Tag Archives: Work experience and internships

A Science Laboratory Internship- building on what I’d learnt on my course

During summer this year, I worked in a Biochemistry lab. My work involved looking at biological enzyme reactions which could be useful in biotechnology applications. Though this was a bit more left field than what I was used to in my regular Biochemistry degree, it was not as hard as it seemed. Thankfully, it turned out to be equal parts fun and work.

I found out about the opportunity by speaking to my tutor who suggested that I email labs whose work interested me. I was lucky enough to get a spot in the Anderson lab group after a short informal interview. From there, everything was pretty much settled besides funding, which required a written application and took a month to get a decision on.

As science students, we rarely get to practice our skills outside the lab and this was a great way of getting practical experience with things we usually only see on handout diagrams. It not only gives you lab skills but also general employability skills.

Working as part of a team of 8, I learnt the need for good communication and collaboration. I also got a sense of responsibility and confidence in my work ethic since I needed to be sure of myself and the work I was doing whilst knowing that support was available if needed. I also improved my critical thinking skills because I was always looking to improve my data.

Not only do you get a better understanding of your course since you are practising what you’ve learnt all the time, but you also get valuable work experience!

These skills I have developed will definitely help me in the future. I haven’t yet decided if I will carry on with academia or get a job after my degree, but I know the skills that I gained and developed will be useful to me regardless of where I decide to go.

Greg Pollard – third year Biochemistry student

 

 

Why do the Bristol PLUS Award? A first years perspective.

New pressures

After a challenging two years of A-levels, a laborious UCAS personal statement, and a nerve wracking exam results day, receiving offers from universities was tremendously exciting. Once my place was confirmed at the University of Bristol, I felt immense satisfaction knowing the next direction for my life. However, I did not expect that sense of achievement to be so short lived. Within my first few months of University I came across a news headline: “Work experience is key to graduate success”.

The sense of assurance from reaching University was replaced with questions. Where do we start with work experience? How are we supposed to find relevant work experience if we haven’t found a passion yet, or a desired career path? How will I succeed in interviews if I lack the enthusiasm to work in that specific sector? My first term quickly became daunting.

“Being a first year, I had plenty of time to dedicate to this process!”

Take control

This all changed for me around May 2016, when I completed the Bristol PLUS Award. Thinking about life after University as a first year, I started with the basics. I knew I was going to need a CV that had value. Looking at my CV of my life so far, I noticed that beyond summer work at a pub and my education, there was little substance. I knew then that I needed to develop this while at university, and I was soon to come across the Bristol PLUS Award. Reading quotes from other students stating that “The award leads to infinite possibilities for the future.” And “The plus is not merely an award, it’s a REward.” I thought I better get myself involved.

The first step was an introductory talk at the Careers Service which laid out the Award criteria. 50 hours of work experience, 4 workshops, an intensive skills activity, report and final workshop, achievable? Being a first year, I had plenty of time to dedicate to this process!

Work experience: I started working for a university bar a couple of evenings a week, and had completed 50 hours before I knew it. This gave me valuable experience as part of a team in a high pressure, busy environment. It also improved my time management and organisation skills, balancing my degree and part-time job.

Workshops: I attended mainly Careers Service workshops including an insightful event with the BBC on what skills they value in employable candidates. In addition I went to practical workshops on CVs and interview skills. The latter introduced me to the importance of body language and the impact it can make in an interview.

Intensive skills activity: I volunteered on open days, introducing the campus to prospective students. This honed many skills such as leadership, creativity and the ability to think on my feet. I had learned via the workshops that these were desirable skills to employers.

“The PLUS Award has changed my view on the world beyond university. It has made something that seemed so large and complex, seem much smaller and simpler.”

Transform and grow

The PLUS Award has changed my view on the world beyond university. It has made something that seemed so large and complex, seem much smaller and simpler. In my second year, I got an internship in the Careers Service. One of my projects was reconnecting with PLUS Award graduates, many of whom credit the PLUS Award as integral to their success beyond university. The best way to get ahead is by getting started, and the Bristol PLUS Award is an exceptional place to start.

By Finn Morgan, Geography BSc

The Bristol PLUS Award 2017-18 reopens on the 18 of September 2017. Read the website and book your place at an introductory talk for more information and to take part.

Getting the most out of your summer job

For some, the summer vacation is the opportunity to travel or volunteer in other parts of the world. Some will have been lucky enough to secure a summer internship in their chosen industry, and some will choose to earn money through a job seemingly unrelated to their career plan. If you fall into this last category, and think that your summer job is simply about saving up for the next academic year…think again.

Working in industries, such as retail, tourism and hospitality, offer you an excellent opportunity to develop, and provide evidence of, your employability skills.  These skills, which are “the skills almost everyone needs to do almost any job”, were ranked by employers as the most important factor when recruiting graduates (CBI Education & Skills Survey, 2016).

Throughout your summer employment, take the opportunity to reflect on what you do, and look for ways to develop and demonstrate your skills.  Doing this now will provide you with practical examples to provide to future potential employers when applying for graduate jobs.

Here are five skills you could develop while working this summer:

  • Communication

Customer service roles are an excellent way to demonstrate how you communicate.  Think about all the people that you interact with (customers, colleagues, managers), how you communicate with them (face-to-face, telephone, email) and the purpose of your communication (greeting, explaining, persuading, listening).

  • Initiative

Even if it is a temporary job, show your initiative by looking for opportunities to accept more responsibility or make a positive difference.  Consider offering to train a new team member, or considerately suggest a new process that could improve sales or business performance.

  • Readiness to Improve

Request feedback and act on it to improve your performance. Not only does this show professionalism and a desire to be the best that you can, it will help you to identify any areas for improvement before applying for graduate jobs.

  • Problem Solving

This doesn’t have to be something worthy of a global news report! Solving a problem could be implementing a new email filing system that improves the speed of responding to client enquiries, or appeasing an upset customer.

  • Team Working

Whether you are working for a small business or a large organisation, it is likely that your summer job will enable you to demonstrate how you work with other people. Think about how you cooperate with others to complete a task and how working together can improve efficiency or business performance.

No matter what job you do, make sure that you get the most from your summer job by investing time in reflecting on your experience, and updating your CV to demonstrate the skills that you have.  

The Spring Careers Fair 2017

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

New for 2017: careers fair app

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

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

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

Bristol PLUS celebration

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

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

Careers Service pop-up event & Bristol Opportunities area

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

Employers love Bristol students

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

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

“Very inquisitive students.”

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

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

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

Missed out? You can still catch up

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

Using the Careers Service – a first year student’s perspective.

In September I moved from my sleepy village in North Devon to the wonderful city of Bristol, and was excited to open my arms to all the city had to offer. I was able to move into my halls a week before the rest of my housemates, and as everyone in my halls knows; I used this time wisely!

One of the first things that I did was to visit the Careers Service. I knew that I wanted to work alongside my academic studies, and I wanted to find something as relevant as possible. Before visiting, I spent a couple of hours looking through their website to get an understanding of what services they provide, and to create a list of questions to ask in person.

joshua-greenidge

The Bristol Internship Scheme really stood out to me. After reading I could find an internship myself I knew I wanted to apply. I had just got back to the UK after spending the summer experimenting with photography in Vancouver. I knew that an internship in this area would enable me to continue this work, provide me with an income, and compliment my academic studies. The next day I went to the Careers Service and found that applying to the Bristol Internship Scheme was a lot easier than I first imagined. Quite surprisingly after making a lot of calls, I found an internship with a photographer a week after moving to Bristol!

I am now coming to the end of my two month photography internship and it has been extremely informative and a great way to compliment my studies. I was also happy to find out that this work could be used towards the Bristol PLUS Award, so I signed up for an int roductory talk and chose to attend Basecamp workshops and other intensive skills activities leading me to achieve the Award in December.

No-one else on my course knew about the Bristol PLUS Award, and hadn’t thought about using the Careers Service so early in their studies. There are some great reasons for using these services in your first year. Firstly, the activities on offer are really complimentary to first year studies! One of the best things about completing the PLUS Award so early has been improving on my verbal communication skills which has increased my confidence in seminars. Secondly, by completing the Award in your first year you open up a competitive lead by freeing up time in your second and third years to pursue other national or international awards and prizes, experiment by starting a new business, or volunteer or take extra internships. As the graduate jobs market changes over the coming years this is going to be of great benefit and will allow you to make the most of your time at university!

The next step for me in the New Year is to attend more of the application skills workshops at the Careers Service, and apply for the Outstanding Award. I’m also planning to look for an internship for 2017 in the creative industries. If you have just joined the University this September, and have been thinking about getting a New Year’s challenge; the Careers Service is a great place to start!

By Joshua Greenidge

Foundation Year in the Arts and Humanities

Making the Most of Your Summer

Exams are almost over and it’s nearly time for a well-deserved summer break. Travelling, volunteering abroad and summer placements are popular ways to build your skills and experience during the long stretch of time between June and September, but don’t worry if you haven’t got one of them lined up as there are plenty of things that you can do to make the most of your summer.

Four things that you can do to make the most of your summer

  1. Volunteer in the UK – Volunteering is a fantastic way to help others and give something back to the community. Not only that, it can also help you to gain valuable experience, especially if you are thinking of going into an industry such as media, charity, heritage or other areas where it’s more difficult to secure paid work. If you’re not sure about what you might want to do after university, volunteering can also be a good short-term way of finding out what an industry is like to help you narrow down your choices.
  2. Work Shadow – Similar to volunteering, work shadowing is a great way to gain exposure to an industry that you think might interest you, but in this case it’s likely to be far more short-term and hands off, maybe only a week at a time. Lots of companies are happy to allow someone in just to observe, and it has the added benefit of helping you meet a wider variety of people and build up your crucial professional network!
  3. Read – Reading is a fantastic way to spend your spare time; whether you’re on the beach, in a park, or listening to the rain outside your window you can settle down and get stuck into a good book. Think about using part of your holiday to dig into some of your more interesting course material, read through articles to build your commercial awareness, or just to relax and get stuck into a novel that you’ve been meaning to get around to!
  4. Work on a Personal Project – Is there a project that you’ve not managed to find the time for? Now that your lectures, assignments and exams are out of the way, pour some of your energy and time into something that really interests you. You could aim to write a blog post or an online article on a topic that you’re passionate about, try to build an app that you had an idea for, or even start writing up a plan for your own business idea.

If you need any help with your career planning, don’t forget that the Careers Service is still open as normal for the next few weeks and then for slightly reduced hours over the summer months:

21 June 2016 – 16 September, 1.30 pm – 4.45pm Monday to Friday
(Careers Service closed Monday 20th June)

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.

So you want to get into wildlife TV?

Guest post by Liz Bell

Bristol is a great place to be if you want a career in television production. It’s renowned for the wildlife and factual programmes made by the BBC and the many independent companies based here, and with its close-knit professional community it’s an excellent alternative to the sometimes cut-throat London scene.

But if you’ve done your research, you’ll know that it’s not easy to get your foot in the door. Competition is fierce, jobs are rarely advertised and everybody wants someone with tons of experience (which you haven’t got because no one will give you a chance).

As a former TV producer, I get a lot of questions from people wanting to break into the TV industry. So here are my top tips to answer that perennial question: as a recent or soon-to-be Bristol graduate, how can you make yourself stand out from the crowd and get a job?

  1. Ask for work experience

It’s extremely unusual to get a job in a TV company without having done some work experience first. This usually takes the form of a week or so of unpaid work with an independent production company (a company that gets commissioned by broadcasters to make programmes).

Do your research online to find what companies are out there, and send them a CV and cover letter explaining that you want to do work experience with them.

  1. Show, don’t tell

It’s an old TV cliché – don’t tell your audience something if you can show it instead. TV companies get countless letters and emails from graduates who are “truly passionate about wildlife” and who have “loved wildlife documentaries from a young age.”

If you are as passionate as you say you are, get out there and volunteer with a wildlife trust, create a wildlife blog, make your own short films with your phone. The important thing is to show initiative, and a willingness to put some effort in.

  1. Edit your CV

If you’ve had the same CV since secondary school, it’s time to change it. No one is going to care what GCSEs you got, or whether you worked part-time in a shoe shop during school.

Give your CV a title – your name, and ‘Entry-level Runner/Researcher’ will do. Then start with a short, factual paragraph summarising who you are, including anything that makes you unique, eg: “Recent Zoology graduate with [strong writing skills / an interest in marine life / a keen interest in British wildlife] looking for work experience to start a career in wildlife TV production.”

Next put any relevant skills and experience – like making your own films, ability to take photographs well, being able to use Photoshop or any editing software, any PADI (diving) qualifications, driving licence, etc.

If you have any relevant work experience already, put that next, and only then put your academic qualifications. You don’t need anything before A Levels, and you don’t need much detail about your degree unless your honours project involved a specialist area you might want to expand on.

Finally, include two references – if you haven’t got a TV-related one, a university tutor/lecturer who knows you well, or someone you have volunteered for, are both fine.

  1. Make the most of opportunities

Jobs in TV, and opportunities for work experience, rarely fall into your lap. You have to go out there and look for them, which involves networking with people and keeping yourself in the front of their minds for the next time an opportunity arises.

Go to relevant events, meet people, email producers of TV programmes you’ve enjoyed. If someone offers you advice, always follow up and keep in touch, as it will make them more likely to think of you when they need a runner.

Once you get offered some work experience, or even land your first job, don’t sit back and think you’ve made it! TV work is almost all contract-based, and jobs are given largely based on recommendations. So make yourself useful, be polite and remember that even if you’re doing a week of work experience for free, you need the company far more than they need you.

  1. Be prepared for a career in TV

TV production is hard to get into mainly because so many people want to do it – and with good reason – it can be exciting, rewarding and very interesting. But as anyone who has worked in the industry for any length of time will tell you, it can also be stressful, frustrating and often mundane.

Short contracts mean no long-term job security, it’s hard to keep a work-life balance, and the majority of the time it takes to make a programme is spent in the office rather than filming animals in exotic locations.

In other words, keep your expectations realistic, and don’t expect it to be a dream job all of the time. If you know what you’re letting yourself in for and you follow some of these tips, you stand a great chance of getting started in a successful and fulfilling TV career.

Liz Bell is a Bristol graduate (Biology BSc) and former TV Development producer (working on and pitching ideas for new programmes). She worked in Bristol at the BBC Natural History Unit and at various independent production companies, as well as in Melbourne, Australia. She now lives in Birmingham and works as a communications consultant and writer for the charity sector.

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.

Getting into the field of wildlife conservation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what are your next steps?

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

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

                                                                                        Alice Lawrence, final year Zoology student