17 Apr 2018
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Careers in student accommodation – Be a part of the student experience

My name is Carol Kelly and I am a Guest Services Assistant with Student Living by Sodexo….

I am originally from Northern Ireland and have travelled all over the world with the Army as I married a Cold Stream Guard. I left Ireland and got married at 17, so I know what it feels like to live away from home at a young age and can therefore relate to our students.

I love students and genuinely understand young people. Every day is different in student accommodation – I like the energy that students bring to the building and I feed off that energy! I speak to them about everything and I watch them grow from the first moment they arrive to the day that they depart. I am keen to always speak to student residents as they go about their day-to-day, its really important to stop and say “hello” as for all I know, I might be the only person they speak to that day.

When Student Living by Sodexo was launched, I was very apprehensive. I had worked for the University since 1993 and was really comfortable in the environment. I had changed roles from being a Cleaner to a Receptionist and was wary of Sodexo as I didn’t have any understanding of the commercial aspect of a private business which is very different to a University. When Sodexo changed my job role, I was initially apprehensive, however upon reflection the role that I had been given really pushed me and made me grow as an individual. Sodexo has given me more training and the push I needed that I would never would have otherwise. I fought the change but I have surprised myself and I have been able to achieve the roles and responsibilities given to me which in the first instance I didn’t want, especially considering  my age – However, age definitely doesn’t matter in Sodexo.

There are some challenges, like struggling to keep up-to-date with modern technology, social media and cultural changes – I have also found that student demands have changed, they are a lot more aware of their rights and they are more of a consumer than ever before. Years ago a student wouldn’t say boo to a goose but they are now very aware of what they want and how to express it – I think it is a good thing because that is how things change for the better.

I would recommend joining a company like Sodexo and working in a University environment. Nobody fought this role harder than me but on reflection it was the best thing for me – It is a great career and I love it. I was scared of the change as I thought I would have to go back to college but the training I received was excellent and I was able to put my learning into practise straight away. I needed to be pushed and I am so glad I was.

I love working in the University environment and more specifically the accommodation. The stories they have to tell and seeing them grow as young professionals helps me – I honestly love what I do! The role variety is massive, it can involve general maintenance, welfare and mental health issues. There is always a chair opposite my desk if someone wants to talk. I am a great communicator and that is crucial, customer service and people skills are something else I feel that I bring to the role. I have good life experience that I can speak to the students about. I have been in the accommodation service for 25 years I know the site and the students very well.

I feel I have a real positive impact of the students quality of life. I know it is a business but there is still a pastoral role within that as a people focused company. I have developed so much with Sodexo and I am very thankful.

Read more about Careers in Universities

To apply for opportunities in Student Living visit www.sodexojobs.co.uk

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