Tag Archives: PLUS Award

Postgraduate Researchers: stand out with the Bristol PLUS Award

Postgraduate Research students; why not challenge yourself this year and develop a range of skills and experiences to enhance your career prospects and opportunities after your research? Last year PGRs from all faculties took part in the Bristol PLUS Award. The feedback was fantastic, as these case studies show:

Hannah Barber: Part-time Medicine PhD

As a part-time PhD student, my schedule can be very busy. The PLUS Award provided me with a great opportunity to enhance my employability skills and CV without consuming too much time. The award encourages you to take part in extra-curricular activities which will help you seek out a career. The experience enhances your reflective skills which I found could also be transferred to my daily research.

Through the PLUS Award I learnt about career opportunities beyond research. It taught me how to lay out my CV in a clear and concise manner which will attract a future employer’s attention. I found the whole experience very useful and would recommend it to anyone who is keen to make their CV stand out from the crowd.


Ji Youg Li: PhD: Philosophy

Doing well in postgraduate research is not only about academic success, it is also important to develop transferable skills. In signing up for the Bristol PLUS Award I wanted to engage in activities that would be beneficial for my career. I branched out in the variety of activities for my work experience and had fun as well! I also became more productive in my academic work, as I learnt skills in maximising my time and effort.

Through PLUS I gained insight into how to articulate my skills to others, how to reflect on my experiences and how I can apply transferable skills to career-related opportunities as a PGR student. The employability workshops were especially helpful, breaking down the key points needed to enhance my CV and prepare for interviews. The great thing about the PLUS award is that it encourages you to try new things and go outside of your comfort zone. Bristol PLUS was not simply an ‘award’ but a source of inspiration for me to keep being proactive, and to continue to practice and apply my skills. I really enjoyed my experience; the award offers an invaluable experience for PGRs so I would definitely recommend it.

David Dewar:  MPhil: Music

Though a somewhat mature PGR, the Plus Award seemed a useful and potentially helpful achievement. I started thinking about how I could use the award in my own situation.

The workshops were relevant to my future aims, and were also interesting and not too time consuming. Reflection on what one has achieved was a further rewarding feature. More recently I have learnt from interviewers in academia, industry and music that the record of such an achievement on a CV stands out and demonstrates your abilities, achievements, and self-endeavours; very valuable skills to advertise when backed up by formal recognition from the University of Bristol. I would recommend it to everyone, particularly PGRs; it’s enjoyable and meaningful.





Visit the Careers Service website to find out more about the Bristol PLUS Award and book on to an Introductory talk before  9 February 2018. Intro talks are open to all students and PGR tailored Intro talks are offered on  19 October  and 19 January.

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.

Why PGRs should do the Bristol PLUS Award

This year we’ve been running new tailored PGR Introductory talks for the Bristol PLUS Award and suggested work experience and intensive skills activities that are relevant to PGRs thinking about academic and non-academic careers. This has seen up-take of the Award amongst PGRs increase by 667%! Below Miquel and Oli talk about what benefits they got from doing Bristol PLUS.

Miquel Perello-Nieto: Computer Science PhD

The Bristol PLUS Award encourages you to be more proactive during postgraduate study. To complete it you must accomplish a set of requirements, involving different skillsets. By participating in the PLUS Award you increase your chances of getting a job by attending workshops on, for example, job hunting, networking, or interview skills.

The workshops

I attended a workshop about creative job searching that offered a set of useful tools to find jobs, and emphasised the importance of networking in this process. I also learnt about assessment centres and what to expect in the selection process, and attended a very useful workshop about enterprise, innovation, and communication for researchers. These helped develop my skills in giving effective presentations of my research, and a clearer mindset for tackling common problems faced by researchers. I am now more confident when presenting my research, and am also more organised when preparing for meetings, taking notes, and summarising afterwards.

The benefits

The Bristol PLUS Award has improved my skills, and is really useful in encouraging a proactive habit for learning and appreciating a set of skills not acquired during a postgraduate degree. I am now more prepared to find a job and make a good impression – the next step is to find a job!

Oli Bell: Medicine PhD

The Bristol PLUS Award allowed me to gain accreditation for work I was already performing, and helped strengthen my applications. It will demonstrate to potential employers that I take career development seriously, and that I am taking strides towards enhancing my employability skills.

I first read about the Bristol PLUS Award whilst browsing the Bristol Doctoral College’s course system. When I attended the introductory talk I had already completed the vast majority of tasks required to complete the award. The mainstay of tasks I completed were in relation to my intended future career path in teaching and research, so it was easy to fit in around my study.

Work experience and workshops 

Throughout the Bristol PLUS award there were several workshops and opportunities available through the Careers Service, as well as the possibility to use external workshops. To develop my teaching skills, I worked as a tutor with the company MyTutor, who offer online tuition for GCSE and A-level pupils in an interactive online classroom. I attended education workshops and undertook the ‘starting to teach’ course offered by the Bristol Doctoral College, which constituted my intensive skills activity. During this time, I gained insight into the challenges of teaching in university, and began to work on techniques in teaching. I also gained skills in lab demonstration, and this will undoubtedly strengthen any future applications I make in this area.

The benefits

The booking and submission process were easy, and fully-integrated online, allowing you to submit from anywhere, and to complete the Award at your own pace. This was very convenient for me as I needed to fit work toward it around my busy schedule.

In summary, I feel the Bristol PLUS award can only strengthen a CV, as it helps you develop core skills that serve to enhance future job applications.


Further information:

For more information and to find out how to sign-up for Bristol PLUS next year, read our Bristol PLUS Award webpages.

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!

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.


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

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?


Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR as it is more commonly known, describes the way a company accounts for the impact of its business activities. This includes:

  • Impacts on the environment – use of resources, impacts on climate change
  • Impacts on social needs – poverty, equality, health, promoting strong communities with the resilience to cope with change, support for youth, education, older people
  • Impacts on cultural heritage – the importance of diversity and the protection of the things we value as our heritage.

The CSR definition used by Business for Social Responsibility (http://www.bsr.org/en/) is: ‘operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business.’

CSR is a top priority for many organisations today and employers increasingly want evidence that potential employees have clear ethics and a good understanding of the role CSR plays within businesses.

“Having strong CSR platforms enables companies to conduct their business in a way that is ethical, whilst taking account of their social, economic and environmental impact. It is important that as potential employees of a company you fully understand the role CSR plays within the business, it’s main purpose in fulfilling their goals and mission and how it is now seen as an important way to increase competitive advantage, protect and raise brand awareness and build trust with customers and employees”.

Martyn Flynn, Talent Acquisition Manager, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Every organisation interacts with employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders. CSR is about managing these relationships to produce an overall positive impact on society, whilst making money.

Companies approach CSR in different ways and it’s likely that organisations will have several CSR activities. Many companies start with small projects such as giving money to charity or creating recycling policies because these activities are quick and easy to decide on and implement. The Green Impact scheme developed at Bristol is a good example of this: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/environment/green_impact.  Ideally, organisations will move towards CSR strategies that focus on truly adding value for the business and society.

Below are a few examples of what real businesses are doing to address CSR:

Having knowledge of CSR is now part of the Bristol PLuS Outstanding Award requirments. Find out more on the Bristol PLuS Award webpages: http://www.bris.ac.uk/careers/plusaward/Index.asp

Jenny Smith, Bristol PLuS Award Coordinator

University of Bristol Internship Scheme: finding the right track for your career

The Internship Scheme is now open again, enabling students and recent graduates to gain high-quality, paid work experience, and organisations find the right talent for their businesses.

Last year’s pilot was a wonderful success, and we’re looking to build upon it this year by increasing the number of opportunities available.

The scheme is open to all current students and recent graduates, and aims to present students with internship opportunities in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) nationwide, as well as charities, non-government organisations, social enterprises and start-ups.


The benefits of undertaking an internship can be manifold. They include:

  • Looking great on your CV, potentially giving you a competitive edge in the job market.
  • Helping you with your career choices, possibly leading to a permanent position with a company.
  • Expediting the growth of your professional network as you meet people working in your chosen industry.
  • Giving you the opportunity to demonstrate and develop transferable skills, such as teamwork and commercial awareness.
  • Contributing to the Bristol PLuS Award.

Get involved

Internship opportunities will be posted online on our JobShop over the course of the year. For application tips and advice, see our ‘Internship Advice’ blog post and the Careers Service website.

Students are also encouraged to contact organisations speculatively if they have an idea about a particular sector or business they are interested in pursuing and then to get in touch with our Internship Manager.

Student view

The response from students who undertook an internship as part of the scheme last year has been very positive. Rachel Hosie, an undergraduate in the School of Modern Languages, enjoyed a successful internship at a local SME that matched her interests in social media and also presented an opportunity for extended employment:

Back in March of this year, I was looking for a paid internship for the summer to earn some money, but also to gain some valuable work experience. I searched on the Careers Service website and stumbled across an opportunity for an internship with a new social media start-up company based in Bristol. It sounded right up my street, so immediately sent in my CV and covering letter. Soon after, I had a fascinating interview with the Managing Director, Creative Director and Technical Director, which resulted in me getting the Social Media Intern position!

They explained to me just how much they appreciated the support of the scheme as it allowed them to employ someone else (me!) which they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise as they were a new company. I’d originally thought the internship would be full time for four weeks in the summer, but instead, I started my work as a part-time job, to be spread out over four months with the money from the University. This worked brilliantly for both me and the company, and since the four months has come to an end, the organisation has carried on my employment with them as a part-time job now that they have the money to pay me themselves. I’ve learnt a lot as a result of my work experience, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the internship scheme to other students.’

Want to find out more? Take a look at our UoB Internship Scheme webpage.

Dr Hannah Mossman, Internship Manager

How was your summer?


A common question heard over the last few weeks as campus starts to liven up. “Busy!” is the answer you normally hear as the  days of university staff relaxing with their feet up over July and August when the lecture theatres and labs are empty are long gone. So busy doing what exactly?

Business as usual

Since we moved to Tyndall Avenue last year, we have a 66.8% increase in people visiting the Careers Service with over 24,000 visits, and this summer has been no exception with it being busier than ever.

Lots of queries about CVs and applications from students and graduates starting early – and even some interview practice for people already getting through the selection process for September 2013 starts. We have also been chatting with students and grads over the phone and via e-mail when they haven’t been in Bristol.

Employer updates

We also have time to catch up with employers to make sure that the advice and information we give you is the most up to date. By the end of September we will have met with:

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • BT
  • Unilever
  • E-ON
  • Jaguar Landrover
  • Dyson
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Ernst & Young
  • KPMG
  • HW Fisher
  • Freshfields
  • Accenture
  • Fidelity
  • ACCA
  • PwC
  • RM
  • Nationwide
  • Amadeus
  • Decathlon
  • Alacrity
  • Barclays
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Hitachi
  • Capital
  • Nair & Co
  • Bloomberg
  • Addleshaw Goddard.

We make sure that all this information is updated on our Careers Catalogue and employer files in the Careers Service for potential applicants.

What’s more, the Internship team has been in touch with local smaller companies to increase the amount of internships that we can offer next year after some great feedback from companies and students involved in our pilot last year:

 “An invaluable foot in the door” / “It’s a scheme that works; a great avenue to get paid for relevant work experience” / “One of the best things I’ve done at University” / “Excellent interns” / “The calibre of the student we took on was extremely high”

It’s going to be a busy Autumn Term….

Whatever the media is saying about graduate jobs, employers definitely want to recruit at Bristol. They were still holding events on campus in June and they have been booking to be on campus in the Autumn earlier than ever. The Careers Fairs are mostly full now and there is even a waiting list for the 2 day Engineering and IT Fair which has been fully booked since the end of July. Over 100 employers have booked individual presentations too and they’re planning to do even more unusual things this year to grab your attention – watch this space…

We also have a full programme of employers involved in our workshops this year – including new employers like Waitrose, Bain Consulting, Coca Cola, ATOS and Thales. Keep an eye on the events programme to book your places on events such as ‘Know your strengths’,’ Introduction to corporate social responsibility’, ‘How to stand out from the crowd’, ‘Presenting with confidence’.

Bristol PLuS Awards

Jenny, the coordinator of all things PLuS , has been looking at the feedback from last year and putting together even more support for PLuSers in 2012. “New developments include induction session, and our fantastic new video which explains all about the Award. Also, for students going for the Outstanding Award there will be even more advice and tips though workshops”. Employers are keener than ever to be involved with the Award and there are 5 intensive skills days planned for the Autumn Term. You can keep updated through the Facebook page.

Information overload

When you get a delivery for 80 boxes of publications weighing 1 tonne (the delivery guy’s estimate not mine!) you know it’s the Autumn Term. The Times Top 100, TARGETjobs GET directory and the Guardian Top 300 guides have all landed and waiting to be scooped up. Alongside these, the Information Team have been making sure that all the resources are up to date from print folders and books to the website, including the latest information about what Bristol graduates have gone on to do

Call in or check out the website to find out what else is new for 2012-2013

Sara Whittam, Careers Adviser