Category Archives: PLUS Award

Be inspired by our Award alumni – complete the PLUS Award by June 9!

The Bristol PLUS Award deadline for all undergraduates and postgraduate research students is rapidly approaching! We know this is a stressful time for students with final deadlines and exams, but if you are registered on the Award, do not let your progress go to waste! Find that last bit of energy and complete the Award by June 9! 

Achieving the Award will help you when applying for jobs or internships, and if you are not a finalist, it sets you up to aim for the Outstanding Award next year! As a bit of inspiration, you can read about one of our PLUS and Outstanding Award alumni here, who is now enjoying working life being employed by Microsoft. More student case studies can be found on our website.

Name: Derek Bekoe
Age: 23
Current Job title: Software Engineer (Microsoft)
Graduation year from Bristol: 2015
Subject studied: Computer Science

How did the PLUS Award help prepare you for your career after University? Are you glad you took part?
During my time at university, I completed both the PLUS Award and the Outstanding Award. I’m glad I took the steps to complete the Awards because it taught me the importance of what it means to be employable and how to gain employability-related skills.

How useful was the PLUS award in preparing you for the recruitment and selection process with your employer?
The PLUS Award got me more involved with the Careers Service. It really helped me prepare for the behavioural questions in interviews. I learned the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Response) through my mock interviews and it proved invaluable in my real interviews.

Is there anything in particular you gained from the PLUS Award that you feel you would not have gained if you had not taken part?
Completing the PLUS Award pushed me to complete more hours of work experience and volunteer work outside of my studies. During interviews, I would end up having conversations about the projects and volunteering I had done outside of my studies and that helps when you want to stand out!

Any words of advice or encouragement to current students thinking of taking the Bristol PLUS award?
I’d highly recommend signing up for the PLUS award and putting your all into each part of the award. After the PLUS award, also consider the Outstanding award as both awards really help prepare you for interviews and landing that dream graduate role.

Why PGRs should do the Bristol PLUS Award

This year we’ve been running new tailored PGR Introductory talks for the Bristol PLUS Award and suggested work experience and intensive skills activities that are relevant to PGRs thinking about academic and non-academic careers. This has seen up-take of the Award amongst PGRs increase by 667%! Below Miquel and Oli talk about what benefits they got from doing Bristol PLUS.

Miquel Perello-Nieto: Computer Science PhD

The Bristol PLUS Award encourages you to be more proactive during postgraduate study. To complete it you must accomplish a set of requirements, involving different skillsets. By participating in the PLUS Award you increase your chances of getting a job by attending workshops on, for example, job hunting, networking, or interview skills.

The workshops

I attended a workshop about creative job searching that offered a set of useful tools to find jobs, and emphasised the importance of networking in this process. I also learnt about assessment centres and what to expect in the selection process, and attended a very useful workshop about enterprise, innovation, and communication for researchers. These helped develop my skills in giving effective presentations of my research, and a clearer mindset for tackling common problems faced by researchers. I am now more confident when presenting my research, and am also more organised when preparing for meetings, taking notes, and summarising afterwards.

The benefits

The Bristol PLUS Award has improved my skills, and is really useful in encouraging a proactive habit for learning and appreciating a set of skills not acquired during a postgraduate degree. I am now more prepared to find a job and make a good impression – the next step is to find a job!

Oli Bell: Medicine PhD

The Bristol PLUS Award allowed me to gain accreditation for work I was already performing, and helped strengthen my applications. It will demonstrate to potential employers that I take career development seriously, and that I am taking strides towards enhancing my employability skills.

I first read about the Bristol PLUS Award whilst browsing the Bristol Doctoral College’s course system. When I attended the introductory talk I had already completed the vast majority of tasks required to complete the award. The mainstay of tasks I completed were in relation to my intended future career path in teaching and research, so it was easy to fit in around my study.

Work experience and workshops 

Throughout the Bristol PLUS award there were several workshops and opportunities available through the Careers Service, as well as the possibility to use external workshops. To develop my teaching skills, I worked as a tutor with the company MyTutor, who offer online tuition for GCSE and A-level pupils in an interactive online classroom. I attended education workshops and undertook the ‘starting to teach’ course offered by the Bristol Doctoral College, which constituted my intensive skills activity. During this time, I gained insight into the challenges of teaching in university, and began to work on techniques in teaching. I also gained skills in lab demonstration, and this will undoubtedly strengthen any future applications I make in this area.

The benefits

The booking and submission process were easy, and fully-integrated online, allowing you to submit from anywhere, and to complete the Award at your own pace. This was very convenient for me as I needed to fit work toward it around my busy schedule.

In summary, I feel the Bristol PLUS award can only strengthen a CV, as it helps you develop core skills that serve to enhance future job applications.

 

Further information:

For more information and to find out how to sign-up for Bristol PLUS next year, read our Bristol PLUS Award webpages.

Intensive Skills for the Bristol PLUS Award – Make it count!

As the deadline for the Bristol PLUS Award looms on the 9 of June, and the last Intensive Skills day has passed, we thought it might be useful to talk about other ways to fulfil the Intensive Skills Activity section of the Bristol PLUS Award.

Your Intensive Skill Activity needs to fulfill the following criteria:

  • gained employability-related skills.
  • participated in an interactive manner.
  • committed for a minimum of 6 hours.
  • reviewed the skills you have gained from the activity/event.

The below are suggestions to give you some inspiration and are NOT exhaustive, we encourage you to find your own activity that is most relevant and beneficial to you!

  • Media & Creative Industries Week – Monday 20 to Friday 24 March. A unique opportunity to meet professionals from the media and creative industries, including some University of Bristol Alumni! Gain an invaluable insight into what employers are looking for, and how to break into your chosen sector! Did you know that if you attend 6 hours worth of these workshops this will qualify as your Intensive Skill activity?
  • Have you considered tutoring? –  Action tutoring recruit on a rolling basis so at this stage of the year where a lot of things seem to be winding down it is an ideal opportunity to gain some valuable experience and tick off those 4 criteria.
  • Try your hand at sports coaching! –  Any type of coaching certificate of qualification can be used including PADI dive certificates.
  • Become a First Aider! – The Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance run affordable First Aid courses.
  • Workplace training/shadowing – If you want to learn more about the sector you are interested in this is an ideal opportunity! Check out our resources on speculative applications to plan your approach.
  • How about a charity fundraising event? Comic relief is just around the corner, visit their page for suggestions of fundraisers you could run or be part of!

What have previous students done? What haven’t they done!?

Achieved their Pilots license – Learnt a new language – Mentored A-level students – Completed an online MOOC – Been on the Goldney Ball Committee – Led expeditions to the Peruvian Amazon – Had seats on the European Youth Parliament – Edited an online magazine – Organised plays – Taught children to code – Been trained to be part of Nightline and Drinkaware – Led conservation talks for children – Kept elderly people company as a “Chatter” – Volunteered at festivals, farms, and even Volcanology labs!

So what are you waiting for? The possibilities are endless!

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

Why should I do the Bristol PLUS Award?

The Bristol PLUS Award provides a framework to help you develop employability skills through extracurricular activities and learn how to articulate them to employers in the recruitment process. Perhaps you already work part time, have volunteered or attended some extracurricular talks. So what are the benefits of the scheme in addition to just undertaking this activity alone? Don’t let us convince you, let these recent PLUS award students explain the benefits.

To get a graduate job…

“I learned about the importance of preparation; knowing the company and the role is crucial during an interview. I also learned about the importance of presenting a good first impression. I have gained a place on a graduate scheme thanks to the Bristol PLUS Award and the skills I have learned through the completion of the award.” – 3rd year Geography BSc.

To gain transferable skills to complement your degree…

“The Bristol PLUS award has given me an excellent introduction into the unfamiliar world of employability. Much of what I learned I have found personally to be equally as useful as my degree in regards to finding employment post-graduation.” – 3rd year Physics (MSci)

To aid your career planning…

“Throughout the Bristol PLUS Award, I have developed a newfound sense of confidence about leaving university and entering the world, no longer as a student. I feel a considerable amount of support from the Careers Service and their role in enabling students to be prepared for the future.” – 2nd year Biology (BSc)

To rise to a challenge and become more confident…

“As a university student it is easy to become trapped in the university bubble, but I think the PLUS award helped me venture outside of this…If I had the chance to do it again I would have liked to have attended even more talks at the Careers Service as they were very beneficial. From the PLUS Award I will take the lesson of going the extra mile in order to make myself the most appealing candidate for future employers.” – 2nd year History BA

Just for fun!

“I thoroughly enjoyed the PLUS Award. It is structured very well and has allowed me to develop personally, socially and academically and given me the confidence and potential to thrive in my future years at University.” – 1st year Law and German (LLB)

So what are you waiting for?

Registration for the Award re-opens in September and closes in February. Check the website for more details. You may have already completed activities this summer to help you get ahead. What else will you discover by taking on the Award?

#GetCareerReady

The Careers Service’s new hashtag is #GetCareerReady. What does this mean? And how can we help you to Get Career Ready?

Explore – what’s right for you and what are the options?

What does a career mean to you? What job is right for you? Before you can answer these questions you need to know what will suit you. The Careers Service guide has some straightforward exercises to complete that will help you think about this. Look at this online or come in and pick up a copy at the Careers Service.

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Exploring is also about understanding what jobs exist out there. Trying to understand the job market can be incredibly hard, there are 1000s of opportunities and unless you have a very clear idea of what you want to do, searching for companies and graduate roles can be daunting. We run regular talks on how to research organisations and industries, plus we have a number of sector guides on our website to get you started.

Develop yourself

Alongside exploring your options you need to be developing your own set of skills, understanding what makes you unique and learning how to manage yourself. Not much then! So how do you do all that?

The main thing you need to do is get involved in activity as part of your degree, as well as away from your studies. It’s important to be active, not passive, do not expect opportunities to come to you. The more you get involved in societies, volunteering, part time work, sports, initiatives within your school, research lectures and work shadowing, the more you will be developing skills and becoming the “all-rounder” that employers look for.

 Jo Hutchings, the Information, Advice and Guidance Manager at the Careers Service says “in my experience the students who come into the Careers Service who have been proactive in getting involved whilst at university, generally have a more mature attitude, a confidence in the way they present themselves and the ability to take feedback and act on it. These are all qualities, that if I notice them in a short 15 minute appointment, an employer is certainly going to see at an interview or assessment centre stage!”

IMG_1837The Bristol PLUS Award is designed to help all students develop skills at university, with opportunities to reflect on your experiences, to gain a better understanding of who you are and your strengths. This enables you to become more self aware, a quality all employers look for.

 

Finally, competing for jobs/further study

So #GetCareerReady is about understanding what jobs are out there and what might suit you. Once you have started to establish this, you need to get applying to compete for opportunities.

And, it is a competition; you need to be prepared to work hard for the opportunities out there. Put time into your applications, research organisations, understand the roles you are applying for and get feedback before your final submission. The Careers Service is well equipped to give you this feedback and advice through our appointments. We also have a wide variety of taIMG_1801lks to help you prepare for the application process. These are complemented by online advice and practical help with our video interviewing portal, Interview Stream and practice selection tests, Graduates First.

So if you want to #GetCareerReady, come into the Careers Service to find out how we can help you, as one of our recent users said:

“The Careers Service is fantastic. Professional and comprehensive. I can’t flaw the incredible service”

Bristol PLUS Award Celebrations!

A group of Bristol PLUS and Outstanding Award students joined the Careers Service in celebrating amazing student achievement that has taken place this year at the Bristol SU award ceremony. The award ceremony, which took place on Thursday 11th June saw University of Bristol students, staff and external partners gather to celebrate a year of student success.  Held in the recently refurbished Richmond Building, the glitzy event was a night to remember, honouring student activity through societies, sports clubs, volunteering, fundraising and student media. awards 14 awards were presented this year, including the Employability Award, sponsored by UBS which recognised those students who had shown particular excellence through the Bristol PLUS Outstanding Award. The Bristol PLUS Outstanding Award is an extension of the Bristol PLUS Award for students who can demonstrate evidence of high level employability skills identified by employers as skills that are crucial for the workplace.10488216_10152185404597321_1095913227611072575_n In order to achieve the Outstanding Award students must give a presentation to a panel of University of Bristol staff, employers and alumni.  Each student must articulate the following skills:

  • Leadership & teamwork
  • Commercial awareness
  • Problem solving
  • Management of resources
  • Knowledge of CSR/sustainability

This year 480 students have completed the Bristol PLUS Award and 25 of these went on to achieve the Outstanding Award. Of those 25, 5 nominees were short-listed by the Careers Service. The nominees were:

  • Frankie Quinn for his volunteering role in Luton with Gavin Shuker (MP)
  • Emma Phipkin for her role as Managing Director of FUZE, the UK’s largest student-run charity fashion, dance and music show
  • Grace Hart for her role as President of AIESEC
  • Olivia Maxwell for her role as Marketing Director of FUZE
  • Cindy Laing for her role as Lead International Office Student Ambassador

We were delighted to announce Emma Phipkin as the winner of the award. Emma was selected for demonstrating particular excellence in articulating the skills required both in written form and during her presentation to the panel. awards3

 

Many thanks to Jamie Corbin for providing this photograph of Emma being presented with her award by Stuart Johnson, Director of the Careers Service.

Celebrating student achievement

The Students’ Awards ceremony which took place on Friday 13 June saw University of Bristol students, staff and external partners gather to celebrate a year of student success.  Held in the recently refurbished Anson Rooms, the black-tie ceremony was a night to remember, honouring student activity through societies, sports clubs, volunteering, fundraising and student media.

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This year the Careers Service joined the Union Awards in order to celebrate the skills that students have developed through the Bristol PLuS Award.  The Bristol PLuS Awards recognise and reward University of Bristol students who have gained significant professional and life skills through extra-curricular experiences.

New for 2013-14, the ‘Employability Award’ was created to recognise those students who had shown particular excellence through the Bristol PLuS Outstanding Award. The Bristol PLuS Outstanding Award is a higher level award for students who can demonstrate evidence of employability skills identified by employers as skills that are crucial for the workplace.

In order to achieve the Outstanding Award students must give a presentation to a panel of University of Bristol staff, employers and alumni.  Each student must articulate the following skills:

  • Leadership & teamwork
  • Commercial awareness
  • Problem solving
  • Management of resources
  • Knowledge of CSR/sustainability

This year 450 students have completed the Bristol PLuS Award and just over 50 went on to achieve the Outstanding Award. Of those 50, 4 nominees were short-listed by the Careers Service.

The nominees were:

  • Anna Taylor (President of Bristol University Psychiatry Society)
  • Sasha Evans (Treasurer of  the Bristol Jets Cheerleading Squad)
  • Grant Thompson (President of the University of Bristol Aerospace Society)
  • Celestine Weegenaar (Higher Education Volleyball Officer)

We were delighted to announce Grant Thompson as the winner of the award. Grant was selected for demonstrating particular excellence in articulating the skills required both in written form and during his presentation to the panel. The ‘Employability Award’ was presented by Mark Heasman from Zurich who endorse and support the Bristol PLuS Awards.

“I was honoured to be asked to present the Bristol Plus Outstanding Award in its first year as part of the UBU Awards. It was a fantastic evening, and I was really taken aback by the breadth of talent, enthusiasm and commitment on show.

Students dedicate a significant part of their life to achieving their degrees, and those degrees are used as benchmarks by Employers when students apply for Graduate jobs. But in an age where competition for jobs is higher than it has ever been, we, as employers, are looking for that something extra, a CV that says ‘I’m an all-rounder’, that says ‘I will fit in with the culture of your organisation’.

Grant was a very deserving winner, and a great role model for other people applying for the award. The evening reinforced to me just how important employability activity is in the current job market, and I’m proud Zurich continue to play a small part in the personal development of students at Bristol.”

Mark Heasman, Zurich

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For more information about the Bristol PLuS Award please follow this link: http://www.bris.ac.uk/careers/plusaward/index.asp

Jenny Green
Bristol PLuS Award Coordinator

Student Volunteering Week

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Not many people know this, but Student Volunteering Week has been a nationally recognised week for the last 13 years. It’s only been the last two years that UBU Volunteering has decided to get involved, largely thanks to a push from the NUS and our own desire to recognise all the amazing things students do whilst studying in Bristol.

This year’s events focused on random acts of kindness, supporting each other and developing yourself: three major components of being a well-rounded and successful volunteer. We kicked off the week with a Good Deed pledge event, seeing 70 students make pledges from volunteering in primary schools to ringing their grandparents more often.  All pledges were rewarded with mystery prizes designed to be shared to spread even more good cheer.  Photos from the event can be seen on our Facebook page.

This was followed by UBU Volunteering’s biggest ever fundraiser,  ‘Bristol’s Got Talent’ – a talent show coordinated by the UBU Volunteering Exec and staff team to raise money for UBU Volunteering’s annual Spring Dinner Dance for local isolated older people.  Acts included Pole Fitness, judo, Dance Society, cheerleading and many more. Together we raised over £500, which means our Volunteering Executive can now move forward with planning the dinner dance and recruiting volunteers to support it.

The week’s events were rounded off with our first-ever second-term Volunteering Fair, showcasing 50 local organisations all looking for student volunteers to help support their causes. The fair was well-attended and almost everyone who came left with a pocket full of chocolate and a volunteering position to be proud of.

Don’t worry if you missed the events of Student Volunteering Week 2014; volunteering never stops and we have opportunities available to students all year round. All you need to do is login to our NEW Volunteer Hub, and you can search local volunteering and fundraising opportunities currently available. You can also keep track of your volunteering hours to help make completing the Bristol PLuS Award even easier.

The most important thing to remember when volunteering is to say ‘thank you!’ so I’d like to say a big ‘thank you!’ to: all those students who engaged with us during Student Volunteering Week; the Careers Service, for putting on some brilliant workshops (which can be used towards the PLuS Award); the volunteers who gave up their time to help us put on events during the week; and all the local charities and community groups who believe that University of Bristol students can make a positive difference to the city they live in.

Jemma Harford
Community Engagement Coordinator, UBU

You can find out more about how you can use volunteering toward the Bristol PLuS Award on the Careers Service website.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR as it is more commonly known, describes the way a company accounts for the impact of its business activities. This includes:

  • Impacts on the environment – use of resources, impacts on climate change
  • Impacts on social needs – poverty, equality, health, promoting strong communities with the resilience to cope with change, support for youth, education, older people
  • Impacts on cultural heritage – the importance of diversity and the protection of the things we value as our heritage.

The CSR definition used by Business for Social Responsibility (http://www.bsr.org/en/) is: ‘operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business.’

CSR is a top priority for many organisations today and employers increasingly want evidence that potential employees have clear ethics and a good understanding of the role CSR plays within businesses.

“Having strong CSR platforms enables companies to conduct their business in a way that is ethical, whilst taking account of their social, economic and environmental impact. It is important that as potential employees of a company you fully understand the role CSR plays within the business, it’s main purpose in fulfilling their goals and mission and how it is now seen as an important way to increase competitive advantage, protect and raise brand awareness and build trust with customers and employees”.

Martyn Flynn, Talent Acquisition Manager, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Every organisation interacts with employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders. CSR is about managing these relationships to produce an overall positive impact on society, whilst making money.

Companies approach CSR in different ways and it’s likely that organisations will have several CSR activities. Many companies start with small projects such as giving money to charity or creating recycling policies because these activities are quick and easy to decide on and implement. The Green Impact scheme developed at Bristol is a good example of this: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/environment/green_impact.  Ideally, organisations will move towards CSR strategies that focus on truly adding value for the business and society.

Below are a few examples of what real businesses are doing to address CSR:

Having knowledge of CSR is now part of the Bristol PLuS Outstanding Award requirments. Find out more on the Bristol PLuS Award webpages: http://www.bris.ac.uk/careers/plusaward/Index.asp

Jenny Smith, Bristol PLuS Award Coordinator