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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    Archive for the 'Careers Advice' Category

    Is a job in the media industry for you?

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 28 November 2017

    Has the Media industry caught your eye as the next step after your degree? This week we are putting the spotlight on this diverse and exciting sector.

    Perhaps you already know that PR is for you, or are you considering which role might suit you best within Publishing? Perhaps you have already tried your hand at documentary making!

    We have some fantastic speakers who have kindly given up their time to come and share their experiences as part of Media Week.

    The week kicks off on Tuesday evening with an insight into Publishing, where people working in a range of roles from freelance editing to trade marketing will take your questions. We are excited to have speakers from Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan Children’s Books, Pearson Education join us.

    On Wednesday we will take a look at what it’s like to work within Film, TV and Radio. Again, this is an incredibly diverse industry so we have been sure to have a range of speakers including a director, commercial and freelance producers.

    On Thursday we’re delighted to have the UK’s number one ranked NCTJ journalism school News Associates join us to run a journalism workshop.

    Finally on Thursday evening we welcome speakers from the BBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Macmillan Cancer Support, Periscopix, Redscout and WPP to talk about the fast paced world of Advertising, Marketing & PR.

    Of course working in the Media is not all about partying with celebs! As with any job, there’ll be the good stuff and the more challenging parts. It’s important to consider what your expectations of working in a media role are. If you are looking for a 9-5 job, then it might not be for you! It often involves hard work and long hours, and at weekends. That said it can be positively challenging and rewarding. UCL Careers’ Media Week events give you the chance to find out what a ‘day in the life’ is really like and whether it might be for you.

    We appreciate the events have booked up quickly but we’re really pleased to say we will be recording each event and also writing a short blog, so if you’re not able to join us in person, you can still find out more. We will specifically break down the different areas and provide some top tips. A look at Prospects.ac.uk shows just how many roles there are within the Media industry. Prospects also breaks down the different roles within Advertising, Marketing & PR. Check out the different job profiles and watch this space for our next Media Week blogs!


    Working in the Arts; what is considered the ‘arts’?

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 14 November 2017


    The ‘arts’ sector includes job opportunities in a wide range of areas including:
    – Architecture
    -Museums, galleries and libraries
    -Music, performing and visual arts
    -Film, TV and Radio

    Employment in the arts industry – according to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – is growing at more than four times than the overall UK workforce. This includes those in both the creative and support roles (such as administration, finance and IT) and the UK is currently employing nearly two million people in this sector.

    What do I need to work in the arts?
    – Either a practise talent or skill or have the passion and interest for the area you wish to work in.
    – You may have to be prepared to work freelance, as self-employed or on short-term contracts

    Further information can be found on the Prospects website

    What sort of ‘creative’ roles are there available?
    Actor, Designer, Animator, Curators, artist, architect, art director, choreographer, photographer, film/theatre director, cinematographer, audio describer, composer, writer, creative director, editor, costume designer, digital imager, painter, prop maker, drapes master, foley artist, set builder, illustrator, model maker, lighting/sound designer, graphic designer, marketing, radio presenter, scenic artist, stand-up comic, storyboard artist…

    …to name but a few but for a further list please do visit http://creativeskillset.org/job_roles/p1

    Do I need to have a ‘creative’ degree to work in the arts?
    No. The arts sector may be creative, but they still need all the roles and departments that you might find in even the corporate world such as IT, finance, HR and legal.

    Picture5 copy


    So if you are studying computer science but have a personal interest in film– perhaps you can combine your degree with your passions and decide on a career in the arts by becoming a visual effects editor? Or, why not use your transferable skills for something like these:

    Broadcast engineering, stage manager, fundraiser, agent, programmer, effects technical director, render wrangler, location manager, casting director, event manager, library assistant, producer, radio traffic manager, researcher and many many more…

    You can find out more about working in the arts from the panel discussion on

    Tuesday 14 November: Working in the Arts Forum (as part of the Museums and Cultural Heritage Themed Week)

    Bookings through My UCL Careers



    Would you like to work in a museum?

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 14 November 2017


    Danielle Thom – Curator of Making at the Museum of London

    It was never my original plan to be a curator. As an undergraduate at Oxford University, I’d spent much of my history degree faffing around with journalism internships and trying to make it in magazines. As it turned out, I was a terrible journalist, and thus spent my first year post-graduation trying to stay afloat in the Sea of What Do I Do Now. I signed up for an MPhil, trying to recapture the bits of university that had appealed to me – research, 18th century history, material culture – and was persuaded to switch to History of Art for the visual training it would offer. Lacking savings, a scholarship, or family funds, I spent the rest of the year working in a cold-calling office, saving up the commission I earned to pay my way through an MPhil.

    My master’s degree, at the University of Birmingham, was invaluable for several reasons. It allowed me the opportunity to confirm, once and for all, where my interests lay. It gave me the chance to do in-depth research, at a level beyond that expected of undergraduates. And, crucially, there was an element of work experience embedded in the programme, which allowed me to work on a small exhibition in a voluntary capacity, co-curating a display of prints at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. At the end of the year, that experience turned out to be vital in getting me my next job, as a junior Curator with the National Army Museum, in Chelsea. I had wanted to stay on and do a PhD, but – again – funds were lacking. I figured that working in a museum was the best thing to do, and this job allowed me to live at home with my parents, save up money, and gain additional, important, experience in the field.

    And that’s how I ended up at UCL, in part because my PhD supervisor there, Tom Gretton, was recommended to me by my MPhil tutor; and in part because I still needed to live at home to make ends meet. I worked part-time retail for the first year, squeezing in shifts around time in the library and archives. This isn’t intended to be a tale of woe – I’ve been extremely lucky – but it’s important to realise that the entry route into museum careers isn’t always plain sailing for those who lack economic and other forms of privilege. Finally, however, I managed to secure AHRC funding, which covered me for the remaining two years of the programme, and freed up my time so that I could take on additional volunteering, one afternoon per week.

    Six months after finishing my doctoral thesis, in 18th century British print culture, I managed to secure a job on the Assistant Curator Development Programme at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was a bit of a culture shock, fresh from a PhD, full of self-importance and used to autonomous research – to suddenly be responsible for fairly mundane, even menial tasks, such as counting dead beetles (for pest control purposes) and shunting objects around on trollies – but it was as essential a part of my education as the PhD had been. I was assigned to the Sculpture department, which wasn’t then my area of expertise, but I figured that it was an opportunity to develop a new body of knowledge, and took advantage of the resources available to me. I’ve been working on a book manuscript, about an 18th century British sculptor, and was able to do a month-long curatorial fellowship at Yale University while researching that. I co-curated a pavilion at the Venice Biennale, as well as curating several smaller displays, and travelled all over Europe and the US as a courier for artworks. I also applied to, and was accepted for, the New Generation Thinker scheme, which is run jointly between the AHRC and BBC Radio 3, giving me the opportunity to make radio documentaries and appearances. I took advantage of every opportunity presented to me, although not all of those were easy projects, and sought things out rather than waiting for them to come looking for me. I’ve learned that in the museum world you can’t be shy about singing your own praises, as odd and obnoxious as it may feel to do so, because it’s rare that someone else will do it for you.

    The assorted experiences which I’d gathered while working at the V&A enabled me to get my current job, as Curator of Making at the Museum of London. I’ve been in post for the last six months, and here I’m responsible for the historic decorative arts collections (such as jewellery, ceramics and sculpture), and also for developing collections and displays that reflect contemporary making in London today. I’m involved in the exciting redevelopment of the Museum of London, which is building an entire new museum at West Smithfield. I’m also still (!) working on my book manuscript, and occasionally make an appearance on the radio, continuing my 18th century researches while forming new networks in a less familiar field.

    Going once, going twice…hired!

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 30 October 2017

    By Sally Brown, UCL Careers


    If you are looking for a career in a place that is likely to be alive longer than you, then Sothebys – the global art business that has been banging its hammer down on collections since 1744, might be one for you to consider. Alongside over 70 categories of art on sale, Sotheby’s are now also branching out into ‘luxury’ items as well, such as fine wine and cars. They are very keen to ensure they are a 21st century business, so are always looking for fresh talent with new ideas.

    hanging picturesSpecialisms (e.g. Modern & Post-War British art, Chinese art, European Ceramics) count for only a 3rd of Sotheby’s business. So they are keen to welcome graduates who have more of a business head as well as a genuine interest in art. Sotheby’s is an auction house after all, so you need to have good commercial acumen in order to be able to win clients from competitors. If your interests lie purely in the academics of art, then perhaps an art gallery or a museum pathway might be more appropriate.


    Top tips:

    • Get some work experience – any work experience. They want to see evidence of transferable skills so it’s fine to have just been the tea-making, photocopying dogsbody called ‘hey you’, as long as you can explain what you learnt from the experience and how you dealt with different situations.
    • Show your enthusiasm for the art world – even if just in a business sense.
    • Show your interest in a particular area or department. Be clear about why it interests you.
    • Go to an auction! Try to go to the afternoon ones as they are less busy and open to the public; some evening auctions are ticketed only. Don’t worry about keeping completely still with your hands in your pockets– the auctioneer will know that you are not bidding!
    • Visit an exhibition and see the items on sale.
    • Try the lobster club sandwich in the restaurant for the bargain price of £26.50- we’ve been told it is rather good!


    What’s on offer?   

    Internships: This three month experience is open to 2nd years and above. You will be placed in a particular department, so be sure to research your areas of interest before applying – as it asks you on the application form to rank your preferences. They have less placements in the summer – as business is quieter – so competition is fiercer! They receive 800-1500 applications over the year with 80 places available.

    • Graduate training programme: Trainees will complete 12 months of rotations across a variety of departments as well as regular lectures, workshops and museum visits with senior executives whilst working on projects with fellow trainees. On completion, selected trainees will be offered permanent positions. Usually around 450 applications are made with about seven places available.
    • Floating programme: a group of 12 graduates will work as in-house ‘temps’ and placed in a variety of departments, of varying lengths of time, over one year. For example, if a department has an auction coming up and need an extra pair of hands, you might be asked to spend a few days with them. You will be encouraged to apply for permanent roles as positions become available. You are only eligible to stay in this programme for up to 12 months.




    UCL Careers in Government and Policy Themed Week – Coming Soon!

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 10 October 2017

    Gov copy


    In a couple of weeks time we see the start of UCL Careers Government & Policy Themed Week. You will fine below a run through of the range of events organised to inspire and engage those who are interested in a career within the public sector, as well as those who are yet undecided. This is your chance to meet with organisations in this sector – to hear from and network with a range of guests from recent graduates to senior officials.

    The following events are open to students and recent graduates from all degree disciplines and all of the events below are now bookable through your ‘My UCL Careers’ account.

    Industry Spotlight Talk: Working in policy – what are my options?
    Monday 23rd October – 13.00-14.00
    Interested in discovering more about the Policy sector? Come along to hear Bryony Wills, Career Consultant at UCL Careers, explain more about the career paths open to new graduates. This event includes a Q&A opportunity.

    Panel Discussion: Influencing policy
    Monday 23rd October – 17.30-19.30
    Hear from representatives of some of the leading shapers
    of public policy. This event will include Q&A and a networking opportunity.

    Confirmed speakers include Chatham House, Conciliation Resources, UNITE, Office of National Statistics, and New Local Government Network.

    Panel Discussion: Careers at the heart of government
    Tuesday 24th October – 18.00-20.00
    Hear from speakers working at the heart of government.
    Speakers from HM Treasury, Department for Transport, Government Legal Services, Department of Education and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will talk about their careers to date. This event will include Q&A and a networking opportunity.

    Workshop: Civil service group exercise
    Wednesday 25th October – 14.15-16.00
    If you expect to attend an employer’s assessment centre this year, for either Fast Track Civil Service or any other job or internship, then come along to practice the group exercise with staff from the Civil Service. The session will include feedback on how you have performed. Booking is essential for this workshop as spaces are limited.

    Panel Discussion: Careers in the public sector
    Thursday 26th October – 12.30-14.00
    Meet representatives from a range of public sector employers about jobs and graduate schemes open to enthusiastic candidates. This event is in the format of a panel and Q&A on their roles. Confirmed speakers include Police Now, Frontline and Regeneration at London Borough of Lambeth.


    The above events are on a first come, first served basis so please book early to guarantee a place. Events are bookable through ‘My UCL Careers’.

    We look forward to welcoming as many of you as possible for Government  Policy Week. In the meantime, check out resources on Careers Tagged by searching terms such as ‘politics’, ‘government’, ‘lobbying’, ‘civil service’ and so on.


    The 7 R’s of Success for Newly Qualified Teachers

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 27 June 2017

    One student rises her hand and asks question

    Hi, I’m Anna and I’m one of the Career Consultants working with students at the UCL Institute of Education. I know a lot of you will be coming to the end of your teacher training, and I imagine you’re probably having mixed feelings right now…

    On the one hand – PHEW! And a big virtual high-five to you for making it through one of the toughest professional training programmes out there. Whether you took the School Direct Route, a PGCE or have been with Teach First or any other route, I can hazard a guess that you’re emerging out of a year that’s been challenging, eye-opening, rewarding and like a big old emotional rollercoaster ride.

    You’re probably looking forward to a well-deserved Summer break – and this should be your top priority (see the first point below) – but there’s probably also part of you that’s already looking ahead to what’s in store from September and wondering how you’re going to make the most of your NQT year.

    Well, to help you out, I’ve put together seven top tips to ensure that you don’t just survive but THRIVE in your first year as a fully-fledged new teacher. This isn’t a definitive list but it should give a few pointers over the key things to consider…

    1. Rest – You’re probably sick of hearing it by now, but this year IS going to be hard work – maybe even harder than the year you’ve just had, and looking after yourself is going to be absolutely KEY to success. It may sound obvious now, but self-care is often the first thing to go out of the window when the responsibilities mount up. Whatever you do, make sure you schedule in time for non-work activities and whatever relaxes you, whether it’s time with friends or walks in the country. And get as much sleep as you can – we’re far more effective when we’re well-rested so staying up late to catch up on work might be a false-economy.
    2. Reach out – You don’t have to do it alone. Don’t be afraid to draw on more experienced colleagues for support and ideas. People love to help so give them the opportunity to feel like a wise old sage with you newbies! This is also an opportunity to network and build relationships with colleagues, so be a familiar face in the staffroom, and be curious about others work (be sure to judge how busy they look and perhaps ask when it would be convenient to talk – you could even offer to buy them a coffee in return!) Remember too that you have access to UCL Careers for up to two years after you graduate, so if you want coaching on anything related to your career, do book in to see one of us via the UCL Careers Graduates
    3. Reflect – You will probably be heavily observed during you NQT year, but rather seeing this as a threat, try to see observations as genuine learning opportunities. It can be good to employ a growth mindset – in the same way that you might congratulate a child on their effort rather than their natural achievement, you could appreciate your own attempts to learn and grow rather than berating yourself from not being perfect from the outset.
    4. Resilience – You could say this is the most important teaching skill and it links to the point above about not being a perfectionist. In any career, there will be challenges and setbacks – what’s important is how you bounce back and learn from them without being consumed with self-criticism – remember that it’s all part of the journey! One way to develop resilience is through mindfulness practice, which helps to regulate our emotions and stay calm. UCL Student Psychological Services offers a free programme called the 10 Minute Mind where daily mindfulness practices are sent to your inbox or, if you no longer have a UCL log-in, you could try the app Headspace.
    5. Responsibility – This one needs to be handled with care – what you DON’T want to do is overstretch yourself in your first year and agree to every opportunity put on the table (new teachers can even be promoted to a head of their subject within the first year or two due to staff shortages!) However, it CAN be good to look for opportunities to take on extra duties that will help you grow in areas of interest (e.g. sports, SEN, drama activities, management) and gain extra skills that could come in handy in the future.
    6. Research – Every year, thousands of people become qualified as teachers, and so the internet is full of handy tips about how to prepare for your NQT year, including things like checklists for all the things you need to get done when you start and countless forums like the TES New Teachers You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, so learn from the experiences of others who have been through the NQT year and lived to tell the tale!

     And last but not least…

    1. Remember why you’re doing this! I’d imagine it wasn’t JUST for the long holidays, was it? It’s important to keep sight of the bigger picture, so when you’re swamped in marking and feeling overwhelmed, put the pen down, go for a walk and reflect on why you were motivated to become a teacher in the first place and the impact you wanted to make. And above all, remember that it WILL get easier. Teaching may be hard work, but it’s also one of the most rewarding jobs out there, so it will be worth it in the long run.

    Good luck and have a wonderfully relaxing Summer holiday!


    The 2017 Global Citizenship Employability Programme is fast approaching!

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 23 May 2017

    gcep digital screen

    The 2017 Global Citizenship Employability Programme is fast approaching, and we are really looking forward to welcoming students from across UCL to the two week programme!

    Here are 3 main things we hope you will gain from the programme, and 3 things you could do before you start on the 30th May.

    Three things you will gain from the programme:

    1. Have the opportunity to gain an in depth look at your own values and, strengths and start making plans for the future, supported every step of the way by the team at UCL Careers. It can be human nature to put off making decisions when don’t know where to start: this programme will give you a framework to explore your thoughts on employability.
    2. Practice with real life employers, before the “real” thing. Applications, Assessments and Interviews can be scary things however prepared you are. The Employability programme enables you to practice in a safe environment, gaining useful feedback that you can build on.
    3. Develop your ideas on Global Citizenship: what does it mean to you and how might this impact your future career decisions.

    Three things to do before you start. If you have time, the following areas would be useful before you come on the 30th May:

    1. Check out our Employability Moodle, which is full with loads of information to get you thinking about Global Citizenship.
    2. Start thinking about what you would like to get out of the programme.
    3. Make sure you have paid your deposit! As places are confirmed on a first come first served basis, you will only be able to attend the programme if you do this before the places run out. You will receive your deposit back if you attend at least 70% of the programme.

    In the meantime, if you have any questions please do contact UCL Careers careers@ucl.ac.uk or drop into our offices on the 4th floor of the Student Central building!


    Interested in a career within Life and Health Sciences?

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 3 March 2017

    digital screen


    Join us for a series of panel events and workshops taking place during Life and Health Sciences Themed Week, Monday 6th – Thursday 9th March 2017.

    Our panel contributors, from various professional backgrounds and at different stages of their careers, include a Patent Attorney from J A Kemp, the Global Head of Digital at Cello Health Insight, a Senior Account Manager from Hanover Communications, a Senior Medical Writer, a Project Manager from the Royal Free, the Head of Government Science and Engineering Profession within the Civil Service and an NHS Graduate Management Trainee to name just a few. They will be sharing unique insights into their career journeys and current roles as well as answering your questions during our panel and networking events, below:

    Monday 6th March, 17.30-19.30: Leadership & Governance Panel

    Tuesday 7th March, 17.30-19.30: Communicating Science & Health 

    Wednesday 8th March, 17.30-19.30: Biology & Business

    Thursday 9th March, 17.30-19.30: Non-Academic 

    Our workshops will introduce you to various clinical and non-clinical roles within the life and health sciences sector and offer the opportunity to ask questions and delve deeper into what a career within these areas can offer you through an interactive lunchtime session.

    Tuesday 7th March, 12.00 – 13.00: Lunchtime Workshop: Clinical 

    Wednesday 8th March, 12.00 – 13.00: Lunchtime Workshop: Non-Clinical 


    Working for a Healthy Society

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 28 February 2017


    Careers within the field of life and health sciences are incredibly diverse and encompass a broad range of specialisms in both clinical and non-clinical areas.

    Whether you are looking to apply your skills and expertise ‘behind the scenes’ within research, laboratory-based work or the development of new scientific treatments and medical technology, or directly with patients in a public-facing role, the life and health sciences sector offers a multitude of exciting career options.

    Join us to hear more about some of the professional pathways available to you during our ‘Life and Health Sciences Week’, from Monday 6th March – Thursday 9th March 2017.

    We will be hosting a series of panel events covering themes including leadership and governance, biology and business, communicating health and science and non-academic careers, as well as offering interactive workshops to inspire you to explore the range of employment opportunities within life and health sciences. More information and booking details here – http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto/lifehealthsciences

    In the meantime, check out the top hiring trends in life science for 2017 here: https://social.hays.com/2017/01/05/top-10-life-sciences-hiring-trends-for-2017/


    Global Careers Series Collaboration – next up North America!

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 13 February 2017

    Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 12.27.12Global Careers Series came to UCL at the end of January with an event focusing on the Middle East.

    The Global Careers Series is a collaboration across five University of London colleges, including UCL, King’s, SOAS, Goldsmiths and City University, and is designed to educate and inspire students about working in a number of global regions.

    We are now just over halfway through the series, and so far we have learnt about working in China, South East Asia and the Middle East. During the Middle East event we heard from a variety of speakers, including UCL alumni, FactSet (a financial data company), and two UCL academics. This diverse panel offered excellent insights into the benefits and challenges of working in the Middle East whilst answering questions from the student audience.

    Next up in the series we will be focusing on North America, and students from UCL are invited to attend this event being held at City University. This promises to be a lively event, with two panel discussions, a keynote speech and a raffle to win a $2,500 mobility grant to participate in Global Experiences’ US program! If you’re interested, please register to attend here [Eventbrite].

    To end the series, we will be heading to Goldsmiths University to hear all about working in Western Europe and we look forward to hearing from a variety of speakers there.

    For more information about the series, please see Global Careers Series [website].