Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Is there such a thing as a non-relevant internship?


📥  Work Experience

We're seeing quite a few students coming in asking us about internships. This is great - to have people coming in and asking us about productive uses of their summers is exactly what we want! But some of you are quite concerned that you can't get the 'right' sort of internship, maybe because you're a first year and the schemes you can find are only open to penultimate years.

So I thought I would issue a bit of reassurance.

It does not matter if you are studying, for example, engineering, and can't find an internship with a related company. There are still internships available for first years (just have a look at the programme from our Summer Internship Fair to see the sort of things available).

Yes, these tend to be in finance, or what might be termed 'general management', or in summer camps. But that doesn't mean they are useless as far as you are concerned.

These roles, or organisations, might not be your first, or even second, choice of career or employment sector. But they will still give you very useful experience of using some of the skills that all employers want.

For example, almost every employer wants people who can work well in a team and solve problems. They don't mind that the team of people you worked in was a set of camp counselors in Canada. Or that the problem you solved was how to increase a particular brand's market share. They do care that you had an opportunity to use those skills - and you have a great example to use in one of those competency-based questions employers love to ask you.

You will also learn about the sort of working style and culture you prefer - whether that be relaxed, flexible, likely to change at the last minute, or more predictable and structured. That might make the difference between you applying for a placement in process engineering in a large plant, or a smaller conasultancy that goes into many different companies to help them increase efficiencies in their production.

So go on - try something completely different! You have nothing to lose - and a whole lot of insight and useful skills development to gain!

We are here every day to help you with applications for internships and to answer any of your career questions - click here for times and how to book.



PhD funding fairs – London and Leeds, December 2014

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📥  Postgraduate Study


PostgraduateStudentships is running two PhD funding fairs in December 2014. Please note you need to APPLY to attend and the deadline to apply is 6pm on Tuesday 2 December. There are two fairs taking place:  London – 4 December and Leeds – 10 December.  The fairs bring together more than 25 UK universities with specific PhD funding to offer. Students who have achieved or are expected to achieve either a 1st or a 2:1 in their undergraduate degree or a merit or distinction in their masters degree can apply to attend. The Fair is for you if:

  • You are considering doing a PhD and looking for funding.
  • You want to talk to and network with some of the best UK Universities that are looking for high quality PhD students
  • You'd like to find out more about studying for a PhD, get some advice  and talk to PhD students to understand what it's really like

For more information and to apply, visit the PostgraduateStudentships website.

Please note that PhD funding may be subject to residency requirements or other restrictions.


Time management tips for successful job hunting

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📥  Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Work Experience


Applying for a placement, internship or graduate role whilst juggling the demands of your course can be quite a challenge. That old adage "job hunting is a job in itself" really rings true! I stumbled across this really useful article from the Guardian on time management tips for successful job hunting. In particular, I thought the advice from Clare Evans was superb  "Work in short bursts so that you don't get mentally or physically distracted. Give yourself mini-targets for what you're going to achieve in the next hour and then take a break. When you have a lot to do or you're feeling overwhelmed, you need to prioritise. Do important tasks before they become urgent and avoid time-wasting tasks. Get support, if you don't have the skills to do a particular task, ask someone else or delegate to someone who does."

Websites such as Graddiary and Milkround highlight key graduate scheme application deadlines. You may want to have a quick look and prioritse your applications by  closing dates. It is also worth remembering that the quality of your application really matters! Spend time on a few but well written applications as opposed to a scatter gun approach. And always get a second opinion. Do book an appointment with the Careers Service, sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need to get your application mojo!


Common career dilemmas we've heard this term!

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📥  Career Choice, Careers Resources, Finding a Job, Subject Related Careers

Some of us were talking about the most common things we have heard this term from students in our drop-in’s along with helpful hints that we may give to individuals in that situation.

“I am not sure what I want to do”

This is perhaps one of the most common statements we've heard and this is followed by a look of embarrassment. Students in this situation often feel like they have failed in some way, like they are the only student on their course without a career plan. There’s some great advice within this article by the Guardian. Our advice is to stop panicking and to please book an appointment with one of the careers team. We can support you by giving you  space to reflect on what you want from a future role, suggest helpful starting points to research options, signpost you to relevant resources, online tools and share with you what other students from your course have done.

 “Do you have a list of jobs I can do with a degree in x?”

We don’t have that magical list of jobs you can do with your degree.

The reason is that in the UK, you don’t have to study a particular degree to enter a certain profession. Now there are exceptions (predominantly specialist scientific/tech careers) but in the majority of cases recruitment is based around the skills you have to offer.  So rather than asking “what job can I do with a degree in x?” it may be worth asking “what jobs am I interested in?” or “what skills do I want to use in my future role?” It is important that you don’t put limits on the options you believe you have.  Think instead about what careers you would enjoy doing and use websites like Prospects  and TargetJobs to expand your awareness of the breadth of opportunities that are available to you.

“Argh! I think I will get a 2:2, are there any jobs out there for me?”

You can survive a 2:2: while some graduate schemes use 2:1 classification as a way to sift applications this is not true of all employers! I just did a quick search on and counted at least 20 grad schemes which accept a 2:2. Not to mention SME’s and start-ups, who often don't have such stringent requirements. So it is worth exploring alternative routes into the sector of your choice. Check out this amazing list produced by Warwick Careers of employers who consider a 2:2!


Who can I talk to about my career?

📥  For PhDs

When I shared a previous post about career planning for first year PhD researchers on a LinkedIn group, someone requested a follow-up post on who researchers can talk to about their careers, apart from Careers Services. I completely agreed with the comment that effective career planning usually involves engagement with a range of people for the approriate information, advice, encouragement, networks and support. Here are some ideas for groups and people you can access for careers support:

1. Peers. Career planning and job-searching can be isolating businessess, and it can be useful to access others who are going through similar situations. If you're actively job searching, think about finding a 'buddy' who can hold you to goals you've set and motivate you to keep going in the face of setbacks. Attending departmental research seminars and researcher development training sessions can be good ways to meet other Bath researchers. It's also valuable to build connections with early career researchers outside of Bath. LinkedIn groups such as PhD Careers Outside of Academia and The PostDoc Forum will give you the opportunity to connect with researchers and professionals looking to make, or who have recently made, similar transitions to you. Questions around specific career options or advice on how to market yourself can be posted as discussion groups. Also check out relevant Twitter feeds such as ECR Chat and academic networking sites such as ResearchGate.

2. Alumni. An easy way to connect with Bath alumni working in fields or organisations that may interests you is through registering for the Bath Connection, a recently-launched database of Bath graduates who are happy to be connected by current students and research staff with questions about their career paths and areas of work; see our recent post on how to register and make the most of the Bath Connection. The Department of Alumni Relations also has a list of LinkedIn groups for Bath alumni.

3. Employers. We have lots of employers coming on to campus throughout the year; check out the events section on MyFuture to see who's coming soon.  Professional Bodies and Learned Societies often organise careers fairs, events and information sessions relevant to particular areas of specialism and career options. See Directory of the Professions for a list, and check out the web page for your discipline on the researchers section of our website. Connecting with employers via social media, whether by following companies that interest you on Twitter, or joining relevant groups on LinkedIn and posting your career questions as discussions topics, is also vital. Jisc Mail lists are another way to keep in touch with others in your field, and if you're interested in science communication, is a must.

4. Supervisors/academics. Hopefully this goes without saying if you're interested in a career in academia. Academics are busy people, so realistically you may need to take the initiative to open up a conversation about your career development. If you're a research postgraduate, opening up this conversation at key points in your doctorate, for example during an end-of-year review, can be a good way forward. If you're a member of research staff, your SDPR is an ideal time to have a conversation about your broader career development and goals. Make yourself visible by attending departmental research seminars and conferences, and ask for half an hour of someone's time to discuss your mutual research interests.

5. Mentors? There is a lot of discussion around the value of a mentor if you're trying to establish an academic career. One of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard is, rather than asking an academic to be your mentor, which can sound like another role in addition to the seventeen they already have, ask for permission to pick someone's brains occasionally. Most people will happily agree to this, especially if you throw in the offer of coffee.

6. As we noted in another post, blogs are a great way to open up a two-way conversation about people's experiences. This web page has a list of our favourite blogs written by early career academics and researchers who have transitioned outside of academia.

Our guide to accessing employers for researchers has more tips on effective networking and a brief list of career events relevant to you.




Only connect....the Bath way


📥  Networking

If you've ever wanted to have a chat to someone about their job - how they got it, what the interview was like, what they do every day - but wondered how on earth you are going to get in touch with an International Development Officer at Oxfam, then wonder no longer!

Working with the Alumni Relations team, we have recently launched the Bath Connection. It completely replaces, updates and expands our Graduate Contacts Database and has the added benefit of being entirely online.

Alumni Relations have been in touch with all the Bath alumni who have said that they'd be interested in helping you with your career plans and development. And so far there are over 500 Alumni Experts (and counting...) ready and willing to help you.

Molly Southwood, Alumni Relations Manager, explains:

"They are broadly spread evenly over the 4 faculties, and at last count the industries with the greatest representation were 'Banking & Finance - Financial Services,' 'Education - Higher/Further,' and 'Healthcare - Medical.' But there are about 60 industries represented over all"

The best thing about this new system is that it captures our alumni working overseas and in the UK, and also those who are British citizens and those who are international students. So whether you are an Indian student wanting to ask advice of someone who has built their career here, or a Chinese national who wants to find out more about working life in the USA, you should be able to find someone who can help you. Molly adds:

"Of the 500, 200 are based outside the UK, including the US, China, France, Malaysia, and the UAE (plus others)"

There is also the chance to ask advice of people who graduated a long while ago or just last year - perfect for those of you taking a long-term view of planning your future career paths.


Getting connected

So, now you know that there is this fabulous network of well-placed people just ready and waiting for you to get in touch - how do you do that and what do you ask, I hear you cry....

Well - if you are a current Bath student it is really simple - just head on over to the website at For Bath research staff, that link will still work for you if you graduated from Bath at any point. If you didn't, you'll need to email stating that you are a member of research staff here and they will send you registration information.

As to what to's Molly Southwood again:

"We envision it being used for everything from asking about the interview process at a specific organisation to requesting a formal mentoring relationship. Students can search to see what sorts of jobs people who did their course have gone on to do, or look at the organisation or role they are interested in and ask about the path the alumnus took to get there."

To get some further ideas about questions, have a look at the Networking pages of our 'Finding a graduate job'  guide which has lots of suggestions. You could also look at our recent blog post on 'How to use LinkedIn effectively'.



Could you win at the 2015 Undergraduate of the Year Awards?


📥  Uncategorized


Last year Baran Ceylan, Business Administration student at Bath won the Future Business Leader of the Year Award
, sponsored by Mars. In addition Konstantinos Voulpiotis (Construction Engineering and Design Undergraduate of the Year)  and Marie Godet (Languages Undergraduate of the Year) were shortlisted.  There are Undergraduate of the Year Awards available for top undergraduates in: IT and computer science; management; law; mathematics, economics and finance; engineering; construction, engineering and design; and low carbon energy. There are also three special awards: the ‘Future Business Leader’, open to students from any discipline; the ‘Female Undergraduate of the Year’, open to the best female undergraduates; and the ‘Languages Undergraduate of the Year’, open to multilingual students.

Winners’ prizes include exclusive internships, lunches with directors and trips to the USA, South America, the Far East and continental Europe. The final ten students in each category will be invited to the Undergraduate of the Year Awards in Canary Wharf London on 24 April 2015 where the winners will be announced by event host Fiona Bruce.

To find out more and enter, visit the Undergraduate of the Year Awards website.



How would I know if I am 'an entrepreneur'?

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📥  Entrepreneurship

So, for the last few days we have focused on articles about entrepreneurship. But I'm sensing there may still be some people reading this thinking 'but how would I know if I have the potential?'

Yes, we ran an article looking at the 'entrepreneurial process', showing it's actually a simple problem identification and solving process. But not everyone who loves solving problems would like being self-employed.

So, there are two questions I'd like to pose today.

  1. do you have to be self-employed to be an entrepreneur?
  2. how do you know if self-employment is for you?

1. Do you have to be self-employed to be an entrepreneur?

Strictly speaking, yes. An entrepreneur is officially defined as

"someone who starts their own business, especially when this involves seeing a new opportunity".

However, companies really, really love people who have the characteristics of entrepreneurs i.e. the entrepreneurial people.

They are the people who will spot an opportunity and make it happen, who take a company in an unexpected direction, or who enable a company to steal a march on its competitors. And because they can't call these people entrepreneurs, they have invented a new word to describe these people: intrapreneurs.

"an employee within a large company who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable new product, service, business, etc., often instead of leaving to start their own company"

So, if you are always coming up with new ideas but want the security of an organisational structure and regular salary, then maybe you should be looking for a company that actively selects for intrapreneurial spirit.

2. How do you know if self-employment is for you?

This is a tricky one. After all, you may never have worked for anyone before so how do you know if you would rather work for yourself? But hints might include the fact that you hate being tied down into a particular way of thinking. What you want is the reedom to pursue your ideas in your way at your own pace. If that sounds like you, then maybe think about the idea of freelancing, consulting independently or setting up your own business.

Maybe you are always inventing things that fill a need no-one else has seen. Yes, you could take that ability to a design company. But if your ability to spot and fill holes in the market is also coupled with a strong independent streak then maybe you should find out a little more about setting up on your own. Enterprise Bath are there exactly for students like you! And that goes for whether what you make is an app, a gadget, a plate, a bag, soup - they have supported all these ventures and more.

If this has made you think even a little bit that entrepreneurship might be for you, why not pop along to a Banter meeting and chat to some like-minded people?


Entrepreneurship and Research - Innovation and Independence

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📥  Entrepreneurship, For PhDs

While looking through the Researcher Career Stories on the Vitae website recently, I was struck by how many of the researchers had started their own business or undertaken some form of freelance or consultancy work. Some set up their own business alongside a PhD, part-time teaching or research work or other paid employment. Others became entrepreneurs during a period of unemployment, through commercialising their research and developing spin-off companies, or in response to dissatisfaction with the values or working practices of their current employer. Connections are often drawn between the skills and attributes needed to build a successful research career and those needed to be a successful entrepreneur. As highlighted in yesterday's blog post, both entrepreneurrship and research involve problem-solving. As well as this, both involve creativity, confidence in the value and originality of your own ideas, risk-taking, independance, building effective networks and collaborations and communicating the value of your ideas to others. One of the Vitae case studies, Max Robinson, talks about these connections between entrepreneurship and research: 'My background of doctoral completion provided me with skills and experience in writing technically demanding concepts clearly and succintly. This part of doctoral study is so important, because it is about selling your ideas and convincing people that there is a gap for your research.' Max goes on to highlight the importance of a mentor in setting up a business; mentoring relationships are also highly valuable in academia. In both contexts, mentors can introduce you to their contacts, be a sounding-board for ideas, read through funding applications, and provide encouragement, reality checks and the wisdom of their own experience.

Max found a mentor useful because he felt 'naive about commercial issues'. In a 2009 Vitae reort on Employer Practice on recruiting researchers, commercial awareness was ranked bottom among seven skills on which employers were asked to judge university researchers. Getting involved in entrepreuneurship activities during your PhD or postdoctoral research contract, whether of not you're intending to start your own business, is a great way to demonstrate knowledge of the issues businesses have to take account of, as well as developing contacts with industry.

So how do you get started? The Researcher Development Unit runs courses on research commercialisation and entrepreneurship.  If you have a research idea you would like to commercialise, get in touch with the Entreprise and Knoweledge Expoitation Team within the Research and Innovation Office. Something else well-worth checking out is the Researcher to Innovator Programme, which can help you think through the impact of your research and offers access to industrial mentors and advice from other researchers-turned-entrepreneurs. Our researcher web pages have other advice and useful links relating to entrepreneurship and self-employment.



Entrepreneurship - a wide open career path

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📥  Entrepreneurship

It's very easy, when hearing about something like Global Entrepreneurship Week, to think 'well that's not for me - I don't have any business ideas'. So when I read a blog post in Nature last week which had as its theme the fact that

'entrepreneurship is not an endeavour reserved for the talented, it's a set of skills anyone can learn'

I was immediately interested.

I have to admit, I am also one of those people who sees enterprise as something 'other' - almost a mysterious concept because I have never had 'the' idea or felt that burning desire to work for myself.

So I have reposted the blog article in its entirety below, hoping that any of you who are feeling similarly in awe of entrepreneurs but sure it's not for you, will have a look as common myths about entrepreneurship are busted. Additionally, a three-step process for pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity are given.


Entrepreneurship: A wide open career path
24 Oct 2014 | 06:00 GMT | Posted by Julie Gould | Category: #NJCE14, Career paths

Entrepreneurship is not an endeavour reserved for the talented, it’s a set of skills anyone can learn.
Contributor Annalise Smith

Professor Simon Mosey

Credit: Annalise Smith
Entrepreneurship is often viewed as an endeavor reserved only for the very select few who were born with a rare combination of talents. Not so, said Simon Mosey, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Nottingham University Business School, speaking at the Entrepreneurship for Scientists and Engineers Workshop at the Naturejobs Career Expo in London on September 19. “Entrepreneurship is a set of skills that anyone can learn,” he declared.

Mosey similarly punctured what he said were two other myths about entrepreneurship: that entrepreneurs can see into the future and that entrepreneurs do it all themselves. These myths suggest that stars such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have skills that others lack. Mosey called these notions “nonsense.” Success in entrepreneurship is “not an individual pursuit” he explained. Behind Job’s and Zuckerberg’s success “is a large team of clever individuals working together in a group to realize the common vision.”

Mosey outlined a series of steps for pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity.

Stage I: Problem Definition

It all starts with a problem, but identifying a problem that needs solving. Mosey outlined how to approach this in three steps: 1) Describe the problem and recognize the opportunities. 2) Explore the dynamics of the problem and 3) Understand the root causes of the problem. This will provide a solid foundation to then move on to using science or technology to do something about it.

As an example Mosey addressed the problem of low recycling rates in the UK. Exploring the dynamics and root causes resulted in a unique approach to tackling the issue by figuring out how to produce less waste rather than more recycling efforts. This now recasts the problem in such a way that makes it easier to see ways in which “science can do quite a lot about it” Mosey explained.

Stage II: Idea Discovery

The true test is to come up with ideas to solve the problem that has been identified. He stressed the need for quantity of ideas over quality, especially at first. Even “bad” ideas, he said, can “lead somewhere that’s new, exciting and different.” Mosey cited Linus Pauling’s famous statement that the best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas, and to throw away the bad ones. Taking time to consider and reflect upon these ideas is a critical next step. Following the example of low recycling rates in the UK, Mosey presented some modest solutions such as reduced packaging as well as more radical ones, such as sending waste into space. The main point, Mosey stressed, was “not to be afraid of coming up with bad ideas.” He did, however, say that it was important to make even the “wilder” ideas more scientific. Using scientific knowledge to find solutions to problems “could lead to numerous possibilities, one of which could result in a career opportunity,” he said.

Stage III: Solution Determination

The next step is to sort and sift and organize ideas into categories. The primary objective is to narrow all the ideas down to one, choose the best solution and begin the process of implementation — which Mosey described as the “hard work of building a system that works.” At this stage, one should also consider the business mechanisms by which the new ideas can generate income. Is it smarter to create a start-up company or to sell the idea to someone who will now have his or her name associated with it? Along these lines, the selected solution to the recycling problem in the UK was to create a more economical alternative to waste oil disposal by designing a filter to convert the waste oil into biodiesel.

Finding solutions to a problem is not the only entrepreneurial path, though. In fact, Mosey said, for life scientists the process often goes the other way around: taking technologies you may have floating around in your lab and using them to address social or medical problems. Mosey provided an example from a business plan competition, which used an existing technology called IdentiScentTM; described as “ a quick and dirty DNA type test”; like an electronic nose that creates unique signatures for every organic compound or individual. Ideas for commercializing the IdentiScentTM technology included solving medical problems such as organ matching or social problems such as bomb detection in public places.

Early career scientists face many challenges as they seek to capitalize on their many years of study. “The best way to keep your options open,” Mosley said, “is to develop your entrepreneurial skills.


So, all of you who thought entrepreneurship was for other people - why not give it a go? Get in touch with Enterprise Bath to see what they have on offer.