Category Archives: Volunteering

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!

Making the Most of Your Summer

Exams are almost over and it’s nearly time for a well-deserved summer break. Travelling, volunteering abroad and summer placements are popular ways to build your skills and experience during the long stretch of time between June and September, but don’t worry if you haven’t got one of them lined up as there are plenty of things that you can do to make the most of your summer.

Four things that you can do to make the most of your summer

  1. Volunteer in the UK – Volunteering is a fantastic way to help others and give something back to the community. Not only that, it can also help you to gain valuable experience, especially if you are thinking of going into an industry such as media, charity, heritage or other areas where it’s more difficult to secure paid work. If you’re not sure about what you might want to do after university, volunteering can also be a good short-term way of finding out what an industry is like to help you narrow down your choices.
  2. Work Shadow – Similar to volunteering, work shadowing is a great way to gain exposure to an industry that you think might interest you, but in this case it’s likely to be far more short-term and hands off, maybe only a week at a time. Lots of companies are happy to allow someone in just to observe, and it has the added benefit of helping you meet a wider variety of people and build up your crucial professional network!
  3. Read – Reading is a fantastic way to spend your spare time; whether you’re on the beach, in a park, or listening to the rain outside your window you can settle down and get stuck into a good book. Think about using part of your holiday to dig into some of your more interesting course material, read through articles to build your commercial awareness, or just to relax and get stuck into a novel that you’ve been meaning to get around to!
  4. Work on a Personal Project – Is there a project that you’ve not managed to find the time for? Now that your lectures, assignments and exams are out of the way, pour some of your energy and time into something that really interests you. You could aim to write a blog post or an online article on a topic that you’re passionate about, try to build an app that you had an idea for, or even start writing up a plan for your own business idea.

If you need any help with your career planning, don’t forget that the Careers Service is still open as normal for the next few weeks and then for slightly reduced hours over the summer months:

21 June 2016 – 16 September, 1.30 pm – 4.45pm Monday to Friday
(Careers Service closed Monday 20th June)

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.

The best thing you can do at university

showcase

Guest blog post from Imogen Palmer, Vice President Activities, UBU

I grew up in the countryside, where the biggest opportunities were writing the obituaries for the local paper and playing the young William Wordsworth in my hometown’s annual history walk. I was overwhelmed when I arrived at Bristol by the 200-plus societies and clubs it had to offer, and I went a bit overboard. I acted in a play but realised I didn’t like acting. I went to kick-boxing and decided I didn’t want to be a ninja. I was an editor for the student paper and found I didn’t want to be journalist. Doing UBTV, the student TV station made me realise I didn’t want to be a TV researcher.

The most common thing I hear undergraduates say is ‘I don’t know what I want to do’. Most of us dread the ‘post-uni’ question that family insist on asking every time they see us, but not knowing is no bad thing. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I arrived at uni and I’ve managed to narrow it down so far. I don’t know any other point in your life where you can try on this many different ‘lives’, so to speak, and figure out what really stokes your passion.

It’s not all about getting ‘transferable skills’ or plumping out your CV, even if that’s an added bonus. It’s about working out what you like and being able to make the most educated choice possible about which direction to go in, because there isn’t just one.

My involvement with activities led me to the firm conclusion that I love people and I love trying new things. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to campaign for a job that would involve enabling more people to try things, in the form of VP activities, I leapt at the chance.

And that’s not just for the first-years; it’s for the second-, third-, final-years and post-grads as well. Life doesn’t stop in the library. Go and seek adventure during UBU Showcase Month, try something new and see what happens. Remember: if you’re finding it too expensive to get involved with activities outside your course, you can apply to UBU’s fair access fund: ubu.org.uk/activities/committee_resources/funding/.

We’ve had great feedback from student groups so far about Showcase Month, with lots of people trying new things, from canoeing to cross-country running. Volunteering Week kicks off this week so get on it! May I particularly recommend ‘Bristol’s Got Talent’ on Monday 24th February and the Volunteering Fair on the 27th.

Bristol’s Got Talent: facebook.com/events/731175766900390/
Volunteering Fair:  facebook.com/events/750510671625775/
Full UBU Showcase listings: ubu.org.uk/events/

Imogen Palmer
Vice President Activities
University of Bristol Students’ Union

Some further info:

  • UBU Volunteering will soon be launching a new database where you’ll be able to sign up and join various volunteering projects. In the meantime, you can join the Volunteering Mailing List and follow UBU Volunteering on Facebook to be kept up to date with current opportunities:  ubu.org.uk/activities/volunteering/getinvolved/
  • Week commencing 24th Feb 2014 is Student Volunteering Week (SVW). SVW is a nationwide celebration of all things student volunteering! UBU Volunteering will be teaming up with Bristol Hub to put on a load of exciting volunteering events and competitions throughout the week. Find out what’s on online: ubu.org.uk/activities/volunteering/
  • As part of SVW, the Careers Service will be running the following event for students:

Careers in the Third Sector: How to sell volunteering on your CV – Tuesday 25th February, 3pm
This session is an opportunity to hear tips for accessing careers in the Third Sector, including useful resources and effective planning for your next steps.  There will also be an opportunity to talk with professionals who have successfully made the transition into this sector. Sign up here: careers.bristol.ac.uk/ViewEvent.chpx?id=206070