Category Archives: Career options

What are Bristol Graduates up to now?

Every year, we get in touch with recent graduates to find out what they’re up to now that they’ve left the University of Bristol. Each year the results reveal some interesting and surprising facts – the most recent survey for 2015/16 graduates was no exception.

In this survey, we heard from 62% of all graduates either online or through our telephone campaign. This included 78% of all full-time, UK undergraduates and 60% of those from the EU.

Here is a snapshot of what we discovered:

 

This includes full and part time work and study. Other activities include travelling,  due to start a job, looking for work or doing something else.

 

Bristol Graduates love Bristol!

17% of graduates are still living and working in the Bristol area and 34% of graduates who have pursued further study, such as a Masters or PhD, have chosen to do so at the University of Bristol. 

 

What jobs are they doing now?

 

University of Bristol Graduates go into all sorts of careers, some of which you may expect while others are a little more unusual.

 

 

Here are some job title highlights from the 15/16 survey:

  • Associate Catastrophe Analyst for Liberty Specialist Markets (Geography graduate)
  • Fraud Investigator for Amazon (French and Italian graduate)
  • Talent Specialist for Vodafone (Geography graduate)
  • Recruitment Strategy Analyst (Biology graduate)
  • Drug Policy Researcher for the Transform Drugs Policy Foundation (Philosophy and Spanish graduate)
  • Agile Mobile and Web Developer for Theodo UK (Mathematics and Computer Science graduate)
  • Specialist Environmental Instructor at a Residential Centre (Zoology graduate)

If you’re graduating in Summer 2017, you will be contacted between November 2017 and March 2018 about completing the survey. Completing it helps us to improve our careers support for current students and recent graduates.

Download our NEW Careers Fair app and maximise your time at the Spring Careers Fair – 3 & 4 May

Explore tomorrow at the Spring Careers Fair

Whether you have a clear idea of what career you’d like to have, or no idea at all, careers fairs are great for picking up a lot of information in one place. Come to the Spring Fair at the Careers Service on the 3 and 4 of May from 12 til 3!

You can discover less well-known employers and understand more about what popular organisations do. You’ll get to speak to the experts, get a feel for the work culture and ask questions that might not be on their FAQs list.

Download the ‘Bristol Uni Careers Fair Plus’ app from the App Store or Google Play to start your planning and research for the fair. If you wander around aimlessly with no sense of purpose you’re unlikely to get much from attending. Use the app to help you set the scene and prioritise which organisations you would like to visit.

We’ve done the hard work for you

On the app you will find the list of employers who are attending the fair, who are different on each day. The app provides an overview as well as a link to company websites and social media for you to research further those you are most interested in. Employers come to careers fairs because they are looking to hire Bristol students, but they also have work experience and internships on offer as well as graduate jobs. The app allows you to filter this quickly and easily, so you can see which companies are offering what types of roles, and what subjects they are looking to attract students from.

Take the fear out of networking and find a selection of starter questions to ask employers, as well as top tips on the app. Meeting employers face-to-face is the best way of making a good impression. If successful, these first encounters can help with making a really great impression with your application. Remember, it isn’t about getting a job today it’s about doing research & making contacts to help you make informed choices and plan ahead.

We’re here to help.

If you have any general queries or want some advice, ask at the Careers Service marquee. We will be outside the Careers Service for the duration of the fair and are always happy to help. If you are unsure how to prepare for events, or have any other careers related questions, please ask us.

Search for ‘Bristol Uni Careers Fair Plus’ on the App Store or Google Play store.  

Starting your career – top tips from three recent graduates


Our
Careers Network is bursting with inspirational stories from our graduates about how they found their first jobs after university. It’s a great place to start researching your career options! In our online library, you will will find tales of adventure, wise words and even a love story…

Tales of the unexpected

Even if you think ahead, sometimes life doesn’t go to plan. This was the case for Raven Swaine, who had planned to go straight into work after graduating, but instead took a year out.

Having left university without securing a graduate position, Raven travelled and volunteered, building up evidence of skills that employers are looking for. She applied speculatively to companies, resulting in a paid placement with First Actuarial – and six weeks later, a permanent job! So when life doesn’t go according to plan, use it as an opportunity to make a new one.

Memoirs of a graduate

It’s never too early to start thinking about your career. Whilst at university, you are surrounded by experts who can help you get to where you want to be when you graduate.

Jennifer Hoare made the most of her time at university by engaging with the Careers Service early. After completing the Bristol PLUS Award, she applied to graduate schemes, using our interview skills workshops and CV writing resources to help her prepare. Her hard work paid off, and she received two job offers through this highly competitive process! If you want to stand out, start now.

Love story

Craig Simpson met his employer, Newton Europe, for the first time at a careers fair and knew they were right for him. He moved fast, and within a month had a role with them!

To find the right employer for you, Craig advises that you do your research. He started by following our top tips for researching employers. He also attended our careers fairs, using this fantastic face-to-face opportunity to ask company representatives more about what it’s like to work for their organisation. True love could be just a conversation away!

How we can help

Recent graduate Brooke Theis told us that she learned not be afraid to start talking to people about what she wanted, because people want to help. That’s us!

We understand that no two stories are the same, so can help you with your research and questions. If you haven’t already, visit the Careers Service today!

Take Action: Take a Chance

We all have that friend who was born knowing what they wanted to do. They spent their formative years planning and preparing for it – confident in the knowledge that it’s the career for them  and it is surely only a matter of time before they land that dream job. But what about the rest of us who aren’t so sure? If you are starting to think about life beyond university and you’re asking yourself “what next?” then you are not alone, and there are things you can do to make the uncertain future seem less daunting.

questions

  1. Clarify Ideas: Identify your interests and allow yourself to explore your curiosities
  2. Build Resilience: Find ways to break down barriers, rather than feeling trapped  
  3. Positive Outlook: Embrace risk, keep an open mind and seek new experiences
  4. Expect the Unexpected: Be prepared for chance opportunities – e.g. unexpected encounters, impromptu conversations and new events or activities   
  5. Take Action: Keep learning, develop skills, remain open to and follow up on chance events

Sometimes people just fall into a career and that’s OK. Others have a rough idea of what they enjoy, or what motivates them, and try out a few different occupations over the course of their lifetime. Everybody has a different career journey and there is no right or wrong.

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It’s important to engage in a variety of interesting and beneficial activities, and to remain open
and alert to opportunities. If you do this, you are more likely to be able to capitalise on chance events and turn serendipity into opportunity. Recognise, create and use chance in your career planning. Create your own luck, don’t wait for it… When you are actively doing things, unexpected things happen. But when you do nothing, nothing is likely to happen!

The Careers Service offers you opportunities to talk to employers, through fairs and employer presentations; explore your skills and interests through workshops and skills sessions; and reflect on your experiences by doing the Bristol PLUS award.

Keep alert to opportunities, talk to people, take risks, make mistakes and put yourself out there!

Graduate Job vs. Graduate Scheme

This is a busy time for final year students. Your course has started back with a vengeance; there’s that new society role you said you’d do; you’ve committed to another year with your sports team; and it’s crunch time for applying to graduate schemes that start in summer 2017.

So, what is a graduate scheme, and how is it different from a graduate job? A graduate scheme is usually a structured position within an organisation or business. Graduate schemes exist in private, public or third sector organisations across virtually all sectors. It’s likely that if you have spoken to an employer at our Careers Fairs, then they have been talking about their graduate scheme. These schemes are typically well advertised, competitive, and take on large numbers of new grads each year.

Graduate schemes usually have a set length, anything from six months to three years or more. They can involve professional training and with many you will come out with a professional qualification, for example in social work or accountancy. Many graduate schemes also involve working on rotation, meaning you spend time in different parts of the organisation to get a feel for what you like best. One thing to consider is that you may not be guaranteed a job at the end of the graduate scheme – but do well, and this could be a fantastic springboard to an amazing career!

The difference between graduate schemes and graduate jobs can be quite subtle but is important to recognise. Graduate jobs are still aimed at motivated, high-calibre graduates and often include training and support, but are less structured than graduate schemes. They may be with smaller companies or organisations that take on smaller numbers of grads, but they are found across just as many sectors and include a huge variety of types of work and job roles.

You may have to work harder to find out about graduate jobs as they can be less well advertised, so company websites and networking will be important. However, recruitment for graduate jobs may happen later in the year, closer to graduation or all year round, so there is less competition in autumn term than for graduate schemes.

Knowing the difference between graduate jobs and graduate schemes may help you decide what’s right for you when you graduate. But if you’re still unsure, come and talk to us at the Careers Service.

Kickstart your career network

‘Networking’ is something you’ll hear about constantly when you looking for internships, work experience and graduate jobs. For some, talking to strangers about their job comes naturally. Many others see the word ‘networking’ and instantly switch off and go back to their job search. If you’ve made it to here in the blog post, well done!

The thing is, networking doesn’t have to be a scary switch off word. It is a useful tool to help you understand the roles you are applying for, get some insider knowledge for an application or even as a way to find experience.

The Careers Network is our tool for helping you get over the biggest hurdle: where to begin. The Network contains hundreds of case studies and contactable Bristol alumni from a wide range of backgrounds. This is a great place to start as the alumni on there are ready and willing to answer any questions you may have.

What next?

So you’ve found somebody doing a job you want to find out more about. What next? Send them a message!

The message doesn’t need to be long or complex. The most important thing is you ask meaningful questions that will help you understand their career path, role or employer better. Start with a short introduction explaining who you are, ask your questions and finish off by thanking them for their time. If you are a bit stuck on the questions, use these examples to get thinking:

  • I have an interview with X, do you have any pointers that would help me stand out?
  • I am looking to work in X when I graduate. Do you have any suggestions about how to approach companies for work experience?
  • Could you tell me a little bit more about how you found your current job?
  • I’m due to graduate with the same degree as you but am a bit uncertain what to do when I graduate. Was there anything in particular from your course that inspired you to pursue a career in X?

Remember: our alumni are working people. If they do not get back to you immediately, don’t panic! If you have not received a reply after a week consider sending another message, or let us know so we can contact them on your behalf.

If you would like further tips on networking, have a look at our talk to alumni page. If you’re still feeling stuck but want to be proactive, come in and speak to one of our advisers about networking techniques and other ways of searching for alumni.

Get ahead of the game! Be prepared to meet employers!

This autumn, we’ll welcome hundreds of employers on to campus, for fairs, promotion events and presentations. Stand out from the crowd by following our top tips:

Wills Memorial Building.

Wills Memorial Building.

  1. Find what fairs and events are happening and when – check out our events listings on mycareer and use the ‘type of event’ drop down to filter results, including careers fairs and employer presentations.
  2. Come to one of our short talks about how to prepare to find out more about why you should go to fairs and for insider tips about how to make the most of talking to employers.
  3. Check out the list of employers attending each fair (on the event listing on mycareer) and find out who they are and what they do before going along – use our researching employers page to get started. Go beyond their website and look at news, social media (including LinkedIn) and job review and case study websites such as TARGETJobs Inside Buzz, Glassdoor, WikiJob and TheJobCrowd.
  4. Go that step further by using our gaining commercial awareness page and think about what the organisation is there to do, who are their customers and how the business is organised – this will also help with applications and at interview.
  5. Prepare an introduction about yourself and some questions to ask the employer. Do ask about changes in the sector, what sort of activities are involved in the graduate schemes on offer and the culture of the organisation. Don’t ask about salary or time off.

    Students and employers at a careers fair in the Great Hall of the Wills Building

    Students and employers at a careers fair in the Great Hall of the Wills Building

After a fair or an employer presentation, follow up with an employer to thank them if you had any longer discussions. You should also collate your notes and put them in to action by noting down deadlines and preparing your applications.

 

 

For more in-depth information, our previous blog post on careers fairs goes into detail about the fairs themselves and you should come along to one of our short talks on preparing for fairs and events.

Converting to Law

The University’s MA in Law programme offers a wide choice of career paths – both inside and outside the legal sector. William Bartoli-Edwards, a Bristol Music graduate has posted a blog about this innovative postgraduate programme.

Why the MA in Law?

As a first year Law MA student who also completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol, the MA course has lived up to my hopes and expectations. My initial decision to enrol on the course was taken because I felt that, despite having taken steps forward in my academic development during my BA, I had not quite satisfied my academic curiosity and development. Therefore, looking for a course that gave me more academic challenges, but also complemented my initial degree, was a focus which quickly led to the Law MA as the ideal outcome.

When comparing the course to the GDL the Law MA seemed to suit my needs better; the GDL was more of a practical solution to being able to practise law, rather than an academic endeavour. Similarly, Bristol stood out in comparison to those other universities offering an accelerated LLB course. The MA provides a basis to support many more opportunities for further study and professional development outside the field of law, as well as offering the opportunity to preview an LLM, with the optional module in the second year being chosen from either the LLM options or a Master’s level research project.

Diverse range of options

For me, personally, because my undergraduate degree was in Music, Bristol, being a media and creative centre, lent itself well to support my continuing professional development, leading to a University Internship Scheme with Aardman Animations. This is also an example of how diverse law is as a subject. Not only does it enhance all of the sought after skills, such as critical analysis, but it is likely to complement most interests or sectors since specialist knowledge as well as practical knowledge often go hand in hand. Therefore, for example, a specialism in contentious music litigation is now a possibility for me.

Alternatives to Law careers

Nevertheless, a non-law focused career is equally possible. For me, with a passion for music and the music industry, there are a variety of jobs and possibilities which the transferable skills from law complement in the commercial music environment. In an industry such as music, ‘career paths’ are less common, or at least less clear, compared to many other professional areas. This is where the skills of the MA will be increasingly valuable. The critical thinking and the ability to analyse any situation you are dealing with means carving out your own, specialist, career path becomes much less worrisome.

Finally, the department itself is one full of enthusiasm and energy. The professors are extremely willing to help whenever and with whatever you need. From my experiences of other courses, within and outside of the University of Bristol, this course offers a great deal of personal development that is hard to find elsewhere.

Thanks William!

To find out more about a career in the Legal sector check out the Careers Service website – http://www.bristol.ac.uk/careers/be-inspired/career-sectors/legal-services/

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

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.