Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

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.



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.


Apply for a scholarship to attend the European Forum in Alpbach, Austria

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📥  Commercial Awareness, Event, inspire

Are you under 32 years of age and want to immerse yourself in an environment with new ideas, ways of thinking and opportunities for making new contacts? Then apply for a scholarship to attend the European Forum 2016 in Alpbach in Austria, a conference that brings together students and professionals from across Europe.

What is the European Forum Alpbach?
Often called the European version of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the European Forum Alpbach has been attracting leading thinkers and practitioners since 1945: economist Friedrich Hayek, physicist Erwin Schrödinger and philosopher Theodor Adorno attended regularly, as have more recently UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and economist Jeffrey Sachs. Every year, about 5,000 participants from over 60 countries meet to discuss emerging trends in eight broad fields: technology; law; European and international affairs; financial markets; the economy; public health; higher education; and architecture and urban planning. Each of these fields has a dedicated “symposium” in the conference schedule. All of the events, however, are united by a loose, overarching theme: in 2016, the European Forum Alpbach takes on the question of “New Enlightenment”.

What distinguishes the European Forum Alpbach from other international conferences is the involvement of hundreds of young people from across Europe through the clubs of the Forum Alpbach Network and their scholarships. The first week of the conference – the “Seminar Week” – is dedicated entirely to the scholars: senior experts, government officials and academics “pitch” their week-long seminars to you, and you pick and mix the ones you want to attend. Moreover, throughout the Forum, the clubs invite senior conference participants to informal, small-scale discussions with scholars, so-called “fireside talks”. These can be very short-notice, so it’s essential to keep an ear to the ground, and an eye on Twitter and Facebook. And, of course, there’s a lively social scene, a football tournament (which has been known to field government ministers), beach volleyball and tennis courts, a pristine Alpine lake, and the Tyrolean mountains all around you for an afternoon’s escape. The Club Alpbach London awards scholarships to cover the conference fees. They will also reserve a place for you in the shared club accommodation in the center of Alpbach. The costs for accommodation (roughly £400) and travel are usually not included. However, support with additional costs is available.

Students and recent graduates up to the age of 32 who study or work in the UK are eligible to apply.
Individuals who represent a wide spectrum of opinions, and academic and professional backgrounds.
Ideally you plan to be in London from September 2016, as Alpbach hope you will continue to play an active role in the Club. However, this is no mandatory requirement to apply.
Almost all of the Forum’s events are conducted in English so there’s no requirement to speak German. Please note that they require scholars to attend the European Forum Alpbach 2016 in its entirety, so please only apply if you are available for the whole period.

How to apply
Please send an email to with a single PDF file attached, containing a motivation letter, your CV and, a confirmation of your studies (eg. scanned degree, transcript or confirmation of study). In your motivation letter, in no more than 200 words each (so no more than 800 in total):

  • your reasons for applying
  • which aspects of this year’s conference programme you find particularly interesting
  • why we should pick you
  • what you plan to do after graduating (if applicable), and whether you plan to be in London from September 201

The deadline for applications is Thursday 31 March 2016 at 5pm.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email You can also find out more about the Club Alpbach London, on their website.


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.