Tag Archives: finding jobs

Things that might surprise you about a career in Investment Banking

Things that might surprise you about a career in Investment Banking

At our Investment Banking and Management Consultancy Evening this month, we held a Q&A with representatives from Macquarie, Barclays, Deutsche Bank and HSBC. We heard what it’s like, and what it takes, to work in this fast-paced and exciting sector.  Read on for a few things that might surprise you about a career in investment banking

Learning doesn’t stop when you leave University

The learning curve when you start any new job will be steep, but it’s perhaps particularly true for Investment Banking. For most firms there is an intense training period and, then with new clients and complex problems in an industry that is continuously evolving, the learning will continue throughout your career.  The reward for this is an intellectually challenging and exciting career, but it will be hard work.

You don’t need a degree in Economics or Finance

Banks are increasingly looking to recruit a wide range of talent – from all degree subjects. As long as you can demonstrate a passion and commitment to the career, you will be trained in the technical knowledge you need.

Your potential and skills are what matter most. The top 3 listed by the panel were:

  • Resilience and flexibility to respond well when priorities change
  • Work ethic to work hard and keep learning throughout your career
  • Interpersonal skills to build relationships with clients and your team

A Spring Week or Internship is a great route into the sector … but it isn’t all you need on your CV

Most firms now offer work experience opportunities – from ‘Insight days’ through to Spring Weeks and summer internships. Most also use these to recruit for their graduate roles, so getting on one of these programmes can be a first step to a career in Investment Banking. 

However, this doesn’t mean that other experience doesn’t count. On the contrary, anything you have done that demonstrates your skills and makes you an interesting candidate will help you to stand out.  

Doing your research really does matter  

The work, culture and lifestyle can vary hugely between banks and divisions, so do your research and find where you fit. Start now by looking at our sector pages, and explore company websites. The connect with with alumni and professionals in person and on LinkedIn to find out what it is really like.

There’s no one career path in Investment Banking, so take time to find yours.

 

Getting qualified to teach abroad- is it worth it?

Teaching English Abroad- Getting qualified

In the few months I’ve been working on the Careers Service Welcome Desk I’ve come across many students asking about teaching English abroad. It’s lead me to reflect on my experience – 3 years teaching English in Cambodia, which I would describe as one of the most interesting and fulfilling experiences of my life.

‘So, what are you going to do now?’

When I graduated in Sociology I was faced with the dreaded question ‘So what are you going to do now?’ I had entertained the idea of doing a PGCE, but didn’t feel ready to commit to a career in teaching. After travelling in Southeast Asia and meeting a lot of English teachers I decided that teaching English seemed the most realistic job option for me if I wanted to work abroad. Whilst travelling I met people from a broad range of educational backgrounds; some had PGCEs, others had done online TEFL courses, and some had no qualifications at all. None of them seemed to have difficulty finding teaching work, however, a recurring theme in my conversations was that the more qualified teachers worked in better schools, had greater job security, and higher pay.

 Reality Check

I returned to England with one goal – to get back to the sun, smiles, and cheap beer of South-East Asia as soon as possible! I planned to do a 100-hour online teaching course for around £250, alongside working full-time as a waitress. As I was living with my parents at the time (thanks Mum and Dad!) I worked out I could be on a plane to Bangkok to start my new life within 6 months! However, when I relayed my plan (with much zest) to my dad, he advised that I invest the time and money and gain a qualification that would be recognized by accredited teaching organisations both abroad and the UK. Gaining a recognised qualification could be beneficial in developing a teaching career in the future. My Dad was an ESL lecturer at University of Bristol so I realised that his comments were informed, and subsequently took his advice by investing in a more in-depth training course which resulted in a recognised qualification – the Trinity Cert TESOL.

Back to school

The Trinity Cert TESOL is a 5-week intensive teacher training course comprising modules in Teaching Skills, Language Awareness, Learning an Unknown Language and Reflecting on the Experience, and a Material Assessment. I observed English lessons taught by both experienced TESOL teachers and my peers, and had weekly teaching observations in which I planned and taught English lessons to International students wanting supplementary lunchtime sessions alongside English courses. These sessions were assessed, and I was given feedback and ways to improve after each session. For me this was the most valuable part of the course as it gave me an idea of how much work needed to be put into planning a lesson, and the importance of building rapport with the students. I would have not have gained this insight from doing the 100-hour online course!

The Trinity Cert TESOL

Doing the 5-week Trinity Cert TESOL course was incredibly challenging. I got up at 5.30am to finish lesson plans, studied after school to meet assessment deadlines, and dreamt about grammar and phonology at night! But the hard work paid off, and after 5 weeks I was a qualified TESOL teacher and, as a result, when I went to Cambodia a couple of months later I was able apply for jobs in the well-established international schools that paid better than the local public ones. I got a job at the Australian Centre for Education who trained me to deliver lessons preparing students for IELTS. This is The International English Language Testing System which measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. Having this experience enhanced my CV and helped me secure future jobs. Working at The Australian Centre for Education was a very valuable experience. I built a portfolio of teaching resources, got feedback and advice from experienced   colleagues, and taught students of different ages and abilities.

Was it worth it?

Having a TESOL qualification enabled me to get a better teaching job,but doing the qualification gave me the skills I needed to each, and in both senses, it was definitely worth it. Also, although I have decided not to pursue a career in teaching at this stage in my life the transferable skills I developed in doing the qualification.

Working as a teacher, and living abroad have all greatly enhanced my employability and my self-development so it was worth it in that sense too. I would therefore recommend that anyone considering teaching English abroad to do the Trinity cert TESOL or its CELTA equivalent. Information the CELTA course can be found on the University of Bristol CELFS website.

 

 

 

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.

Missed Media and Creative Industries Week? Here’s a roundup of what went on!

Last week, more than 15 industry experts – most of whom are Bristol alumni – came in to give talks, workshops and present case studies about all things media and creative. Film, TV, radio, publishing, the art world and the importance of having great ideas were all covered – for a list of speakers and their organisations, see our in-depth summary on mycareer.

Kate and Beth iFeatures1

Kate and Beth from iFeatures

Aside from things you’d expect to hear from creative professionals (expect a varied workload, the importance of getting your foot in the door, be innovative, don’t forget ab
out small to medium enterprises and how there’s no one definitive career path), there were a number of themes which youmight not have expected. This blog post will explore those and hopefully give you the opportunity to stand out in these competitive industries.

Watch, listen, read
Not just the people, shows or books you’re interested in or would like to work for – go bigger, immerse yourself! Watch TED talks (recommended by Laura from Speed Communications, highlighting the one on Airbnb), watch shorts and first feature films (tip from Kate O’Hara, Creative England), go to art fairs (Adriana, IESA) and think carefully about audiences (Rob from BBC History magazine had students in his workshop working out who their perfect reader was).

There are no excuses!

Many of our speakers said this exact phrase, multiple times and they’re right. With the amount of free technology, apps and programmes available, there’s no reason not to make your own content, building a portfolio of your work to take to interview or when shadowing somebody. Make your

Publishing Panel

The Publishing Panel

own demo (that was a top tip from Paris Troy, Heart radio), get some videos online (Will Wilkin, Lead Creative and producer for BBC radio) and practise responding to briefs (Gavin from Perfect Storm).

Be prepared

The funniest comedians and presenters have actually spent a very long time preparing their content. So, not only should you be preparing for applications, interviews and meeting industry experts, you should be developing it as a skill. Paris Troy was the guest speaker who spoke most about this and to do so, said you should make sure your organisation, time management and planning s kills are
up to scratch. Finally, a number of speakers including Will Wilkin, BBC Talent Managers Gaynor, Sas and Helen, and Julian Burrett also said be prepared to keep trying, be prepared to develop resilience and be prepared to do anything!

Tell a story

It’s not just about creating ideas – although the ability to do so helps – it’s about standing out and standing up for who you are (Paris Troy and Laura from Speed Communications). When Will Wilkin was talking about the need to tell a story, especially in applications, he said that you should literally tell a story (see his LinkedIn profile for a

Will

Will Wilkin from BBC Radio

n example) and that everyday life is suitable content. Other tips included create an emotional connection (Gavin from Perfect Storm, Laura from Speed Communications) and don’t be generic (Paris). Alongside this, Julian Burrett said it’s good to be open to creativity from others too.

Specialisms

On one hand, you should be an expert in what you do (Julian Burrett) but on the other hand, you need to be versatile (Will Wilkin). You might be generating ideas for multiple platforms (a magazine with an accompanying app, writing cricket news but cutting film about a match too) but you might also be working in a specialist area within the sector. For example, Laura talked about how Speed cover three main divisions: business and corporate, sports and wellbeing, consumer and lifestyle. Similarly, Adriana from the IESA described how the art world, sitting within the creative industries, has sub-sectors which include the dealers, contemporary art, art fairs, insurance and law, investment and client services.

Want more?

BBCTalentManagementTeam

BBC Talent Management Team

This is just an overview of the key themes but if you want more, check out our in-depth summary on mycareer. There’s a list of speakers on there too, as well as lots of information about the different areas of the media industry and creative sector.

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

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.

How to sell your skills and experiences to potential employers. It’s not as difficult as you think!

Spent this year working part-time in Burger King, and wondering why graduate recruiters would be interested in your application? However irrelevant you think your experience might sound, you might be surprised to discover that for a number of graduate and entry level positions, recruiters are more interested in identifying potential. Yes, it’s true that some jobs require specialist knowledge that only specific work experience or a degree can provide. However, at this stage in your career, transferrable skills can play a big part in how employable you are: the key is to make them sound relevant to the job you’re applying for.

So what are transferrable skills?
Transferrable skills refer to the competencies you gain in one particular setting, which you can carry over into other areas of your life. They particularly come in handy when you’re starting your career and don’t have directly relevant experience of working in a specific sector or a similar position before.

There are a number of core skills that most employers are after. Here are a few examples:

  • self-management,
  • communication,
  • problem solving,
  • team working.

When putting your application together think closely about the skills you’ve developed and the experiences you’ve had and how an employer might view them. Remember to provide specific examples of where these skills were gained. Doing this will make you more memorable to employers and will stop your application from sounding too generic.

How do I gain them?
The good news is you will already have some!  Skills are picked up throughout your life: through education, work experience, extra-curricular projects or volunteering. If you’ve worked in a bar or in retail then you will have had experience of providing customer service. Being friendly and approachable and solving customer problems effectively are key skills relevant to all employers. Also being punctual, reliable and trustworthy demonstrates good self-management – these skills will be an attractive prospect for any potential employer.

Alternatively if you’ve ever been involved in a group project at university, or if you play sport, then you’ve worked as a team. This is an opportunity for you to tell employers about how you can recognise and understand the viewpoints of others, appreciate the contributions made by all, and how you have built strong interpersonal skills. Furthermore if you ever had to settle disputes or disagreements while working with a group of people, this would show employers that you possess the ability to problem solve.

Help, I don’t think I have any transferrable skills!
If you feel that you lack some key skills, there is still plenty of time to gain them. Being at university is a great chance to build upon your talents. If you want to improve your communication for example, there are a variety of societies you can join which will help you with this, such as debating societies, drama groups or even the magic society. Additionally you can develop your communication skills by delivering presentations as part of your course. By getting involved in this type of activity, you will be able to demonstrate to employers that you can adopt your style to suit different audiences, and that you are able to speak publicly while overcoming nerves.

The important thing to remember is- you should not be discouraged from applying to something just because you haven’t been in a similar role before. Recruiters look for potential. They want someone who has the right aptitude for the role. So if you can show in your job application or at an interview that you have previously used the skills that they’re after, that you have enthusiasm and the ability to absorb new knowledge, then you will have a great chance of being considered.

Pagan Aspinall, Graduate Intern

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

So you got a 2:2 – what happens next?

 

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It’s the time of year when degree results are announced and, amid all the celebrations, there are some of you for whom things may not have gone according to plan.  There seems to be a lot of pressure on students to achieve a 2:1 these days, but this is really only significant if you are aiming to secure a position on a graduate scheme, as recruiters often use degree classifications to screen the vast numbers of applications they receive.

According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the percentages for those in full-time employment six months after graduation are actually the same for those with Firsts, 2:1s and 2:2s, so things do have a tendency to equalise over time.  Please do bear in mind that only a minority of graduates end up on these large grad schemes each year, so it’s important to take a deep breath and consider your options – of which there are many.  We also recommend taking a look at our previous post What If I Don’t Want a Graduate Scheme? to help you work out what your next step might be.

Some graduate schemes do accept 2:2s

You may be surprised to know that not all graduate schemes require a 2:1 for you to be able to apply.  Some engineering and accounting firms (not the Big Four) will accept a 2:2, and some well-known schemes run by HMRC, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the NHS are all still open to you.  Many firms will also consider applicants with a 2:2 if you contact them to explain any genuinely mitigating circumstances in advance of submitting your application; this will also avoid your being screened out by computer before you have had a chance to explain your situation.

Work your way up & gain experience

You can also prove you have the skills to do the job by taking on a graduate internship or placement.  This offers hands-on experience which will look great on your CV, as well as offering an opportunity to impress while actually doing the work; many internships can work as extended interviews.  Search company websites to see what’s on offer (internships are advertised throughout the year) and try our UoB Internship Scheme, which is open to graduates.  You can find opportunities advertised on the Careers Service website or find your own and talk to us about funding.

Work for a small business

Working for a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) or a start-up could be the perfect way to get your career moving.  Small businesses place the emphasis on skills and work experience when recruiting as they need you to be able to make a contribution straight away and hit the ground running.  Some SMEs advertise with the Careers Service but you should also do your own research, make a shortlist and start calling them directly about what could be available.  These working environments may not offer structured training but you’ll have much earlier responsibility than in a grad scheme, if you can prove the quality of your work, and you will feel as if you are making a difference from the outset.

Think carefully about opting for a Masters

Many graduates immediately start applying for a Masters in the hope that attaining a higher degree will negate having a 2:2.  However, most recruiters will still use your undergraduate degree result for screening if you apply for a graduate scheme, even if you have bagged yourself a Masters.  If you’re thinking about taking the postgraduate study route, talk to the employers you’re interested in working for to find out which specific courses they might view as an enhancement to your profile.  A Masters degree does not necessarily make you more employable in the way that relevant work experience can, so do your homework before making an expensive mistake and taking another year out of the labour market.

What do you really want to do?

Sometimes, not getting what you want offers an important opportunity to take a step back and reflect on other possibilities.  There is a whole world of work out there that doesn’t require a 2:1 and a training scheme.  Come in and talk to a Careers Adviser about what you can do with your skills, what you enjoy and what your next steps could be; there are more job roles out there than you can possibly imagine.  You may decide to work for yourself, take a year out, travel or gain valuable experience before you throw yourself back into the graduate labour market and try again.  Just remember that there are many ways in which you can add value to your CV and impress a potential employer without the magic 2:1 on your transcript.

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser

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

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)