Taking stock: don’t underestimate your skills and knowledge!

Either newly graduated or looking towards a new academic year with us in September? The summer vacation is a good time to take stock of the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired so far at the University of Bristol. Being able to accurately articulate your competences is necessary for part-time work, internship and graduate role applications or simply as a confidence booster.

But are we always the best judge of our own abilities? Although reliable self-assessment is a useful skill, it can be challenging and is influenced by a range of factors. It can be affected by having unrealistically high expectations of yourself or a tendency to compare yourself to who you believe is your most successful peer. One study found that medical students with the highest grades tended to underestimate their own performance; whereas those with lower grades overestimated their abilities (Edwards 2003).

Interestingly the Dunning-Kruger effect was observed in situations where those who were most competent at a task were more likely to underestimate their performance, and those with lower competence were more likely to overestimate it. More information http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger effect

Johari Window developed by Luft and Ingham (Luft 1969) is a model which illustrates that there are differences between what we believe about ourselves and what others think.Johari window

When we ask for feedback we are attempting to reduce what is in the ‘blind’ square and shift our awareness more towards the ‘open’ square. Whereas with job applications the aim is to move what is in the ‘hidden’ square towards the ‘open’ square – by the way abilities are articulated to employers. More information https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window

Some ways to improve accuracy of self-assessment

  • Seek out sources of informed feedback from Tutors, peers etc.
  • Define who/what you are measuring yourself against
  • Build a realistic picture of what most of your peers are really doing/achieving
  • Remember your self-assessment relates to your aspirations e.g. are you aiming for a first?

You are likely to be doing better than you think! The University of Bristol selects high achievers, both academically and in extracurricular activities. This makes our students popular with a range of employers but might mean some students underestimate their strengths. So when communicating your skills and achievements to employers, be accurate and honest – but without excessive modesty. It’s important not to undersell how great you are!

References

Edwards RK, Kellner KR, Sistrom CL, Magyari EJ. Medical student self-assessment of performance on an obstetric and gynaecology clerkship. Am J Obstet Gynaecol 2003;188:1078-82

Luft, J.1969: Of Human Interaction. Palo Alto, CA: National Press. p 177

Why should I do the Bristol PLUS Award?

The Bristol PLUS Award provides a framework to help you develop employability skills through extracurricular activities and learn how to articulate them to employers in the recruitment process. Perhaps you already work part time, have volunteered or attended some extracurricular talks. So what are the benefits of the scheme in addition to just undertaking this activity alone? Don’t let us convince you, let these recent PLUS award students explain the benefits.

To get a graduate job…

“I learned about the importance of preparation; knowing the company and the role is crucial during an interview. I also learned about the importance of presenting a good first impression. I have gained a place on a graduate scheme thanks to the Bristol PLUS Award and the skills I have learned through the completion of the award.” – 3rd year Geography BSc.

To gain transferable skills to complement your degree…

“The Bristol PLUS award has given me an excellent introduction into the unfamiliar world of employability. Much of what I learned I have found personally to be equally as useful as my degree in regards to finding employment post-graduation.” – 3rd year Physics (MSci)

To aid your career planning…

“Throughout the Bristol PLUS Award, I have developed a newfound sense of confidence about leaving university and entering the world, no longer as a student. I feel a considerable amount of support from the Careers Service and their role in enabling students to be prepared for the future.” – 2nd year Biology (BSc)

To rise to a challenge and become more confident…

“As a university student it is easy to become trapped in the university bubble, but I think the PLUS award helped me venture outside of this…If I had the chance to do it again I would have liked to have attended even more talks at the Careers Service as they were very beneficial. From the PLUS Award I will take the lesson of going the extra mile in order to make myself the most appealing candidate for future employers.” – 2nd year History BA

Just for fun!

“I thoroughly enjoyed the PLUS Award. It is structured very well and has allowed me to develop personally, socially and academically and given me the confidence and potential to thrive in my future years at University.” – 1st year Law and German (LLB)

So what are you waiting for?

Registration for the Award re-opens in September and closes in February. Check the website for more details. You may have already completed activities this summer to help you get ahead. What else will you discover by taking on the Award?

Thinking about life after graduation? Our graduates can help!

Have you ever wondered what University of Bristol students go on to do after they leave university? Are you looking for inspiration? Take a look at our Case Studies – real life accounts providing a fascinating insight into the world of graduate employment. In our profiles, Philip details his experiences as a graduate trainee at The Guardian, Ciara describes her role as a Consultant at EY, Elinam talks about entering further study, and Gowrishanker outlines his experiences of setting up his own business.

Hear from the graduates themselves about how having a degree from Bristol helped them to get where they are now. Did they start out with a clear career path in mind? Was the degree subject helpful in getting the job? Did they decide to pursue further study to improve their chances of finding the right job? How are they practising and developing the knowledge and skills they acquired whilst studying? How did a degree from the University of Bristol help to open doors to the career they were looking for?

Perhaps you feel as though you no longer want to follow the path that your degree naturally leads you to? Many of our case studies show how there are various alternative career paths out there where the skills and experience you have gained from studying for your degree can be put to good use: Greg, a Mechanical Engineering graduate who works as a Patent Attorney, Hannah, the Experimental Psychology graduate working as a Business Consultant for IBM, and Rosie, a Politics graduate working in the charity sector.  

All of our graduates give excellent hints and tips for students that are exploring their career options – start thinking about your next steps early, make use of the careers service, never stop learning and “Network! Network! Network!”

Join our Careers Network to access more case studies and get in touch with Bristol alumni.

Making the Most of Your Summer

Exams are almost over and it’s nearly time for a well-deserved summer break. Travelling, volunteering abroad and summer placements are popular ways to build your skills and experience during the long stretch of time between June and September, but don’t worry if you haven’t got one of them lined up as there are plenty of things that you can do to make the most of your summer.

Four things that you can do to make the most of your summer

  1. Volunteer in the UK – Volunteering is a fantastic way to help others and give something back to the community. Not only that, it can also help you to gain valuable experience, especially if you are thinking of going into an industry such as media, charity, heritage or other areas where it’s more difficult to secure paid work. If you’re not sure about what you might want to do after university, volunteering can also be a good short-term way of finding out what an industry is like to help you narrow down your choices.
  2. Work Shadow – Similar to volunteering, work shadowing is a great way to gain exposure to an industry that you think might interest you, but in this case it’s likely to be far more short-term and hands off, maybe only a week at a time. Lots of companies are happy to allow someone in just to observe, and it has the added benefit of helping you meet a wider variety of people and build up your crucial professional network!
  3. Read – Reading is a fantastic way to spend your spare time; whether you’re on the beach, in a park, or listening to the rain outside your window you can settle down and get stuck into a good book. Think about using part of your holiday to dig into some of your more interesting course material, read through articles to build your commercial awareness, or just to relax and get stuck into a novel that you’ve been meaning to get around to!
  4. Work on a Personal Project – Is there a project that you’ve not managed to find the time for? Now that your lectures, assignments and exams are out of the way, pour some of your energy and time into something that really interests you. You could aim to write a blog post or an online article on a topic that you’re passionate about, try to build an app that you had an idea for, or even start writing up a plan for your own business idea.

If you need any help with your career planning, don’t forget that the Careers Service is still open as normal for the next few weeks and then for slightly reduced hours over the summer months:

21 June 2016 – 16 September, 1.30 pm – 4.45pm Monday to Friday
(Careers Service closed Monday 20th June)

Spring Recruitment Fair  

Spring Recruitment Fair. Info Web 1jpgThe fair in numbers

On the 27 to 28 April we held this year’s Spring Recruitment Fair, which was at the Careers Service (Tyndall Avenue) for the first time. Despite the cold, two marquees stood on the pavement outside, opening up the fair to passers-by.

40 different employers were present across the two days: Amazon, EY, Teach First, PWC, Aldi, Think Ahead, RBS and Severn Trent, to name just a few. They were offering various positions from graduate schemes, to internships and summer work.

Although it was revision season, over 400 students flocked in to
meet these recruiters, with many leaving positive comments, such as that they liked seeing a wide range of employers and that they felt the fair was helpful and informative with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.  

Not just a fair

Other events were held in association with the fair: leading employers gave a talk on how to prepare for
the fair. On day two you could spot the Careers Advisers (wrapped in scarves and gloves!), along with some of the attending employers, in the marquee for speed interviewing sessions. They offered students the chance to practise their answers to some common interview questions under time pressure, gave feedback and then recommended relevant resources to help them improve their skills.

It was also a good opportunity to pick up some of the free publications available at the Careers Service, browse resources, book appointments and get advice on what to do next to prepare for life after university.

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Employers love Bristol students

“Meeting prospective graduates face to face is the best way to get our company known.

(Local Employer)

“The calibre of students was very high and we met some great candidates.”

(Recruitment Agency Attendee)

Employers come to our fairs because they are interested in you! As one employer commented, recruitment fairs are a “good opportunity for students. Companies come to you and want to hire you. Make good use of that”.

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How to prepare for next time

Employer tips:

  • Remember to do some research beforehand; look up the companies attending and what kind of roles they offer.
  • Think about how to approach the employers you are interested in to make them interested in you! One employer found they had “lots of people saying ‘I don’t know you’ or ‘what is your company’, as opposed to ‘I’d love to learn more about your company’”.
  • Don’t ask about pay or visa sponsorship – if they like you then they may be open to negotiation. Find out the essentials beforehand and target the employers relevant to you.

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Dates for your diary!

We have more careers fairs in the Autumn Term, all taking place in the Wills Memorial Building:

  • Investment Banking and Management Consultancy Evening – 3 October
  • Autumn Fair – 11 and 12 October
  • Engineering and IT Fair – 18 and 19 October
  • Science Fair – 26 October
  • Law Fair – 1 and 2 November

Keep an eye on the events pages for these and other events all year round.

A first year’s ‘Spring Week’ experience.

ID, check. Two copies of relevant documents, check. Clean, well-ironed smart clothes, check. Room in the purse for inevitable free gifts from Barclays, check. Positive energy and attitude, check. “Never be late. Never be just on time. Always arrive a little bit early.” My friend’s advice echoed in my head, as I got on the London Underground and checked the time. I should be there 10 minutes before meeting time.

Upon arrival, the recruitment team took our name and relevant documents, and handed out our name tag for the week before being thrown into a swarm of people we hadn’t met, (or had, depending on whether you’ve done spring weeks or insight days at different firms), and given a briefing about what this week would entail: work experience, better understanding about the industry and Barclays, and networking opportunities. The recruitment team didn’t emphasize it specifically, but how we perform throughout the week – how we interact with others, the questions we ask to the company reps and the way we tackle tasks given – was going to be taken into account to our overall assessment on deciding whether or not we get an offer for the next year’s summer internship.

From that moment on to the end of the programme on Friday, my days were packed with heavily informative sessions such as trading exercises, talks delivered by senior executives, preparation for the assessment, work shadowing, various presentations and skills sessions and networking opportunities. We had to absorb and understand a lot of information, ranging from the simplest basics such as how to present yourself well or business etiquettes to learning about various divisions within the firm and how they work – all of which was extremely helpful. What I had learned about the industry and Barclays prior to commencing the spring week became more consolidated and contextualized in my mind, and overall, everything just made so much more sense. It could be intimidating, entering into a whole new world, where you don’t know the people around you or comprehend exactly what is happening, but more often than not, everyone is friendly and eager to help. I made sure to remember to just be myself, have fun, relax, and be willing to learn while doing my best and being well-prepared. Having fun and giving one’s best are not mutually exclusive!

My spring week ended with a weekend spent with the students I had met earlier that week, finally with a phone call the following Monday, letting me know that I have an offer for an internship next summer! It was a very intense, challenging week, but I did get out of the week all that spring weeks could offer: great experience, a better understanding of the company and the industry as a whole, a network of people that inspired and motivated me and an offer for next year. Oh, and the compensation for the week wasn’t too bad either!

By Jess Ye Seul Kim.

A 1st year Childhood Studies with Management (BSc) student.

Missed Media and Creative Industries Week? Here’s a roundup of what went on!

Last week, more than 15 industry experts – most of whom are Bristol alumni – came in to give talks, workshops and present case studies about all things media and creative. Film, TV, radio, publishing, the art world and the importance of having great ideas were all covered – for a list of speakers and their organisations, see our in-depth summary on mycareer.

Kate and Beth iFeatures1

Kate and Beth from iFeatures

Aside from things you’d expect to hear from creative professionals (expect a varied workload, the importance of getting your foot in the door, be innovative, don’t forget ab
out small to medium enterprises and how there’s no one definitive career path), there were a number of themes which youmight not have expected. This blog post will explore those and hopefully give you the opportunity to stand out in these competitive industries.

Watch, listen, read
Not just the people, shows or books you’re interested in or would like to work for – go bigger, immerse yourself! Watch TED talks (recommended by Laura from Speed Communications, highlighting the one on Airbnb), watch shorts and first feature films (tip from Kate O’Hara, Creative England), go to art fairs (Adriana, IESA) and think carefully about audiences (Rob from BBC History magazine had students in his workshop working out who their perfect reader was).

There are no excuses!

Many of our speakers said this exact phrase, multiple times and they’re right. With the amount of free technology, apps and programmes available, there’s no reason not to make your own content, building a portfolio of your work to take to interview or when shadowing somebody. Make your

Publishing Panel

The Publishing Panel

own demo (that was a top tip from Paris Troy, Heart radio), get some videos online (Will Wilkin, Lead Creative and producer for BBC radio) and practise responding to briefs (Gavin from Perfect Storm).

Be prepared

The funniest comedians and presenters have actually spent a very long time preparing their content. So, not only should you be preparing for applications, interviews and meeting industry experts, you should be developing it as a skill. Paris Troy was the guest speaker who spoke most about this and to do so, said you should make sure your organisation, time management and planning s kills are
up to scratch. Finally, a number of speakers including Will Wilkin, BBC Talent Managers Gaynor, Sas and Helen, and Julian Burrett also said be prepared to keep trying, be prepared to develop resilience and be prepared to do anything!

Tell a story

It’s not just about creating ideas – although the ability to do so helps – it’s about standing out and standing up for who you are (Paris Troy and Laura from Speed Communications). When Will Wilkin was talking about the need to tell a story, especially in applications, he said that you should literally tell a story (see his LinkedIn profile for a

Will

Will Wilkin from BBC Radio

n example) and that everyday life is suitable content. Other tips included create an emotional connection (Gavin from Perfect Storm, Laura from Speed Communications) and don’t be generic (Paris). Alongside this, Julian Burrett said it’s good to be open to creativity from others too.

Specialisms

On one hand, you should be an expert in what you do (Julian Burrett) but on the other hand, you need to be versatile (Will Wilkin). You might be generating ideas for multiple platforms (a magazine with an accompanying app, writing cricket news but cutting film about a match too) but you might also be working in a specialist area within the sector. For example, Laura talked about how Speed cover three main divisions: business and corporate, sports and wellbeing, consumer and lifestyle. Similarly, Adriana from the IESA described how the art world, sitting within the creative industries, has sub-sectors which include the dealers, contemporary art, art fairs, insurance and law, investment and client services.

Want more?

BBCTalentManagementTeam

BBC Talent Management Team

This is just an overview of the key themes but if you want more, check out our in-depth summary on mycareer. There’s a list of speakers on there too, as well as lots of information about the different areas of the media industry and creative sector.

So you want to get into wildlife TV?

Guest post by Liz Bell

Bristol is a great place to be if you want a career in television production. It’s renowned for the wildlife and factual programmes made by the BBC and the many independent companies based here, and with its close-knit professional community it’s an excellent alternative to the sometimes cut-throat London scene.

But if you’ve done your research, you’ll know that it’s not easy to get your foot in the door. Competition is fierce, jobs are rarely advertised and everybody wants someone with tons of experience (which you haven’t got because no one will give you a chance).

As a former TV producer, I get a lot of questions from people wanting to break into the TV industry. So here are my top tips to answer that perennial question: as a recent or soon-to-be Bristol graduate, how can you make yourself stand out from the crowd and get a job?

  1. Ask for work experience

It’s extremely unusual to get a job in a TV company without having done some work experience first. This usually takes the form of a week or so of unpaid work with an independent production company (a company that gets commissioned by broadcasters to make programmes).

Do your research online to find what companies are out there, and send them a CV and cover letter explaining that you want to do work experience with them.

  1. Show, don’t tell

It’s an old TV cliché – don’t tell your audience something if you can show it instead. TV companies get countless letters and emails from graduates who are “truly passionate about wildlife” and who have “loved wildlife documentaries from a young age.”

If you are as passionate as you say you are, get out there and volunteer with a wildlife trust, create a wildlife blog, make your own short films with your phone. The important thing is to show initiative, and a willingness to put some effort in.

  1. Edit your CV

If you’ve had the same CV since secondary school, it’s time to change it. No one is going to care what GCSEs you got, or whether you worked part-time in a shoe shop during school.

Give your CV a title – your name, and ‘Entry-level Runner/Researcher’ will do. Then start with a short, factual paragraph summarising who you are, including anything that makes you unique, eg: “Recent Zoology graduate with [strong writing skills / an interest in marine life / a keen interest in British wildlife] looking for work experience to start a career in wildlife TV production.”

Next put any relevant skills and experience – like making your own films, ability to take photographs well, being able to use Photoshop or any editing software, any PADI (diving) qualifications, driving licence, etc.

If you have any relevant work experience already, put that next, and only then put your academic qualifications. You don’t need anything before A Levels, and you don’t need much detail about your degree unless your honours project involved a specialist area you might want to expand on.

Finally, include two references – if you haven’t got a TV-related one, a university tutor/lecturer who knows you well, or someone you have volunteered for, are both fine.

  1. Make the most of opportunities

Jobs in TV, and opportunities for work experience, rarely fall into your lap. You have to go out there and look for them, which involves networking with people and keeping yourself in the front of their minds for the next time an opportunity arises.

Go to relevant events, meet people, email producers of TV programmes you’ve enjoyed. If someone offers you advice, always follow up and keep in touch, as it will make them more likely to think of you when they need a runner.

Once you get offered some work experience, or even land your first job, don’t sit back and think you’ve made it! TV work is almost all contract-based, and jobs are given largely based on recommendations. So make yourself useful, be polite and remember that even if you’re doing a week of work experience for free, you need the company far more than they need you.

  1. Be prepared for a career in TV

TV production is hard to get into mainly because so many people want to do it – and with good reason – it can be exciting, rewarding and very interesting. But as anyone who has worked in the industry for any length of time will tell you, it can also be stressful, frustrating and often mundane.

Short contracts mean no long-term job security, it’s hard to keep a work-life balance, and the majority of the time it takes to make a programme is spent in the office rather than filming animals in exotic locations.

In other words, keep your expectations realistic, and don’t expect it to be a dream job all of the time. If you know what you’re letting yourself in for and you follow some of these tips, you stand a great chance of getting started in a successful and fulfilling TV career.

Liz Bell is a Bristol graduate (Biology BSc) and former TV Development producer (working on and pitching ideas for new programmes). She worked in Bristol at the BBC Natural History Unit and at various independent production companies, as well as in Melbourne, Australia. She now lives in Birmingham and works as a communications consultant and writer for the charity sector.

What do you do with a BA in… ? :/


If you’re struggling to decide what to do after you graduate, discovering what the previous graduates from your course have gone on to do is a good place to find inspiration.

DLHE logoThe Careers Service talk to around 80% of graduates each year to find out what they are doing six months after graduation as part of the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey. We collect data about their jobs or next course of study, and make this information available on our our what do Bristol graduates do webpage. The results make for fascinating reading.

Jobs

Last year, around 70 per cent of graduates entered employment in the six months after graduation, with the majority (85%) entering a professional or managerial position. Bristol graduates are very much in control of their employment options post-graduation, with three in five indicating that they chose their job because it fitted exactly into their career plan.

And these career plans are where it gets really interesting. For example, some of last year’s English graduates started roles in marketing, journalism and publishing; but a large proportion chose to use the skills they gained during their degree to do something different, entering careers as tailors, internet fraud specialists and psychotherapists.

Further study

Many Bristol graduates choose to continue their studies, taking higher level qualifications to gain more subject specific experience. Last year’s English graduates are now researching topics including children’s literature and literary theory. But for others, further study is an opportunity to draw on their academic accomplishments for an entirely new purpose.

Of last year’s graduates starting the Graduate Diploma in Law, for example, one fifth were history graduates. Other graduates chose to pursue their passion in acting, to start a new language course in Japanese, or to embark on a new career as a medic through a graduate entry programme.

Location

Where to be after graduation is often as important a consideration as what to do. The south west is home to both big businesses and small enterprises, so Bristol graduates have great opportunities to start their careers in the local area. Last year, one quarter of English graduates stayed in the south west region, with Bristol being the most popular city location.

But if you feel like spreading your wings, you will find recent alumni working and studying throughout Europe, the United States and Canada. Some seek out opportunities much further afield, in locations such as East Timor (if you like the heat) and the British Antarctic Territory (if you prefer it a little cooler).

Be inspired

The only limit to deciding where you want to be after graduating is your own imagination.

Graduands in the procession out of the Great Hall at the end of a summer 2012 graduation ceremonyThe Careers Service is here to help you explore the range of options available to you – use our online resources to get inspired, or contact us for more advice!

Alumni panel inspires law students with their personal insight into diverse career paths

A panel of four University of Bristol alumni offered a fascinating insight into their careers to Law School students earlier this year. The event titled ‘Alternatives with a Law Degree’ was jointly organised by the University’s Careers Service and the Law School in response to the increasing interest from law students in career options outside of the traditional legal sector.

The objective of the event was to introduce Law students to some of the many options available to those studying for a law degree, including those outside of the legal sector such as EY, one of the ‘big 4’ (professional services) firms, as well as utilising a law degree in a non-law firm environment like the Army Legal Service. Each alumni spoke about their career path and informal networking over drinks allowed the students to meet the panel members and continue their discussions about life after University.
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Reassurance

A key message from the panel was to reassure students that there are many diverse career paths open to them and to encourage students not to feel pressured into making a rushed decision on graduation.

Explore your options

If you are keen to consider the options available with your degree there is a lot of support on the Careers Service website. A good starting point is the ‘Be Inspired’ section.

“The panel helped broaden my mind beyond the confines of commercial law and private practice, and also reassured me that it is ok to be slightly unsure of what I want to do after I graduate, because the transferable skills I will gain from a law degree from Bristol will set me up for a role in a variety of areas both inside and outside the legal sector.” Komal Patel, a 2nd year Law student commented about the event.

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Esther Wride, Corporate Human Resources Business Partner at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, attended the event with Tom Tooth, a Police Officer, and current part-time PhD student at the Law School. She commented, “It was great to meet a variety of students who were interested in finding out about opportunities with the Police and we continue to encourage people from all backgrounds to consider a role in Policing.”

Be inspired by alumni

Attending an alumni event can be a great way to find out what Bristol graduates have done after they left University, but there are other ways to be inspired by our alumni. For advice and information about how you can connect with alumni, including the alumni mentoring scheme, careers network and not forgetting LinkedIn, have a look at the Careers Service Website.SL271880