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 'Tips and hints' 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!

     

    Would you like to work in a museum?

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 14 November 2017

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    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.

    Overcoming misconceptions about the fast stream and civil service – a UCL students insight

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 19 June 2017

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    UCL masters student Georgina Evison

     

    Throughout my undergraduate degree the Civil Service Fast Stream was no more than a blip in my peripheral vision. I vaguely heard friends mention that they were applying – a couple even said it was their dream post-uni job – but it never particularly piqued my interest and so I never enquired exactly what it was.

    This was out of the idea that I didn’t want to go into politics – an idea that I now understand represents a distorted view of what the Civil Service actually is.

    During one of the first weeks of my Masters degree, when I saw the Civil Service Fast Stream representatives on the UCL campus, it would be dishonest of me to pretend I walked over to them for any other reason than they were giving out free coffees.

    About to go to work and feeling a bit sleepy, I thought I’d have a quick chat and be on my way; the thought that I might actually end up quite interested in something new didn’t cross my mind. The two women I spoke to explained about the various schemes and I began to understand the breadth of opportunities available within the Civil Service Fast Stream.

    Before this, I had for some reason imagined that the Civil Service Fast Stream would essentially involve lots of admin and one single path for graduates. After a few minutes and lots of questions, I filled out a survey asking how likely I had been to apply to the Civil Service Fast Stream prior to speaking to the representatives (not at all likely) and now (somewhat likely!) and continued on my way to work – coffee in hand.

    I admittedly then forget about our conversation for a couple of days, at which point I discovered I had missed the deadline to complete the initial stage of the application.

    Mildly disappointed, but with the thought of applying next year in mind, I didn’t give the Civil Service a great deal of thought until I received an email mid-January. I had completely forgotten that in filling out the survey I would be entered into a competition to shadow a senior civil servant for a day – the detail hardly registered in my mind given my minute chances of winning.

    As a Human Rights Law Masters student, the opportunity to shadow a civil servant in DFID (Development for International Development) was basically a dream prize, and when I looked up the bio of Ellen Wratten – who I would be shadowing – I looked on in awe at the list of accomplishments.

    To be honest, I was a bit surprised that someone who had done so many cool things worked for the Civil Service. The day itself was an eye-opening experience to the realities of working not only in DFID, but for the Civil Service generally.

    I arrived at 22 Whitehall and was given a quick tour before attending an event to celebrate and share the accomplishments of four different global development think tanks. The event was opened by MP James Wharton who gave a short speech about the various global development challenges that DFID is engaging with in order to try and positively impact on the lives of some of the poorest people in the world, in line with DFID’s goal to “leave no one behind”.

    Everyone that I was introduced to seemed to do something different, and they all had a few encouraging words for me when I explained about my own career aspirations. Having the opportunity to talk to Ellen afterwards made me see that despite the image of government that we see in the media – politicians standing up and giving speeches – it’s really the hundreds of civil servants working hard behind the scenes that are responsible for many changes.

    I also realised that there isn’t a “type” of person that works in the Civil Service, something which a few of the people I spoke to alluded to as becoming increasingly important. The range of educational and employment backgrounds from which civil servants have come from is remarkable and definitely changed my perception of both the type of work that civil servants do, and the type of people who apply.

    I’m grateful that I had this opportunity because otherwise the Civil Service Fast Stream would have remained a bit of a mystery to me, when in fact it’s something that I will enthusiastically apply to now. I would encourage anyone who was like me to just have a look and learn a bit more about the Civil Service Fast Stream because it’s easy to discount it as “not for you” when in fact there’s probably an opportunity to interest everyone.

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    Profile – Georgina Evison

    Georgina is studying a Masters in Law, specialising in Human Rights law at UCL. From 2012-15 she studied law at the University of Bristol. In the year between her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees she did an internship with an NGO in Nepal for 4 months and then moved to Paris to work as an au pair and English tutor and improve her French. Georgina grew up in Sheffield but moved to Toronto when she was 11, and moved back to the UK for university. She is interested in human rights law issues – particularly relating to privacy and security law, freedom of religion, and children’s rights. Outside of academics, she likes reading, languages, running, and cooking. Upon finishing her Masters she’d will be working for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse as a paralegal.

    Summer Internship Opportunities Exclusively for UCL Students

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 8 February 2017

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    UCL Careers Summer Internship Scheme

    We will be advertising paid summer internship opportunities exclusively available for UCL students and graduates to intern at London-based Small – Medium Enterprises (SME).

    “I didn’t have any defined expectations, but I really didn’t expect to have such a wonderful time. I was/ am so happy to go in to work every day because I really loved the company atmosphere, and really respected and got on well with my co-workers. I feel like I wasn’t treated like an intern or the youngest member of the team (which I was), but was given responsibilities and respected on an equal footing. I learned a lot of things that I had no real comprehension of before the internship. I genuinely feel like I was helping out as well.”
    Vesa Popova – UCL BASc Arts and Sciences – graduating 2018

    _

    In association with Santander Universities, we are providing subsidised funding for internships, paid at the London Living Wage, across our summer scheme.

    The subsidized funding will support the training allowance for UCL students or recent graduates to work as interns with small-medium-sized businesses for 6 or 8 weeks full-time during the 2017 summer vacation period (June – September).

    Internships will be available in a range of sectors including:

    • Consultancy
    • IT/tech
    • Engineering
    • Arts/Culture
    • Life Sciences/Health
    • Finance
    • Social Sciences/Media

    Applicant Eligibility

    You will need to be eligible to work in the UK full-time during the internship. If you are on a visa, your visa must cover the full duration of the internship.

    Please note: UCL Tier 4 Postgraduate (Taught and Research) students are not permitted to work in excess of 20 hours per week for the full duration of their degree programme. This includes the summer vacation period. UCL is unable to issue a visa for the Summer Internship Programme therefore UCL Tier 4 Postgraduate students are not eligible for this scheme.

    It is the student’s responsibility to ensure they are eligible for the scheme and comply with UCL sponsorship duties and visa regulations before submitting an application. It is the responsibility of the business to check their intern’s eligibility to work in the UK taking into account the above regulations.

    The Timeline

    • Internships will be advertised on the UCL Talent Bank website from mid-February to Friday 31st March.
    • You will need to submit your CV, and a tailored cover letter online for each application you make.
    • Follow us on social media to hear about each role as it goes live Twitter and Facebook search: UCL Careers
    • Each employer will receive a shortlist of the best applications for their role. They will then invite UCL students and graduates to interview.
    • Prospective interns should know if they have a place on the scheme by mid-May, so please bear this in mind when making vacation plans.
    • Once the employer has made an internship offer and you have accepted that offer, UCL Careers will send both you the intern, and the employer, an agreement letter each to fill in and return to UCL Careers.
    • Funding for the internship will not be released to the organisation until we have these completed letters returned.
    • Internships will commence as follows:
    • 6 weeks starting 12th June and ending 21st July 2017
    • 8 weeks starting 12th June and ending 4th August 2017
    • 6 week starting 10th July and ending 18th August 2017
    • 8 weeks starting 10th July and ending 1st September 2017

    Get involved and get that internship!

    • Prepare: Keep an eye out for our CV and cover letter writing workshops at the end of February, as advertised on our Careers Essentials webpage: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/essentials
    • Perfect: When you know which internships you want to apply for, you might want to book in for an Applications Appointment to make sure your application documents are competitive with other applicants’.
    • Apply: Register on our UCL Talent Bank website with an up-to-date CV.

    NOTE FOR THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY IN CONTACT WITH A COMPANY ABOUT AN INTERNSHIP:

    If you are already in contact with a small-medium-sized company who is hoping to offer a summer internship to you, which would benefit from some financial assistance, please encourage them to contact us by sending an email to Laura: l.radford@ucl.ac.uk

    The proposal form we will ask all companies to complete about their vacancy will ask the question of whether they already have a student or graduate in mind to hire. If the company and the internship proposed meet our criteria, the internship will be reserved funding without having to be advertised.

    Lastly, if you know of an organisations who you feel would be interested in participating in this scheme, please direct them to further information for employers here: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/careers-employer-engagement/2017/01/09/ucl-careers-summer-internships-scheme/

     

     

    Are you interested in real-life experiences of students and graduates looking for work?

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 7 February 2017

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    Are you following The Great Grad Job Hunt channel on YouTube? It’s a great project which aims to help students and graduates discuss job-hunting and will create an online series that documents the real-life experiences of students and graduates looking for work.

    Tania, a post graduate from UCL, on understanding e-trays, how they work and where to find them – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOJb4BrNpTo

    In this video Tania, a UCL graduate, talks about how you can practice e-tray exercises before an interview or assessment centre and the online tools available for this.
    You might be interested to know that UCL Careers has access to Assessment Day, the online resource mentioned here, which provides a practice e-tray activity as well as verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, inductive reasoning, logical reasoning and diagrammatic reasoning tests. To register ans access the subscription-based test materials on the Assessment Day website for free, all you will need is your UCL email address. Recent Graduates should read the information about “Email for Life” on the Alumni Relations website for details on accessing your UCL email account after graduation.

    You can also find other resources to practice assessment centres and psychometric tests by logging into Careers Tagged: http://www.careerstagged.co.uk, and follow The Great Grad Job Hunt Here  where they’ll be covering CV tips, interview preparation and much more.

     

    Green Shoots Link-Up

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 1 February 2017

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    As part of Charities and NGOs themed week, we have asked one of the London-based charities attending the Link-Up event to introduce themselves to you in advance.

    Muneezay Jaffery tells us about her charity Green Shoots Foundation and the internship opportunities available to UCL students. (The photo shows two interns in the Green Shoots Office in Lavender Hill.)

    Please tell us about your charity
    Green Shoots Foundation is a small charity set up in 2010, by Jean-Marc Debricon, who aimed to make use of his finance and banking background for more worthwhile and long-term projects. In the past seven years, our small team has established three main programs in seven countries. Our work pertains to skills training, be it medical for HIV treatment in Myanmar, Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan or agriculture skills in Cambodia and the Philippines. We also facilitate educational loans for social entrepreneurship in India.

    Green Shoots started out with a microfinance focus but very quickly developed into adopting a skills-based approach. We believe investing in people and, then making loans, improves livelihood opportunities and brings about sustainable transformations. For example, our work in Cambodia for the past three years has focused on updating and bringing sustainable agriculture skills to government run schools in rural areas. Now, as we transition to the next stage, we are taking an enterprise approach and will focus on the cultivation of agri-business ideas. In all our countries of operation we work with trusted local partners rolling out projects on the ground.

    What activities have previous UCL interns been involved in whilst volunteering at Green Shoots and what can an intern expect when they first start?
    UCL interns have been instrumental in helping us with fundraising in the UK. This can involve everything from managing the database of trusts and foundations, to writing grant applications and researching new opportunities. With a recent intern, we have diversified our fundraising strategy to include the approach of “twining” with local schools. This has proven to be successful as we approach local primary schools to buddy up with schools in Cambodia, exchange letters and photographs but also fundraise with us throughout the year.

    How have interns developed their employability whilst they have been working with you?
    By working in fundraising candidates, especially those interested in Global Development or charity sector careers, learn the basics of grant writing- what makes a good application and how to structure proposals. Transferable skills such as time keeping, being organised, and writing formal correspondence are also ways interns have developed their employability. Our office environment is quite friendly and laidback. As we share it with another charity, interns are able to participate in team meetings and contribute towards day-to-day running. Whilst at Green Shoots they also get the opportunity to attend relevant training events, panel discussions and make use of networking opportunities.

    What advice would you give to UCL students and graduates who may be looking to set up a charity or similar organisation?
    Although it might seem out-dated, when it comes to setting up a charity or deciding on a project, thinking in terms of Theory of Change and working backwards is a good way to start. By this I mean, knowing the impact you want to make and then figuring out how to go about it.  This approach also helps tremendously with decision making for activities, setting realistic and achievable goals and constantly thinking about how to measure and report them.

    Being transparent and accountable towards the individuals we work with and to donors we raise funds from should be the first rule for being involved in the charity sector and I always find fundraising is a good way to understand that relationship.

    Find out more:
    http://www.greenshootsfoundation.org/

    The Green Shoots Foundation will have a stand at the Charities and NGOs Link Up event this Thursday alongside other organisations including Oxfam, The Children’s Trust, The Challenge, Ark Teacher Training, CharityWorks, Unlocked Graduates, UCL VSU, Sustrans, UCL Amnesty International Society


    *Sign up to attend this event via your My UCL Careers account


     

    Employer Insight Profile: FINIMIZE ‘Financial news for everyday people’

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 4 November 2016

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    Scott Tindle, Co–Founder & Head of Content of Finimize

    How did you get into your role?

    I co-founded Finimize, our financial news start-up, in 2015. After graduating from university I worked in equity sales at Barclays but after 7 years there I decided I needed a change. I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial. Around the same time, an old friend from university was starting to work on a new project called Finimize – and he needed someone with a finance background. There was a gap in the market for a financial news resource that was brief and not full of jargon – but still provided readers with the sophisticated information they wanted to know. So now, every weekday (and on Sundays!) I curate and explain the two most important financial news stories of the day and send it out to our subscribers.


    What are the best things about working in your role?

    I love the entrepreneurial aspects of working at Finimize. Co-running a small business means I get to do so many different things, from finding new stories to talking to investors – no two days are ever the same. Another definite pro is being able to shape the company’s destiny and take it wherever we want to go. Because Finimize is something that we have personally created it also means that its success is hugely rewarding – to know that we’ve made something that tens of thousands people appreciate and read is amazing.


    What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

    Time! As an entrepreneur the most valuable commodity you have is your time and prioritising my time to get the most out of it is my biggest challenge. There are so many things I could be doing at once that I have to be disciplined and structure my day effectively. There’s also a lot of uncertainty that’s inherent in running a small business – dealing with that on a personal level can be stressful and is a big change from working at a big company (which can also be stressful, but often in different ways).


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

    Broadly speaking, there are two typical routes into the startup world. One is to dive in straight after university and look for internships or a junior position in a start-up. Another is to gain a bit of experience in a bigger company, acquiring skills and knowledge at a bigger company before switching tack to a startup. The benefit of the latter is that you learn a lot at big firms and you can bring that knowledge and experience with you to a small company. But jumping right into the startup world can also be the right move. There’s no “adjustment” to make later on and, especially now, the startup ecosystem is so well developed that you can gain relevant, high quality experience without working at a big traditional firm. In short, you have to figure out what’s right for you and run with it!!

     


    More about Finimize:

    Finimize is financial news for everyday people that strives to demystify finance by making financial news easy to understand, succinct and relevant to its readers. The email takes just 3-minutes to read each day, never uses any financial jargon and is a useful tool for students preparing for job interviews. Learn more and sign up here.

    Thinking about working in museums, cultural heritage or the arts?

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 3 November 2016

    MUSEUMSSo you think you might be interested in working in museums, cultural heritage or the arts but aren’t quite sure where to start? You’re probably not alone. Whilst there are broadly four types of museums and galleries in the UK – national, regional and local, university and independent  – these represent a vast array of collections, artefacts, objects, specimens and homes. From well-known and established collections to the history of anaesthesia it could seem a daunting task to know where to start.

    In addition, unlike other sectors, there is no clear pathway for starting out your career, such as through a graduate scheme for example. Volunteering remains an important way to develop your interests and skills, though opportunities for paid work do exist. The good news is the sector requires people with diverse skills to thrive including education, programme, science, history, business, marketing, finance, and digital to name a few. And while funding cuts have meant that museums have to rethink the ways in which they operate, this also means that there can be lots of opportunity for those with creative ideas and an interest in innovating.

    However, the sector remains competitive. Jobs in museums, galleries and libraries made up just 5% of jobs in the creative industries in the UK last year, a 6% increase since 2011 (Creative Industries: Focus on Employment June 2016). So being proactive, gaining valuable experience and making contacts is crucial.

    London is an exceptional city in which to launch your career in this industry. With over 278 of the 2,500 museums in the UK located in London alone (Museums Association; Londonist) this city hosts a diversity of cultural places to work right on your doorstep. To help you explore the many options and opportunities for work in this sector, UCL Careers has organised a programme of panel events for Museums & Cultural Heritage Week beginning Monday 14 November: Museums Forum, Cultural Heritage Forum and Working in the Arts. A Museums & Heritage Volunteering Fair will also take place during the week.

    Each panel event will feature expert speakers who will provide insight on the sector by sharing their own career journeys, their perspectives on what is currently driving the sector and what keeps them excited about this field. They will also offer valuable advice for those looking to get a foot in the door.

    Kicking off the series is the Museums Forum featuring speakers from the Grant Museum, the Museum of London and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). Panellists for this event include:

    Jack Ashby, Manager of the Grant Museum and former head of Learning and Access for all UCL Museums and Collections for a period over 2009 and 2010. Jack has interests in scientific communications and evolutionary biology.

    Jackie Kiely, Curator in the Department of Archaeology Collections at the Museum of London. Jackie has published widely on Roman artefacts.

    Danielle Thom, Assistant Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Danielle specialises in 18th century art and co-curated the exhibition A World of Fragile Parts a special project exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale running until 27 November.

    The panel will also feature a current student who held a summer internship at the British Museum.

    Register to attend this and the other events online via your ‘My UCL Careers’ account.

    UCL Careers Museums & Cultural Heritage Week is part of the #UCLInspireMe series.

    Other events in this series:

    • Museums & Heritage Volunteering Fair, 15 November @ 17:00
    • Cultural Heritage Forum, Tuesday 15 November @ 18:30
    • Working in the Arts, Wednesday 16 November @ 17:30

     

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    Source: Walt Disney – Donald Duck – Modern Inventions (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSohVE6Zmjc)

    UCL Careers Essentials – New for 2016/17

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 3 November 2016

    Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 13.29.24 A series of lunchtime talks and experiential workshops providing insight, advice and interactive opportunities to engage with all aspects of careers management and navigating selection processes no matter where you are in your careers thinking.

    From understanding the graduate job market to career decision-making; mock aptitude tests to interview success; finding and funding a PHD to getting to grips with Linkedin and social media – the programme aims to equip you with the essential know-how to begin to move forward and engage more confidently with ‘Finding your Future’.

    Talks and workshops titles will be repeated on a regular basis in the Autumn, Spring and post-exam season. Please register to attend using the links below. For more information and to register to attend – http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/essentials

    Essentials Programme


    Improve your CV
    7th November 1-2pm,
    repeated 21st November 1-2pm

    Did you know that the average employer can spend less than 30 seconds assessing a CV? Is it true that some employers ignore personal profiles? Should a CV be more than just a life history of everything you’ve ever done?

    Find out how to market yourself effectively in a UK CV in this interactive session. We’ll simulate a CV sifting exercise allowing you to ‘sit in the recruiter’s shoes’ and assess multiple CVs under time pressure. Understand how to create a strong first impression, keep the reader’s interest and make your evidence ‘relevant’.
    Book Now


    Application forms, cover letters and supporting statements
    10th November 1-2pm,
    repeated 22nd November 1-2pm

    Do companies use ‘killer questions’ to sift out weaker candidates in application forms? Does a recruiter pay more attention to a CV or cover letter? What’s the difference between a ‘functional’ and a ‘narrative’ personal statement?

    In this interactive session, we’ll review motivation and competency-based application answers, assess sample cover letters and personal statements and get an insider’s view on what recruiters are really looking for.
    Book Now


    Succeeding at interviews
    17th November 1-2pm

    Did you know that most interview questions are predictable or that what you say can be less important than how you say it?

    If you’ve been invited to an interview, you’ve already impressed but for most, interviewing is a daunting experience – so how can you navigate interviews successfully?

    Find out how to prepare ahead for the types of questions you can expect, create a strong first impression and learn answering strategies for motivational, competency and strength-based questions. We’ll critique videos of graduate-level interviews and get inside the recruiter’s head to understand what they’re really looking for.
    Book Now


    To register and find out about future Careers Essential events – http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/essentials UCL Careers

    Pokémon GO, mindfulness, planned happenstance… and careers

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 10 August 2016

    Image from http://powerlisting.wikia.com/wiki/Spiritual_Meditation

    Image from http://powerlisting.wikia.com/wiki/Spiritual_Meditation

    Earlier today I was sitting in Gordon Square, one of the most beautiful spots in London in my opinion, watching endless people wandering zombie-like while staring at their mobile phones and completely ignoring the idyllic scene around them while they hunted for Pokemon.

    Friends and colleagues have defended Pokemon Go! by saying it’s just a game, and it’s fun, and it’s surely better than slobbing on the sofa playing a computer game in your living room. They also claim it has helped them meet and connect with fellow Londoners, as they bang into them on their way to capture an imaginary critter, which I do appreciate, and blimey does London need more connection between strangers!

    However, purely from an outsider’s perspective (as I daren’t download the app) it just looks like all that’s wrong with our society right now and the pinnacle of this rising tide of distraction that has been washing over us since smartphones and 24 hour connectivity entered our lives. We spend every waking hour (definitely including myself in this) eye-locked in to our computer screens, or jumping to check a notification on our phones. Meanwhile, this constant distraction means we’re always in our heads, find it increasingly difficult to concentrate on one thing at a time and are less attuned to what’s actually around us.

    But what’s this got to do with careers, I hear you ask! 

    Well, there’s a recent career theory called Planned Happenstance, which suggests that rather than having a rigid career plan and charging off towards set goals (rather like those Go! players storming around the streets of London to find a rare Pokemon) another more effective approach to careers might be to consciously put yourself in situations and in a mindset where unexpected opportunities might arise. The theory suggests that sometimes careers aren’t things we can plan for (what with a constantly shifting labour market, plus so many jobs and roles out there right now that we’d have no idea existed) but that we’re better off being flexible and open-minded, and ready to jump into action should something come up.

    To do this, we need to be curious and creative, we need to follow our interests and make sure we’re creating chances for ourselves by being in the right place and the right time, and we need to maintain a positive attitude to turn serendipity into opportunity. 

    So, for example, you meet a person at an event and get chatting and the organisation they work for sounds super interesting, so you ask more questions about what they do and how that person go into doing what they do, and make sure to add them on LinkedIn. The connection you build during that conversation means that when that person is hiring for a new project they’re running, they write to you to see if you know anyone who may be interested. The job itself is too senior for you, but you decide to take a punt and ask if they might have any need for extra support on the project, to which they respond and say yes actually, they were thinking they might offer an internship, and invite you in for an interview!

    For this kind of approach to work, you need to be alert and aware. At events, you need to be looking out for who you could connect with rather than sitting in the corner Whatsapping your mates. You need to be fully involved and present in the conversation in order to make the connection a meaningful one, and you also need to think laterally to spot potential opportunities that might not be so obvious.

    All of this requires mindfulness – the ability to be alert and focused in the present moment, and fully aware of what’s going on around you. In this world of WhatsApp, Pokemons and SnapChat pulling at our attention, this is harder than ever, and really requires practice. Here are some of the ways you might do this…

    > Start meditating– mindfulness meditation is probably the most direct way to train your brain and practice getting back to the present moment. There various ways of doing it, but all revolve around choosing a point of focus (say the breath, or the sounds around you) and spending some time (maybe 10-20 minutes) intentionally bringing your attention back to this focal point. This is not as easy as it sounds, and your mind will wander, that’s what minds do, but the important thing is to keep bringing back and to try not to blame yourself when you lose focus, because it’s all part of the process. Every time you notice you’ve lost attention and come back to the breath or whatever you’ve chosen as your ‘anchor’, the more that part of your brain is strengthened, like a muscle.

    > Everyday mindfulness – another thing to try is to choose an activity that you do every day, say brushing your teeth, and decide that for that activity, you will try to remain fully in the present for the whole duration, bringing your focus back every time it wanders off. Or you might choose a doorway you often walk through and choose that as your prompt to bring your mind back into the present, wherever it’s wandered off to.

    > Have a digital detox – why not decide on a time in the evening where you will turn off your phone and computer and any other digital device and leave it off until you wake up the next morning? I’ve started doing this, at 9pm every night, and it’s surprisingly hard to stick to, but my sleep has got a lot better. Or you could choose a half day at the weekend to try this. If the thought fills you with dread, maybe it’s a sign that it would be a good thing to try!

    > Take a mindful walk – choose a walk you do every day, say the walk to the Tube, and make a special effort to stay present, really noticing what’s around you with all your senses – the colour of the leaves, the faces of the people walking past, the feel of the ground beneath your feet, the smell of the grass. I’d especially recommend doing this in Gordon Square – it really will take your breath away!

    The more we practice being mindful, the more we gradually are able to be in control of our thoughts and are less susceptible to distractions. We also notice more, which might mean we’re better able to spot those amazing career opportunities when they come our way, rather than spending a potentially fruitful conversation mentally planning what to have for dinner, or going past a really interesting event poster because we’re running off to catch a Pokemon!

    Good luck, and if you’d like some extra help, there’s a great phone app called Headspace which offers a really good, engaging introduction to mindfulness.

    UCL also has a programme called Ten Minute Mind , which helps you learn to manage your stress through ‘mindfulness meditation’ for only ten minutes a day. You’ll be emailed a short track every morning to listen to. There is also an online course called ‘Anxiety: Beat it and Regain Your Peace’ available for students free for 6 weeks.  It consists of a mixture of talking head, video, audio and  written lectures. The longest lecture is 11 minutes but they are on average 2-3 minutes long so you will be able to engage at your own pace.

    By Anna Levy, Careers Consultant