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 – Head of UCL Careers

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

  • Accurate at the time of publication
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    Senior Project Manager: Inspire Me

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 30 September 2014

    As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Darren Ramsay, Senior Project Manager at Market Probe  talks to us about how he decided to work in Project Management within a Market Research company and shares some tips for UCL students who may be considering this as a career.

    About Me:Darren Ramsay

    After 4 successful years in TV and Media, presenting, modelling and acting the work started to dry up. Whilst I was in-between presenting roles at the age of 26 I decided to look for part time paid work. I saw an ad for a Market Researcher in a call centre which paid minimum wage but paid enough money to cover my rent and cover a few bills whilst waiting for the next presenting role to come along.

    I got the job and began calling respondents and carrying out surveys. I actually enjoyed this and decided to turn down presenting roles in favour for work in the call centre. (Occasionally leaving to attend the BBC building in White City for presenting work as it was near and the extra money was always welcome.

    How did I get the role I am in today:

    A few months passed and I plucked up the courage to ask my Director if there were any career opportunities within the company and if so, were there any vacancies? He said they were looking for a receptionist. I decided to interview for this for this position. During the interview I was told that they wanted me for a more professional role and that I would be assisting the Associate Director.

    I had the encompassing job title of Operations Executive. This basically meant that I helped tidy up all the projects that were running at the time. Checking tables, coding, data entry, validating etc. Working with the Associate Director was a huge learning curve for me and helped me grow professionally, paving my way to bigger and better opportunities.

    After 4 months as an Operations Exec I saw a vacant position for Project Manager in the Face-2-Face department. I once again plucked up the courage to ask my director if I could apply. I had the interview and was accepted for the position. 8 years on and I am running the Face-2-Face department in the company as a Senior Project Manager.

    What I like about the role I am in today: Market Probe

    I love people! As a people’s person and I have the opportunity to work with so many different people every day. Not only do we have a call centre that holds 100 interviewers, I also have up to 500 staff around the UK working on Face-2-Face projects for me. I get to liaise with them on a daily basis building a good working relationship, rapport, trust and even friendships. This for me is rewarding. The interviewers enjoy what they do, they enjoy working for me and they get paid for it. Having a professional, fun, working relationship with the interviewers ensures they are  reliable, trustworthy, provide good quality interviews, with punctual work packs sent back to the office and research that my clients and I are thankful and grateful for.

    I also secretively enjoy working for different brands like 3 Network. This is because I am a customer of 3 and it’s very interesting to read what thousands of other customers of 3 think about them.

    What are my biggest challenges?

    My biggest challenge at work is juggling the projects I am running.  This is a challenge because I have to factor in many, many stages for just one project.

    My top tips:

    GO-GET-EM-ATTITUDE!!! Working in Market Research is not something many study for. A lot of the people in this industry fell into their roles. Be brazen, quick thinking and have the ability to work in a pressured environment. My acting, presenting skills and most important, my ambitious personality helps me deliver all the above and more in my role.

    To find out more about careers in Market Research, visit Careers Tagged. To get hand on experience of what Project Management is, sign up to the Project Management Skills4Work sessions.

    3 ways to find our more about Management Consultancy

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 30 September 2014

    The Management Consultancy fair is kicking off our autumn careers fair schedule this year on Wednesday 1  October.Management Consultancy Fair

    If you’re thinking about coming to the fair, it’s a good idea to do your research on management consultancy beforehand so you can make the most of the opportunity to meet employers. These are three ways you can get informed and come prepared:

    The Management Consultancy fair is kicking off our autumn careers fair schedule this year on Wednesday 1 October.

    If you’re thinking about coming to the fair, it’s a good idea to do your research on management consultancy beforehand so you can make the most of the opportunity to meet employers. These are three ways you can get informed and come prepared:

    1. Search Careers Tagged, our online careers library

    Careers Tagged is full of information to help you at every stage of career planning, from thinking about your options to creating great CVs and job applications. All resources are picked and checked by careers professionals. Search for ‘management consultancy’ for links to professional bodies, industry news sites, job vacancy sites, and more:

    http://www.careerstagged.co.uk/resources/management%20consultancy/all/popular/1

    1. Check out the TARGETjobs guide to management consultancy

    This is a really useful guide with insights into major management consultancy employers, what employers are looking for, and how to demonstrate your skills in applications and interviews. Come in to UCL Careers on the fourth floor of  Student Central (ULU building) to get a copy to take away (subject to availability), or the full guide is available online:

    http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/management-consulting

    1. Research the job market on What Do London Graduates Do

    What Do London Graduates Do is a website for information on what graduates from University of London colleges have gone on to do in the last 5 years. It can give you real life information on recent graduates working in management consultancy. Search by the job ‘management consultants’ on http://wlgd.thecareersgroup.co.uk/ to see how many graduates are working in management consultancy, the companies where they’ve found jobs, the salaries they’re earning, and how they got jobs: http://wlgd.thecareersgroup.co.uk/Details/JobTitle/24231

    Looking at this can give you valuable insights into how to approach your job hunt. For example, you can see that 32% of graduates working in management consultancy found out about their jobs through personal contacts and networking, and 21% through previously working at the company. So networking and getting work experience are clearly important if you’re considering management consultancy. Coming to the Management Consultancy Fair is a great way to start networking and meeting employers.

    The UCL Careers Management Consultancy Fair on Wednesday 1st October 2014 is kindly sponsored by Accenture

    The Banking and Finance Fair is coming…

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 30 September 2014

    Bigger and better than last year, the UCL Banking and Finance Fair is a 2-day fair,  involving 66 employers offering permanent graduate positions, 1st and 2nd Year internships and placements. 

    When: Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th October at 5:30 – 8pm

    Where: North and South Cloisters

    How do I get in: Simply turn up with a valid UCL/GradClub ID card.

    This fair is a must for anyone interested in Investment Banking, Finance, Economic Research, Professional Services, Insurance and related sectors.

    The 66 employers involved include:

    Day 1: Citi, FTI, Institute for Fiscal Studies, Goldman Sachs, AXA, Financial Conduct Authority, and RBC Capital Markets. For full day 1 employer details Click Here

    Day 2: PwC, Ofcom, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, J P Morgan, BP, Diageo, British Airways and AIG. For full Day 2 employer details Click Here

    The UCL Banking and Finance Fair 2014 is kindly sponsored by Citi and PwC.

    How to prepare for our Career Fairs…

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 30 September 2014

    Every year UCL Careers holds a number of Careers Fairs to help you talk to employers and find out first hand what they are looking for. You will get more out of the Careers Fair if you spend a little time preparing…

    Be aware that there will be a mixture of all kind of employers from all kinds of sectors exhibiting each day and you might find an employer that you had never really considered before as being a front runner for you. To help you prepare effectively we’ve put some handy tips together to get you started:

    Before the fair

    We strongly encourage you to do some research on the exhibitors before the fair: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs

    As well as reading the exhibitor profiles, click through to the organisation’s own website to find out more about them.

    You can then decide which exhibitors you particularly want to talk to, and you will be able to ask more informed questions. Try to prepare some questions in advance and think about the main points that you would want an organisation to know about you – it can help you feel more confident.

    At the fair

    At the fair, each exhibiting organisation has a stand and their reps are there to answer your questions about what the organisation does, what jobs they offer to final year students and graduates, what internships/placements they provide to earlier year students, and any other opportunities that they offer.

    Wherever possible, try to talk to someone on the stand instead of just picking up a brochure. Use the opportunity to ask your questions face-to-face.

    If you are feeling a bit nervous about approaching your first choice organisation, it can be a good idea to visit some other stands first to practise your technique.

    If you are given a business card, make a point soon afterwards of noting on it anything that it would be useful to remember. Have they suggested you email them with further questions? Did they give you advice on their recruitment process?

    Even if you have a ‘hit list’ of exhibitors, consider other organisations at the fair that are less well known. They might be offering just what you are looking for.

    Remember to bring your UCL ID or GradClub ID card as you won’t be able to enter the fair without this!

    Other hints and tips

    • Remember that many of the opportunities are available to students of any discipline
    • Staff on the exhibitor stands are often relatively recent graduates who can tell you what it is really like to work in their organisation
    • If you want to have a CV ready to hand over, arrange an appointment at UCL Careers before the Careers Fair to ask for some CV feedback
    • The fair may be busy when you arrive – don’t be put off. People tend to congregate by the entrance, so head to another part of the fair where it will probably be quieter
    • Avoid walking round the fair with a group of friends. The exhibitor may not realise that you are interested in them, and you could miss out because your friend happens to be more talkative than you!
    • If you feel overwhelmed, and don’t know what to do or where to start, make sure you visit the UCL Careers for help.

    For further information about the fairs, please visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs

    Want to be a Management Consultant? Then start thinking like one!

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 26 September 2014

    Management Consultancy is a popular career choice for Management Consultancy Fairmany graduates and competition for places on graduate schemes is fierce.   A good degree (1st or 2.1) is a pre-requite together with a range of high level skills such as the ability to gather and analyse complex information, solve problems, think creatively, present information clearly and concisely and manage projects.  However, many graduates will meet these criteria, having developed these skills through a range of experience and activities – what can you do to stand out from other applicants?

    Selectors will be looking not only at your ability to do the job but also your passion for wanting to do the job. So what sort of things can you do to demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm for management consultancy?   Well, showing a genuine interest in business and the wider environment in which organisations are operating is essential. Just mentioning a couple of companies that you’re interested in will not impress – demonstrating that you’re already thinking like a management consultant will!       Think of organisations you’ve experienced yourself – maybe as a student, a consumer, an employee, a patient. Did you spot any inefficiencies or poor processes? What could be changed and how? What might be some of the barriers to change? Carry out a SWOT analysis on different organisations (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).  Starting to identify and work on your own mini case studies will be excellent preparation for the selection process which will include working on a business case where you will be expected to present recommendations based on your analysis of a range of information provided to you.

    Preparation is key to success so:

    Attend the Management Consultancy Fair. This event offers an excellent opportunity to research the industry, find out what differentiates consultancies, industry sectors they specialise in, clients they work with and to find information that’s important to you personally that might not be easily accessible on websites.

    Analyse your skills and collect evidence to demonstrate how you have applied these skills. Search for ‘management consultancy’ here for links to professional bodies, industry news sites, job vacancy sites, and more

    Make sure you have a clear understanding of what Management Consultancy is, what it involves and why you think you will be well suited to it.   Using the same link and searching for ‘management consultancy’ here you can gather a wide range of resources and tips to help you prepare for the selection process including links to practice case studies.

    The UCL Careers Management Consultancy Fair on Wednesday 1st October 2014 is kindly sponsored by Accenture

    Menswear Marketing Manager: Inspire Me

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 24 September 2014

    As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Charlie Wade, Menswear Marketing Manager, asos.com talks to us about how he got his role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into Marketing.

    How did you get into your role?Charlie Wade, Mensware Marketing Manager, asos.com

    I used to work in the City! However, I always had a yearning for marketing because I am truly fascinated by consumer behaviour and their interaction with brands, as well as design. I actually thought about working in marketing within a bank (and even applied for a role), yet I believe that Retail Banking would be more interesting than the Corporate side, yet it wasn’t the area that I was in.

    As such I looked into other roles. One of the key decisions was whether to work in-house or agency-side. I settled upon the former as I felt I needed exposure to the creative aspects, as opposed to (what I thought would be) focusing on processes. There is correct option here, so it pays to do as much research as possible about both.

    The next thing was to decide what ‘discipline’ I wanted to work in. A that point digital was exploding, and I wanted to be in the most innovative space. Once I made this choice I scoured my network and was introduced to a guy who ran his own agency. He was looking for someone with selling skills, which I had an abundance of. He believed that I could pick-up ‘the marketing bit’, so took me on. Whilst there was definitely an element of luck involved, I would urge anyone to focus on what they can do and the skills they can bring to a company; too often we look at the reasons why someone wouldn’t want us.

    After a great few years I decided to move on. Having never really considered an in-house role I was introduced to one at ASOS by a friend who worked there. One of the things that attracted me to it was the entrepreneurial spirit and exciting things they were doing across digital platforms. (I was also a huge fan of the service, having bought a number of times from it.) To get the job I worked hard to research the company and its competitors, both direct and less-obvious ones. Additionally, I critiqued the site and campaigns that they had done, forming opinions and establishing aspects that I might have done differently. This process is a useful one as it helps you to learn lots about the company and provides you with a raft of ready-made questions for your interviewer, above and beyond the usual ones.

    What are the best things about working in your role? asos-logo

    My colleagues:  Some of the people here are the most impressive that I have come across, and I would happily go for lunch with all of them.

    My customer: A really engaged, yet challenging group, 20somethings are always looking to learn about trends, brands and adopt social channels. This means that we have to remain at the forefront of both retail and digital innovation.

    The brand: ASOS is a fantastic company. One that places talent above age and gives genuine responsibility to its employees. It asks you to work hard, but also provides a great environment in which to do so. Also, it is arguably the biggest commercial success story to have come out of the UK over the last decade and it is exciting to see where we will go next.

    What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

    Too much to do, not enough time! We have incredibly tight deadlines and I have an abundance of meetings during the day. Juggling my time can be tough.

    I am also not the best planner, which I have worked hard to improve. Also, an agency generally has a less-defined hierarchy; whilst I don’t mind the importance placed on org charts, it has taken a little while to get used to.

    Finally, I have had to learn a lot about retail, and quickly. However, knowledge acquisition should be one of the best aspects of any role.

    What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

    Do your homework. Marketing is everywhere. Read the abundance of publications and follow the plethora of bloggers who write about it. In terms of retail, this is even easier, go into shops and check out websites! Look, feel, touch, interact with the product. Get to know the range of a brand, and those of their competitor.

    Have an opinion. Imagine that someone asks you the question ‘what brand do you admire?’ or ‘what’s the best digital campaign that has impressed you?’, have an answer! There really isn’t a right or wrong, the person opposite is looking for evidence that you care and can present an answer coherently.

    Don’t pigeon-hole yourself too early. I sometimes think that people worry about becoming a specialist too early. Certainly within marketing I would look to get on either a Grad scheme or work in a full-service agency. This will offer you exposure to a range of disciplines.

    Enjoy your work. Marketing is more fun than banking; so work somewhere that you like. Your company or clients and impact on that, so pick a sector that you like and target it.

    Have a digital footprint. A Facebook or LinkedIn profile isn’t enough. I like to see tangible evidence of an interest in, and understanding of social networks.

    Don’t give up. Some people will get their first choice at the first time of asking. But plenty more won’t. The guys who get their second or third choice are the ones who keep trying. Be amongst them.

    If you’re interested in a career in Marketing, visit Careers Tagged and find over 550 resources to get you started.

    The UCL Management Consultancy Fair is coming…

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 24 September 2014

    Considering a career in Management Consultancy? If so, then don’t miss the Management Consultancy Fair, taking place on Wednesday, 1st October from 5.30 pm – 8 pm in the North and South Cloisters in the Wilkins Building.

    The evening will enable you to network with a wide range of employers who will be present at the event:

    Accenture (sponsor), The Boston Consulting Group, PA Consulting, Helios, EY, Corporate Value Associates, Newton Europe, Informa, IMS Consulting Group, North Highland, Deloitte, Management Solutions, UCL Advances, TARGETjobs Consulting, Gallup, AlphaSights, dunnhumby, Police Now, Oliver Wyman, Deutsche Post DHL Inhouse Consulting, Towers Watson, Capco, TeachFirst and PwC.

    As well as networking opportunities, this event offers the chance to research the industry, to find out what differentiates consultancies and the industry sectors in which they specialise. Ask questions about the skills required, current opportunities, the selection process and anything else you’d like to know.

    The event is on a first come first serve basis so please arrive early to guarantee a place. Queuing begins at 5pm.

    The UCL Management Consultancy Fair 2014 is kindly sponsored by Accenture

    GradClub Careers workshops – September 2014

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 1 September 2014

    It’s almost September and time to think about life after UCL.  ‘Jumpstart your job hunt’ is a series of workshops aimed at recent graduates no matter where they are in their careers thinking.  All workshops are designed to be highly interactive and provide practical insight into all aspects of careers management for new graduates. 

    An introduction to the graduate job search
    Wednesday 10th September 10.30 to 1pm

    Understanding the current graduate labour market and where you fit in can be a daunting prospect. Not sure where to start? This workshop will focus on assessing what you are looking for from your career, generating potential options as well as how to find out more about sectors and roles that interest you.

    In addition, find out more about the graduate job market:

    • What’s the difference between a graduate scheme and a graduate job?
    • Is it true most jobs are never advertised?
    • What kind of recruitment activities are you likely to face and what are your chances of success?

    Find out all this and more in the opening session of our ‘Jumpstart your job hunt’ series.  No matter how vague your thoughts are about your next step, understand more about the graduate labour market and how UCL Careers GradClub can support you every step of the way.

    Improve your CV and Applications
    Wednesday 10th September 2 to 4.30pm

    Did you know that the average employer can spend less than 30 seconds assessing a CV?
    In this session we’ll look at how to improve your CV’s, cover letters and applications forms through interactive activities allowing you to ‘sit in the recruiter’s shoes’.  Understand what employers are looking for, how they assess your applications and how best to market yourself effectively.

    Mock aptitude and other psychometric tests
    Thursday 11th September 10.30 to 1pm

    Many employers use tests of aptitude, situtational judgement and personality in the early stages of their recruitment and this is your chance to find out more and get some essential practice.
    This session based in a UCL cluster room will give you a hands-on opportunity to understand more about common tests, practice examples and take our Kenexa online aptitude test of verbal and numerical reasoning receiving personalised feedback on your performance.

    Succeeding at interviews
    Thursday 11th September 2 to 4.30pm and repeated Friday 12th September 10.30 to 1pm

    Looking for an opportunity to learn more about the interview process and how to market yourself effectively?
    In this workshop, we’ll look at how to prepare ahead for the types of questions you can expect, answering strategies, creating a strong first impression and how to cope if things start going wrong. A highly interactive workshop including analysis of video footage of graduate-level interviews and opportunities to sit in the recruiter’s shoes to understand what employers are really looking for.

    Surviving assessment centres
    Friday 12th September 2 to 4.30pm

    Most graduate recruiters use assessment centres as part of their recruitment process and they often appear a daunting prospect. From sample work tests to business case studies, group discussions to etray exercises – they are typically designed to test your performance across a range of activities all under the watching eye of a team of assessors.
    In this workshop you’ll get first hand practice of typical assessment centre activities and have an opportunity to understand more about the key strategies for improving performance.

    Effective job hunting
    Wednesday 17th September 10.30 to 1pm

    Did you know that most job opportunities are never publicly advertised?
    In a competitive job market, it’s important to think creatively and use a diverse range of strategies as part of your job search. In this workshop, we’ll look at  ways of improving your response rate to advertised vacancies and pro-active tactics to allow yourself to take control of your job search.

    How to use social media to improve your job search
    Wednesday 17th September 2 to 4.30pm

    You may have heard of LinkedIn as a powerful professional networking tool.  But did you realise that students and graduates can use it to raise their profiles with recruiters and find valuable contacts in your area of interest? In addition, many recruiters are now using Linkedin as a way of targeting specific individuals in the job market.
    In this cluster-room based session, you’ll get hands-on with the site and start by understanding the basics of setting up a profile before moving on to using Linkedin to effectively network and look for opportunities.  In addition, we’ll look at how to utilise other social networking tools to help in your job search.

    To register, login via your My UCL Careers account.

    New Books for the Autumn Term

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 11 August 2014

    We’ve had a number of new books arrive ahead of the Autumn Term. We’ve linked them to their respective Amazon records, but don’t forget you can borrow these booked for up to three-working days from us!

    – UCL Careers

    Eight reasons to work at a start-up

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 6 August 2014

    This blog post originally appeared on the Develop you Career blog

    James Pursey is the Head of Inbound Marketing at carwow, an online comparison site for new car buying. He gives us his eight reasons why you should consider working at a start-up.

    “I graduated university in 2011 and wanted to join a start-up but was drawn into the corporate world on the promise of juicy pay cheques and a clearly defined career path. I decided I’d take the suit route for a few years to save up some cash, then leave to start my own business.

    After six months I quit my job and joined the start-up I should’ve gone with from the outset. I realised I was foolish to make a career decision based on what I felt I should do as opposed to what I actually wanted to do. After all, it’s crucial you enjoy what you do because otherwise it’ll suck the life out of you over time.

    In the past couple of years I’ve worked at a corporation, two start-ups and also on the other side of the table as a start-up founder. I’m in an unusual position because I actually have an informed opinion on whether start-ups are better than corporates. Although I clearly think start-ups are the better option, there are many benefits to corporate companies such as security, wages and progression, but you most likely already know those bits.

    Instead, here are my eight favourite reasons for joining a start-up.

    1) Be your own boss

    You don’t have to run a start-up to have ownership over something. Start-ups tend to operate on a matrix structure, which means you’re responsible for what you were hired for, it’s up to you to do your job, and there are no line managers.

    2) Things happen really really quickly

    Small teams move a lot faster than huge companies can, so if you have an idea you can normally get it put into practice within a day or two, not after six months of meetings and red tape.

    3) Learning from the top

    As I said a second ago, there’s no hierarchy here, and if you get in early enough you’ll be working directly alongside the executive team, learning directly from the people pushing the business along.

    4) You’ll learn a shed load of stuff

    Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be a content marketer, oh wait… maybe a social media guru, nope how about a developer? Start-ups promote cross-training, so you’ll learn things about subjects you had no idea about, boosting your skills portfolio and future employability.

    5) It’s bloody good fun

    You’ll be working in a fast-paced work-hard, play-hard environment with people with similar motivations and interests to you.  What doesn’t sound fun about that?

    6) You can progress quickly

    In less than six months I’ve gone from being a sales exec to running inbound marketing. If you have the right attitude you can progress fast.

    7) There are all sorts of perks – weird ones too

    From beer-stocked fridges and full fry ups every day, to Christmas parties abroad and pool tables in the office, start-ups are pretty cool environments to work in.

    8) The bumping-into-old-friends situation

    You bump into someone you went to secondary school with and the inevitable question of “what do you do for work” comes up. Saying you’re an accountant may be the perfect career for you, but you may be the type of person that wants to answer that question and blow someone’s mind – “I’m running inbound marketing at a start-up that just raised over a million pounds from the guys that invested in LoveFilm, Betfair and Zoopla, we’re providing consumers with a service they’ve been crying out for when it comes to buying a new car”. Winning.

    There are lots of pros and cons to both startups and corporates. Only you can decide which you think you’d prefer. Just don’t make a decision for the wrong reasons.