Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Topic: Career Development

Considering further study? Why not consider studying internationally?

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📥  Advice, Career Development, Postgraduate Study, Tips & Hints

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This tine of year is a prime time for students to think about embarking on a course of further study, most often at masters level but also at PhD level.
So with many courses internationally being taught in English - and not just in English-speaking countries - you might want to consider spreading your wings and going elsewhere for your higher degree.

As well as considering the normal things when thinking about further study - what subject, what course, what institution - there are some other things that are particularly important when thinking about studying abroad.

Firstly, the timescales for applying may be different from here and are almost certainly longer - the Fulbright Commission who advise on studying in the US have a lot of information about timelines and recommend you start in your penultimate year ideally.

You may need to sit a test - have a look at our web pages on studying abroad to get more information about the sorts of tests and how to prepare for them.

Funding may also be an issue and is one of the reasons that you may need to start early. But of course, one of the attractions of studying especially in Europe is that education fees are substantially less than here. Do check though, the duration of the course - a UK masters course will be normally 1 year but the standard in mainland Europe is 2 years.

Do also pay attention to any information you get about study styles and cohort sizes - lower fees sometimes mean larger classes and more lectures, rather than the small group seminars which are a common feature of masters courses in the UK.

For more detailed information about studying internationally, specific to individual countries, have a look at the AGCAS country profiles for studying abroad. Considerations here include how much of the host nation's language you speak, what the city you'd be based in is like, and what the common customs are that you should be aware of. You could always take advantage of our Foreign Languages Centre to brush up your languages before you start!

Applications may vary considerably - some institutions require only a CV and transcript, others want a personal statement which can be very detailed. So if you would like advice on how to put one together, or some feedback on the application you are preparing, please do come in and see us.

 

Navigating the British work culture - how to be a chameleon

  

📥  Career Choice, Career Development, International Students, Networking

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Whether you have worked before or not, starting a new work experience or internship or placement in the UK can be a bit of a challenge. What are the rules this company plays by? What are the rules that everyone follows but are never written down? What are the customs - and how is it different from where you have worked before?

This conundrum is even harder if your previous work experiences have been in a country where the culture is very different.

From talking with international students, one of the things that concerns them is that where they have worked, speaking up with ideas, or questioning the way something is currently done, is not acceptable - yet it seems to be expected by British employers. So how can you know when you are doing what is expected, and when you have crossed an invisible line into being disrespectful?

This is where getting advice from other international students that have made similar journeys can really help - try registering with the Bath Connection or using LinkedIn to contact Bath alumni who have worked there. Or, if you are about to embark on a placement, speak to your placement officer about which students have worked there before and ask them about the workplace culture and any conventions you should be aware of to help you fit in.

Similarly - social gatherings seem often to be centred around pubs/bars and the consumption of alcohol. If this does not sit well with you - try suggesting an alternative venue for a change, maybe going to a restaurant instead.

To help you navigate these issues, we've written a handy guide to help you. And remember, Careers Advisers are always happy to talk to you about your concerns and how you can ensure you get your experience off to the best start and give yourself the best springboard into your future career. Just book an appointment to speak to one of us.

 

An international student's guide to succeeding in the UK job market

  

📥  Advice, Applications, Career Development, Commercial Awareness, For Taught Postgraduates, International Students, Interviews

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Welcome to the first of our international -themed blog posts to mark International Careers Week.

This post is aimed at any international students looking to build their career right here in the UK. We know that many of you are very career-minded so here are a few tips to make sure you are making the most of your time here and giving yourselves the best chance of success.

  1. Get informed
    Make sure you are aware of your rights as regards work permissions. The Student Immigration Service are putting on a talk to refresh your memories on working in the UK after your studies and I really do recommend you go. The rules are complex and ever-changing so find out what the law actually says, and pick up a copy of our advice for employers too.
  2. Get ready
    We have laid on the complete series of our popular workshops for international students this week, as well as an assessment centre workshop, so you can perfect your skills and stand out for all the right reasons to employers.
  3. Get involved
    It's never too late to join a society, start volunteering, maybe even take the opportunity to build up some part-time work experience. All these things will be useful boosts to your CV as well as helping you pick up that sought-after commercial awareness and improve your English language skills.
  4. Get feedback
    Our expert team of Careers Advisers are very happy to give you feedback on your CVs, applications, cover letters and also help you prepare for interviews. It might seem a little scary to come and ask us to give you feedback - but that 15 minutes can make the difference between being on the 'no' pile and being invited to the next stage of the process.
  5. Get Connected
    They say 'It's not about what you know, it's about who you know'. Now this is not the whole truth, but having access to a large network of connections and being ale to ask them for help is surely a good thing, right? So, we have worked together with the Students Union and Alumni to offer you a skills session on networking and getting ahead in business, followed by Get Connected, a chance to ask alumni how they got to where they are now, and get a free drink along the way.
  6. Get ahead
    You'll see we have many jobs being advertised on MyFuture at the moment. But before you excitedly apply to all the ones that look interesting, do make sure you check on the employer website whether they are accepting applications from international students. Not all of them do, and checking will ensure you don't waste a lot of time preparing an application only to have it rejected.

 

Cracking Careers Wisdom...

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📥  Advice, Applications, Career Development

Christmas crackers are a traditional Christmas favourite,  did you know they were first made in about 1845-1850 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith? He had seen the French 'bon bon' sweets (almonds wrapped in pretty paper). He came back to London and tried selling sweets like that in England and also included a small motto or riddle in with the sweet.

Image result for victorian christmas cracker

Fast forward to 2016 and the Careers Service Christmas lunch. We not only pulled crackers but also attempted to indulge in that old 'lets share our cracker joke'  tradition. Alas we couldn't, as our crackers contained words of wisdom and conversation starters and we missed out on gems like:

What does Santa suffer from if he gets stuck in a chimney?
Claustrophobia!

Or

What's the most popular Christmas wine?

'I don't like Brussels sprouts!'

Never one to dampen the festive spirit, we shared our words of wisdom with one another and thats when inspiration for our last blog post of the year came to me. So here goes, some cracking words of wisdom that will really make a difference to your job hunting in the New Year.

Cracker wisdom # 1: Learn from everyone, but never imitate anyone.
The goal of your CV is to stand out from all the other job seekers and be picked for an interview; if you are using the same template as all the other hopefuls you will achieve neither objective. Whilst it is OK to look at example CV's, pick and choose the bits you like and ensure your individual strengths, personality and motivation for a particular opportunity is shining through. Likewise, don't let your inner monologue (also known as Imposter Syndrome) hold you back and crucially don't compare yourself to everyone else.

Cracker wisdom # 2: The harder you fall, the higher you bounce
You applied for your dream job or placement and despite your best efforts your application got turned down. The truth is rejection comes hand in hand with the job hunting process, the important thing is to learn from the process and not make the same mistake. For example, where in the recruitment stage do you stumble? Last year, I wrote a post about Coping with Rejection where I shared strategies on reinventing yourself at ever stage of the selection process. However, it is also important to step back and consider whether there is a message in the rejection itself. Is it that a particular company isn't the right fit for you? Or that you are applying for a role that isn't harnessing your strengths fully?

Cracker wisdom # 3: A goal without a plan is just a wish
For many of you the Christmas holidays are clouded with worries about exams in January. It doesnt have to be this way. You can enjoy the festive season and still stay on top of revision and coursework. Check out our top time management tips around exams to help you feel more in control.

Finally, whilst the end of term is approaching, a little reminder that we are open till Tuesday 20th December and will reopen on the morning of 3rd January 2017. For more information, please keep an eye on our website.

Merry Christmas and the very best wishes for the New Year from everyone in the careers team.

Ps. If you are looking for a conversation starter during your Christmas dinner, this  one got us talking, "would you rather have a nose like Rudolf's that glows or have pointy elf ears?"

 

Should you leave your career planning to chance?

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, Career Development, Graduate Jobs, inspire, Tips & Hints

I have been seeing a lot of finalists lately and broadly two 'types' of students  emerge: those of you with a clear plan for what you’re going to do after graduation and those of you trying to plan life after university. Traditional career planning techniques focus on matching interests, skills and abilities to a particular job or laying out a career plan for the next 10, 20 or 70 years. Unfortunately, there are times we become so wrapped up in making the one right decision about our careers, that we forget the importance of chance.

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This is why I am a huge fan of John Krumboltz; a leading career theorist who suggests that chance or unplanned events have a place in the career-planning process and has put forward the theory of Planned Happenstance. In a nutshell, Krumboltz suggests that a career is something that will gradually unfold and encourages you to make the most of opportunities as they arise. Therefore, if you are experiencing difficulty clarifying what you want to do, it could be you are trying too hard to rationalise your thinking. Instead, actively seek out and explore new career ideas and pursue interesting things as they arise. For example the more people you speak to, the more likely you are to find out about jobs you might enjoy and opportunities which may not be advertised.

According to Krumboltz, you can engage in five behaviours that can enable you to turn chance events into productive opportunities and these are:

  • Curiosity: Explore new opportunities – Get on Twitter, talk to people, go to events, say “yes” to new experiences, research, explore the “unknown”
  • Persistence: Exert effort despite setbacks
  • Flexibility: Be ready to change your attitude/mindset when new information/opportunity arises
  • Optimism: View new opportunities as possible and attainable
  • Risk-taking: Take action in the face of uncertain outcomes.

Here are some practical actions you could take starting today:

  • Meet new people and do new things. Join clubs, volunteer, play sports, go to careers events, talk to your peers, lecturers and alumni.
  • Take an interest in the new (or investigate the very old!). Keep an open mind.
  • Understand yourself and consider learning skills which might lead to new opportunities.
  • Learn about the world: What’s happening in technology? Industry? Society? What opportunities do these present?
  • Expose yourself to different viewpoints: Study abroad, read papers you think you’ll disagree with and engage in debates.

 

Do you really deserve that job or PhD?

  

📥  Advice, Career Development, Diversity, inspire, Tips & Hints

This week I saw quite a few students who have been wrestling with:

"..... I am not good enough - to apply for a PhD, my dream placement or propose an idea to my group"

This made me reflect on the concept of Inposter Syndrome where an individual struggles to credit their success to their ability. Rather they see their success as being lucky or working harder than others. This is further compounded by the person assuming that at any moment others will see through the facade and know they are not as talented. Reading Jo Haigh's post brought home to me that no one is safe from feeling like a fraud - regardless of achievement or fame.

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Half of the female managers surveyed by the Institute of Leadership Management reported self-doubt in their ability compared to men. In my mind this is in part down to the fact that there are fewer female role models and the ones that have made it there have, in the past, often had to take on masculine characteristics. This is one of the reasons why the Careers Service is hosting the Sprint Development programme aimed at female undergraduates, bringing together successful women from industry to talk about their careers.

In addition to participating in personal development training, what else can you do to manage imposter syndrome? The first step is to understand a rather obvious truth: nobody can see inside anyone else’s head. So your inner monologue – the voice that keeps on telling you 'you’re not good enough' – is the only one you ever hear which means your reasoning is a tad skewed.

Have a look at the traits below, do they apply to you?

  • Ignoring compliments
  • Assuming everything in your life will self-destruct for no reason
  • You feel a compulsion to be the best
  • Letting self doubt become a constant fixture
  • Fear of failure can paralyse you
  • You focus on what you haven't done
  • You don't think you're good enough

It may also be comforting to know you aren't alone in your thinking. These tweets compiled by the Huffington Post really do capture  the fact that imposter syndrome does not discriminate and when it rears its ugly head, we can be pretty irrational in our thinking. If left untamed, imposter syndrome can negatively affect your academic studies and professional career.

So how do we keep a lid on imposter syndrome?

  1. Recognise it: If you hear yourself say, “I don’t deserve this,” or “It was just luck,” pause and note that you are having impostor syndrome thoughts. Self awareness is the first step to tackling imposter syndrome.
  2. You are not alone: Imposter syndrome’s so common that, if you tell a friend or colleague about your self-doubt, they’ll almost certainly reply by telling you they feel the same.
  3. Get objective: keep reminders of success to hand! Be it your CV or that 'well done' email from your manager when you were on placement. All these will hopefully remind you of your self-worth.
  4. Accept and give compliments: for one day, give meaningful compliments to your friends or colleagues and see how they respond. If they deflect, call them out. Likewise, accept every compliment you receive, simply say 'Thank you'.

Finally, accept that everyone everywhere—no matter how successful—experiences the self-doubt that underlies impostor syndrome. It is part and parcel of becoming accomplished and successful. There is nothing unusual or wrong about feeling these things. Leave no cognitive space for them to grow, and you will regain control of your life and your future.

Do I need to use the Careers Service in my First Year?

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📥  Career Development, inspire, Tips & Hints

Firstly, welcome to all First Years! We hope that you have now settled in and are enjoying university life and your chosen degree programme.
Right from the start of this academic year, you will have opportunities to develop your employability skills and build on those skills you already acquired before arriving here. So it’s a good idea to start to think about how you might do this. Getting some work experience or getting involved in student activities – from societies to taking part in many of the volunteering activities that take place in the local community is a great way to do this. These activities can help to develop your team and leadership skills, organisational skills, and communication skills which employers will want to see evidence of. So my advice is get involved as much as you are able to and challenge yourself.8618916280_d68b2c46ac_z-2


At the Fresher’s Fair the other week, a common question from students to the Careers Service team was – “Should I be worried about my career path now?” Or “Do I need to use you already?”
The answer to the first concern is, “no”! There is absolutely no need to be concerned, but it is useful to know the sorts of things we do in the Careers Service and how we can support you and help you to develop your employability whilst you are with us. So in answer to “Do you need to use us this year?” is "maybe"!
Many of you will already have attended or will be attending an induction day on what we offer. However, for those of you that missed these, I thought it would be a good idea to list some of the areas we are here for particularly in your first year.

  • Resources
    Firstly, on our Careers Web pages at www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers we have an extensive range of resources to help you develop your employability. Have a look through our listings and you will find information on
    Choose a Career? – Lots of guidance and tools on helping you to make a career decision over the next few years
    Get Work experience? – How to find guide, information on Gap years and websites to search for opportunities
    Succeed in Selection – Covers anything to do with getting a job or placement - from our interview guide, psychometric tests to practice, to our video interview programme which allows you to practice your interviews.
  • Events and Workshops
    Throughout your time with us, we offer many careers events, including careers fairs, workshops and employer talks. Take a look to see what might interest you or help you in your career journey by going to https://myfuture.bath.ac.uk/
    An event of particular interest - Summer Internships Fair – 25th November – Founders’ Sports Hall
  • Career Appointments – you can talk to a Careers Adviser for one-to-one help either in a quick query appointment or longer guidance appointment. We suggest booking a quick query appointment initially and can help you with the following:
    - Advice on options and modules
    - Advice on changing or leaving your course
    Our Careers Advisers are impartial and can help you understand the pros and cons of changing course. Check out other sources of help .
    - Finding work experience
    - What career to aim for:-
    You don’t need to have decided what you want to do before you speak to a Careers Adviser but you could read our Careers Guide to get you started .
    You can also check out the Choose A Career pages to find out more.
    - CV advice: – useful if you are considering an Insight Week or work experience in the summer
    To book just go to- https://myfuture.bath.ac.uk/
  • Career Drop –Ins For First Years
    Finally, in addition to our bookable appointments, from the 15th November we will be offering Career Drop-in sessions every Tuesday 5-7 pm aimed particularly for First Years. These will be in the Student Services area – just go to 4W.

I hope this has given you a taster of the support that we can offer you on your career journey and ideas for developing your employability skills. You will find a useful guide to employability in your library card wallet.
We look forward to welcoming you soon!

 

How to make the most of "your careers service".

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, Career Development, Careers Service Update

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We are really looking forward to welcoming you at Bath. I understand amid all the excitement you may also have moments of being nervous about this stage of your life. I thought I would pen some hints and tips about how to make the most the careers service and what to expect.

  1. University careers support is different to what you may have experienced at school. You can make an appointment as soon as you arrive and you don't have to know what you want to do. Instead, we can help you clarify your thinking and most importantly we won't tell you what to do.
  2. Throughout Freshers week, our careers advisers will pop up during lectures or as part of formal induction talks. This way you'll know who they are and how to make contact.
  3. Your engagement with the careers service doesn't have to be face-to-face. We arrange loads of skills training events and talks. You will also be able to meet employers on campus.
  4. You can come and see us as often as you like! (even after you graduate).
  5. Its OK for your career thinking to change, just give yourself the time and space to consider different options. Don’t rely on student gossip about what to do when. Make sure that you have the time frames and application windows clear in your mind. Your careers adviser will know.

 

What do research staff do next?

📥  Academic Career, Career Development, For PhDs, Uncategorized

I've just finished reading Vitae's newly-published report on where postdoctoral research staff go when they leave academia. The report is based on a largely qualitative survey of researchers' career paths and experiences on leaving academic research posts, and includes insights into how people made decisions around whether to leave and what to do next, how they adjusted to new cultures and environments, what they find satisfying about their new roles and what they miss about academia.

Now, as I've been reading the report I've been thinking constantly about how some of these ideas and data can input into my own thinking, workshops and the ways I support our research staff here at Bath. But, useful as this report is for people like me, the primary intended audience is the current postdoctoral research community, so I've also been asking myself the question, 'how can research staff use this report?'

Given that you probably don't have the time or inclination to wade through forty-nine pages, here are some quick thoughts as to how you can make use of this report:

  • scan through the sections on 'Making the transition' and 'Advice to other researchers' sections (pp.12-17). Read any sub sections that grab your attention. Notice the practical and emotional challenges people faced in moving into new roles and contexts and how they dealt with these.
  • gather some data and insights into roles and sectors you might want to explore further. There are short sections of the report with overviews of popular sectors with research staff, namely research outside of HE, research policy and administration, professional roles in HE, public engagement and science communication, teaching, writing and publishing, and 'other' occupations including business analysts, financial economists and patent attorneys.
  • look at sample job titles and possible employers within sectors of interest.
  • Check out the 'competencies old and new' section within each sector overview to get a sense of how researchers used their existing skills in a new context and which skills they needed to develop.
  • Read the mini case studies to find out how people find their new roles and what helped them make the transition.
  • Full case studies are available on the Vitae website.
  • Many of these case studies include a link to the person's LinkedIn profile. Use this to see where they have worked, what experience they built up, which groups they are part of (so you can join groups relevant to sectors of interest) and how you might be connected to them. See if you have any mutual connections and ask them to introduce you.
  • Have a think about how you can develop skills and knowledge within your current role
  • Research sectors and roles of interest further using our web pages for researchers, Bath Connection, and a one-to-one chat with the Researcher Career Development Adviser.

 

Tips for transitioning out of academia

📥  Career Development, For PhDs

I've been reading this excellent post on the Research Whisperer about one postdoc's gradual transition into a non-research role (specifically science writing). Do read it for yourself, but it inspired some general thoughts about career transitions that I wanted to share with you:

  • Start small. As Ian's story shows, career transitions often happen in small steps. In his case that meant starting a blog (which I can testify is a highly satisfying and therapeutic thing to do, and becomes a lot less scary after a little practice). In your case a small step might be learning a new programming language (there are lots of online courses around which Ian also made use of), booking onto a training course, or arranging to shadow someone working in a field or role that interests you for a day or two.
  • Re-write the narrative. Ian mentioned an 'anxiety narrative' that kept playing in his mind when he was in the early stages of trying out science writing. From him the narrative was: 'Anyone could do this', other common negative stories I've heard people tell themselves (and me) regarding a possible change of career direction include: 'Isn't it too late to change direction?'; 'I don't have the necessary skills'; 'but that's really competitive isn't it?' If you hear yourself recounting a negative story that might be stopping you from working towards where you want to be, ask yourself whether the story can be reframed (i.e. you can get the skills you need) or whether you have all the facts or are basing your assumptions on narrow perspectives.
  • You may not have to leave everything behind. There may be aspects of your research skills and knowledge that you do want to use in a future career. 'Which aspects of now do you want to take into the future?' is question I ask often in 1:1 career conversations with researchers. In Ian's case he wanted to use the writing and problem-solving skills; in yours it might be data analysis, oral communication or budget management. Researchers gain a wide variety of skills that can be applied in various contexts. This lovely post from my colleague Clare Jones at the University of Nottingham explains how you can identify the skills you have and want to use in as little as ten minutes. If you have a little more time, draw yourself a timeline of a fixed period of your life (say the last five years) and map out the highlights and challenges. Are there any themes that emerge around what is important to you or when you have felt most satisfied?
  • Broaden your experience. This could be through getting involved in research-related activities such as organising a conference, helping at an Open Day or explaining your passion for your subject to a group of six year olds. Online courses, for example in programming languages, project management or science communication, can be a great way to boost your skills. For some sectors and roles it would be worth getting some short-term experience; speak to a careers adviser about how to identify suitable opportunities and employers.
  • Network online. An effective social media presence will help to raise your profile, develop your networks, keep up to date with developments potential target sectors, and even lead to experience or employment. In Ian's words: 'Most of the opportunities to expand my portfolio have come up organically through my presence on Twitter and connecting with people there.' For guidance take a look at the University's Social Media Toolkit and the Careers Service website.
  • Take opportunities when they come up. Say yes to everything and you may have your supervisor or research manager at your back; say no to everything and you may miss out on invaluable opportunities to develop your networks and skills portfolio, as well as have a refreshing break from your research project.
  • Identify your personal impact. Employers don't only look for people who can do the job; they also want people who are results-orientated and can make a positive contribution to their organisation. Reflect on your current and past experience not only in terms of duties and responsibilities but also in terms of achievements. What wouldn't happen if you weren't around? Be specific and quantify achievements wherever you can: how much money did you raise, what feedback did you receive from clients/students, what new initiative did you persuade your department to implement?
  • Build resilience. Career transitions can take time and may well involve disappointments along the way. Follow Ian's example and identify where you've made progress, surround yourself with a support network, stay flexible and just keep going.

So what next? To get some ideas of potential options outside of academia, take a look at our tailored web resources, look at some career stories of other researchers, and speak to a careers adviser.