Category Archives: First 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!

The ideal student job – working as a DLHE Telephone Researcher

This January I will start my third campaign as a DLHE Telephone Researcher. I can honestly say that it is the ideal student job! The work hours fit around lectures, the pay is great and you get some valuable experience.

The advantages of working for the university are the flexibility and understanding around academic commitments. During exam season I could take shifts off on the day before my exams and, in the run up to big deadlines, I was able to request fewer shifts.

The skills learnt in the role will help me in the future, as you need to have good communication skills and a certain level of persuasiveness to deal with more reluctant graduates. I have also had the pleasure of speaking to several of my lecturers who had recently completed PhDs!

Alice Hook, DLHE Telephone Researcher

Calling graduates will open your eyes to many possible career options that you might not have considered or had even known existed! From grad schemes to postgraduate degrees, I now have a much better understanding of what I can do with my degree.

Why do the Bristol PLUS Award? A first years perspective.

New pressures

After a challenging two years of A-levels, a laborious UCAS personal statement, and a nerve wracking exam results day, receiving offers from universities was tremendously exciting. Once my place was confirmed at the University of Bristol, I felt immense satisfaction knowing the next direction for my life. However, I did not expect that sense of achievement to be so short lived. Within my first few months of University I came across a news headline: “Work experience is key to graduate success”.

The sense of assurance from reaching University was replaced with questions. Where do we start with work experience? How are we supposed to find relevant work experience if we haven’t found a passion yet, or a desired career path? How will I succeed in interviews if I lack the enthusiasm to work in that specific sector? My first term quickly became daunting.

“Being a first year, I had plenty of time to dedicate to this process!”

Take control

This all changed for me around May 2016, when I completed the Bristol PLUS Award. Thinking about life after University as a first year, I started with the basics. I knew I was going to need a CV that had value. Looking at my CV of my life so far, I noticed that beyond summer work at a pub and my education, there was little substance. I knew then that I needed to develop this while at university, and I was soon to come across the Bristol PLUS Award. Reading quotes from other students stating that “The award leads to infinite possibilities for the future.” And “The plus is not merely an award, it’s a REward.” I thought I better get myself involved.

The first step was an introductory talk at the Careers Service which laid out the Award criteria. 50 hours of work experience, 4 workshops, an intensive skills activity, report and final workshop, achievable? Being a first year, I had plenty of time to dedicate to this process!

Work experience: I started working for a university bar a couple of evenings a week, and had completed 50 hours before I knew it. This gave me valuable experience as part of a team in a high pressure, busy environment. It also improved my time management and organisation skills, balancing my degree and part-time job.

Workshops: I attended mainly Careers Service workshops including an insightful event with the BBC on what skills they value in employable candidates. In addition I went to practical workshops on CVs and interview skills. The latter introduced me to the importance of body language and the impact it can make in an interview.

Intensive skills activity: I volunteered on open days, introducing the campus to prospective students. This honed many skills such as leadership, creativity and the ability to think on my feet. I had learned via the workshops that these were desirable skills to employers.

“The PLUS Award has changed my view on the world beyond university. It has made something that seemed so large and complex, seem much smaller and simpler.”

Transform and grow

The PLUS Award has changed my view on the world beyond university. It has made something that seemed so large and complex, seem much smaller and simpler. In my second year, I got an internship in the Careers Service. One of my projects was reconnecting with PLUS Award graduates, many of whom credit the PLUS Award as integral to their success beyond university. The best way to get ahead is by getting started, and the Bristol PLUS Award is an exceptional place to start.

By Finn Morgan, Geography BSc

The Bristol PLUS Award 2017-18 reopens on the 18 of September 2017. Read the website and book your place at an introductory talk for more information and to take part.

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.

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.

joshua-greenidge

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.

DSCN2732

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