Category Archives: Final years

Now is the time! Hassan Nasir talks about the advantages of achieving the Bristol PLUS Award

There is just so much to gain”

Hassan secured a role with Dyson as an Electrical Engineer after graduating in 2016 with first class honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and, of course, achieving the Bristol PLUS Award.

— How did the Bristol PLUS Award help prepare you for your career after University? Are you glad you took part?

The Bristol PLUS Award is a catalyst for focusing upon and gaining crucial employability skills. To meet the Award requirements I was motivated to take on more important roles in societies. This helped make me more receptive to taking on responsibilities and becoming a better team player. These are the same set of skills that help set you apart in industry. Most importantly, however, it made me realise how much fun all of it was anyway!

— How useful was the Bristol PLUS Award in preparing you for the recruitment and selection process with your employer?

For the Award, I attended talks at the Career Service and I quickly realised how valuable the guidance I was gaining from these was.

The interview skills workshop was one of my favourites. I received constructive feedback on a mock interview and it paid off immensely when I attended an assessment centre.  Having practised with professionals previously meant calmer nerves during the real thing.

The Award also gave me a good point of discussion during my interview. There are a lot of skills and qualities you can quantify from completing this Award – all of which are relevant to the jobs out there!

—  Is there anything in particular you gained from the Bristol PLUS Award that you feel you would not have gained if you had not taken part?

If it had not been for the Award, there is a good chance that I would have only focused on academic study and missed out on the opportunity to develop the crucial employability skills which are so important for industry.

— Any words of advice or encouragement to current students thinking of taking the Bristol PLUS Award?

If you are interested in making yourself as employable as possible upon graduation then sign up to the Award as quickly as you can! You will realise that it’s not so hard to manage your time between studies and the award activities. There is just so much to gain; all it costs you is determination!

Registration for the Bristol PLUS Award is open until 9 February 2018, making now the perfect time to register and discover more! Visit the website to book on to a compulsory introductory talk now!

Jargon Buster

The terms employers use to talk about their organisation and/or their recruitment process can be confusing. Get prepared for the autumn term employer events and your job applications with our jargon-buster.

Organisations

Magic circle – Nothing to do with Harry Potter. This is the term sometimes used to describe the top 5 law firms in the UK: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter & May.

Silver circle Similar to the above, a group of top law firms that do not quite rank alongside the magic circle: Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Macfarlanes and Travers Smith.

The big 4 – These are the 4 largest professional services networks in the world: Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG. They offer audit, assurance, taxation, management consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance and legal services.

SMEs – Small or medium-sized enterprises. In the European Union, these are defined as organisations that employ fewer than 250 employees and have an annual turnover of no more than 50 million euros.

Work Experience

Vacation scheme – This is not a holiday! A period of work experience with a law firm, usually running for 1 or 2 weeks.

Internship – These are often paid placements offered by firms who regularly recruit graduates. Most often in the summer, but there are also part-time, term-time and vacation opportunities.

Job Descriptions and Applications

Hidden jobs market – This is a term often used to describe jobs that aren’t advertised. You can tap into this by networking, making use of contacts and writing speculative applications.

Entry level job – A role that requires little prior experience in the field or profession.

Referees – These are the contacts (usually two) you put on CVs or application forms who can be contacted by an employer to verify the information you have provided or to give insight into your personality. The referee should know you well enough to be able to write positively about you.

Transferrable skills – Also known as ‘soft skills’ or ‘portable skills’, these are skills used in one job or career that can also be used in another, rather than relying on direct experience of the industry. For example, leadership, organisation and communication skills.

DOE – Think it’s a female deer? Think again! Abbreviation for ‘dependent on experience’. An employer will offer a salary within a given range but is willing to pay more for a candidate with more experience.

OTE – Abbreviation for on-target earnings. This is an estimate of actual earnings where pay is made up of both base salary and a variable bonus/commission. Particularly found in job descriptions for sales roles.

Graduate scheme – A structured programme for recent graduates that includes work and training. It can last up to 3 years, though some are much shorter. Completing the scheme successfully often secures a professional qualification as well as a permanent role in the organisation.

Selection Process

Psychometric test – Any activity and assessment that is conducted in order to evaluate candidate performance, including intelligence, skills and personality.

Assessment centre – Usually a day or half day at an employer’s office or training venue involving a combination of tasks and activities to find the right candidates. Involves working in groups and includes a variety of exercises such as role play, in-tray exercises and presentations.

Competency-based interview – This is an interview where situational or behavioural questions are asked. They aim to find out how you have used specific skills in your previous experience and how you approach problems, tasks and challenges.

Strengths-based interview – Type of interview style becoming increasingly popular amongst graduate recruiters. It aims to find out what you enjoy doing and hence what engages you the most.

If you would like more information about some of these terms or support with finding and applying for opportunities, visit the careers service website or contact us directly.

Just graduated? Come and say hello!

Did you know that almost 20% of recent University of Bristol graduates who are working in the UK are based in Bristol 6 months after graduation?

As Bristol was named the best place to live in Britain in 2017, it’s not hard to understand why so many graduates are keen to start their career here. The variety of recent graduate profiles on our Careers Network give a flavour of the diverse range of careers that are available in Bristol. Opportunities flourish in the legal sector, engineering and teaching, and somewhat unsurprisingly, at the University!

Among the largest recruiters of Bristol graduates each year are PwC (recruiting 21 people in 2015/16), Deloitte (20), KPMG (15) and EY (9). These companies all have Bristol-based regional headquarters, and could be a great place to launch your career.

The competition for places on their graduate recruitment schemes is fierce, but we understand from these employers that your chance of success is improved by applying to a region rather than to London. 

If you graduate without securing the right role for you, then the Careers Service is here to help! You can access our services for three years after graduation, and many graduates continue to join us at our careers fairs (53 graduates in 2016/17), events (82), and for advice appointments (121).

Even if you are not able to come to see us in Bristol, we can help. You can ask us a question online, have a telephone advice appointment, or search and apply for a huge number and variety of vacancies – in 2016/17, 983 graduates viewed 4,640 different opportunities! You may be doing OK by yourself… but we’ve still got your back.

Calling all finalists – it’s time to put your future first!

I have some simple questions for you.

Are you ready for life after university?   

Do you know what work you want to do?

Are you ready to compete for those jobs?         

Did you answer “no” to one or more of these

questions?

If so, it’s your last chance to prepare for the workplace over the coming months with help and support from the Careers Service.

We are open throughout the summer months, so you can speak with our experts and get information and advice on what might be the right path for you.

Plus we are running an exclusive finalist workshop in June to help you understand what might be the right career for you, and the steps you need to take to get to it! Spaces are limited for these, so reserve a spot today through mycareer.

If you already have a good idea about what you want to do, then we are currently advertising hundreds of immediate start vacancies on our website, posted by organisations hoping to recruit a Bristol graduate.

If you think you need a bit of extra help competing for the jobs you are going to be applying for, you can come and get feedback on your job applications and ask us about how to answer those tricky interview questions.

The Careers Service is your vital link to life after university, so don’t put it off any longer – come and see us to find out how we can help you today!

Making the most of your first week at work

Whether it is work experience, an internship, part-time job, or your first graduate role, the first few days are crucial in any new job. You will make that all important first impression, and set the foundations for what you will achieve and get out of the experience.

Here are a few tips to help you find your feet and make the most of those early days:

It might seem obvious but…

Plan for your arrival on day one. Make sure you know who you are meeting, where you are going, and plan your journey. Arriving relaxed and on time will reduce some of those first day nerves, and ensure you make a positive first impression on your colleagues.

Do your research

Finding out what you can about your role and the organisation will make the first few days feel less overwhelming, and enable you to get going more quickly. Revisit your application, remind yourself of the expectations and why you were hired, and read up on anything that will help you build knowledge more quickly (e.g. the company website and social media channels).

Get to know your colleagues

Being friendly and engaging in conversation with your new colleagues will help you feel more at ease, and build the foundations for good working relationships. Find out who they are (though don’t expect to remember everyone’s name the first time round!) and what they do. Remember that as well as knowing who to ask now for help, it’s important to start building a professional network to help you get to where you want to in your career.

Learn and adapt to the new culture

Bringing fresh ideas and new ways of working is highly valued, but balance this with taking time to understand how and why things are done. Fit in with your new workplace by observing and mirroring the behaviours and interaction within the team. Is email or in-person communication preferred? Do people make small talk in the morning? Do people take it in turns to do a coffee run? While these might seem insignificant, they are valuable ways to quickly become part of the team.

Be open-minded and flexible

Take all opportunities to learn, gain experience and challenge yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be an active team member, find ways to contribute, and offer help – even if it goes beyond your job description. An open mind will only enrich your experience and set you up for long term success.

The first week in any new job will be exciting, challenging, and at times exhausting. Be patient with yourself, don’t expect to know everything on day one, and treat every experience as an opportunity to learn and develop. Whether temporary or permanent, this new job could be a stepping stone to achieve your career goals. Make it count!

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.

The Media Careers Conference 2015 – what the students thought

On the 30th and 31st of March, over 90 students gathered in the Arts Complex for the Media Careers Conference. Over the course of the two day event, various media insiders (including Bristol alumni) came to meet students and deliver talks, providing students with an all-important insight into the world of media. Here two students, a fresher and a final year share their experiences of the event.

Emily Faint, First Year

As a fresher, I initially questioned the value of attending a careers conference. My career plans were hazy, and I certainly wasn’t looking to secure graduate placements given that graduation is still a mercifully distant future for me. By the end of the event, however, I was startled by how much the talks allowed me to clarify my thoughts regarding which career paths did, and didn’t, suit me. Each speaker had a wealth of information and advice to share, which included everything from the obvious suggestion of opening a LinkedIn account to dispelling myths about the perceived glamour of media careers.

Alex Ayling, a Bristol graduate who now works at BBC Worldwide, was a particularly notable speaker. He spoke of the importance of humility and resilience for those seeking a media career. I was startled to learn that companies such as the BBC rarely hire full-time staff, instead opting to recruit employees on a short-term basis depending on current projects. Patrick Ayree, a wildlife filmmaker and presenter, was also a delight to listen to. One of the most encouraging messages I received from Ayree was for young people to remember their value; young people are essential to the media and it is important to guard against feeling undervalued because of your inexperience at the beginning of your career.

For someone on the first rung of what I hope will be an interesting and varied career ladder, I’m certain the guidance I received at the conference will continue to benefit me for years to come.

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Emily hard at work at the conference!

 

Niamh Callaghan, Final Year

As a final year English undergraduate, I came to the conference looking for some careers advice and some tips on how to get into the media industry. On the first day, I went to sessions about digital television, copywriting in advertising, multi-platform production, and radio presentation. The networking sessions with previous graduates were really encouraging and gave some great advice. The careers service discussion about using resources (other than Google) to research careers was also useful, particularly as that is what I am currently doing after Graduation!

On the second day I went to two different workshops, one from Cardiff School of Journalism and another from Immediate Media. The journalism discussion encouraged everyone to find how they personally stand out from the crowd – learning technological skills is, apparently, very advantageous. The magazine publishers from Immediate Media spoke about identifying audiences and product pertinence. I also attended a talk from BBC Talent Management about routes into the BBC.  It was interesting to learn about career-specific skills and I was inspired to start learning some more.

One thing that seemed to come up a lot from every speaker was that, in order to work in the media, you should be creating a portfolio: filming videos, writing scripts, and building blogs. The general consensus was to make things!  The whole conference gave me some great advice for me to really begin my careers search. I left a lot more certain about my future career, with a handful of new connections on LinkedIn to get me started!

 

 

Stupidly busy? Be smart and manage your time effectively.

Sometimes it seems there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. With the competing demands of revising for exams, writing essays and applying for jobs, good management of your time is essential.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider if you are filling your time wisely. Are you putting off more challenging tasks by cleaning the house, doing the washing up, checking Facebook? My advice…..

Stop Procrastinating!

  1. Just start – do something (anything) to get the task under-way.
  2. If it’s big, break it down into smaller parts and do a little each day so you don’t feel so daunted by it.
  3. Do one thing at a time. Just because you can do ten things at once doesn’t mean you should. Focusing on one thing at a time means you’ll do better work, finish faster, and move on to other, more enjoyable activities.
  4. A cluttered desk is not helpful. Clear your desk of everything not related to what you are currently doing. This will help you concentrate and focus your attention.
  5. Identify your ‘prime time’. We all have a time of day when we are alert and attentive. The secret is to recognise when this is and do the tasks that require energy, concentration and thought when you’re at your sharpest.
  6. Plan ahead by creating a schedule including study, work, and your personal commitments for the next few months. Then…
  7. Prioritise: to be effective, you need to decide what tasks are urgent and important and focus on these. You’ll feel a real sense of achievement and satisfaction from ticking completed tasks off you list.
  8. Work in blocks of time: try a maximum of an hour before taking a 15min break, this way you’ll concentrate better.
  9. Minimise interruptions by switching off your phone, signing out of social media, turning off alerts and push notifications or asking friends not to disturb you. You can survive without knowing your friends’ latest status update for a few hours.
  10. Give yourself a reward once you complete a task to keep you motivated.

Some people believe they need the chaos of leaving things to the last minute and the pressure of a tight deadline to motivate them: ask yourself whether this is really effective or whether it’s disguised procrastination.

If you just do it now, you can look forward to some real leisure time later without the pressure of future work hanging over you. Breaking tasks down and scheduling work ahead of time also means you won’t get overwhelmed later on. It’s all about delayed gratification and you might actually find you produce better work under less stress.

Claire Wrixon
Careers Adviser

So you got a 2:2 – what happens next?

 

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It’s the time of year when degree results are announced and, amid all the celebrations, there are some of you for whom things may not have gone according to plan.  There seems to be a lot of pressure on students to achieve a 2:1 these days, but this is really only significant if you are aiming to secure a position on a graduate scheme, as recruiters often use degree classifications to screen the vast numbers of applications they receive.

According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the percentages for those in full-time employment six months after graduation are actually the same for those with Firsts, 2:1s and 2:2s, so things do have a tendency to equalise over time.  Please do bear in mind that only a minority of graduates end up on these large grad schemes each year, so it’s important to take a deep breath and consider your options – of which there are many.  We also recommend taking a look at our previous post What If I Don’t Want a Graduate Scheme? to help you work out what your next step might be.

Some graduate schemes do accept 2:2s

You may be surprised to know that not all graduate schemes require a 2:1 for you to be able to apply.  Some engineering and accounting firms (not the Big Four) will accept a 2:2, and some well-known schemes run by HMRC, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the NHS are all still open to you.  Many firms will also consider applicants with a 2:2 if you contact them to explain any genuinely mitigating circumstances in advance of submitting your application; this will also avoid your being screened out by computer before you have had a chance to explain your situation.

Work your way up & gain experience

You can also prove you have the skills to do the job by taking on a graduate internship or placement.  This offers hands-on experience which will look great on your CV, as well as offering an opportunity to impress while actually doing the work; many internships can work as extended interviews.  Search company websites to see what’s on offer (internships are advertised throughout the year) and try our UoB Internship Scheme, which is open to graduates.  You can find opportunities advertised on the Careers Service website or find your own and talk to us about funding.

Work for a small business

Working for a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) or a start-up could be the perfect way to get your career moving.  Small businesses place the emphasis on skills and work experience when recruiting as they need you to be able to make a contribution straight away and hit the ground running.  Some SMEs advertise with the Careers Service but you should also do your own research, make a shortlist and start calling them directly about what could be available.  These working environments may not offer structured training but you’ll have much earlier responsibility than in a grad scheme, if you can prove the quality of your work, and you will feel as if you are making a difference from the outset.

Think carefully about opting for a Masters

Many graduates immediately start applying for a Masters in the hope that attaining a higher degree will negate having a 2:2.  However, most recruiters will still use your undergraduate degree result for screening if you apply for a graduate scheme, even if you have bagged yourself a Masters.  If you’re thinking about taking the postgraduate study route, talk to the employers you’re interested in working for to find out which specific courses they might view as an enhancement to your profile.  A Masters degree does not necessarily make you more employable in the way that relevant work experience can, so do your homework before making an expensive mistake and taking another year out of the labour market.

What do you really want to do?

Sometimes, not getting what you want offers an important opportunity to take a step back and reflect on other possibilities.  There is a whole world of work out there that doesn’t require a 2:1 and a training scheme.  Come in and talk to a Careers Adviser about what you can do with your skills, what you enjoy and what your next steps could be; there are more job roles out there than you can possibly imagine.  You may decide to work for yourself, take a year out, travel or gain valuable experience before you throw yourself back into the graduate labour market and try again.  Just remember that there are many ways in which you can add value to your CV and impress a potential employer without the magic 2:1 on your transcript.

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser

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