Tag Archives: skills development

Intensive Skills for the Bristol PLUS Award – Make it count!

As the deadline for the Bristol PLUS Award looms on the 9 of June, and the last Intensive Skills day has passed, we thought it might be useful to talk about other ways to fulfil the Intensive Skills Activity section of the Bristol PLUS Award.

Your Intensive Skill Activity needs to fulfill the following criteria:

  • gained employability-related skills.
  • participated in an interactive manner.
  • committed for a minimum of 6 hours.
  • reviewed the skills you have gained from the activity/event.

The below are suggestions to give you some inspiration and are NOT exhaustive, we encourage you to find your own activity that is most relevant and beneficial to you!

  • Media & Creative Industries Week – Monday 20 to Friday 24 March. A unique opportunity to meet professionals from the media and creative industries, including some University of Bristol Alumni! Gain an invaluable insight into what employers are looking for, and how to break into your chosen sector! Did you know that if you attend 6 hours worth of these workshops this will qualify as your Intensive Skill activity?
  • Have you considered tutoring? –  Action tutoring recruit on a rolling basis so at this stage of the year where a lot of things seem to be winding down it is an ideal opportunity to gain some valuable experience and tick off those 4 criteria.
  • Try your hand at sports coaching! –  Any type of coaching certificate of qualification can be used including PADI dive certificates.
  • Become a First Aider! – The Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance run affordable First Aid courses.
  • Workplace training/shadowing – If you want to learn more about the sector you are interested in this is an ideal opportunity! Check out our resources on speculative applications to plan your approach.
  • How about a charity fundraising event? Comic relief is just around the corner, visit their page for suggestions of fundraisers you could run or be part of!

What have previous students done? What haven’t they done!?

Achieved their Pilots license – Learnt a new language – Mentored A-level students – Completed an online MOOC – Been on the Goldney Ball Committee – Led expeditions to the Peruvian Amazon – Had seats on the European Youth Parliament – Edited an online magazine – Organised plays – Taught children to code – Been trained to be part of Nightline and Drinkaware – Led conservation talks for children – Kept elderly people company as a “Chatter” – Volunteered at festivals, farms, and even Volcanology labs!

So what are you waiting for? The possibilities are endless!

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

Working alongside your studies – more than just a job?

With expensive tuition fees and high living costs, many students find themselves taking on part time work in the holidays and in term time to supplement their income. For the majority of us, the financial benefits of part time work are the primary motivation. In such a competitive job market, landing any part time job can feel like an achievement, and students rarely give much thought to the other benefits of working alongside your studies.

During my time at Bristol I have had a variety of part time jobs. They have ranged from grotty bar jobs to the crème de la crème of student jobs, working as a member of the University of Bristol Careers Service. Certainly, supplementing my income was an important consideration when seeking out work. However, I have found I have gained an immense number of less quantifiable things that have both allowed me to develop as a person and broadened my horizons.

Given the difficulties many graduates face in finding work after university, any form of part time work is a great way to distinguish your application, and provide evidence of important skills such as time management, initiative, commercial awareness and communication. When facing the dreaded competency interview, having examples from previous employment has been essential. With creative job hunting and a little luck, it is possible to find a position that will give you valuable professional experience in a sector you’re interested in, putting you streets ahead of many graduates. Even if you’re not fortunate to be in a part time job relevant to your future career, you will still come away with many key transferable skills. Another advantage to part time work people rarely consider is that it can help narrow down your seemingly endless career options. Deciding the hospitality industry is definitely not for your after endless gruelling night and weekend shifts can be almost as valuable as stumbling across a field you are really passionate about.

Aside from the all-important professional experience, working part time at university has many other advantages. The university experience has a tendency to immerse you in a bubble and insulate you from much of the outside world. Coming to work and interacting with people from different backgrounds and at different stages in their lives can be very refreshing and help you to develop perspective. Similarly, making new friends who live outside of student areas allows you to discover areas of your university town or city you would never have ventured into. Some of my fondest memories and favourite places in Bristol would have remained undiscovered were it not for my work friends.

Without doubt, a pay cheque every month has boosted my student experience and my finances. However it has also provided me with greater self-assurance and confidence and a head start on many of my peers when it comes to seeking graduate employment. Your wages at the end of the month may be your main motivation for part time work, but there is a lot more to be gained than just a positive bank balance.

Ciara McKibbin, Careers Service Information Assistant Intern