Tag Archives: employers

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.

Spring Recruitment Fair  

Spring Recruitment Fair. Info Web 1jpgThe fair in numbers

On the 27 to 28 April we held this year’s Spring Recruitment Fair, which was at the Careers Service (Tyndall Avenue) for the first time. Despite the cold, two marquees stood on the pavement outside, opening up the fair to passers-by.

40 different employers were present across the two days: Amazon, EY, Teach First, PWC, Aldi, Think Ahead, RBS and Severn Trent, to name just a few. They were offering various positions from graduate schemes, to internships and summer work.

Although it was revision season, over 400 students flocked in to
meet these recruiters, with many leaving positive comments, such as that they liked seeing a wide range of employers and that they felt the fair was helpful and informative with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.  

Not just a fair

Other events were held in association with the fair: leading employers gave a talk on how to prepare for
the fair. On day two you could spot the Careers Advisers (wrapped in scarves and gloves!), along with some of the attending employers, in the marquee for speed interviewing sessions. They offered students the chance to practise their answers to some common interview questions under time pressure, gave feedback and then recommended relevant resources to help them improve their skills.

It was also a good opportunity to pick up some of the free publications available at the Careers Service, browse resources, book appointments and get advice on what to do next to prepare for life after university.

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Employers love Bristol students

“Meeting prospective graduates face to face is the best way to get our company known.

(Local Employer)

“The calibre of students was very high and we met some great candidates.”

(Recruitment Agency Attendee)

Employers come to our fairs because they are interested in you! As one employer commented, recruitment fairs are a “good opportunity for students. Companies come to you and want to hire you. Make good use of that”.

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How to prepare for next time

Employer tips:

  • Remember to do some research beforehand; look up the companies attending and what kind of roles they offer.
  • Think about how to approach the employers you are interested in to make them interested in you! One employer found they had “lots of people saying ‘I don’t know you’ or ‘what is your company’, as opposed to ‘I’d love to learn more about your company’”.
  • Don’t ask about pay or visa sponsorship – if they like you then they may be open to negotiation. Find out the essentials beforehand and target the employers relevant to you.

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Dates for your diary!

We have more careers fairs in the Autumn Term, all taking place in the Wills Memorial Building:

  • Investment Banking and Management Consultancy Evening – 3 October
  • Autumn Fair – 11 and 12 October
  • Engineering and IT Fair – 18 and 19 October
  • Science Fair – 26 October
  • Law Fair – 1 and 2 November

Keep an eye on the events pages for these and other events all year round.

A first year’s ‘Spring Week’ experience.

ID, check. Two copies of relevant documents, check. Clean, well-ironed smart clothes, check. Room in the purse for inevitable free gifts from Barclays, check. Positive energy and attitude, check. “Never be late. Never be just on time. Always arrive a little bit early.” My friend’s advice echoed in my head, as I got on the London Underground and checked the time. I should be there 10 minutes before meeting time.

Upon arrival, the recruitment team took our name and relevant documents, and handed out our name tag for the week before being thrown into a swarm of people we hadn’t met, (or had, depending on whether you’ve done spring weeks or insight days at different firms), and given a briefing about what this week would entail: work experience, better understanding about the industry and Barclays, and networking opportunities. The recruitment team didn’t emphasize it specifically, but how we perform throughout the week – how we interact with others, the questions we ask to the company reps and the way we tackle tasks given – was going to be taken into account to our overall assessment on deciding whether or not we get an offer for the next year’s summer internship.

From that moment on to the end of the programme on Friday, my days were packed with heavily informative sessions such as trading exercises, talks delivered by senior executives, preparation for the assessment, work shadowing, various presentations and skills sessions and networking opportunities. We had to absorb and understand a lot of information, ranging from the simplest basics such as how to present yourself well or business etiquettes to learning about various divisions within the firm and how they work – all of which was extremely helpful. What I had learned about the industry and Barclays prior to commencing the spring week became more consolidated and contextualized in my mind, and overall, everything just made so much more sense. It could be intimidating, entering into a whole new world, where you don’t know the people around you or comprehend exactly what is happening, but more often than not, everyone is friendly and eager to help. I made sure to remember to just be myself, have fun, relax, and be willing to learn while doing my best and being well-prepared. Having fun and giving one’s best are not mutually exclusive!

My spring week ended with a weekend spent with the students I had met earlier that week, finally with a phone call the following Monday, letting me know that I have an offer for an internship next summer! It was a very intense, challenging week, but I did get out of the week all that spring weeks could offer: great experience, a better understanding of the company and the industry as a whole, a network of people that inspired and motivated me and an offer for next year. Oh, and the compensation for the week wasn’t too bad either!

By Jess Ye Seul Kim.

A 1st year Childhood Studies with Management (BSc) student.

Alumni panel inspires law students with their personal insight into diverse career paths

A panel of four University of Bristol alumni offered a fascinating insight into their careers to Law School students earlier this year. The event titled ‘Alternatives with a Law Degree’ was jointly organised by the University’s Careers Service and the Law School in response to the increasing interest from law students in career options outside of the traditional legal sector.

The objective of the event was to introduce Law students to some of the many options available to those studying for a law degree, including those outside of the legal sector such as EY, one of the ‘big 4’ (professional services) firms, as well as utilising a law degree in a non-law firm environment like the Army Legal Service. Each alumni spoke about their career path and informal networking over drinks allowed the students to meet the panel members and continue their discussions about life after University.
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Reassurance

A key message from the panel was to reassure students that there are many diverse career paths open to them and to encourage students not to feel pressured into making a rushed decision on graduation.

Explore your options

If you are keen to consider the options available with your degree there is a lot of support on the Careers Service website. A good starting point is the ‘Be Inspired’ section.

“The panel helped broaden my mind beyond the confines of commercial law and private practice, and also reassured me that it is ok to be slightly unsure of what I want to do after I graduate, because the transferable skills I will gain from a law degree from Bristol will set me up for a role in a variety of areas both inside and outside the legal sector.” Komal Patel, a 2nd year Law student commented about the event.

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Esther Wride, Corporate Human Resources Business Partner at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, attended the event with Tom Tooth, a Police Officer, and current part-time PhD student at the Law School. She commented, “It was great to meet a variety of students who were interested in finding out about opportunities with the Police and we continue to encourage people from all backgrounds to consider a role in Policing.”

Be inspired by alumni

Attending an alumni event can be a great way to find out what Bristol graduates have done after they left University, but there are other ways to be inspired by our alumni. For advice and information about how you can connect with alumni, including the alumni mentoring scheme, careers network and not forgetting LinkedIn, have a look at the Careers Service Website.SL271880

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.

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.

Why should you consider Spring Insight with an employer?

An Insight scheme or programme is a brief period spent with an employer, usually in the spring or summer, to gain industry knowledge and explain career opportunities within that business. Activities provide an overview of company life and usually include presentations and seminars, work shadowing and some practical work experience.

Banks, Law firms and Professional Services companies are the main employers offering Insight programmes. Eligibility varies but many schemes are designed for first years whilst remaining open to other year groups. Here are 4 reasons why insight could be an important step for your career planning.

1. Narrow down your career options

It is common to feel pressure to discover your career path while at University. Insight schemes are a great way to narrow down the options. You may discover your future career or rule certain options out. This is all useful experience.

2. Get work experience

As Insight programmes range from a few days to a few weeks you can try out multiple industries to add work experience to your CV. Whether you find a sector you can picture yourself in or not you are still sure to develop transferable skills to boost your employability for any job.

3. Make industry contacts

You are likely to work with fellow students, interns, graduates and more experienced staff. You leave a first impression even in a short time, show yourself to be keen and colleagues will not mind you following up with further career questions.

4. Turn Insight into a job

Employers are increasingly using these programmes to funnel strong candidates through to internships and then graduate roles. If an Insight scheme goes well it could set you on the path to future full time employment!

Rate My Placement is a good place to start looking for Insight opportunities. Our advice is to apply early, many places get filled on a rolling basis. As always the Careers Service is here to answer any questions or help you to prepare an application.

Good Luck!

Maxine Robinson, Graduate Recruitment Officer

Interview with Kate Blythe, Editorial and Content Director at Matchesfashion.com

For all those aspiring to work in the Fashion Industry or to go into Journalism, Kate Blythe from Matches Fashion has kindly taken part in an interview which will be a very useful read!

Why did you decide to work in the fashion industry, and how did it start?

I always wanted to be a fashion journalist from the age of 10 or 11. I collected American and British Vogue magazines for years and fell in love with the beautiful images and inspirational features.  From that age onwards I had my heart set on a  fashion journalism career and so I focused on English literature and Language as my speciality. I took English, Psychology and History A Levels and then I went to Leeds University to study an English degree. Before university, however, I set up work experience at my local paper and then went to IPC to intern at various magazines such as 19 magazine and Just 17. As a post-graduate, I went to Time Out magazine in London where I worked for 6 months as a freelance writer, and from there I went to ELLE magazine where I worked for 4 years as fashion features writer before moving into the digital world after that.

What does a typical day for you look like at Matchesfashion.com?

I start work around 8.30am and have 30 minutes before the team arrive to get through my emails and answer any queries. I sign off, approve and commission all content across mens and womens digital and print titles so my day is a constant stream of questions from my team and proofs to sign off. I also oversee all video content, along with marketing emails, social media and all fashion. I can be approving a fashion rail full of clothes for a cover shoot one minute, then sitting in the executive team meetings discussing forward planning the next. It’s non-stop and very varied, which is why I love my job! I leave work at 6pm to get home to my three children before bedtime which is also when the US markets are up and so I then deal with talent agents regarding celebrity cover stories and shoots.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career has been building a world class team here at Matchesfashion.com and rebranding all of the website and content in a short space of time. It has been an exciting 18 months and the best is yet to come.

What do you enjoy the most about working in fashion?
I love all aspects of fashion – from the incredible talent of the designers behind the collection, to the beautiful product that is created to the editorial stories we pull together from the collections we stock.  It is fast moving, exciting and inspiring.

What made you choose English as your degree, and what was your best experience whilst at Uni?
I have always been passionate about writing and would love writing essays at school and sixth form college. There is something about story telling that is very exciting to me and so there was really no other degree that I would have considered, other than fashion journalism. University was wonderful and I loved meeting great friends, learning new skills and knowing that I was preparing myself for a future in journalism. I couldn’t wait to get started!

Do you have any advice for students on how to stay creative and keep coming up with new ideas?
Read as much as possible – the news, websites, blogs, fashion commentary, magazines. Arm yourself with information and never think that you know it all. I am learning new skills every day and that triggers ideas in my mind for new ideas. Never plagiarise, always be original and stick to your passions rather than follow the pack. Then you will have the potential to be hugely successful!

Do you have any motivational words for students aspiring to make it in this very competitive industry?
Take on as much work experience as possible and when you are in a company doing a placement or internship, throw yourself into the role and make yourself indispensable. That is what I did and two months later I was offered a full time job. Never say no, always say yes to whatever task is given to you and your positive attitude and can-do nature will go a long way in impressing the right people.

What key skills do you need to get into fashion?
Great personal taste, passion for the subject you are working on and digital knowledge. Nowhere is purely print these days, so digital skills are a necessity for being a future fashion leader.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice whilst you were a student, what would it be?
I used to have to read a whole pile of books every week yet I never allowed myself enough time to really enjoy them. I would have told my younger self to enjoy the time I had and to absorb the literature I was reading, rather than racing through it all. I never have any time these days to read a good book, so that was my perfect opportunity.

Preparing for Careers Fairs

 

 

B.Uni Undergrad Prospectus Day 3

Autumn term is upon us, which means it’s the season for careers fairs! We receive a large number of queries from students every year about how to best prepare for the fairs and what to expect from them, so I’ve taken the Careers Service Ten Commandments and expanded on them so that you can approach these events with more confidence.

Careers fairs offer an invaluable opportunity to meet employers face to face and find out more about their culture and potential opportunities. They are also not just for finalists! As a first or penultimate year student, visiting a fair can help you to find out about potential internship or work experience opportunities as well as help you plan ahead for your final year, when you will have to balance your studies alongside your job hunting.

1.    Read the Fair Guide, plan who you want to see and know what their business does.

Don’t take an aimless approach by just wandering around the stands. Look at who is coming to each fair (it will be different each day for the longer fairs), check out their websites to find out more about them and their recruitment strategies, and then target the companies you want to speak to. Apart from not wasting time, this also means that you will avoid asking obvious and unhelpful questions, such as ‘what does your company do’ or, even worse, ‘why should I be interested in you?’ – this will not go down well!

2.    Work out your first few questions – what is it you want to know?  Type of work areas? Skills needed? Travel? Training & development opportunities?

Questions that show your knowledge of the company and its training schemes always make a good impression and demonstrate genuine interest. See some tips from our Information Specialists to help you quickly research companies and stand out from the crowd. You can find out if your preferred companies have won awards or contracts that can be the basis for more informed questions.

3.    Don’t ask about salary – be interested in the work, the company, and how you can use your skills in their employment.

Asking about salary is never a good idea, not even when you are at interview stage – wait until they have offered you the job! Fairs are a good opportunity to identify the specific skills and attributes that companies look for, so that you can work on developing any potential weak spots in time for the selection process. You might even want to prepare a very brief ‘pitch’ so that you are confident in what you want to say about yourself.

4.    Be enthusiastic, friendly and polite: they might be your interviewer at a later date!

The people on the stand could be a mixture of people from the recruitment team, recent graduates and potentially your future line manager or interviewer.  Employers use fairs to spot new talent, so don’t spoil your chances by speaking to representatives with less than perfect professionalism and politeness, or by going straight for the free gifts.  Try also to target the right question to the appropriate person: queries about what it’s like to be on the training scheme should go to the recent graduate, while questions about progressing in the industry go to the senior person.  If the recruiters take your name, then this is a very good sign that you have made the right impression and that they will be keeping an eye out for your application!

5.   It isn’t about getting a job today; it’s about doing research and making contacts to help you make informed choices and plan ahead.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Think of the fair as an opportunity to find out more about the companies and their working cultures. If a recruiter is unpleasant or dismissive in their interaction with you, are they someone you would really like to work with or for? If you like them, then mention the fact that you met them and what impressed you about them in your applications – this is always a positive opener. Get names and contact information from people that you have productive conversations with. If a recruiter gives you their card, make sure you send a courtesy email with 48 hours thanking them for their help; you need to cultivate and look after your contacts in a professional way if you want to be able to make use of them later on.

6.    The stallholders are ‘shopping’ just like you, so be aware that you need to impress.

It’s not good form to shove copies of your CV at recruiters; keep some with you in a neat folder if you like, just in case you are asked, but large companies usually design their application processes to be exactly how they want them and won’t appreciate personal documents they then have to dispose of confidentially. If you have personal cards, then by all means keep them with you so that you have something in exchange for one of their business cards, if offered. Your appearance is also important. You don’t have to wear a suit, but make sure that you look smart and professional – remember that this could be the first impression a potential employer has of you, so make it a good one. Old jeans and a hoodie are not the way to go! Make sure you also have pen and paper handy for writing things down – look organised.

7.    Be prepared to wait for or come back to popular employers.

Don’t be pushy – everyone is entitled to their fair share of time with a company. Go and visit another stand if the queue is a long one. If you decide to wait, be patient and wait your turn. Use the time to think about what you want to ask or to read the company literature.

8.    Talk to a couple of employers first as ‘practice’ for your first-choice employer.

Networking events, which is what a careers fair really is, can make the best of us feel a bit tongue-tied. Warm up by visiting a couple of employers who genuinely interest you, but with whom you feel comfortable enough to get started.

9.    Keep notes and don’t be afraid to ask an employer for their contact details if you have a good conversation with them.

As soon as you can after the event, write down what you learned, what you need to follow up and any contact details you were given.  If an employer has spent time with you and you developed a good rapport with them, it’s fine to ask for their contact details.  As per point 5 above, make sure you send a thank you email very soon.

10.  If you have any general queries or want some advice ask at the Careers Information Desk.

Careers staff are always happy to help if you unsure of how to prepare for events, so please ask at the Information Desk on the day, or pop in to see us in the Careers Service before the event. We hold lots of information about sectors and employers that you may find useful in your preparation.

Good luck with your preparations and enjoy all the fun of the fairs!

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser

 

What if I don’t want a graduate scheme?

 

If you’re a penultimate or final year student, you may well feel that applying for a graduate scheme with a large recruiter is the only career option available to you.  This is because these organisations have very large budgets and can afford the kind of publicity that is probably appearing everywhere you look on campus.  It’s also possible that friends and flatmates are busy filling in the lengthy application forms required for these schemes, or that parents are advising you to apply as a ‘safe option’.

However, the truth is that only a minority of graduates secure these jobs. PwC reported receiving 30,000 applications for only 1,200 available positions and, while they seem like a secure option, you only have to look at the current problems with The Co-operative, for example, to realise that the graduates who started their training schemes with this group may now be reconsidering their position.  Realistically, your job is only ever as stable as the notice period you are obliged to be given before being handed your P45.

The most important aspect of career planning is choosing something that not only matches your skill set but that you will also enjoy.  So, if you think that a graduate scheme isn’t for you, here are a few alternatives to consider.

Working for an SME or start-up

A small to medium-size enterprise (SME) employs up to 250 employees, but you could be working with as few as two or three people in a small business, so it’s possible to make a significant contribution and feel that you are making an impact.  You could also gain responsibility much sooner than through a graduate scheme if you can prove the quality of your work.  Many graduates now run their own businesses and know first-hand the skills and talent that you could offer.  They won’t have the budgets to advertise any vacancies though, so you’ll need to get networking, search for opportunities via social media and approach businesses directly.  Make sure you’ve done your research into the company and be clear about how the skills and experience you have to offer match their requirements; remember that it’s about what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.

Taking a non-graduate job

There are sectors such as media where you simply won’t be able to find a graduate scheme.  You have to work your way up and make the most of work experience or internship opportunities to be able to make contacts and build your portfolio.  Taking a non-graduate job can be a useful way to get your foot in the door, but you need to network and build your reputation if you want to get ahead.  It is wise to have a Plan B if you take this route, in case your progress is limited.  If you opt for unpaid experience, make sure that the potential benefits outweigh the costs and that you are not being asked to undertake unreasonable duties.

Graduate internships and work experience

Recruiters have realised that graduates may not have committed to a career path by the time they leave university, so you will also find vacancies labelled ‘graduate internships’.  These structured programmes, often lasting six months to a year, are a great way to try out a role or sector and gain valuable experience before deciding what you would like to do more permanently.  You can also ask organisations that interest you about work experience opportunities even if they are not advertising specific vacancies; see our web pages on making speculative applications.  Have a look at the UoB Internship Scheme to see a range of current opportunities.

Postgraduate study or retraining

If you are considering this option, then be sure to check with potential employers if they need you to take a higher degree or postgraduate diploma in the first place and, if so, which particular courses they recommend.  Many students are surprised to find out, for example, that consulting firms don’t require a business Masters and that you can apply with a wide range of degree subjects.  If you don’t do your homework, further study can be a costly mistake as well as an extra year out of a very competitive labour market.  Don’t make assumptions about what might put you ahead of the game, given that many recruiters now see work experience as a greater enhancement to your CV than more qualifications.

Also, bear in mind that academic options are not the only ones available.  You can study more vocationally as a chef, costume maker or personal trainer, for example,  to move your career forward, and this could be more cost-effective and take up far less of your time.  Funding is challenging to find for further study, but Professional and Career Development Loans are worth a look, especially to cover shorter, more vocational courses.  We also have information on our web site to help you find potential sources of financial support.

Taking a year out

Many students ask us how employers view a year out after graduation.  Generally, employers tell us that they don’t mind at all, especially if you come back with new skills gained from work experience or travel and are now ready to settle down and focus on the job.  Better to get that urge to volunteer in Africa for six months out of your system now than to start work and realise that your next holiday won’t be longer than a fortnight.

Being self-employed or working as a freelancer

Finally, if you have a skill, product or service that you think you could sell, it’s always worth looking into being self-employed.  It’s not as hard to set up a business as you might think, but keeping things going could be a challenge unless you are very self-disciplined and are prepared to market yourself.  The University’s Research & Enterprise Development (RED) department can help students and graduates to set up their own businesses, provide working space and offer valuable advice on all the essentials such as developing a business plan and managing your accounts.  Get some work experience in a start-up (see above) to see if this way of working would suit you.  The Careers Service also has several books on self-employment in its library, including the very useful Brilliant Freelancer, if that option appeals.

And there you have it – a wide range of options other than graduate schemes to explore.  If you’re not sure about your next step, come in to Careers and speak to our staff about how to find the information and guidance you need.  Good luck!

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser

(Image sourced from: http://suzanneevans.org/2014/01/the-choices-you-make)