Category Archives: Work experience and internships

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.  

The Spring Careers Fair 2017

Our final employer event on campus this term was last week’s Spring Careers Fair.

New for 2017: careers fair app

This year we trialled a careers fair app which allowed students to research and prepare for the fair using our top tips section, filter and search to find the most relevant employers by the types of roles they were advertising and the academic departments employers were targeting, and then highlight these employers on an interactive floorplan.

We had over 500 downloads and positive feedback from students who downloaded the app. One student commented, “very helpful to plan who I’d like to speak to. Made my day more efficient. The map was a great feature.” Other comments included, “very useful resource”, “App very useful for prep”.

After the success of the Spring Careers Fair, we will be using the app for all of the careers fairs this autumn, if you want to get a sneak preview of the main features and benefits as well as check out the employers that are still recruiting and attended the event, the Spring Careers Fair app is still available to download – search for Bristol Uni Careers Fair Plus on the App Store and Google Play Store.

Bristol PLUS celebration

Exclusive to those who completed the employability award, the fair opened early with a welcome and the chance to speak to employers more directly over coffee and pastries.

The Bristol PLUS Award provides a framework to help you enhance your CV, develop a variety of employability skills and be more prepared for the interview process. A degree is no longer enough to make you competitive in the recruitment process. The Bristol PLUS Award rewards University of Bristol students who have gained significant skills and experience through activities outside of their studies.

Careers Service pop-up event & Bristol Opportunities area

One of the marquees outside the event held a Careers Service pop-up event with lots of taster talks open to all students as well as offering specific advice for postgraduate students. For those students still confused about their career options staff were on hand to offer one to one advice. The other marquee was the Bristol Opportunities tent, offering a list of immediate vacancies in the city, the chance to meet some local employers and advice on applying to the UoB Internship Scheme.

Employers love Bristol students

With a leading global reputation, and one of the highest rates of employability in the UK, your degree from the University of Bristol will help you get wherever you want to be. The quality of today’s students attracts many recruiters.

Employers from a diverse range of business areas attended this event including media, charities, consulting, finance, teaching, hospitality and IT, to meet with students and promote their organisation as well as upcoming and available opportunities. Around 2 thirds of these were SMEs with the rest being larger organisations. Many commented on the calibre of students and the conversations they had.

“Very inquisitive students.”

“It was a pleasure to meet the high quality students at Bristol.”

“It’s always great to visit Bristol Uni – lots of interested students with lots to bring to the charity sector.”

“A fantastic event for students to drink with cups from the fountain of business knowledge from fossils like ourselves.”

Missed out? You can still catch up

We are here to help you get to where you want to be when you graduate, offering you careers support in person, online and over the phone. The Careers Service opening hours are Monday to Friday 9:30 pm to 4:45 pm and in vacation 1:30 am to 4:45 pm. You can download the app to research employers and get ahead for next year. Our employer events programme will resume in the autumn term so check mycareer for updates.

Download our NEW Careers Fair app and maximise your time at the Spring Careers Fair – 3 & 4 May

Explore tomorrow at the Spring Careers Fair

Whether you have a clear idea of what career you’d like to have, or no idea at all, careers fairs are great for picking up a lot of information in one place. Come to the Spring Fair at the Careers Service on the 3 and 4 of May from 12 til 3!

You can discover less well-known employers and understand more about what popular organisations do. You’ll get to speak to the experts, get a feel for the work culture and ask questions that might not be on their FAQs list.

Download the ‘Bristol Uni Careers Fair Plus’ app from the App Store or Google Play to start your planning and research for the fair. If you wander around aimlessly with no sense of purpose you’re unlikely to get much from attending. Use the app to help you set the scene and prioritise which organisations you would like to visit.

We’ve done the hard work for you

On the app you will find the list of employers who are attending the fair, who are different on each day. The app provides an overview as well as a link to company websites and social media for you to research further those you are most interested in. Employers come to careers fairs because they are looking to hire Bristol students, but they also have work experience and internships on offer as well as graduate jobs. The app allows you to filter this quickly and easily, so you can see which companies are offering what types of roles, and what subjects they are looking to attract students from.

Take the fear out of networking and find a selection of starter questions to ask employers, as well as top tips on the app. Meeting employers face-to-face is the best way of making a good impression. If successful, these first encounters can help with making a really great impression with your application. Remember, it isn’t about getting a job today it’s about doing research & making contacts to help you make informed choices and plan ahead.

We’re here to help.

If you have any general queries or want some advice, ask at the Careers Service marquee. We will be outside the Careers Service for the duration of the fair and are always happy to help. If you are unsure how to prepare for events, or have any other careers related questions, please ask us.

Search for ‘Bristol Uni Careers Fair Plus’ on the App Store or Google Play store.  

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!

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)

Ten Tips to make the most of your Christmas Holidays!

Now that the end of term is approaching and the holiday season will soon be upon us, have you considered how you might spend the break from University? If you want to make the most of the time, this can be a good opportunity to continue your Careers and Employability journey.

Have a look at our top 10 tips to help you maximise the break from University….

  1. Know yourself – choosing what to do after you leave University is a process that takes time and requires self-investigation, self-reflection and focus. If you’re really not sure where to start spend some time doing some homework on you! Ask yourself questions like: What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What motivates you and how does this fit with your beliefs and values? You may want to chat to friends and family about what they think your skills and strengths are, you may be surprised! There are lots of tools to help you start career planning including the Windmills Career and Life Management resource.
  2. Do some research – investigate the career options that are open to graduates from your degree using the Prospects ‘options with your subject’ Also take a look at the Careers Network to see what Bristol graduates from a range of courses have gone on to do.
  3. Volunteer and boost your transferable skills – December can be a busy time for the voluntary sector with lots of opportunities available, ranging from Charity shops to homeless shelters and residential homes for the elderly. Have a look at Do-It to see what opportunities exist.
  4. Earn some money – part-time work at this time year can be a great way to help you spread some festive cheer and also help you to enhance the skills that all employers value; for example working in a team and communication skills. Lots of companies require an extra pair of hands at this time of year. The Careers Service has information on how you can find part-time work.
  5. Keen to find out more about an area of work that interests you? Contact local employers to see if you would be able to do a day work-shadowing to gain an insight into their organisation and sector. There are employer databases on the Careers Service website to help your research into organisations.
  6. Personal Skills audit – look at graduate job opportunities in a field that interests you and list the skills employers are looking for, then audit yourself against these skills. Once you have identified any gaps, start to plan how you can fill them.
  7. Re-visit your CV – make sure your CV stands out. For more help on CVs look at the Careers Services resources on applications and Prospect’s resources. Maybe one of your parents or family friends would read through your CV for you!
  8. Develop your Social Media presence – LinkedIn is becoming an increasingly popular tool used by recruiters, so it’s important to have an effective profile. LinkedIn publish lots of useful resources for students and some fun clips.
  9. Apply for a summer internship – relevant work experience can be a great way to ‘test-drive’ if a career-path is right for you and help you explore your career options. The UoB Internship Scheme is aimed at Small and Medium size Enterprises in the UK, including charities, social enterprises and Non-Governmental Organisations. There are also opportunities available through the Careers Service website and sector-specific websites like Gradcracker for Science, Technology & Engineering students.
  10. Relax – Don’t forget to enjoy your break from University!

The Careers Service website has lots more support and information.

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.

Getting into the field of wildlife conservation

Wildlife conservation is a rewarding but competitive sector and gaining work experience and thus developing your skills is really important. Developing your skills and knowledge when you first start your studies makes things more manageable but, if this is not possible, there’s no time like the present! A good source of general information is the agriculture and working with animals sector guide on our website. This will help with your initial research of the sector.

Explore the conservation sector within Bristol and see if there are any charities or organisations you’d be interested in volunteering with – you may find our employer directory useful when searching for local, regional and even national organisations. You can then contact them asking if there are any opportunities available but remember to check on their website first to see if there are any positions already advertised. It is also handy to sign up to any newsletters they may offer in order to keep up to date with potential opportunities and news regarding that organisation.

You may want to look for a regular volunteering role, enabling you to build a relationship with the organisation during your time at university. It’s invaluable to have someone you can ask when you have questions about the sector, and it’s a really good opportunity for networking and showing your enthusiasm. One-off or sporadic volunteering is also still really valuable, so if something sounds interesting, go for it!

In addition, there is a group called Bristol Nature Network who advertise volunteering opportunities and also events such as identification walks. Any type of volunteering or work experience is going to build your skill set and increase the chances of you getting where you want to go so make the most of the opportunities available. It might be worth noting down the volunteering you’re doing as you go, detailing what activities you did and what skills they gave you, so when it comes to writing your CV and filling in application forms, you’re ready!

You might want to attend some events e.g. lectures, work days held by the organisations you’re interested in. These will be attended by like-minded people and professionals within the sector, enabling you to form even more connections. They may also be helpful to you in deciding if you’re interested in a specific area within wildlife conservation, whether that be particular taxa or certain aspects of wildlife conservation e.g. public engagement or research.

The vast majority of conservation volunteering is unpaid so be prepared for this. However, a way of earning money whilst you are gaining experience is applying to the University of Bristol Internship Scheme. A number of organisations advertise posts on the vacancies section of mycareer or a student can approach an SME, including charities, social enterprises and NGOs, asking if they would like to participate in the scheme.

You can also approach lecturers regarding advice and possible work experience. They are a particularly useful resource regarding work experience over the summer, so if you’ve found their area of research interesting, get in touch! The Careers Service is another valuable source of help regarding locating work experience and internships. You may find the information discussed and presented at the Snapshot: Wildlife Conservation helpful.

So, what are your next steps?

Start looking for organisations you’d like to contact regarding possible volunteering or work experience. If you’re unsure, attend some events or workdays, perhaps chatting to people to get an idea of what is involved.

  • Be prepared! Remember that long-term volunteering or work experience is often unpaid. However, don’t forget to check for positions via the University of Bristol Internship Scheme.
  • Use the resources available to you! This may be from numerous avenues e.g. lecturers, the Careers Service.
  • And finally, good luck!

                                                                                        Alice Lawrence, final year Zoology student

Making the most of your summer internship

Congratulations on getting a summer internship! Now that you’ve received your offer, you may want to think about how you can get the most out of the experience.

Clarify your expectations

No matter whether it’s a structured or a relatively informal internship, it’s important to be proactive. At the beginning of your internship it’s crucial to set expectations. You may already be clear about your goals and you may even have made a checklist of what you hope to gain from your experience, for example developing certain skills, getting involved in certain types of projects or meeting certain people. However, you should also consider the organisation’s needs, particularly your manager’s needs and priorities. Communicate with your manager to confirm the organisation’s expectations and lay out your and their objectives. In this way you can match your goals to the organisation’s needs and ensure you get an experience that both you and the employer value. Being proactive is particularly important for less formal internships. To get the best experience, consider proposing your own meaningful assignment that would be beneficial for the organisation. Examples include performing market research / consumer surveys, evaluation projects or assessment analysis with recommendations.

Deliver the work to the best of your ability

An intern’s work can vary significantly between different organisations. Work can be as easy as making the coffee to being as complex as developing a new system from scratch. No matter what you’re assigned, take your responsibilities seriously by completing work on time and to a high standard. Also, don’t forget to be punctual and professional as well as being polite and respectful along the way. One great piece of advice that made the rounds in the early years of my career was “come to me with solutions not problems!” This means try to think of answers to your own questions or suggestions about resolving issues before asking your manager. However, as an intern, you will also earn a lot of points for simply showing eagerness to learn and being willing to do what’s needed at the time – you’re not expected to know everything up front! Ultimately, if you’re ever unsure about how to do something, don’t assume. Your manager will almost certainly prefer taking five minutes to answer some thoughtful questions up front to get you on the right track, than for you to guess wrong and spend hours fixing it later.

Another thing you may want to try is to have regular catch-ups with your manager to review and understand your progress, share your concerns and receive advice and feedback. These meetings can help you understand what you are good at and what you need to develop. This may even allow you to shape your own internship by telling your manager what you enjoy and the areas in which you’d like to get more experience.

Finally, given that summer internships can provide you with opportunities to learn new ways of doing things and opportunities to work on different projects, it’s a great idea to step outside of your comfort zone and volunteer for extra assignments when possible. For example, offer to help another department or group that’s of interest to you. It could really open doors for your career and provide useful insight years down the line.

Scrub up that handshake and get networking!

An internship is a great chance to build relationships with people at all levels. So get out from behind your desk and get to know people. You never know what you might learn from different people and how useful these people will be for your career. Spend time getting to know your managers and colleagues in your immediate team, often these will be your strongest and longest-lasting connections. Ask how your colleagues got to their current jobs. Some may have more colourful histories than you expect! This can help you understand the skills you are likely to need to get to a similar place in future and the different paths available. If you’re drawn to certain people or are inspired by them, seek opportunities to work with them and understand what they do.

If possible, get involved with out-of-work activities like social events, charity volunteering days and so forth. This is a great way to get to know your colleagues on a personal level without the hassle of work formalities. And don’t forget to join professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and add your colleagues. Finally, get to know your fellow interns (if you have any!) They are a great resource and will be good people to know for the future, as they will grow and progress with you. By going through a similar situation, you can relate to each other, share ideas and ask those silly questions!

In summary, summer internships are a great way to meet new people, learn new skills, learn about the industry you have chosen and discover what working full time is really like. I hope you have a great experience and create some lasting connections! Good luck!

–Xiujuan Wang