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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    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

    Presence and empowering yourself

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 19 February 2016

    Do you ever come out of a stressful situation, for  example  after an interview, and think to yourself that you didn’t really show yourself in your best light? Yes? Me, too, on occasion.

    So, here is one small trick that might help you overcome that feeling and improve your interview performance. Of course it’s no substitute for being well prepared and doing all your research before the event. It comes from a Harvard Business School psychologist called Amy Cuddy (find her on Twitter here) – you might have seen her hugely popular TED talk about body language shaping who you are – it’s here if you haven’t seen it.

    Amy was in London last week and I was lucky enough to see her give a presentation about presence and the power of power posing. Just 2 minutes standing in a power pose like superman or wonder woman (do this in private please!) can help you to become calmer and more focussed  to give you presence before a big event. She has data that shows it will increase your good hormone levels and decrease you anxiety levels. Why not try it and see? And for all that other preparation, such as talking through what to expect in an interview come and see your friendly careers consultants at UCL Careers or  attend some of our employer led preparation events that we hold – sign up to find out about them all here at UCL Alert.

    By Kate Woods, UCL Careers Consultant

    The ultimate guide to video interviews

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 30 November 2015

    This post originally appeared on the TARGETjobs Bloggers site

    We all want to get  that brilliant job, but knowing how to present yourself to employers can be challenging, especially on video. We have chatted to Inspiring Interns about their tips to acing video interviews. Whether you’re a graduate or making a career change, this is the guide for you.

    What is a video interview?

    In today’s ever-changing world, video interviews are becoming more and more common. Depending on which survey you read, at least 60% of companies are now using video interviews at some stage in their hiring process. There are many books for graduates on how to excel in an interview – but what if all you have is a screen? This can actually be to your advantage. This guide will teach you how to excel in your video interview, so that you can land your dream job.

    There are two different types of video interviews; Live, and One-way. A ‘live’ interview is when you and your employer talk in real time, as you would in an in-person interview. The benefit of a live interview is that you can build rapport with the interviewer, and gain an immediate sense of the company’s culture. A one-way interview is when you are sent the pre-set questions, and given a time-frame in which to respond with a video recording of yourself answering them. The benefit of a one-way interview is that you have time to think through your answers.

    How to prepare for a video interview

    When preparing for a video interview, the lighting is essential. You may answer the questions well, but if the interviewer is struggling to make you out you will leave a bad impression. Using lamps in your room, make sure your face is clear and well lit – open up your webcam and check how you look from the cameras perspective.

    What you sit in front of when you do the video interview is very important. Your background needs to be clean, neat, and uncluttered. Remover everything you can, so that there is nothing to distract the interviewer from your answers. If you can find a plain white or cream wall, that is best.

    How you dress is also important. If you are applying for an internship at a start-up that advertises a fun company culture on their website, don’t wear a suit and tie. If you are applying to a law firm, a suit and tie is best. Here is a link with a list of roles and the best way to dress appropriately to help you get hired.

    Rehearsing your answers is the most essential preparation you can do to be recruited. There’s a reason actors rehearse scenes, and sport professionals train for the big race. On the day, when the spot-light is on you and it’s your turn to shine – you need to be prepared. Have a look at this list of general interview questions to practice answering. As well as rehearsing these, brainstorm other questions you could be asked, and practice your answers to those too.

    TIP: It is important you sit in the chair you will be interviewed in, in your interview clothes, with the lighting on, looking directly into the camera while you rehearse. Actors rehearse their lines on set so their mind and body learn how to perform together. You need to rehearse your lines on set, so that in the interview you look natural, feel confident, and know exactly what you are going to say.

    I experienced a video interview when going through the application process to get my job here at Inspiring Interns. I was surprised how well it worked! The interview went really well, and through video I got a very clear idea of Inspiring Interns, the people and the great company culture. A video interview made more sense than a standard interview as it saved a lot of time in travel. I lived in the North of England, so travelling to London would have been very time consuming. My number one tip is treat it exactly like a face-to face-interview; dress to impress, use positive body language and make sure you’re in a quiet environment.‘ – Tyler Milner Marketing Executive

    Technology needed for video interviews

    To conduct a video interview, you will need a webcam, headphones, and microphone – all of good quality. Most laptops come with these, but not all are good. Test the quality of yours with friends (on a skype call or google hangout). If the image or sound isn’t good enough, it is worth investing in buying a webcam or headphones with a microphone. This link compares the best webcams, and this one compares the best headphone/microphone combinations.

    Ideally, be connected to the router physically rather than using Wi-Fi. If you only have access to Wi-Fi, make sure you’re not more than a few meters away from the router to ensure a strong internet connection. We recommend troubleshooting your internet connection so that you can be assured the call won’t disconnect or lag during your interview. If you have a Mac, click here for the steps to troubleshoot. If you are using windows software, click here. Also, make sure no one else will be using the Wi-Fi at the same time as your video interview. To check the speed of your internet, use Ookla Speedtest.

    Based on seven years’ experience arranging interviews, some of which have been online, we often hear from employers how much they love video interviews. They save them time, while still giving a clear impression of the candidate and a sense that it’s a real interview – as opposed to a phone call.’ – Benedict Hazan, Head of Innovation

    Tips and tricks for the interview 

    When choosing your outfit, avoid wearing anything white. It can come across as distractingly bright. Body language speaks louder than words – if you say you are confident while slouching and shifting your gaze, the interviewer will not believe you. Posture – sit up straight, shoulders relaxed, and back. Look directly at the webcam (make sure you rehearse this while practicing your answers). Check out this link which shows poses to do before your interview to increase your confidence.

    Before the interview, remind yourself how amazing you are. We live in a culture which doesn’t encourage us to feel proud of ourselves – forget about that for the moment. Who cares what society thinks. You are amazing. You’ve achieved things, felt nervous and done them anyway, and produced good work. Be proud of who you are.

    Be proud of the value you can add to a company. Many graduates go into an interview hoping to get the internship, and hoping to get paid well, while feeling on a lower level than the interviewer. Realize that they are interviewing you because of the potential value you can add their company. And they’re not the only ones interviewing – you should be interviewing them as well. Ask questions to find out whether it’s a company you would actually enjoy working for. This will impress them, and give you the information you need to know whether you would want to accept the job or not.

    As an internship recruitment agency we love graduates who come in passionate, confident, and asking questions to make sure the job is the right fit for them long-term. Here is Nicole’s success story to show you the internship possibilities that are waiting for you around the corner.

    Checklists


    Setting up the space:

    • Lighting
    • Comfortable chair
    • Appropriate clothes
    • Clean uncluttered background

    Equipment checklist:

    • Camera
    • Headphones and mic
    • The program you will be interviewed through (likely to be skype or google hangout)

    Preparation:

    • Rehearse your answers
    • Do the powerful postures
    • Remember you are interviewing them too

    List of Links

    For more information, contact Catherine from Inspiring Interns at catherine@inspiringinterns.com

    Top Tips for Group Exercises at Assessment Centres

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 26 November 2015

    The cost of each graduate hire in 2014/15 was £3,396 (excluding law firms) according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) in their 2015 Graduate Recruitment Survey. Law firms are excluded as they tend to skew the figures with an average hire cost of £12,682. This figure includes marketing the vacancies and carrying out the recruitment activities. The high figure is not totally surprising, given that AGR reported 91.8% of their members use assessment centres or group selection methods in their application process. These are expensive activities, due to their intensive nature and the number of assessors required to run the activities. For this reason, only candidates that recruiters are really serious about are invited to attend. So if you do get that invitation email, you can be confident the recruiter very much likes what they know about you so far.

    Mock Assessment Centre

    One of the common activities at assessment centres (and one that candidates often most worry about) is the ‘group exercise’. This is essentially a time when a small group of candidates are asked to work together to debate, discuss or plan something. The activity could involve a role play exercise, when each candidate is given a brief and asked to ‘fight their corner’ (for example there could be some funding that has to be spent and each candidate has to argue for why it should be spent in their area). Alternatively, it could be that candidates are asked to debate a work-related or news-related issue from their own, genuine perspective. Or there could be a work-related briefing paper and all candidates are asked to come up with a solution to the issues presented between them.

    For all these activities, the candidates will be marked by the observing assessors on the content of what is said as well as team behaviours. Here are 5 top tips on the type of team behaviours that you may wish to exhibit!

    • Speak early – if you are nervous, the earlier you can speak up, the better. The longer you leave it to speak, the more you may feel the expectation to say something amazing with your first words. This is a common fear that others have reported to us and it just compounds the nerves! So start by getting everyone to introduce themselves, or by summarising the issue. Anything, as long as you have broken your silence early.
    • Be clear and concise – speak clearly and confidently and try to say your points in the most concise way possible. Be assertive but not aggressive. If you start to waffle, you are wasting time and this will not only irritate the other candidates (who may interrupt you) but it may also mean that your assessor knocks points off your score. Start with your main statement / idea and then elaborate as necessary. Even if you do then get interrupted, at least the key idea has been put across.
    • Be respectful to the other candidates – yes, you are in competition with them but that does not mean that you need to talk over them or shout them down. It is much better to be seen as a facilitator, that keeps the conversation flowing and on track. If you feel someone is dominating the discussion, try to verbally summarise what they are saying and ask if others have anything they wish to add (adding your own ideas too). If someone is really quiet, try to bring them into the conversation by asking them if they have anything to add. Remembering and using the other candidates’ names is also a plus.
    • Use non-verbal communication – show you are actively listening to other candidates through eye contact and nodding (if appropriate!) Use your hands to emphasise important points. Also be aware of how you are sitting. Leaning forward slightly gives the impression of interest in the conversation. Also, arms uncrossed gives an impression that you are open to the ideas that are coming and happy to engage with others.
    • Demonstrate your organisational skills – take on the role of time-keeper. Keep the conversation on track and if you feel that time is running out, make sure you ask the group to move onto the next point. Summarise where you think the group has got to, and take brief notes if that helps. Maybe take on the role of summarising to the assessors at the end if that is what is required as well.

    If you are looking for more information about assessment centres and group exercises, look at the UCL Careers webpages: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/information/interviews

    Good luck!

    – Karen Barnard, Director, UCL Careers

     

    Using LinkedIn Effectively

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 27 October 2015

    This blog post orginially appeared on the QM Careers & Enterprise blog

    When used effectively LinkedIn can be a really useful tool to help you find your perfect job

    The use of social networking sites like LinkedIn are increasingly important in recruitment. LinkedIn is a professional networking site, where you can fill out your educational background, work history, skills and interests. Far more than an online resume, LinkedIn is a very rich, customizable, multi-faceted personal branding platform. There are tens of thousands of professionals on this site, with whom you can connect as individuals or via interest groups. It is becoming increasingly important to manage your personal branding online; with a smart profile and well-honed strategy, LinkedIn can become your powerful partner in long-range personal branding and career management.

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    When getting started with LinkedIn:

    • Don’t be tempted to use LinkedIn as a professional Facebook page. Only write appropriate updates and comments.
    • Have a profile image. A professional headshot is recommended.
    • Complete your profile. Make it easier for people to find you by including your name, location, education, skills and experience.
    • Add connections. Begin by searching for people you already know.
    • Get recommendations and endorsements. Ask people who have worked with you to give you a recommendation or endorsement.
    • Participate with groups. Become an active member of groups, share content and engage.
    • Update your information regularly, you never know when recruiters might be looking at your page.

    Top tips for using LinkedIn to network

    • Find the right people: Search for companies and job titles that you’re interested in.
    • Ask for help and be clear: Ask something specific like, ‘I’d like to know how you started out in your chosen career?’
    • Personalise: Why are you reaching out to this person? Do you have a shared connection or admire their career path?
    • Be considerate: Understand that time is very important and explain that you’d really appreciate as little as 10 minutes.
    • Follow up: You might not hear back straight away, but do politely follow up about two weeks later.

    How to make the most of the IT and Technology Fair by EE

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 20 October 2015

    UCL students and recent graduates are in the midst of Careers Fair season and one of our Fair sponsors, EE, have shared some top tips ahead of the IT and Technology Fair happening this week:

    > Prepare by finding out information about the company, to use as a conversation starter – it will also show you’ve put the effort in
    > Aim to get email addresses or LinkedIn connections
    > Handing out paper CVs will have limited impact
    > Don’t bombard your contacts with emails after the fair
    > Try to think of appropriate questions in advance to shape the conversation

    To get more indepth tips on how to prepare for the IT and Technology Fair, have a read of our “How to prepare for our Careers Fair” post

    The IT and Technology Fair 2015 is kindly sponsored by EE and Cisco and takes place on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd October, 5:30 – 8pm, North and South Cloisters.

    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

    10 Reasons Why Graduates Sink or Swim in the Workplace

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 6 October 2015

    Carla King, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers, managed large-scale, high profile graduate development programmes for over seven years in industry before deciding to make the change and help UCL students. Using her experience, she has listed the top 10 reasons why Graduates Sink or Swim in the workplace.

    Swimming in the Dead Sea Swimming in the Dead Sea/Christian Haugen/Flickr.com

    1. Managing Expectations

    One challenge graduates face is a mismatch between their own expectations and those of their new organisation. As difficult as it can be gleaning information up front about the role,  flexibility is essential. Most graduates quickly appreciate the need to work their way up and to seize opportunities. The most successful graduates are those who embrace whatever comes at them.

    1. Integrating and building relationships

    A really insightful way of integrating into an organisation quickly is to make new contacts as quickly as possible. This means speaking to people outside of your team at every available opportunity, be it after a meeting or at the coffee machine.  The more you find out what people do the quicker you will be able to link your work with theirs that may potentially benefit your team.

    1. Managing workload effectively

    Whilst you are likely to have only one line manager, invariably you will be working for multiple people on a daily basis. The key thing here is to manage your time well by blocking time in your diary, ensuring you keep to deadlines and managing your stakeholders’ expectations. If you’re struggling to meet a deadline, you should be transparent and tell people in good time, ie. 5pm on a Friday will not leave a good impression.

    1. Your profile and reputation

    As you begin to achieve and build on your skills, it can be easy to become complacent. Graduates will sometimes fall into the trap of either only doing the basics of what is required or falling in with a negative crowd. Be aware of the risk that may stem from not going above and beyond, and of not being discreet. Once an impression is made, it’s difficult to un-do and your reputation is likely to precede you.

    1. Seizing opportunities

    With every job there are the boring bits – don’t let it put you off! Most managers are happy for you to take on things that interest you as long as it won’t impact your work. Think about what you can comfortably do without impinging on your work. What might be an obstacle to you gaining the opportunity?  What will reassure your manager?

    1. Managing upwards

    One of the largest of graduate complaints is a perceived lack of management or misunderstanding. Often, managers manage other staff as well as having their own large workloads. If you would like a catch-up, or to speak to your manager about something confidential, why not put half an hour in their diary if they have not already done so? If there is a project/ area you would like to get involved with, talk to them about it – line managers are not mind-readers!

    1. Making mistakes

    Graduates have to learn about a new organisation, circumvent office politics, attend skills training, master a new role, all in a very short time. It’s a very steep learning curve. Making mistakes in your first ‘real’ role is to be expected. However, the way in which you deal with mistakes is what stands you out from others. Be responsible, transparent and think of a counter-measure so it will not happen again.

    1. Challenging constructively

    Most organisations will talk about needing fresh ideas.  However, it’s how you communicate those ideas that will get you heard. At university, you may be used to challenging others in a social context. In an organisational context, you have to use professional language, logical thinking, and not to be bullish in your approach.

    1. Technical vs Behavioural

    Graduates sometimes believe that all they need to be is technically brilliant. However, the reality is that in every role you need to communicate, influence, work in a team, sometimes lead on a project and be motivated. You will leave university with a specific skills set but your employer has recruited you on your potential. It is only with time and experience that the workplace will give you that which will make you into a well-rounded employee. Time is your friend, not your foe.

    1. Resilience

    Over your time in education, you will have received lots of feedback. However, in a work context, feedback is different. As well as commenting on your technical ability, you will also have feedback on how you behave, e.g. why didn’t you contribute in that meeting? How might you handle yourself differently? The purpose of feedback is to increase your self-awareness to help you to adapt and improve. When receiving feedback, thank the person, digest the feedback, implement it and move on.

    If you need advice on what is expected of you, book a Short Guidance session with a Careers Consultant

    – Carla King, 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.

    Careers in Theatre Round up

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 28 April 2015

    As part of University of London’s Careers in the Creative Industries webinar series, we invited Jethro Compton – a writer, director and independent theatre producer – to come in and answer your questions.  Jethro

    Jethro had five top tips to share with aspiring theatre professionals:

     

    1. Don’t talk about doing it – just do it!

    When you’re networking with people in the industry, it helps if you can talk about work you have actually done, rather than saying you ‘haven’t got started yet’.  Jethro pointed out that lots of people starting out are too scared of failure to take their first steps into the industry – but he stressed how important it was to start doing something, and not to be put off by the few people who find success in the industry with little struggle.  For example, whilst Jethro was an undergraduate at the University of York, he started his network at the Drama Society.  Your college may have one, and maybe even a separate society for technical theatre folk!

     

    1. Let your work speak for itself (and you).

    Jethro is an advocate for concentrating more on making good work that makes an impact, rather than worrying too much about promoting your professional self.  But he recognises it’s also important to build contacts and network – even if this doesn’t come naturally to you.

     

    1. Aim high – don’t be afraid of failure.

    Tied into the above points, don’t be afraid to have goals that push you outside of your comfort zone.  The important thing is not to get disheartened if things don’t go to plan immediately!  Measuring yourself against others is a waste of time – set your own realistic goals and use them to evaluate your progress – that might just mean asking yourself at the end of a long week: am I happy?  Have I made it through the week?  A positive mental attitude is extremely important – it shows…

     

    1. Always be nice!  Never feel entitled.

    The theatre industry is a small world and word gets around if you have a bad attitude, making you difficult to work with.  Like any industry, it is important to nurture positive relationships by being enthusiastic, willing and happy to help.  Recognise that everyone in the industry is struggling, and remember that you never know when you might need this person on side.  Obviously you should never be so willing as to be exploited – but use your judgement and avoid sounding like the world owes you a favour.  This means making your own opportunities rather than wondering why the phone isn’t ringing with offers of work.

     

    1. Be patient – it’s all about the long-game. 

    When you’re networking (and networking can happen by email or even Twitter – it’s not all about schmoozing at drinks receptions), try to treat it more like a connection between two like-minded people, rather than immediately assessing who is going to ‘get something out of it’.  Jethro told us about cups of coffee he’s had with people in the industry that are initially just about sharing what you do – and then, a few months down the line, these connections can turn into them helping you out with last minute props, them coming to see your show, or more.  Try to see the long-game when you’re making these connections and nurture them over time.

    The financial struggles of the industry

    Although he now runs his own independent production company, Jethro has worked with a lot of freelancers.  His tip for those of you who are considering freelancing, particularly if you are looking at acting or writing, where it can be difficult to get longer-term freelance jobs, is try to supplement these by using your skills in the technical aspects of theatre.  Lighting technicians and stage managers etc are always in short supply in the industry, so if you can develop skills in this area you can diversify your offering.

    On the flip side, Jethro has also had a salaried role working for a West End producer – in some areas like production, one year salaried posts are more common.  Obviously whilst this was more financially secure, Jethro didn’t have so much time or freedom to pursue his own creative agenda.

     

    Jethro’s pick of resources:

    For aspiring producers: Stage One awarded Jethro his first bursary and, if you’re interested in the technical side of theatre, they offer paid apprenticeships , workshops and seminars.

    The Stage

    Twitter – Producers, directors, agents and casting directors will put out the majority of their calls for actors and other staff on Twitter.  Twitter is a legitimate networking tool in the theatre industry, so use it well (and wisely)!

     

    Look out for Jethro’s productions, as well as his workshops and seminars, at the Edinburgh Festival 2015.  More webinars from the Careers in Creative Industries group are coming soon.

     

    See also: Wannabe Creatives – Have You Considered the ‘Passion’ vs ‘Security’ Trade-off?