams, depending on your preference. Advice and guidance is also available by email. To book a 1-2-1 appointment please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We offer both all student and targeted seminars with topics including ‘Writing a Successful PhD application’, ‘Hone Your Writing Skills for Job Applications & Funding Proposals’, ‘Moving On Your Career in Human Rights’. Seminars will be advertised via email to your SAS email in the preceding weeks.