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Make a Flying Start to your Career with these Tips from our Feathered Friends!

By Joe O'Brien, on 21 September 2020

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Victoria Abbott, Recruitment & Selection Advisor at UCL Careers.

My name is Victoria, and you may have met me in person, or online, running your applications advice appointments. However, due to the current situation, I’ve been working from home for several months now and sheer good luck has provided me with weeks of sunny days and long, warm evenings. I’ve therefore spent a disproportionate amount of time in my garden this summer, and couldn’t help but notice the large number and variety of birds that visited each day. Whilst sitting outside, I soon realised the diversity of personalities and varying characteristics of the different species of birds. And of course, with careers in mind, I soon got to thinking about the various tips and skills we could all learn and apply from our fledgling friends to our own personal career journeys.

The Dove:

The dove is a calm and peaceful bird, and can often be found supporting and caring for others. Although these are positive characteristics, they can often leave the dove vulnerable in the wild. Applying this understanding to your individual career plans, always ensure that you focus on your own dreams and aspirations, rather than just tagging along with your friends, meeting family expectations or following current trends. You may wish to browse through the UCL Careers Guide to provide further inspiration and ensure that you don’t become too passive or predictable with your career planning. Perhaps aim to visit some virtual Jobs Fairs or Insight Days during the autumn term and gain an awareness of areas that you haven’t investigated before? Our handy blog provides some great tips on making the most of the virtual jobs market. You could also book a short guidance appointment at UCL Careers to help you identify your own dreams and take your first steps towards trying something new.

The Eagle:

Okay, so I haven’t been lucky enough to see an eagle in the Kent countryside. However, I have spotted plenty of smaller kestrels and falcons, all of whom demonstrate confidence, independence and a competitive nature. These key characteristics are really important for the eagle when hunting in the wild; however the eagle understands that true success also lies in its ability to remain patient. So the eagle really is a master at knowing how to use its strengths and adapt its skills to any given situation. Confidence, competiveness and independence are also key characteristics when planning your career steps; however it is also essential that you remain patient when you experience setbacks, and try to think beyond the end result, just as the eagle thinks beyond the final hunt. Similar to the eagle, ensure you understand and can demonstrate your skill-set fully on your CV, and make sure you tailor your applications with the key criteria required for the role. Learn how to utilise and combine your strengths, skills and experiences by writing a great cover letter and practise using the STAR method in our handy STAR blog, to fully demonstrate your skills and competencies (also applicable in an interview situation). An applications advice appointment can also help you to maximise your CV and cover letter.

The Goldfinch, Blue-Tit and Sparrow:

These birds may be some of the smallest in the garden, but they are also the noisiest! Chatty, curious, resilient and resourceful, these are the team-players in the garden, working together to achieve their aims. Just like these birds, it is really important to make the most of your connections when considering your career. Check out our previous blog posts on how to grow your online network and learn how to boost your networking skills. Don’t forget to take advantage of the wealth of alumni support at UCL as well. You could also take a look at the huge range of resources available within MyUCLCareers and focus on improving your Linkedin profile to increase your views and boost your network. Just like these resourceful and curious birds, don’t forget to speak to your fellow students and university professors, as they may also have great insights and tips onto how to access your chosen industry or career.

The Owl:

As the nights draw in, I’ve been lucky enough to witness a pair of owls calling to each other across the garden. The owl, traditionally known for being a sage, wise bird, often stands for predictability and efficiency. Similarly, if you are detail oriented and enjoy routine and structure, you may identify with these traits. It is often crucial to be organised and plan your career options, but don’t forget to consider all possibilities or you run the risk of being too inflexible in your job search. Don’t just wait for your dream job to be advertised, take the lead and make speculative applications for graduate employment or work experience. You should also consider the bigger picture when thinking about your career and employability. Areas such as work-life balance, green initiatives and sustainability, and the chance to take part in pro-bono/charity work may be important to you, as well as the more obvious factors such as salary, location and promotion. Websites such as Prospects are great for giving insight into various job roles, as well as signposting you to key organisations within the sector. Also check-out our UCL Careers Sector Insights, which provide really informative content and interviews with recent graduates working in industry.

With a new term fast approaching, many of you will be starting to think about a return to university. Working through book-lists, listening to preparatory lectures and catching up with fellow students are probably all top of your to-do list. However, I would really recommend that you also spend a little bit of time thinking further ahead and considering the multitude of career options available to you. UCL Careers offer a range of one-to-one appointments, whether you’re exploring options, writing applications or want support preparing for interviews. So book an appointment, let your imagination soar and don’t worry about ruffling a few feathers along the way!

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