Career Dreams

Here at LJMU we know that postgraduate study is a vital step on the ladder to many a dream career. Over the last few months we’ve been talking to some of our graduates who are living that dream. They tell us how their time at LJMU prepared them for their happy ever after.

Ashleigh Sefton,

Forensic Scientist

Conor Heeney,

Head of Strength

and Conditioning

Macarena Morilla Dominguez, Trans Creator

Tracy McNeill, Advanced Paediatric Nurse Practitioner

Vicky Nash, Associate Director

of Education

A Dream Achieved

Having graduated from her Masters in Forensic Anthropology at LJMU Ashleigh Sefton received the phone call she had dreamed of since childhood – the offer of a job as a Forensic Scientist.

A Dream Achieved

Having graduated from her Masters in Forensic Anthropology at LJMU Ashleigh Sefton received the phone call she had dreamed of since childhood – the offer of a job as a Forensic Scientist.

Something of an LJMU stalwart, Ashleigh joined the university for her undergraduate degree in Forensic Anthropology. “At the time LJMU was the only university offering access to human remains as opposed to casts,” she says. “The course was everything I had wanted and more and, at the end of it, I knew I wanted to do my Masters but I also recognised I needed some time out.”

Taking a year off to work full-time and build up funds for her future studies, it didn’t take Ashleigh long to start missing the lecture theatre. “After about four months I was desperate to get back to it but that was great as it meant I really knew it was the right thing to do,” she smiles.

On starting back at LJMU Ashleigh loved every minute of her studies. “The modules were shorter and offered more variety than my undergrad studies,” she says. “In our second semester we did a series of assessment presentations which were fabulous. We got weekly feedback on our performance and that positive reinforcement meant we could all see each other growing in confidence and ability.”

As well as her classroom studies, Ashleigh continued to volunteer at an archaeological site in Cheshire in her holidays. “I was asked by the site director to teach at the summer school following my undergraduate placement and this is something I have kept up and really love,” she says. “Experience is vital in any career and the fact that LJMU introduced me to the Poulton site gave me a real boost when it came to applying for jobs.”

During the second semester of her Masters Ashleigh applied for a position as Forensic Scientist at Cellmark Forensics.

Although the team were very impressed by her, she lacked the experience they needed for the role in question but were very keen to stay in touch. By the time another role was available Ashleigh had completed her Masters and that’s when she received the phone call from Cellmark to offer her the job. “It was absolutely the fact that I had my Masters that made the difference,” says Ashleigh. “I had the knowledge they needed as well as the enthusiasm and that was the decider.”

Currently working on police sexual offence cases, Ashleigh is very much enjoying the variety of her work. “My job is to photograph, document and test the samples that come in before passing the results on to our reporting scientists,” she explains. “I never thought I would want a lab-based role but I love it.”

As to the future, Ashleigh would love to become a forensic anthropologist. “I am already in touch with colleagues from the forensic anthropology section of my company,” she says. “I am going to work towards my FAlll accreditation and build on my experience in blood training. There is no one defined path that leads to being a forensic anthropologist but I am doing all of the things that will put me in the best position to get there.”

Making the Most of it

According to Conor Heeney, getting the most out of your postgraduate study is all about working hard, building relationships and immersing yourself in the whole experience. The Strength and Conditioning graduate spent his time at LJMU preparing for the career he wanted and is now the University’s Head of Strength and Conditioning.

Making the Most of it

According to Conor Heeney, getting the most out of your postgraduate study is all about working hard, building relationships and immersing yourself in the whole experience. The Strength and Conditioning graduate spent his time at LJMU preparing for the career he wanted and is now the University’s Head of Strength and Conditioning.

Conor came to LJMU to study for a BSc in Sport Science. “I chose LJMU because of the facilities here, the lecturers and, of course the city itself,” he recalls. “The degree was also ideal for those who wanted to work in the sporting arena but were not sure which particular area to focus on.”

Although he enjoyed his studies, Conor had never considered a Masters as he hadn’t seen one which particularly appealed. “At the start of my third year we were told about a brand new MSc in strength and conditioning,” he says. “I had a job at that time and the plan was to build on it post graduation but when I heard about the Masters I knew it was the right move for me.”

Conor was attracted to the course due to its excellent blend of applied and academic content. “We were taught by world leaders and offered the chance of a really good placement,” he explains. “I spent time at Warrington Wolves and the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield and took up a Senior Strength and Conditioning Internship at LJMU. On graduation I had two part-time paid roles with the Liverpool under 21s ladies team and the Talented Athletes Scholarship Scheme. This helped me build up some really essential experience.”

Working in his chosen sector and loving every minute of it, Conor is at his happiest. “People ask where I see myself in five years’ time but I tend not to be a long term planner,” he says. “I look what I am doing now and I look at other opportunities around me and I know there really is nowhere else I would rather be.

When the right opportunity comes along I’ll know and I will go for it. My university experience has given me the confidence to make those decisions.”

It was that experience that put Conor in the right place at the right time when a full-time job came up at the university. “I had always joked that I wanted my manager’s role from the beginning,” smiles Conor. “But when he moved on to a post doc position that became a possibility and I was really fortunate to be offered the job.”

Fashioning a Future

When Macarena Morilla Dominguez was young she decided she wanted a career in the fashion industry, not as a designer or a marketeer but as a translator. Just two semesters into her Masters at LJMU, the Spanish student is off to start a new life in Paris, working for a major international fashion house.

Fashioning a Future

When Macarena Morilla Dominguez was young she decided she wanted a career in the fashion industry, not as a designer or a marketeer but as a translator. Just two semesters into her Masters at LJMU, the Spanish student is off to start a new life in Paris, working for a major international fashion house.

“I studied for my undergraduate degree in translation and interpreting back home in Seville,” Macarena explains. “Even at that time I was trying to channel all my projects into a fashion setting to ensure I got the most relevant experience and knowledge possible.”

During her studies, Macarena spent a summer in Liverpool to improve her English language skills. “On graduation I decided to return to Liverpool and, after a few months working in a hotel, I was offered a job as Editor and Translator in a Maritime business,” she says.

Working in her new role, Macarena drafted newsletters in English, Spanish and German as well as translating technical content and providing subtitles for films etc. “It was great experience but I was always very much aware that my heart belonged to the fashion industry,” she says.

Deciding to formalise her career aspirations with an appropriate qualification, Macarena soon discovered that most fashion courses were either too focused on design or marketing. “After some time researching options I found the Fashion Innovation and Realisation course at LJMU” she smiles. “I attended an open day, spoke to the Programme Leader Kayla about my plans and concerns and she convinced me that I could tailor the Masters to suit my needs and take from it exactly what I needed.”

Macarena enrolled on the Masters in 2019 and worked her way through the first two semesters whilst still holding down her editing job. “I was really supported by Kayla and the team,” she says. “The course enabled me to combine my professional skills and knowledge with my passion for fashion and I was achieving firsts or 2:1s in each assignment.”

Once again Macarena moulded her projects to suit her requirements, researching the relationship between language and the non-verbal language of fashion and later the abuse of foreign terminology in the Spanish fashion industry. The latter resulted in the creation of a bilingual fashion glossary, using the riches of the Spanish language to create a glossary of terms only previously available in English.

With her mind set on her future, Macarena started to look for job opportunities and, when a post came up in Paris, looking for a trans creator (a translating copywriter), she decided to apply. “I didn’t think I had a chance and I always imagined I would work in the UK after my degree,” she says. Six interviews and a practical test later, however, Macarena was offered the post with the international fashion business whose environmental focus involves the resale of haute couture and designer pieces.

Suitably excited about her future role in the fashion capital of the world, Macarena is testament to the belief that drive and ambition really pay off. She will complete the third semester of her Masters from Paris this year. “I really think that LJMU opened this door for me,” smiles Macarena. “I already had the language skills from my undergrad degree but there are thousands of people out there with that expertise. The Masters enabled me to specialise in the field that I love. That gave me the opportunity to embark on this amazing new chapter. I am very grateful to Kayla and the team for all their help and support.”

Tracy’s Fairytale Ending

Advanced Paediatric Nurse Practitioner Tracy McNeill was inspired by the words of a certain Mr Walt Disney: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And it was that determination that saw the paediatric specialist return to study later in life and move into the career she had always longed for.

Tracy’s Fairytale Ending

Advanced Paediatric Nurse Practitioner Tracy McNeill was inspired by the words of a certain Mr Walt Disney: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And it was that determination that saw the paediatric specialist return to study later in life and move into the career she had always longed for.

On leaving school Tracy went into nursery nursing and then worked as a nanny before taking her nursing Diploma at Edge Hill University. “From the minute I qualified I knew I wanted to do more,” she recalls. “I worked for 12 years as a nurse and I really enjoyed it but I always knew I had more to give.”

In 2016, Tracy’s dream started to become reality when she was given the chance to apply for a secondment that would involve a Masters at LJMU leading to an Advanced Practitioner role. “I had never done an undergraduate degree so it was all a bit daunting but I knew it was the right move,” she says.

Tracy studied alongside a diverse group of students from all walks of paediatrics. “Academic writing at level seven was no mean feat,” she smiles. “Fortunately the student support was phenomenal and that, alongside my passion for the role, kept driving me forward no matter how far out of my comfort zone I was feeling.”

Life as an advanced paediatric practitioner is everything Tracy dreamed of and more. “I love every minute of it,” she beams. “I learn something new every day and I know I am making a real difference.”

So what advice does Tracy have for those considering a move back to education? “Just do it!” she laughs. “Take every opportunity, trust in yourself, anything is achievable and remember: if you can dream it, you can do it!”

Virtually Perfect

As we enter a world where technology is king in terms of learning, Great Ormond Street’s Associate Director of Education Vicky Nash looks back on her studies with LJMU in 2009. Indeed, it was the university’s advanced virtual capability at that time which enabled her to gain her advanced clinical practice qualification whilst living in London.

Virtually Perfect

As we enter a world where technology is king in terms of learning, Great Ormond Street’s Associate Director of Education Vicky Nash looks back on her studies with LJMU in 2009. Indeed, it was the university’s advanced virtual capability at that time which enabled her to gain her advanced clinical practice qualification whilst living in London.

Training as a nurse in Rochdale in the 90s, Vicky realised there were few nursing vacancies in the north at that time so, on graduation, she moved to London with friends. Having worked in adult nursing at various hospitals around the capital, she moved to the Royal Brompton Hospital in 1998 to take up a position in paediatric ICU. It was towards the end of her 17-year career here that Vicky and a number of colleagues decided to undertake a Masters course.

“At that time LJMU offered the only advanced practice course available,” she recalls. “What made it so appealing, however, was the fact that - even at that time - LJMU had invested heavily in virtual technology meaning we could do all of our studying in London and simply travel up to Liverpool for exams and, of course, visits to the Students’ Union.”

Vicky really appreciated the mix of people on the course. “There was team London, working in busy city hospitals, team Liverpool who were at the university studying full-time and team Scotland who were based on the Scottish islands and were more or less entirely responsible for the medical care of thousands of people with little back up and few facilities,” she says. “We all learned so much from each other and, as for the tutors, they were amazing. My programme leader has been my career role model and I am still in touch with her today.”

On graduation Vicky worked as an Advanced Clinical Practitioner before taking up a teaching post at London South Bank University. In 2017 Vicky joined Great Ormond Street hospital as Head of Education and in September this year became Associate Director of Education.

“I enjoyed my Masters so much,” smiles Vicky. “It really inspired me to learn. I loved the inclusivity of the approach and the specialist knowledge that we all gained. I didn’t have an undergraduate degree when I enrolled on the course but the support was spot on. I got help with my academic writing from tutors and library staff and, as they all believed I could do it, I started to believe in myself too. I would advise anyone thinking of going back to education to do it. I am in a role that I love because LJMU inspired me to succeed.”