How do I organise having a job appraisal? Can I get a bursary to study chiropody?

Meet halfway

Q. I am unhappy with my salary. I left school with A-levels and went to work at a small TV company as a PA and receptionist. I also help with research and run errands. I have now been made marketing assistant and have been staying late and missing lunch because of the workload. I reminded my boss that I was due for an appraisal but was given a letter while he was away giving me a small increase. Is this reasonable?

A. You're entitled to a proper management of your working arrangements and a chance to discuss job roles and pay, even in a competitive environment such as the media. Your first step should be to find out what is expected of you and how your new duties tie in with those you originally had. You need (politely but firmly) to ask for a meeting with your manager at a time when you think he can clear a space to sit and talk. You can then use that meeting to ask for a formal appraisal. Prepare well for the appraisal. It should focus on the achievements of one year and set goals for the next, and you need to be able to show how you have added value to the company. Think about how you want to progress. Would you like to take an industry course? Ask also for feedback to see where they think you can improve, to make sure they realise you're happy for this to be a two-way process. When it comes to pay, ask about the company's pay structure. You shouldn't be swayed by job titles because they can mean different things in different companies. Look up industry norms in the press or talk to other people in the same field. When negotiating, have a minimum, but realistic, figure in mind.

Best foot forward

Q. Would I be able to get funding to help study to be a chiropodist? You also see advertisements for podiatrists - is this a different job?

A. No, it's an American (and international) name for the same job that's taking hold over here, both to bring us into line with the title of the job abroad and to indicate the variety of work now involved in sorting out lower limbs. Chiropody has old associations of people who only clip toenails. Podiatrists and chiropodists do exactly the same work. You can get funding to help you. The NHS or its Scottish equivalent funds all of the places on offer at the 13 institutions where podiatry is studied in the UK. Your tuition fees will be paid, and you will also be able to apply for a means- tested bursary. If funding a course is a real difficulty, you may also be eligible for a bursary payment each semester (half-year) that will help with living expenses. After training, you are very unlikely to be unemployed whatever you choose to call yourself - chiropodists are in demand. You can choose to work in hospitals or surgeries, or make home visits, and there are opportunities for flexible working. The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists ( www.feetforlife.org) warns that the three-year degree programme you have to undertake is very intensive. Competition will also be fierce because there are limited places, so organise some work-shadowing - this should be fairly easy to arrange with your local health trust or a private practitioner near you. Admissions tutors are likely to look for this.

Careers adviser: Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute

Send your queries to Caroline Haydon at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or e-mail to chaydon@blueyonder.co.uk

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