Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Monthly Archives: April 2016

Time management tips around exams!


📥  Advice, Tips & Hints

I was in the library a few days back, it was heaving! You lot, hunched over your textbooks, sunlight deprived and looking visibly stressed. I have been there, albeit a long time ago and know the feeling of living off cups of coffee and pot noodles. It really does take its toll on your mind and body, fueling anxiety and stress. I really mean it when I say, it doesn't need to be this way. Much comes down to that old chestnut "time management" and here are some tips to help you make the most of the limited revision time you have left:

  1. Make a list: sounds obvious but much comes down to how you use the list! First, list absolutely everything you have to do (coursework, revision, sports commitment, work, calling your mum etc). Make a 2x2 grid with ‘Important’ and ‘Not important’ across the top and ‘Urgent’ and ‘Not urgent’ down the side. Allocate your tasks to the four squares in the grid. Bam! you have prioritised whats important and along the way gained a bit of perspective.
  2. Must-should-want-will: alternatively, organise your master to do list under the following headings: ‘Must do’, ‘Should do’, ‘Want to do’. Now make a ‘Will do’ list for today taking items from each list. Only add things you know you will do. Reward yourself for the ‘must do’ and ‘should do’ items by allowing yourself a ‘want to do’ item.
  3. Smarter revision using a timer: Buy a kitchen timer or use a timer app on your phone. Set the timer for a period of 40 minutes. Work on one task without stopping until the timer goes off. Set the timer for 10 minutes and have a break. Set another 40 minutes and repeat. This technique will not only help you focus but will also ensure you are keeping the old enemy 'procrastination' at bay.
  4. Visual nagging: Put up a sign by your desk with the question ‘What is the best thing you could be working on now?’ Alternatively, put something that will remind you about a task in a place where you have to notice it like your mirror or on top of your phone...
  5. Batching: Group tasks by similarity, e.g. same location, involving same people, using same resources. Do similar tasks together and maximise your time.
  6. Energy scheduling: Try to schedule particularly demanding tasks or revision for times in the day when you tend to have most energy. Take advantage of times when you are feeling productive to tackle stuff that is most challenging.
  7. Motivation by action: Don’t wait for motivation to strike. Whatever you are putting off, just start it and allow yourself to stop after a fixed time period (it can be as little as 5 minutes). It doesn’t matter if you haven’t made much progress. See if starting it has made you more motivated to engage with it.
  8. Change your location: If you’re having trouble starting a task, go somewhere else to do it. The change of location could produce a change in thinking or attitude which makes it easier to do the thing you have been putting off.
  9. Eliminate time wasters: be honest, what do you waste time on? Facebook? Twitter? Emails? Stop checking them so often. One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links, switch off notifications and your phone. Schedule set times to browse and perhaps reward yourself with social media time when you tick an action off your to-do-list.
  10. Realistic last minute: When you are given coursework or a project with a deadline, work out when is the last point at which you could start the task and have a realistic hope of getting it done. Add a bit of extra time for bad luck.

Finally, make sure you eat (not just pot noodle but something wholesome), get fresh air, sleep and support. Contact Counselling & Wellbeing for the support bit, especially if you find your levels of anxiety are rocketing leading up to exams. If the job hunting side of things is weighing on your mind, then please be assured we are here all year round and you can use our service even after you graduate.


Top tips to get the most out of the careers fair tomorrow!

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📥  Advice, Careers Fairs, Careers Resources, Tips & Hints

The Graduate Recruitment Fair takes place tomorrow in Founders Hall from 10:00am to 3:00pm. We know this is a busy week for a lot of you with dissertation deadlines and exams looming - however investing half an hour to attend the fair tomorrow could open doors, enhance your future applications and help you feel more in control of your future career post-graduation.


So, here are our top tips to get the most out of the fair:

  • Do your research: have a look at the fair programme and explore company websites. This way you won't waste time asking basic questions.
  • Ask the right questions: make a list of the key questions you want to ask. Think about asking questions that will help you glean useful insights about the company such as: What is the culture like?, What are the key challenges / trends facing the industry? or What are the key skills you look for in applicants?
  • Take your CV: the fair is an opportunity for you to market yourself, therefore take a recent copy of your CV and if the opportunity arises do hand it to potential employers.
  • Dress appropriately: whilst there is no need to be suited and booted, do dress professionally! After all first impressions really matter.
  • Follow up: where possible ask for the recruiters business card and follow up! Thank them for the advice they offered or email them your CV. It may also be useful to connect with them on LinkedIn.

Finally and most importantly, avoid going around the fair in a pack! This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to potential employers you are a capable and independent individual.

For more tips, check out our handy help-sheet on how to prepare for the careers fair. Good luck and hope to see you in Founders Hall tomorrow.


5 career management lessons from Her Majesty...

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📥  Advice, Career Development, Graduate Jobs

Her majesty the queen celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday and shows no sign of slowing down. Whatever your view about the royal family, the UK's longest reigning monarch has experienced and adapted to much change and there are many lessons that can be learnt from her that are relevant to leadership and career management.

Queen Elizabeth II
  1. You might end up doing the top job: When her majesty was born, she was third in line for the throne. But less than a year after her uncle Edward VIII succeeded King George, he unexpectedly abdicated the throne in pursuit of love. So when her father succeeded his brother as king in 1936, she was next in line and the rest is history. In the workplace, you may find yourself unexpectedly in a position of leadership or in the midst of a major change. How you deal with the unexpected is key - staying positive, maintaining communication and not losing sight of the bigger picture are essential skills.
  2. Embrace change: 91% of HR directors think that by 2018, people will be recruited on their ability to deal with change and uncertainty says The Flux Report by Right Management. The labour market is constantly changing and technology is having a huge impact on the world of work, Mind Tools have some great resources to help you develop your flexibility and cope with change positively.
  3. Harness technology: The Queen sent her first ever tweet from @BritishMonarchy  in front of 600 guests in 2014... social media tools are now a daily part of our lives and can be harnessed to not only look for graduate employment but also build your personal brand. Check out out blogs on managing your career using social media.
  4. Commitment: Her majesty has reigned for 64 years and in that time has undertaken thousands of public duties. Whilst there is no such things as a job for life, commitment still matters. Employers want to see you can stick to a particular project or role, develop and grow. If you find a particular role isn't challenging you, then talk to your manager and explore additional responsibilities or projects before jumping ship.
  5. Keep calm and carry on: there will be times when the pressures of work / life will get on top of you. The key is to keep a check on your emotional well-being and if you find the pressure is affecting your health then seek out appropriate support. Sometimes, it is just good to step away from it all and have a cuppa tea - a bit of distance can give tons of perspective!
How to solve a brand's crisis PR and a media crisis

Have a great weekend everyone!


Procrastination is the perfect ingredient for anxiety...

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, inspire

Is this you:

  • You have an essay deadline looming
  • A mountain of exam revision to do
  • Deadlines to apply for placements / graduate job / PG course (delete as appropriate)

Yet you find yourself making endless cups of tea, which leads to a quick visit to the shop to get more milk followed by a 5 minute nosey on Facebook where you start looking at cute cat videos your mate shared and next thing you know you've nodded off and the list above is untouched.

Hello Procrastination, my friend.

pro-cras-ti-na-tion |prəˌkrastəˈnāSHən, prō-|
the action of delaying or postponing something: your first tip is to avoid procrastination.

Who would have thought the dictionary held the solution all along. Avoid procrastination. So elegant in its simplicity.

This piece from the Huffington Post provides a beautiful explanation about why procrastinators procrastinate. Really worth a read. At the very least, do get acquainted with the gratification monkey.

But why is this relevant I hear you ask? Well, we have seen so many of you lately -  stressed and telling us it is just easy to bury your heads in the sand. Whether it is mounting course work, revision or deadlines for job applications - procrastination is the perfect ingredient to induce anxiety. And before you know it, you'll find yourself locked in the cycle of worrying and not doing.

So here are some tips to cut through procrastination:

  1. Control your web browsing - OK, this is going to be really hard but stay with me. Log out of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, YikYak etc. Reward yourself with social media time when you tick something off your to-do list.
  2. Ask someone to check up on you - dare I suggest your mum for this task? Joking aside, peer pressure works! This is the principle behind slimming and other self-help groups, and it is widely recognized as a highly effective approach.
  3. Worse case scenario - identify and write down on a post-it the unpleasant consequences of not doing what you need to do.
  4. You can't eat an elephant whole - that old saying... break down revision or course work into smaller chunks (and reward yourself with cake every time to accomplish one of those tasks).
  5. Change your environment - if there are lots of distractions at home then go to the library or vice versa.
  6. Hang out with do-ers - identify people/friends/colleagues who are are driven and doing stuff. Some of their energy is bound to rub off and inspire you.
  7. Prioritise - this time of the year there are going to be lots of competing demands on your time. Identify what is important and focus on these first.
  8. Accept imperfection - no one is perfect! You are only human and are bound to make mistakes now and again. Failure and being imperfect can be so intimidating it can cripple your capability to function properly. You must remember that perfection is neither possible nor necessary.

Finally and most importantly be patient! Habits are hard to change but little steps do make a difference. One of the ways we can support you in the careers service is by talking through actions that will help with your career planning. Feel free to book a 15-minute quick query sometime.

When's a good time to see a careers adviser?

📥  Advice, Career Choice, Uncategorized

If you're feeling bogged down by deadlines and revision, you're probably thinking you don't even have time to read this, but here's a very quick quiz to help you decide if/when it might help you to talk to a careers adviser.

You should come in to the Careers Service if:

A) You have a job sorted and need help negotiating the terms with an employer

B) You have an interview or assessment centre coming up and don't know what to expect

C) You'd like to know where to find jobs or more info on career options that interest you

D) You'd like someone to cast an expert eye over your CV

E) You have absolutely no idea what you want to do after graduating

F) You're in a quandary because it feels like all your friends have already got a placement or graduate job and you don't know where to start or who to turn to.

The answer, rather predictably, is 'all of the above'. We help students in all years work out where they want to be and how to get there. At this time of year we're particularly aware that there may be students who are feeling anxious because they haven't yet secured a placement or graduate job. Peer pressure, the stress of juggling job-hunting with other pressures and scare stories in the media can all contribute to making you feel more and more overwhelmed and paralyzed. If that's you, please do make an appointment to talk things through with a careers adviser. We will never judge you or tell you that 'you should have thought about this earlier'; we're experienced enough to know that students approach thinking about their career in different ways and in different timescales. We won't tell you what to do or 'fix' things for you but we can help you think through what matters to you in a career and work out useful strategies for helping you move forward - this post by my colleague Saiyada explains a little more about what careers advisers do. It's a common myth that you need to know what you want to do before you come to the Careers Service - in fact the opposite is true. We can help you think clarify your thinking whether you have 17 different ideas or none.

So what do you need to do next? Take a deep breath and come in to the Careers Service!* I can guarantee you'll be met by a friendly face from the moment you walk through the door. Finally in the words of a student I saw this morning: 'I didn't expect that you'd give me a job, but I feel a lot more confident about the next steps I need to take.'

There's also a wealth of advice and information on our website.


If you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious about any aspect of your course or life, our colleagues in Student Services offer a range of services to support you.

* Or phone or email us if that feels more comfortable. If you can't easily make it onto campus you can speak to a careers adviser via Skype.



PhD Career Stories


📥  Careers Resources, For PhDs, Sector Insight, Subject Related Careers

The second of our guest blog posts from researchers now working in roles outside of research in Higher Education.

Vicky Just - promoting scientific research through the media

What is your current role?

I am a Media and PR Officer at the University of Bath. I promote the research from our Faculty of Science by writing press releases publicising our latest research and finding academics to provide expert media comment. I also answer enquiries from journalists and organise filming, radio interviews and other media opportunities, as well as helping run the University’s main social media channels.

Being at Bath has given me some great opportunities, including working with researchers at the top of their field to promote their work to the world; working flexibly since returning from maternity leave to have a work-life balance; and even tweeting as the Bath Uni Duck!

How did you decide what you wanted to do after your PhD?

Following my PhD in Biochemistry, I worked as a postdoc for five years, but became frustrated with labwork, feeling that as I continued to specialise further in my field, I was losing sight of what really excited me about science. So as my contract came to an end I started looking for new avenues for my passion for science.

I wanted to share my love of science with the wider public, many of whom are uninterested or distrustful of research due to misreporting in the media or on the internet.

Give a brief overview of your career history to date, and any steps you feel were important to you

Whilst still doing postdoctoral research, I got in touch with the Communications Office at my research institution who provided helpful advice and mentoring.

I tried out lots of different types of science communication and public engagement activities, including outreach in schools, freelance science presenting, helping organise hands-on exhibits at the local science fair and the Chelsea Flower Show and taking part in the Royal Society’s MP-Scientist Pairing scheme. My PI was happy as long as I got my research work done, and encouraged me as it meant he could include it under his own public engagement work!

When I was selected in a competition to be a press officer for the Society for Experimental Biology’s main annual conference, I realised that I really enjoyed writing about science for a general audience.

As a result of my work with the Communications Office I was offered a role covering maternity leave for the press officer at my research institution, which gave me invaluable experience and on-the-job training. In my first week I had to set up filming with Channel 4 News on a prestigious Nature paper, and found it thrilling to get my press releases published in news outlets all over the world.

I joined the University of Bath in 2008, and currently focus on the Faculty of Science, having previously also promoted research from the Faculties of Engineering & Design, and Humanities & Social Science.

How do you use the skills from your PhD in your current role?

Most press officers have public relations or journalistic experience or training, however my PhD does help me in my job in several ways.

I rarely have to call on my specific knowledge from my PhD, as I work on such a diverse range of subjects. However what does help is being science literate, having the ability to ask the relevant questions and not be put off by the often jargon-dense text of research papers.

I use my skills of workload planning, self-management and multi-tasking on a daily basis, where unexpected events sometimes mean you have to drop everything else to meet a deadline.

My career as a researcher on short-term contracts meant working at a variety of institutions with a range of different people. This flexibility to cooperate diplomatically with others has definitely helped my current role, where I work with academics, journalists and other press officers from collaborating institutions and funding bodies.

Being self-critical also helps, as most press releases go through many edits before all the different parties are happy with the text.

I think the most useful thing is that having been in academia, I know how the system works, the time and workload pressures that academics face and understand their concerns of promoting their research in the media which are often more interested in juicy headlines than accuracy. My role is to simplify their research for a lay audience, keeping it engaging without sacrificing accuracy, so the journalists are more likely to present a balanced story.

 What advice would you give to researchers interested in working in similar roles? 

It’s a competitive field where most people already have PR or journalist experience or qualifications, so you need to get as much relevant experience as possible! Apply for internships, volunteer in your institution’s press office, write for your local newspaper, write a blog or article for The Conversation about your work, start building a social media profile, just do anything to practice communicating and build up a network of contacts that will help you find all the available opportunities. I’d also consider some type of media or PR qualification, which again could open doors – The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is a good place to start.


Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

Association of British Science Writers

Chartered Institute of Public Relations


Careers prep in a Day for Undergrad Finalists!


📥  Applications, Event, Graduate Jobs, Tips & Hints

OK, the last thing you want to do is think 'what am I going to do after I graduate?' especially as the deadlines for course work are stacked! However, this niggle isn't going away so the best thing to do is to do something about it...

We are hosting 'Careers Prep in a Day' on Saturday, 23rd April from 9.30am-3pm and in one intensive day, we will help you take control of your life post-graduation and will cover topics such as:

  • Applying to grad schemes
  • Finding alternative graduate jobs to grad schemes
  • Full list of job hunting websites by sector including relevant recruitment agencies
  • Session on writing CV's, applications and cover letters
  • A real practice assessment center and tips to answer common interview questions
  • Information on PG study including applying for a PhD

All you need to do is to log-into MyFuture and register. Spaces are limited to 130.


Are you getting paid the new living wage?


📥  Advice, Finding a Job, Internships, Work Experience

The Government’s National Living Wage was introduced on 1st April. For students and graduates over the age of 25 this means by law you should be being paid at least £7.20 per hour. For more information about how this might affect you take a look online. If you are unsure about how this affects you, get in touch with the Students Union.

If you are looking for work experience especially over the summer then look at our guide online or grab a copy from the careers service.



Top tips to ace online tests!

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📥  Applications, Finding a Job, Tips & Hints

Aptitude tests can strike fear  into the most confident of students, however there is a strong possibility you'll encounter them if you are applying for an internship, placement or graduate job.

Commonly used tests include verbal reasoning (understanding logic or patterns with words), numerical reasoning (drawing data from graphs or solving maths problems), situational judgement (aiming to find out about the type of worker you are, and how you would respond in different workplace scenarios), and e-tray exercises (assessing your skills of organisation or prioritisation by using a simulated work email inbox). Whilst these tests will vary from one employer to another, I hope the tips below help you feel more confident:

  • Research: find out as much as you can about the type of test the employer uses. Sites such as ratemyplacement, studentroom forums and Glassdoor carry feedback from other job seekers about particular companies. It is also perfectly OK to contact the employer  by email or phone to see if you can find out more about the tests they use in the selection process.
  • Practice makes perfect: a little practice will help you get used to the type of questions that may come up and the best ways of approaching them. Swotting up on basic maths can be particularly useful if you are sitting numerical tests as this is an area we can all get a bit rusty on. Through the careers service you can access some excellent practice tests (more information below)
  • Use common sense:  in the overwhelming majority of cases these tests aren’t set up to trick you. With tests such as situational judgement and e-tray in particular they are merely trying to work out how you would react in corresponding real life work scenarios so think carefully about the best actions to take and how this may impact on others. It may be useful to read the job description which will have clues about the priorities of the role.
  • Take your time: this isnt about winning - the key to ace online tests is to give yourself plenty of time to read (and re-read) the questions and to work at a steady pace.

Practice makes perfect
We have lots of useful information  available on the Careers Service website including access to some great practice materials such as:

  • Graduates First: contains seven numerical, verbal and logical reasoning tests. You can also take a personality and situational judgement test. Simply sign-in using your Bath student log-in and access the tests, detailed reports and video tutorials.
  • Team Focus: practise reasoning tests and assessments designed to establish learning style, personality type and values determining motivation at work.

You may also want to explore the support available through MASH (at the University) who can help you brush up on basic maths and stats concepts.


How to make the most of your placement or internship!

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📥  Placements, Tips & Hints, Work Experience

It is that time of the year when I start talking to 2nd years accross the Faculty of Science about how to make the most of their placement year. Looking for a placement or internship is like looking for a graduate job. The whole process is so involved and we know how hard you have worked job hunting alongside the pressures of your academic studies. Walking into the office on your first day, you will more than likely feel nervous and excited all at the same time.  With this in mind, here are some tips to help you get the best out of your internship and we hope a ticket to a great job in the future.

  • Set yourself objectives before you start: It’s good to have a think about what you would also like to get out of your time there (beyond being paid!). What are the skills and competency gaps in your CV? What 2 things do you want to leave the internship or placement having achieved?
  • Be enthusiastic: When you’re on your placement, it is really important to be enthusiastic. Don’t be the intern who sits quietly in the corner waiting to be given something to do. Get involved and learn as much as you can about the company and industry. Get to know your fellow colleagues, ask questions and generally be ‘keen as mustard’
  •  Take on responsibility: Once you have built those all-important relationships and you have gained the managers’ trust, make it known that you would be happy to take on any responsibility they can offer you. Show that you are up for the challenge and want to prove yourself. Do be careful though, you don’t want to come across as cocky or pushy. Earn your stripes by excelling in the mundane, and hopefully more exciting things will be put your way.
  • Manage your workload: Your work may come from multiple people so it’s important to remember to manage your time well, prioritise the most urgent work and manage their expectations. If you’re struggling to meet a deadline, you should be transparent about this and tell people in good time – 5pm on a Friday will not leave a good impression.
  • Build your network: One of the best things about being in an organisation is absorbing its culture and getting to know its people. After all, these might be your future colleagues! While you are there, take the opportunity to get to know your department and pretty much anyone you can. Remember to stay in touch, which you can do through email, Linkedin or by phone.