UCL Careers
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    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

    Getting in to Publishing isn’t a breeze – but it is worth the effort!

    By UCL Careers, on 27 November 2018

    VINTAGE This guest feature from Konrad Kirkham, Senior Production Manager at Vintage (Penguin Random House) and UCL alumni, discusses how he launched his career in publishing, why working in publishing does not necessarily mean working in editorial, and what a role in the production team of a publishing house involves.

    So, how do I get into Publishing?

    This is a question I am often asked, especially by people on work experience.

    Personally, getting in to publishing wasn’t a breeze. I was fortunate enough to take one of a couple of popular routes in, which was to undertake an MA course in Publishing Studies (the other being extensive work experience). These are offered by quite a few universities across the country. Whilst I wouldn’t say it’s a pre-requisite, the MA gave me a great insight into the business side of publishing, set me up with a lot of contacts across the network, gave me a 6 week block of work experience and introduced me to a great group of friends – whom I’m still in contact with today. It helps to know as many people as you can in Publishing, so I was glad the MA gave me that.

    After my MA, I was lucky enough to be freelancing from my previous job, during which I spent a solid year interviewing for any role I could find (it’s not easy getting your foot in the door and I’m afraid to say does require hard graft), before eventually landing a job in production at Pan Macmillan. The MA came in handy here, as one of my MA buddies already worked there and gave me the intel on the job, as well as put in a good word for me. Like I said, it pays to know people! What I did learn from this, was not to be disheartened when I was declined jobs. They are all super competitive, so getting an interview and honing my interview technique was good enough in some cases.

    As frustrating as it is, Publishing isn’t that easy to get in to, nor is it cheap. If you’re not doing an MA, you might need to spend weeks working for a small wage. There are some schemes being introduced to help graduates, but they are highly competitive and still far and few between. Whilst there are people who manage to get a job without the MA or without work experience, you probably won’t find many.

    What can I do to give myself a better chance at securing a role then?

    My advice would be to work hard, learn about the industry and keep your options open. Don’t limit yourself to looking for the mainstream editorial, sales or publicity/marketing roles. There’s so much more to publishing. For instance production, design, foreign rights (sales of foreign language editions), inventory (warehouse/stock management), sales operations (focusing on the logistics behind the sales), contracts, finance, working for a literary agent. The list goes on! There’ll be less competition for these roles, and once you have a foot in the door, it’s much easier to move jobs within a company. I’ve known many colleagues who have started in one area, and moved after a year or so. The industry is keen on developing people’s careers and having in-depth knowledge of different areas is a huge bonus.

    And if I pursue a career in production, what can I expect to be doing?

    The production department provide the link between the creative teams and sales, and the printer. Our job is to make sure the books look good, are produced to a high standard, don’t cost too much to make, and are delivered on time.

    In the life cycle of the book, the production team will get involved very early on. Editors will ask us to cost up a project before they’ve even bid for a new title (or are coming up with ideas for new in-house books). We then work closely with them to discuss formats, finishes, paper types, special inks etc., and get the costs from the printer to make sure the book will make margin. Once a book is acquired, we will provide schedules to the editors/designer and sales teams to make sure that they know when we require text/cover files, or any other artwork needed, and be in regular contact with the printer whenever any of the book specifications change.

    Once a book is ready to send to the printer, dependent on the book type, we might organise for colour proofs to be sent in for us to check and adjust if necessary, or work with the printer to troubleshoot any issues that may arise during print production. We will then make sure that the books are delivered to the correct destinations, at the required dates, and process printer invoices once the books have delivered.

    What do you particularly enjoy about working in production?

    Production is a really fun, varied, and exciting department to work for. We work with most other departments in some way or another, and get the chance to create some really beautiful books! We’re the team everyone comes to for advice, and are ultimately in charge of the final product. I’ve worked across both children’s and adult production departments, so have been able to produce a huge variety of formats, from glittery board books, to complex children’s novelty books, or standard black and white fictions books. I’ve also worked on massive brands and authors, such as Julia Donaldson, Chris Ridell, Where’s Wally, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and more recently Murakami, Jo Nesbo and Nigella! There’s always new developments happening in the printing world, which gives us the opportunity to try some really fun things. Plus there’s always the added bonus of potential trips to China or Italy to go and see books as they come hot off the press!

    Sounds exciting! Any last words?

    Hopefully this has given a little bit of insight in to the publishing world, and that it’s not all just about editing a book. If you’re really committed to getting in to the industry, it’s definitely worth the effort. You’ll be surrounded by hugely passionate people, and have the chance to work in a really rewarding job. Good luck!

    Media Week is now on! Hear from professionals across this sector with events on broadcasting and publishing still to come.

    Wednesday 28 November 18:00 – 20:00: Get into Broadcasting: Film, TV and Radio

    Thursday 29 November 18:00 – 20:00: Insights into Publishing

    To find out more, visit the Media Themed Week page on our website and register to attend these events via myUCLCareers.

    Working in Government & Policy: Rewards, Challenges and Top Skills

    By UCL Careers, on 16 November 2018

    Government & Policy Week icon showing Houses of Parliament UCL Careers Government & Policy Week 2018 welcomed a range of employers and UCL alumni working in government and the public sector to share their career insights and advice to students.

    What do they find most rewarding and challenging in their careers? What skills and competencies are important to get into and work in the sector?

    Find out what we learned below.

    THE MOST REWARDING PART OF THEIR CAREERS

    Employers at our ‘Careers that Make a Difference in the Public Sector’ panel said seeing the impact they are having on people and influencing society is one of the most rewarding parts of their jobs. For example, “on the Think Ahead programme, you work with mental health and social issues on the frontline, in people’s homes, so you see the direct impact you are having on people.” An alum from the TeachFirst programme said that the most rewarding part for them was “making an impact by opening people’s eyes to the possibilities in education that they can have”.

    Frontline said that “producing long-term positive effects on society by building relationships with families” is most rewarding. Even working behind the scenes in the Civil Service, it was highlighted that “you have the potential to influence from the inside”.

    Employers discussed variety and diversity in the job – no day is the same. An alum from Police Now said their “most memorable moment was working at the Olympics” and Unlocked said “working with prisoners is funny and interesting – they are always full of interesting stories!” The Civil Service Fast Stream shared that “a great advantage to working in the Civil Service is the size and breadth of the field – it’s so huge that there’s lots of range, diversity and opportunities to progress and specialise in”.

    AND THE CHALLENGES…

    A common insight was that working in the public sector could be demanding and emotionally challenging. Frontline, Police Now, TeachFirst, ThinkAhead and Unlocked agreed that dealing with mental health patients, crime offenders, prisoners and children can be emotionally challenging: at times, they may not want to be helped and you can face confrontation.

    In our ‘Influencing Policy’ panel, employers stressed the nature of politics as challenging. National Housing Federation said “Politics is insanely difficult and always changing – you need to put in a ton of graft work”. Advice from Agora think tank is “aim to be a good strong voice within change”. Working on policies you disagree with is a possibility in the Civil Service Fast Stream. Their advice on dealing with it is all about perception: “If the policy is contentious, it can actually be beneficial to work on it – you have the opportunity to make sure it is implemented in the best way possible”. They also advise that there are opportunities for less policy-focussed roles in the Fast Stream.

    An alum who will start work as a Senior Public Policy Manager for Data, Platforms and AI for Vodafone Group expressed that “public perception can be a challenge as well as data ethics”.

    So, what were the top skills for the public sector?

    MOTIVATION TO HELP PEOPLE

    Employers emphasised that for a career in the public sector and government, you should show that you care about people. Whether you are working frontline with members of the public or influencing and writing policy behind the scenes, your work is affecting people and their everyday lives. Advice from Cancer Research is “find out what people care about and tailor your service towards them”.

    RELATIONSHIP BUILDING & TEAM WORK

    Relationship building was another key skill desired by employers – especially those that involve working directly with clients on the frontline (e.g. Think Ahead, Frontline and TeachFirst). In the Civil Service Fast Stream, you will move from one department to another so relationship building and teamwork is also required in non-frontline work to collaborate with different teams and people.

    ADAPTABILITY

    Employers highlighted adaptability because frontline work may require you to attend emergency / crisis situations at short notice. Policy work is also difficult as politics is always changing. Agora think tank and Greater London Authority emphasised that “Brexit has left many unanswered questions about the future” so adaptability will be important.

    RESILIENCE

    Resilience was a key discussion amongst employers across the events. Responding and adapting to political changes or perhaps dealing with clients, emergencies and crises means that the job can be demanding and emotionally challenging. Being able to recover quickly from difficult situations is crucial for working in the public sector.

    Speakers who attended: Agora think tank, Cancer Research, Civil Service Fast Stream, Frontline, Greater London Authority, National Housing Federation, Police Now, TeachFirst, Think Ahead, Unlocked & Vodafone Group.

    There are still more UCL Careers Themed Weeks coming up! Media Week is next, starting on 26 November with, Charities & NGOs, International Development, Sustainability Fortnight and Life & Health Sciences Week still to come.

    Visit our website to find out more about upcoming Themed Weeks.

    Museums, Arts & Cultural Heritage Week 2018

    By UCL Careers, on 9 November 2018

    Themed Week Icon of a dinosaur skull. Background of person sitting in a gallery of large classical art with text overlay "Book your place: Museums, Arts & Cultural Heritage Week"

    Thinking of considering a career in Arts, Museums or Cultural Heritage? Not sure where to start? Looking for career inspiration?

    This is the week for you! This is your chance to meet professionals and experts working in various roles within these sectors.

    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 ‘myUCLCareers’ account.

    Working in Arts and Culture | Monday 12 November – 5:30pm

    Thinking about working in the arts or cultural sector? Come along to this panel event for the chance to hear from professionals currently working in managerial, creative and organisational roles within a variety of arts and cultural settings. Speakers will discuss the realities and rewards of their roles.

    The panel discussion will be followed by Q&A.

    Panellists include:

    • Kate Mason – Director at The Big Draw
    • Shelley James – Artist at Shelley James Glass
    • Meg Peterson PhD – Project Manager, Research and Higher Education at Battersea Arts Centre
    • Abby-Jo Sheldon – Development and Events at Freud Museum London
    • Caroline Marcus FRSA – Chair of The Board of Trustees at GEM (Group for Education in Museums)

    Book your place at Working in Arts and Culture

    Meet the Alumni | Tuesday 13 November – 6:30pm

    How do you go from studying at UCL to working in exciting professional positions in museums, arts and cultural heritage. Learn from UCL alumni in this panel discussion and Q&A session?

    The Q&A session will be chaired by Dr Nina Pearlman, Head of UCL Collections at UCL Art Museum, and Slade alumnus. You will then have the chance to meet and network with these expert panelists for an hour after the event, giving you insight into career options and making useful connections for your career journey.

    UCL Alumni attending include:

    • Dhikshana Turakhia Pering, Youth Programme Manager at London Transport Museum (MA Museums and Galleries, 2008)
    • Lisa Westcott Wilkins, Managing Director at Dig Ventures (MA Archaeology, 2002)
    • Eric Brunjes, Chief Executive at Attack Magazine (BA History, 2006)
    • Adam Klups, Historic Buildings Advisor at Church of England (BA History of Art with Material Studies, 2011)
    • Jonathan Franklin, Librarian at National Gallery in London (MA Library & Information Studies, 1986)

    Book your place at Meet the Alumni

    Cultural Heritage Forum | Thursday 15 November – 6:00pm

    Hear from UCL alumni working right across the cultural heritage sector including organisations such as the British Museum and on the restoration of the Houses of Parliament, one of the most significant restoration projects in Europe. This event will help shed light on the  wide variety of roles, across museums, the built environment and other in the cultural heritage sector.

    Panellists include:

    • Mary Pierre-Harvey, Assistant Director at The Houses of Parliament (MSc, Architecture, The Bartlett)
    • Mads Skytte Jorgensen, Business Analyst at The British Museum (MSc, Archaeology)
    • Corrine Harrison, Library Archive & Museum Services Administrator (Royal College of Physicians)

    Book your place at the Cultural Heritage Forum

    Government & Policy Week: Working in Policy Analysis & Think Tanks

    By UCL Careers, on 12 October 2018

    Guest blog from Andy Norman, Research Analyst at Centre for Progressive Policy

    Profile photo: Andy Norman, Research Analyst at Centre for Progressive Policy

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A job in policy analysis in a think tank can offer something special to those who are lucky enough to follow this career path: the chance to improve the lives of people up and down the country. Yet while it is always important to keep this ultimate goal in mind, the role of a policy analyst can be a few steps removed from the impact you are striving for. So if you want to see the direct impact on people’s lives on a daily basis that is often found in charity work or front-line services, then perhaps policy analysis is not for you. But what this job does offer you is an opportunity to make genuine improvements at a systemic level.

    The day to day role of a policy analyst in a think tank is varied. Much of the job involves researching a specific topic – for example, healthcare or education – identifying problems and coming up with innovative policy solutions. One day you could be pouring over government datasets to extract key insights, the next you could be leading a focus group seeking the opinions of members of the public.

    Coming up with practical, evidence-based policy solutions to some of society’s most complex problems, however, is really only half the job. The best think tanks work hard to ensure that their recommendations are actually implemented. A policy solution can be fantastic on paper, but if it never leaves the pages of a report then its impact will always be zero. That’s why a big part of what think tanks do is to work with policymakers throughout the process of researching and writing a report to make sure that the ultimate policy recommendations have a good chance of being effectively implemented.

    Unfortunately, think tank policy analyst vacancies are extremely limited and so competition is tough. A tried and tested route into the industry is via an internship, usually paid the living wage. But think tanks often receive hundreds of applications from eager graduates for their internships so learning how to stand out from the crowd is key. Proving that your analysis skills are top notch is of course important. But showing that you are able to think innovatively to find new solutions to stubborn problems is crucial. But, in the end, what think tanks want to see from their applicants is a belief in and commitment to the kind of societal and economic change they are working towards.

    While the work of think tanks can seem complex and confusing from the outside, the essence of what we do is actually very simple. Ultimately, those that work in think tanks analyse how the world is today, imagine how they want it to be in the future and devise policy solutions to provide a bridge between the two.

    Government & Policy Week icon showing Houses of ParliamentInterested in a career that makes a difference? Government & Policy week is your chance to hear from those working at the heart of government; people who influence policy; and leaders in the public sector.

     

    What’s happening?

    Monday 22 October 13:00 – 14:00: Intro to Policy: what are my options?

    Monday 22 October 18:00 – 20:00: Careers in the Heart of Government

    Tuesday 23 October 18:00 – 20:00: Influencing Policy

    Wednesday 24 October 12:00 – 14:00: Civil Service Workshop

    Thursday 25 October 18:00 – 20:00: Careers that make a difference 

    To find out more, visit the Government & Policy Themed Week page on our website and register to attend these events via myUCLCareers.

    Career Lessons from Love Island 2018

    By UCL Careers, on 24 July 2018

    Remember that time we changed your lives with the three key career messages we took from last year’s Love Island? Well, it was such a great idea, it brought us such a lot of professional respect, and it gave us such an excellent excuse to watch Love Island at work*, that we thought we’d do it again before this year’s show comes to an end:

    1) Show me the evidence
    If you transcribed all of Georgia’s Love Island communications, uploaded them into NVivo or Wordle, and created a word cloud, it would look something like the below: 


     

     

    But did that convince us she was loyal or honest, babe? No. In fact, rather the opposite. It was her actions – staying true while Josh was in Casa Amor, leaving the villa with Sam – that eventually won us over.

    Although some may not like to admit it, employers are no different to Love Island viewers. They need evidence to be convinced. So what can you do? Well, it’s wise to use employer language in applications. If your target employer has asked for leadership skills, explicitly tell them when you’re talking about leadership skills. It makes their job easier. But rather than simply declaring what a fantastic leader you are in your own opinion, why not provide examples of how you used your leadership skills, and what you achieved with them? This evidence-based approach will help you feel more comfortable promoting yourself, and the employer feel more comfortable believing you.

     

    2) Negative experiences can be valuable

     Laura, Laura, Laura. Our hearts have broken for you not once but twice. Should you regret your missteps? Should you lament moments spent with Wes and New Jack as wasted time? No! For through those relationships you learned what you do not want, and that allowed you to see what you do want – a mature carpenter and model who has kissed Britney Spears – more clearly.

    When I speak to students and graduates about their past internship or placement experiences, they often view them as useful only if they turned out to be exactly the right role, with the right employer, for them. Of course that’s a wonderful result, but it’s not the only useful one. There is value in all of your past experiences as long as you take the time to reflect and draw it out. What was it you didn’t enjoy about a role? The task? The colleagues? The environment? And which elements did you enjoy? Exploring these questions is crucial in getting to know yourself, and deciding what your next step will be.

     

    3) A little role play can help

    Oh hell, when surfer New Laura entered the house, Dr Alex made a real hash of the one relationship that seemed to be working for him. But he saved it by role playing a first meeting at a bar with Alexandra, and now they’re living happily ever after together**.

    Maybe a little role play can help you too. Interviews are a crucial part of an application process, but they’re a relatively unusual scenario many people have limited experience with, especially in the earlier stages of their careers. So when you have an interview coming up, we advise getting as much practice as possible. Set up mock interviews with your friends and family, especially those who have knowledge of interviews and/or the field you’re entering. And book a mock interview with one of our careers consultants, who can help you role play in a safe setting, and then provide feedback to improve your performance for the real thing.

    *If my boss is reading this then obviously I’m totally joking

    **Correct at time of writing.

     

    Written by Sophia Donaldson, UCL Careers

     

    Five Tutoring Tips For Recent Graduates

    By UCL Careers, on 17 July 2018

    Robert Lomax is a teacher and author. He writes about education at RSL Educational.

    Whatever job you dream of, there’s a fair chance that you’ll find yourself doing a few other things along the way.

    One of the most common “along the way” jobs, particularly in London, is private tuition. It’s something that I started doing when I was a postgrad, just to keep the wolf from my door.
    I enjoyed teaching so much that I’m still doing it now.

    I’ve always had fun during my time as a teacher, but there are a few things that I wish I’d known when I started: things which would have made my work less stressful and more successful, and which I only discovered through making mistakes.

    I add more detail to some of these ideas in this article.

    1. Never stop making mistakes

    The natural instinct for any teacher is to be terrified of mistakes: you think that you need to be infallible, or you will lose your students’ respect.

    This could not be more wrong.

    Once children realise that their teacher is just as able to make a fool of themselves as they are, they discover that there isn’t a great wall standing between their state of ignorance and your adult knowledge: a wall they will have to fling themselves against for years before smashing through.

    Instead, they learn that it is possible to be a successful adult and still get things wrong. This is a tremendous motivation.

    On the one hand, the belief that anything short of perfection is a kind of failure can make children feel like giving up.

    On the other hand, a more skilful, more interesting version of their own imperfection can seem like a thing worth aiming for.

    Of course, if you are going to make mistakes, at least make sure that you …

    2. Always show your thought process

    The greatest gift that a teacher can give a child is not their expertise. A book will be able to offer the same information, and Youtube probably does too.

    The most important thing you have to offer is your way of thinking.

    Let your students see your mind in action! Let them explore your thought patterns, challenge them and copy them.

    One of the very best ways to do this is to work alongside your student. Rather than setting them a task and reading the newspaper for ten minutes, do the same work as them, at the same time.

    When you compare your answers – perhaps even marking each other’s responses – they will be inspired by the things that you do better.

    What’s more, on the rare occasions when they do something more effectively than you, it will be as motivating as any other experience in their school career.

    3. Don’t promise results

    There are no “supertutors” – just teachers, some of them with a few more tricks than others, and some with a better instinct for relating to children. Nobody knows the magic key which can ensure a particular outcome for a child.

    Promise to do your best, but be honest: don’t offer guarantees. In the end, only your student has the power to achieve what they want to.

    4. Be prepared to walk away

    Sometimes you won’t be the best teacher for a student you’re working with. If you start to realise this, don’t panic and struggle against it. It happens to all tutors sometimes, however experienced they are.

    Tell the child’s parents, explaining things clearly. You might offer to help them through the transition to a new tutor. In almost every case, they will be grateful for your honesty.

    Very rarely, you will need to end your relationship with a client because they treat you poorly and make your life difficult. Don’t feel guilty about declining further work from them, and don’t feel trapped by a sense of obligation to their child. There are plenty more tutors out there.

    Whatever the reason, never let things drag on miserably. It’s no good for you or your student.

    5. Communicate!

    From the outset, talk to your clients! There are very few difficulties which can’t be managed well if you already have an effective pattern of communication.

    What’s more, parents are most likely to worry about their children’s education if they don’t know what’s going on.

    When you start working with a new family, send the parents frequent emails. Remind them what homework you have set. Perhaps send a weekly update, highlighting their child’s strengths and explaining where you are seeking improvement. If your student has done something especially good, let their parents know and encourage them to echo your own congratulations.

    After a few weeks, you’ll probably find that you can reduce your level of communication. When a client understands your approach and feels able to trust you, you will have the freedom to do your very best teaching.

    Robert Lomax is a teacher and author. He writes about education at RSL Educational

    Becoming a writer: what do literary agents look for?

    By UCL Careers, on 9 June 2018

    Some Top Tips from Ella Kahn, UCL Alumni and Literary Agent at Diamond Kahn & Woods.

    I am a literary agent, which means I scout for talented writers and help them get published; working with them to develop their novels, matchmaking them with the right publisher, and supporting their careers as authors in any way I can.

    I have a very close working relationship with all my clients – editing a novel to get it ready to sell to publishers can be very intensive, and it’s important that my authors understand and are happy with every stage of the publication process, so constant communication (and reassurance!) as I guide them through that process is key. And by managing all of the business aspects of getting published (negotiating contracts, dealing with finances etc), I enable my authors to focus on what they do best – being creative and writing incredible books.

    A strong, pacy plot is the most important quality for me, combined with a confident, distinctive writing voice. A pacy plot doesn’t have to mean constant action and cliffhangers at the end of each chapter – it might be driven by the emotional journey the character goes on, for example – but I want to have a sense of purpose and direction to the story.

    A manuscript will stand out if there’s an intriguing concept or ‘hook’ at the heart of the story that’s going to immediately pique my curiosity. I want well-rounded, realistic and personable characters who I’m going to care about and want to root for; authentic dialogue, and vivid, immersive world-building, so I can sink into the world of the story; and a professional, committed author who I know I will enjoy working with!

    When approaching agents, writers often fail to focus on the most important thing: telling us what their book is about! A cover letter should include a blurb pitching the story in the same style as the blurbs you’ll find on the back of a book in a bookshop. I want to know who the main character is, a little bit about the set-up of their world and their situation at the start of the story, what happens to set their story in motion, what their aims and motivations are, and what challenges they’re going to face in trying to achieve their goals. Something else that is very easy to avoid: not paying attention to detail! It doesn’t give a good impression if I’m sent a novel in a genre I don’t represent, or if there are typos in the text, or if my name is spelt wrong. A little bit of research into which agents might be the best fit for your work, and approaching them with a polished, professional pitch, will go a long way to help a submission stand out.

    Top Tips for Application Forms from Skills4Work Panellists

    By UCL Careers, on 11 May 2018

    Sally Brown – UCL Careers Advisor

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

    Online application forms

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

    Top tips from the panellists:

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

    Online: Motivation and Competency questions

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

    Top tips from the panellists:

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

    Video Applications

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

    Top tips from the panellists:

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

    Online testing:

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

    Top tips from the panellists:

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

    Five Top Tips for applications:

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

     

    Working in International Development – Top Tips from Industry Experts!

    By UCL Careers, on 21 February 2018


    If you’re considering a career in international development, you might already be aware that this is a competitive sector to break into. As part of International Development Week we have asked some of our themed week contributors, with experience in this sector, to tell us some of their top tips.

    1. Joshua Adams, Europe Policy Analyst, UK Department for International Development.

    ‘Make sure to use the full breadth of your experiences in applications – formal and informal education, training and learning, workplace experience, sports groups and social collectives. I’ve seen a range of examples from touring rock bands to UN youth panels used in applications. As long as the narrative from situation to result, and what was learnt in between, is well formed, you can easily demonstrate the transferability of important skills. This is particularly relevant for competency based applications!’

    1. Alexandros Yiannopoulos, Humanitarian Coordinator covering Middle East, North and Southern Africa in Oxfam’s Global Humanitarian Team.

    ‘There is no substitute for experience, this is a catch 22 situation which frustrated me when I set out at the beginning, but now looking back and making decisions on who to employ at whatever level of seniority, experience counts and becomes the litmus test.  There have been times when I have made a decision when someone had done an excellent interview, not to recruit them because they did not have the right level of experience for the role.  For entry level roles, get voluntary experience that is relevant, this shows that you have commitment and drive towards the role you would like and are applying for.’

    1. Katie Bisaro, Careers Consultant and Deputy Head, UCL Careers, and former Programme Manager at Save the Children,

    ‘My biggest recommendation for working in the sector, or more specifically when you are breaking your way into the sector, is to stay on people’s radar- the sector moves rapidly and opportunities can come up very quickly, so keep yourself at the forefront of your contacts’ mind’

    1. Soha Sudtharalingam, International Development Consultant, PwC.

    ‘You can’t change the world on day one, whilst the work is exciting, be prepared to get your hands dirty when you first join. There’s a lot of admin that needs to be done, i.e. reporting as donors require them.’


    Follow the news and be aware of political changes, political economy is key in decision making and this cascades down to every level of work you do.

    Be prepared to be humbled, it’s a humbling experience when visiting the field. Don’t go in knowing it all.

    Network, network, network! You only broaden your insights if you talk to people outside your circle who bring new ideas and ways of thinking.’

    If you missed our International Development Week events then visit http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers and look out for themed week event recordings.

     

    Breaking into International Development

    By UCL Careers, on 14 February 2018

    What do you imagine when you think of working in International Development? Maybe you envisage working on the ground in a remote, developing part of the world to address issues such as poverty, disease and education. This image of front line work provides the visible and public face of International Development but have you considered the wide range of roles and functions required to support the successful execution of projects on the ground? These support roles may be less visible but could provide a good foothold into International Development. For example, policy, advocacy/outreach, human resources, finance, IT.

    If you’re considering a career in this rewarding sector you will probably want to start preparing yourself sooner rather than later as International Development is a competitive field to break into.

    Here are a few tips to help you with this.

    • Have a clear idea about the kind of development work you want to do. This is likely to involve investigating the different roles within International Development and considering which of these roles might be a good fit for your academic background, experience, skills and career interests.
    • Think about specialist or technical skills/qualifications/experience that might be required and consider how you might acquire these.
    • Gain experience and build networks/contacts through volunteering activities, involvement in fundraising or campaigning activities, blogging etc…
    • Commitment to/experience of International Development is essential and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to secure a graduate position without having relevant experience (voluntary or paid) on your cv.
    • Consider gaining relevant/transferrable experience and qualifications outside the International Development sector. It’s not unusual for professionals to transition from the commercial sector into international development a few years into their career.

    To find out more about careers in International Development, including opportunities to meet employers and alumni working in this sector, please visit:

    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/about/what_we_offer/events/themed-weeks/development