Category Archives: First years

Getting the most out of your summer job

For some, the summer vacation is the opportunity to travel or volunteer in other parts of the world. Some will have been lucky enough to secure a summer internship in their chosen industry, and some will choose to earn money through a job seemingly unrelated to their career plan. If you fall into this last category, and think that your summer job is simply about saving up for the next academic year…think again.

Working in industries, such as retail, tourism and hospitality, offer you an excellent opportunity to develop, and provide evidence of, your employability skills.  These skills, which are “the skills almost everyone needs to do almost any job”, were ranked by employers as the most important factor when recruiting graduates (CBI Education & Skills Survey, 2016).

Throughout your summer employment, take the opportunity to reflect on what you do, and look for ways to develop and demonstrate your skills.  Doing this now will provide you with practical examples to provide to future potential employers when applying for graduate jobs.

Here are five skills you could develop while working this summer:

  • Communication

Customer service roles are an excellent way to demonstrate how you communicate.  Think about all the people that you interact with (customers, colleagues, managers), how you communicate with them (face-to-face, telephone, email) and the purpose of your communication (greeting, explaining, persuading, listening).

  • Initiative

Even if it is a temporary job, show your initiative by looking for opportunities to accept more responsibility or make a positive difference.  Consider offering to train a new team member, or considerately suggest a new process that could improve sales or business performance.

  • Readiness to Improve

Request feedback and act on it to improve your performance. Not only does this show professionalism and a desire to be the best that you can, it will help you to identify any areas for improvement before applying for graduate jobs.

  • Problem Solving

This doesn’t have to be something worthy of a global news report! Solving a problem could be implementing a new email filing system that improves the speed of responding to client enquiries, or appeasing an upset customer.

  • Team Working

Whether you are working for a small business or a large organisation, it is likely that your summer job will enable you to demonstrate how you work with other people. Think about how you cooperate with others to complete a task and how working together can improve efficiency or business performance.

No matter what job you do, make sure that you get the most from your summer job by investing time in reflecting on your experience, and updating your CV to demonstrate the skills that you have.  

Using the Careers Service – a first year student’s perspective.

In September I moved from my sleepy village in North Devon to the wonderful city of Bristol, and was excited to open my arms to all the city had to offer. I was able to move into my halls a week before the rest of my housemates, and as everyone in my halls knows; I used this time wisely!

One of the first things that I did was to visit the Careers Service. I knew that I wanted to work alongside my academic studies, and I wanted to find something as relevant as possible. Before visiting, I spent a couple of hours looking through their website to get an understanding of what services they provide, and to create a list of questions to ask in person.

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The Bristol Internship Scheme really stood out to me. After reading I could find an internship myself I knew I wanted to apply. I had just got back to the UK after spending the summer experimenting with photography in Vancouver. I knew that an internship in this area would enable me to continue this work, provide me with an income, and compliment my academic studies. The next day I went to the Careers Service and found that applying to the Bristol Internship Scheme was a lot easier than I first imagined. Quite surprisingly after making a lot of calls, I found an internship with a photographer a week after moving to Bristol!

I am now coming to the end of my two month photography internship and it has been extremely informative and a great way to compliment my studies. I was also happy to find out that this work could be used towards the Bristol PLUS Award, so I signed up for an int roductory talk and chose to attend Basecamp workshops and other intensive skills activities leading me to achieve the Award in December.

No-one else on my course knew about the Bristol PLUS Award, and hadn’t thought about using the Careers Service so early in their studies. There are some great reasons for using these services in your first year. Firstly, the activities on offer are really complimentary to first year studies! One of the best things about completing the PLUS Award so early has been improving on my verbal communication skills which has increased my confidence in seminars. Secondly, by completing the Award in your first year you open up a competitive lead by freeing up time in your second and third years to pursue other national or international awards and prizes, experiment by starting a new business, or volunteer or take extra internships. As the graduate jobs market changes over the coming years this is going to be of great benefit and will allow you to make the most of your time at university!

The next step for me in the New Year is to attend more of the application skills workshops at the Careers Service, and apply for the Outstanding Award. I’m also planning to look for an internship for 2017 in the creative industries. If you have just joined the University this September, and have been thinking about getting a New Year’s challenge; the Careers Service is a great place to start!

By Joshua Greenidge

Foundation Year in the Arts and Humanities

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!

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.

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

New to the Careers Service?

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If you’re new to the University of Bristol Careers Service, welcome! We hope you will come and see us in person soon at No.5 Tyndall Avenue. For those of you using the service for the first time, below is a brief explanation of what to expect from your visit.

Making an appointment

Many students who come into the Careers Service wish to speak to an Adviser. With a limited number of slots available per day, and lots of other resources on hand to help,  it will help us, and you, if we ask you a few questions initially to find out if an appointment is right for you at this time.

Firstly, we will ask why you would like to see an Adviser, and how much research or work you have done so far yourself. For example, if you want a CV checking: ‘Have you looked at the CVs, covering letters and applications information on our website?’. Or if you are researching a specific career area: ‘Have you looked at Researching career sectors on our website?’. All of these questions are designed to make sure that we are pointing you in the right direction – we don’t want to waste your time booking you an appointment when we have the answer to your question at our fingertips! 

Where we might refer you

We have lots of resources available for help with various career questions. If you are looking into a specific career, job, or company, we may refer you to the Resources Help Desk first, where our specialist information team will be happy to help. They will either suggest some useful places to begin your research and show you how to use the resources or, if your question is quite complicated, they might take it away to do some research into the best resources for you to explore. Here are some examples of questions we have referred to the Resources Help Desk in the past: ’How do I find out about working abroad?’, ‘How do I find out about smaller graduate schemes – especially as there is very little information available online?’; ‘How do I break into less well-known job roles?’.

We will probably direct you towards our collection of books, journals and other publications, including online information. We have a vast amount of information on various industries and jobs (teaching, media, environment, for example), and we also have information on finding a career, CVs, interviews, psychometric tests, postgraduate study, life as a research student, specific companies and schemes (particularly the big graduate recruiters), as well as living and working abroad – to name just a few! So whatever your careers question, we will have the right resource for you or can help you to find it.

Careers Service Events

The Careers Service also runs a variety of events throughout the year and lots of these take place during the autumn and spring terms:

  • We run events which are designed to help you get a job, by helping you with CVs, application forms and cover letters, then taking you through interviews and assessment centres, or by informing you about key skills, such as understanding commercial awareness.
  • We hold sessions on networking, effective use of social media, creativity and innovation.
  • We also run events which focus on specific careers or key areas of the jobs market – for example, we hold sessions on finding work abroad, or on specific industries, such as journalism or marketing.
  • Some of our sessions are specifically targeted at postgraduate students, international students, or those interested in further study, whether that’s applying for a masters or PhD, or aiming for a research career.

In the autumn term, particularly, we invite many of the largest graduate employers from Bristol and beyond to give presentations and offer students a chance to network with them. In addition, we hold several Careers Fairs each year. The main Fair, for students of all subjects interested in all kinds of graduate jobs, is held in October, and we also run fairs which focus on law, engineering, investment banking and management consultancy, and careers for those who study a science degree.

Please take a few moments to check out our website, which is packed with information including jobs, advice, courses and events.

Updated from original post by Lucinda and Harpreet, Career Service Student Information Assistants

What I wish I had known about the Careers Service in my first year!

This Thursday 23 January we are inviting students to drop in to the Careers Service for a day of talks aimed at first years. Last year we asked Gemma, one of our Information Assistant Interns and a PhD student in the School of Geographical Sciences, to tell us what she wishes she’d known about the Careers Service when she started her degree…

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Welcome to the Careers Service [image sourced from morguefile.com]

For those of you who are just a few months into your degree, thinking about your career once you graduate is often not high in the list of priorities. By third year, as deadlines loom and you are frantically trying to finish your eighth job application, many students often regret leaving it to their final year to brave their first steps into Careers (myself included!). However, in today’s competitive job market it is never too early to start using the Careers Service, especially with the wealth of advice, information and help available to first year students. With this in mind, here are some insights as to how you can use the Careers Service effectively in your first year:

1. Explore career options
Are you unsure of what to do when you graduate? You can explore what options are available to you with your degree, find out information about different sectors in our ‘I want to work in…’ pages, or book a 15 minute appointment with a Careers Adviser.

2. Gain a part time job or work experience
One of the most common queries from first year students is how to gain a job. Whether you want a part time job to earn some money whilst studying or an internship to gain valuable work experience, we have many events and useful advice geared towards finding jobs and/or work experience through our JobShop.

3. Develop your employability skills
First year is often the best time to develop your employability skills. Sign up to the Bristol PLuS Award to document and gain recognition for the professional and life skills you gain through university.

4. Stay Informed
Ensure you keep up to date with Careers Service news, events and jobs by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, reading this blog and keeping an eye on our news pages. Not only will these pages provide an insight into the services we offer at Careers, but you might also stumble across your ideal internship or networking opportunity.

Want to find out more?

This Thursday 23rd of January, we are holding an informal Information Day for first year students. Turn up to one of our short talks to find out more about the Careers Service, including: reasons to use us; a tour of the building and our resources; the Bristol PLuS Award and tips for work experience and internships. More information can be found on our events pages. No need to book, just come along. Turn up, have a look around, and sit in on any of the 30-minute talks.

Alternatively, find out more about what the Careers Service does and how we can help any time by coming in any time we are open and speaking to one of our friendly members of staff.

Gemma, Information Assistant Intern, University of Bristol graduate and current student

Not a first year? See also a blog post by two of our student interns for anyone new to the Careers Service.