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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  • After your internship: the importance of being reflective

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 23 May 2016

     With so much emphasis placed on the ‘before’ and ‘during’ phases of an internship, it can be easy to forget just how important it is to put time aside at the end of the experience to ensure you are truly making the most of it. The benefits don’t, and certainly shouldn’t, come to a grinding halt the minute you leave the office on your last day and, whilst things are still fresh in your mind, this is absolutely the best time to indulge in a bit of reflection.

    Evaluate what you have learned

    Take time to think about the skills you learned and developed, both technical and transferable. If you didn’t receive a formal appraisal during your time within the organisation, think about any informal feedback or comments that you received. Make concise notes of the roles you played in projects, the responsibilities you were given, and the skills you used in order to make this happen. Can you identify what you feel was your biggest achievement? Or the area where you made the most impact? Make a record of names of colleagues, departments you worked within, projects you were involved with – all this detail will be much clearer to you now and may be needed in the future.

    What would you do differently?

    Hindsight is a great way of learning and improving, so put time aside to think of any ways you could have made the experience better, or that you would change if there was a ‘next time’.  Perhaps you felt unprepared on your first day and would have benefited from a bit of time spent researching? Maybe time management wasn’t your strong point and you need to do some learning around ways of planning your working day in order to meet deadlines more comfortably? Alternatively, this may be a question of proactivity and doing everything you can to make the most of the opportunities afforded to you. Do you regret not asking more questions? Perhaps there is a particular area of business you would like to have learned more about but never had the confidence to put yourself forward. Mistakes are there to be learned from.

    Review your own goals and expectations

    Evaluate what the experience has taught you about your own career aspirations. Work to identify areas of the internship that you particularly enjoyed as well as departments within the company that interest you the most. Can you see yourself working in that role, that organisation, that industry…? If not, what would work better for you and why? Don’t forget to review your own developmental goals too – can you think of ways of plugging any skills gaps that became apparent? Or perhaps the experience made you appreciate your own capabilities to an extent that you now feel ready to target career opportunities that before felt unreachable?  If you want help with reflecting on the experience and how it can help you with your career planning book an appointment with a Careers Consultant

    So, aside from the practical tasks that the end of an internship should initiate (eg. updating your CV and ensuring you are connecting with contacts via LinkedIn) don’t underestimate the benefits that can be gained from some good old fashioned thinking time. As much as we want to rush on to the next thing on our ‘to do’ list, give yourself time and space to properly consider and reflect on the experience. Internships are a wonderful opportunity that you should seek to make the very best of, both before, during AND after.

    How to Get the Best Out of Your Internship

    By Sophia Donaldson, on 14 March 2016

    The following is based on the experiences of a Careers Consultant who has previously managed internship programmes in a range of sectors.

    When you are hired as an intern, this is typically to complete a short-term project or task over a specific period of time. If you are an intern for an SME (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise) you may find yourself getting very involved in a number of aspects of the business. Internships in SME’s and large organisations may sometimes lead to graduate jobs.

    Your host organisation will expect you to get involved, begin contributing quickly and perform professionally to the standard they expect. Essentially, they expect to try before they buy! This is also a fantastic opportunity for you to see if the job and industry you thought you would go into as a career is really the right fit for you. With this in mind, here are some tips to help you get the best out of your internship:

    • Set yourself objectives before you start: It’s good to have a think about what you would also like to get out of your time there (beyond being paid!). What are the skills and competency gaps in your CV? What 2 things do you want to leave the internship having achieved?
    • Make sure you know what the expectation is: Interns are sometimes surprised when they learn at the end of the internship that all had not gone as smoothly as they had presumed. It is really important you know what your manager expects of you. If in doubt, ask!
    • Making mistakes: How will you know when you’re making them? What can you put into place to avoid this happening again? Who will you approach for feedback (tip: don’t just rely on your manager for feedback).
    • Managing workload effectively: Your work may come from multiple people so it’s important to remember to manage your time well, prioritise the most urgent work and manage their expectations. If you’re struggling to meet a deadline, you should be transparent about this and tell people in good time – 5pm on a Friday will not leave a good impression.
    • Seizing opportunities: The most important thing to remember is that you have been recruited to do a specific job. Anything over and above this is a bonus but it’s worth mentioning anything you would like to be involved in with your manager. Generally, if you’re doing what is expected of you and what you want to do doesn’t impact on the work, managers tend to be flexible.
    • Being proactive: In the unlikely event of any ‘down’ time, look for work. Mention to your manager that there is a break in your workload and suggest some potential pieces of work. Be realistic about what you can achieve, however!
    • Build your network: One of the best things about being in an organisation is absorbing its culture and getting to know its people. After all, these might be your future colleagues! While you are there, take the opportunity to get to know your department and pretty much anyone you can. Remember to stay in touch, which you can do through email, Linkedin or by phone.

    If you want to know more about internships: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/information/options/internships

    Carla King, UCL Careers Consultant

    5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Internship

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 25 February 2016

    With many of you now securing internships for summer, or working committedly towards this end, it is natural that your thoughts will be shifting to the forthcoming opportunity and what to expect from it. There are several rules to follow to ensure that you make the most of the experience.

    Do your research
    Nerves may be fraught on day one and that is to be expected but make this a more comfortable experience for yourself by doing prior research into the company and the particular department you are operating in. No one will expect you to know everything but having an idea of the challenges and priorities facing the organisation will get you off to a great start.

    Observe the office ‘rules’
    Each working environment comes with its own set of unwritten rules and norms. Watch those around you and observe their behaviours and actions. Some companies will be more formal than others but all will expect a level of professionalism. An internship can be best viewed, after all, a lengthy job interview.

    Ask questions
    Asking questions (within reason) does not make you look stupid, it makes you look smart and curious. You have been given a unique learning opportunity so be sure to use it. Learn from the expertise around you. If you don’t understand something, say so. Better to address it upfront than have to bluff your way through the following weeks.

    Be proactive
    Enthusiasm and eagerness go a long way and are what often make the difference between a good intern and a great intern. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions if you feel there is a better of clearer way of doing a task. Interns bring the benefit of a fresh pair of eyes to a work situation. Ask to get involved in extra projects or to sit in on particular meetings to learn more and immerse yourself in the experience.

    Get connected – stay connected
    Make the most of any mentors you are assigned to find out about their route into the industry, the challenges they have faced and the advice they can give. Be receptive to any feedback they give you. Whilst their input is invaluable be sure to stretch your networks wider still. Go out of your way to meet with other people in the organisation and connect with them on Linked In so the benefits may continue beyond the internship itself.

    There is bound to be a certain amount of apprehension, particularly on your first day. But it is important to remind yourself that you have been selected for this opportunity, often in very competitive circumstances. And that is because the organisation believes you have something to offer.  But remember also, that something is not ‘the finished article’ – it is a student who is there to learn and develop. They are not expecting you to run the show but they are expecting you to listen and be willing.

     

    By Hannah Morton-Hedges, Careers Consultant

    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 prepare for our Careers Fairs…

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 30 September 2015

    Every year UCL Careers holds a number of Careers Fairs to help you talk to employers and find out first hand what they are looking for. You will get more out of the Careers Fair if you spend a little time preparing…

    Be aware that there will be a mixture of all kind of employers from many different sectors exhibiting each day and you might find an employer that you had never really considered before becoming a favourite for you. To help you prepare effectively we’ve put together some handy tips to get you started

     

    UCL Careers Fair

    Before the fair

    > We strongly encourage you to do some research on the exhibitors before the fair: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs

    > As well as reading the exhibitor profiles, click through to the organisation’s own website to find out more about them.

    > After your research, decide which exhibitors you particularly want to talk to, and you will be able to ask more informed questions. It can be difficult to understand the difference between big companies within the same sector.  Often it is the cultural aspects that make a real difference in the working environment and this can only be appreciated through talking and interacting with representatives at the Careers Fairs.  Try to prepare some questions in advance and think about the main points that you would want an organisation to know about you – it can help you feel more confident.

    > Come along to one of the preparation sessions organised by UCL Careers (starting w/c 5th October).

    At the fair

    > At the fair, each exhibiting organisation has a stand and their representatives are there to answer your questions about what the organisation does, what jobs they offer to final year students and graduates, what internships/placements they provide to earlier year students, and any other opportunities that they offer.

    > Shows motivation in a competitive job market esp. if you refer to attendance in applications/ interviews

    > Often particular insight re. staff experience relating to specific projects they’ve been involved in or training they’ve had can be used as ammunition that can be a real differentiator when answering motivation based questions – ie lots of first hand information not available on any website that other candidates might not be able to offer.

    > Wherever possible, try to talk to someone on the stand instead of just picking up a brochure. Use the opportunity to ask your questions face-to-face.

    > If you are feeling a bit nervous about approaching your first choice organisation, it can be a good idea to visit some other stands first to practise your technique.

    > If you are given a business card, make a point soon afterwards of noting on it anything that it would be useful to remember. Have they suggested you email them with further questions? Did they give you advice on their recruitment process?

    > Even if you have a ‘hit list’ of exhibitors, consider other organisations at the fair that are less well known. They might be offering just what you are looking for.

    Remember to bring your UCL ID or GradClub ID card as you won’t be able to enter the fair without this!

    Other hints and tips

    > Remember that many of the opportunities are available to students of any discipline

    > If you want to have a CV ready to hand over, arrange an appointment at UCL Careers before the Careers Fair to ask for some CV feedback

    > The fair may be busy when you arrive – don’t be put off. People tend to congregate by the entrance, so head to another part of the fair where it will probably be quieter

    > Avoid walking round the fair with a group of friends. The exhibitor may not realise that you are interested in them, and you could miss out because your friend happens to be more talkative than you!

    > If you feel overwhelmed, and don’t know what to do or where to start, make sure you visit the UCL Careers for help.

    > Staff on the exhibitor stands are often relatively recent graduates who can tell you what it is really like to work in their organization.  They may even refer to particular projects that they’ve been involved in or training that they’ve had –all of which is great information for you to use when you apply for a position at their company.  This insight is not available on any website and creates a unique impression when it is your time to apply.

    > In a competitive job market, it can make a difference to refer to any interaction with employers during the application process

    For further information about the fairs, please visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs

     

    Is there a difference between work experience, an internship and a placement?

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 10 September 2015

    With much being said about the value that employers place on job candidates having previous work experience UCL Careers has seen the amount of opportunities for work experience, internships and placements rise drastically over the last few years.  At the same time the terminology has become quite confusing and often the words “work experience”, “placement” and “internship” are used interchangeably by students, employers and the general public even though they could mean very different things in terms of what the student will actually experience.

    Focus on Management

     

    When you apply for opportunities it is important that both you, and the employer, have the same understanding as to what the opportunity is, how involved you will be and what you will gain from it. We thought we’d attempt to come up with descriptions of how we use the terms to help build an understanding of what the differences are.  So, here goes:

    Work experience

    Traditionally was associated with a short period of time within a company, such as one to two weeks to gain exposure to an organisation. It might include an element of work shadowing staff to observe what they do in order to understand a role better as well as getting involved in relatively low level tasks to help support the business in a very practical way.  Recently the term “work experience” has become an all embracing title for any form of participation in a working environment, and could include volunteering work with a registered charity which may not be paid but would still be counted as work experience.

    Internships

    Generally last anything from four weeks to a year. They may or may not relate to your studies and could vary greatly in terms of what the role will involve. Often, and in particular for large companies where they have an established summer internship scheme, the work will be of a similar nature to a graduate role.  For these companies the internships are likely to be structured with possibly an element of training. For some sectors such as banking and finance, having an internship on your CV is fairly important if you want to pursue a career in that field. Undertaking an internship on a summer scheme in these sectors can sometimes lead candidates being offered a place on a graduate scheme once they have graduated. However, there are also many other organisations that will offer internships that are not part of a scheme, but will enable you to experience what it is like working in a particular role and sector.

    Placements

    The word “placement” varies in meaning but at UCL, placements are thought of as an assessed, integral part of an academic programme and the tasks undertaken will most likely relate to your programme of study. However, many courses at UCL do not have this element within them.  If they do, they will usually range from three months to a year, depending on the requirements of your course. The level of work in a placement is usually similar in scope to an internship or graduate role. Placements are likely to be structured and may involve an element of training. Often you would be assisted by course staff in your search for a placement.

    There are also other opportunities out there such as “insight sessions” which are usually offered from employers in the finance, management consultancy and law sectors.  These are short periods (days or a couple of weeks) where you have the opportunity to attend events and activities within a company designed to help you understand more about that company, the sector it is in and what roles are available.  Often there is a chance to undertake some level of skills training as part of the insight session with the aim to help you understand the skills necessary for the sector.

    The key thing is to find out more about an opportunity in terms of what you will actually be doing and what, therefore, you might gain in terms of skills, experience and insight into a particular industry or working environment. You should also make sure that you understand what you are entitled to with regards to payment. By law companies must pay the National Minimum Wage, if you are classed as a worker, unless they are exempt (for example if they are a registered charity).  There is also an exemption of payment if the experience is a placement as part of an academic course. Be informed – see information on National Minimum Wage

    For more information about work experience, internships and all the other types of opportunities use UCL’s Careers Tagged resource and see The Careers Group sheet on Securing Internships and Work Experience.

    – Rochelle Symons, Placements and Vacancies Manager, UCL Careers.

    Corporate Cult? We try to work with everyone.

    By Phil Howe, on 11 June 2015

    George Monbiot’s recent article in The Guardian, “How a corporate cult captures and destroys our best graduates”, raised some interesting questions about graduate recruitment at the UK’s top universities. At UCL Careers we recognise not all organisations have equal resources, and that it is our responsibility to give non-profits, public sector organisations and SMEs every chance to promote their career opportunities to UCL students and graduates.

    The article criticised several Russell Group universities and, although his researchers did not contact UCL and nor were we criticised in the article, we wanted to share what we are doing to ensure students and graduates find out about and have access to more than just City careers.

    The article accused leading universities of passivity in the face of “love bombing” from large corporates, suggesting they should be doing more to counter this. UCL Careers devotes considerable time and resources to initiatives alerting students to alternative career options, and encouraging non corporates to come on to campus. Looking at our events this week, we are working with 23 employers on our Global Citizenship Employability Programme, of which 50% are charities, SMEs or public sector bodies, including Think Ahead (a graduate programme for mental health social work) Ark Schools (an educational charity) and Bartonia Care (a healthcare scheme for the elderly). Likewise, looking at the employers collaborating on our Focus on Management course, these include the Civil Service Fast Stream, Researchers in Schools and Repositive (an SME working for efficient and ethical access to genomic data), alongside several large corporates. Finally, just over 25% of the employers attending our Jobs Market, are from the public and charity sectors, or are SMEs.

    We developed our themed weeks specifically to raise the profile of sectors such as Charities and NGOs, the Environment, and Museums and Cultural Heritage, and to place them on an equal footing with our Careers Fairs which feature more corporate career paths. Unlike our Fairs where organisations pay a substantial fee to attend, our themed weeks are completely free of charge for employers.

    This year’s themed week programme comprised 26 individual events covering six sectors, and over 1,300 UCL students attended. They heard from expert speakers at organisations such as Amnesty International, Save the Children, the NHS Graduate Programme, the Institute of Conservation, the National Theatre, the V&A Museum, Global Alliance for Chronic Disease and the Stroke Association. Some weeks, such as Charities and NGOs, almost entirely featured SMEs, charities and public bodies, but even weeks such as Life and Health Sciences had representation from non corporates at every event.

    The UCL Careers Twitter hashtag #uclinspireme highlights a range of career opportunities which UCL students and graduates may not be aware of- and where employers may not have the resource to promote them on campus. This includes a series of blogs written by people in less publicised graduate jobs including fashion PR, market research, and child safety, as well as highlighting less common vacancies such as “Epidemiology Intern”, “Content Marketing Executive”, and “Fundraising and Marketing Graduate Trainee”. Students can follow @uclcareers, or search for the hashtag #uclinspireme, to keep up to date with these.

    We also make a great effort to involve charities and SMEs in our placements, internships and vacancy services. Smaller organisations are put off by fees to access university students, but are also often worried about attending high profile events and receiving huge numbers of applications, which they don’t have time to process. We set up our shortlisting service, UCL Talent Bank (which takes much of the legwork out of recruitment) specifically to engage smaller employers and bring their vacancies to UCL students’ and graduates’ attention. Since Talent Bank started, we have advertised around 175 roles for non corporates, including Rainforest Foundation UK, the Institute for Sustainability and homelessness charity Providence Row. Talent Bank is free of charge for employers.

    Talent Bank is a service for all UCL students and graduates but we are also tasked with sourcing internships for specific courses at UCL, one of these is the BASc Arts and Sciences. Over the two years we have been working with these students around 65% of the internships they secured were with either SMEs or charities.

    Finally, we often arrange for employers to visit departments to talk about relevant career opportunities. In two examples from this year, two panel discussions in the School of Public Policy involved representatives from Oxfam, VSO and Macmillan Cancer Support, while a recent panel event at the Institute of Education featured a large UK based charity, an international development organisation, the director of a small business and a self-employed consultant, the idea being to demonstrate to students the variety of the types of careers they could aspire to.

    The Guardian article praised the Careers Service at the University of Cambridge for trying to “counter the influence of the richest employers”. It lauded their policy of imposing a fee on rich recruiters and using the proceeds to make it easier for non profits to recruit at the university. Almost all leading UK universities charge fees for recruitment services to larger organisations, and UCL is no exception. First and foremost, these fees have to represent good value for the companies who pay them or they won’t recruit here, and the many students who are interested in careers such as finance, law, consultancy, IT and engineering will miss out. That said, we consciously invest any surplus from these activities into services for all students, including the initiatives listed above.

    We don’t believe our role is to make value judgements about particular career paths, and nor will we tell you that you should or shouldn’t pursue a particular job based on our own ethics. We do believe we have a responsibility to marry our knowledge of the many different careers UCL students pursue, with the availability and interest of particular employers when delivering our events and services. We hope this overview provides reassurance that we don’t just promote one type of career, but we are always interested in hearing from students and graduates if there are particular employers or sectors you want to see more of.

    – Phil Howe, Employer Engagement and Business Development Manager, UCL Careers.