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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  • Science Communication and Science Policy Forum

    By Sophia Donaldson, on 16 March 2018

    Did you come to our Careers in Science Communication and Science Policy forum earlier this month? No? Well fret not! You haven’t missed out because we’ve summarised the key points below.

    Who were the speakers?

    David Robson, a freelance writer and editor, previously at New Scientist and BBC Future, currently writing his first book THE INTELLIGENCE TRAP: Why Smart People Make Stupid Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them, which will be published in Spring 2019.

    Iain Dodgeon, Strategic Ventures Manager in the Wellcome Trust’s Public Engagement team, where he’s helped develop science-related entertainment in the form of games, TV, and films. Iain is a former medical doctor.

    Rose Gray, Senior Policy Advisor at Cancer Research UK. Rose is a UCL Chemistry alumnus, who built up a range of science communications experiences while studying, including working with Guerrilla Science.

    Sam Dick, a Science Information and Policy Officer at The Institute of Cancer Research, who completed his PhD in Structural Biology at UCL before moving into policy work via voluntary and internship roles at The National AIDS Trust and the Humsafar Trust in India.

    Aalia Kazi, an Account Manager at Incisive Health, a healthcare communications agency that focuses on policy and policy makers. Aalia is a UCL MSc Cardiovascular Science alumnus, who first joined Incisive Health as an intern after volunteering for Doctors of the World UK.

    And Jayne Hibberd, Associate Director at Galliard Healthcare Communications, whose role focuses on global communications strategies for her clients. As Associate Director, Jayne helps shape the future direction and day-to-day business of the agency.

    What do they like about working in Science Communications and Science Policy?

    Everyone agreed working with bright motivated people – whether they’re other communicators, scientists whose research must be communicated, or policy makers being communicated to – was one of the best things about working in these two sometimes overlapping sectors. Jayne values the insight she gains into her pharmaceutical company agency clients driving exciting scientific developments. As a popular science writer, David especially enjoys working with art departments of magazines on displaying stories effectively.

    Many felt being attached to science, which most of the panellists studied at university, was a draw, as were daily tasks of writing and crafting arguments, and the variety of scientific topics covered by both those communicating to the public and to policy makers. Iain mentioned working for an organisation like Wellcome, which is independent from government and commercial pressures, is liberating.

    Aalia, Rose, and Sam agreed that knowing their policy work influences real changes that impact real people’s lives is one of the best things about their jobs. Rose gave the example of having reports she’s worked on read by the secretary of state, and seeing beneficial legislation passed in part as a result.

    What are the worst bits?

    The variety of topics covered can have a downside, potentially leading to overload and stress. The hours can sometimes be long, and working late occasionally means cancelling social plans. Though the hours and deadlines seemed more of an issue for those working with clients, they were also mentioned by David when he’s scheduling interviews with researchers overseas outside of working hours due to time differences. David also commented that getting negative feedback on your writing from editors can be very tough at first, so you need to develop a thick skin.

    Aalia and Jayne have clients, and though they both value working with them, they acknowledged it can also be demanding, a bit like having multiple bosses. The client-focused nature of the work also means they both have to account for their time very precisely in order to bill clients, a different way of doing things to the other speakers.

    For those in policy, the flip side of the rewards gained when important change is effected is that it can be frustrating when something you’re passionate about doesn’t work out, or when change is only incremental. Additionally, the work is dictated in part by political whims rather than simply by the science.

    Will getting a science communication or policy qualification help you get in?

    None of the speakers had one of these qualifications so clearly it’s not a prerequisite! Those in science communication mentioned that the qualification can be a great way to build networks which may be valuable, but that the science communication world is fairly small so you can build useful networks through your working life without the qualification too. Rose commented that having a policy qualification shows motivation, but in her team at CRUK relevant policy work experience is likely to be prized above a qualification. And some people undertake a policy qualification after already working in the sector for a while in order to get maximum value from the experience.

    Any tips for those wanting to enter the sector?

    The overwhelming advice from the panel was to do stuff. Lots of stuff. Even if you don’t know where it will lead. This reflected the speakers’ career paths. Whether it was Iain leading a comedy group and securing funding for a film-making course while at university, Rose working in a hospital alongside her study and learning she didn’t want to be a medic but she did want to influence change over the NHS, or Sam volunteering in policy and outreach during his PhD and realising this was the work he enjoyed the most, all of the speakers had stories of taking a punt on something they thought looked interesting without necessarily having a ‘career plan’ in mind. In retrospect their narratives make sense, fitting together nicely into a career story. But none of them knew that at the time. They simply tried stuff, learning about themselves and the working world in the process.

    The panel also advised reaching out to people. Most will be happy to tell you about their experiences and offer advice, some may even be able to give you a job. Jayne in particular shared that she would be impressed by the motivation of someone who was proactive enough to contact a professional and show an interest in their work.

    For aspiring journalists, David extolled the virtues of starting a writing career in a small industry publication or local newspaper as a way of creating a portfolio and getting valuable feedback on your writing. He also advised being bold and pitching story ideas to publications like New Scientist who are always looking for great feature ideas. And if a pitch gets accepted, ask to be paid.

    And finally, Rose recommended visiting UCL Careers. In her words, Rose “absolutely rinsed” us when she was exploring her career options, and found our help very useful.

    Assistant Management Accountant: Inspire Me

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 24 August 2016

    September 2016 sees the first cohort of students starting at the new School of Management postgraduate campus at Level 38, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf. Located just one floor above is Level39, Europe’s largest technology accelerator space for finance, cyber-security, retail and smart-city technology companies. Level39 offer small businesses the space and support to grow, through a tailored curriculum, expert mentors, and a variety of events, and have helped entrepreneurs turn simple products into multi-million pound businesses.UCL School of Management’s Employer & Alumni Engagement Officer, Ally Hawley, spoke with UCL alumna Vesela Vukova to discuss her role at Level39.

    Vesela Vukova

    Vesela studied the Finance Pathway of Masters in Management, graduating in 2015, and is now an Assistant Management Accountant at Level39.

    How did you get into your role?

    In my third term at UCL School of Management I was doing a consultancy project that was focussed on technology and co-working environments in London. I was doing some market research and Level39 just stood out from the other places I had researched as an amazing place! It is the largest accelerator for fintech, cyber security, retail and smart cities led technology companies. I checked their website careers section frequently and an opportunity came up, I applied and got the job!

    What are the best things about working in your role?

    I love that my role goes beyond crunching numbers, it’s about understanding what stands behind the numbers, and what can be done in the future to accelerate a company’s growth. Also I like that my role involves working with all the stakeholders of Level39, from Team39 to our parent company Canary Wharf Group, to Level39’s members, to the suppliers that we use.

    What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

    I previously worked in corporate banking and in this role the answers to all the questions that came up in my job were either written down somewhere, or there would be a department within the organisation to help. In start-up industries there is no guidance already written, you must set up the processes and procedures, which can be really challenging. On the positive side Level39 has a really entrepreneurial team and we always find a way around the problems that we face.

    What does a typical day in your job involve?

    My job is really diverse, there is no typical day. Some days I’m focussed on accounting and financial reporting as that is a major part of my role. Some days I am meeting with suppliers or meeting with Level39 members to support them with financial matters. Other days I will work on other projects with my Level39 Team, for example helping to integrate a new system.

    What skills are important in this role?

    Problem solving is really important, as are attention to details, pro-activity and people skills.

    What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

    In general terms I would advise students to develop their networking skills and to search for opportunities that are out there. More specifically in relation to my role I would advise them to develop their problem solving skills. One way to do this is by obtaining as much knowledge as possible either from lectures, case studies or any other UCL activities. The real life cases that I studied as part of my Masters really helped me to gain practical, hands on experience.

    What do you think about the new Canary Wharf Campus for UCL SoM Post Graduate Students?

    It is quite similar to the reason why Level39 is located here. Fintech, Cyber Security, retail and smart cities are all present right here in Canary Wharf. Being here makes it much easier to connect with organisations in these sectors, as well as the other located here such as banking and finance. This is the same for students, it is much easier for them to attend employer events, interviews and internships. It also means it will be easier to attract high quality employers to come onto campus and engage with students. I definitely think that students will benefit from being based at Canary Wharf!

    To find out more about the School of Management and its Canary Wharf Campus go to: https://www.mgmt.ucl.ac.uk/

    To find out more about Level39 visit: www.level39.co

    Why arts and humanities degrees are valuable for your career: you can build on your degree

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 17 August 2016

    You can build on your degree

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    Your degree forms part of your CV, but potential employers will be just as interested – in fact, probably more so – in your work experience. Leaving university without having completed any internships, work experience, part-time work, or volunteering could leave you in a far rockier position than taking an English degree.

    Even if you don’t really know what you want to do when you graduate, it’s worth trying to get some experience under your belt around the edges of your degree. Doing a summer internship will act as proof to employers that you are motivated to work and have an understanding of being in a work environment.

    And the best thing about doing an arts and humanities degree is that you are very much in charge of your own time. You can certainly fit in some volunteering or work with societies around those five contact hours (and forty hours of reading) a week. Balancing your studies and other responsibilities can be tricky at first, but will set up well for the future.

    “Why arts and humanities degrees are valuable for your career” is a guest blog series written by Claire Kilroy.  Claire works as a content writer for leading graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns. If you’re looking to get a start in your career, take a look at their graduate jobs London vacancies, or for more graduate careers advice, head over to their blog.

     

    Why arts and humanities degrees are valuable for your career: you have a treasure trove of skills

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 16 August 2016

    You have a treasure trove of skills

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    Communication skills? Excellent command of written English? Innovative problem solver? Research and analysis? Organisation and self-motivation? Creativity? If you took or are taking an arts and humanities degree, then some or all of these must apply to you. These are the ‘transferable skills’ that your degree has given you.

    ‘Transferable skills’ is a buzz-phrase that you won’t emerge from your degree without hearing to the point of being sick of it. But happily, it is a genuinely useful way of marketing yourself to a potential employer. When you graduate, most employers won’t expect you to have huge amounts of specific industry expertise, but they will certainly be on the lookout for soft skills.

    In a 2014 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, over 70% of employers surveyed rated leadership, team-work, written communication, and problem-solving as the qualities they look for first in a graduate job-seeker. These are skills that arts grads generally rate highly in.

    Just remember, writing a list of skills and sending it off won’t impress an employer – you need to provide examples from your experience that prove you’ve got the goods.

    “Why arts and humanities degrees are valuable for your career” is a guest blog series written by Claire Kilroy.  Claire works as a content writer for leading graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns. If you’re looking to get a start in your career, take a look at their graduate jobs London vacancies, or for more graduate careers advice, head over to their blog.

    Why arts and humanities degrees are valuable for your career: university is worth enjoying

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 15 August 2016

    University is worth enjoying

    Title: ILGWU Local 25 couples enjoy social dancing at the ILGWU Workers University, April 18, 1955. Arthur W. Calhoun is present. Image from the Kheel Center.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Image: ILGWU Local 25 couples enjoy social dancing at the ILGWU Workers University, April 18, 1955. Arthur W. Calhoun is present. Image from the Kheel Center.

    Getting a degree takes three or more years, so it’s definitely worth taking something you have a genuine interest in. Long hours in the library, all-nighters spent smashing out essays, and straining to understand complex theories all take their toll even if you love the subject; if you don’t, you could burn out.

    There’s also the fact that on the whole, we tend to enjoy the subjects we’re good at. If you’re choosing between a ‘sensible’ degree that you would struggle with and one you love and are good at, the latter is the better choice. Employers care to some extent what you studied, but they also care about what grade you received.

    Many graduate schemes have qualification requirements, such as excluding anyone who received less than a 2:1. Other employers might not specify grade requirements, but use them to filter applications. Of course those with lower grades often still manage to get the career of their dreams, but picking a subject that you know you’ll do well in is certainly worthwhile.

    “Why arts and humanities degrees are valuable for your career” is a guest blog series written by Claire Kilroy.  Claire works as a content writer for leading graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns. If you’re looking to get a start in your career, take a look at their graduate jobs London vacancies, or for more graduate careers advice, head over to their blog.

    Why arts and humanities degrees are valuable for your career: you have plenty of options

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 12 August 2016

    You have plenty of options

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    Your career does not have to be determined by the degree that you take. So no matter how many times people ask you, studying English doesn’t mean you have to become an English teacher, and a Philosophy degree doesn’t condemn you to a life of writing intellectual homilies and trying to grow a distinguished beard.

    In fact, an arts or humanities degree sets you up to go into pretty much any career you want, except of course those few that, like medicine, demand certain qualifications. Unfortunately, ‘History graduate’ will rarely be written on a job specification, but there are lots of other ways you can fit the bill.

    As well as careers in anything from media, marketing, and finance, arts graduates can go on to have successful careers in the tech sector. It may not seem like the most natural fit, and you may encounter some raised eyebrows, but many leaders in the industry believe in the importance of hiring people with different academic backgrounds.

    In 2010, Steve Jobs attributed Apple’s success to the fact the company didn’t rely on technology alone, but rather ‘technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities’. Non-techies have to understand the technology they’re working with, but their ability to visualise multiple solutions to one problem, and to translate paragraphs of jargon into plain language makes them highly valuable.

    “Why arts and humanities degrees are valuable for your career” is a guest blog series written by Claire Kilroy.  Claire works as a content writer for leading graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns. If you’re looking to get a start in your career, take a look at their graduate jobs London vacancies, or for more graduate careers advice, head over to their blog.

    Why arts and humanities degrees are valuable for your career

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 11 August 2016

    Image: The Temple of the Liberal Arts, with the City of Bern and Minerva. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Image: The Temple of the Liberal Arts, with the City of Bern and Minerva. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

    If you choose to study an arts or humanities subject, you’ll probably come across a lot of false assumptions about your degree. Some – ‘you never do any work’ – won’t put you off, but others can be a bit worrying, especially the idea that your choice of degree will make you less employable than someone taking a technical subject.

    Arts and humanities aren’t vocational degrees, and don’t lead straight to many clearly defined career paths. While you wrack your brains for ideas about what you want to do, there will be times when you envy a friend studying medicine for their certainty about what they want to do. There will be other moments when you wish you’d taken an engineering degree and had employers lining up to hire you.

    But there’s no reason to despair! Over the next week, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts covering four great reasons why studying an arts or humanities degree can have a positive impact on your career prospects. Watch this space…

    “Why arts and humanities degrees are valuable for your career” is a guest blog series written by Claire Kilroy.  Claire works as a content writer for leading graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns. If you’re looking to get a start in your career, take a look at their graduate jobs London vacancies, or for more graduate careers advice, head over to their blog.

    Performance Marketing Reconciliations Analyst: Inspire Me

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 28 April 2016

    As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Sophie Neal talks to us about her role at NMPi, an award-winning digital agency in Islington. Sophie graduated from UCL with an MSci in Physics in 2015 and now works as a Performance Marketing Reconciliations Analyst. Here she shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into the sector. For more insights from recent graduates working for smaller organisations, visit https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-careers/ and search #SMEProfile.

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    How did you get into your role?

    I got talking to someone in the company who recommended it to me. Through email, I asked about any job shadowing or intern positions and was contacted a couple of months later. I had a phone interview and came in to meet my would-be manager and started an internship. A couple of months later I was offered a job!

    What does a typical day in your job involve?

    My days can vary quite a lot depending on the time of the month and year. I always make sure to check my emails first thing when I come in – if anything has happened overnight I will be immediately alerted and we often receive messages from clients as a growing number are based internationally. Tasks for the day can then include preparing reports that are due to go out, checking and recording any payments that have come in, building new or updating existing accounts or chasing payment issues.

    What skills are important in this role?

    Being proactive is important as it’s easy for work to mount up quickly. Problem-solving skills can also come in handy.

    What are the best things about working in your role?

    There are lots of things I love about my role. I love the fact that at times I have the ability to work fairly autonomously but my team still comes together to talk, compare, collaborate and share tips and ideas. I also love the variation of work I have within my role – I never get the chance to get bored.

    What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

    I’ve always been quite shy – especially around people I don’t know very well – so personally, one of the biggest challenges for me is if I have to contact new clients or network contacts. When I first started, I felt a little out of my depth with simple things such as excel. Being a physics graduate I had plenty of experience using it but for very different purposes, so it’s something I had to quickly adapt to.

    What top tips would you give to a student interested in this type of work?

    If it’s something you’re interested in, do your research, take your time to gain a good understanding of the industry and apply.

     

    To see current opportunities at NMPi, visit http://nmpilondon.com/careers

    Head of Business Development: Inspire Me

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 18 April 2016

    As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Cecilia Pytel, Head of Business Development at #tagvenue, talks to us about how she got this role and shares some tips for UCL students.  For more insights from recent graduates working for smaller organisations, search #SMEProfile.

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    What did you study?

    Being half-British half-Polish, I’ve always been fascinated by central and eastern europe, and that’s why I studied BA Politics and East European Studies at SSEES, with a specific focus on subjects related to Poland. I went on my Erasmus Year Abroad to the University of Warsaw.

    How did you get into your role?

    After graduating, I knew I wanted to work abroad and to learn more about business, so I started looking for jobs online. In true start-up style, I found the job advert for #tagvenue on Facebook. I had relevant experience because whilst studying at UCL I had a part-time job working in events operations, and so, after a couple of Skype interviews with the co-founders, I was offered a position, but until I started I had no idea what I’d actually be doing!

    Why did you decide to work for a start-up?
    During my studies, I got involved in the UCL Business Society and UCL Advances. Opportunities like this are really great because they offer students a springboard into the world of business. After graduating, I wanted to continue my learning journey and was keen to build on the experience I already had.

    Working in a start-up is very dynamic – things change from hour to hour and there’s no day that’s ever the same. Because you work in a small team, you’re given a chance to take on a range of tasks and, most importantly, you’re actively involved in the building of a business. This means you get a multi-faceted understanding of how a business operates. A start-up gives you valuable firsthand experience and, in my opinion, is the best learning ground for all aspiring entrepreneurs or ‘wantrepreneurs’.

     

    What’s the best thing about working for a start-up?

    The atmosphere is so dynamic and there’s a real team spirit (if you’re into TV series like Silicon Valley or have heard about the fast-paced environment at ambitious start-ups, you’ll know what I mean). The opportunity to work closely with the founders and having them listen to your ideas is really rewarding. You’re also given a lot of responsibility from the word go, which is exciting if you enjoy a challenge.

     

    Working at #tagvenue is great because it’s very diverse and international with people from the UK, Australia, Latvia, Belarus, Poland, Guatemala and Spain, so everyone brings something different to the table. And, yes, we also have fun in the process, hanging out with beers in true start-up style. If this sounds like something for you – we’re hiring now!

     

    What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

    Be inquisitive, open and brave. Try not to be too daunted if you don’t have experience – you’re going to learn on the job pretty fast. Learn from your mistakes and strive for the best.

     

    About #tagvenue:

    #tagvenue https://www.tagvenue.com/ is shaking up the UK’s mutli-billion pound events industry, transforming the way people discover and book spaces for their events. They’re the fastest growing venue search engine on the market, showcasing great local spaces and making it quicker and easier to plan an event.

     

    Follow in Cecilia’s footsteps:

    https://www.tagvenue.com/page/careers

    Finance and Corporate Development Executive: Inspire Me

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 4 March 2016

    As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Shirley Wang, Finance and Corporate Development Executive at LoopMe, talks to us about how she got this role and shares some tips for UCL students.  For more insights from recent graduates working for smaller organisations, search #SMEProfile

    Shirley Picture

    What did you study?

    I finished my undergraduate from University of Liverpool then continued my postgraduate study in UCL Msc Management.

    How did you get into your role?

    I was referred by a manager I used to work with when I was doing my internship in Shanghai. After several rounds of interview, I started the 3-months internship with LoopMe and got a chance to finally join the company after the internship.

    What excites you/ what was your biggest success within your role?

    Joining a growing company is very exciting as everyday I have chances to take more responsibilities. The culture of the company is very open which allows me to learn a lot from the more experienced staffs in the company as well. I feel like I contribute to the company but meanwhile I also grow with the company.

    What are the most/more challenging aspect of your role?

    This is my first formal job after graduation, of course there are some challenges there. Firstly, there are differences between what I have learnt from University and the practice at work. How to apply the knowledge into work would be one of the challenges. I also need to remind myself I am no longer a student in the University but an employee now, so I need to take responsibilities and do my best to contribute to the success of the company. LoopMe is a very international company; language barriers and culture difference are another problem I need to deal with. But all the challenges helped me to finalize the switch from a student to an employee and I have also received a lot of help within the company to help me to overcome those challenges.

    What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

    Be open to all challenges and difficulties and always keep learning and become a better one.

    About LoopMe:

    LoopMe is the world’s largest mobile video platform, reaching over 1.25 billion consumers worldwide via integration with programmatic ad exchanges and direct publishers.

    LoopMe has global offices in New York, London, San Francisco, Beijing, Dubai, Dnepropetrovsk, Berlin and Paris and specialises in:
    Full-Screen Mobile Video Advertising, Mobile Marketing, Rich Media, Social Preference Targeting, Mobile Video, Social Endorsement Targeting, Artificial Intelligence, Demand-Side-Platform, Real-Time-Bidding, HTML5, Machine Learning, Big Data

    Follow in Shirley’s footsteps:

    Apply for the Tech Account Executive graduate internship with LoopMe, currently open on UCL Talent Bank: http://bit.ly/1Skoy38 deadline: 12 noon Wednesday 16th March 2016.