Case studies Laura

Laura (6)

Motto: Work hard, play hard!

Demographic and biographical Characteristics

Laura, 21, female, she has recently moved back to her family home after living in shared rented accommodation whilst studying at Derby University. She is a bubbly girl with a work hard, play hard approach to life and a wide network of friends both on and offline.


Educational and transitional pathways

Laura has just finished her final year of a degree in Early Childhood Education and Care and recently secured a job assisting in running a nurture group in a Special Needs School for Boys.

Motivations and Strategies

Depending on the success of this career move Laura hopes to either progress to become a teacher or a social worker. She is aware of the necessary pathways she would need to follow to achieve this; for teaching she would do a PGCE or the GTP course, for social work she is looking at a one year fast track course.

Ad hoc learning scenarios

As part of her degree course Laura carried out placement work in schools and nurseries thereby combining a very hands on practical approach to learning with the taught lectures in university. She experienced work in a variety of settings and was encouraged to find her own placements, “In the first year the university organised our placements, in the second and third year it was our responsibility. I was lucky because my mum works in a school, so I could get experience there. In other cases I would wrote about ten letters and sent them out. This always resulted in gaining a placement somewhere.”

Support Services used

Laura did not find the careers advice provided by the university to be particularly relevant to her although she admits that she did not take full advantage of the service. The focus of advice was on a career in teaching “We werent really told of all the job opportunities we could get with our degree specifically. The main option appeared to be teaching, but if i had definitly wanted to be a teacher, i would have done the BEd instead.”Laura used leaflets and the university website to research other career pathways. During the last four months of her degree she began to focus on her search for a job, she signed up to job search websites such as but found them to be of little use as she had no responses from any of the what seemed like 100’s of jobs she applied for online. She also used some job search sites more specific to her interests but found that she was receiving many pointless emails about jobs in London.

“I personally feel that employers, especially ones in the childcare sector, do not use these websites and prefer applications given in by hand or post. A headteacher once told me this and from what I have experienced it seems to be true in all settings, so applying online for the jobs advertised would be a waste of time.”

Learning type

Two main ways of learning are detectable:  

Learning from practical experiences: Laura has learned much of what she knows “on the job” through work experience placements. 

Peer learning: She also learns from her peers and takes advice from more experienced professionals.

Information and Communication Technologies

Laura uses Facebook and email which she accesses both from a PC and via her mobile but admits that she would be reluctant to use social networking sites to contact potential employers. “I feel that I’m very lucky to have got a job so soon after finishing Uni, as it is very difficult for graduates to find work, especially in the field that they have studied. I think that the job websites could be improved, as there is no feedback or information after you have submitted your application, so you have no idea if an employer has even read or looked at your submission. I also think Universities should be running lectures or sessions on how to apply for jobs, the best way to do it, cover letters, CV's, interview techniques and what to do next. There is so much attention paid to finishing your degree, which is important obviously, but the most important aspect is how you’re going to use it and what you’re going to do next!”