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“Tell me about a weakness” Interview Skills | CareersLab

By Joe O'Brien, on 20 February 2020

Written by Joe O’Brien, Marketing Communications Assistant at UCL Careers.

Watch this video and you’ll never worry about this interview question again! Raj shares an example answer, explaining what makes it work well, so that you can include the same principles in your own beautifully crafted example. This is the first episode in a mini-series focusing on interviews! 

We’re posting a new CareersLab video every week on the UCL Careers YouTube channel and right here on the UCL Careers blog.

If you’re a UCL student or recent graduate and you have a question you’d like Raj to answer in a future CareersLab video then please email us at careers.marketing@ucl.ac.uk.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and the UCL Careers Newsletter so you never miss an episode.

Should I do a Master’s? | CareersLab

By Joe O'Brien, on 10 February 2020

Written by Joe O’Brien Marketing Communications Assistant, UCL Careers.

Thinking about doing a Master’s? Raj, talks to two UCL academic colleagues about factors to think about when considering whether or not to do a Master’s. This video transitions into a podcast, covering areas from how a Master’s might feel different to a Bachelor’s, to good and bad reasons for doing a Master’s.

We’re posting a new CareersLab video every week on the UCL Careers YouTube channel and right here on the UCL Careers blog.

If you’re a UCL student or recent graduate and you have a question you’d like Raj to answer in a future CareersLab video then please email us at careers.marketing@ucl.ac.uk.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and the UCL Careers Newsletter so you never miss an episode.

What to Expect from Sustainability Fortnight 2020

By Joe O'Brien, on 10 February 2020

Written by Isobel Powell, Employer Engagement Events Officer at UCL Careers.

What does ‘Sustainability’ really mean?

When thinking about careers, “Sustainability” is focused on sustainable business practices, innovative industries and individual change makers. This fortnight highlights the industries and organisations which are creating career opportunities in sustainability through improving their business practices or operating in an entirely sustainable way. These are organisations looking to reduce their business waste, improve climate emissions, support social change and decrease the impact on our ecological environment.

What kind of industries are hiring for this?

A career in sustainability doesn’t just have to focus on power, engineering, construction and ecology. Whilst these are key areas, the global climate crisis means that businesses across all sectors are looking at their sustainable practices. Fulfilling the government’s sustainability agenda, creating policy change or supporting a start-up product to reduce waste are some of the ways you can get involved.

For more info and event booking links please visit our Sustainability Fortnight webpage  

Coming up on the programme:

Monday 24th February, 1-2pm: Guide to Making the Most Out of the Fortnight

This session will support you with the skills required to make the most out of careers events. Learn about professional networking and how to make sure you get the most out of this special fortnight of events.

Monday 24th February, 5.30-7.30pm: Careers in Sustainable Business Panel

Interested in how businesses are making their practices sustainable? Come along to this panel and hear from experts in these areas including: Fairtrade, GSK, Abundance Investment and The Sustainable Mining Collective.

Wednesday 26th February, 6-7.30pm: Careers in Sustainable Infrastructure Panel

Interested in power, water, buildings, architecture, transport, and all those things that make our city work? This panel takes a look at how sustainability is impacting our infrastructure. Speakers from: City of London Open Spaces, Thames Water, Atkins and Balfour Beatty.

Monday 2nd March, 2-5pm: Environmental Auditing Workshop

Sustainable UCL are running a session during UCL Careers’ Sustainability Fortnight to learn the basics of environmental auditing and conduct a physical audit of a UCL building. This is a great opportunity to boost your sustainability literacy.

Monday 2nd March, 6-8pm: Meet the Employers & Alumni

Interested in connecting with sustainable employers and meeting alumni working to change the world? Join us for an exclusive chance to meet some amazing people. Including: allplants, Greenspaces information for Greater London, Orsted, WSP, Fever Tree, Schneider, The Ecology Consultancy, and more!

Tuesday 3rd March, 5.30-7.30pm: Careers in the Future of Sustainability Panel

Interested in hearing from a panel of experts who spend their days defining the future of sustainability? Join us to hear how our alumni speakers from the UN Global Compact Network, C40 Cities, Open Climate Fix, Students Organising for Sustainability UK and more!

Friday 6th March, 12-1pm: Sustainability Tours

Join Sustainable UCL for a tour of the Bloomsbury campus. From solar roofs to biodiversity gardens, our team will give you a unique tour of UCL whilst explaining how green interventions are improving the environment for staff, students and the local wildlife.

Register to attend these events online via yourMyUCLCareersaccount (under Events)

Charities & NGOs Week 2020: What we Learnt

By Joe O'Brien, on 7 February 2020

Written by Sally Brown, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Four events, 3 interviews, 27 sector professionals…and a dog. So, what did we learn? Below you’ll find our main ‘take-home’ messages from Charities & NGOs Week 2020.

Get voluntary experience

Probably the biggest message from our sector professionals was to do some volunteering; indeed, many volunteers go on to work in paid roles in the same charity. Not only does volunteering give you useful transferable skills for your CV, but doing a range of different roles can give you real insights into the kind of role or organisation you would like to apply for. If you know the type of role already – such as Communications – then try to find volunteer experience in that area. Also think ‘quality over quantity’ when it comes to volunteering; it is much better to do a one-off event that gives you a range of connections and develops lots of new skills than trying to do as much as you can because you think it will “look good on your CV.”

But…not all experience has to be voluntary

For many people, volunteering is not a viable option – and organisations will understand this. So, highlight the transferable skills from paid work or from your degree that can be applied to roles within the sector. However, it’s worth noting that there are a lot more opportunities for flexible volunteering nowadays, some of which can be able to be done remotely or have a commitment of as little as one evening a month.

Be open minded

Don’t feel that just because your first role in the sector isn’t quite what you want you will be pigeon-holed. Sector professionals often change their roles many times and progression doesn’t necessarily have to mean straight up – you can move sideways and diagonally if you want! The skills you acquire from this sector means you can also move out of it into more corporate settings should you want to. It’s important to not think that you’re restricted by your degree choice, in fact many of the speaker’s we had in for this week worked in roles that you wouldn’t traditionally associate with their degrees! Finally, don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone – whether this is a certain type of role or working for a cause whose client base you might find challenging. When pushing out of your comfort zone, make sure you’re keeping your own wellbeing and mental health in mind though!

Consider smaller as well as bigger charities

Getting roles – whether paid or voluntary – in some of the larger, well known charities can be harder due to the competitive nature of these opportunities. Therefore, consider reaching out speculatively to smaller, local charities and offer to do some volunteering or even inquire about a more permanent paid role. Offering to help with a smaller charity’s social media for example can be particularly useful – as they may not have a dedicated person in the team to do this. Make the most of London and the range of organisations that are based here!

Some of the challenges of the sector?

Lack of resources and funding are massive challenges and can result in a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork in some organisations; it can be difficult to keep in mind the ‘bigger picture’ of the cause when working on something that doesn’t seem relevant to the key aims of the organisation. Progression is also an issue, especially in smaller organisations – so try to be open-minded and flexible.

Be specific when writing or applications or at interviews

Some organisations and roles don’t look at academic credentials – but the competencies and experiences from previous roles. This can be aspects such as knowing the client base and the challenges that comes with this.

Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to do this! Whether during volunteering or reaching out to professionals, ask about the roles people do and work out what matters to you. If you haven’t got the time to give for regular volunteering, then network and make connections where you can.


Thank you to all the professionals who gave up their time – including Prince the dog, who we are pleased to report has now found a new forever home. For further information, why not check out the Lecturecast recordings from the week that will be available to view soon from: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/resources/slides/themed-weeks/charities

Careers with Global Impact: Working in International Development

By Joe O'Brien, on 6 February 2020

Written by Shally Sawhney, Skills Officer at UCL Careers.

Careers with Global Impact: Working in International Development Event
Wednesday 12 February 2020,

1.00pm – 3.00pm

Have you considered a career in International Development?

Would you like to discover more about how your skills translate into roles on a global stage?

Join us for a lunchtime panel event where we’ll be exploring careers across a range of international development organisations. Professionals with experience of working in regions across the world will offer an insight into their career journeys, the different job roles available within the international development sector and provide tips on the key skills needed to build a career on the global stage.

The event will also include a Q & A and an opportunity for networking. We’ve got less than 20 places remaining so act fast if you don’t want to miss out!

Book your place now!

Get the Most Out of University | CareersLab

By Joe O'Brien, on 5 February 2020

Written by Joe O’Brien Marketing Communications Assistant, UCL Careers.

In this video, UCL Careers Consultant, Katie Bisaro, shares the experiences that changed her life and opened up new possibilities. Focusing on activities outside of the classroom, Katie runs you through how you could do the same!

We’re posting a new CareersLab video every week on the UCL Careers YouTube channel and right here on the UCL Careers blog.

If you’re a UCL student or recent graduate and you have a question you’d like Raj to answer in a future CareersLab video then please email us at careers.marketing@ucl.ac.uk.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and the UCL Careers Newsletter so you never miss an episode.

Exclusive Overseas Internships Available to UCL Students!

By Joe O'Brien, on 5 February 2020

Pictured – Winner of 2019’s Global Intern Photo Competition.

Written by Rhiannon Williams, Global Internships Manager at UCL Careers.

Would you like to spend your summer undertaking an internship overseas? Applications for the Global Internships Programme are now open!

What is the Global Internships Programme?

The programme aims to encourage students to undertake a summer internship outside of the UK. UCL Careers does this by working with employers to secure exciting exclusive and semi-exclusive opportunities for our students!

What kind of internships will there be?

We are currently finalising the opportunities for 2020 but aim to have a range of roles available. Last year we advertised internships in business development, research, marketing, teaching and translation across countries including Spain, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Vietnam and Singapore.

Exciting! How do I apply?

You can browse the internships via the Global Internships Programme scheme on your myUCLCareers account. If you would like to apply for any of the roles, you will need to answer a few questions and upload your CV. After the deadline has passed, UCL Careers will review all applications before deciding which ones will be shortlisted and sent to the organisation.

Ok, what’s the deadline?

The first batch of internships will go live on 12th February and close on 8th March. We will then release a second batch of opportunities on 13th March which will close on 29th March.

Sounds great, how can I increase my chances of being shortlisted?

Tailor your application! This is really important and will significantly increase the strength of your application. You can book an Applications Advice appointment at UCL Careers to have it checked before submitting it.

I’m nervous about applying for an international internship…

Undertaking an internship in a new country can be really daunting, but also really exciting! You can learn new skills and languages, expand your international network, develop your cultural awareness and hopefully have fun exploring your new environment. UCL Careers will provide you with tips and advice to help prepare you for the experience overseas.

Here’s what some previous participants said about the programme:

“My global internship was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Although it was nerve-wracking at first… if you want to learn more about the world and yourself, I highly recommend taking on an opportunity like this. Breaking out of your comfort zone is key for growing as a person, so pack your bags and off you go.”

“My advice if you’re thinking of undertaking a global internship? Don’t be afraid to face new challenges – these experiences will help you grow the most professionally and personally (and they usually make the best stories).”

“Be bold, brave and confident in yourself and never lose sight of the fact that you deserve to be in your position as much as anyone else!”

What’s next?

Make a note to check your myUCLCareers account on 12th February (and again on 13th March) to see what opportunities are available to you. We look forward to receiving your application!

Interview with Jo Gibney, Head of Business Development at Association of Volunteer Managers

By Joe O'Brien, on 3 February 2020

Written by Rachel Garman, Information & Research Officer at UCL Careers.

As part of UCL Careers’ Charities & NGOs themed week, we interviewed Jo Gibney (Head of Business Development at the Association of Volunteer Managers) about her career and her top tips to students interested in the sector.

When did you join the Association of Volunteer Managers and why?

I started at AVM in August 2019 after having volunteered from October 2017 on their board. I was volunteering as I had an interest in developing the profession of volunteer managers. I joined as an employee as this gave me the opportunity to drive and shape the direction of the group and bring them a new perspective.

What lead you to be interested in the charities sector in the first place?

I fell into it – when I was at university in the 1990s there was little information offered about the sector as a whole. I did a science-based degree, but realised that I didn’t really want to work in that field. After working in a number of jobs I didn’t enjoy, I approached an employment agency for something more challenging. They suggested a couple of charity jobs, and so I ended up in a campaigning job for a charity. I was also volunteering for St John Ambulance, and I eventually got into volunteer management. I learned that I wanted to work in a field that wasn’t sales or money-driven, and to do something satisfying and worthwhile.

What makes your role interesting and what makes it challenging?

It’s interesting because I get to see how a small business works and help to make it grow so we can support our members. I get to speak to a range of people and develop the right events for them.
What’s challenging is having to engage with the business side and see things from a different perspective (rather than being on the inside of the charity I’m working to support them). I’m seeing the day-to-day challenges of small charities after spending more of my career working for larger charities. It’s a big learning curve.

Why would you encourage students to get into the charities sector and/or volunteering?

If you’re passionate about making an impact on others and the world then this is the sector for you. You’ll get to see your impact it in action which, if you’re supportive of the cause, is very rewarding. Any skills you have will be useful in the charities sector. There are also many jobs in charities that simply don’t exist within the private sector! I’d encourage students to volunteer because you get to build on existing skills and develop new ones while really helping. It allows you to try out different avenues and opportunities and experience different (and extremely diverse) roles and working environments in a flexible way. This can often be just a few hours a week, so it’s really useful for giving an insight into the sector and knowing what you want to focus on when you graduate.

What do you think charities look for in their staff and volunteers?

They’d like you to be passionate for the cause. It’s also important to have transferrable skills. It’s important to do your research before you apply and know what you’re getting into and the challenges you will face. You will need to be collaborative and have communication skills. Charities need people who can think creatively and can constructively question the set way of doing things.

What top tips would you give to students?

Research: Investigate different types of jobs and different charities as the sector is very broad with a lot of scope, and research a charity before applying. Don’t discount working for smaller, less well-known charities as you can end up doing more, gaining more skills and having a more direct impact. The sector isn’t for everyone – you could still do a lot of good in the private sector with corporate social responsibility schemes, or move into charity work later in your career.

Be proactive: Use LinkedIn to make connections – don’t be afraid to contact people to find out more about their job or organisation, as it’s a very generous sector for sharing time and knowledge. On a practical level, https://www.charityjob.co.uk/ is a great place to search for a job.

Be flexible: Be prepared for your career to be varied with no straight line – there is a lot of moving around to different charities doing a variety of jobs using different skills in different places, so it suits people who can be flexible.

Embrace the breadth of the sector: Remember that not all jobs are on the frontline, so if you don’t feel like you’d be suited to working with service users you could be just as valuable working in research, finance, fundraising, marketing and all sorts of roles.

What to Expect from Careers in Health Week 2020

By Joe O'Brien, on 29 January 2020

Written by Sarah Sirrell, Information & Research Officer at UCL Careers.

Are you looking for a career that makes a difference to people’s lives? From data to governance, or diagnosis to treatment, Careers in Health Week has got you covered.

You’ll be able to network with people who are working in a diverse range of health careers and hear their stories. We’ve got guests coming from a range of rewarding careers who are keen to share their experiences with you!

Health – The Bigger Picture, 6.00pm Monday 10 February

Would you like to learn more about the range of roles in health beyond health services and clinicians? Come to our panel event where you can hear from the experts themselves.

We have panelists from the Greater London Authority, RAFT, and The Health Policy Partnership who will talk about how they went from being a student to their current role and give you top tips along the way.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Health Careers Discovery Evening, 6.30pm Tuesday 11 February

Please join us at this networking evening where you will have the opportunity to connect with health professionals. Our guests will share their experiences and insights into different career options in this sector.

Confirmed health professionals come from: Aquarius Population Health, Blue Latitude Health, British Heart Foundation, Costello Medical, Galliard Healthcare, Health Sciences Academy, Integrated Medhealth Communication consultancy (IMC), Moorfields Eye Charity, and more!

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Patient Contact Roles Panel, 1.00pm Thursday 13 February

If you enjoy working with people and want to make a real impact to people’s lives, come and hear from and network with health professionals and those training to work directly with patients and clients in a health-focused role.

The panellists will include a Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Nutritionist, Highly Specialised Speech and Language Therapist, 4th Year Medical Student at UCL, and a Health and Wellbeing Practitioner.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Data and Diagnostics Panel, 5.30pm Thursday 13 February

Challenges to health and health systems are changing rapidly on a global scale and the ways in which health data and diagnostics are used to discover ways to prevent, treat and cure diseases is more important than ever. If you are interested in how data analytics and diagnostics are being used in the Health Sector then book onto this panel event where you will hear from professionals who are actively engaging in using data to improve our lives.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

All Health Week events are open to UCL students and recent graduates with an interest in the sector, regardless of your degree subject.

Did you want to explore things a bit further before the panels? Take a look at our online careers library for useful sector guides, job profiles and key job sites: https://ucl-careers-resources.targetconnect.net/search?query=health

Looking for Work: Be Safe, Be Smart

By Joe O'Brien, on 28 January 2020

Written by Rochelle Rozasty, Internship Programmes and Recruitment Services Manager at UCL Careers

Be smart and safe when looking for work or an internship

At UCL Careers we know that looking for work or an internship can sometimes feel daunting. Not only do you have to make time to find something that suits you, make applications and go to interviews, but you also have to ensure the legitimacy of the opportunity.

It’s important to be smart when checking out a job advert or offer. So we have put together some information to help you on our website for you as a student, as an intern and as a worker or employee.

When looking for work opportunities

As a student you may be targeted directly by some unscrupulous organisations and people who are trying to defraud you by claiming to offer work or other opportunities in an attempt to gather personal data and/or bank details. On the Payment rights and safety as a student, intern and employee page on our website, we explain what to look for and what to do if you’ve inadvertently been scammed. Further information can also be found through our parent body – The Careers Group.

When looking for an internship

When looking for an internship it’s important to make sure that not only will the internship give you a good learning opportunity but also that it is safe and has adequate insurance in place to cover you should any problems occur. We advise you to make sure you have details about the internship/placement in writing from the host organisation and you review the legitimacy of the internship, including payment. Look at the tips given on the Payment rights and safety as a student, intern and employee page on our website.

When securing a role

When you secure a role you are likely to be a worker or employee.  It’s important to know what status you are as this affects your employment rights. We’ve given you some information and signposted you to further resources about this on the Payment rights and safety as a student, intern and employee page on our website.

Your contract and if you have issues with your employer about payment

One of the things you are likely to want to know more about is what to expect in a contract and what to do if you have issues with your employer about payment. You can navigate your way through this by reading our blogs in our new UCL Careers Explains blog series.

Opportunities through myUCLCareers

Finally, just to let you know, we try to make sure the opportunities that come through our jobs board – myUCLCareers – are not discriminatory and the pay (for UK roles) meets National Minimum Wage legislation.  On occasion unscrupulous employers slip through our checks. Do let us know if you find something where the advert does not match reality and we will review what the employer has told us which may lead to us barring them from our system.

Be smart and be safe!