At Unitemps we have a number of candidates that do fantastic work. This feature interview looks at the journey one of our many successful candidates made whilst working through Unitemps.
Following a break from working, Matt Tucker decided to return to work in 2012 and he explains what led him to seek employment through Unitemps.
“I had a career break. I used to be in sales and marketing selling complex cooling systems into data systems for banks. But I had to take a break to look after my dad, and that was about two years out of work.
“When I came back to the job market I decided I didn’t want to work in sales anymore. In that period I helped a friend out working in a university and found that I really enjoyed doing that.
“I saw an advert for Support Workers through Unitemps at BCU and decided to give that a go and started out as a note taker.”
One thing that stood out for Matt during the initial process of signing up to Unitemps and getting his first job was the thorough nature of the interview stage.
“I got a lot of help and support from Unitemps staff in Birmingham. The interview stage was thorough and gave me a really good insight into what I was going to be doing,” Matt said.
“The interview was taking notes from a video – exactly what I was going to be doing in my role. It was a great starting point and gave me the confidence to start working.”
Matt’s first role was as a note taker, however it soon became apparent that he had the skills and passion for a more student orientated role. He began assisting students who had communication difficulties and required one-to-one support.
“I think because I’m a little older than most other support workers and have a background in sales and marketing, I started to get to know other people and helping students more directly by sitting down with them and helping them interact with academic staff.
“Most of the students that I was starting to work with were on the autistic spectrum and the way support is set up according to Student Finance doesn’t necessarily fit in with students’ needs.
“With the support of the Disability Support Team and Lucy at Unitemps, we put together a more tailored package for autistic students.”
Despite having already changed roles, Matt remained ambitious and his progression within the university rapidly continued.
“I was Support Worker for about 18 months and then a vacancy came up for a Specialist Autism Mentor and I was asked to apply for the role. Prior to that I’d been working with the Disability Team, particularly with students that were challenging.
“I had a background of almost doing a mentoring role whilst being a Support Worker. I applied and was accepted, which was in April 2014, so I’ve been doing that ever since.”
The progression was quick with a lot of new information to take on, however Matt says the transition was made easy because of the support from Unitemps.
“It was quite a steep learning curve, but all the way through the Unitemps Team were very open to conversations about the role boundaries of what I could and couldn’t do.
“It was all very clearly planned out so it made the transition very smooth even though it was quite a significant jump from a support role to mentoring.”
The difference Matt has made to students’ university life has not gone unnoticed. Subsequently, he has been nominated for the ‘Extra Mile Award’ for the past two years. The award is voted for by students for those who have gone above and beyond in the role they are working in.
“I was privileged to have four students in 2014 and eight in 2015 nominate me in the category of ‘Ancillary and Support Staff’,” Matt told us.
“I’m the only non-staff member to have been nominated and shortlisted, so I got the opportunity to go the Awards Ceremony which was very pleasant – along with a nice certificate from the Vice-Chancellor at the University.
“You can really help the students as individuals and I think that’s the difference. It was a privilege and an honour.”
A great amount of success has been achieved in a short space of time and Matt explained that there is still scope for further development of his role, which he hopes can be implemented in the near future.
“At the beginning of the 2014/15 academic year I was talking to the Disability Support Team and we were discussing autism awareness within the university and found that there isn’t any training for it.
“There is for dyslexia, there is for disability generally and mental health but there’s nothing for autism. BCU has around an intake of 600 autistic students, so it was felt that some training could be put in place.
“I wrote a two-hour training document, presented it to the Disability Support Team and they said that they liked it and wanted to run with it. We’ve rolled it out to three departments so far with 100% positive feedback. Hopefully this year it will be embedded in the Career Development Programme for all frontline staff at BCU.”
It is clear that Matt has been self-sufficient in progressing with his role since he first worked through Unitemps, however he reserves acknowledgment of the fact that he would not have been able to get to where he is without the support of Unitemps.
“Without Unitemps, I wouldn’t be a part of the university. That was the initial route into working at the University for me. Without the support of the Unitemps staff throughout I wouldn’t have achieved anything like what I have.
“It has been that backup and support along every step of the way that has made a significant difference in my ability to perform.
“Having Unitemps in the background to ensure all my paperwork is processed correctly and all of my reports are processed accurately, without them I wouldn’t have been able to do my job.”
If you fancy yourself as the next Matt Tucker or would like to employ your very own, get in touch with your local Unitemps branch.