Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: reflection

Battling nerves before an interview

  , , , , , , ,

📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Interviews, Tips & Hints

nervous

It is natural to feel nervous in front of an interview, but sometimes it can all feel a bit too much. Here are some tips that I follow and that I hope can help you battle those nerves.

Preparation

This is an obvious one but the more you prepare, the better you will feel on the day. Make sure you read the personal criteria or person specification for the job and practise answering questions about the competencies listed. Read through our leaflet for advice on different type of interviews and how to best answer questions.

Brainstorm examples to use, write them down and then practise answering them out loud. Practise with a friend, with your careers adviser or use our Interview Stream software.

In addition, research the company and employer and come up with good reasons why you want to work there.

Be healthy

Get a good night’s sleep! Stay in the night before, watching a feel good movie so you go to sleep with a smile on your face. Being up all night doing last minute cramming won’t look good on your skin and lack of sleep may make you forget all the important points you remembered during the night. Avoid too much caffeine and make sure you eat a good breakfast.

Arrive early

Don’t get extra stressed because a train gets cancelled or a bus does not turn up. Arrive early and instead go for a walk around the area or sit at a café. Getting unduly stressed because of circumstances outside your control won’t help your nerves!

Breathing exercises

If you are feeling your nerves and anxiety are going out of control, try breathing exercises. These can be done in the morning at home, on the train, in the bathroom before you head in for the interview. They work for me, I hope they can work for you. NHS tells you how. Getting into the practice of meditation may also help.

Warm up your voice and body

I feel doing some exercise of the voice and body prepares the whole you for the interview ahead, this has worked for me several times. I have even written another blog post about it. Try it out and see if it works for you!

Be yourself

Don’t try and be someone you are not. Acting or talking like another person won’t be good for your nerves or your confidence. The employer is interested in who you are, not just the skills or the degree you have, show your personal energy and enthusiasm.

If none of this works and you need extra support....

Go and see a Careers Adviser to talk about strategies in how to deal with confidence or nerves during an interview. Together we can look at your experiences and skills to date and support you in articulating them well, giving  you more confidence in your skills and abilities. We also have a lot additional resources for you to read through.

If there are other reasons for why you are feeling anxious or you are feeling low on self-esteem, please go and see the Well-being team. Talk through what is going on in your life that are making you anxious.

We are here to support you!

 

 

 

 

Making full use of your gap year!

  , , , , , , , ,

📥  Finding a Job, inspire, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Making full use of your gap year!

gapyear-samerica

Before I took a year off to go travelling, I was worried that I would return to unemployment and worst of all, having to go back to living with my parents!! However, returning to the job market after a year away, I found myself with a whole new skillset, with new ideas and experiences and last but definitely not least, I returned with a sense of direction and passion which re-affirmed my career path in guidance and advice. So what did this year away teach me? How can what I learnt help you take full advantage of your gap year?

I learnt a new language - After a year in South America I was near fluent in conversational Spanish. I did a beginner’s course while in Buenos Aires, and this course taught me all the basics needed and gave me the opportunity to connect with the locals. In addition I practised my language skills as much as possible, whether that meant on the bus, in the hostel or on a night out.

Learning a new language can open up doors with regards to employment opportunities, not only in other countries but also in international jobs in the UK.

I volunteered teaching English - I had already taken a CELTA  course before I went travelling. With a CELTA I could have easily found a paid teaching job in Argentina but I decided to volunteer, teaching in disadvantaged communities.

Because of my teaching experiences abroad, I had a range of options teaching English when I returned to the UK, although most were low paid. With a CELTA qualification and teaching experience abroad, you will easier be able to teach English in the UK. Although I did not pursue a career in teaching, I continued volunteering teaching English when I returned to the UK.

I learnt that I had no problems travelling alone - I travelled alone almost the entire time and loved it. I found that I never ever got bored, was able to be social whenever I wanted to and had 100% trust in myself to find my way around.

Travelling alone was one of the skills that was highly valued by employers after my travels, and was one of the reasons I gained employment as an international student recruiter, working and travelling in the US for three months.

I learnt that I love people and their stories - What I loved most about travelling was meeting people of all different cultures. I made some intense friendships along the way. I also met random people on busses or ferries who would tell me their life stories. I cherished almost every human encounter and enjoyed listening to what they had to say, whether that was an American woman travelling the world to deal with the grief of losing her mum or listening to Inca women in Bolivia talking about the historical impact of Spanish imperialism.

Increasing my people skills and interpersonal skills re-affirmed my desire to work in guidance and advice. My travelling experience and my increased cultural awareness were also some of the reasons why I gained employment in international student support.

Travelling gave me new energy and direction - One of the reasons why I took a year out was to “find myself”, and I somewhat did! I came back full of ideas about what I wanted to do in both my life and my career, I came back with tons of self-confidence and with a belief that I could do whatever I wanted, as long as I put my mind to it.


So how can my learning experiences from my gap year help you take advantage of yours? Well, here are some pointers:

  •      Think about doing something else than just backpacking, such as learning a new language or volunteer, doing something you are interested in. Employers will look positively on using the year productively
  •      Really think about the different types of skills you acquire, such as people skills, organisational skills or increase in confidence. Show examples of them in an interview, employers will take them seriously!
  •      Think about what you learnt about yourself during your year away. How can this benefit the role or the company/organisation you are applying to?
  •      If you are applying to international jobs, show evidence to employers about your ability to travel, alone if you did that, make decisions, solve problems, communicate in a different language or manage different cultural encounters. These skills are highly valued. Perhaps some of the people you met along the way could help you gain employment abroad? Networking is key.

But most of all, fully immerse yourself in the travelling experience, meet people of all different cultures and enjoy the freedom and confidence that travelling gives you.

Bath Careers have more information about how to take advantage of your gap year: http://www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers/get-work-experience/gap-year/index.html

 

 

 

Entrepreneurship - a wide open career path

  , ,

📥  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.

 

Happy Diwali – shining a light on the best graduate jobs…!

  , , ,

📥  Career Choice, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs

One of my clients asked yesterday, ‘How do I find the best job?’
This made me think, whilst we have a huge number of employers on campus; all trying to persuade you to start your graduate career with them, how do you decide they’re the best?

To me defining ‘the best’ comes down to whether an employer is right for you! Easier said than done as many organisations look pretty similar and offer much of the same opportunities. Therefore the first step is to clarify what is important to you in your future job and employer. It's a bit like creating a shopping list. You may want to consider the following:

List

 

  • What salary package are you looking for? (Important to be realistic here!)
  • Whether you want to work for an SME or a multinational?
  • Are you fixed or flexible in regards to the geographical location?
  • What are the opportunities and challenges within the sector you’re considering?
  • What are your values and how do these fit with a particular company’s culture?

The next step is to break down your shopping list into vital ingredients for your job satisfaction. Use this list of ingredients when evaluating job descriptions and when talking to company representatives on campus. You’ll be surprised just how much you can learn through an informal conversation. It is also worth contacting Bath Alumni working for particular companies, they will not only be able to advice you on making successful applications but also provide helpful insights about the organisation culture. Pop in to the careers service to look at the Graduate Contact list.

Remember job hunting is a two way process: it’s not just about whether you’re right for a particular job but it is also about whether a particular job is right for you!

Ps. I stumbled across this really interesting article from the Guardian on "What employees from around the world look for in a job" - definitely worth a read!

National Evaluate your Life Day!

  , ,

📥  Career Choice

Mark your calendars! October 19th is National Evaluate Your Life Day. Didn't know there was such a thing? Me neither, I was looking for inspiration for my next blog post and googled off-beat holidays you can celebrate in October. This got me thinking… for some of us, our career makes up a significant aspect of our life and personal identity – so when was the last time you stepped back and reflected on how you really felt about your job, your professional development and levels of satisfaction?

Shifts in the job market mean the ‘traditional one career’ for life is a rarity. In fact, according to an article published on the Forbes website, the average worker now changes jobs every 4.4 years. Therefore, choosing and managing your career is increasingly about exploring a variety of options, evaluating your strengths, considering your values and personality. Of course these will evolve over time so there is some merit in stepping back on the 19th October and evaluating our careers.

Self-evaluation is challenging work! However there are some fantastic tools out there that can provide a helpful starting point.

You may also want to consider the following questions:

  • If a miracle happened one evening and you awoke the next morning with your fantasy job waiting, what would it be?
  • What is stopping you from pursuing your dream career? What is in the way?
  • What do you value the most in the workplace?

Have a great weekend and do feel free to book an appointment with a Careers Adviser to continue your reflective journey!