Careers is the soul of every business school



Naeema Pasha is the Director of Career Innovation & Strategy at Henley Careers, Henley Business School

It’s now time to move Careers teams up from being ‘remedial’ advice providers to leaders in people development and career change. After all, isn’t this the nub of student hopes in their business degree?

A lot of people say, "shouldn’t Careers Services be doing more in giving proper advice to get people into the right jobs?" Think back to your own career development – the fact is so many aspects of your life affected your choice. The job you’re in now is a result of you making choices on your personality, motivations, interests and the distinct opportunities you had around you. Advice might have helped tie up some questions – but it wasn’t the most influential thing.

Advice is quite flimsy really. Advice only works when we’ve explored ideas of ourselves and our context – and it’s only actionable when we have at least some confidence we can action it. In 2017 this new world of work has many complexities, with all the massive political changes, shifts in diversity, social and culture, technology taking old and new jobs, and employer requirements shifting again. So being confident is getting tougher. Advice is just too simple to address as to what Career Services need to be doing in this world of work. In 2017, many students lack self-awareness, more lack confidence and most need to develop resilience. Research in career development support that immersive experiences will enable people to develop themselves better and build resilience (Brown, S. D. and Lent, R. W. 1996). It's these more complex issues we need to address collectively - with business.

To meet the new challenges of getting people into their chosen careers, Careers services have a requirement (and indeed all of us in education and business) to help students have confidence in their own ambitions and abilities – then help them take action. This means a shift away from advice giving, which is a rapidly outdated way of delivering careers, but a move towards enabling and empowering students to progress because they’re more self-reliant and have knowledge in the world of work.  This means up-skilling careers teams to apply principles of business psychology to practice as well as knowing latest global recruitment trends. Careers staff ought to also be committed to including things like entrepreneurial training, if, at least, to get students thinking of what they could achieve. This means that they need to be entrepreneurial in developing their career service.

Employers for their part need to excite people about their job area and for that they need to do more than give advice too. They to need to engage students by investing into progressive career development programmes within a school. We need business leaders to work with us to implant ideas and nurture them. Employers can't just give advice unless students see value, context and correlation to their success. Or the advice won’t stick. This means almost crowbarring employers into proper engaging and intelligent delivery of careers into a developed and more technologically advanced careers curriculum (yes we also need a careers curriculum as this is about learning & development – and not advice giving now).

So, if we want to enable students to be successful in their careers, the question isn't about appropriate advice giving - any student can Google how to write a business plan, or check requirements for becoming a Management Consultant (or Robot Developer). The singular question is really; how should we engage and enable students to start career planning sooner and for them not be too fearful of both success and failure? For this to happen it means that schools need to ensure that their career teams are placed centrally in the school and involved in curriculum development, student recruitment and business engagement.  Careers teams are not here to just give advice, we are here to change mind-sets.


Bandura, A. 1986. Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Bandura, A.   1997. Self-efficacy: The Exercise of Control. New York: Freeman.

Brown, S. D. and Lent, R. W. 1996. “A Social Cognitive Framework for Career Choice Counselling.” Career Development Quarterly 44:354-366.

Hackett, G. and Betz, N. E. 1981. “A Self-efficacy Approach to the Career Development of Women.” Journal of Vocational Behaviour 18:326-336.