Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Employer Monday: Morgan Stanley

📥  Career Choice, Diversity, Employer Visit Report, Sector Insight

Welcome back to another Employer Monday blog post! If you read my previous blogs you’ll recall I often talk to employers to find out how they might like to work with Universities and recruit our students. Remember; I’m not a Careers Advisor, this is not advice or guidance, but I’m happy to share my experiences with you!
And, as ever, bear in mind my fickle nature which is prone to falling for every new employer!
The employer visit I’ll tell you about today is a Morgan Stanley…

GETTING THERE
Who doesn’t love a trip to Canary Wharf! Super-busy, clever people running between meetings in power suits and trainers, hugging espressos and smart phones; huge, USA-style buildings made of glass, glittering in the daylight; it is rather like being in New York. But cleaner…
It’s a quick train and Tube ride to Canary Wharf from Bath – no more than 2 hours door-to-door on a good day. Finding Canary Wharf is a breeze – finding a specific bank in Canary Wharf is trickier as whilst they like their buildings big and flashy, they seem to go minimal when it comes to signage! Morgan Stanley like to trick you too – they have not one building on Canary Wharf but two! Fortunately the whole place feels no bigger than campus so even I wasn’t disorientated for long.

WHAT ABOUT MORGAN STANLEY?
It’s another huge, global investment bank right? I must admit, now I have visited a few I am slightly jaded (I know, me! The eternal optimist). They all have amazing graduate programmes, they all have opportunities by the bagful for bright, young things keen to cut their teeth in the world of Finance.
Morgan Stanley are not dissimilar; you can work in Sales and Trading, Global Capital Markets, Quantitative Finance, Investment Banking. You can do Spring Insight, Internships, Graduate Programmes.
But what I liked about Morgan Stanley was their attitude to their own staff. I heard from a chap who joined Morgan Stanley ten years ago having performed very poorly in his Zoology degree and floated between jobs and travelling for a number of months after graduation. After almost a year, he started on a graduate scheme at Morgan Stanley and hasn’t looked back. Now MD of Institutional Equity Division he admitted he still didn’t really ‘get’ finance but his job was to be good with people and win new business and Morgan Stanley had recognised in him, and enabled him to develop, this skillset to succeed.
Morgan Stanley were very clear that there ‘was no room for egos’ and the principle of working there is that you succeed and fail as a team. They have two graduate intakes per year and even these can be negotiated because they encourage new recruits to take a break or go travelling after completely their studies. One-to-one support is provided for new recruits – especially if your degree discipline is not in Finance. Morgan Stanley feel very strongly that they are recruiting the ‘right people’ (but from a mix of degree disciplines, backgrounds, etc) so if things aren’t working out they look at what they are doing wrong; have they got someone in the wrong position or department? After a period, graduates are offered the chance to move in the organisation to find a better fit.
Now I know that lots of big corporates are now talking about diversity and how they treat their staff, but looking back at Morgan Stanley’s history, it does appear that they’ve always had a bit of a social conscience; back in 1940 they raised $1.5million (that was a lot back then) for the US Committee for the Care of European Children.

So here I go again, considering a career change! I don’t have a Finance degree but I’m no Zoologist either, I’m sure there will be something…
If you fancy working somewhere like Morgan Stanley, have a peek at their website for more on Graduate Programmes and the like. And don’t forget to compare the competition; check out Goldman Sachs or Charles Schwab for a start.

 

Make volunteering count on your CV!

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📥  Advice, Career Development, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized, Work Experience

Make volunteering count on your CV!

 

volunteer

From 19 - 25 February 2018 Student Volunteering Week is celebrating the contribution and impact of student volunteers and encouraging even more students to get involved! In the spirit of volunteering I am re-posting a blog entry on how to make volunteering count on your CV, as I believe volunteering can be just as valuable as paid work for many jobs out there.

If you are interested in seeing what events are happening on campus during Volunteering Week, check out the SU website: https://www.thesubath.com/vteam/student_volunteering_week/


Volunteering work can be equally as useful as paid work experience when it comes to applying for jobs and many students forget to emphasize their volunteering experience on their CV or don’t include it at all. Here are some tips on how you can make your volunteering count on your CV.

·         Some organisations value voluntary experience more than others

If you hope to make a career in the third sector or within international development, you may not be selected for an interview unless you have some volunteering experience! If you have relevant volunteering experience this needs to be emphasized in your CV and show up on the first page, under “Relevant Experience” or “Work Experience”. Too many times I have seen relevant volunteering experience hidden in the achievements or interests section, where employers may not see it. Remember, an employer usually only skims through a CV during the first selection process for a job!

·         Volunteering gives you transferable skills

You may not have any volunteering experience that is relevant for the actual job you are applying to, but that does not mean that your experience wasn’t useful. If you worked successfully in a team, mention it on a CV. If you worked in budgeting, this can emphasize your numerical skills or if you worked in fundraising, this may have increased your skills in persuasion. Look into more details about what skills the job is asking for and have a think about how your volunteering experiences can give you examples of those skills, and remember to include any specific achievements.

·         Tailor your volunteering experiences to company values

Have a read through the values of the company and tailor your volunteering experiences accordingly. Perhaps the company you are interested in have sustainability high on their agenda? Then your volunteering experience in environmental conservation may be relevant. Or maybe the company likes to be engaged in the local community? What then about your volunteering experience in a local charity? Make sure to highlight the most relevant volunteering experiences.

·         Make international volunteering count

Apart from following the tips above, if you have volunteered in certain countries or areas of the world, this may be beneficial for an international company to know about. Your increased interpersonal skills and increased international awareness may be extra worth for companies that have projects or networks in those particular regions.

To summarize, my final piece of advice is to tailor, tailor, tailor your volunteering experiences to the job you are applying for. What would be important for the employer to know about you? How can your volunteering experience benefit the company / organisation? How can your volunteering experience show who you are?

Book a quick query with a careers adviser if you need any support in writing your CV, or attend one of our workshops or talks. Book an appointment or a place on a talk through MyFuture.

Additional resources:

https://www.bathstudent.com/volunteer/

https://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/public-service-charity-and-social-work/advice/288223-volunteer-your-way-to-a-graduate-job

https://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network

 

Employer Monday: Unlocked Grads

📥  Career Choice, Employer Visit Report, Labour Market Intelligence, Sector Insight

Hey everybody, Employer Services Manager here again – for more employer insights! If you read my previous blogs you’ll recall I often talk to employers to find out how they might like to work with Universities and recruit our students. As I’ve said before; I’m not a Careers Advisor, this blog post is not about giving advice or guidance, but I’m happy to share my experiences with you! I sometimes get carried away with my giddiness at learning about new places so please make sure to double-check my account against official websites…

And also remember that whilst I am officially an adult, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and my fickle ambitions change every time I speak to a new employer!

The employer I’ll tell you about today is a bit different – Unlocked Grads.

Who are they?

Due to the nature of their business (which I’ll explain in due course), I didn’t visit Unlocked Grads but rather had lengthy conversations with them. Set up by the Ministry of Justice on the back of a 2015 commissioned report, Unlocked Grads is a relatively new organisation.

The premise of their business is basically recruiting graduates into prison jobs. It really intrigued me – I have never had ambitions to work in prisons but it definitely piqued my interest when I considered the opportunities and challenges! Surely it is rewarding to contribute to someone’s rehabilitation back into society? But at the same time, it’s all a bit scary!! And how do they make this appealing to graduates?

So what is it all about?

Unlocked Grads offer a two year programme of experience in the prison service with the opportunity to complete a masters. The scheme is open to career-changers as well as graduates and they aren’t worried about your degree discipline or previous work experience. You just need a 2:1 and some specific attributes including all the usual stuff; leadership, decision-making, resilience, motivation and then – my favourite – ‘a sense of possibility’. Their website says ‘You need to have a positive outlook and have the courage to drive forward transformational change in society as well as at an individual level’, and I think that’s really inspiring! Prison Officers don’t just jangle keys and lock people up, the British justice system is built upon the principles of rehabilitation and reintegration, so Prison Officers are also required to provide support, encouragement and ultimately a ‘role model’.
Unlocked Grads encourages graduates – who become Entry Level Prison Officers - to build positive relationships with inmates in order to encourage rehabilitation and ultimately prevent re-offending. And surely, if you get it right, that’s a pretty rewarding job?

The programme lasts for two years and then you can walk away with your Masters. Unlocked Grads are working with large corporates to identify opportunities for careers after completion. But I guess, whilst you do not have to stay with the Prison Service, they are probably hoping some will! And if you leave, they will have had enthusiastic, educated graduates who have provided two years of service as a minimum.

The first cohort started in summer 2017 so the longer term outcomes and results are yet to be seen but it is definitely one I’ll be watching. 60 new recruits took up positions in 6 prisons in and around London and I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any updates or success stories and share them here. I’m guessing it looks pretty impressive on a CV? If you can hold your own in a prison environment, a corporate boardroom would seem like a breeze!

I might get to work on my ‘sense of possibility’ and consider that career change…

If prison work sounds a little out of your comfort zone, make sure you check out Teach First which is a similar programme but in schools rather than prisons!

 

Exploring Career Stories

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📥  Advice, Career Development, Careers Resources, Tips & Hints

Exploring Career Stories

what's your story

I watched a youtube link today where a student talked about the importance of exploring careers stories in finding out about jobs, sectors, employers and skills needed and how it really had taught him about different career pathways. He emphasized the importance of not just asking people you meet about their jobs, but also ask about the challenges they face in their jobs and consider whether these challenges make you feel excited or bored, and use what you learn in your own career planning and thinking.

It made me think about how I have asked, emailed  and explored the careers stories of random people I have met along my career journey and how this has benefited me. For example, before I decided to become a Careers Adviser I wanted to learn about the job role, its challenges and the pathways into the profession. To increase my awareness and to decide whether this was indeed the career path I wanted to go down, I emailed (this was before LinkedIn) ten different people in careers adviser roles at universities and colleges and asked them to share their career journeys. I was surprised that the majority of them responded positively and gave me a wealth of knowledge I used reflectively and positively in my own career planning.

So, within the era of modern technology, how can you explore careers stories now?

  • Well, my first piece of advice is to do what people have done for generations. When you meet people, may it be at a party, a networking event, an employer event, a hike or a family gathering; be genuinely interested in the career journeys of the people you meet. How did they end up in their chosen career? What were the challenges along the way? What do they enjoy (and not enjoy)about the job they are doing? What qualifications did they study? People generally like talking about themselves so why not take advantage of  that!
  • Secondly, the internet is full of blogs, vlogs, videos and more to explore and  learn from. One of my favourite video links are from icould - here you can explore real careers stories searching by job type, subject and even life events.
  • Thirdly, what about viewing people’s LinkedIn profiles and discover the millions of career journeys different people have taken to get to where they are now. Type in a job role in the search box and see what comes up. Why don’t you connect with them, tell them that their career journey and job role sounds inspiring and ask politely whether they can share their career story with you. A contact for life may happen!
  • If you like to read information, then Prospects may be a good place to go. You can explore hundreds of different job roles and most of them have links to several case studies where you can explore a graduate’s careers story.
  • Finally, what about talking to alumni in jobs and sectors that you are interested in to share their career stories with you? On Bath Connection you can do just that. Those registered on Bath Connection have voluntarily said yes to support you in finding out more about jobs and sectors, and some even are happy to take on a mentoring role.

So go ahead, explore the different careers out there, increase your awareness of what you find exciting and not so exciting, and see how these careers stories can shape your own career journey.

I wish you the best of luck.

 

 

Employer Monday: BlackRock

📥  Commercial Awareness, Employer Visit Report, Labour Market Intelligence, Networking, Sector Insight

Hey everybody, Employer Services Manager here again. If you read my last blog you’ll know I often visit employers to find out how they might like to work with Universities and recruit our students. As I’ve said before; I’m not a Careers Advisor, this blog post is not about giving advice, but I’m happy to share my experiences with you! A word of caution – I’m so easily impressed, I leave most places hoping they’ve a job for me!!

The visit I’ll tell you about today is a trip I took in the summer to see BlackRock.

GETTING THERE

I never mind a train ride to London. I don’t know the underground like the back of my hand but I do know it’s pretty hard to actually get lost! To get to BlackRock it was quick two-tube journey to Bank from Paddington and a short stroll. From the outside it didn’t look as spectacular as some buildings in London and I had to ask myself…

WHAT DO BLACKROCK ACTUALLY DO?

In the introduction to the day, the chap said BlackRock are the biggest Finance company we had never heard of! He wasn’t wrong. BlackRock ‘manage more money than any other investment manager in the world’. They have 13,000 employees in 70 offices across 6 continents. Despite managing £5.7trillion worth of assets in 100 countries they pride themselves on their ‘start-up’ culture and adaptability. There certainly was a ‘start-up’ feel to the BlackRock offices – no one was suited-and-booted and it felt rather relaxed. I was told they describe themselves as ‘respectfully anti-bureaucratic’ and ‘always challenging status quo’.

THE TECH SIDE

It certainly seems to go hand-in-hand nowadays that any large Finance company has a clear commitment to developing technology. At BlackRock they developed a platform called Aladdin which is used to manage global client assets and portfolios. It is a global, single-entrance platform which means that real time information can be accessed across different countries. What they’ve also decided to do is not just use Aladdin themselves but sell it to their competitors! They described this as giving competitors the ingredients but not the recipe!

In 2016, Aladdin produced an $800 million revenue for BlackRock and the analysts who work on it are known as ‘Aladdin Ninjas’!

I hadn’t given a huge amount of consideration to how companies make their forecasting but BlackRock told us about some ways and places they obtain and use data to make predictions:
• buy raw data from satellites to inform their forecasting ie, there is a direct correlation between the height of buildings in China and the global cost of steel
• using satellites to count the number of cars in a shopping mall car park in the US is an indicator of the state of the economy
• social media scraping data is used to do brand monitoring, trend watching, and sentiment/competitor analysis.

Their latest work sees them analysing the language used by CEOs to determine the relationship between language and salary!

JOBS AT BLACKROCK

1. Advisory and Client Services: These are all tech-focussed and include policy making and sector transformation, Client Solutions, Corporate, Financial markets.
2. Analytics and Risk: Including financial modelling, portfolio analysts and risk management.
3. Corporate Functions and Business Ops: Including finance, internal audit, HR, Legal and compliance, Marketing.
4. Investments: Including equity and fixed income, Liquidity, Quantum finance. (Investments make up 35% of the overall business but attract 65% of the applications.)
5. Relationship Management and Sales: Provide all clients with a single point of contact.
6. Technology: This is the largest area of Graduate Recruitment. It includes Software Engineering which is the only area of work which requires specific degree disciplines – Computer Science or Engineering.

Graduates on the Analyst programme are sent to New York for 2 weeks at the start of their programme so that they can learn all about the company and meet other graduates from all over the world. Not exactly your typical office induction!

LIFE AT BLACKROCK

BlackRock encourage work-life flexibility but don’t call it ‘work-life balance’ because late nights and weekend working will be required at some point. However, home working is also common. ‘As long as the work is done, it doesn’t matter where’, is their attitude.

They adopt ‘summer hours’ and finish at 3pm on Fridays. Casual dress is the norm around the office but people are expected to ‘dress for their client’ so often keep a spare shirt and tie on the back of the door. Students are not expected to dress particularly ‘corporate’ at Assessment Centres – apparently ‘tech people are particularly distrustful of suits’!

They do seem like a fun and supportive place to work (but I don’t doubt they expect hard working in return). There are a number of employee networks you can opt in to:
• Families @ BlackRock
• Veterans
• Disability Network
• Women’s Network
• Out Network (LGBT)

They also have a conscience! BlackRock have stopped producing corporate branded merchandise and instead donate to Kiva (a charity providing funding for start-ups in the third world). On top of this, every year each employee is given $25 to donate to a charity of their choice as well as 2 days per year to volunteer. BlackRock matches the amount of any fundraising.

Oh dear, can feel my fickleness kicking in again – I think I want to work here now!! I could see myself as a Ninja!

Think Aladdin sounds cool? What about other financial companies with sophisticated software? Check out: JP Morgan's Athena or Goldman Sachs' Securities Database

 

Tales from teaching

📥  Academic Career, Advice, For PhDs

I have over ten years' experience of teaching and training in an HE setting, and on thinking about it during that time I've come across a wide range of people and situations I wouldn't necessarily have expected. There was the time a student challenged me in front of the whole class for marking his homework wrong when it very clearly was wrong. And the time I had to email a student who had recently lost her father to explain the approach the Department was taking to her missed coursework. And the time I marked 200 French exam scripts in a day and a half. And the time I lectured sitting on a desk in my wellies with heavy snow outside and a severe chest infection.

I could go on, but the point of recalling these stories is that it's only on reflection that I appreciate the broad range of skills and attributes I've developed, not to mention the diverse range of people I've had the privilege of working with, through university teaching. I've learned to stay calm under pressure, communicate to diverse audiences, manage people and much more. To help YOU reflect on and recognise the skills you've developed, or could develop, through teaching as a postgraduate, and to market these skills effectively both inside and outside of academia, the Doctoral College have asked me to design and deliver a new skills session on Articulating the Value of your Teaching Experience. This session is happening on 14th February (easy to remember!) 10.15-12.05, and you can book a place through the Doctoral Skills web pages. Come along and learn from the experiences of other postgraduates who teach, learn how to market your skills from teaching  wherever you want to go next in your career, and find out more about the current HE landscape in the UK. Also do check out the Doctoral College's new guide on getting started with teaching as a postgraduate.

 

Employer Monday: Centrica

📥  Employer Visit Report, Networking, Placements

Hey everybody, I’m the Employer Services Manager in the Careers Service. I often visit employers to find out how they might like to work with Universities and recruit our students. I’m not a Careers Advisor, this blog post is not about giving advice, but I’m happy to share my experiences with you!
The first visit I’ll tell you about, is my trip to see Centrica (other energy providers are available!)

Getting to Windsor
I recently visited Centrica for their January Reveal Day. Based in Windsor, it wasn’t the easiest rail journey - three trains from Bath! - but when you get to Windsor and Eton station, you’re right next to the castle! Which I thought was pretty cool. Centrica HQ was then a short taxi ride across town.
I wasn’t completely sure what to expect…all I knew about Centrica was that they were ‘British Gas’? It turns out that whilst this wasn’t completely wrong, there is actually a lot more to Centrica than ‘just’ British Gas…

Who are Centrica
Centrica operate on a global scale and are the energy services company behind many big national brands in the UK, Ireland and the USA including Bord Gais Energy, British Gas and Direct Energy.
In 2015 there was a change of CEO and a new strategic direction was introduced. Whilst their focus previously was predominantly on gas, electricity and wind farms, the new CEO considered other fundamental trends with a view to diversifying investments.
Centrica certainly sounds like an exciting place to be. Globally, the crash in oil prices is still having an impact on the market and industry as a whole. Electricity supplies, once provided by large regional power stations, are now supplied locally through wind farms etc. Conversely, gas is now truly global thanks to a network of pipelines.
The energy industry has always been subject to tight political and regulatory guidance but has been under increased scrutiny in recent years in the media. Customers are increasingly savvy too, meaning Centrica have seen an increase in consumer engagement as we, the public, become more interested in where their fuel comes from, its type, the cost, the provider…
On top of everything, Centrica are also at the fore of digital technology advancements and this has created new opportunities for the company to provide products and services ie HIVE, apps, smart technology. They are even developing boilers which are able to anticipate when they are going to malfunction, diagnose the problem and send the information direct to the engineers, before the customer realises there is a problem!
And finally, Centrica are also seeing increased international competition from not only the energy companies but from leading technology firms now going into energy supply.
There is certainly a lot going on for them! But they seem to have a great company ethos and real drive to keep adapting to the demands placed on them.
They certainly seem to be maintaining their ambitions too; they hope to move into markets in South America, Australia and Japan and by scaling up, driving costs down. Nationally renewable energy currently provides 5-10% of all energy – this is predicted to rise to 50% by 2022.

What’s it like to work there?
After all of the corporate stuff, I then spoke to some graduates to find out what it was like. One was in Finance, one from HR and another from Marketing – not quite the scientists or engineers I was imagining! They were all recruited from their summer placement and told me that this is how Centrica recruit all of their graduates (if they can). Most summer placements are based in Windsor and Centrica put them all up in a local university halls. They described the summer placements as being really hands-on and really busy. They were each given live projects, sent on training courses and one grad described the experience as a 10-week, two-way job interview. At the end of the placement they have the opportunity to pitch for a graduate role and convince their line manager and HR that they are the best candidate. They said there was a huge relief (and incentive to work hard!) to return to their final year at university with a graduate job secured.
Graduate retention and progression is very positive at Centrica. Many employees have been at Centrica their entire professional career. There is lots of opportunity to ‘move around’ the organisation (within your stream) to experience different roles and projects.

Centrica’s values
The 2015 strategic review created a ‘Values Team’ at Centrica to create a common set of values for all brands and departments. The company values are:
• Care
• Delivery
• Agility
• Collaboration
• Courage
These are aspirational and supportive, not benchmarks. They aim to create an environment to grow and succeed, where open and honest dialogue is encouraged.

There are a number of support networks at Centrica; LGBT+ called Spectrum, DAWN for employees with a disability, a Women’s Network and a group of YEP (Young Energy Professionals – a national body).

Graduates also plot their own development and career paths. In Finance they can choose between studying for ACA, ACCA, and CIMA and in Marketing they complete 3 8-month placements in different areas of the business (of their choosing) and then decide between an Institute of Marketing or GoogleSquared qualification. All graduates studying towards an external qualification receive 25 days study leave per year on top of their 25 days holiday entitlement.

At the end of the day, I was pretty tired! I contemplated getting a coffee from one of the on-site cafes and even eyed up the comfy looking chairs scattered around one of the open plan spaces!
But I had 3 trains I needed to catch to get back to Bath, so I jumped straight in an Uber!

I definitely learned a lot about who Centrica are and what they do. It challenged my stereotypes and typically (I do this every time I visit an employer - fickle old me!) thought ‘I wonder if they hire old ladies as well as grads….’

Want to find out more about the energy sector? Check out Centrica’s competitors: SSE plc, RWE Generation UK Holdings plc, EDF Energy plc.

Catherine (Employer Services Team)

 

Research for your personal statement or cover letter

📥  Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints

 

Writing a personal statement for further study or a cover letter for your dream job can be more difficult than first anticipated but it doesn’t have to be! The key is RESEARCH and I’m going to show you exactly how to do it here…

Of course employers or admissions tutors want to know that you have the right skills or experiences to thrive in the role, but they also want to know that you understand what the opportunity will entail, that you are enthusiastic about what the organisation does and that you’re actually passionate about working or studying with them!

Today I am going to concentrate on 2 out of the 3 points you need to cover for most personal statements and cover letters:

·         Why are you applying for this role?

·         Why are you applying to this organisation?

For today, I’ll leave out ‘Why you? – What skills, abilities or experiences do you have to offer that match the job specification’ as in my experience students struggle more with the above points.

Why are you applying for this role? READ: Why are you interested in this role/further study programme?

·         Have you stopped to consider what it would really be like to be in this role? This is worthwhile contemplating even if it wasn’t going to help with your application; you want to be happy in your career or field of study so it’s an important point to consider.

·         A first step is to ensure you know the job description or admission requirements inside and out. What sort of tasks will you be expected to carry out? Is there a lot of team or independent work? Is this something you enjoy?

·         Think about how this role would differ from a similar role in another organisation. Look at the organisation’s website or utilise careers fairs and alumni where you can talk to people doing the job already!

·         Read more generally about what this kind of role would be like. Make use of websites like Prospects and TargetJobs as well as our very own careers website.

·         You could also ring or email the contact listed regarding informal enquiries. Not many candidates do this and it can be a good way to get more information as well as leave a positive impression of yourself before the recruiters even read your application!

·         Remember, many graduate schemes include rotations in lots of different areas so yes… you will need to research all of them!

Why are you applying to this organisation? READ: Why do you want to work for us? Or why do you want to study with us?

It can be hard to articulate why you want to join a certain company or university and too many candidates rest on vague statements like ‘top University’ or ‘world-renowned company’ without adding anything meaningful to them, or showing that they’ve done any research at all!

Here are some of the sorts of things you could explore…

·         What are their values and do they reflect your own? What about the organisation’s ‘office culture’? Remember you can utilise careers fairs and alumni for this reason too!

·         What sort of products or services do they offer and how does this differ to their competitors? Are there any recent business decisions that you can discuss and reflect on?

·         Try to work out how this organisation is unique compared to the rest of the sector

·         If you’re applying to another university for further study you can look into flagship research projects, academic interests of potential supervisors and make sure you understand what the programme will entail. A top tip is to look into the kinds of modules you’d be offered, especially if you’re applying for a taught programme, and make sure your interests align with some of those areas in your statement.

Employers and further study institutions not only want to know that you’re qualified for the opportunity but also, that you’ll be happy in the position so that is where you’re understanding of the role and organisation really comes in handy.

Remember to check out our Application, CV and cover letter guide and that you can always book an appointment to speak to an adviser directly about your application!

Good luck!

 

 

 

Marketing yourself as a mature student

📥  Advice, Applications

As a mature student you will have a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience, sometimes developed in a variety of contexts. But how can you make sure you communicate these clearly and effectively to potential employers? Here's a few quick tips:

Tip 1 # Think broadly about your experience

Employers value skills developed in a range of contexts, so think as broadly as you can about your experience and how you can use the different aspects of your life to showcase the skills employers are looking for. As a mature student you may have a wide range of work experience, but also involvement in voluntary activities, societies, committees, campaigns, as well as the skills you develop through parenting and caring responsibilities. Focus on skills and behaviours as well as duties and activities; running a busy household can be a great way to demonstrate your time management and prioritisation skills.

Tip 2 # Be positive about your experience

Don't undersell or underestimate your experience. Just because a particular job or activity was short, a long time ago or doesn't instantly appear relevant to the career pathway you're currently pursuing doesn't mean that you didn't gain any valuable skills or experience from it. When reflecting on the things that you've done, highlight your achievements and the things you're proud of, and your personal contributions to team projects. Negative experiences can often be ref-framed to demonstrate resilience and what you've learned from them. For more on how to express yourself positively in CVs, applications and cover letters, see my blog post on How to Sell yourself and feel ok about it.

Tip 3 # Demonstrate how your skills, knowledge and experience meet an employer's needs

Marketing yourself effectively means providing clear evidence to show how you meet the employer's criteria. As noted above, reflect on all of your experience, and use this to provide clear, concrete examples of what the employer is looking for. Match your language to the employer's needs. If you're changing direction from previous career paths, emphasise the relevant points and transferable skills from your previous experience. Avoid industry-specific jargon and overly technical language that won't resonate with your target employer. You may not need to include all of your experience on your CV; as a general principle, keep it to what's most relevant and most recent. Similar roles can be grouped together on your CV to avoid repetition. A skills-based CV, where you organise your experience under the headings of the skills needed for the job, can be a great way to showcase your relevant skills if you've had a varied career path or have the skills for your target job but not any directly relevant experience. Our Application, CV and Cover Letter Guide has some examples of skills-based CVs and how to put together an effective CV if you're changing career direction. See also this useful Guardian article on writing a CV for career change, and these sample CVs for mature students from Oxford Brookes University and The Open University.

Tip 4 # Make the most of your time at university

Getting involved in extra-curricular activities or volunteering during your course can be a great way to boost your confidence and get to know new people as well as build up a portfolio of evidence for CVs and applications.

Tip 5 # Show genuine motivation for your next career move

Employers want to see that you've really thought about why you want to do the job you're applying for and why you want to work for them. This takes thorough research into potential employers and job roles, and also careful thinking about yourself and what's important to you in your next job. Checking out our web pages on researching employers and occupational research, and the Choose a Career section of our website, will help you to think through and research all of these.  You can also book an appointment to speak to a Careers Adviser.

 

 

 

 

Tips for achieving your best! Part 6 - Guest blogger Keon Richardson

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📥  Advice, Diversity, inspire, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Our final blog in this series of "Tips for achieving your best!" Guest blogger Keon Richardson (Sport and Social Sciences 2107) talks about how getting up early helped to achieve his goals and why he decided to turn down a more exciting social life to reach his goals!

10.    WAKE UP EARLY!

Everyone has their optimal hours of the day when they work best. But as I previously mentioned in Tip Number 6, your brain operates at its highest rate when you first wake up early in the morning. A tip I would suggest to avoid hitting the snooze button is to change your alarm to your favourite song to get you excited to get out of bed! My alarm is DJ Arafat - Tapis Vélo. Another technique that I learned from tearing my groin in Second Year and being sidelined from playing was to treat studying like training. To get to 7.30am training from town, I would wake up at 5.50am (takes me an hour to get ready and 30-40 mins to get to campus). Being on campus at 7.30am is early enough as it is, and my earliest lecture in Final Year was at 10am. So I played a trick where I started waking up at 6am on the days that I didn't have training and started working at 7am in my room. That meant that I already had a three hour head start over my classmates who started at 10am. I took the game one level deeper and started waking up early on the WEEKEND. This was pretty easy as I didn’t go out at all during Final Year so I didn’t have to burden the pain of attempting to wake up early on Saturday with a Friday Night Hangover. So the key thing is to find out your optimum hours when you work best!

11. Make “No” your Vitamin C!

In order to reach my goals, I found that I had to give up  and ultimately sacrifice certain things by saying “No” to things I would normally say “Yes” to. In First and Second Year, I always used to talk to one of my close friends from school on the phone for 2-3 hours daily. This was mainly because I only did work on the days that I had training and lecturers. So, when I would go home after lecturers, I would phone him, watch shows online or have a nap. In Final Year, I had a different mentality and I knew that my work ethic had to quadruple. I worked everywhere that I could. On the 403 National Express back home to London; in the Barber Shop; on the coach to Away Games; and making mental notes in the shower (Weird!). People would look at me as if I was mad when I worked in certain spaces but I knew I was working towards a bigger picture which would come in small steps.

"Do you want to go out tonight Keon?"

In Final Year, if I spoke to my friend on the phone it would be briefly or my phone would be unavailable as it was on Flight Mode. I remember he asked me on WhatsApp when he could call me and I replied, “When I graduate”. I could tell that he was annoyed, but he said “OK, do your thing”. I respected that he gave me space and understood what I was doing was temporary to get to the point where I could finish all my work on time without the need for extensions (as I relied on extensions for EVERY essay in Second Year). Likewise, he respected me because I told him the truth and set it clear that I just need to give up our phone calls for a short period to focus on getting my work done. I made a commitment that I would not request a single extension in Final Year, and I had to say “No” to phone calls, partying, link ups. All of it. The last party I went to was in October 2015. I even got to the point where I had to temporarily give up certain apps on my phone. I deleted Snapchat and Instagram because I found myself procrastinating on these apps when I wanted to take a “break”, and my break ended up being more than one hour looking at everybody’s Snapchat and replaying it again just to avoid my work. It takes a lot of guts to say "No" especially to things that you enjoy and are so used to instinctively saying "Yes" to. But if you want to achieve your goals, you are going to have to give up your short-term “needs” for long term achievements.

What's Next Keon!

"What have you been doing since you finished University?"

Since graduating and returning home from my eventful summer, I secured a full time role as Disability Officer at Palace for Life Foundation (charitable arm of Crystal Palace Football Club). This is my dream graduate job and I have loved every minute of it so far! I am responsible for developing and delivering the “Inclusive Eagles” Disability Football Programme in the London Boroughs of Bromley, Croydon and Sutton. This involves: establishing PE curriculum sessions in Special Schools, leading football sessions for the Crystal Palace Down’s Syndrome Eagles; line managing a team of Foundation sessional coaches who deliver on the Inclusive Eagles programme and liaising with external partners such as Surrey FA and Royal Society for Blind Children.

Outside of my graduate job, I am a Gold Scholarship Programme Alumni Mentor and continue to manage the communications for IBSA Blind Football. I have published six IBSA articles on the development of Blind Football across the world, of which five have been re-published by the Paralympic Games. I recently went to Nantes on behalf of IBSA Blind Football to write an article on the first phase of the French Blind Football Championship. As for what’s next, I want to continue developing my expertise in disability as well as coaching and developing blind football. In 2018, I will be going to Enugu, Nigeria to deliver a Blind Football Coaching Clinic to Bina Foundation Blind Football Club and running the social media pages for the IBSA Blind Football World Championships. One of my long-term goals is to manage the communications for IBSA Blind Football at the 2019 African Championships and Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. In the small amount of spare time that I have, I’ve been learning French, Igbo and Swahili on YouTube (I enjoy learning other languages and hope to become fluent in one of them!).

For me, I'm not only proud  that I've obtained a degree and not become another society statistic. I'm more proud of the fact that I stuck to what I am passionate about and now I'm beginning to reap the rewards. I'm happy that I can pursue what gives me joy and peace of mind, rather than be involved in gang wars, knife crime and the all rest of it.  I don't look down on anyone who does that as everyone has different circumstances but growing up and especially today more than ever, a  lot of young black males go down that route without knowing the long-term consequences. University is financially and mentally draining, but there are so many fantastic experiences that you can gain than just a degree. Whoever or wherever you are, take your approach to your education how Buster Douglas took his approach to defeat Mike Tyson! Be brave. Be bold. Be Brilliant. Whatever you want in life is achievable!  If you would like to leave feedback or need any further advice, email me at: keonrichardson@hotmail.co.uk or follow me on Twitter: @FinallyKeon. Asante Sana and Kwaheri! (Thank you and Goodbye in Swahilli)