Job Roles - Business Links Advisor

Spotlight on the role of Business Links Advisor

Phil Clooney, Business Links Advisor, at Stephenson Studio School talks about his role...

What does your job involve?

I organise links with businesses and organizations that support our Studio School ethos of preparation for working life. The links range from weekly work internship opportunities for our Key Stage 4 and 5 students to guest speakers and support for our Core Projects. I am also working with groups of students on volunteering opportunities and youth group start ups. I am ready to talk to business people 24 hours a day to make the most of any opportunities and I plan lots of meetings with business people and network, network, network!

What was your background before you joined the Studio School?

Following a corporate role working for a finance industry software provider in London I made the choice to follow a career path working with young people. I left the country in 2007 to work as a Guidance Counselor at a summer camp in the USA. I loved it so much that I signed up immediately to return to the camp the following summer.

I learned to motivate young people to achieve goals that they were proud of and I was there to support them with all of the ups and downs related to spending so many weeks away from their family and friends. I learned to mediate and help resolve social issues amongst groups of campers and built a strong rapport with the campers’ parents. In between summer camp experiences I travelled the USA, Caribbean, New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia and even managed a quick trip back to the UK to get married!

I returned to the UK in September 2009 and immediately secured a job working for an education charity where I coordinated employability and business challenge events in schools across Leicestershire. I enjoyed the business networking aspect of the role and found my time spent in the classroom motivating young people incredibly rewarding. I found I was often working way outside of my comfort zone which quickly built my confidence and ability to react positively to quickly changing situations. This job also complemented my evening studies where I worked for two years to complete a Graduate Diploma for Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector.

In my personal life I love the challenge of completing long distance fitness challenges; I have a pretty good half marathon personal best of 1 hour 31 minutes and I love hiking and mountain biking in Snowdonia.

What has been the biggest hurdle?

The biggest hurdle to overcome in my current role has been securing paid work internships for our 6th Form students. In order to succeed I have learned I must always persevere and keep striving forwards. I have learned that by being dedicated to informing businesses about the new Studio School model, the word spreads and positive results are achieved.

Your top tips for other Studio Schools?

1. Ensure your entire staff, regardless of role are given the opportunity to influence your students’ experiences. The team work approach at Stephenson Studio School is key to the success of the everyday operations at the school. This approach also means that our staff are great friends and are able to communicate with each other honestly and openly.

2. Plan your Core Projects to be supported by a credible organisation with an enthusiastic team of staff. This is key to providing the essential link between education and the business world. This will ensure the buy in from your students as they understand the context of the work they carry out in class and the impact their output will have on the outside world.

3. Never be afraid to ask – organising business links is fun; the work is full of energy and I feel lucky to be in a position where I can build a network of contacts in the local area and be up to date on what’s happening in the local economy. It’s also hard work and time consuming – businesses are not yet aware of the Studio School offer as it’s so new so you must always ask businesses for support and continue to explain to everyone that will listen that the Studio School model will benefit their business, the local community and of course our young people.