Teaching - student stories
Craig Robertson, Student Adviser
What do you currently do?
I am a UK citizen currently living and working in the Netherlands. I am a Student Adviser for a multi-national online education company having previously worked in TEFL (in Asia) and in Marketing (in the UK).
Working as a Student Adviser in Amsterdam has been a really international experience. Nine different nationalities are represented in my department alone and our student body are scattered all over the world (with high numbers in West Africa and the Middle East). This requires quite a high level of cultural sensitivity and the ability to communicate well. Working in collaboration with others is a given in organisations these days but this job certainly gives it another dimension.
I changed to online education as I moved to the Netherlands for personal reasons (partner relocated) and I was keen to continue working in Education. I was attracted to the multicultural nature of the role, working with people from all over the world.
What do you do in a ‘typical’ day?
Each month I am allocated 3-4 online classes. I spend the mornings contacting students about issues they may be having in class with academic or navigation issues and offer telephone support. In the afternoon I focus on other projects, this involves designing and creating content for students (such as videos, PDFs, tutorials, live presentations), a lot of which gets posted on the social media page I administer.
What made you decide on OU study?
After researching a number of distance learning opportunities I realised that the Open University was a good fit for me. I feel strongly about equal opportunities for people from all different walks of life to really take charge of their education and career and I think the OU has been helping people do that for quite some time. I am currently studying Educational Enquiry and I am working my way towards a degree in Education, it has been hard work at times but it has been rewarding both personally and professionally. Understanding more about how people learn and experience education has assisted me greatly in my current role.
How will having a degree in Education benefit your future job prospects?
I would think it will broaden my opportunities in this organisation. I currently work in student experience and this degree not only helps me in my current role but has allowed me to develop transferable skills that could open doors in the Academic department. In the future I hope to use my degree to work as an instructor in colleges and universities in East Asia.
What advice can you offer to current OU students?
For other students interested in this type of work, I would recommend pursuing administrative roles at local universities. Once you have started in an education institution, the possibility to work with students, international or otherwise, may present itself in work. I would consider further qualifications from the OU, demonstrating an interest and greater understanding of educational issues, would be a massive asset in this situation.
What things might make an application from an OU graduate stand out to an employer?
The fact that someone has been able to balance both a full-time job and study at the same time. The level of motivation required (and I see this in the students I work with, also) is impressive, demonstrates ambition and a desire to improve one's skills.