Iris van Alphen
College of Arts and Law, 2019
What is your current role and how did you get there?
I recently started a new role as an Escalation Specialist. Before this role, I worked in customer support at a student accommodation and after that I worked for Gymshark.
With this experience, I was able to land a job as an Escalation Specialist. This means I'll be dealing with more complicated customer support queries.
Did you know what you wanted to do before you started University?
No I didn't have any plans beforehand.
Did you have any work experience before your graduated?
I worked in customer support at a local football team during the first two years of university. During my master's I worked as a postgraduate event ambassador.
Have you faced any key challenges during your career journey, if so, how did you overcome them?
I experienced some major mental health issues during the beginning of the pandemic. I tried to find the needed support at my job at the time but that unfortunately wasn't enough. In the end I realised the atmosphere at that job was pretty toxic and that I needed to leave. I'm proud of myself for listening to the signs and although those issues have magically disappeared, the change of environment had a positive impact.
How did your time at Birmingham help you prepare for this role?
I attended several careers service session in regards to creating a CV, among others. These events better prepared me during my initial job search.
I also participated in the Masters Consultancy Challenge. This was a very fun experience which gave me a better idea of that field of work. Although the topic was very far removed from my degree, I was able to add a section on communication. Our team ended up winning the challenge and I think a contributing factor was our varied background.
What are your career plans for the future?
Ideally I would like to develop into a manager or supervisor role as I know these positions would suit me.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in getting into your industry or role, or if they’re unsure what they want to do?
I can recommend speaking to other people. After graduating I didn't know what I wanted to do and felt very lost. After speaking with a career coach, I was able to make a long term plan as well as write down some short term career goals. As a result I felt more secure in the choices I made and decided to change jobs.
What would be your key piece of career advice for a student just entering the employment market?
Get the most out of every job opportunity. If you don't like the job or don't feel valued, please don't stick around. Changing new jobs at the beginning of your careers may be scary but you'll learn so much.