Angela's story | Education Support Partnership

Angela's story

It’s common for people to feel stressed because they have far too much work. But what happens when you don’t have enough to do? That may sound like bliss. In fact, it can be very stressful as university careers adviser Angela, not her real name, explains.

My problem is incredibly hard to talk about. If you tell people you’re under worked they tend to think, ‘Lucky you!’ But it doesn’t feel like that.

I’d always wanted to work in higher education as a careers adviser. I’ve worked in education for 15 years, the last seven in HE, and I have the Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. So I’m accredited which shows I understand best practice in teaching and learning.

It’s therefore very frustrating to find myself working in a university where there isn’t enough to do. Especially as it took me seven years to get the job I wanted.

Authoritarian

Everything was fine till about 18 months ago. Then it all started to go wrong. I’d always had really supportive managers who were enthusiastic about what I did. Then we got a new manager where I worked and she had a totally different style, very authoritarian. Suddenly I was told my work was not up to scratch, my presentations were poor – which I know they weren’t - oh and coincidentally there’s a financial problem and redundancies are needed. So I knew where that conversation was going. I had to go.

Having to find fresh employment I managed to get another job but at a lower grade. I thought I would probably stay about eight months and find something else but nothing else has come up. And it’s so stressful. This new job is so low level and has no responsibilities whereas I used to manage two faculties and now I just have one department.

No one notices me

Some days I feel no one would notice if I wasn’t here. My colleagues say the same thing. We’re all in an academic department and no one knows what we’re doing. It’s weird. I could skive for the whole day and no one would know. No students booked in to see me. They don’t seem to know or care that our department exists and it’s there to help them. I feel as if I am wasting my time here. And I resent that with all my qualifications and experience I’m just called an Employability Adviser.

Desperate

I was so desperate and stressed by this that I did a search just using the words help and education. And the Education Support Partnership came up on the search engine. I rang them immediately and the response I got was amazing. The counsellor helped me see things from a completely different angle. She guided me into seeing what I had achieved rather than what wasn’t working. Between us we came up with a plan for me to work on. The counsellor said I should either focus on getting a new job or focus on making the most of the one I had. But I can't do both. And I saw that made sense.

I came off the phone and felt so much more positive when I went back to work. This new-found confidence helped me to make more of an impression on the students who suddenly all wanted help at once whereas when I arrived they didn’t engage at all. By changing how I was, I managed to change how they responded to me.

Better now

My Ed Support counsellor told me in the land of the blind the one-eyed person is king and if I could achieve things in this job I could do it anywhere. This really gave me a different perspective on my job. I’m trying harder to create time in my job where can achieve something, such as network with groups at work so I can build my CV a bit more. I also got myself a mentor. It’s much better now.

We hear a lot about stress at work but no one wants to be in a job where you just laze about. If you do go for another job, what you going to talk about at the interview?

I’m very grateful to the Education Support Partnership for helping me to see things differently. Sometimes that’s all it takes and I feel much more positive and hopeful now about the future.

How we can help

  • Help for individuals  
    Sometimes work (or just life) can be tough. A challenging student, workload pressures, personal financial worries; there are many stresses on those who work in education. That’s why we offer free, confidential help and support, no matter what your problem.
  • Help for organisations 
    Working in education is demanding so we’ve designed a set of services to help you check how your teams are coping, troubleshoot problems and boost everyone’s wellbeing.