Category Archives: Graduates

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!

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.

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!

Taking a gap year – a student’s perspective

Being typically millennial, I opted for the cliché and took a Gap year before commencing with my studies at University. I worked in a local pub for most of it and finally got round to passing my driving test. But most importantly of all, that summer I decided to do Camp America.

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(Me kayaking with my best friend at camp from Ireland, and my campers)

 

 

This experience has made me. It has immensely enhanced my communication and leadership skills as well as my use of initiative. It has helped me to think independently and open my eyes to another culture. It’s difficult to fit such a life-changing experience into so few words, but here is a brief outline…

What was it like?

So I was placed to work at the Girl Guide Camp Birch Trails, in Wisconsin, situated in the beautiful North East of America for three months.

At 19, I was about to find out through working with such a diverse group of people I was actually quite young for my age. Having never really worked with kids before and, having never been away from my family for more than a week, I was completely daunted. The first two weeks were tough. I felt severely homesick and, whilst camp training was fun, I struggled to fight it.

But once the kids came, everything changed! You’re thrown in at the deep end, suddenly you’re alone with 10 little girls, aged 6-9, who rely on you for everything. Quickly you learn techniques on how to keep them engaged. You sing songs with them, master the art of them having sun cream on, bug spray and towels ready for the afternoon swim, and you even know how to stop their homesickness. (You secretly write them letters from the ‘camp chipmunk’ and soon they forget the whole thing).

At camp I was trained to teach canoeing and kayaking, horse riding and archery. I learned the girl-guide ethos and made life-long friends from around the globe.

What did you learn?

From working abroad I had to draw on a range of skills I didn’t even know I had! I learned how to cope with the culture change (you’d think America would not be that different-wrong; sarcasm doesn’t always go down well!). I know the value of teamwork and how to work effectively with others. With such a different mix of people, I had to be tolerant even when exhausted, which has helped me greatly in other work experiences, such as last year when I volunteered in the Czech Republic for three months. I knew exactly what I was in for! I now know how to communicate effectively, to be compassionate and lead!

I could not recommend enough work experience in another culture. It it’s challenging, rewarding and a little scary at first, but it will develop you as an individual so much so that you’ll look back one day like I do now, and be proud that you did it!

A European career: working at an EU institution

European Commission

There’s a lot in the news about Europe, the EU and a possible Brexit at the moment.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in Brussels and be a part of the fabric of EU governance?

The Careers Service was invited to visit the European Commission in Brussels recently to hear more about the opportunities available at the EU institutions and meet some of its employees.

For background, the European Commission is regarded as the European equivalent to our Civil Service. It employs approximately 30,000 staff, and works closely with the other two large organisations in Brussels: the European Council and European Parliament.

Opportunities and applications

The Commission is the largest employer of the three institutions and ranked 45 in the Times Top 100, having climbed the rankings in recent years. Working there or in another EU institution offers an international working environment. Most staff work in Brussels or Luxembourg, with some also working elsewhere across Europe and the rest of the world.

Graduate opportunities are typically referred to as ‘Administrators’. Profiles include Generalists, Auditors, Translators and Lawyer-linguists. Graduates could find themselves involved in drafting laws, examining and developing processes, providing consultancy to colleagues, and managing projects. The competencies sought include analytical and problem solving skills, communication skills, resilience and leadership.

Application is through open competition or ‘concours’, which opens in the spring. Following registration, the application stages include pre-selection tests, an e-tray exercise and attendance at an assessment centre. Successful applicants move to the next stages before being placed on the reserve list. The process typically takes 5 – 9 months. Graduates can also join from the Civil Service European Fast Stream.

To be eligible to apply via the concours you must be an EU citizen, have a thorough knowledge of one of the official EU languages and a satisfactory knowledge of a second (roughly A Level standard) – at least one of which must be English, French or German. A self-assessment grid is available to help you work out your language standard. Some tests during the application process are done in your second language. Examples of the tests are also available online. For graduate positions, you need to have completed your degree or be in your final year.

Graduate traineeships are also available in all of the EU institutions, and you can apply to be part of the trainee programme after you’ve received your degree. Traineeships are typically 5 months long, paid, and available at all EU institutions and agencies. They offer opportunities to gain EU experience by undertaking practical day-to-day work.

For more information, see the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) website or Facebook page.

Surveyed Out?

DLHE logo

In recent times it can feel like we are constantly being surveyed by one organisation or the other and it can become difficult to will any enthusiasm to fill questionnaires in. Students in particular seem to be targeted and it is understandable if you are suffering from ‘survey fatigue’. However, there are surveys out there that serve a genuine purpose. But as a time poor population it can be tricky to distinguish which ones to invest your energy in. This blog will hopefully highlight the importance of one (the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey) that you will receive from the University of Bristol, which definitely DOES COUNT.  The following information should give you a better idea of why your response will be beneficial to you, your peers and; your successors, how it will help to inform influential bodies and serve to guide the HE system to provide the best preparation and opportunities it can for you and future under- and postgraduates to build the career and future to which you aspire once you have graduated.

So what is this survey and why bother?

The Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (otherwise known as DLHE), is carried out at a national level by all HE institutions and is a requirement by the UK Government.  It is sent out to ALL graduates 6 months after they have completed a course at a university.  Once the survey is complete, the information you/fellow graduates provide is anonymised and becomes a precious resource on employability outcomes to many interested parties who wish to improve the future of HE.

It is used to:

  • Compile League Tables – including those published in The Times and Guardian.
  • Update Key Information Sets (KIS)/unistats, which also provides guidance for those considering going to university.
  • Produce detailed undergraduate data about post university destinations on the mycareers web pages (for 43 subjects) by us (the UoB Careers Service).
  • Give detailed destination data insights of Bristol graduates that is used by academics to inform decisions on the future structure of courses and teaching programmes.
  • Inform Careers Advisers when giving advice and guidance to students who are uncertain of their options once leaving HE.
  • Create a source for obtaining potential contributors to Case Studies and recruit new members to the Careers Network.

Continue reading

Alumni guest blog: Euan Mann (2003, Economics BSc)

Learn about Bristol graduate, Euan Mann; a soft commodities expert and business owner:

CCS Logo - Black

So you graduated from Bristol; what happened next?

In my final year I went through the selection process for a few graduate schemes and I realised that they didn’t feel quite right. I decided to apply for a Tropical Commodities Analyst role at a commodities trading house and was successful. The pay was lower than a typical grad scheme but the role sounded a lot more interesting. I was drawn to the prospect of regular travel and working in a smaller team with good one-to-one mentoring.

After a couple of years, I underwent intensive management training which involved working in New York, Brazil, Liverpool, London and Zurich for a year. I then relocated to work for a new trading division of the company based in New York before eventually moving back to London to head up a London office for the division.

What advice would you give your younger self at graduation?

Don’t worry too much and just give things a try. Nobody knows the perfect career path and any experience is beneficial. Don’t follow the money at graduation, developing yourself over the first two to three years is more important. Also, stay in touch with people from university; they will go on to succeed in amazing ways and can be an important network.

What advice can you give to newcomers to your industry?

Just try it. There are so many different roles within the commodities industry. There’s no formal course for soft commodities so you only learn by doing.

What does your current role involve?

In 2010 I set up my own business providing independent analysis in the cocoa and coffee markets. We supply major chocolate manufacturers and coffee roasters, as well as trading houses and commodity hedge funds.

At the moment we are a team of three – myself and two junior analysts. Around 60% of my time is spent on analysis of export figures, rainfall, temperature, exchange rates, corporate forecasts and trends, and communicating our analysis to our clients. Roughly 20% is managing my two colleagues, whilst 20% is managing our clients, marketing our services, as well as running the admin and accounts. I continue to travel regularly to West Africa, South America and SE Asia.
What do you most enjoy about your work?

I find soft commodities fascinating and I enjoy dealing with tangible products – everyone eats chocolate and drinks coffee. I also enjoy gathering and analysing information; it’s like a jigsaw puzzle and there are always surprises.

How did you make the decision to start your own business?

As a student I always wanted to be my own boss. I was drawn to the challenge of building something of my own and I enjoy being responsible for my own results. I work as a means to enjoy life and I appreciate the flexibility of being self-employed. I work hard but efficiently; focussed work rather than long hours – which is great as I now have a young baby and have been able to spend a lot of time with her and my partner over the last nine months.

What would you like to be doing in five years from now?

The same thing I’m doing now. I’m very happy.

We are currently looking to expand the team in order to provide an even better service to our clients. If you are interested in an opportunity as a Junior Soft Commodity Analyst, please apply either through CAS or at http://www.commodity-solutions.com/contact-us.html

Get more advice from Bristol alumni! Visit the Careers Network.

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

Just graduated?

The Careers Service is here to help!

UoB Graduation Ceremony

Have a great day!!

Well done on graduating!

For the first three years after graduation, you can continue to use the Careers Service for free. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • If you are still in Bristol, or visiting then please call in and talk to any member of staff who will be happy to help you in any way they can
  • Outside of Bristol, make good use of the website and you will also see that there are a number of options available to you for getting help and advice

To access the website as a graduate you will need to activate your mycareer account.  You will shortly receive an email from us explaining what you will need to do.  Follow the instructions and you will be able to continue using the website as if you were still a current student.  You will, however, find that some applications are not available to you as a graduate, as these must be restricted to current students only.

On the website you will find there is a whole section dedicated to you as a graduate and here you will see the range of resources available, for example, advice about: funding, further study, different occupations, CVs and applications, vacancies and many, many more resources.  Do have a look and explore all that is there!

If you feel it would be good to speak to someone, then please call into the Careers Service, if you are still in Bristol or alternatively you can phone us and we will be happy to help you.  If after talking to a member of staff at the Welcome Desk it is felt an appointment with an Adviser would be useful then this can be arranged there and then.  All appointments are 15 minutes long and it will help you and the adviser if you can do as much preparation before your appointment so that you get the best result from your time with them.   We also have a team of Information Specialists who can give you tips about researching sectors and individual employers and point out the best resources.

We are always here to help and we all wish you the best of luck for the future.

Trudy Mardon
Information Assistant

Image: © University of Bristol

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

Image: http://www.gothinkbig.co.uk/features/