UCL Careers
  • Welcome

    The UCL Careers team use this Blog to share their ‘news and views’ about careers with you. You will find snippets about a whole range of career related issues, news from recruiters and links to interesting articles in the media.

    If you are a researcher, we a specific blog for you.

    We hope you enjoy reading the Blog and will be inspired to tell us your views.

    If you want to suggest things that students and graduates might find helpful, please let us know – we want to hear from you.

    Karen Barnard – Director, UCL Careers

    UCL Careers is part of The Careers Group, University of London

    Accurate at the time of publication
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  • LGBTQ+ Careers – SOAS Careers Service Panel Discussion

    By S Donaldson, on 21 May 2018

    LGBTQ+ rainbow flagEarlier this month SOAS Careers Service ran a discussion panel on LGBTQ+ experiences in the workplace. Sitting on the panel were LGBTQ+ professionals employed in a range of sectors; we heard from two management consultants, an artist, a charity worker, a higher education professional, a digital marketer, and a jobseeker. Three of the panellists had past experience in teaching, one had spent time in recruitment. The panel kindly shared a variety of thought-provoking views and personal experiences. The main messages I took away were:

    All parts of our identity can shape our career

    Many of the speakers felt being a member of the LGBTQ+ community had influenced their career decisions. For some that meant being subconsciously drawn to open, inclusive, and innovative environments. For others, after experiencing workplaces that weren’t diversity-friendly, their move to open and inclusive work environments was far more deliberate. Some said although their gender/sexual identity hadn’t determined the sector they’d chosen, it did influence the companies they targeted within that sector, and the types of initiatives they became involved with at work e.g. LGBTQ+ groups, and equality and diversity recruitment initiatives.

    Research was quoted showing LGBTQ+ people are more attracted to altruistic careers than heterosexual people, and the panel’s charity worker agreed their sexuality had influenced their choice; they felt they wanted to help society in part to prove their worth and overcome the stigma associated with being LGBTQ+.

    The drag artist was pretty sure their LGBTQ+ identity may have influenced their career choice….and there are specific arts funds that as an LGBTQ+ person they can apply to for their work.

    Some workplaces are more accepting than others Thumbs up featuring the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag.

    A few speakers shared experiences of working in less tolerant workplaces and countries, and the negative impacts they had. There was a feeling shared by three panellists that in the workplace, just as in the rest of society, non-binary identities such as pansexuality, bisexuality, and gender fluidity are currently less well understood and accepted than some of the other LGBTQ+ identities. With this feeling came a call for people to make fewer assumptions about colleagues’ identities.

    One speaker emphasised the importance of being out and proud in shaping less open workplaces to be more accepting. But if you’re concerned about joining an already diverse and open employer, each year Stonewall compiles a list of 100 organisations doing great work for LGBTQ+ acceptance, which is a good place to start. Here is 2018’s (huzzah for UCL at number 98). Also try speaking to people working in your target sectors and organisations. This sort of ‘informational interview’ can provide a better idea of whether a role and organisation is for you in every way, including the LGBTQ+ angle.

    The drag artist worked in a pretty accepting environment…and they emphasised the difference between working in an accepting but predominately straight environment, and queer-run, queer-owned businesses which are leading the way in acceptance, and whose policies they hope will eventually be adopted by other employers.

    The decision to be out at work is yours and yours alone

    Although all speakers were generally “out”, the panel reflected a range of experiences of being open about their sexual and gender identity at work. One panellist had not been out when working in less tolerant countries, another has been closeted as a teacher, which is a decision they now regret. The benefits of being out at work were discussed: the fact that it encourages other people to be out and confident, that it encourages straight colleagues to be more aware and accepting, and that the energy it takes to hide a major part of yourself every day at work could be better spent on doing and enjoying your actual work.

    After much deliberation, and asking tutors and family for advice, one panellist made a conscious decision to be out when working as a school teacher. They wanted to provide a proud LGBTQ+ role model to young people, which had been lacking when they were at school. Although it was terrifying at first, the projected confidence with which they were out led pupils to not see it as a big deal.

    The drag artist was pretty comfortable being out at work…but in past 9-5 office environments thought their career wasn’t helped by the fact they were, in their words, “really queer”. So they assured the audience that no one person should feel they have to be out and leading the way, you have to do what’s right for you. The panel agreed it’s an individual decision people need to make for themselves, and that personal safety and comfort must be considered.

    To hear more LGBTQ+ workplace experiences, check out Stonewall’s LGBT voices, which forms part of their mega helpful Starting Out Guide. UCL HR also have links to useful resources, including UCL’s LGBT+ Volunteering Fair. And for inspiration, check out The OUTstanding lists: LGBT leaders and allies today.

     

     

     

     

    Top Tips for Application Forms from Skills4Work Panellists

    By UCL Careers, on 11 May 2018

    Sally Brown – UCL Careers Advisor

    On the 3rd October, UCL Careers welcomed four speakers from different companies to speak to students about their application processes and to offer some ‘top tips’ about completing application forms. What was clear was that although every company has their own way of shortlisting candidates, some specific annoyances regarding poor applications were common to all recruiters.

    Online application forms

    All the panellists stated that their company asks you to fill in an online application form. They often ask for the same information that you will have on your CV – such as your academics and some personal details – but often in a format that suits the needs of the company. The representative from PwC was keen to highlight that due to the desire for social mobility, many companies (inc. PwC) do not ask for your work experience at this stage – understanding that some graduates may not have had the opportunity to undertake relevant or unpaid work experience/internships during their studies. So don’t worry if you feel your current work experience – such as bar work or retail – doesn’t directly relate to the industry you are applying to, they will be looking for a breadth of transferable skills they can build on.

    Top tips from the panellists:

    • Talk to people already doing the role you are interested in
    • Check whether it is the right ‘fit’ for you through researching the role and company thoroughly before applying.

    Online: Motivation and Competency questions

    Online questions regarding candidates’ motivation to apply to the company, their industry knowledge and basic common competencies (such as team-work) were common amongst the companies represented. It was also common that some candidates offered generalised responses that could be applied to any of their competitors.

    Top tips from the panellists:

    • Research! Research the role as well as the organisation.
    • Take your time – allow 1-2 weeks to fill in the in the application.
    • Research the industry to build up your commercial awareness – reflect upon how current issues may affect the company.
    • A ‘real human’ will read this – all the panellists agreed that their companies do not use software to filter candidates.

    Video Applications

    Yes the 21st century is here! Both the panellists from Unlocked and the Bank of England stated that they use video as part of the process. This is where you receive some written questions, get a few minutes to prepare your answer and then you are filmed saying your responses. These are reviewed later, as there is no one on the other side of the camera whilst you are speaking. The aim is to find out what you are like as a person and your communications skills.

    Top tips from the panellists:

    • Check what else is in view of the camera e.g. remove the picture of you and your friends at a Halloween party, lock up the cat etc.
    • Dress smartly
    • Find a quiet place, but not too quiet that you are inclined to whisper.
    • Try to look directly at the camera and not at the ‘thumbnail’ of you.
    • It is acceptable to jot down key points during the preparation time and refer to the paper during your answer – but avoid reading from the notes like a script.

    Online testing:

    Two of the panellists – from PwC and The Bank of England – stated that their company uses some online testing that may include numerical, inductive (sometimes called logical reasoning) or verbal reasoning tests, work style preference questionnaire, or a personality test.

    Top tips from the panellists:

    • Don’t lie or second guess yourself on the latter two – they are there to help the company work out a ‘best fit’ for you regarding departments.

    Five Top Tips for applications:

    1. Don’t copy and paste information off the website for your application.
    2. We know what we do – show us why it interests you and discuss how you would be a good asset.
    3. Take opportunities offered – reply to e-mails that offer you information, meetings or chats.
    4. Be specific to the firm you are applying to – show a genuine interest.
    5. Research! How can you show motivation about something you know little about?

     

    Asking for Reasonable Adjustments for a Health Condition or Disability

    By UCL Careers, on 9 May 2018

    Disclosing your health condition consists of two parts of a conversation: the disclosure itself and the request for support. Often, they take place at the same time, so it’s good to be prepared for a conversation regarding your needs. By ‘need,’ we mean what reasonable adjustments employers can make for you.

    In case you haven’t read previous blogs, reasonable adjustments are provided by employers to mitigate any barriers in employment you might face as a result of your health condition.

    What are reasonable adjustments? ACAS says, “Reasonable adjustments remove or minimise disadvantages experienced by disabled people. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not disadvantaged in the workplace. They should also make sure policies and practices do not put disabled people at a disadvantage.” In simple terms, reasonable adjustments are put in place, so that you can perform the role just as effectively as anyone else.

    The word reasonable, as in ‘reasonable adjustments’ is interesting here, as what is reasonable in one environment, may be different in another.

    So, what can you to prepare yourself for this aspect of the conversation?

    What might you struggle with?

    Think about the research you’ve done into the role you are applying to. If there are aspects of the environment or of the role which may adversely impact your health, e.g. working long hours, then write this down.

    Reflect and research

    Prioritise each one – are there any issues that you are minor? Are there any that really trouble you?

    There are two factors here: what you will do to manage your condition at work, and what your employer can do to support you. Whilst the emphasis in this blog is more about the latter, how you manage yourself currently can also help you.

    For example, you may have observed facets of your condition that have affected your performance in your qualification, and consequently you have adapted the way that you work or sought support. Knowing what works or doesn’t work provides really useful knowledge to feed into the conversation. Sometimes, however, you need to be in the actual job and environment to know how you can manage your condition, which is when reaching out may be worthwhile.

    Against each of the areas of work you have written down that concern you, add a potential solution, using your experience as above, or researching what has helped others (see Resources section).

    How will I say it?

    Having prioritised your areas of concern, draw the employer’s attention to your main concerns, but offer one or two solutions for each. The conversation should be fluid and also positively reinforce your strengths, and what you love about the role. Emphasise how much more effective you’ll be with this support.

    Your research will help you stay in control of the conversation however as it is a conversation, the employer may have their own suggestions, using prior knowledge.

    Pre-empting questions or concerns

    It’s worth spending some time thinking about any questions the employer might have. They may be concerned about the cost involved in supporting you with specialist equipment but some reasonable adjustments, e.g. adjusting working hours, may be of very little cost. Remind them also of the Access to Work scheme, which may also provide funding for equipment.

    Some of your approach to this conversation is about confidence and attitude. Often, we feel guilty about asking for things before we’ve even started working and before the employer has seen what we are capable of. However, you are your best expert. The key is to reach a solution that means you will perform at your best, without compromising your health.

    At UCL Careers, we’re more than happy to talk through disclosure with you, whether you’re confused, have made up your mind or just want to do a simple role play! If you are an Undergraduate, please access UCL Careers Extra appointments; if you’re a postgraduate, feel free to book any UCL Careers one-to-one appointment and we’ll give you a steer.

    Article written by Careers Consultant, Carla King: carla.king@ucl.ac.uk

    Resources:

    Dyslexia related reasonable adjustments

    Advice and guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission

    Reasonable adjustments examples from the Equality and Human Rights Commission

    Advice from the UK Government

    Advice for employers

    Telling Future Employers about Non-Visible Health Conditions: The Disclosure Conversation

    By UCL Careers, on 6 May 2018

    Having the disclosure conversation can be nerve-wracking but if you’re prepared, you will have the extra confidence and control you need, ensuring the focus is on the impact and your needs.

    Before preparing, ask yourself the following:

    • Do I have to tell my employer? (see previous blog)
    • Why do I want to tell them? (is this out of obligation or will be helpful to you?)
    • How do I feel about telling them? (whatever emotional response this elicited is very normal)

    Having a plan

    Having a disclosure plan for the conversation helps you keep the things you want the employer to concentrate on. There is also a bit of reflection and research you can do to support your plan.

    When will I tell the employer?

    This could be at application stage, at interview, before a test, after the job offer is made, when you’re in the workplace. When you disclose is entirely dependent on how comfortable you feel disclosing at any of these stages. It may be worth listing pros and cons to help you decide the timing.

    Where will I tell them?

    Think about what the conversation might look like. Will you speak to someone on the phone or will you do this in person? If the conversation is not face-to-face, how might this change what you want to say? E.g. how much time will you have with them?

    What will they say?

    Pre-empt questions or concerns. Think about how you might deal with a reaction. Two big questions they will likely have are:

    • How will this affect your work?
    • What support will you need?

    How will they react?

    There are two things to remember here – they are human and may react in a way you didn’t expect, and also that you have had time to absorb this information for a while, however they might need time to take it all in. Equally, of course, they may not react at all and take the information in their stride.

    What will I say?

    As the mainstay of the conversation, keep it positive. Remind them of what you do really well and, concisely, tell them about how you currently manage your condition at university. Highlight areas of work that might impact your condition, then focus on what support you can both put into place to help you do your job the most effectively. Think about what your employer might do to help you – are there any physical changes to your desk? Is there something about your working pattern that might help? Think about ways of working you can bring from university or what you found helped you. You can make clear whether or not this would be open information or if you would like things kept private and confidential. Remember, this is not only about what you can do, but also that employers have a duty of care to take away barriers in the workplace that exist because of your condition. They do this by providing reasonable adjustments (more in the final blog).

    How will I say it?

    Keep the conversation flowing and factual. Focus only on aspects that are relevant to the role.

    How will I ask for support?

    Once the information part of the conversation is over, if you feel this is the right time, you can move on to your needs: things that will help you integrate and help you to do your job effectively. This is the research bit – once you’ve identified areas in which you’ll need support, do some research on the sorts of things others have found very useful.

    Use your resources

    At UCL Careers, we’re more than happy to talk through disclosure with you, whether you’re confused, have made up your mind or just want to do a simple role play! If you are an Undergraduate, please access UCL Careers Extra appointments; if you’re a postgraduate, feel free to book any UCL Careers one-to-one appointment and we’ll give you a steer.

    Article written by Careers Consultant, Carla King: carla.king@ucl.ac.uk

    Resources:

    Equality Act & Human Rights Commission Contact: 0808 800 0082

    Disability confident employers registered with the Department for Work and Pensions

    Workplace adjustments: Equality Law

    Deciding Whether to Disclose Your Non-Visible Health Condition to a Future Employer

    By UCL Careers, on 3 May 2018

    The thought of disclosing your health condition or disability to someone you don’t know can seem quite daunting. ‘Disclosure’ – the very word denotes secrecy, something official.

    Man looking at computer screen

    The Equality Act 2010 states that in order to be covered by the Act, a health condition must be long-term and substantial, and impact your daily activities. Because of this, the Act covers everything from a reading and learning difficulty to chronic and terminal illness. Generally, there is no legal obligation to disclose your condition to an employer, although there are a few exceptions to this rule.

    If you’re unsure whether your condition is covered, or whether you’re obliged to disclose, do some research (see the Resources section below): are you covered under the Act? Do you have to disclose for the role you’re going for? When do you disclose?

    Once you’re more informed about where you stand legally, you’re likely to still have some reservations as to what to do next, particularly if your condition may not be immediately obvious. In fact, you may be tempted not to say anything. The following may help you in your decision-making.

    If you’ve read this far, you’re probably concerned about the consequences of telling an employer about your condition. Essentially, you would be passing sensitive information to someone else. You won’t know how they’ll react, what they’ll do with this information or how they’ll perceive you. It’s completely natural to feel this way. Appreciating that there are employers that don’t deal with disability in the fairest of ways, we also know there are many that do. You’ll have to have some leap of faith in this scenario, however you also have something else on your side: the Equality Act.

    Employers have a duty of care to take away barriers in the workplace that exist because of your condition. They do this by providing reasonable adjustments (more in another blog). The Act kicks in from the moment you come into contact with the employer in a recruitment process right through to leaving a job. However, you won’t be covered unless you disclose.

    We’ll deal with reasonable adjustment in our final blog, however some reasonable adjustments don’t cost much and make the world of difference in helping you manage your condition in the workplace.

    You’re probably concerned about who the employer will tell. If they are a medium or large organisation, and depending on who you are disclosing to, they’re likely to have an HR Manager, who will likely be the first person they’ll inform. The senior manager may also be told. They tend to be the only exceptions. You have the right to ask for confidentiality. This means you can control the flow of information and can tell colleagues if you want to.

    Moreover, by telling the employer, you’re taking control of the information they receive about your condition and about the way this impacts you. If your condition worsened or your performance were affected and then you chose to disclose, a later disclosure may damage some of the trust you have worked so hard to build. Transparency with your managers may build trust and creating this partnership can be very enabling.

    Woman writing at desk

    It’s also natural to worry about how an employer will perceive you when they learn about your condition, particularly if you strongly feel that it does not have a bearing on your capability to do the job. The reality is that if you’ve been offered an interview or receive a job offer, the organisation deems you to have potential to, or already be capable, of performing the role.

    You may also have concerns about being treated differently because of your condition. Let’s turn this around slightly by using an example. If you are dyslexic and would perform effectively in a psychometric test by being given more time, then this would be crucial to your succeeding to the next stage of the recruitment process. In this case, it would be about removing obstacles to ensure you are on a level playing field with other candidates. So, it’s not about giving you an extra advantage; it’s actually about giving you the same opportunity as everyone else.

    If you’re apprehensive about particular aspects of doing the job, we’ll look at preparing the disclosure conversation in the next blog.

    I’d like to leave you with these questions, which I hope will help you hone your decision:

    • If you tell your employer about your condition, what is the worst that can happen? What will you gain/ lose? How would this affect you?
    • What would happen if you didn’t tell them? How would this affect you?
    • What is holding you back from telling them? What would make you feel more comfortable?

    Whatever your decision is right now, build in some flexibility as you may want to disclose in the future. At UCL Careers, we’re more than happy to talk through disclosure with you, whether you’re confused, have made up your mind or just want to do a simple role play! If you are an Undergraduate, please access UCL Careers Extra appointments; if you’re a postgraduate, feel free to book any UCL Careers one-to-one appointment and we’ll give you a steer.

    This is the part one of series of three articles regarding disclosure. The next two deal with the disclosure conversation and requesting reasonable adjustments.

    Article written by Careers Consultant, Carla King: carla.king@ucl.ac.uk

    Resources:

    Video on the benefits of disclosing

    Video on the Pros & Cons of disclosing

    Equality Act & Human Rights Commission Contact: 0808 800 0082

    Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) helpline Contact: 0300 123 1100

    Two Teams of UCL entrepreneurs reach the final of the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition 2018

    By UCL Careers, on 30 April 2018

    UCL team Cardios present their ideas to the panel.

    UCL team Cardios present their ideas to the panel.

    Each year, the Mayor of London’s Entrepreneurs competition challenges London students to think of innovative ways to build a more sustainable city. By identifying and supporting student entrepreneurs to make their projects into reality, student’s ideas are helping make London a greener capital.

    This year’s competition saw ten teams and their eco-friendly ideas compete to win £20,000 and access to expert mentoring and guidance. Selected from over 400 submissions, two teams of UCL student finalists, Cardios and Chakra, represented their ideas to a panel of industry experts, demonstrating the value of their ideas through their originality, practicality, clarity, longevity and carbon efficiency.

    Chaired by sustainability expert Carolyn Roberts, the all-star panel included Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed, Deputy Mayor for Environment Shirley Rodrigues and technology and social enterprise leader Anne-Marie Imafidon.

    Cardios, made up of two UCL medical students, Gabriel Lee, Ragav Manimaran and teammate Jaime Valedemoros, seek to use new bio-medical technology to help people with heart failure self-monitor their conditions and reduce hospital admissions. This in turn would reduce the NHS resources spent on admissions and subsequent emissions. In their words:

    “The essence of our project is, can we bring the consultation to patients more regularly and reduce the gaps between consultations? By doing so, can we detect deterioration earlier and prevent patients being admitted?”- Ragav Manimaran, Cardios

    Chakra, a team of three first year UCL students aim to tackle waste produced by disposable coffee cups by replacing them with re-useable cups that provide users with cashback when deposited at dedicated machines. This would help reduce the vast amount of waste produced by on-the-go coffee, while providing incentives for drinks distributors. When asked about the idea’s reception among big chains such as Costa and Starbucks, Harshav Mahendran had this to say:

    “They were positive about the idea and saw it as a welcome solution” – Harshav Mahendran

    Although the award went to Imperial’s WithLula, an eco-friendly, flushable sanitary pad, the two UCL teams are positive about what the future holds for their projects. Both teams are at an early state in development but they assure us that more is on the way.

    “As we continue to develop the prototype, we’ll publish our progress so please do watch this space and we’ll keep you updated.” Ragav Manimaran, Cardios

    “Since we’re just getting started we haven’t established our website or social media yet but we’re hoping to soon.” – Yashvini Shukla, Chakra

    With next year’s awards being expanded to include three winners, it is clear that innovation and entrepreneurship are becoming increasing valued in the London careers landscape.

    Have a project or idea you want to take to the next level? There are a range of resources on offer for UCL students such as the Moonshot Launchpad programme for engineering, science and tech startups, UCL Entrepreneurs Society (UCLe) and the Kickstart London accelerator programme. Whatever career awaits you, be sure to check out the new UCL Careers website to find advice and resources helping you developing your skills and experiences.

    For more information about the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition click here – https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/smart-london-and-innovation/mayors-entrepreneur-competition

    Focus on Management 2018 is now open – APPLY NOW!

    By UCL Careers, on 13 April 2018

     

     

    Taking place on Tuesday 5th & Wednesday 6th June, this year’s Focus on Management course is now accepting applications.

    If you want to…

    • Tackle a variety of real-life business challenges through case studies
    • Gain commercial awareness from some of the top graduate employers
    • Network with various graduate employers and managers from their departments
    • Begin the transition from university student to working professional

    … then Focus on Management 2018 is the course for you!

    Focus on Management is a two-day course packed full of activities, which will give you an interactive and rewarding immersion into the world of business. Your team-working, problem-solving and presentation skills will be put to the test. You will work in teams, facilitated by a team manager, on business case studies from graduate employers.

    You will have the opportunity to meet and learn from different companies, including Amazon, the Civil Service and GSK. More organisations to be announced soon. Previous years have included PwC, P&G, Capco, Wellcome Trust, ICAEW and WaterAid.

    See what students said about the course on YouTube

    Go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/focus for more details and application instructions

    If you are interested in this course, you may also be interested in graduate opportunities available from our sponsor Amazon. In particular, their Leadership Development Programme is suitable for aspiring managers. Once you complete Pathways, all kinds of opportunities open up for you across the full Amazon ecosystem, including Retail, Kindle, AWS (web services), and more.

    Previous Pathway graduates are now:

    • Directors of Fulfillment Centers
    • Speciality businesses, such as Prime Now
    • Customer Service Directors
    • Senior Managers of Transportation Optimisation
    • General Managers

    But of course, as a global ever-evolving company they have numerous opportunities throughout Europe across their operations, corporate to technology business areas. See below chart for both graduate programmes and internships available in Europe.

    Working in the Charity sector: A few tips and insights

    By UCL Careers, on 11 April 2018


    The average person can spend up to 90,000 hours working during their lifetime. That is a lot!

    So it would certainly be “nice” if this was something we enjoyed and it had a social mission attached to it. Traditionally, this falls within the realms of charities/ NGOs/ non-profits. Commonly referred to as the “third sector” – the other two being the private sector and public (government) sector.

    However, ultimately, all sectors are serving society and communities in one-way or the other. With the advent of business models of social entrepreneurship the lines between sectors is getting blurry. Therefore deciding our role as a contributing member of society often gets more difficult. Below I share some tips on how to make this easier.

    What concerns me?
    The time spent at university is formative. We join societies, take various academic courses and can (hopefully) begin to see what is the difference we want to make in the world. Is it environmental?, Perhaps race-related issues? Or maybe, animal-welfare?,  Or a little bit of both. Studying geography during my undergraduate I began to see my main concern was the interaction of humans and nature and, more precisely, the role we play in shaping nature.

    Be part of the discussion
    A great way to transition from academic to the practical is by attending events and seminars. Maybe even engaging in debate and to see what is being said and challenging viewpoints. For me, joining Twitter (in 2010) was quite a game changer.  I was able to follow organisations and people around the globe and navigate my way around conflicting schools of thought. Particularly when it came to overseas work, environmental impact and efficiency (or lack of) within the charity sector.

    A few highly recommended accounts to follow would be:

    @whydev https://twitter.com/whydev?lang=en committed to getting aid and development work right
    @NPRGoatsandSoda  https://twitter.com/NPRGoatsandSoda Global Health and development blog
    @ThirdSector_Hub https://twitter.com/ThirdSector_Hub Information and think pieces about the UK Charity Sector
    @CharityClarity https://twitter.com/CharityClarity_ for information and think pieces about the UK Charity Sector

    Volunteer/ Freelance
    So you have attended seminars, actively followed and tweeted, maybe even engaged in an online discussion. What now? How to get some hands-on experience?  If the summer holidays are coming up- your best bet would be to volunteer.

    Yes, It can be a classic chicken and egg scenario (we need a better analogy for these vegan times). But you might feel your CV seems like it is lacking some experience, so who is going to take you on? Here is where approaching smaller charities directly will help. You can even start by volunteering at your local charity shop. Most of them are run 100% by volunteers.

    By approaching small charities you (1) ease their burden by committing a few months (2) can see a project to completion and build up your CV. What is imperative here is commitment. Small charities make up 82% of all voluntary organisations in the UK. However; they have few resources at hand and trustworthy, local individuals are invaluable to them.

    Here is a great report showing how small charities are more adaptable and instrumental in localised change. (access the report)

    After I completed my degree I volunteered and did a various freelance projects at a number of organisations. I picked up skills on: fundraising, donor-database management, filming and editing videos and lastly, writing impact reports.

    What am I good at? What now?
    Which brings me back to being a bit introspective- figuring out what you are good at? What did you enjoy most from the volunteering and actively pursing that.

    I realised two things (1) I wanted to do something within the NGO sector and (2) I wanted it to be related to what I had studied- primarily agriculture and climate change. However, I was also interested in NGO accountability and transparency. So I needed an organisation committed to this.

    I was warned this is quite niche and perhaps difficult in terms of professional mobility. However, to stick by my choices, I moved back to my parents’ home to save on rent and also did various retail jobs and paid freelance work to support me.  Through twitter I found an excellent book project to work on and in 2014 our book, Sustainable [R]evolutions was published by North Atlantic Books.

    Keeping yourself challenged?
    Since working at Green Shoots, my role has evolved. Besides working on an agriculture skills project, I now also manage a healthcare program in Myanmar. Working in charities, especially small charities, offers flexibility and we are able to stay challenged by taking on new things.

    That should be a relief if we are going to spend 90,000 hours working!

     

    Why previous years’ participants think you should apply for Focus on Management 2018!

    By UCL Careers, on 9 April 2018

    We contacted students who have previously participated in Focus on Management to see how they’ve been getting on since the course. We saw that they were thrilled on the last day of the course … but how has completing Focus on Management impacted them and their career? Here’s a selection of the responses we received:

     

    Marianne Thompson – BA French and Spanish (Joint Honours)

    “I was recently able to draw upon the invaluable experience that I gained from this course at an assessment centre for an international investment bank. I believe that it was my exposure to business case studies during Focus on Management that best prepared me for this process, and I was successful in gaining a place on the competitive summer internship.

    I would highly recommend the Focus on Management course to anyone who is thinking about applying for internships or graduate schemes, as it is the perfect introduction to the kind of work you will be expected to complete at assessment centres, as well as providing you with the skills and knowledge to impress employers in the future.

    The diversity of the business case studies presented, along with the intensive nature of the course, means that you are always kept on your toes and you are constantly being challenged in new ways.”

     

    Andrew Dunn – MA in History

    “Focus on Management was marketed as an opportunity to network with some of the brightest sparks of UCL’s student body – and they were! It was a practice run at many of the exercises that one might find at an assessment centre. The opportunity to work with other students to solve these exercises helped me develop a greater awareness of my own skills as a leader and team-worker.

    Shortly after taking part in Focus on Management, I put the skills learnt to the test during an assessment day. I’m pleased to report that I must have picked something useful up, as I was subsequently offered a position! I strongly recommend any student at UCL to have a go at Focus on Management … you won’t be disappointed!”

     

    Pancali Hume – MSc in International Public Policy

    “I found out about Focus on Management after seeing an email about it from UCL Careers and there was a part of me that almost didn’t apply – but I am so happy that I did!

    …the course prepared me for my upcoming assessment centre at a professional services company far better than my individual research or any practice interviews I did. It challenged my thinking and allowed me to practice vital presentation skills and teamwork exercises in a realistic context.

    I would recommend Focus on Management to all UCL students as I sincerely believe this is the prime time to be thinking about leadership and creating concrete goals to champion and lead change in our generation.”

     

    Rohan Krajeski – MRes in Biomedicine 

    “Since completing the Focus on Management 2017 course at UCL, I took up a position as a Research Assistant in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford.

    The skills I developed on the 2017 course is useful for my current work. The ability to effectively work with others has led to a number of collaborations with other research groups within the institution, and we are now looking further afield with abroad collaborations, particularly in the US.

    Skills developed in effective planning and commutation has helped me complete high volumes of work quickly and reliably – only 6 months into my work I am shortly ready to submit two papers for academic publication, as well as writing a number of neuroscience articles for local and national neuroscience associated magazines.

    Most vitally, skills developed in public speaking (and in listening/reflection) has greatly affected my current work. I am due to present my research from Oxford at the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Forum in Berlin, Germany. Plus additional talks are scheduled for the UK, such as at UCL in May 2018.

    I think it is also important to note, that when I was applying for my work at Oxford, I had only recently completed the Focus on Management 2017 course. I was able to integrate the skills mentioned above into my interview and presentation prep. for my job advertised – I think it made all the difference.” 


    Inspired by the words of previous years’ participants? – Apply now

    Go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/focus for more details and application instructions.

     

    Focus on Management 2018 is sponsored by Amazon

     

     

    Science Communication and Science Policy Forum

    By S Donaldson, on 16 March 2018

    Did you come to our Careers in Science Communication and Science Policy forum earlier this month? No? Well fret not! You haven’t missed out because we’ve summarised the key points below.

    Who were the speakers?

    David Robson, a freelance writer and editor, previously at New Scientist and BBC Future, currently writing his first book THE INTELLIGENCE TRAP: Why Smart People Make Stupid Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them, which will be published in Spring 2019.

    Iain Dodgeon, Strategic Ventures Manager in the Wellcome Trust’s Public Engagement team, where he’s helped develop science-related entertainment in the form of games, TV, and films. Iain is a former medical doctor.

    Rose Gray, Senior Policy Advisor at Cancer Research UK. Rose is a UCL Chemistry alumnus, who built up a range of science communications experiences while studying, including working with Guerrilla Science.

    Sam Dick, a Science Information and Policy Officer at The Institute of Cancer Research, who completed his PhD in Structural Biology at UCL before moving into policy work via voluntary and internship roles at The National AIDS Trust and the Humsafar Trust in India.

    Aalia Kazi, an Account Manager at Incisive Health, a healthcare communications agency that focuses on policy and policy makers. Aalia is a UCL MSc Cardiovascular Science alumnus, who first joined Incisive Health as an intern after volunteering for Doctors of the World UK.

    And Jayne Hibberd, Associate Director at Galliard Healthcare Communications, whose role focuses on global communications strategies for her clients. As Associate Director, Jayne helps shape the future direction and day-to-day business of the agency.

    What do they like about working in Science Communications and Science Policy?

    Everyone agreed working with bright motivated people – whether they’re other communicators, scientists whose research must be communicated, or policy makers being communicated to – was one of the best things about working in these two sometimes overlapping sectors. Jayne values the insight she gains into her pharmaceutical company agency clients driving exciting scientific developments. As a popular science writer, David especially enjoys working with art departments of magazines on displaying stories effectively.

    Many felt being attached to science, which most of the panellists studied at university, was a draw, as were daily tasks of writing and crafting arguments, and the variety of scientific topics covered by both those communicating to the public and to policy makers. Iain mentioned working for an organisation like Wellcome, which is independent from government and commercial pressures, is liberating.

    Aalia, Rose, and Sam agreed that knowing their policy work influences real changes that impact real people’s lives is one of the best things about their jobs. Rose gave the example of having reports she’s worked on read by the secretary of state, and seeing beneficial legislation passed in part as a result.

    What are the worst bits?

    The variety of topics covered can have a downside, potentially leading to overload and stress. The hours can sometimes be long, and working late occasionally means cancelling social plans. Though the hours and deadlines seemed more of an issue for those working with clients, they were also mentioned by David when he’s scheduling interviews with researchers overseas outside of working hours due to time differences. David also commented that getting negative feedback on your writing from editors can be very tough at first, so you need to develop a thick skin.

    Aalia and Jayne have clients, and though they both value working with them, they acknowledged it can also be demanding, a bit like having multiple bosses. The client-focused nature of the work also means they both have to account for their time very precisely in order to bill clients, a different way of doing things to the other speakers.

    For those in policy, the flip side of the rewards gained when important change is effected is that it can be frustrating when something you’re passionate about doesn’t work out, or when change is only incremental. Additionally, the work is dictated in part by political whims rather than simply by the science.

    Will getting a science communication or policy qualification help you get in?

    None of the speakers had one of these qualifications so clearly it’s not a prerequisite! Those in science communication mentioned that the qualification can be a great way to build networks which may be valuable, but that the science communication world is fairly small so you can build useful networks through your working life without the qualification too. Rose commented that having a policy qualification shows motivation, but in her team at CRUK relevant policy work experience is likely to be prized above a qualification. And some people undertake a policy qualification after already working in the sector for a while in order to get maximum value from the experience.

    Any tips for those wanting to enter the sector?

    The overwhelming advice from the panel was to do stuff. Lots of stuff. Even if you don’t know where it will lead. This reflected the speakers’ career paths. Whether it was Iain leading a comedy group and securing funding for a film-making course while at university, Rose working in a hospital alongside her study and learning she didn’t want to be a medic but she did want to influence change over the NHS, or Sam volunteering in policy and outreach during his PhD and realising this was the work he enjoyed the most, all of the speakers had stories of taking a punt on something they thought looked interesting without necessarily having a ‘career plan’ in mind. In retrospect their narratives make sense, fitting together nicely into a career story. But none of them knew that at the time. They simply tried stuff, learning about themselves and the working world in the process.

    The panel also advised reaching out to people. Most will be happy to tell you about their experiences and offer advice, some may even be able to give you a job. Jayne in particular shared that she would be impressed by the motivation of someone who was proactive enough to contact a professional and show an interest in their work.

    For aspiring journalists, David extolled the virtues of starting a writing career in a small industry publication or local newspaper as a way of creating a portfolio and getting valuable feedback on your writing. He also advised being bold and pitching story ideas to publications like New Scientist who are always looking for great feature ideas. And if a pitch gets accepted, ask to be paid.

    And finally, Rose recommended visiting UCL Careers. In her words, Rose “absolutely rinsed” us when she was exploring her career options, and found our help very useful.