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

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 8 January 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

    > Attend Careers Fairs and Employer Events

     

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

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

    > Apply for internships for summer through UCL JobOnline

    > Attend our Global Citizenship Employability Programme
     

    > Attend our Focus on Management course

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

    > Gain work experience during the summer

     

    > Career Planning

    > Attend Careers Fairs and Employer Events

    > Identify Graduate Schemes & Apply

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

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

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

    > Join UCL Careers Graduates  (once your course finishes)

    > Follow steps above

     

     

     

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

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

    Good luck!

    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

     

    UCL wins at the Undergraduate of the Year awards

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 27 April 2015

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

    UCL finalists UGOTY

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

    UCL had 6 students shortlisted:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “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