Name: Laura Smith

Lives in: Surrey

Career: Human Resources

Studied: CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Award: Employment Law

Why ICS Learn? Lots of support, flexibility and a fraction of the price of local college courses

After starting her career in recruitment, Laura moved on to a broader HR role and realised it was exactly what she wanted to be doing. She enjoys building relationships and likes the fact that human resources play such a central role in the success of a business.

She was working as an HR Coordinator for a major tech giant when she decided to pursue a professional HR qualification. She had previously put off the idea, not envisaging how it could possibly fit in her busy schedule.

She tells us, "I didn't have time to attend a local college and then find additional time to study in between - with a full time job the commitment was just too much!"

Then, Laura saw that she could earn the CIPD Level 5 Employment Law Award via distance learning. It was exactly the solution she was looking for.

"The course presented an enjoyable new challenge"

Laura chose the Employment Law Award for three main reasons. Firstly, she wanted to expand her knowledge and learn practical new skills. Secondly, she knew a CIPD qualification was what she would need to get to the next stage of her career.

The third (and perhaps most important) reason: she was interested in it! Working with employment lawyers for her job had piqued her interest in the subject, and she was continually impressed by their depth of knowledge. Specialist training would give her the confidence to speak with them from a qualified perspective.

In researching the course, Laura also liked that it touched on all areas of human resources (development, recruitment, etc.) which presented itself as an "enjoyable new challenge" to her.

"I could even have a week off when I needed"

Juggling a full-time job and her studies, Laura planned out her work and made the most of her six-month support period. She started the course in January 2014 and successfully passed it in May.

"ICS gave me the opportunity to study at my own pace and at a time that suited me, from evenings to weekends - I could even have a week off when I needed it," she recalls.

"I received plenty of support and regular reminders of updates in my selected area and how to contact my mentor if there was anything I needed clarification on."

Another benefit of the course was its affordability. Laura tells us that studying via distance learning with ICS cost a fraction of the price of attending a similar course at a local college.

"Draw on your experience at work"

When asked what advice she would give to other distance learning students, Laura suggested to "draw on your experience". She was pleasantly surprised at how much she was able to use her personal work experiences to support her coursework. There was a lot that she didn't realise she already knew.

"Studying with ICS was one of the best decisions I have ever made"

Laura now works as an HR Advisor for a cutting-edge, global automotive company. She loves it. When she talks about her job, you can actually hear her voice light up.

"Studying with ICS was one of the best decisions I have ever made!" Laura says. "It has given me the confidence to pursue a career I never believed possible, and I know that whenever I need to increase my level of skill I can just reach out to ICS for the extra support."

Laura was still studying when she applied for the role, but the fact that she was working towards a qualification was enough to get her the job. Not only is it a more senior position, but her salary has also increased by over 15 per cent.

As someone who now hires HR professionals, Laura's noticed that there's an increasing expectation to have a professional qualification. She says that CIPD qualifications give employers confidence that a job candidate understands HR practices in the UK.

When discussing her own career path, Laura says her employment law qualification was "the missing piece". It was the one thing stopping her from getting a more senior role.

Now that she has her dream job, she says, "The only problem I now have is the battle of choosing which ICS course to study next!"

Watch out for more 'ICS Real Stories' right here on our blog. In the meantime, learn more about the CIPD Level 5 Award in Employment Law that helped Laura get her dream job.