Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: top tips

Tips for achieving your best! Part 6 - Guest blogger Keon Richardson

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📥  Advice, Diversity, inspire, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Our final blog in this series of "Tips for achieving your best!" Guest blogger Keon Richardson (Sport and Social Sciences 2107) talks about how getting up early helped to achieve his goals and why he decided to turn down a more exciting social life to reach his goals!

10.    WAKE UP EARLY!

Everyone has their optimal hours of the day when they work best. But as I previously mentioned in Tip Number 6, your brain operates at its highest rate when you first wake up early in the morning. A tip I would suggest to avoid hitting the snooze button is to change your alarm to your favourite song to get you excited to get out of bed! My alarm is DJ Arafat - Tapis Vélo. Another technique that I learned from tearing my groin in Second Year and being sidelined from playing was to treat studying like training. To get to 7.30am training from town, I would wake up at 5.50am (takes me an hour to get ready and 30-40 mins to get to campus). Being on campus at 7.30am is early enough as it is, and my earliest lecture in Final Year was at 10am. So I played a trick where I started waking up at 6am on the days that I didn't have training and started working at 7am in my room. That meant that I already had a three hour head start over my classmates who started at 10am. I took the game one level deeper and started waking up early on the WEEKEND. This was pretty easy as I didn’t go out at all during Final Year so I didn’t have to burden the pain of attempting to wake up early on Saturday with a Friday Night Hangover. So the key thing is to find out your optimum hours when you work best!

11. Make “No” your Vitamin C!

In order to reach my goals, I found that I had to give up  and ultimately sacrifice certain things by saying “No” to things I would normally say “Yes” to. In First and Second Year, I always used to talk to one of my close friends from school on the phone for 2-3 hours daily. This was mainly because I only did work on the days that I had training and lecturers. So, when I would go home after lecturers, I would phone him, watch shows online or have a nap. In Final Year, I had a different mentality and I knew that my work ethic had to quadruple. I worked everywhere that I could. On the 403 National Express back home to London; in the Barber Shop; on the coach to Away Games; and making mental notes in the shower (Weird!). People would look at me as if I was mad when I worked in certain spaces but I knew I was working towards a bigger picture which would come in small steps.

"Do you want to go out tonight Keon?"

In Final Year, if I spoke to my friend on the phone it would be briefly or my phone would be unavailable as it was on Flight Mode. I remember he asked me on WhatsApp when he could call me and I replied, “When I graduate”. I could tell that he was annoyed, but he said “OK, do your thing”. I respected that he gave me space and understood what I was doing was temporary to get to the point where I could finish all my work on time without the need for extensions (as I relied on extensions for EVERY essay in Second Year). Likewise, he respected me because I told him the truth and set it clear that I just need to give up our phone calls for a short period to focus on getting my work done. I made a commitment that I would not request a single extension in Final Year, and I had to say “No” to phone calls, partying, link ups. All of it. The last party I went to was in October 2015. I even got to the point where I had to temporarily give up certain apps on my phone. I deleted Snapchat and Instagram because I found myself procrastinating on these apps when I wanted to take a “break”, and my break ended up being more than one hour looking at everybody’s Snapchat and replaying it again just to avoid my work. It takes a lot of guts to say "No" especially to things that you enjoy and are so used to instinctively saying "Yes" to. But if you want to achieve your goals, you are going to have to give up your short-term “needs” for long term achievements.

What's Next Keon!

"What have you been doing since you finished University?"

Since graduating and returning home from my eventful summer, I secured a full time role as Disability Officer at Palace for Life Foundation (charitable arm of Crystal Palace Football Club). This is my dream graduate job and I have loved every minute of it so far! I am responsible for developing and delivering the “Inclusive Eagles” Disability Football Programme in the London Boroughs of Bromley, Croydon and Sutton. This involves: establishing PE curriculum sessions in Special Schools, leading football sessions for the Crystal Palace Down’s Syndrome Eagles; line managing a team of Foundation sessional coaches who deliver on the Inclusive Eagles programme and liaising with external partners such as Surrey FA and Royal Society for Blind Children.

Outside of my graduate job, I am a Gold Scholarship Programme Alumni Mentor and continue to manage the communications for IBSA Blind Football. I have published six IBSA articles on the development of Blind Football across the world, of which five have been re-published by the Paralympic Games. I recently went to Nantes on behalf of IBSA Blind Football to write an article on the first phase of the French Blind Football Championship. As for what’s next, I want to continue developing my expertise in disability as well as coaching and developing blind football. In 2018, I will be going to Enugu, Nigeria to deliver a Blind Football Coaching Clinic to Bina Foundation Blind Football Club and running the social media pages for the IBSA Blind Football World Championships. One of my long-term goals is to manage the communications for IBSA Blind Football at the 2019 African Championships and Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. In the small amount of spare time that I have, I’ve been learning French, Igbo and Swahili on YouTube (I enjoy learning other languages and hope to become fluent in one of them!).

For me, I'm not only proud  that I've obtained a degree and not become another society statistic. I'm more proud of the fact that I stuck to what I am passionate about and now I'm beginning to reap the rewards. I'm happy that I can pursue what gives me joy and peace of mind, rather than be involved in gang wars, knife crime and the all rest of it.  I don't look down on anyone who does that as everyone has different circumstances but growing up and especially today more than ever, a  lot of young black males go down that route without knowing the long-term consequences. University is financially and mentally draining, but there are so many fantastic experiences that you can gain than just a degree. Whoever or wherever you are, take your approach to your education how Buster Douglas took his approach to defeat Mike Tyson! Be brave. Be bold. Be Brilliant. Whatever you want in life is achievable!  If you would like to leave feedback or need any further advice, email me at: keonrichardson@hotmail.co.uk or follow me on Twitter: @FinallyKeon. Asante Sana and Kwaheri! (Thank you and Goodbye in Swahilli)

 

 

Tips for achieving your best! Part 4 - Guest Blogger- Keon Richardson

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📥  Advice, Diversity, inspire, Tips & Hints

Keon Richardson (Sport and Social Sciences graduate 2017) continues with his tips for achieving your best with his own personal strategy for dealing with exam stress (chocolate!) and how he used motivational tapes to keep him on track ..

5.    Create a coping strategy to deal with essay and exam stress!

Mmmmm chocolate!

Following on from the wise quote that “Final Year is a marathon not a race”, I really recommend that you develop and implement a coping mechanism to deal with those moments where you are in your room at 11 pm panicking whether your all-nighter will be handed in on time or not. Each student deals with stress differently. However, I believe that we have consciously or subconsciously developed a method to counteract the stress that we face within education and everyday life. The options for students to relieve stress are endless: smoking, drinking, partying. The list can go on forever. For me, none of the above was a viable option because of how seriously I took playing Futsal. Futsal training for an hour and a half three times a week allowed me to get away from the books and channel my energy in something that I love. It also prepared me for the day as training was from 7.30am to 9am (except Thursdays). However, after the season finished in a heart-breaking cup loss to Northumbria University, I decided to take a rest from playing to recover from Patellar Tendonitis. Consequently, the only alternative I felt that I had was food. A 114G bar of Galaxy Cookie Crumble was my sacred haven to get away from the fear of completing a 15,000 dissertation in three months, the anxiousness of waiting to find a full-time job in Disability Football Development, and the other stresses in life. The moment that the blocks of soft melted chocolate biscuit swirled in my mouth, all my life fears went numb and I was entrenched in a Tango Dance with the sensation of the Galaxy Cookie Crumble. I would eat chocolate when I was writing essays, when I wanted to get away from my thoughts or when I rewarded myself for working hard (my room was full of Cookie Crumble and other treats especially when I received my Assignment Feedback). Although my chest would be heavy for a few days, it calmed my nerves and gave me comfort in the periods of Final Year where I went into isolation mode to complete my work!

6.    Listening to motivational tapes every morning an every night!

For me personally, I believe this is my KEY point to doing well in academic studies and succeeding in life. As I alluded to in the last tip, chocolate was my instrument to counteract my overthinking. But what really got me through Final Year was listening to motivational tapes.  No matter who you are, at some point during University (particularly in Final Year) you will get tired. Everyone reaches their plateau where they feel that enough is enough. What motivational tapes did for me was that it distracted me from my current situation and elevated me into a positive mindset to get through the day. There are three Motivational Speakers that I listen to: Eric Thomas, Les Brown, and Lisa Nichols; all three are renowned global speakers from the US. Eric Thomas ("WAT UP! WAT UP! WAT UP! IT’S YOUR BOY E.T!") would give me the fuel to do work when I didn't feel like doing it and the desire to push through the moments when I was getting writer’s block in my dissertation. He was the go-to-person when I was in the writing mode. I would put on his hour long tapes and let it hit the back of my mind as I was writing. Les Brown and Lisa Nichols are much older folk so they aren’t as hyped as Eric Thomas. Their motivation is a lot more soothing and the first thing I played in the morning and would listen to whilst I was falling asleep. This helped block out all the doubts and questioning myself I would usually do while I was tossing and turning in my bed. It gave me the faith that I would graduate, as Les Brown says “faith comes by hearing and hearing; death and life is in the tongue. Watch your words. Watch your thoughts; for they have magnetic powers”. Although I do not know them and have not physically seen them, they were mentoring me and developing my psychological strength to get through the workload. I found it helpful to listen to motivational tapes when I first woke up in the morning. Scientifically speaking, your brain operates at a 10.5 wave cycle per second, which is the highest it will operate across the whole day. The first 15-20 minutes you wake up you’re in an unconscious mind zone, so why not fill your brain with positive messages? Alongside this, you can write down your short-term and long-term goals! I know that you may have other ways of motivating you to get through challenging times so think on what these are for you .......

Support from Student Services - If you would like to discuss coping with exam and essay stress or struggling with workload, then do have a chat with a Wellbeing Adviser or see information on their website http://www.bath.ac.uk/departments/student-services/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for achieving your best! Part 3 - Guest Blogger- Keon Richardson

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📥  Advice, inspire, Sector Insight, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Today Keon Richardson (Sport and Social Sciences graduate 2017) continues his tips for achieving your best with why its important to write something that you are passionate about and to speak to people who have been there and done it.

3.    Write about something that YOU are passionate about!

What I loved about my course was that there is no right or wrong answer. Studying how sport and societal issues intersect is different to studying Maths, where there is one definite answer (e.g. 1+1=2). With this in mind, we had complete autonomy to study whatever we desired for our 15, 000 word dissertation. After completing my placement year where I delivered community football programmes in local estates, I decided to analyse the degree to which participation in Premier League Kicks could enhance the social mobility prospects of ‘hard-to-reach’ young people from BAME backgrounds in Haringey. Sport-mega events and Health were the main areas of study that my fellow students completed their research on. Initially, I felt put off from my study as mine was unorthodox from what everyone else was studying and I was the only student completing research in Community Football Development. Albeit, completing my dissertation was surprisingly fun because I was reading concepts (Social Capital, Social Mobility, Neoliberalism) that I was competent in analyzing and it was enjoyable to read/write because of how it was connected to my own life. My dissertation gained unexpected attention on LinkedIn as I wrote an article about the study. Sport Professionals from the UK, Canada, America, Trinidad and Tobago (my homeland) and Kenya (my favourite country in Africa after Zambia) liked my post and created a snowball of professionals sharing my post and abundance of messages came through asking to receive a copy of the study once I had finished. This gave me further motivation to not only complete the study, but to take quality care of every single chapter from the Acknowledgements to the Final Appendix as the study was of meaning to people involved in sport across the world. I've had my dissertation praised by two senior worldwide research authors (Ramon Spaaij and James Oloo).

4.    Speak to people who have been there and done it!

Most of my friends graduated last academic year whilst I was on placement at QPR in the Community Trust. Although I was ready to conquer Final Year by myself, the Final Year hit me back and it was reassuring to have advice coming from people who had graduated. Whenever I had my doubts and felt like quitting University, I messaged my sister who studied Photography Science; my cousin who studied Economics and is currently completing his Masters; and two of my closest friends who studied Cardiovascular Physiology and Drama Studies. I particularly contacted my two closest friends as they had most recently finished University, so their memory of Final Year was still fresh in their mind. What was most beneficial was my friends and family studied degrees that were different to mine but I could draw from some of the techniques that they used for their course and apply what was most applicable to mine. This came from academic to general everyday techniques, like turning my Phone on Flight Mode when I went to the Library to study, or pace myself with writing essays – “Final Year is a marathon not a race”.

Read more on Keon's tips tomorrow........

 

Graduate Fair Blog Series: Looking for work locally?

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📥  Advice, Careers Fairs, Careers Resources, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Labour Market Intelligence, Tips & Hints

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This blog entry is a part of the Graduate Fair Blog Series introducing sectors and industries which will be present at the University of Bath Graduate Fair, Tuesday 25th April. Please go here for more information about the fair and the employers present.


So you are graduating soon and you want to stay in the local area, great! There may be many reasons for this, perhaps you are from here or have established family here? Perhaps you love the area so much you would like to stay (like I did 10 years ago)?  Whatever reason, Bath, Bristol and the rest of the South West are lovely places to live and work.

The disadvantages by looking in one region only

Be aware that looking in one region only may limit your job opportunities. In some towns and cities certain industries dominate, while others are under-represented. Limiting yourself geographically may not match with your particular career choices so you need to do your research. Ask yourself how long you are willing to commute? Bath and Bristol are commutable, but you may also want to consider towns like Cheltenham, Swindon and Reading or Newport in Wales. Work out how you will get to work, the costs and how far you are prepared to travel so you can look beyond the immediate locality.

Employers in the Bath area

Bath is not a big city so it is limited in terms of which sectors/industries are located here. The biggest employers in Bath are in the education and health sectors, i.e. the two Universities and the NHS. A wealth of software development firms base themselves in Bath and several internationally recognised architectural and engineering consultancies are found in Bath (source: Bath and North East Somerset Council). See our graduate jobs leaflet for more details on companies and organisations in Bath.

Major Industries in the South West

The major specialisms/growth areas in the SW:

  • Advanced Engineering which includes Aerospace (Bristol), Automotive (Swindon), measuring instruments and medical devices (Gloucestershire)
  • Biomedical and Healthcare (Bristol/Bath and Exeter/Plymouth)
  • Creative Industries (Bristol, Gloucestershire and Plymouth areas)
  • Environmental Technologies
  • Food and Drink (Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset)
  • Information Communication Technology (Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bristol, Devon)
  • Leisure and Tourism
  • Marine (Devon, Cornwall and Dorset)

Source: www.gradsouthwest.com which includes more details about these sectors.


Gradsouthwest will be at the graduate fair, do go and ask them any question you may have about staying in the South West! In addition, CIMPA, Decision Analysis Services, Sword Apak and Rise Technical Recruitment have roles in Bristol and London and Country Mortgages has roles in Bath!  Research these employers and the roles they can offer in our Graduate Fair programme.


How to find local work as a graduate?

First, you should make a list of employers that you are interested in.

Find out what employers exist in the area that are in the sectors or industries you would like to work in. Our Find a Graduate job leaflet has some great tips for you:

  • Monitor local job adverts – senior posts will still alert you to potential employers
  • Ask local people which companies they know
  • Tap into local networks of relevant professional bodies or looking for local business groups
  • Look for news items, articles and annual reports in local newspapers and business magazines for potential job growth, e.g. new factories/offices, new product/service launches, organisations relocating, takeovers etc.
  • Keep your eyes open for businesses of interest
  • Building local contacts from your own recreational activities.

You can also find A-Z lists of employers that have been in contact with us on our website.

What are the typical job websites?

You are able to search for local jobs in MyFuture, but be aware that there will be many more jobs available that are not advertised on MyFuture. Bath Chronicle advertises jobs in the Bath area, Bristol Evening Post in the Bristol area. Duport business confidence reports details business performance trends in the city. There are many more local job sites for you to try, please go here for a comprehensive list.

Contacting employers speculatively

As you know, most jobs are not advertised! Therefore, you should be flexible and creative in your approach to employers. Can you apply speculatively? Use LinkedIn in your job search? Get ideas from friends and other contacts? Our Find a Graduate Job leaflet gives you an insight in to different strategies in job hunting.

What else is there to say but the best of luck in your search and maybe I will see you for lunch in Bath or Bristol soon!

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Battling nerves before an interview

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📥  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!

 

 

 

 

Understanding interview anxiety

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📥  Advice, Interviews, Tips & Hints

Despite of advising students for over 10 years, I still find myself riddled with anxiety when I attend an interview. There’s something about being in the spotlight; that one chance of either securing the job or being rejected, that is guaranteed to bring me out in a sweat. I recently stumbled upon this this article from The Muse  which made me reflect on why do we all fear interviews so much?  When I ask students, what worries them about interviews the most, these three consistently make it on top of the list:

  • Mind going blank
  • Not being able to think of an example
  • Stress and anxiety bubbling over
Image result for job interview gif

So what is the solution? Well to a large extent it is about practice and self-reflection. Interviews are a solitary activity and most of us would rather not ask for feedback or reflect on our performance. However a sure way of improving your interview technique is to get objective feedback. One way is to book a practice interview with a Careers Adviser or to use InterviewStream which enables you to record your interview and review your performance.

That aside, what is the solution for the three biggest fears?

  • Mind going blank: you can’t stop your brain freezing, however you can control how you respond if this happens. My top tip is to acknowledge what’s just happened, and start again. Or you may wish to ask the recruiter to repeat or clarify the question buying you precious time.
  • Not being able to think of an example: another form of brain freeze! Again, it is all about composing yourself. Feel free to ask the employer for a few minutes to think about the question. If inspiration doesn’t strike, then consider answering hypothetically… “Although, I haven’t experienced such a situation, if I did this is how I would tackle it…”
  • Stress and anxiety bubbling over: I think this article from the Guardian offer excellent tips on how to tackle anxiety before and during the interview. I would add that it is OK to be open about being nervous, it makes you human and the interviewer will relate to you better.

Finally and most importantly, interview anxiety can get out of hand if you build the interview up in your mind to a point where you start to loose perspective. Take a moment to consider: this isn’t the only job out there. They wouldn’t be interviewing you if they thought you lacked potential for the position. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: ‘I could get the job’ rather than ‘I might not get the job’.

 

Top tips to get the most out of the careers fair tomorrow!

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📥  Advice, Careers Fairs, Careers Resources, Tips & Hints

The Graduate Recruitment Fair takes place tomorrow in Founders Hall from 10:00am to 3:00pm. We know this is a busy week for a lot of you with dissertation deadlines and exams looming - however investing half an hour to attend the fair tomorrow could open doors, enhance your future applications and help you feel more in control of your future career post-graduation.

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So, here are our top tips to get the most out of the fair:

  • Do your research: have a look at the fair programme and explore company websites. This way you won't waste time asking basic questions.
  • Ask the right questions: make a list of the key questions you want to ask. Think about asking questions that will help you glean useful insights about the company such as: What is the culture like?, What are the key challenges / trends facing the industry? or What are the key skills you look for in applicants?
  • Take your CV: the fair is an opportunity for you to market yourself, therefore take a recent copy of your CV and if the opportunity arises do hand it to potential employers.
  • Dress appropriately: whilst there is no need to be suited and booted, do dress professionally! After all first impressions really matter.
  • Follow up: where possible ask for the recruiters business card and follow up! Thank them for the advice they offered or email them your CV. It may also be useful to connect with them on LinkedIn.

Finally and most importantly, avoid going around the fair in a pack! This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to potential employers you are a capable and independent individual.

For more tips, check out our handy help-sheet on how to prepare for the careers fair. Good luck and hope to see you in Founders Hall tomorrow.

 

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.

 

 

How to network with confidence!

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📥  Advice, Diversity, Event, Networking

We are absolutely thrilled to be delivering two workshops during the Women in Leadership Conference which is being organised by the University of Bath Students Union tomorrow. My colleague Ghislaine Dell will be exploring the concept of personal branding and I will be talking to the participants about the importance of networking.

Reflecting on when I started working, I really lacked confidence; especially when it came to networking and striking conversations with people I didn't know. I think lack of confidence is something that plagues many women. And there’s nowhere less comforting than a networking event – those crucial get-togethers in any sector that can to an extent determine the success of our careers. So, I wanted to share some personal tips that have over time helped me feel more comfortable in networking situations:

  1. Arrive early: Often, the most important people will arrive early to make sure the event is set up. If you arrive before the main crowd, you may get chance to speak to the main organiser, who will often then facilitate introductions to guest speakers, the event sponsors, or other attendees. It also means you don't have to break into existing and established conversations.
  2. F.O.R.M small talk: If you haven't seen it, you must watch the origins of small talk! Small talk needn't be awkward and can often lead to deeper and meaningful conversations. F.O.R.M. it is a memory tool for when you are in social situations and you want to get to know the person you are talking with. F.O.R.M stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Message -four areas you can use as conversation helpers in just about any social situation.
    1. Family: ask where they live, how they traveled...this gets the person talking about themselves and gives you a chance to learn about them.
    2. Occupation: what do you do for a living? When they tell you what they do, you have a great opportunity to ask them about their job-if it's in an industry you are familiar with you can comment about how competitive it is, or how challenging. If you are unfamiliar with their industry, here's your chance to learn about it.
    3. Recreation: this one's easy! What do you do for fun? If they participate in a sport or interest that you enjoy as well, you can swap stories and really build a memorable relationship with the person.
    4. Message: when you feel the conversation winding down, or you want to move on to meet other people in the group, have your "message" that you want this person to remember about you ready to go. It's something like your elevator speech, but much more personal to the individual you are talking to. For me, my message is simple. "It was great to meet you, Steven. If you ever need help with any professional development training or you run into someone who needs careers related help –then let me know, I would be delighted to help”.
  3. Watch your body language: Your body is giving constant signals the entire time, so make sure these, too, are geared towards projecting confidence and are open and welcoming. Little tricks like, shoulders back, head up, hands unclenched, arms unfolded can make a huge difference. Switch off your mobile phone and put it away so you are not tempted to hide behind it. Do watch this TED X talk to find out more about this interesting piece of research on body language.
  4. Know when to leave: I always set myself a target: have five good conversations and meet the key people I set out to meet. This means I know I have an end in sight and don't out stay my welcome or linger!  If asked, I say I have somewhere else to be and exit graciously.
  5. Follow up: As soon as you leave the networking event, spend a few minutes jotting down key points from the individual conversations you had. Within 24-hours, send a short email and simply say that you enjoyed meeting them and try to reflect back on a point from the conversation. The tips from Forbes on how to master the art of networking follow-up are excellent!

I hope these tips help and if you are attending the Women in Leadership Conference tomorrow, do put them to practice!

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Demystifying the Careers Fair!

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📥  Careers Fairs, Event, Networking, Tips & Hints

This afternoon a number of students have been asking me questions about the Autumn Careers Fair taking place on Thursday and Friday this week. For some students this may well be your first ever careers fair that you are going to while for others this may be a very different experience to the job fairs in your home country. So, I thought a quick blog explaining how the fair works and what to expect, may help some of you.

  • Each exhibiting organisation has a stand with representatives from the business there to answer your questions. If you want ideas on what to ask, check out our blog post on good questions to ask at a careers fair.
  • Some employers will be available to talk to you on both days, where as some will only be there on one of the days. Do have a look at the fair guide and make a list of the employers you'd like to speak with.
  • If you are nervous about starting a conversation, try a bit of practice! Come to the Careers Service stand and talk to us first, this way when you approach employers you are interested in you'll feel confident in yourself.
  • In the UK employers will not offer jobs at a careers fair, this is your opportunity to network and learn about the organisation, the sector and available opportunities.
  • Try and arrive early, company representatives aren't robots - they will be knackered near the end of the day.

I also asked some of my colleagues for their top advice for making the most of the fair, here goes:

Tracey Wells, Head of Service "Wherever possible, try to talk to someone on the stand instead of just picking up a brochure or a free toy; you never know a 5-minute conversation could lead to your dream job"

Ghislaine Dell, Careers Adviser "Avoid walking round the fair with a group of friends. This is an opportunity for you to network and make an impression with a potential employer!"

Kate Maton, Information Assistant "Smile, be enthusiastic and enjoy the fair"

And finally, last bit of advice from me - even if you have a 'hit list' of employers you want to talk to - keep an open mind and talk to representatives from other organisations as well. An open mind can open up possibilities.

Ps. This image has no link whatsoever to the blog post. We adore the penguin and thought we would share it with you.