Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Topic: Internships

Careers in the Civil Service

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, Careers Resources, Commercial Awareness, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Internships, Sector Insight

Careers in the Civil Service


This blog post was originally posted by Sue Briault, but has been updated to include current information and links. For up to date news and information about Civil Service Fast Stream and for the chance of interacting with current fast streamers, make sure to like Civil Service Fast Stream Careers on Facebook


About the Civil Service

The Civil Service does the practical and administrative work of government. More than half of all civil servants provide services direct to the public. If you want to know more about the Civil Service and it's purpose then go here. If you are interested in the work of the more than 60 government departments and over 100 agencies then these can easily be found on the GOV UK website where every department and agency has a space.

Jobs within the Civil Service can range from administrative positions within departments to embassy posts with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).  There are also a number of professions employed within the Civil Service including economists, statisticians and scientists . Staff may work anywhere in the United Kingdom and possibly overseas, although the majority involved in policy work are located in London. There are increasing numbers of opportunities within the devolved regions and some departments are based in locations such as Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

When applying to jobs in the civil service it is important to research the Civil Service competencies, which sets out how the Civil Service want people to work. Research the competencies and write down examples from your academic background, work experiences and/or extra-curricular activities to see how they compare and fit with each competency.

Civil Service Fast Stream

This is the accelerated development programme for graduates. Applications opened in September and will close in October 2017, so if you are interested, apply now! This includes entry into the Diplomatic Service. It is also possible to apply to the Civil Service Fast Stream even though you are working within the Civil Service.  There are several different Fast Streams and you can find more information about the schemes on the Fast Stream website.

  • Analytical Options (AFS):

Government Economic Service (GES)
Government Operational Research Service (GORS)
Government Statistical Service (GSS)
Government Social Research Service (GSR)

  • Other Options:

Generalist
Human Resources
Diplomatic Service
Diplomatic Economic Scheme
Houses of Parliament
Science and Engineering (only open to postgraduates)
Commercial
Finance
Government Communication Service
Project Delivery
Digital, Data and Technology
Other Civil Service Graduate Schemes

Other Graduate Schemes

Graduate schemes run by individual departments can be hard to find out about so keeping an eye on the Civil Service Jobs website is important as not all have dedicated webpages available to see year round (see  section below).

It is also worth noting that many Civil Service graduate schemes make offers of jobs at the grade below to ‘near misses’. This happens in the Fast Stream too. Those that scored only a few points below the overall benchmark may be made an offer or an interview for a role at Executive Officer grade (the grade below the one Fast Streamers start on). This isn’t always well publicised because employers don’t want to raise candidate expectations but it is worth being aware that applications to the Fast Stream or other Graduate Scheme can be a good entry point into the Civil Service.

Other services who recruit graduates include MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

Other Civil Service Jobs

The place to look for all Civil Service vacancies is https://www.civilservicejobs.service.gov.uk. Create an account and you can then set up some preferences and then receive regular job updates by email. You will need to click "Show more" to be able to select Job Grade as a preference. Why should you look here? Because there are many jobs that would be suitable for graduates within the Civil Service that are not part of the Fast Stream or other Graduate Schemes.

Frequently spotted on Civil Service Jobs :

HMRC Social Researchers
Temporary Statistical Officers
Temporary Assistant Economists
Various individual Scientist Posts suitable for both undergraduates and postgraduates
Graduate Internships at Executive Officer level

Work Experience

There are two schemes available:

You will find that placements are available through your placement office in some government departments and others may be advertised through the Civil Service Jobs website mentioned previously. There is not a strong expectation that you will have gained experience within the Civil Service before applying for a graduate job there. Think about the competencies that they recruit against and develop your experience to demonstrate these.

Nationality Requirements

There is strict criteria regarding nationality for entry to the Civil Service and comprehensive guidelines are available here. Any job in the Civil Service is open to applicants who are UK nationals or have dual nationality (with one being British). About 75% of Civil Service posts are also open to Commonwealth citizens and nationals of any of the member states of the European Economic Area (EEA), although at some point this latter group will have their status changed once the UK's exit from the EU is settled. I am advised that the Civil Service is not a Tier 2 sponsor.

 

Where are the jobs for me? 5 tips for looking in the right place

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Graduate Jobs, Internships, Networking, Placements, Sector Insight, Tips & Hints

I'm starting to notice a theme with a number of students I have been talking to. They feel like there are plenty of jobs being advertised as well as employer events going on but there is nothing for them. There is no single reason for this but hear are some tips if you recognise this feeling:

1. If you know the kind of job you are looking for then make sure you understand how the jobs for your particular interests are advertised. Some areas of work have obvious graduate entry points like Graduate Training Schemes or the need to get a postgraduate qualification. Other areas of work may need a more creative approach. The timing of all these will be different. Read our Finding a Graduate Job Guide which will help you get started with your job-search, from graduate training schemes to the jobs which are never advertised (campus only). Download it or pick up a copy from our office. For resources for specific job areas see our webpage on Finding out about Occupations.

2. If you are looking for something related to your subject or in a particular field then check some of our specialist resources we have produced aimed at some of the subjects studied at Bath and their related areas of work:

Alternative careers in science

Careers for modern linguists

Careers for those studying economics

Careers in biosciences & pharmaceuticals

Careers in medicine, dentistry & allied health

Careers in scientific analysis and R&D

Careers in sport

International development, international organisations and international relations careers

Politics careers, including working in Westminster and Europe

Social policy, social sciences and sociology careers

Working in the charity sector

3. If you have a dream job in mind then you will need to start tracking back so you can find the starting point or points for you as a new graduate/placement/work experience student. Think about who would employ you in your dream job. Check out their website. Use networking techniques to see if you can speak to someone from the relevant organisations to get an expert view on what experience you will need. The Finding A Graduate Job guide contains advice on how to do this.

4. If you feel that the job you are looking for is difficult to research then talk to us. Our Careers Adviser know about a broad range of occupations and even if they don't know they can help you get started.

5. Don't be a sheep. If you want something different from your friends and course mates don't worry about it. Work out what your job hunting plan is and get on with it. It may mean that your friends are frantically applying while you are still researching but no matter as long as you know your timetable is fine for what you are trying to get into.

 

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Are you getting paid the new living wage?

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📥  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.

 

 

Project positive body language at interviews!

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Internships

You followed all the interview preparation rules and have researched your target employer in depth, both from its website and wider media. You've re-read your application, practiced psychometric tests and your academic grades are great. You have relevant experience, have a fab placement that you can talk about and a ton of extra curricular activities to wow your future employer with. Surely there can't be anything else to worry about?

Oh yes. Body language! Fear not, the do's and don'ts from Career Bliss provide really helpful tips.

 

China Disability Scholarship!

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📥  Diversity, Internships, Work Experience

Applications for the 2016 CRCC Asia and the British Council China Disability Scholarship are now open.


Now running for a fourth year, the scholarship was established in January 2013 to offer students with a disability the opportunity to participate in CRCC Asia’s award-winning China Internship Program. With the support of the British Council in China, CRCC Asia is able to offer two fully-funded places on the 2016 China Disability Scholarship, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai.
The Disability Scholarship Program is run in conjunction with the British Council in China and is specifically designed for academically excellent students with a disability. The successful candidates will undertake a two month internship working with the British Council in Beijing or Shanghai in summer 2016. The interns will live in the centre of each city, gaining transferable business skills and hands-on experience whilst working in an international setting. They will also benefit from CRCC Asia’s full social program with cultural activities, Chinese language classes, and professional networking events. Upon completion of the program, the students will be able to boost their CVs with their international internship experience, stand out from the crowd and prepare for their career ahead.

The recipients of the 2015 Disability Scholarship were Laura Gillhespy (Beijing) and Jasmine Rahman (Shanghai), graduates of the University of York and Durham University respectively. Both Laura and Jasmine recorded their time in China through weekly blogs. Since completing their internships, both Laura and Jasmine have returned to China to pursue their careers. To find out how they got on, you can read Laura’s blog here and Jasmine’s blog here.

Application deadline is 1st April 2016. 

 

New Semester - New Careers Events - New Jobs

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📥  Careers Resources, Event, Graduate Jobs, Internships, Tips & Hints, Work Experience

The staff in the Careers Service are delighted to see campus back in to full swing, especially now students are booking appointments and once more engaging with their careers research and investigation. We do like to be busy!

Here are three things you could be doing to make sure you stay ahead of the game at this time of year.

Check out our Programme of Events

Our new programme is now live and booking in MyFuture.  We have a range of employers coming on campus you can meet up with them to find out more about their opportunities. Some of them will be running skills events too. Our Careers Adviser will also be busy delivering a range of employability skills sessions on campus and virtually. We also have International Careers Week commencing February 29th. Some examples from our programme:

  • Finding Summer Work Experience
  • Interview Success
  • Writing UK Style Covering letters (for International students)
  • Finding a job other than a "graduate scheme"
  • Turning your placement into Graduate job
  • Careers Prep in a Day for Final year undergraduates  (Saturday)
  • Careers Prep in a Day for Master students
  • Webinar: Decisions, Decisions…How to begin your grad job search
  • Webinar: Considering a PhD or a Masters?
  • Assessment Centre Workshops including the chance to practise
  • Using LinkedIn and the Bath Connection to expand your network and build your career

Start Looking or Keep Looking for jobs (summer and graduate)

MyFuture has opportunities being added all the time, be they summer or placement work experience or graduate jobs. Make time to check in regularly and use the Advanced Opportunity Search  to create and save searches. Note that in the date option you can select for the search to show what has been added since you last logged in.

Be aware of how some types of jobs will not be advertised in MyFuture and so find out how you can search for jobs speculatively. Read our two guides Finding a Graduate Job and Finding Work Experience for advice on more comprehensive approaches to job hunting.

Keep your CV and covering letters fresh

I am not talking about keeping them in the fridge but keeping them alive. There is a tendency to fall into complacency once you feel you have nailed your CV and covering letter. Make sure you keep it up to date with new activities and always review your CV in the light of what the employer is looking for. If you have not had success yet then do take the chance to review them with an Adviser and seek help from alumni and employer contacts in your chosen field.

Have a great semester and keep in touch with the Careers Service.

 

 

 

How to handle tricky interview questions!

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📥  Advice, Internships, Tips & Hints

OK, confession time! A long time ago, when I went for my first interview for a graduate scheme at a leading advertising agency - right at the end the interviewer asked me, "so, if you could be a vegetable; what sort of vegetable would you be?". I was totally thrown by this curve ball of a questions and mumbled, "a cabbage". Truth is, I don't like cabbages... (no offence to all you cabbage lovers!)

'You will find that my greatest strength is that I have no weaknesses...'

'You will find that my greatest strength is that I have no weaknesses...'

Then there is the inevitable "what are your strengths and weaknesses?" question or the "where do you see yourself in 5 years time". With the best preparation in the world, it'll happen. The employer will ask you a question that you just hadn't planned for or expected. TargetJobs have put together an excellent list of the common tricky questions and have shared strategies on how to answer them. Really worth a read!

In my mind, the employer isn't always interested in 'what' you say but rather 'how' you handle the situation.  How you cope with curve balls they throw your way is a strong indicator of your ability to work under pressure, remain calm and problem solve. So next time you are caught off guard in an interview, take a deep breath - smile and ask the employer to give you a few minutes to think. This approach conveys bags and bags of self-confidence.

That said, when it comes to interviews, there are certain questions that crop up time and time again. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail and all that. Yes, it’s a well-trodden adage and it might even sound worn, but if you want to wing it at a job interview then, well, you’re on your own. Below are the five most common interview questions and ones that we have found students and graduates find most challenging.

  1. Tell me about yourself: this is a tricky one, so much so that we have written a dedicated blog post about this.
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Structure-wise, this is easy. Use your common sense and focus on sharing more strengths than weaknesses. Make sure the strengths you choose are a match to those required by the employer / role. When it comes to weaknesses avoid 'perfectionism' - we've all heard it before and points to lack of authenticity. Instead, check out the excellent advice from Warwick Careers on how to answer this most common question.
  3. Where do you see yourself in five years time? another infamous interview question, yet it's difficult to answer without resorting to dreaded cliches like "I just want to be doing something I enjoy", or "I want to be at the top of my game". The advice from the Guardian totally nails how to answer this question and is very much worth a read.
  4. If you were a vegetable, what sort of vegetable would you be? these sorts of questions are testing to see how well you react. Some great advice by  Darren Kaltved; if only I had read this piece years ago.
  5. Do you have any questions for us? just as you think, the end is near the interviewer now puts the ball in your court and expects you to ask questions. In my mind, this is an opportunity for you to shine even brighter. Ask questions that convey motivation and help you build a rapport with the interviewer. Check in tomorrow for our final blog post in the interviews series, where we will share with you do's and dont's and crucially provide examples of good questions to ask.

Don't forget: practice makes perfect, so do book an interview with one of our careers advisers!

 

Make the most of your Summer!

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📥  Advice, Internships, Tips & Hints, Work Experience

Yesterday, my colleague Ghislaine Dell and I contributed to a session on 'Make the Most of Your Summer'. We loved it and are really looking forward to the participants letting us know what they're getting up to over the summer holidays. If you'd like to join in, just use the hashtag - #MakingtheMost.

 

make+the+most+out+of+summer

We thought we would blog some of the advice we shared:

  1. Come and talk to us: The Careers Service is open throughout the summer and you can pop in to see a Careers Adviser. No experience, career plan or CV required! If you're not on campus we can still help, we offer appointments over the phone, email and skype!
  2. Give your CV an update: This is a great time to reflect on the skills you have developed from your course, extra-curricular activities and your work. Look at the resources on our website and give your CV a face-lift. You may also want to think about creating a LinkedIn profile. Getting your application package ready will get you ahead of the game!
  3. Get on the right websites: use the summer break to get your profile and vacancy alerts set up! This way as soon as employers start advertising you will receive vacancy alerts directly in your inbox.
  4. Develop your commercial awareness: use the freedom from exams to explore different sectors and  industry developments. Read newspapers, follow individuals on social media and reach out to Bath alumni.
  5. Finally, do something! You'll build your confidence, surprise yourself by discovering something new and most importantly show employers you are proactive and not afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

 

Careers Advice from the Game of Thrones....

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📥  Advice, Graduate Jobs, Internships, Interviews

Hope you all had a lovely Easter break! We know there are a number of you out there who are fans of George R . R Martins Game of Thrones books and the ever popular HBO series which kicks off again tonight. That's why we were very excited to read the Guardian's job tips from Westeros. Our take is as follows:

  • It is important to know your strengths and weaknesses and Tyrion Lannister has demonstrated superb self-awareness. Being self aware is the first step to identifying the types of roles you might be suited to. To help you get started, why not try one of our Team Focus personality tests?
  • Daenerys Targarye demonstrates the importance of listening and learning from others experience. It is important to read case studies, talk to everyone in your network and reach out to careers advisers. You will not only build a picture of what skills particular employers are looking for but will also understand what opportunities and challenges lie within a particular sector.
  • Whilst it is dangerous to boast about family connections especially if you are a Lannister, we do think it is useful to harness connections... in particular Bath Connection. It is a great way to find out what Bath alumni are doing and contact them for friendly and informal careers advice.
  • Finally Arya Stark teaches us the importance of determination! Looking for an internship, job or applying for a PhD has its up's and down's and often rejection is part of the mix. The important thing is to learn and adapt, seek feedback and change your application strategy.

Good Luck!

 

Whats in a handshake?

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📥  Graduate Jobs, Internships, Interviews

You might think a handshake is straightforward – you clasp, shake, release – what could possibly go wrong? Well, here are five types of common handshakes you might want to avoid in an interview:

  • The floppy fish: nerves can play havoc with the best of us and sadly for some this can result in sweaty and clammy palms. The best thing to do is to use the washroom before hand and to wash your hands using cold water. The other alternative is to subtly wipe your palm on your clothes to dry them a bit. A clammy palm says you are nervous which isn't the message you want to be giving.
  • The bone crushing grip: don't take the idea of a 'firm' handshake into palm crushing vice like grip! Research by Businessballs.com found that an overly firm grip could indicate a bullying nature. The best thing to do is to practice with friends, if they wince when you shake their hand then tone it down.
  • The water pump: top marks for enthusiasm but you don't want to give your interviewer whiplash or dislocate their arm. Interviews are all about first impressions and over shaking someone’s hand isn't the most positive of starts.
  • The lingerer: handshakes aren't just about pressure – duration is important too. A handshake that goes on for too long can become uncomfortable and make the other person feel awkward.
  • The finger tickler: Just pinching the interviewers fingers or touching their palm with yours is an inadequate handshake and could make you seem rude. If your reluctance to shake hands is as a result of religious or cultural reasons, then be upfront and explain your reasons from the start. This way you'll manage any awkwardness on both sides.

I think this video by Snagajob is really useful!