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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    Modern Languages & Its Unexpected Career Paths

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 8 February 2016

    By Andrew Scott – Head Fashion Buyer

    I had never given much thought to modern languages until high school, but then why would I when it was never something which had been included in my curriculum? That soon changed the moment I sat down in my first French lesson. The whole concept had me gripped from that moment, as I started to enjoy learning in a way which I never had before. Language combines the theory of traditional core subjects with a hint of personal expression which you only get through art based subjects providing the middle ground I unknowingly required.

    Needless to say I excelled in language and it was a natural step for me to carry this on through to college and then university.

    For me, the novelty of studying modern languages and the sense of accomplishment which came with it never wore off, so I guess I was one of the lucky ones who came out of university with a clear sense of direction.

    Immediately out of university I explored the typical avenues of employment such as translating and interpreting, although I knew this wasn’t a long term career path and I soon moved on to a role within an international company. Whilst I enjoyed this fast paced environment, I couldn’t ignore the pull to get involved in the world of fashion, which was the industry my parents both operated in.

    I was surprised how strongly the industry demanded my language skills in many different areas, which gave me a much wider choice of career than I had ever thought. I am now the head fashion buyer of Infinities Menswear, a role which constantly demands my language skills and takes me all over Europe. On a daily basis I speak on the phone with our global suppliers and regularly attend international fashion shows and buying meetings. The ability to communicate with people in their own dialect goes a long way in terms of building relationships and it is personally enjoyable to use my languages in practice.

    Thinking back to my university days, I never would have predicted that I would have the career I have today and I feel very fortunate to think that I have been able to combine my two passions in life in such a way.

    I fear that many people believe modern languages commands a very narrow career path, which is a misconception I am keen to correct for anyone considering or currently studying modern languages. In reality, a modern languages qualification provides you with an edge over the competition in a wide range of roles within a multitude of different industries.

    The world is your oyster, learn how to communicate in it!

    What career skills were you shouting about in 2015?

    By S Donaldson, on 6 January 2016

     

    Are you sick of 2015 countdown lists yet? No? Good, because here’s another one.

    Have you heard of Coursera? It’s great. It allows you to take free online courses in pretty much anything, and those courses are taught by university experts. In fact, UCL careers consultants helped deliver a course in Employability Skills in 2014 and 2015.

    And now the good people at Coursera have put together a handy list of 2015’s most coveted career skills. When you complete a course you receive a certificate, and get the option of posting said certificate to your LinkedIn profile. By assessing courses with the most certificates posted to LinkedIn, Coursera have worked out the top 10 skills people most wanted to show off to recruiters last year. It’s a nice measure of what’s hot with employers right now, with ‘digital marketing’ coming out on top, and ‘data science’ featuring heavily in the top 10. Check out the full list here.

    And to be notified when the employability skills course runs again, visit the course page and add it to your wish list.

     

    S Donaldson, UCL Careers Consultant

    Employment Opportunities within the IT & Technology Sector

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 16 October 2014

    There are a wide variety of opportunities in the IT & Technology sector. Check these out …

    Industries that fall under the IT umbrella include:

    • computer programming;
    • computer consultancy;
    • computer gaming;
    • computer networking activities;
    • computing facilities management;
    • data processing;
    • data hosting activities;
    • internet service provision;
    • telecommunications;
    • web portals.

    Within these industries, there are many spheres of work available to graduates, including:

    • art and design;
    • design and development engineering;
    • electrical and electronic engineering;
    • financial management;
    • human resources management;
    • information technologies;
    • marketing and PR;
    • operational management;
    • project management;
    • production management;
    • strategy and planning.

    The IT and computing sector is forecast to continue to expand, and to be a key element of business growth. Employment in the sector over the next decade is projected to grow nearly five times faster than the UK average.

    Who are the main graduate employers?

    Many of the largest companies in this sector are organisations that play multiple roles. The sector varies immensely in occupational scope and breadth, and so do employers.

    In the private sector, big employers are typically international companies such as Accenture; Capgemini; Cisco; Cognizant; IBM; Infosys; Logica; Microsoft; Tata Consultancy.

    In addition, however, over half of IT professionals find roles outside of the IT industry. Other industries that are big employers of IT professionals include:

    • financial services
    • major retailers
    • telecommunications
    • public sector
    • manufacturing
    • games development

    Many small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the industry provide a range of specialist services, particularly in consultancy and technical roles. Common jobs for graduates are software designers and engineers; web developers and producers; computer analysts and programmers; web designers, IT consultants; help desk technicians.

    What are the key issues in the IT sector?

    With the current situation in the global economy, business is operating in a climate of uncertainty, and this makes companies reluctant to make major decisions. Infrastructure and technology upgrades are not always a priority. This is considered by far the biggest pressing issue for UK IT firms.

    The sector is highly innovative, but also subject to constant technological development. This can present a significant challenge in ensuring businesses and staff are able to adapt to constantly changing technological requirements.

    The fast-moving nature of parts of the industry, and the continuing growth of the sector means that many employers are experiencing significant skills demand. Recruiters reported difficulties recruiting software developers and programmers and web designers, and found the following skills most likely to be in short supply: .NET, ASP.NET, Dynamics, SharePoint, Visual Basic, Visual Studio, C# and PHP. The sector also reported gaps in sales skills, business skills, higher level technical skills and sector knowledge.

    Data security, privacy and intellectual property issues are all important in the sector and businesses spend significant resources to deal with current requirements and to be prepared to adapt to a changing legislative landscape.

    Source: Prospects

    The UCL IT & Technology Fair on Thursday 16th October 2014 is kindly sponsored by Cisco

    “But I’m not studying computer science – can I still work in IT & Technology?”

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 15 October 2014

    The answer is YES!

    IT & Technology is a broad sector which encompasses a multitude of roles and types of companies. In addition to the programming and developer roles typically associated with the sector there are also a wide range of other positions: project managers, business analysts, consultants, salespeople. For these roles, employers state that deep technical knowledge is often not initially required; what is important is an interest in technology, a desire to learn and possessing business-orientated skills such as communication and project management.

    Melanie Baldo graduated from UCL in Italian and Management Studies and is now a Project Manager at Bloomberg. Melanie states: “I never for one minute imagined when I graduated with a degree in languages that I would be working for a financial data company running some of their most complicated and important projects with high profile clients.”  Whilst in the Technology sector, Melanie’s role focuses on client relationships and project management and she encourages students from non-technical backgrounds to apply. Many technology based roles do not require a technology background and companies often provide training for these positions.

    The UCL IT & Technology Fair gives you the opportunity to discover how IT & Technology underpins business and the diversity of opportunities available.

    The UCL IT & Technology Fair on Thursday 16th October 2014 is kindly sponsored by Cisco

    IT and computing: Employment trends

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 15 October 2014

    The IT industry is continuing to expand rapidly. Employment opportunities are continuing to increase at all levels and in different industry sectors.  Employment in the IT sector is expected to grow at 2.19% a year, almost 5 times faster than the predicted average growth for the UK.

    The IT sector is looking very positive for the future;

    • Increase in use of personal devices – this means a greater need for IT and telecoms professionals who are able to understand the vulnerabilities of underlying architecture and infrastructure and to develop new security solutions.
    • Development of sustainable IT to minimise the environmental impact of technology.
    • Growth is predicted to be strongest in highly skilled areas – software professionals, ICT managers, IT strategy and planning professionals.

    What skills are needed?

    Employers do recruit graduates with non-IT degrees into consultancy and business analysis roles, where they can apply a broad technical knowledge to commercial environments. More technical roles such as network engineers, software developers and programmers do require graduates with relevant technical degrees such as computer science, information systems and software engineering.

    The ‘soft’ skills required are:

    • Communication (written and verbal) and interpersonal skills
    • Teamwork
    • Organisation and planning
    • Problem solving
    • Commercial awareness and customer focus
    • Enthusiasm and motivation
    • Adaptability, flexibility, willingness
    • An ability to learn new skills quickly

    There is a skills shortage in this sector. The skills that graduates often lack are;

    • Business skills
    • Higher level technical skills
    • Sector knowledge/experience
    • Technical skills: programming languages, operations systems knowledge, network and infrastructure understanding and development skills.

    Research shows that employers want to attract high quality recruits to IT and computing, which means postgraduates, and specifically doctoral graduates, are very well placed to take advantage of this skills shortage. Doctoral study is not essential although it can provide an edge in an increasingly competitive job marketplace. A doctorate degree still needs to be supplemented by continuous personal skills development.

    It is predicted that the skills shift that is already taking place in the IT and computing sector from the UK to lower cost countries will continue to create challenges in terms of career paths and skills development.

    Source: CRAC

    The UCL IT & Technology Fair on Thursday 16th October 2014 is kindly sponsored by Cisco

    Application tips for engineering students

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 11 October 2014

    The engineering sector is similar to most others and it highly competitive. We’ve popped together some tips to help with the application process.

    Apply early

    First and foremost if you want an engineering graduate job or internship then you better get applying. Deadlines for graduate schemes and internships are different from those at university and applying early could give you a huge advantage. Although many jobs have ‘open’ deadlines or closing deadlines around the end of the year, it pays to take action in September and October as deadlines don’t tell the full story.

    Most employers assess applications as and when they are submitted. Many even hold assessment centres and make numerous job offers to early-bird candidates by the time the official closing date rolls round. This means that even though there are spaces left by the closing dates, there will be far more competition for fewer jobs.

    Consider jobs or internships at small engineering companies

    Don’t just look at big companies. By working for a smaller company you will often have more opportunities and responsibility than at a larger one. You’ll be amazed at the diverse range of smaller engineering consultancies that are able to offer graduates positions.

    Non-engineering experience can boost your CV

    • If you can’t find work experience in engineering, try to find a role that enables you to develop and demonstrate key skills (leading teams, problem solving, negotiating, etc) which can then be transferred to engineering.
    • While at university, get involved with as much as you possibly can while still maintaining a 2.1 level of degree. If you can demonstrate core skills that your degree probably doesn’t give you, you will be more employable.

    Be positive and passionate

    • Apply when you are in a positive state of mind.
    • Work on showing interest and passion. Create your own projects, follow your own processes, contribute to open source projects, etc.
    • Apply for jobs you have a passion for, and ignore how much they pay.
    • Your passion will show in your application/interview and you will be more likely to be successful.

    Research the industry you most want to work in…

    • Do your homework into the particular sector you are interested in to give you an extra edge.

    … but don’t get obsessed with an ‘ideal job’

    Get feedback on unsuccessful applications

    • Seek feedback from employers, especially after an interview. I found the most effective method to be phoning people rather than emailing as emails can be easily ignored!

    It’s not what you know…

    • Make use of any contacts you have already in jobs or the sector you want to work in. Networking is important: attending careers fairs and presentations are good starting points.

    For more career advice, search for graduate jobs and internships in the engineering sector please visit TARGETjobs Engineering.

    The UCL Careers Engineering fair on Monday 13th October is kindly sponsored by Targetjobs Engineering.

     

     

    Ever wondered what types of exercises are used at assessement centres for engineering graduate jobs?

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 9 October 2014

    Psst…. We have the answers.

    Assessment centres are used by most major recruiters as part of their selection process for their graduate engineering schemes. Although the content varies from company to company there are numerous common elements.

    Most assessment centres are designed around companies’ core competencies – the skills they need the most in their graduate engineers. Technical ability will obviously be tested, but be prepared to show your soft skills. There’s no point designing a brilliant new product or system if you can’t communicate the concept to colleagues, for example, or convince them of its potential value to the business.

    Typical activities:

    • Interviews: technical interviews, competency-based interviews or both
    • Group activities: these will often involve discussions and making decisions around a given business issue
    • Giving a presentation: you may be given the topic in advance and it may be something like discussing a technical project you have been previously involved in. Other employers give the topic on the day itself. This will often relate to the business and may involve candidates doing fact finding or decision making.
    • Tests: including psychometric tests, personality questionnaires, or test to check the basic understanding of engineering principles. Some employers also check candidates can extract relevant details from a large amount of information, and communicate the key points

    The social side of assessment centres

    Most assessment centres include opportunities to chat to recruiters or current employers. Use this chance to learn more about the business. Enthusiasm, interest in the company and good manners will go down well.

    Dealing with assessment centres nerves

    The more prepared you are the less nervous you will feel. Yan Zhou, a structural engineer and former Imperial College London student, talks about his preparation: ‘I collected information about the company and I tried to understand what kind of people the company was looking for. I also went to my careers service for advice and tips.’

    Assessors will do their best to put you at your ease. Yan says, ‘In my technical interview, the engineers gave me clues when I was facing difficulties, which made it less stressful.’

    Don’t start comparing yourself to other candidates. Employers are marking you against their selection criteria, not against other candidates. Keep the employer’s selection criteria in mind throughout the event.

    Don’t shy away! However nervous you feel, remember that to succeed at an assessment centre you need to participate fully. If the assessors don’t see or hear anything from you, they can’t assess you. It is important to get your points across – but don’t be overbearing or rude.

    You will have various opportunities to demonstrate your skills, so if you think you’ve not done so well on one activity, put it at the back of your mind and move on to the next task.

    Finally, remember this is not just the employers assessing you; this is your chance to find out more about the organisation, and learn more about the values, structure and culture in the workplace.

    For more career advice, search for graduate jobs and internships in the engineering sector please visit TARGETjobs Engineering

    The UCL Careers Engineering fair on Monday 13th October is kindly sponsored by Targetjobs Engineering.

    For the attention of logical thinkers!

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 8 October 2014

    Logical algorithms associated with science and developed in the effort to make sense of the world dominate your thinking patterns. You are studying fascinating ideas, structured theories and new ways to apply old ideas. There is an Engineering Fair on and you probably don’t really feel the pull to go and find out what is going on. The comfort of your course and academic work is too cosy for you.

    The Engineering Fair is on because employers are looking for people like you. The world needs logical thinkers and problem solvers. They want to use your clear thinking to achieve results, your objective mind to highlight causes and effects, or utilise your lateral thinking to bring valuable perspectives to light.

    The options for you are endless. You can work in technology, management, retail, law and financial professions.  In addition, many other specialist professions unrelated to your subject will be keen to harness your skills and train you. With so many choices, you have a challenge: which one to choose!

    Like many other decisions you have to make, such as buying a mobile phone or finding a place to live, the more investment of time and grey cells that you spend researching, analysing, reading and checking things out the more informed you will be to choose the right career option for you. The Engineering Fair is the kind of opportunity that you can utilise depending on your time investment and preparation.

    Make it your business to know their business and its relation to you.

    So don’t just come browsing mindlessly.

    • Research the companies’ products, services and the overall industry.
    • Look into the roles the companies offer and consider/ predict the roles that they are going to need in the future.
    • Look at their industry and think of questions to ask to enrich your base knowledge.
    • For your career planning, think of roles that you might be interested in, and then identify why you are interested and what goals you are trying to fulfil.
    • Challenge yourself by asking difficult questions about how you will shape your future.
    • Make notes of your thoughts and reflect on which ones can be used for discussions at the Engineering Fair.

    Use your talent to set targets to achieve at the fair in order to utilise this opportunity and draft a strategy to get the best out of the fair.

    You will be surprised when you finish your studies; networking opportunities disappear and will not be so readily accessible. You may wish you had made the most of these opportunities!

    The UCL Careers Engineering fair on Monday 13th October is kindly sponsored by Targetjobs Engineering.

     

     

    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

    3 ways to find our more about Management Consultancy

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 30 September 2014

    The Management Consultancy fair is kicking off our autumn careers fair schedule this year on Wednesday 1  October.Management Consultancy Fair

    If you’re thinking about coming to the fair, it’s a good idea to do your research on management consultancy beforehand so you can make the most of the opportunity to meet employers. These are three ways you can get informed and come prepared:

    The Management Consultancy fair is kicking off our autumn careers fair schedule this year on Wednesday 1 October.

    If you’re thinking about coming to the fair, it’s a good idea to do your research on management consultancy beforehand so you can make the most of the opportunity to meet employers. These are three ways you can get informed and come prepared:

    1. Search Careers Tagged, our online careers library

    Careers Tagged is full of information to help you at every stage of career planning, from thinking about your options to creating great CVs and job applications. All resources are picked and checked by careers professionals. Search for ‘management consultancy’ for links to professional bodies, industry news sites, job vacancy sites, and more:

    http://www.careerstagged.co.uk/resources/management%20consultancy/all/popular/1

    1. Check out the TARGETjobs guide to management consultancy

    This is a really useful guide with insights into major management consultancy employers, what employers are looking for, and how to demonstrate your skills in applications and interviews. Come in to UCL Careers on the fourth floor of  Student Central (ULU building) to get a copy to take away (subject to availability), or the full guide is available online:

    http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/management-consulting

    1. Research the job market on What Do London Graduates Do

    What Do London Graduates Do is a website for information on what graduates from University of London colleges have gone on to do in the last 5 years. It can give you real life information on recent graduates working in management consultancy. Search by the job ‘management consultants’ on http://wlgd.thecareersgroup.co.uk/ to see how many graduates are working in management consultancy, the companies where they’ve found jobs, the salaries they’re earning, and how they got jobs: http://wlgd.thecareersgroup.co.uk/Details/JobTitle/24231

    Looking at this can give you valuable insights into how to approach your job hunt. For example, you can see that 32% of graduates working in management consultancy found out about their jobs through personal contacts and networking, and 21% through previously working at the company. So networking and getting work experience are clearly important if you’re considering management consultancy. Coming to the Management Consultancy Fair is a great way to start networking and meeting employers.

    The UCL Careers Management Consultancy Fair on Wednesday 1st October 2014 is kindly sponsored by Accenture