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
  • Want to contribute?

    Please read our Guest Blogger Policy

  • No grad scheme? What now?

    By Sophia Donaldson, on 17 June 2016

    Blue.jpg

    Image taken from russellstreet

    It’s June. By now most of you will know whether or not you bagged that elusive grad scheme place. If you did, congrats, because grad schemes are notoriously competitive, and they’re pretty cool in many ways; you’ll get a set training scheme with lots of institutional support, you’ll have a big company’s name on your CV, and you’ll probably be paid a little more than the average grad.

    But if you didn’t make it through the gruelling application process, or if you hadn’t even heard of a grad scheme until it was too late to apply (or maybe until right now?), worry not, because you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority. Only 16% of graduate-level jobs (i.e. jobs meant for grads) are grad schemes. So here are a few things you 84% could do instead:

     

    Try working for an SME

    What the flip’s an SME, I hear you cry? It’s a ‘small or medium sized enterprise’, which is basically any company with fewer than 250 employees. You’re unlikely to have heard of a lot of SMEs as they don’t have the capacity to run huge training schemes, and they often don’t have the resources or the inclination to come onto campus for university careers fairs.

    But one thing they do have is jobs. Lots and lots of jobs. SMEs make up 99.9% of UK businesses, they account for almost half of the UK’s GDP and between them they employ 60% of the UK workforce, and 50% of new graduates.

    Although big training schemes can seem very attractive, working for an SME has its benefits. Smaller companies are likely to give you more responsibility earlier, a more varied workload, closer contact with senior managers, and you’ll more easily see the impact of your work.

    Vacancies at SMEs come up as and when the business requires, so you don’t have to worry that you’ve missed the boat. Jobs boards like JobOnline, UCL TalentBank, and recruitment agencies can be great ways to find SME job adverts. But why not be proactive and contact businesses that interest you? Small start-ups may not have the time or money to advertise entry level roles, so well-timed speculative applications can be successful. UCL Advances has a list of SMEs to start to you thinking about whom to approach, and there are plenty of other SME lists out there (e.g. this London Stock Exchange, this Times, or this UKSBD one) to help you identify target employers.

     

    Try being more committed

    One of the nice things about large graduate schemes is the chance to rotate across different departments within the same organisation. The aim is to help you decide which role and department is right for you.

    But what if you already know what’s right for you? Why bother with all of that? If a company, whether large or small, is advertising a permanent role in your area of interest, why not apply directly? Even some of those employers offering large graduate schemes tell us that if grads know which team they belong in, direct entry might be a better bet than a rotational training scheme. And depending upon the role, direct entry can be less competitive and involve fewer arduous applications stages than graduate schemes.

    Plus, if your grades fall below the grad scheme thresholds (often 2.1 and above), applying directly for lower-level roles can be a great way to get into your target organisation. From there you can work your way up, and we’ve seen examples of graduates (and even some non-graduates who didn’t complete their degree) using this route to get onto their target graduate scheme from within.

     

    Try being less committed

    Saying that, 1-3 year graduate schemes require a lot of commitment. It can be an appealing idea to know where you’ll be in a few years, but it can also be somewhat restricting. Shorter internships and placements are a fab way to try out different sectors and organisations, build your networks, and learn about your work preferences, without making a long-term commitment to one organisation. This sort of experimentation could be perfect if you’re not quite sure which route is right for you yet. And if you’re still set on the grad scheme path, the experience you pick up on the way will make your applications stronger in the following years.

    And although graduate schemes promise to fast-track you, their regimented nature means that their pace may be too slow for the really ambitious among you. By contrast, regular graduate roles give you the freedom to apply for new higher-level positions whenever they come up and you feel ready, without tying you to a set training path.

    Start the New Year off right if you’re planning on applying for a Grad Scheme

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 8 January 2016

    Highly sought after by UCL students, graduate schemes have been seen as being the gold medal upon completion of your degree. However only a limited number make it through as competition is tough. On average, there are 85 applications for every single graduate scheme position. 

    Myth: a degree will be enough. Employers are now looking for more from students. HSBC noted: “We recruit up to 1,500 graduates on to one of our 70 graduate programmes around the world. For those jobs, globally, we receive around 100,000 applications. As 90% have a 2.2 or a 2.1, it therefore takes something extra to stand out.”

    The conversion rate from landing that internship in the company you want to work for to securing a place on their graduate scheme can be as high as 70-80% in some companies! Every company wants the best candidates, so do apply early. Some may fill positions whilst recruitment is still happening. Don’t leave it to the last minute to apply. Also, come and get your application reviewed by one of our specialist application advisors.

    Only 7-10% of graduates who enter the workplace do so through a formal graduate scheme, so how do you maximise your chances at success? Preparation is incredibly important. We’ve put together a handy timeline of things to do, whether you’re a first year or a finalist who hasn’t even thought about what you are going to do when you finish.

    UCL Study Level Spring Term (January – April 2016) Summer Term(May – August 2016) Autumn (2016)(Sept 2016 onwards)
    First/Second year going into Penultimate year > Start looking at careers/jobs you may be interested through Careers Tagged

    > Clarify Visa options in the UK (if international students)

    > Research jobs in home country or country you wish to work in (UCL login needed to view this link)

     

    > Apply for internships/gain work experience during the summer through UCL JobOnline > Career Planning

    > Attend Careers Fairs and Employer Events

     

    Penultimate going into Final year  > Gain relevant work experience either through internships or experience within that sector

    > Identify your hard skills from your soft skills and compare this against their competencies and develop your skills

    > Apply for internships for summer through UCL JobOnline

    > Attend our Global Citizenship Employability Programme
     

    > Attend our Focus on Management course

    > Look at company websites, many open applications for their graduate schemes between July – September.

    > Gain work experience during the summer

     

    > Career Planning

    > Attend Careers Fairs and Employer Events

    > Identify Graduate Schemes & Apply

    Final year becoming a Recent Graduate > Apply for graduate level jobs / schemes – some companies have rolling deadlines. You can find most of these via the companies website or through UCL JobOnline > Apply for graduate level jobs via UCL JobOnline

    > Target unfilled Graduate Schemes via the companies websites or through UCL JobOnline

    > Attend the UCL Jobs Market 2016 event (more information coming soon)

    > Join UCL Careers Graduates  (once your course finishes)

    > Follow steps above

     

     

     

    We’re also open all year round so whether you want to talk about career options, have an application checked or have gained an interview and want to practice, we can help. Our website has a comprehensive amount of information for each step and you can pop-in personally and speak to one of our information team who can help.

    And even if a graduate scheme doesn’t float your boat, we can help you find your future in your chosen career path as a vast number of our alumni go on to work within Charities, NGOs, Media, Law and Science sectors.

    Good luck!

    The Engineering Fair is coming….

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 16 October 2015

    Considering a career in Engineering?

    The UCL Careers Engineering Fair features some of the top employers from the fields of Chemical, Civil and Environmental, Electronic and Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering, as well as Construction and the Built Environment.

    Engineering
    Employers will be hiring for permanent graduate positions as well as internships and placements so this fair is mainly aimed at final year and penultimate year Engineering, Bartlett or related students. All students are welcome to attend
in order to research companies, but there may not be suitable structured programmes on offer.

    When: Monday 26th October 2015 | 5:30pm – 8pm

    Where: North and South Cloisters, Wilkins Building

    Some employers attending include:

    > Balfour Beatty
    > Fluor
    > GSK
    > Jaguar Land Rover
    > Mott Macdonald
    > TargetJobs Engineering
    > Transport for London- TFL

    Plus many more!

    You do not need to book to attend our Careers Fairs, but you must bring valid UCL ID to gain entry.

    For more information on about the fair and the employers attending, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs | #UCLCareersFair | @UCLCareers

    The Engineering Fair 2015 is kindly sponsored by TargetJobs Engineering.

    The IT and Technology Fair is coming…

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 8 October 2015

    Want to find our more about careers within IT and Technology?

    The UCL Careers IT and Technology Fair features some of the top employers in Consultancy, Big Data, Software, Cloud Computing, Telecommunications, Financial Technology and many more.

    IT and Tech Fair
    Employers will be hiring for permanent graduate positions, internships and, in some cases, 1st year spring programmes. The fair is open to all year groups but there may not be structured programmes on offer for all students. Some roles will be open to students studying computer science or a related technical discipline, but others will be open to all with an in interest in technology.

    When: Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd October | 5:30pm – 8pm

    Where: North and South Cloisters, Wilkins Building

    Some employers attending include:

    Day 1
    > EE
    > Fidessa
    > IBM
    > KPMG
    > Microsoft Corporation

    Day 2
    > Cisco
    > Expedia.com
    > Fujitsu
    > Morgan Stanley
    > SKY

    Plus many more!

    You do not need to book to attend our Careers Fairs, but you must bring valid UCL ID to gain entry.

    For more information on about the fair and the employers attending, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs | #UCLCareersFair | @UCLCareers

    The IT and Technology Fair 2015 is kindly sponsored by EE and Cisco.

    Our Banking and Finance Fair is coming…

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 2 October 2015

    Interested in a career working with Banking or Finance?

    The UCL Careers Banking and Finance Fair features some of the top employers from a wide variety of sectors including Investment Banking, Professional Services, Retail and Corporate Banking, Economics, Consulting, Investment Management Actuarial, Insurance and many more.

    Banking and Finance
    Employers will be hiring for permanent graduate positions, internships and, in some cases, 1st year spring programmes. The fair is open to all year groups but there may not be structured programmes on offer for all students.

    When: Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th October | 5:30pm – 8pm

    Where: North and South Cloisters, Wilkins Building

    Some employers attending include:

    DAY 1
    Amazon
    Bloomberg
    Barclays
    FTI Consulting
    Goldman Sachs
    JP Morgan
    M and G Investments

    DAY 2
    Deloitte
    Deutsche Bank
    Financial Conduct Authority
    Lloyd’s of London
    PwC
    Santander
    UBS

    Plus many more!

    You do not need to book to attend our Careers Fairs, but you must bring valid UCL ID to gain entry.
    For more information on about the fair and the employers attending, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs | #UCLCareersFair | @UCLCareers

    The Banking and Finance Fair 2015 is kindly sponsored by PwC.

    Our Management Consultancy Fair is coming…

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 30 September 2015

    Considering a career in Management Consultancy?

    The UCL Careers Management Consultancy Fair features some of the top employers from a wide variety of Consultancy sectors including Strategy, Financial, Brand, Technology and HR.

    Employers will be hiring for permanent graduate positions and in some cases internships and placements.

    Management Consultancy

    The fair is mainly aimed at final year and penultimate year students. Other years are welcome to attend in order to research employers, but there may not be suitable structured programmes available.

    When: Wednesday 7th October 2015 | 5:30pm – 8pm
    Where: North and South Cloisters, Wilkins Building

    Some employers attending include:
    Accenture
    The Boston Consulting Group
    EY
    IMS Consulting Group
    Oliver Wyman

    Plus many more!

    You do not need to book to attend our Careers Fairs, but you must bring valid UCL ID to gain entry.

    We will be holding Fair Prep sessions – keep an eye for an Alert about these!

    For more information on about the fair and the employers attending, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs | #UCLCareersFair | @UCLCareers

    The Management Consultancy Fair 2015 is kindly sponsored by Accenture.

    How to settle into a new Graduate Scheme: Our Top 5 Tips

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 7 September 2015

    Starting a new graduate scheme can be an exciting but daunting time. Together with some former colleagues and friends, I have put together my “Top 5 tips” of how to adjust and to get the most out of a graduate training programme.

    UCL Careers Focus on Management

    1. Be as open as you can to the new opportunities and challenges that are thrown at you.
      1. Say “yes!” to chances to visit different departments, speak to senior managers, build relationships with your graduate and day job colleagues. My first three months of induction involved visiting a range of treatment facilities, detecting leaks, travelling all over the area my company served, undertaking vital health and safety training and meeting many useful contacts who I was later able to draw on when I had queries or problems. It also helped me understand the business as a whole, and how my day job fitted within it.
      2. Charity fundraising events are also a great way to meet different people who may do very contrasting roles, and can be a useful informal networking opportunity. I have built a raft and rowed down the river (twice!), cleared a garden at a centre for the disabled, taught Primary School children about water saving, and lead a group of teenagers through a tech event day where they designed a healthcare app.
    2. Ensure that you don’t take on too much! This may seem in direct contrast with the first point, but ensure that you are able to deliver everything expected of you. It can be challenging to balance the needs of your graduate scheme alongside your day job, but always ensure that your day job does not suffer, especially if you manage a team.
    3. Set a good first impression. A colleague of mine unfortunately was caught staring out of the window by a senior manager during the first week; an incident which can come up in conversation to this day many years later. Don’t be that person!
    4. Find a good mentor. Some graduate schemes encourage this, and it can be a great way to learn more about the business, and when they work well, a good relationship with a mentor can help both of your set achievable targets and grow in your new role. They can also be a useful “sense check”. If you can’t find someone within your business, look outside. Find someone who you trust, and who challenges and supports you.
    5. Don’t panic! Ask questions, ask for help, make small mistakes and learn from them.

    Did you know that you can still use UCL Careers for up to two years after completing your course? Find out more by visiting: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/gradclub

    – Hannah Posner, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers