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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  • Career inspiration No. 1: Nadiya from GBBO

    By S Donaldson, on 12 October 2015

    In this series of blogs we’ll be looking to pop culture for career inspiration.

    Nadiya 3

    Image from BBC One

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week you’ll know that Nadiya Hussain quite rightly won 2015’s Great British Bake Off. Her acceptance speech brought a tear to many an eye and her victory has been all over the papers and EVERYWHERE online.

    But this is the UCL Careers blog. Surely we can’t make the GBBO about careers, right?

    Wrong.

    We think Nadiya’s performance holds important career lessons for us all. And we’re going to tell you about them.

    1) Sometimes it’s good to step out of your comfort zone

    Nadiya wasn’t the most confident contestant to begin with. But she threw herself into the competition, and as the weeks went by her boldness grew, culminating in her glorious victory. And that speech! “I’m never gonna put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never gonna say I can’t do it. I’m never gonna say ‘maybe’. I’m never gonna say, ‘I don’t think I can.’ I can and I will.”

    Pushing yourself to have varied experiences will help you develop skills and confidence. And testing out different things can help you figure out exactly what you want from a career. If you’re nervous, why not start small? Try taking on a new task in a social or voluntary setting first. Then when you’re feeling braver you can transfer your new skills to your course or job.

    2) Resilience is vital

    Ok. So Nadiya had some low points on the show. She presented incomplete vol au vents. She fluffed the soufflé technical challenge. She shed some tears. But did she let that stop her? No sir.

    Jobhunting can be tough, most people don’t just walk into the first job they apply for. Even the best candidates are bound to get a knockback every now and then. But staying positive and learning from your experiences is an important career development skill.

    3) Make your motivation clear

    Recruitment is an expensive and time-consuming business, as is training new staff. So it’s important for employers to know they’re taking on people who are motivated to work hard and stick around for a while. In your applications and interviews you need to show you’ve done your homework, you understand the role and the company, and you’re excited about the position.

    Nadiya was clearly serious about baking and the competition, hence the incredible show stoppers and the tears. But for the best evidence of Nadiya’s passion, one need look no further than her wonderful facial expressions. Enjoy!

    Nadiya 4

    Image from Indy Voices

    S Donaldson, Careers Consultant, UCL

    5 books to further your career

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 8 July 2015

    This post orginially appeared on the Develop your Career blog

    Article written by Jake Pittman from Ph.Creative

    We all strive to be better in life, whether that means appearance to some or your personal life. However for most of us, our career is where we aim to improve most. And why not, a better career could mean doing more of what you love, it could mean working with amazing people or let’s be honest it could also mean more money to spend in your personal life.

    So, with that goal set, all you need now is some inspiration and a dollop of motivation. You’ve come to the right place. Below we’ve listed a handful of the books that have motivated and inspired us.

    Chimp paradox by Dr Steve Peters

    The paradox is that our brains and our actions can be split into two parts: the chimp and the human. These two parts think about life very differently and react in different ways to different situations. Understanding how you and other people think can help in all areas of life, whether in relationships, the workplace or just taking care of your own mental health. This is definitely a must read from a very clever man. Get ready to rediscover your brain.

    Find the book on Amazon here.

    Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

    Pitch your idea, pitch your proposal, or just pitch yourself. Being able to present yourself clearly and incite emotions in people is a skill that can be used in any walk of life but is especially useful when trying to further your career. Using the STRONG method, online, in a meeting, or even in an interview, this book suggests you’re sure to succeed.

    The STRONG method:

    • Set the frame
    • Tell the story
    • Reveal the intrigue
    • Offer the prize
    • Nail the hook point
    • Get a decision

    Find the book on Amazon here.

    Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion by Nathalie Nahai

    What if you knew exactly what your interviewer was thinking and knew exactly what to say and do in order to get the job? Well this book doesn’t promise anything but it does give you an insight into how to connect with people, to nurture relationships and keep you in the forefront of people’s minds. It’s all about the psychology behind business.

    Find the book on Amazon here.

    Become a Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the job came to you? What if people in your field of work already knew what you knew, and wanted to do business with you. Well what you need is to become a person of influence. Get social and get this book.

    Find the book on Amazon here.

    Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo  

    Have you heard about TED? If not, check it out, this is a hub of inspiration just waiting to help you further your career. Once you’ve experienced TED, you’ll understand why you may want to ‘talk like TED’. It’s all about exciting and inspiring the people around you, so they in turn can inspire you.

    Find the book on Amazon here.

    Ph.creative

    Getting your voice heard could land you a job

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 3 July 2015

    This post orginially appeared on the UCL Careers Researchers blog

    New research published in Psychological Science has shown that written job pitches pale in comparison to the spoken wordPhone.

    When scientists at the University of Chicago asked people, some of them professional recruiters, to evaluate student job pitches, they responded better to videos and voice recordings than to the exact same speeches written down. Using identical words, when evaluators are able to hear a person’s voice (importantly, both with or without a visual video recording) they rate that person as more intelligent, thoughtful and competent.

    Speaking to The New York Times, Professor Nicholas Epley, one of the co-authors of the study, explained these results by saying that spoken words “show that we are alive inside – thoughtful, active….The closest you ever get to the mind of another person is through their mouth.”

    So what does this mean for your job hunt? Well, it means that networking is EVEN more important than we’re always telling you it is. And that although online professional social networks can be a great way to identify useful contacts, they’re no substitute for actually meeting someone, or at least chatting to them on the phone. And you know when you’re invited to call for more information while applying for a job? Well maybe you should do that. Put together some intelligent questions to which you’d actually like answers, and use it as an opportunity to introduce yourself and what you have to offer – it could mean that they’ll pay more attention to your written application when it comes in.

    – S Donaldson, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers

    10 things you can do to improve your CV – NOW

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 6 May 2015

    This post originally appeared on the Develop your Career blog

    1. Write a one sentence profile

    Did you know that employers sometimes only have 10 seconds to look at your CV? Writing one sentence about who you are and what you are looking for can attract their attention so they will continue reading. This will ensure your CV doesn’t immediately end up on the unsuitable pile.

    1. List any previous work experience, paid or unpaid, in reverse chronological order

    This means starting with the newest first. An employer wants to see what experience you have and whether it is relevant to the position. It is best to set it out this way so that the employer can see ‘your story’. Do include any voluntary work you have done as this highlights further employability skills.

    1. Underneath each job title list anything you achieved whilst you were in the role

    As a recruiter I don’t need to know that part of your daily duties are to make a cup of tea for your boss. What I am interested in are your achievements in each job and what transferable skills they can bring to this role. For example ‘At University I worked in a group to achieve a 2:1 in a group presentation’ shows that you have experience of working in a team and can achieve goals.

    1. Adapt your CV to the job description or person specificationgroup work

    This is easy to do if you are applying for a specific role. Try and mention everything it says in the person specification on your CV. For example when it says ‘Ability to prioritise a varied workload and meet deadlines – Essential’ you could address this by saying ‘Adhered to assignment deadlines at university whilst working part time at H&M’.

    1. Condense or delete irrelevant grades

    This is a common occurrence – secondary school grades taking up a whole page because you feel like you don’t have enough experience to make your CV long enough. You can have a one page CV – it’s OK. Just bear in mind that an employer might not be interested in the fact you got an A for Child Development GCSE when it was five years ago and irrelevant to the position.

    1. Get rid of references

    If an employer wants to contact your references they will do so after the job offer stage. Unless you are filling in an application form that specifically asks for them, delete them and use the space to list more achievements.

    1. Only include interests if they are relevant to the job

    It sounds like common sense but including ‘I like shopping’ when applying to a data analyst position is not relevant and it doesn’t show any transferable skills. ‘I like building websites in my spare time’, however, would be more suitable.

    1. Use the same formatting and font throughout

    This shows consistency and attention to detail. It makes CVs much harder to read if paragraphs are in different fonts or sizes. Use a sensible font like Times New Roman, Calibri or Arial.

    1. Make use of online advice

    There’s so much advice out there (like this post!), so be sure to use it. If you’re a University of London student or recent graduate and you haven’t already, check out our CV resources in CareersTagged.

    1. Ask others for help

    Get as many eyes on your CV as possible before you use it. Ask colleagues, friends, and family for their input, and if you’re a current student (or a recent graduate), make use of the university careers service available to you.

    UCL wins at the Undergraduate of the Year awards

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 27 April 2015

    Once again UCL students have come out in force at the Target Jobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards with 6 shortlisted students and 2 winners!

    UCL finalists UGOTY

    These annual awards have 12 categories, sponsored by major employers, with each category having 9 or 10 shortlisted students. Prizes include work experience, international trips, i-pads and chances to spend time with top executives in the sponsoring company. Needless to say, they are very competitive – 3,553 students applied this year and after filling in the application form, they had to go through aptitude tests, an interview and assessment and a final centre.

    UCL had 6 students shortlisted:

    Daniel Mannion – Electronic Engineering with Nanotechnology (Engineering Undergraduate of the Year)

    Benjamin Thomas – Electronic and Electrical Engineering (Engineering Undergraduate of the Year)

    Vaibhav Bhatla – Computer Science (Future Business Leader of the Year)

    Anna Tomlinson – German and History of Art (Languages Undergraduate of the Year)

    Cara Goldthrope – Law with French (Law Undergraduate of the Year) – WINNER

    Harrison Dent – European Social and Political Studies (Male Undergraduate of the Year) – WINNER

    “To be shortlisted for the Target Jobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards is a great achievement and congratulations go to Anna, Benjamin, Cara, Daniel, Harrison and Vaibhav. In addition, to have two winners is absolutely fantastic. The Undergraduate of the Year Awards are extremely prestigious and hopefully UCL’s performance this year will encourage other students to apply in the future.”  -Karen Barnard, Director of UCL Careers.

    Harrison wins an internship with L’Oreal (sponsor) including one week in Paris at their Headquarters and 2 days with members of L’Oreal Senior management Committee. Cara wins a place on Mayer Brown’s (sponsor) summer vacation scheme plus Apple iPad.

    Congratulations to our winners, the UCL students who were shortlisted and all who applied. This year’s cohort continues what is becoming a fine tradition in UCL with previous winners and shortlisted candidates over the past 6 years.

    You can read more about the awards here: http://undergraduateoftheyear.com/

    The Skills you’ll learn taking part in the Global Citizenship Employability Programme

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 9 April 2015

    When gearing up for an intense two-weeks focusing on honing you to be a highly employable global citizen, learning your new key skills directly from the employer you actually want to work for might not be an obvious approach. But UCL Careers actually has an extensive employer engagement programme based on skills development, which will be a large part of the Global Citizenship Summer Programme.

    Graduate recruiters are often very willing to give up their time to come onto campus and spend time helping students improve their employability skills. At the Global Citizenship Employability Programme, employers from a vast variety of sectors will join us on select days to help you with your interview skills, your CV, and assessment centre exercises.

    This is a great opportunity to improve your eligibility and confidence (by practicing with one of the most relevant people to your career interests) before you go up for the real thing. For the sake of a good example, let’s presume you study finance and it’s your dream to work for Barclays. Would you pass up an opportunity to get a personal session with somebody who recruits graduates to work for Barclays, in a totally informal way, and receive feedback from them on your CV and your interview abilities? You never know how far impressing the right person at the right time can take you.

    The scenario described above is not, of course, applicable to everyone. Let’s look at another example – say you are serious about your studies and have a good idea of what you want to do, but only vaguely where you want to work. Why not take the totally free opportunity to meet a recruiter from the sector or sectors you’re interested in, who will give you tailored, relevant feedback to prepare you for applying within their industry? Alternatively, it might even be an extremely useful and efficient way to figure out what companies or sectors you might not actually be that well suited to after all.

    Who knows— you might even be surprised when you’re a student who just wants some professional feedback— anybody’s professional feedback—and you realise that your skills are quite well suited to an employer that you’d never considered before.

    At the Global Citizenship Employability Programme, you will meet and work with a variety of employers. You’ll have chances to network and potentially make some useful contacts along the way who can answer your questions and tell you about the skills they developed when they were in your position.  You’ll practice intense and high pressure “speed” interviewing, practicing answering competency questions under time pressure to a series of employers from different industries. You can get your CV checked and work with a group of students to understand what you can do to improve this fundamental document. There will be a number of diverse, helpful viewpoints that you will be exposed to, and invaluable advice tailored to your employability.

    To register and find out more about the UCL Careers Global Citizenship Employability Programme as part of the Global Citizenship programme run by UCL, head on over to: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/employabilityprogramme

    – Weronika Benning, Skills Administrator, UCL Careers

    The Global Citizenship Employability Programme is open for bookings!

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 23 February 2015

    On Friday 20th February UCL’s Global Citizenship Programme launched, and undergraduates across UCL will be able to register to take part in one of the different programmes taking place from 1-12 June.

    What is Global Citizenship?

    Global Citizenship is UCL’s initiative to build students who can:

    • look beyond their individual and local interests and see the complexity of an interconnected world
    • understand the nature of the challenges that face that world
    • are aware of their social, ethical and political responsibilities
    • are ready to display leadership and work together to change the world for the better
    • are able to solve problems through innovation and entrepreneurship
    • prosper in a global jobs market that values the skills UCL provides

    It’s made up of 7 different strands to choose from: 4 targeted at first years and 3 more open to 2nd years, penultimates and finalists. The Global Citizenship Employability Programme (GCE), run by UCL Careers, is one of these latter strands – so if you are thinking about what your future may hold beyond UCL, read on!

    What will you gain on the GCE programme?

    UCL Careers Global Citizenship Employability Programme is an exciting and very hands-on 2 weeks. This programme is ideal for students who are interested in having a fulfilling and rewarding career, and who want to prosper in a global jobs market. In many ways the GCE programme is an ‘employability crash course’.

    During the programme, you will take part in interactive workshops helping you to build an effective CV, perform well at interviews and assessment centres, build your network, search successfully for jobs and understand the graduate labour market. Importantly, the programme begins with a full-day dedicated to helping you discover, and articulate, your strengths, which you can then use to help develop your career.

    What else does it involve?

    Programme highlights include:

    • fast-paced speed interviews with a range of employers, arming you with tips from professionals across different industries
    • priority access to more employers at our Jobs Market, most of whom will have live vacancies they want filled!
    • Employer 1:1 coaching on your CV
    • Support to develop a personal action plan that you can take with you, helping you identify key steps you need to take to enter and prosper in a global job market.

    What did people say last year?

    Don’t just take our word for it – check out our video and hear from attendees at last year’s programme and come along to our information session held Friday 27th February in Archaeology LT G06 at 1pm for more information, and to hear some case studies of students who succeeded from last year’s programme. And most of all, be sure to register and come to UCL Careers to pay your £20 deposit to secure your place!UCL Careers Global Citizenship Employability Programme 2015

    UCL Engineering Fair is coming…

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 7 October 2014

    If you want to work for a great engineering company when you graduate or find out about internship opportunities, the UCL Engineering Fair 2014 is for you!

    When: Monday 13th October 2014 5:30 – 8pm

    Where: North and South Cloisters

    The event will give you the chance to meet lots of employers that want to employ Engineering graduates. It will be a great opportunity to find out more about their companies, make contacts and see the breath of future career options.

    Some employers include:

    TARGETjobs (sponsor), AMEC, Centrica, Colas Rail, Fluor, Jaguar Land Rover, L’Oreal, Mot Macdonald, TFL, Thales and many more!

    for more information: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs

    Do I need to book to go to the Fair?
    NO! Due to the size and duration of each Fair, visitors can come and go as they please while a Fair is on so booking is not necessary.

    Please be aware however that the Fairs are very popular and entry to the exhibitor stands will be controlled to avoid overcrowding and entry to all Fairs is on a first come-first served basis. You may therefore be asked to queue on arrival and we thank you in advance for your patience. A valid UCL ID card (student, staff or GradClub member card) is required to gain entry into the Fair. If you don’t have valid UCL ID, you will not get in!

    The UCL Engineering Fair 2014 is kindly sponsored by TARGETjobs Engineering

    Have you thought about targeting local SME businesses for your job search?

    By Irrum Ali, on 15 July 2014

    So, you’ve decided the big corporate world is not for you.  You would much rather work for a smaller company – an SME, where you can make your mark, take on responsibility, get to understand the whole business not just a fraction of it, and potentially rise to the top.

    The next stage is to work out what SMEs are out there and how to target them?

     One way might be to think about what is on your doorstep.  Students based in London have a plethora of businesses to target and the majority of them are SMEs.  According to the Federation of Small Businesses and Department for Business, Innovation & Skills there were 841,000 private sector businesses in London in 2013.

    From data that we collect through the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey we can see that during the last 5 years after graduation 827 UCL students had graduate level roles in SMEs across London with 294 UCL students in businesses based near UCL in the WC1 area.Careers Fair

    In just one year (2012/13) 395 UCL graduates had graduate level positions in SMEs throughout London six months after they graduated.  Of those students 35 were based just near UCL.

    By targeting local businesses to UCL you can build up a relationship with an employer while you are still a student.  The employer is likely to know UCL, might be extra keen to engage with UCL students and could be willing to offer you the opportunity you have been looking for.

    Once you have your target list of SMEs you will need to contact them to see what opportunities they might be willing to offer – you could ask if they have a summer internship scheme or you may find it more fruitful to ask if they would be able to have a short informal chat with you about the work they do, or perhaps could they offer work shadowing for a day or two.   As they will be local they may be more willing to offer you something and the hope is that the initial thread can ultimately lead, perhaps via one or two more interactions, to something more robust.

    To source opportunities with SMES register with our shortlisting service UCL Talent Bank.

    For UCL students wanting more help with sourcing SMEs in relevant sectors and locations, and for general guidance on approaching businesses speculatively book an appointment with one of our Careers Consultants.

    Do we live in a VUCA world?

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 7 July 2014

    VUCA is an acronym used to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. The common usage of the term VUCA began in the 1990s within US military and has subsequently been used in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that apply in a wide range of organizations, including everything from for-profit corporations to education.

    The business sector has been talking about a VUCA world for a couple of years now, suggesting the turbulent environment is real and is here to stay.  Is this the “new normal”?  And if so, can we really prepare for a VUCA world?

    Dan Simpson, Head of Talent at Siemens UK believes that we should! In order to survive in the VUCA world, we need to change our perception of work.  In this brave new world, work is less location-specific and more network-based.  Your networks are key!  You will take them with you throughout your career regardless of employer or location.

    In our VUCA world, we must acquire and, more importantly, continuously update our skills for success.  We need to be prepared to take advantage of different learning methodologies: bite-sized learning in TED talks and MOOCs.  The ability to acquire life-long learning, the ability to reflect and adapt to new ideas is and will become increasingly invaluable.

    Whether or not VUCA is the “new normal”, there is no doubt that the world is being shaped in this way.  Dan Simpson at Siemens UK specifically searches for candidates who are able to recognise the importance of networking building, reflecting and updating skills. To prepare for the unknown can only be a good thing.

    To find out more about VUCA and how to prepare for the unknown, sign up to the University of London’s Employability MOOC which runs until 25th July.

    – Helen West, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers