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 'Uncategorized' Category

    Stranger Careers Advice

    By S Donaldson, on 27 November 2017

    What did you get up to this weekend? I stayed in and binge-watched series 2 of Stranger Things. I know, I know, I’m a little behind. I could pretend the delay was due to my active social life or (more believably) because I had The Defenders and Transparent to get through first. But the truth is I was terrified it wouldn’t live up to series 1. I simply couldn’t bear to see Eleven et al. in a sub-par storyline. So imagine my delight when I found that not only is series 2 just as good as the first, but it’s also choc-a-block with useful careers messages – Totally Tubular! Here are three careers tips I took from the upside-down world of Hawkins:

    1) Speaking the same language helps

    “The demogorgon”, “the shadow monster”, “demodogs”, “true sight”…these are terms Eleven, Mike and the gang use to navigate the scary and weird world in which they find themselves. Without these words it would be far trickier to make sense of and communicate what’s happening around them.

    Compared to studying at university, new jobs and sectors can also feel like scary weird worlds. And if you don’t speak the language – something employers might describe as showing “commercial awareness” – they’ll be even more foreign. So before you attend a careers event and network with employers, and certainly before you make applications, try to learn a little of their language. The best way to do this is by reading relevant industry publications; the blogs, magazines and journals those working in your chosen field are reading. They’ll tell you what’s going on in a strange other world, and the correct terms to describe it.

    2) There are many ways to bring something to a team

    [Warning: this tip contains spoilers. Soz.]

    The Stranger Things kids are a motley crew, yet they’ve managed to save eachother, Hawkins, and presumably the entire world twice. Mike’s the leader, and Eleven’s contribution is obvious, sure. But what about the rest of them? Will keeps getting lost or infected, Lucas reveals the group’s secrets, and Dustin hides a demodog. Yet they all help in their own way. Without Will, the evil-root-tunnel-thingies would never have been found. Without Lucas bringing Max on board, they never would have reached those evil-root-tunnel-thingies. And without Dustin’s bond to a demodog, they’d never have made it out of the evil-root-tunnel-thingies alive.

    These sorts of teamworking skills (minus the evil-root-tunnel-thingies) are attractive to most employers. So even if you’re a Dustin or a Lucas and you don’t take up the obvious leader or ideas-generator role, you have something to add. If you find it difficult to identify and communicate your contribution, check out Belbin’s team roles for details of the less prominent but still vital roles people can play.

    3) Skills can be transferred

    Eleven’s telepathic skills were ideally suited to her first (enforced) career in espionage. But does that mean she can’t do anything else? No sir-ee, she didn’t let herself be pigeon-holed. She recognised her transferrable skills and carried them into a variety of settings, including anti-bullying campaigns, demogorgon elimination consultancy, and an internship at a vigilante start-up.

    Just like Eleven, you’ll have developed a bunch of skills throughout your university experience that will also be useful in other settings. It’s important to recognise what these skills are so you can speak confidently about them. It could be the research or writing skills you picked up along the way, the organisational skills you used to plan a project or to fit your university work around extracurricular activities, the teaching skills you used to help bring coursemates up to speed, or the communication skills you used to present your work in front of a class. If you spot a skill you enjoy using, seek out further opportunities to develop it through your university work, internships, or extracurricular activities. This will convince an employer it truly is a strength you can bring to their organisation.

    Interested in working in the Cultural Heritage sector?

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 14 November 2017

    Read some thoughts below about getting into the sector. 

    Cultural Heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values (ICOMOS, 2002). Cultural Heritage is often expressed as either Intangible (such as traditions and language), or Tangible (such as buildings, works of art, and artefacts), and Natural (including culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity). Perhaps unsurprisingly then, there are a variety of career options within this vital sector.

    How do you want to engage with cultural heritage; the maintenance, protection, promotion, teaching or communication of it, selling it, researching it, writing about it, creating products related to it, or organising events associated with it?

    Freya Stannard of Arts Council England shares her thoughts of getting into this fascinating sector:
    Working in the arts, culture and heritage sector is rewarding but can be tough. Jobs in this world are incredibly popular but more wide-ranging than you might expect. If you have already decided what path you want to take, e.g. curator of contemporary art or paintings conservator, it is much easier to focus and gain relevant experience to start you on this road. You may not have decided however and that is fine as I guarantee there are interesting roles out there that you may not yet know exist. If this is the case, make sure you continue your development by being proactive and making the most out of any opportunities that come your way.

    After taking the Masters in Cultural Heritage Studies, I did not expect, or plan to be, the Manager of the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Schemes at Arts Council England two years later. A lot of people now have Masters in the sector and it is therefore important to show employers something different. For example, whilst I was in an admin role at Tate, I took advantage of the development budget and did a Diploma in Art Profession Law and Ethics at the Institute of Art and Law outside of work hours. Taking on something in your own time, which shows your interest and dynamism, is something I certainly look for when recruiting.

     It is also worth thinking about the sector and responding to its issues in your own experiences. This shows you have a wider breadth of perspective and are therefore more desirable and employable. For example, since funding for arts and culture has declined from central government as well as local authorities, organisations have had to be enterprising and imaginative in their ways of making up the shortfall. Although I work at the Arts Council, I do not work on funding and I looked to gain my own experience elsewhere. I have been able to combine this with a personal interest in helping the local elder community in my borough and for nearly a year now, I have been a fundraising committee member for Link Age Southwark. I was able to do this by attending volunteer training and talking to one of the trustees. It is worth noting that gaining this relatable experience in a slightly different sector provides another perspective which will add to your unique skills.

    The key is to get out there and meet people. This will lead to more opportunities, experiences and knowledge of the sector which in turn will help develop and shape your career, often in ways you may not be able to predict!


    The following panelists were present at the Cultural Heritage Forum on Monday 13th November. If you missed this event, the audio will soon be available for you to listen back upon.

    Dr Jane Sidell. The Inspector of Ancient Monuments for London is a role that dates back to the 1800s, Today, Jane is the archaeologist with that incredible responsibility of protecting London’s most iconic sites. Follow this link to a short blog where Jane talks through some of her favourite objects and artefacts.

    Freya Stannard, Manager of the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Schemes at Arts Council England. In recent years Freya has been developing her knowledge of the legal and ethical issues around ownership of art. She is currently increasing her understanding of the global art market at Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

    Ruth Dewhirst, Education Assistant in the Charles Dickens Museum. A recent MA Museums and Galleries in Education graduate, Ruth supports the museum’s efforts in preserving and communicating Dicken’s cultural significance.

    Nick Bishop, Senior Heritage Consultant at Planning Consultancy Lichfields.  Nick provides heritage advice on alterations to listed buildings, and development within the settings of conservation areas, scheduled monuments and Registered Parks and Gardens.

     

     

    Museums & Cultural Heritage Week 2017

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 7 November 2017

    MUSEUMS

    Thinking of considering a career in Arts, Museums or Cultural Heritage? Wondering where to start? Looking for inspiration? Then this is the week for you! A showcase of fantastic events are happening at UCL in November if you are considering a career in Arts, Museums or Cultural Heritage industry. This is your chance to come and meet professionals 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 ‘My UCL Careers’ account.

    See also http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto/museumsandculturalheritage


    Cultural Heritage Forum
    Monday 13th November 2017 at 5:30pm – 7pm

    Come to a panel discussion with cultural heritage professionals, to hear about their roles and career path and to gain tips on how to get into the sector. The panel will be followed by Q&A session and informal networking. You will hear about experiences working in Historic England, Arts Council England, Charles Dickens Museum, and English Heritage.

    The panellists include:

    • Dr Jane Sidell – Inspector of Ancient Monuments for London (Follow this link to a short blog where Jane talks through some of her favourite objects and artefacts.)
    • Freya Stannard – Manager of the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Schemes at the Arts Council England
    • Ruth Dewhirst – Education Assistant in the Charles Dickens Museum
    • Nick Bishop – Senior Heritage Consultant at Planning Consultancy Lichfields

    Working in the Arts
    Tuesday 14th November 2017 at 5:30pm – 7pm

    In this panel event you will have the chance to hear from professionals currently working in managerial, creative and organisational roles within a variety of arts settings. The panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A and informal networking. Organisations represented include: Tate, Christie’s, London Comic Con and Royal Academy of Arts.

    The panellists include:


    Museums Forum
    Thursday 16th November 2017 at 6:00pm – 7:30pm

    Come and meet professionals working in the museum sector to hear about their job roles and what excites them about working in this sector. There will be a panel discussion, Q&A session, and a chance for informal networking after. Museums represented are: UCL Grant Museum of Zoology, Museum of London and London Transport Museum.

    The panellists include:

    If you are wondering about specific degree requirements for working in museums, you might find useful this blog from one of our panellists.


    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’ (under Events).

     

     

    “TEXT!!” What can Love Island teach us about careers?

    By S Donaldson, on 17 July 2017

    Love-Island-logo

    I assume you’re watching Love Island, right? It seems we all are. And if you’re not, you’ve only missed ~40 episodes. Cancel all plans and you’ll be caught up in no time. It’ll be well worth it. Much like David Attenborough’s Planet Earth, Love Island offers new perspectives on our world, a window through which we may behold truths hitherto unknown. Obviously I’ve learned everything I know about love from the show. Most people have. But Love Island also offers wise teachings on careers. In case fans of the show have missed them, and for non-fans without 40 hours to spare, I’ve summarised Love Island’s three key career lessons below:

    1) Don’t judge a career by its cover

    I don’t mind admitting that even I, one of Love Island’s biggest fans, was at first somewhat sceptical, or even scathing, about the show. I viewed myself as above it. But how wrong I was. It took merely one episode to have me truly hooked.

    I’d stereotyped the show and the kinds of people who watch it. And it’s easy to do just the same thing with careers. What images come to mind when you think of an accountant? A psychologist? A social worker? A librarian? And what information are those images based on? Sometimes we can be very dismissive of, or incredibly attracted to, certain career paths due to commonly-held stereotypes. And if we don’t delve beneath the stereotype, we risk making ill-informed career choices. Websites like https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles give you impartial information about a whole host of job roles, so it’s a great place to check that your initial impressions are correct. We also recommend talking to people in the roles you’re interested in, and testing jobs out whenever you can. You may just find a hidden Love Island-esque gem!

    2) First choices don’t have to be final choices

    Where would Olivia (and we the viewers) be if she’d stuck with her first Love Island coupling? Cast your mind back to episode 1 and you’ll remember she was first paired with Marcel. But he wasn’t her type on paper, so she moved on to Sam, who also wasn’t her type on paper. Then she was off to Chris, who also appeared not to be her type on paper. Then she tried out Mike, who was totally her type on paper. But despite being her type on paper, she actually wasn’t too keen on him (see point 1 above), so she’s (currently) back with Chris and seemingly very happy.

    Imagine if in episode 1 Olivia had felt her first choice would have to be her final choice, that she and Marcel would have to get married and be together forever. It could have left her paralysed by indecision. Well that’s how many students feel about career decisions. They worry so much about getting it ‘wrong’ that they find it difficult to engage with career thinking at all. But worry not. Studies like this, this and this tell us that changing careers, sometimes multiple times, is pretty normal. So chill. Take some of the pressure off. Career thinking is an ongoing process. You’re not necessarily making the choice about what to do forever, just what to do next. The experiences you have in every role, and the ways you change and grow over time, will inform where you go from there.

    3) Be aware of your online presence

    It’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for Jonny. He became the show’s villain after doing what plenty of other contestants do, dumping one person for another. But when that dumpee is the nation’s sweetheart Camilla, you’re bound to be a little unpopular. This unpopularity wasn’t helped by Jonny’s social media profiles, which he’s now deleted, and has admitted portrayed him as being something he wasn’t.

    So obviously if you’re thinking of entering next year’s Love Island you should do a thorough social media audit. But what if you’re applying for a job? A 2013 survey of recruiters showed 92%, 35%, and 18% used LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, respectively, to vet candidates before interview, and 42% had reconsidered a candidate based on what they found on their social networking profiles. Unsurprisingly, profanity and references to guns and drugs were viewed pretty unfavourably by recruiters. But so were photos of alcohol consumption, and spelling and grammar mistakes, rather common features in social media profiles. So be sure to regularly evaluate your privacy settings to ensure you’re happy with what recruiters might find!

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

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 19 June 2017

    Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 11.05.57
    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.

    __

    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.

    The Five Most Useful Things I Learnt at GCEP

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 23 May 2017

    moodle graphic

    Written by Tiba Fazeli; (UCL Alumni) M.A in Transnational Studies

    1. Take the time to properly research your company or organisation.
      • Of course, the website is a great place to start, but don’t limit yourself there. As a minimum, you should spend some time familiarising yourself with the website, but you should also look for information in news articles (using Google News), on LinkedIn or through alternative sources. This way, you can get an insight into their latest developments, like whether they’ve made any major recent structural changes, as well as get to know more about the people they work with (e.g., clients, suppliers, donors, etc.). Not only could this information potentially give your application and/or interview that extra edge, but it will also force you engage with and thoroughly understand the company’s or organisation’s values, ultimately helping you to decide whether they fall in line with yours.
    1. Cater BOTH your CV and cover letter to the role and organisation.
      • Before attending GCEP, I knew this was a given for the cover letter, but I never really considered updating the content of my CV to cater to a specific role. To be frank, I thought it was both time consuming and unnecessary. However, I learned that a few minor alterations and amendments can actually go a long way. Employers and recruiters might have to read through hundreds—if not, thousands—of CVs when they advertise a role. If you can clearly identify why you’re perfect for the job, rather than expect them to work it out based on your background and experiences, then you’re a step ahead of the guy who sent out 30 generic copies of his CV. And yes, that might mean eliminating a few details from your past that are perhaps admirable, but irrelevant to the role.
      • Of course, whilst your CV should generally point out your skills in a concise, easy-to-read format, you can use your cover letter to highlight anything on your CV that you think deserves greater attention. This is also your opportunity to demonstrate your passion and personality to the employer…though ideally, not at expense of your professionalism. If you stick to a clear structure outlining why me, why the role and why the organisation (in whichever order works best for you), then again, you’re doing the guesswork for the employer and providing them with yet another reason to hire you.
    1. There’s nothing wrong with a two-page CV, but your cover letter should always be one page.
      • For years, the question of whether a CV should be one or two pages left me both anxious and bewildered. When I finished university in 2008, the answer was one…well, two was passable, but one was better. Based on this advice, I spent ages struggling to include the important, yet diverse and plentiful details of my background, whilst choosing a large enough font size so that the person who read my CV wouldn’t have to use a magnifying glass. In the time that has passed since then, I think employers, recruiters and, generally, the world at large have come to realise that people are diversifying. They’re getting their Bachelor’s degree in Literature and their Master’s in Biology. They’ve worked as a server at a restaurant, as well as a digital marketing assistant. They have multi-faceted skill sets, and frankly, one page just isn’t enough to demonstrate everything they bring to the table. These changes in the professional world mean that not only is a two-page CV now acceptable, but it’s actually becoming the norm. At the same time, it’s important not to fill two pages with unnecessary information, just for the sake of filling two pages. As I mentioned in the last tip, all the information presented should be relevant to the role, and if possible, to the organisation.
      • On the other hand, a cover letter should never be more than one page. If you’ve gone onto the second page, then you know you’ll either have to edit the body of the letter, or alternatively, go for a smaller font size—10 at the very But really, you should try making the letter more concise and punchy, before forcing the reader get out his/her bifocals.
    1. LinkedIn isn’t just professional Facebook. You can and should use it to meet people in your desired sector, company or organisation.
      • One of the best tips I picked up at GCEP was to make good use of LinkedIn to network with individuals in my desired sector, company or organisation. Sure, you can use LinkedIn to gain access to information about the people who work at a particular company or organisation, including their backgrounds and potentially some of their published work. But you can also use it to engage directly with someone who works in your desired sector or organisation—or even better—with someone who is currently working in the role or a similar role to which you’re applying. In my personal experience, I reached out to someone who worked in the same role I was applying to, but in a different department at the organisation. I offered to buy him a coffee in exchange for an honest chat about the work of his organisation and his experiences there. Meeting him in person and speaking with him for what was supposed to be 30 minutes, but ended up being an hour and a half, lent the organisation a human quality and offered me an insight into the social culture. After this conversation, I knew that I wouldn’t have any trouble fitting in with the rest of the staff, as it seemed they had similar backgrounds and values to mine. This really put me at ease during my interview, and in the end, generated a very positive outcome (i.e., the job!). If you manage to meet with the person before you submit your CV and cover letter, then you can even mention what you took away from the conversation in your job application.
    1. It’s important to be professional, but it’s more important to be genuine.
      • Believe it or not, it’s not that hard to tell the difference between someone who is discussing something he/she is genuinely passionate about, versus someone who is pretending to be passionate about something because they think they have to. In other words, are you really passionate about finance, or have you ventured in this direction for the money? It’s not that the latter is equivalent to a cardinal sin. It’s simply that people exude more charisma and confidence when they talk about something in which they truly believe. And this can go both ways… You may not be enthralled by the financial analyst role, but perhaps, you’re really interested in the organisation or sector. You can highlight your ability to accomplish the logistical tasks at hand, while you emphasise your passion for the content. Alternatively, if you’re lacking a little on the skills and experience side but you love the company’s or organisation’s work, then you can focus on that during your interactions with the employer. At the end of the day, when it comes to considering your next role, where—let’s face it—you’ll be spending the majority of your waking hours for the foreseeable future, it’s important to be honest—not only with the employer, but also with yourself.

     

    Advice from a fellow UCLian

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 23 May 2017

    Hello fellow UCLians,

    I hope that you are enjoying the final chapter of education. As with most students, you probably haven’t thought much beyond your summer exams (I definitely didn’t) and after graduating in Chemical Engineering, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Fast forward three years, and having switched my career path on many occasions, here I am working as a Business Development Manager at MVF.

    Entering the ‘real world’ after learning about it for so long can be quite scary but is also very exciting. After all, it’s your time to impart the knowledge you have learnt and see what difference you can make in your chosen field. It’s good to get a feel for what kind of work environment you thrive in, for example, I know I like to work with super clear targets as I hate not knowing if I’m doing well or not. Being in sales, all my progress can be measured by a single number and I love it. Our annual companywide trip to Ibiza is also a nice motivator along the way!

    Here are some things that I wish someone had told me after graduating:

    • Take the time to think about your personal aims and where you want to be in two to three years time. If you see yourself managing a team in the future think twice before taking a job that doesn’t offer good career progression or training opportunities. The trick is to find a profession which suits your personal and career goals; you will be much happier at work if you feel you are on track to achieving your aims.
    • Travelling and charity work give you invaluable experiences and skills that will make you a fantastic asset to their business. Don’t feel pressured into taking the first job you are offered as gaining more life experience after uni can put you in a better position to understand exactly what sort of job you will be happiest in.
    • Culture is King! Anyone can go to work and make money, but company culture is what’s really going to have an impact on your day to day life. Deciding which company to join is as important, if not more so than choosing a university. The reality is that you will be working with these people eight hours a day, five days a week, so make sure they’re a good bunch. Do your research and look to join companies that encourage a close-knit community and acknowledge the importance of personal development.

    Well folks, I hope I’ve provided you with some useful advice. If you have any questions, or just want to chat about potential positions here at MVF, please email our People Team careers@mvfglobal.com.

    Good luck with all your exams!

    Amit

    Thoughts on participating in the Spark Challenge 2017

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 16 May 2017

    Written by Majunyang (Serena) Xiao

    I heard about the spark challenge through the newsletters from UCL Careers Service. I am attracted by the focus on youth loneliness in the UK, which is definitely one of the most pressing issues concerning mental wellbeing of young people in the UK. As an undergraduate student myself, I could actually relate to this problem and have thought about various possibilities to fill in the ‘void’. This challenge conducted by the Tata Consultancy Service aims to utilize technology to tackle this problem. I see full potential in this discussion as the advancement of technology surely could provide a direction for a sustainable solution.

    There are in total six candidates in the final round of the challenge and each of us is required to give a five-minute presentation to the panel judges who will prompt questions at the end of our presentation.

    I proposed a solution that I call Metaverse. Various research and papers suggest that the university students here in the UK are feeling increasingly lonely and the main reasons attribute to the fact that they leave their support networks and tend to feel extra self-conscious when making new friends. So the main goal of my proposal boils down to two main sectors – first, to give the shy students the extra push they need to meet new people. Second, to provide mental reassurance and readiness through a fun VR experience.

    Metaverse is platform that combines 3-D virtual gaming and social net-working. In the game, every user registers with their testified personality type (Myers-Briggs-type indicator) and preferred type of social interaction, hobbies and locations. Those information will form tags that will be matched between users and generate group activity recommendations. So in order to level up in the game, players will need to accomplish the social interaction tasks chosen and upload group photos for verification purposes. The incentives for them to level up in the game would be the unlocking of wider-range of VR game models which are definitely a hit among young users. So in short, this game would be an easy way for young people to step out of their comfort zone and give them naturally common topics to talk about, for example, their reasons of joining the game and so on.

    Why would VR games be such a strong incentive? Because they have almost inexhaustible resources for us to explore. Here are some of the lately established game models that enable players to talk to each other in a common space. You play sports, you can go traveling, sit on the edge of the cliff together, watch a movie without extra costs, you list it. Among the three currently available VR sets, I would recommend promoting the use of PlayStation, as the ps 4 and ps VR combined cost less than the gaming pc you need to run the other two. Users could also choose to connect to their Facebook account to invite more friends and secretly those who they wanted to meet but not yet have a good reason to.

    Although some people are concerned about addiction to the games, but I would say this differs from other games, unlike other video games the grading system essentially depends on real-life interactions, so the games are simply a supplement and a less daunting way to encourage people to speak to strangers.

    Considering that students may not be able to afford the expensive game, stations of VR gaming could be set up on campuses or local health organisations in which students could access to the facilities. There is also a high chance that we could collaborate with the Mind organisation in the UK which conducts regular workshop about mental wellbeing. We could also draw from the Mayor’s Fund for Young People’s Resilience and Inclusion with a worth of £3.2 million to help ensure that young people have built the necessary strong social connections.

    Future possibilities include collaborations with volunteering units that would provide a meaningful shared social interaction, or merchandisers who would sponsor vouchers to users. Most importantly, this gaming platform would provide the health organization with necessary information to monitor mental health among university students.

    The other five candidates are all from different universities such as the University of Glasgow and University of Warwick. Everyone has their unique selling point, some really interesting ideas draw my attention, for example, creating an event-generating system that allow no less than four participants as having a minimum of four people in a group activity is proved to be the sweet spot where no one will be left out in the interaction. There are also ideas on creating alarm system that could enhance level of safety for young users to meet new friends from on on-line connections. This competition also trains our presentation skill and ability to respond to questions in a logical and confident manner, maximizing our unique selling point. I also had amazing opportunities to communicate with TCS consultants as well as partners of TCS that include non-profit organizations such as Dame Kelly Holmes Trust working on empowering youth in the UK. It was indeed a fruitful session for me to make friends with peer presenters who also care about mental wellbeing and also exchanged meaningful insights on various youth problems and successful case studies with the various organisations. I therefore definitely recommend this spark challenge to future participants from UCL.

     

    Further reading – https://www.ucl.ac.uk/current-students/support/ssw/0000-mind/spark-challenge

     

    Commonly Asked Careers Questions

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 17 February 2017

    Screen Shot 2017-02-17 at 16.22.37My name’s Elaine Denniss and, having worked as a Careers Consultant in the UCL Careers Service for nearly eight years, I’ve developed a good sense of some of the common concerns that students have regarding their career pathways and some of the myths that perpetuate around careers.  Here are a few of the questions that we are commonly asked:

    I’m coming to the end my course and still don’t know what I want to do.  Should I be worried?
    No, help is at hand!  It’s not uncommon for students to reach their final year without having a clear idea of what they want to do on graduation.  With over 80% of graduate employers stating that they don’t specify a particular degree, the choice of possible careers can feel both exciting but also somewhat overwhelming.   There are so many roles, sectors and organisations to choose from – where to start?  When students who are in this position come for a meeting with one of our Careers Consultant team, we work with them to understand more about their background, interests, skills and broader career aims to help them narrow down and generate options which could be a good fit.  This provides them with a starting point for further exploration and research.

    I’m in my first year and I’m looking for an internship for the summer.  Can you help?
    We can certainly assist you in searching for and applying to summer jobs.  Whilst it’s possible to find internship programmes that are open to first year students, most schemes tend to target penultimate year students, the idea being that if they do well, they will be encouraged to apply for the graduate programme.   If you can’t secure an internship, any work experience (paid or voluntary) is valuable as a way of developing employability skills so a summer job, whether it be in retail, administration, hospitality, customer service, health/social care etc. is going to be good to have on your cv.

    The Careers Service provides a number of resources to help students find jobs and these can be found on our website http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/jobs.

    I’m interested in going into a particular sector (eg the financial sector) but I don’t have any relevant work experience.  Will this matter?
    Employers understand that gaining experience in your chosen sector can be hard but more often than not they will be looking at your commitment to and interest in the sector rather than expecting you to have relevant experience. This interest may have developed through attending career events, voluntary work, work shadowing, extra curricular activities or outside interests.  For some careers, such as teaching, clinical psychology and other more vocationally orientated pathways, relevant experience is required and expected.  In addition, employers will be looking at your transferrable skills such as collaboration, planning and organisational skills, communication skills and so on.  You can draw on a wide range of experience to provide evidence for these skills – academic, voluntary work, part time jobs etc..

    All my friends seem to be applying for graduate schemes.  Should I be doing the same?
    There are many ways into graduate jobs and entering professional pathways.  Whilst it might seem as if everyone is busily applying for graduate schemes, only approximately 12% of UCL graduates go into graduate schemes when they leave university.  Graduate schemes tend to last two or three years and offer the graduate the opportunity to rotate around different departments within the organisation, with training and professional support provided.  However, many graduates go into graduate level entry positions ie a specific role which requires a degree. From this entry level position the graduate can then start to progress within the role or maybe by moving to another department.

    If you are considering applying for graduate schemes (or summer internships if you are in your penultimate year) be aware that applications usually open early in the Autumn term (September/ October) so don’t leave it too late!

    How can the Careers Service help me?

    We provide a wide range of support for students, whatever stage you’re at in your career thinking.  This includes:

    • 1:1 careers discussions (20 minute sessions)
    • 1:1 applications/CVs/cover letter checks (15 minute sessions)
    • Mock interviews (1 hour sessions)
    • Career Fairs (Autumn Term) and other career events throughout the year
    • Employer led skills workshops
    • Resources (physical and online)

    Why not pay us a visit?  You can book an appointment by going onto our website and clicking MyUCLCareers or just come in to browse through our library resources.  Our information team is always on hand to help you find the information you’re looking for.

    • Phone: 020 3549 5900
    • Email: careers@ucl.ac.uk
    • Postal Address: UCL Careers, 4th Floor Student Central, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY (opposite Waterstone’s bookshop)
    • Alert: Be the first to know about what’s new by signing up to personalised email alerts through your My UCL Careers account. You’ll find out about current jobs, events happening at UCL Careers and The Careers Group including when they are open for booking as well as all the latest news.

     

    Oscar-worthy careers inspiration from La la land and Whiplash

    By S Donaldson, on 9 February 2017

    !!Spoiler alert!! In addition to deeply valuable careers insight, this post may give away film plots.

    It’s the film that divided UCL Careers. La La Land is a box office and awards ceremony hit, but not everyone understands its success. The argument in our office has been raging for weeks, so most lunchtimes look like this SNL sketch.

    But whether you’re a clueless philistine who just didn’t get the film, or a film connoisseur who loved it (joke…sort of), I hope there’s one thing we can agree on: La la land is about careers. And its writer/director Damien Chazelle’s 2014 film, Whiplash, is also about careers.

    So as well as a moving cinematic experience, here are three careers-related lessons we can take from Chazelle’s films.

    1) Role models are pretty useful

    Whether you’re heading to Paris inspired by an aunt’s foolhardy dip in the Seine, dreaming of re-establishing a tragically lost jazz bar, or decorating your music school dorm room with drumming legend photos, it’s much easier to start on a path when you’ve seen others walk it before you.

    So when you’re looking for career inspiration, gather as many case studies as possible. Take an interest in your friends and family members’ careers. But don’t stop at people you already know. Why not try searching UCL’s alumni community or LinkedIn for graduates from your course? What are they doing now? How did they get there? And make use of the case studies we provide. At our careers events (like those comprising week’s Environment week, or March’s Life and Health Sciences week), we invite people from a range of industries to chat about their roles and career paths. We also regularly post career story inspiration on this blog. You’ll find just a few of our case studies here.

    2) Careers involve compromise and sacrifice

    La La Land and Whiplash explore the sacrifices made to follow a dream. For instance, to be a world-class drummer, you apparently have to sacrifice the skin on your hands.

    But sacrifices and compromises aren’t simply the domain of creative greats, they’re part and parcel of every career (and all of life, really). There are so many things that can be important to someone in a career: money, prestige, location, like-minded colleagues, work-life balance, chances to progress, fun, etc. etc. etc. But not all jobs offer all of them all of the time. Sometimes we have to prioritise those values that are most important to us, and at the expense of other things, even if it’s just in the short term.

    No one finds this process easy. If you need help working out your career priorities, or making a career decision, come and speak to one of our careers consultants in a one-to-one short guidance appointment.

    3) Even the greatest candidates need resilience

    Whiplash and La La Land show us everyone faces rejection at some point. Thankfully, most people’s career rejections don’t involve being publicly fired or having chairs thrown at their heads. But rejection can still be painful.

    ‘Resilience’, a bit of a careers buzzword at the moment, describes the hardiness that helps people move on positively from rejections. That could mean accepting rejection for highly competitive roles is common, and shouldn’t dissuade you from trying again. Or it could mean taking feedback on board and putting in an even better application next time. If you’re struggling to work out how your applications or interview technique might be improved, check out our online and in-person applications and interview advice.