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UCL Careers Themed Weeks 2019: Museums, Arts & Cultural Heritage Top Tips from Gina Koutsika

By , on 19 November 2019

Gina Koutsika– Creative & Skills Director, V&A Museum of Childhood

Panellist on Careers in Museums Panel, 11th November, 2019.


It was a great pleasure to be on the ‘Careers in Museums’ panel at UCL and to see so many students wanting to work in museums. For those that could not make it, here are my top 4 tips to succeed in the museum sector:

  1. Learn about yourself, your needs and your preferences. Working in museums is fulfilling and rewarding. You are surrounded by passionate and interesting colleagues, significant – and sometimes astoundingly beautiful – artefacts that can reveal so many different stories and you create memorable, life-changing, enjoyable experiences for and with the public. However, working in museums requires – not only at the start but throughout your professional journey – a lot of personal sacrifices. It requires to invest a lot of your personal time; a lot of your energy and the pay is for some roles less than the national average. It is important to be confident that working in a museum is really what you want to do and that it worth the personal cost. Alternatives include being a museum supporter, museum consumer and a museum volunteer, while having a different career.
  2. Develop your competencies and skills. Volunteer in different roles and in a variety of museums. Get to know the sector and gain hands-on experience, which is often more valuable, than academic knowledge. When I started and while working full-time, I was volunteering in both my own organisation (at another department) and in another museum. It was exhausting but also exciting and it enabled me to build on my skills and experiences, which led to a promotion.
  3. Grasp any opportunity that comes your way and seek to create your own opportunities. Be open, available, and willing to support others. It’s important to make connections, take up training and networking opportunities. You may even want to source a mentor. There are a number of networks you can join for free, and museum membership organisations, like ICOM, MA, GEM, VSG as well as subject -specialist network, that usually have a discounted student membership. There are also bursaries to attend conferences and training days, and it is worth saving up and investing in your professional development.
  4. Regularly, visit museums and exhibitions and observe how visitors engage and interact. Note what worked and what did not. Think about what you may have done differently and your reasoning for it. Talk to the front-of-house staff and learn from their experiences in the galleries. Keep a log of your visits and who you meet. Keep up with the latest developments in the sector through newsletters, research papers, books. Read widely and outside the museological literature.

Your Future in Start-ups! | CareersLab

By , on 19 November 2019

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to work in a start-up or perhaps even launch your own? In this video, UCL Careers Consultant, Raj, talks to entrepreneurs and start-ups about lessons they learnt and different routes in. Watch now for an insight into the Innovation & Enterprise team here at UCL!

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.

My Global Internship: 8 steps to making a strong application

By Skye A Aitken, on 18 November 2019

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

Welcome to the third blog in the ‘My Global Internship’ series. You’ve heard about global mindset and how you can get started with your search for an international internship. Now it’s time to think about making some applications…

Student working at a desk in a sketchbook

Whether you’re applying for an internship in a company that’s around the corner, or on the other side of the world, general advice around how to construct a great CV, cover letter, and application is universal. You’ll want to prepare an application that highlights your skills, experience, and interests in order to convince an employer that you’re the best person for the role. Saying that, there is some additional preparation you can do if you are preparing an application for a global internship. 

  1. Research, research, research

Use a site like GoinGlobal (a service that UCL Careers subscribes to) to check the conventions in the country you’re applying to. You don’t need to follow every rule – not only do CVs and cover letters differ from country to country, but also job to job and industry to industry. However, you might discover some useful guidelines, such as countries where it is standard practice to include things like a photo or pre-written references.

If you are planning to undertake an internship in Europe, you could also check out Europass, an online tool that helps you prepare the necessary documents to highlight your skills and qualifications, including template CVs, cover letters and a language self-assessment tool.

  1. Get your numbers right

Including a telephone number? Remember to include the right international dialing code. Writing a date? Get the order of day, month and year right for the standard practice of the country you’re applying to a job in. These seemingly small differences show that you’ve done your homework and back up any claim you’ve made of showing attention to detail!

  1. Highlight your language skills

It’s not always a prerequisite of a role to have any additional language skills, although if it is, you should certainly mention how you meet that criteria. Be honest with your skills and include your level of fluency. If you claim to be fluent in a second language, a native speaker can easily check this at interview stage. Write your application in the same language as the job advert (unless it is explicitly stated to submit it in another language).

Student standing by a flag

  1. “Translating” your experience

Be aware that your qualifications, or even institution, may not be as well recognised in the country you are applying for an internship in. You can include the international equivalent to your degree (Scholera has a free conversion tool) and consider changing UCL to the local language (e.g. UCL is 伦敦大学学院in Chinese). You could mention that UCL is a world-leading university (top 10 according to the latest QS rankings) or include something specific about your department or course that makes it stand out internationally.

  1. Highlight your international experience

By applying for an internship outside of the UK and/or your home country, you should highlight your ability to work in a global context, adapt to a new environment and work with colleagues from different cultures. Highlight past experiences living abroad, language skills, working with peers from different nationalities and any examples of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and overcoming challenges. Remember to also address the other skills that are required for the role – you might be able to adapt to life in the country as easy as pie, but you’ve also got to show that you’re the right candidate for the role! UCL Careers has plenty of general advice and guidance to help you write excellent CVs and cover letters on the UCL Careers website as well as the following CareersLab videos.

  1. Declare your visa status

Whilst not a requirement, it can be useful when applying for an internship in a foreign country to make clear your visa status at application stage. There may be cases where it’s simply not possible for an employer to accept an international candidate, so you could either find out beforehand or outline the situation in your application. Note that your visa status is different to your nationality, which you don’t have to disclose on your CV.

  1. Get a helping hand

All job applications should be proofread and spell-checked but this is particularly critical if you’ve written it in another language. Even if it is in English, it might be worth getting someone who doesn’t know UCL or your degree subject to read it to see if they can easily follow what you have written in your application. You could even contact recruitment agencies in the country where you intend to work and ask their advice. 

  1. Applying speculatively

Not all internships are advertised and many students approach companies directly with the aim of securing an internship with that organisation. They may have found the company online or used their personal network to get contact details of an appropriate person. This is a really positive, proactive of finding opportunities and shows your eagerness to work for that company. If you go down this route, it is really important that you understand the culture before you send any emails. In some cultures, addressing the email or letter to ‘Dear Sir/Madam rather than a named contact can be seen as rude so try and find exactly who you want to approach.

Next steps

So it’s time to start making those applications! Remember you can have your application checked by a UCL Careers Consultant (in English!) before you send it off to an organisation. Next time we’ll be exploring video interviews, which are very common in the recruitment process when applying for internships overseas.

UCL Careers Themed Weeks 2019: Museums, Arts & Cultural Heritage Interview

By Skye A Aitken, on 14 November 2019

Ian Richardson – Senior Treasure Registrar, Department of Learning and National Partnerships, British Museum

MA in Cultural Heritage Studies from the Institute of Archaeology (UCL) in 2007

Photo of interview, male wearing a suit in front of a bookcase
What is your role and where you work?

I work as part of a project called the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is run by the British Museum. Specifically, I manage a team of four Treasure Registrars and we carry out the administration for cases of ‘Treasure’ reported under the requirements of the Treasure Act 1996. Treasure items are objects which, when found, have no known owner and which are made of gold or silver and are more than 300 years old, hoards of coins except for base-metal coins hoards of fewer than 10 coins, and prehistoric base-metal hoards. In practice, the vast majority of this material is found by metal detector users.           

What challenges does your sector / organisation face at present?

One challenge that we face which is specific to our jobs is that continuous rise in the amount of material being reported and which we have to process. This seems down to the growing popularity of metal detecting as a hobby and also to the fact that reporting such finds has been made easier over time. This challenge is linked to something that is facing the entire museum sector, which is a lack of funding to support all of our activities. Many people are now expected to ‘do more with less’.

What is the range of roles that people can apply for in your organisation?

There are a wide range of roles available at the British Museum. Probably what first comes to find is ‘curatorship’ but in fact, roles directly involved with the collection only make up about 1/3 of the jobs at the British Museum. There are also opportunities in fundraising, facilities and maintenance, finance, human resources and education, for instance.

What skills/qualities do you feel are particularly important in the type of work you do?

In my role it is useful to have a good general knowledge of British History, current archaeological and museological principles, and of the types of artefacts that are typically found in Britain. However, the last topic is something that is picked up quite quickly ‘on the job’. More generally it is important to be organised, have good attention to detail and the ability to understand how one’s job impacts on wider activities within the museum and beyond. There is a lot of diplomacy required in this role, as it involves dealing with colleagues who one has to chase for progress, and also involves a lot of correspondence with members of the public whose expectations (in terms of timescales and potential financial rewards) have to be managed.

UCL Careers Themed Weeks 2019: Media Week

By Skye A Aitken, on 14 November 2019

Want to work in the media industry? Find out more at Media Week!

A lecture theatre full on students with panelists sitting on stageAre you thinking of working in the Media industry after your degree? Or is this simply a sector that you would like to explore further? We have put together a number events in the final week of November to enable you to take things further through a spotlight on this diverse and exciting sector.

Monday 25 November

The week kicks off  with an evening insight into Publishing, where people working in a range of roles from editing, agency and rights will take your questions. We are excited to have speakers from Bloomsbury Publishing, LBA Books, UCL Press, Rakuten Kobo and DK (Penguin Random House), working in a variety of roles.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Tuesday 26 November

We will take a look at what it’s like to work within Advertising, Marketing and PR. Professionals working in advertising agencies, consumer and corporate PR and marketing will be discussing their careers, the difference between the various areas and some of the exciting projects they have worked on. Panelists will also offer tips on how you can make your first steps into each of these areas.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Wednesday 27 November

We are delighted to have News Associates running a journalism workshop exclusively for UCL students and recent graduates. This is an interactive session aimed at those looking to pursue a career in UK based journalism.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Thursday 28 November

We finish the week on  with an incredibly exciting line-up focused on the Film, TV and Radio industries. Joining us will be BBC TV and radio presenters, a junior music manager and a film director. We expect this to be a popular event so don’t miss out!

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

 All the 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 Prospects.ac.uk to see just how many roles there are within the Media industry. Prospects also breaks down the different roles within Advertising, Marketing & PR.

Writing Amazing Cover Letters | CareersLab

By Skye A Aitken, on 14 November 2019

Have you ever wondered what to include in Cover Letters? What length they should be and what tone to strike?

Well UCL Careers Consultant, Raj, shares his top 2 tips for writing beautifully executed cover letters, every time!

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.

My Global Internship: where to start and how to find one

By Skye A Aitken, on 14 November 2019

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

Student on an internship stood by a river holding a camera and smilingWelcome to the second blog in our ‘My Global Internship’ series. Last week we learnt about global mindset and now we’re going to talk about how you can find an international internship, what you should think about when searching and places you can look to get you started.

Did you know students who go abroad during their studies are more likely to gain a 1st degree and be in graduate-level jobs six months after graduation? They’re also likely to have a fantastic time and build their confidence, so it’s a win-win all round! If you haven’t thought about going overseas before, perhaps because you don’t even know where to start, then we’re here to help you.

Before you start

Before you start actually finding specific roles to look at, you should think about the following things:

  1. What sort of work do you want to do and what are you aiming to get out of the whole experience?Are you looking to travel and explore a new culture (and thus open to all opportunities) or do you want to do a particular role related to your degree or career objectives? Perhaps you want to work in a large corporate environment or you want to try a smaller company or start-up where you may get more responsibility?
  2. Where do you want to go?Have you got a particular city, country or continent in mind? This may depend on your answer to question 1 as there might be particular countries or regions that are better suited to the work you’d like to do. Write down all the places you’re keen to consider – it’s worth drilling down to city-level as the experience can differ within country.
  3. How feasible is it to work in a particular area or country?You will need to think about travel and accommodation, and find out if you need a visa. Also, do you need to be able to speak the local language? Some countries are more accessible for English speakers than others, so if you don’t have a second language then perhaps start with these (but remember that the business language in some countries not on this map might still be English).
  4. What is the environment / culture like and how will you adapt to this?Whilst this is something you will prepare for once you’ve already secured an internship, it is a good idea to also research this early on because it may help when making applications.

All of the above will take both some thinking on your part, but also some research. A great place to start is the GoinGlobal website. Access this site via the Working Outside of the UK page on the UCL Careers website. You can also use the working abroad pages on TargetJobs and Prospects to help you. Make a note of your answers to the above – they might change over time as you explore new places, and that’s absolutely fine!

Looking for opportunities

Three students sat on a sofa working on laptopsAfter you’ve done a bit of thinking, next up is to starting looking for opportunities. Finding an international internship in a country you have limited experience with requires you to be proactive, but the rewards will be worth it. Here’s some places to start:

  • myUCLCareers jobs board – click on the Search tab > Vacancies and use the locations or country filter on the left to narrow down the options.
  • LinkedIn can be a valuable tool to help you find companies or contacts in countries that are of interest to you. Use the locations filter on the search function to target a particular country, or search via industry if you know what sector you want to work in.
  • General job boards such as Indeed, Reed and Google all have options to search by country and industry. org is a great platform for finding opportunities in specifically in Europe.
  • Local job boards can also be a great way to find opportunities, particularly from smaller organisations focusing on targeting local students. Search ‘job boards in x country’ to see what is recommended. For example, Welcome to the Jungle is a popular job platform in France for students to find opportunities in French SMEs.
  • Directories are a great way to help you find companies that you might be interested in working in, particularly ones you haven’t heard of yet! Sites like co allow you to search for companies by sector or location and provide general company information as well as links to jobs. If the company doesn’t have any jobs listed, there’s no harm in applying speculatively – we’ll cover this in the next blog!
  • Direct application to an organisation – this is the DIY route to finding an internship abroad. Take a look at the Careers Essentials module on guides on job huntingto help you with various stages of the job hunting process, whether at home or overseas.

So, open your laptop and start a spreadsheet – this will help you to keep track of websites you’ve explored, information you’ve found out and log some companies that you’re interested in applying to. Who knows what you might find and where you might end up going! Next time we will drill down into how to make an application, focusing on important things to consider when applying for overseas roles.

My Global Internship: what does it mean to have a ‘global mindset’?

By Skye A Aitken, on 6 November 2019

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

A student with sun glasses on stands in front of a view of a European cityWelcome to the first in a series of blogs aimed at helping students to find, apply for, prepare for and undertake a global internship (usually meaning outside the UK and probably your home country). We will be publishing blogs under the #myglobalinternship tag across the autumn and spring terms, so keep an eye out!

So maybe you’ve been applying for international internships already, or perhaps it’s something you’d like to start doing. Wherever you’re at, you may have come across the term ‘global mindset’ and you might wonder what this actually means.

One of the simpler definitions we like is ‘the ability to operate comfortably across borders, cultures, and languages’ and for a student to be a ‘global graduate’ they need to be able to possess a range of competencies such as team-working, adaptability, resilience and self-awareness.

Why is it important?

In an increasingly globalised workplace, employers require their staff to have intercultural competence to enable them to collaborate effectively with their colleagues and in different cultural settings (such as in a country you may not have experience before). They also need employees from diverse backgrounds to represent their client base, who can also grasp the interconnectedness of international business.

A report from McKinsey’s Global Institute shows that ‘cross-border data flows are increasing at rates approaching 50 times those of last decade. Almost a billion social-networking users have at least one foreign connection, while 2.5 billion people have email accounts, and 200 billion emails are exchanged every day. About 250 million people are currently living outside of their home country, and more than 350 million people are cross-border e-commerce shoppers’.

In addition, ‘increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the centre of organisational operations’ according to the Future Work Skills 2020 report. This means employers are looking for candidates who can keep up with this rate of change and collaborate virtually by working productively and effectively as part of a virtual team (e.g. one across different global sites).

What kind of experiences can you draw upon?

By studying at UCL, you are already in a great position to talk about your experiences of interacting with individuals from different cultures, given that there are over 150+ nationalities represented on campus. You can also demonstrate your global mindset by talking about the following experiences on your applications and in interviews:

  • Living abroad (during upbringing or as part of course)
  • Picking up language skills
  • Transitioning from home to London
  • Coming to London from outside of the UK
  • Representing one organisation at its interface with another in a different region/country/culture
  • Presenting papers at international conferences or in committees
  • Having an interest in current affairs, listening to/reading global business news (be prepared to back this up)
  • Independent travel
  • Sensitivity to different regional/class/cultural attitudes, e.g. travel, voluntary work, vacation jobs

Plus, if you decide to undertake a global internship in summer 2020 then that will enhance your global mindset even further! For further reading about global skills, you may enjoy the QS 2019 Global Skills Gap Report which aims  to  provide a greater understanding  of  the  gaps  between  graduate  skills  and employer expectations around the world. You can also book a careers appointment to talk about these skills and explore how you can highlight yours to future employers!

Future blogs in the series will look at:

  • How to find international internships
  • Making applications for international internships
  • Conducting video interviews for overseas roles
  • Preparing for your time abroad
  • Working in a global workplace

How To Develop Your Career Ideas | CareersLab

By Skye A Aitken, on 4 November 2019

Do you have some career ideas? Confused what to do next?

UCL Careers Consultant, Raj, shares his top 3 practical tips on how to develop those ideas into the career you’ve always wanted!

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.

UCL Careers Themed Weeks 2019: Top 5 Lessons From Government & Policy Week

By Skye A Aitken, on 1 November 2019

Written by Colm Fallon, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers

You may have missed Government & Policy Themed Week 2019, but don’t fret, you can access recordings from this year and previous year’s events and related resources by heading to our website.

Panelists sat on chairs on stage

It’s impossible to sum up all of the valuable insights shared throughout the week, but here are 5 things we learned from Government & Policy Themed Week 2019:

  1. Rapid changes are the norm

Working in the Civil Service can sometimes resemble the TV show ‘The Thick of It’. There may be fewer expletives used, but things can change rapidly, and you have to be adaptable. For example, you may be working on and promoting one policy in the morning, but by the afternoon priorities may have shifted and you find yourself having to completely change your focus.

  1. Evidence is key

Our speakers also emphasised how working in a space where the agenda can be set and changed by forces outside of your control may not be for everyone and that’s OK! You may spend months working on a policy but due to public pressure or economic factors, it may not be implemented or may have to be adapted to meet the changing circumstances (the world as it is, not as we wish it to be). The work of advising Ministers means focusing on the evidence and that is not affected by changes in public opinion.

  1. Experience is knowledge

You can gain useful experience working on the fringes of government, e.g. public affairs, lobbyists, think tanks, charities, and so on. You’ll gain an outsider perspective on how government works. Importantly, working in the Civil Service means being apolitical, you need to be impartial and able to provide policy arguments, not political arguments. If you have political ambitions you may be better off gaining experience outside or of course working directly with parliamentarians and political parties. Some MPs would suggest that working completely outside of and removed from politics can be beneficial. Learning about business, people and the world can help you better serve your constituents.

  1. Change takes time but the results can be very rewarding

Influencing policy is being a voice in the discourse, one of many. Although it can be difficult to be heard the most rewarding aspect is seeing the impact on individuals of the policy changes you’ve fought for and implemented. It’s important to realise that change takes time, and the key to success is to make sure that the long term impact is understood and prioritised over short term gains and personal biases.

  1. Everyone gets imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome (feeling like a fraud who will be found out at any moment), can be common and it’s a normal way to feel. Be kind to yourself, have realistic expectations and remember that learning is a process. No one can be expected to know everything right away. The key to success is to work on upskilling and build relationships with colleagues and mentors. Utilise your network for support and advice, most people would have been through the same experiences as you at some stage.