Tag Archives: First years

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.  

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.

Stupidly busy? Be smart and manage your time effectively.

Sometimes it seems there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. With the competing demands of revising for exams, writing essays and applying for jobs, good management of your time is essential.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider if you are filling your time wisely. Are you putting off more challenging tasks by cleaning the house, doing the washing up, checking Facebook? My advice…..

Stop Procrastinating!

  1. Just start – do something (anything) to get the task under-way.
  2. If it’s big, break it down into smaller parts and do a little each day so you don’t feel so daunted by it.
  3. Do one thing at a time. Just because you can do ten things at once doesn’t mean you should. Focusing on one thing at a time means you’ll do better work, finish faster, and move on to other, more enjoyable activities.
  4. A cluttered desk is not helpful. Clear your desk of everything not related to what you are currently doing. This will help you concentrate and focus your attention.
  5. Identify your ‘prime time’. We all have a time of day when we are alert and attentive. The secret is to recognise when this is and do the tasks that require energy, concentration and thought when you’re at your sharpest.
  6. Plan ahead by creating a schedule including study, work, and your personal commitments for the next few months. Then…
  7. Prioritise: to be effective, you need to decide what tasks are urgent and important and focus on these. You’ll feel a real sense of achievement and satisfaction from ticking completed tasks off you list.
  8. Work in blocks of time: try a maximum of an hour before taking a 15min break, this way you’ll concentrate better.
  9. Minimise interruptions by switching off your phone, signing out of social media, turning off alerts and push notifications or asking friends not to disturb you. You can survive without knowing your friends’ latest status update for a few hours.
  10. Give yourself a reward once you complete a task to keep you motivated.

Some people believe they need the chaos of leaving things to the last minute and the pressure of a tight deadline to motivate them: ask yourself whether this is really effective or whether it’s disguised procrastination.

If you just do it now, you can look forward to some real leisure time later without the pressure of future work hanging over you. Breaking tasks down and scheduling work ahead of time also means you won’t get overwhelmed later on. It’s all about delayed gratification and you might actually find you produce better work under less stress.

Claire Wrixon
Careers Adviser

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

New to the Careers Service?


If you’re new to the University of Bristol Careers Service, welcome! We hope you will come and see us in person soon at No.5 Tyndall Avenue. For those of you using the service for the first time, below is a brief explanation of what to expect from your visit.

Making an appointment

Many students who come into the Careers Service wish to speak to an Adviser. With a limited number of slots available per day, and lots of other resources on hand to help,  it will help us, and you, if we ask you a few questions initially to find out if an appointment is right for you at this time.

Firstly, we will ask why you would like to see an Adviser, and how much research or work you have done so far yourself. For example, if you want a CV checking: ‘Have you looked at the CVs, covering letters and applications information on our website?’. Or if you are researching a specific career area: ‘Have you looked at Researching career sectors on our website?’. All of these questions are designed to make sure that we are pointing you in the right direction – we don’t want to waste your time booking you an appointment when we have the answer to your question at our fingertips! 

Where we might refer you

We have lots of resources available for help with various career questions. If you are looking into a specific career, job, or company, we may refer you to the Resources Help Desk first, where our specialist information team will be happy to help. They will either suggest some useful places to begin your research and show you how to use the resources or, if your question is quite complicated, they might take it away to do some research into the best resources for you to explore. Here are some examples of questions we have referred to the Resources Help Desk in the past: ’How do I find out about working abroad?’, ‘How do I find out about smaller graduate schemes – especially as there is very little information available online?’; ‘How do I break into less well-known job roles?’.

We will probably direct you towards our collection of books, journals and other publications, including online information. We have a vast amount of information on various industries and jobs (teaching, media, environment, for example), and we also have information on finding a career, CVs, interviews, psychometric tests, postgraduate study, life as a research student, specific companies and schemes (particularly the big graduate recruiters), as well as living and working abroad – to name just a few! So whatever your careers question, we will have the right resource for you or can help you to find it.

Careers Service Events

The Careers Service also runs a variety of events throughout the year and lots of these take place during the autumn and spring terms:

  • We run events which are designed to help you get a job, by helping you with CVs, application forms and cover letters, then taking you through interviews and assessment centres, or by informing you about key skills, such as understanding commercial awareness.
  • We hold sessions on networking, effective use of social media, creativity and innovation.
  • We also run events which focus on specific careers or key areas of the jobs market – for example, we hold sessions on finding work abroad, or on specific industries, such as journalism or marketing.
  • Some of our sessions are specifically targeted at postgraduate students, international students, or those interested in further study, whether that’s applying for a masters or PhD, or aiming for a research career.

In the autumn term, particularly, we invite many of the largest graduate employers from Bristol and beyond to give presentations and offer students a chance to network with them. In addition, we hold several Careers Fairs each year. The main Fair, for students of all subjects interested in all kinds of graduate jobs, is held in October, and we also run fairs which focus on law, engineering, investment banking and management consultancy, and careers for those who study a science degree.

Please take a few moments to check out our website, which is packed with information including jobs, advice, courses and events.

Updated from original post by Lucinda and Harpreet, Career Service Student Information Assistants

What I wish I had known about the Careers Service in my first year!

This Thursday 23 January we are inviting students to drop in to the Careers Service for a day of talks aimed at first years. Last year we asked Gemma, one of our Information Assistant Interns and a PhD student in the School of Geographical Sciences, to tell us what she wishes she’d known about the Careers Service when she started her degree…

welcome sign

Welcome to the Careers Service [image sourced from morguefile.com]

For those of you who are just a few months into your degree, thinking about your career once you graduate is often not high in the list of priorities. By third year, as deadlines loom and you are frantically trying to finish your eighth job application, many students often regret leaving it to their final year to brave their first steps into Careers (myself included!). However, in today’s competitive job market it is never too early to start using the Careers Service, especially with the wealth of advice, information and help available to first year students. With this in mind, here are some insights as to how you can use the Careers Service effectively in your first year:

1. Explore career options
Are you unsure of what to do when you graduate? You can explore what options are available to you with your degree, find out information about different sectors in our ‘I want to work in…’ pages, or book a 15 minute appointment with a Careers Adviser.

2. Gain a part time job or work experience
One of the most common queries from first year students is how to gain a job. Whether you want a part time job to earn some money whilst studying or an internship to gain valuable work experience, we have many events and useful advice geared towards finding jobs and/or work experience through our JobShop.

3. Develop your employability skills
First year is often the best time to develop your employability skills. Sign up to the Bristol PLuS Award to document and gain recognition for the professional and life skills you gain through university.

4. Stay Informed
Ensure you keep up to date with Careers Service news, events and jobs by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, reading this blog and keeping an eye on our news pages. Not only will these pages provide an insight into the services we offer at Careers, but you might also stumble across your ideal internship or networking opportunity.

Want to find out more?

This Thursday 23rd of January, we are holding an informal Information Day for first year students. Turn up to one of our short talks to find out more about the Careers Service, including: reasons to use us; a tour of the building and our resources; the Bristol PLuS Award and tips for work experience and internships. More information can be found on our events pages. No need to book, just come along. Turn up, have a look around, and sit in on any of the 30-minute talks.

Alternatively, find out more about what the Careers Service does and how we can help any time by coming in any time we are open and speaking to one of our friendly members of staff.

Gemma, Information Assistant Intern, University of Bristol graduate and current student

Not a first year? See also a blog post by two of our student interns for anyone new to the Careers Service.