“I've Got No Confidence In My Skills. Am I Trapped?”

Lucy's had enough of work that doesn't challenge or stimulate her. But her career so far has made her a jack of all trades (and master of none). How can you get a foot in the door of work you love when your prior experience won't even get you an interview?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm a university applicant engagement officer.

I work with academics and different departments to ensure that all the communications sent to students, from their initial application all the way through to when they start at university, are seamless.

I've only ever worked for universities, that's all I know. I got my first job because they wanted a recent graduate and my second because it allowed me to relocate and live with my boyfriend.

There's been no real thought or planning involved.

How do you feel about your work?

The pay is good, and we get good holidays.

I enjoy the project management side of what I do: collaborating with different people and being involved in different aspects of a project.

I enjoy working out what information someone needs based on where they are in their application or their student journey. It's like a game of logic.

The trouble is that the nature of the job is cyclical. I'm getting bored of doing the same thing year after year. There's no scope to do anything different.

I'm finding it increasingly unsatisfactory, both intellectually and creatively.

Apart from my team, I hate the working environment. It's cut-throat and there's a strong blame culture.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I'd like to make more of my academic background.

I have an undergraduate degree and a Master's in history, so maybe something to do with genealogy or historical records.

To work in an environment where I make a difference, even if it's in a small way, would be nice. Perhaps something in conservation or the environment.

I've looked into working for the National Trust and Historic England.

I've also looked at jobs in the NHS because there are many aspects that are similar to university work, and I believe it would also be more rewarding.

I know how these big organisations work; there's a part of me that's comfortable there. However, I'm not sure they're necessarily where I should be, they're just what I'm familiar with.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I don't have enough confidence in my skills.

The trouble with my role is that it's made up of lots of little things – bits of project management, bits of event management, bits of copywriting – but nothing really substantial in any area.

I don't feel like I have enough experience doing any of those things to take me to the next level in just one area.

I enjoy the project management especially, but when I look at job descriptions, I begin to doubt my experience and qualifications.

I've tried applying for a few jobs where I wasn't convinced I'd get through, never mind get an interview, but I thought there was no harm in trying.

I went for one at the university, and one in the NHS. Both times they said I didn't have the technical knowledge so I didn't even get an interview. That's fine, I get that, but what can I do to improve my chances?

I feel like if I had the confidence in any of my skills, if I knew how to prove myself in some way, maybe I'd be brave enough to apply for more jobs.

How do I make the most of my piecemeal experience doing lots of different things?

Can you help Lucy?

  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Lucy could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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