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Top tips for a student wanting to pursue a career in Ecology

20 February 2019


Clare Pugh Senior Ecologist at Atkins

My top tips for a student wanting to pursue a career in ecology would be:

Gain as much experience as possible! Volunteering with local Wildlife Trusts and local interest groups (e.g. bat, badger, amphibian and reptile, bird etc) is a great, inexpensive way to develop skills and make useful contacts. If you are based in London and looking for some interesting opportunities perhaps you could try:

  • London Wildlife Trust (https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/volunteer-with-us) – the Trust look after 41 nature reserves across the capital and there are lots of different ways to get involved, including practical conservation, environmental education, citizen science surveys, ‘venture volunteering’ with the Trust’s ongoing projects, volunteer warden etc.
  • London Bat Group (https://londonbats.org.uk/) – this is a voluntary group working throughout the Greater London area to protect and enhance London’s bat populations. They organise public bat walks and surveys, mainly during the summer months. You can become a member of the group (one year’s membership £7.50 (unwaged £4)) and benefit from a regular newsletter, member-only events, and bat group meetings and talks.
  • The Conservation Volunteers (https://www.tcv.org.uk/volunteering) – TCV relies on an army of passionate volunteers to carry out vital conservation work all year round. They offer a range of activities suitable for all levels of experience and fitness. If you visit their website and enter your postcode you can find a TCV activity near you (for example, my nearest sites are Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park and Stave Hill Ecological Park).

Join the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) Student subscription fees for 2018/19 are only £22, and student members studying on a degree course accredited by CIEEM are eligible for free membership. Student member benefits include:

  • Discounted rates on an extensive professional development programme (including training courses and conferences);
  • Plan and record your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through an online platform;
  • Local and regional networking opportunities through nearest Member Network (https://www.cieem.net/member-networks);
  • A digital copy of CIEEM’s In Practice magazine every quarter;
  • Monthly updates on policy and the latest news from the sector directly to your inbox; and
  • Exclusive member discounts from carefully chosen suppliers of equipment and clothing.

 

 

Insights into Consultancy for Sustainability

20 February 2019

Tim Curtis profile

Tim Curtis Managing Director at Ricardo Energy & Environment

What does consultancy work involve?

Like many things in life, the answer is “it depends”!  …on the company you work for, the sector you work in and the specific clients you are engaged by.

From my experience, there are some common themes in the working life of an environmental consultant:

  • Resilience is key. People in consultancy businesses work under continuous pressure. There is the pressure to deliver excellent work for a customer to time and budget.  They also need to win the next piece of work and respond to the demands of working in and across teams.  So, consultancy work is tough, but it can be tremendously rewarding.
  • Communication skills are critical. Even at the most junior level, you will be in a project team, likely to be talking to clients and will get exposure to senior management, so the ability to articulate what you are doing in an engaging and compelling way is key.
  • Contribution to the Team is paramount – that might be a small project team, a business area or the company as a whole. Work is very fluid in consultancies, and people are expected to get involved when there is a need and where they can add something.
  • Variety is energising – if you have an enquiring mind and like doing new things regularly, then consultancy can be really exciting. Projects tend to be from a couple of weeks to 6 months so you will be moving swiftly from one project to another.  And, you will often need to juggle multiple projects.
  • Environment as a topic is inspiring. People love working for an environmental consultancy because they know they are making a difference.  A couple of examples:
    • We recently completed a knowledge transfer energy project in Bangladesh. As a result, the power sector leaders and experts will be able to maximise access to electricity for the 165 million people in Bangladesh.
    • We looked at how to improve the management of surface water run-off treatment options for Southampton Airport (including a lot of chemicals used to de-ice planes). As a result, we have protected aquatic wildlife by preventing chemicals going into the local river.

What sectors does your company provide consultancy for? Can you give some examples of the issues and projects that a sustainability consultancy tackles?

At Ricardo, we work across most of the environmental areas: climate change, energy, waste, scarce resources, water, air quality, sustainable transport, agriculture, biodiversity, environmental impact, chemicals.

Our clients are many and various – national and local governments, major corporations and heavy industry, transportation providers, infrastructure and utility companies, international agencies and funders (eg the World Bank). But also smaller companies and not-for-profits.

The work of environmental consultancies is best illustrated by some examples of our projects:

  1. Combining smart grids and electric vehicles in Brighton, UK
    This project entailed creation of a charge-point roll-out strategy for EV charging infrastructure in Brighton.  A critical element was use of smart grid technology to unlock spare capacity for increased numbers of electric vehicles (automated transfer of electricity to areas of high demand).  Through this we were able to maximise the power available from existing infrastructure, hence avoiding costly network reinforcement or substation replacement.
  1. Supporting a State Government in Australia to assess the implications of transitioning to a Circular Economy (CE)
    This project looked at the implications of transition to a Circular Economy (designing waste out of the economy) across eight key sectors, identifying global trends and potential local action. This brought together key experts from the fields of waste, water, sustainable transport, energy efficiency, resource use and advanced manufacturing. The project provided global insight into actions and best practice activities from across the key sectors, identifying potential implications, barriers and enablers of a circular economy.
  1. Integrated environment programme for Liaoning Environmental Protection Board (China)
    The aim of this project was to tackle the interrelated issues of pollution abatement, economic modernisation and social redeployment within Liaoning Province.  Ricardo led the Air Quality Management component of the project that:
  • Established comprehensive emission inventories at city and provincial level
  • Delivered training and capacity strengthening
  • Developed effective ambient and source (of pollution) measurement programmes, dispersion modelling and GIS based environmental information systems
  • Developed economic models for the cost-benefit analysis and design of optimal emission control and mitigation strategies

What range of skills  and what academic subjects does your company look for when hiring for consultancy roles?

The kinds of skills we need are quite varied:

Environmental policy analysis Economic evaluation
Modelling /monitoring (eg air and water) Technology development (eg software products and tools)
Evaluation of technology performance Data management (eg inventories)
Engineering (mechanical / electrical / chemical) Digital resilience for critical infrastructure
Pollution incident management Digital services (IT development)
Life Cycle Assessment Finance
Health Impact Assessment Marketing

So, we have some very specialist and deep technical skill requirements, some more broad research and investigation skills, + more generic areas like economics, IT, finance and marketing.

Therefore, the range of academic subjects we recruit from is wide, and role dependent.  Most people we take on will be at Masters level, and many will have a scientific or engineering background, but not all.

What are the challenges for the environmental sector in future, and what impact will they have on consultancy work?

That is a huge question!  I am going to cheat by providing a link to an excellent slideshow that you can look at, recently produced by the World Resources Institute.

The key issues identified in the slideshow can be summarised as:

  • Tumultuous times: will geopolitics limit climate action?
  • Bracing for impacts: will climate adaptation rise up the agenda?
  • Sustainable apparel: will fast fashion slow down?
  • Deforestation: will commodity supply chains rise to the challenge?
  • Project of the century: will Belt & Road advance green growth?
  • Micro-mobility: a fad or the future?
  • US Climate action: turning the tide on Trump?

So, these are major global themes……what might they mean for international environmental consultancy opportunities:

  • Global emissions are rising……1.5 degrees temperature rise is not far away…..might be more about adapting to than mitigating climate change in the future?
  • Focus on cities/states as clients (and key actors)……when historically it may have been national governments.
  • Need for more attention on water management (eg enormous water footprint of fashion industry – 2,700 litres for one shirt).
  • China’s “Belt and Road” initiative is huge – opportunities for consultancy (and risks to environment)?
  • Biodiversity expertise needed in response to deforestation.
  • Changes to urban mobility strategies and plans in response to behaviour change.
  • Need for “blended” solutions of public and private finance across all areas.

This agenda appears to provide an enormous range of potential opportunities…….and it does.  However, there is a but………as a consultant, you can only do the work that clients want to engage you for, and global risks can take time to feed into consultancy projects.

In environmental consultancy, the topics are fascinating, challenging, enlightening and rewarding, but you need someone who has a budget to engage you to do the work.  So “thought leadership” in helping the wider world to appreciate the issues and the opportunities is key to open the conversations with potential clients. The ideal approach is to seed ideas, get their interest and then offer a solution……that is the art of being a great consultant.

(more…)

Career Profile | Independent Sexual Violence Advocate

7 February 2019

A former UCL student reflects on how her role as a sabbatical officer for Students’ Union UCL led her to work in the charity sector.

Annie Tidbury was Women’s office for Students’ Union UCL, an experience she describes as “transformative”. Each Spring UCL students elect seven full-time, paid sabbatical officers. Four of the seven act as charity trustees and all gain a great wealth of experience working for a registered charity. The deadline for this year’s nominations is 22nd February at noon. Interested? Find out more on their website and think about nominating yourself or a fellow student!

Annie, what is your current role?

For the past year I’ve been working as an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate – that means that I support and advocate for survivors of sexual violence who are going through the criminal justice system.

What made you decide this was for you?

My time as Women’s Officer is what made me want to work in the women’s movement. Back in 2014, I organised some training for myself and others at the Students’ Union and that training was delivered by the rape crisis centre I currently work for. It was honestly something as small as this that introduced me to the job that I do today.

What experiences helped you along the way?

Being Women’s Officer was really transformative for me and it is undoubtedly the main reason I was accepted onto a charity sector grad scheme after leaving UCL. Let’s be honest; there aren’t very many graduate jobs where you go straight in at the top of an organisation and get to make really big decisions about how it runs. As Women’s Officer I had the time, platform and resources to run university-wide campaigns, change policies and procedures, advocate to management and create the kind of spaces that I wanted to see within the union. All of those things were important in and of themselves, and they also gave me knowledge and skills that have been invaluable ever since; in my role as a project manager at a small charity, as head of membership and communications at a slightly larger learning disability organisation, and now in my role at a rape crisis centre.

I feel that it’s important to say that whilst being a sabbatical officer will almost definitely be useful for whatever you want to do next, your future career should absolutely not be the only reason you stand for election. If you don’t particularly care about the Students’ Union, or the position you’re running for, then you will most likely have a frustrating year and do a bad job. Trust me, it’s happened. But if you do care and if you think that students having collective power is important, then do it and you will reap the rewards throughout your sabbatical year and beyond.

This article was written as part of Charities and NGOs Themed Week.

Find out more about upcoming Themed Weeks on our website! 

Top 10 insights from Charities & NGOs: Behind the scenes – influencing & policy

5 February 2019

As part of UCL’s Charities & NGOs Themed Week we held a panel session titled “Behind the Scenes – Influencing & Policy”.

We were joined by Jens Van den Brande, Economist at the National Foundation for Educational Research, Shilpa Ross, Senior Researcher at The King’s Fund, Annabell Rebello, Job Coach and Skills Trainer at Mencap and Beth Blackmore, Operations Executive at Koreo working with Charityworks.

Here are some key insights from the event, combined with some tips from UCL Careers Consultants.

  1. Don’t be too narrow minded, learn from different experiences

A common theme was not to be too focused on one specific ‘dream role’. Gaining experience within the sector can provide valuable experience and insight that could allow you to cross over to another organisation or role. In entry level positions or smaller organisations, you are often asked to get involved with numerous projects, assisting a variety of teams, which enables you to develop a variety of valuable skills. This will help you develop expertise and give you a flavour of the different types of roles found within charities and NGOs which can help you find that ‘dream role’.

  1. Get experience that will give you a head start

All panellists highlighted the importance of gaining work experience early in your job search. Work shadowing, internships, volunteering in a charity or even joining certain university societies were all stated as excellent opportunities to gain valuable experience for your CV and may even lead to directly hearing about a paid opportunity within an organisation.

  1. You can contribute!

Don’t underestimate what you can contribute now; panellists highlighted that across the sector young people are underrepresented on charity boards of trustees. Investigate becoming a charity trustee – look up “Young Charity Trustees” on Facebook or LinkedIn for inspiration. Check out the Charity Digital Code – charities need digital skills at all levels. As one panellist said – you are the digital natives!

  1. Find a cause you’re passionate about

Panellists felt finding a cause that you feel passionate about can be crucial in succeeding with your job search within the charity sector. Employers are often looking for driven staff who want to make a real difference in the area they work. Taking the time to do some research in your areas of interest can lead to finding an organisation with goals that align with your passion and will result in you having the opportunity to work with like-minded people. Guidestar is a great resource for finding UK charities working in a particular field.

  1. Understand the sector you want to work in

Looking into specific roles that interest you within the sector can often give you the edge when applying for roles. Do some research into the organisation you want to work for. Get an idea of who their competitors are and find out how certain organisations are unique. Why is it that you want to work for them specifically? Through doing your homework on an organisation before applying you gain an understanding of the roles they have on offer as well as which positions would suit you best.

  1. Variety is the spice of life!

Many of the panellists stated that the variety within their role was one of the things they enjoyed the most. Interacting with a variety of stakeholders, hearing their stories and working towards making a difference in the lives of others was something that made their work worthwhile.

  1. Find your unique selling points (USPs)

Identifying your USPs was something many of the panellists mentioned as being particularly important and would enable you to stand out from the crowd during an application process. Having these USPs will set you apart from other candidates and focus on the attributes you have that employers can benefit from. Examples of USPs can be some particular work experience, a postgraduate qualification or particular skills you have acquired.

  1. Access support from colleagues and networks

One of the key benefits of working within the charity sector according to all panellists was the collaborative, friendly and driven nature of the workforce within the sector. Making the most of colleagues, asking them questions and tapping into their skills and knowledge can be invaluable when gaining knowledge and understanding best practice. Seek out a mentor – someone in the sector prepared to take an interest in your growth and development, who you can share your goals and fears with openly, who will be a source of wisdom and encouragement. Try the UCL Alumni mentoring database or ask around in organisations you have contact with.

  1. Funding limitations leads to lack of job security within sector

One of the major challenges mentioned facing the charity sector is a lack of funding and financial security. This can lead to a lack of resources, lower salaries, limited staff benefits and an uncertainty surrounding job security when compared with corporate organisations. Although this seemed to be a challenge across the sector, one of the panellist had a very positive way of looking at this, stating that a lack of job security leads to a varied career and therefore gaining a wealth of skills and experience.

  1. Basic competencies are key to most positions

Panellists highlighted the importance of needing to meet key competencies when applying for roles. Organisations will often outline key qualities they’re looking for in candidates, which will equip them with the attributes needed to carry out the advertised role. It is important to show an understanding of these competencies and have strong examples of times when you have demonstrated these skills. Quite often these competencies are based on softer skills such as communication, problem solving and team work.

In summary:

An organisation’s workforce will often come from a range of different backgrounds, this is why focusing on your passion for the cause, drawing from your USPs and previous experiences, along with being able to demonstrate key competencies will put you in good stead to succeed in the application process.

International Development Themed Week | 4th – 8th February 2019

1 February 2019

We have an exciting week of events coming up to help you better understand this sector and possible routes in – full of opportunities to hear from professionals working in this field about their roles and organisations.

What is International Development?

The sector is about supporting people from economically disadvantaged places around the globe to address a range of issues that includes poverty, human rights violations, education and healthcare. Many organisations not only respond to emergencies but work with developing countries to implement long-term and sustainable solutions.

Introduction to International Development will give you the information you need to get started thinking about a career in this sector.

This lunchtime session will give an overview of the areas of work, the types of organisations and different ways to get into the sector.

How do I get into the sector?

Like any sector, there are many different routes in but usually you will need an undergraduate degree for entry-level or volunteer positions. However, many organisations also offer graduate schemes and internships.

Pathways into International Development will give you a chance to hear from professionals in the sector about the paths they took, other possible routes and what is offered by the organisation they work for. You might even learn things that you can include in your future cover letters!

What is it like working in the sector?

So, you’ve done your research about the International Development sector, you have identified some organisations and roles that sound interesting on paper – but what is it really like working in this sector on a day to day basis?

Alumni Perspectives in International Development, will give you a chance to hear from professionals – all of whom started their journey at UCL.

Spotlight on Global Health

This year we have a spotlight event on the area of Global Health.

Careers in Global Health is our final event, aiming to showcase both clinical and non-clinical roles. You will get a chance to hear from professional in this area, the sort of projects you could get involved in and how to progress while still at UCL.

What else is happening during the week?

Keep an eye out on the UCL Careers Twitter page for current jobs and opportunities related to this sector.

I’m a bit nervous about talking with guest speakers

Not to worry, many people find this daunting, so why not attend the upcoming Careers Essentials workshop on Career Essentials: Making the most of Panels and Alumni events. We have even written a blog on this exact topic.

How to get the most from a panel or networking event

28 January 2019

Going to a panel or alumni event will give you the opportunity to meet and hear from a range of speakers. They will be able to provide insight into their industries, and stories from their own careers that might prove to be invaluable when starting your own career.

To get the most out of attending a panel or alumni event, we’ve got a few tips to help you before, during and after the event.

Before

Research the speakers and their organisations. There’s plenty of easy ways to find out about companies and their opportunities, as well as the speakers themselves.

Start with LinkedIn to find out about the speakers and the organisations. On LinkedIn, there’s also a fantastic feature attached to organisations that shows you which alumni from UCL work there. It should prove useful to see which UCL graduates work for the organisation, as well as their roles. You might also be surprised to see the wide range of degree backgrounds that our graduates have within a single organisation!

There’s also Glassdoor, a helpful resource for finding reviews as well as other information such as salaries and even past interview questions.

Lastly, do a search on Google and look through the news to see what has recently been written about the companies in relevant news feeds.

If you’ll be attending an alumni networking event, consider what you wear to event to help you make a great first impression.

During

Take notes during a panel event, whether it’s simply to keep a list of websites or events that speakers recommend, or advice that you’ve found insightful.  This may also assist with asking questions, as you might want to follow up with questions on something that was said during the event.

At an alumni event, try to engage in a conversation with an alum. A simple tip is to ask open questions to begin with such as “How did you start working for …”, as this cannot be answered with a short yes or no, and that will help your conversation start flowing quickly.

For any type of event where you can network, always try to connect with people that you are interested in speaking with. Sometimes the connection will be the start of a longer conversation and potentially lead to future opportunities.

After

Within the first couple of days after the event, reach out to your new connections via LinkedIn or email. If they’re a working professional, remember that their time may be limited so be considerate when asking for advice.

What are your next steps? Is there a new jobs board to sign up to, or a networking event worth signing up for? Aim to have two or three simple actions that you plan on following up and set a simple deadline for each action.

As great as a panel or networking event is, the true value often comes once you capitalise on what you have learnt through the event.

Want to attend an exciting panel or networking event? The UCL Careers Themed Weeks give you the chance to meet professionals in a range of exciting sectors such as Charities & NGOs and International Development.

By Jai Shah – Careers Consultant

Are Graduate Schemes Still Open?

11 January 2019

Which can I apply for? Are graduate schemes right for me?

If you haven’t applied to a graduate scheme already, you might be asking yourself some of these questions. There’s no need to worry. If you want to find a programme, there are still plenty currently taking applications. You might even decide that graduate schemes aren’t worth it. After all, one in six graduates leave their first employer within the first two years.

Which graduate schemes are still open?

Prospects

Many of these programmes are still taking applicants. Others take on graduates on a rolling basis. So who’s recruiting students? Prospects have put together a handy online tool where you can search open graduate schemes. Use their filter options to reveal graduate programmes which you can sort by industry and location.

So which employers are still looking for current students and recent graduates? Here’s a little taste of the ones that are still open, from a range of sectors.

Find out who’s still taking applications on the Prospects search tool.

Clearly employers are still searching for students to recruit, so do some research across the web and try and meet as many graduate recruiters as you can at our events.

Are graduate schemes right for me?

It is easy to feel pressured into applying for a graduate scheme – but these schemes are not your only choice. Most employers (including those who run graduate schemes), hire graduates on a continuous basis.

You only need to check the current vacancies on myUCLCareers to see this for yourself. You can search other major jobs boards, such as LinkedIn or Indeed, including the term “Graduate” and you will see plenty of graduate roles that aren’t part of a particular scheme.

This is particularly true for organisations who are not large enough to warrant a graduate scheme. This is why international organisations which hundreds of staff are much more likely to have schemes on offer. Working for a company like this might not suit your goals, so don’t be afraid to look elsewhere for graduate jobs. Read more about the difference between a graduate job and a graduate scheme on Gradtouch.

Further study is another popular choice, with 30% of UCL graduates in 2016 securing further study courses after six months.

Full-time work (49%), Part-time work (9%), Work and study (1%), Study (30%), Due to start work (1%), Unemployed (2%), Other (8%)

 

 

How can I improve my applications? (for all graduate jobs)

All graduate jobs, whether part of a graduate scheme or not, want you to demonstrate your motivation, desirable qualities, skills and experience.
One of the best ways to do this is through volunteering and work experience. By finding an internship or other work experience you will show your motivation to employers, gain useful real-world experience, and learn more about that particular role or sector.

You might realise that you don’t enjoy a particular sector as much as you expect. This means you can look for something different when you graduate. If you love the job, you’ll be able to demonstrate your awareness of the sector to future employers. It’s very common for people who do internships while they study to secure a job with the same employer when they graduate.

Have work or volunteering experience? Let graduate recruiters know what you learned using examples. Be sure to tell them how you can apply those lessons when working for them. It’s what you’re aiming to do after all!

In your final year or recently graduated?

It might be time to start looking at what’s available and applying.

Our careers consultants can help you review your CVs and applications in one-to-one advice sessions and mock interviews. These will give you the confidence you need to evidence your best qualities when applying.

Graduate schemes often use recruitment tools such as assessment centres and psychometric testing to filter applications. Although these can seem intimidating, the more you know about them, the less scary they become.

UCL Careers run a range of workshops, talks and employer-led events through the year. These include mock assessment centres, employer networking and application sessions. Any of these could help with your graduate job applications, so see the full events calendar and book your place.

Remember, UCL Careers is here to support you, no matter what stage your at in your career planning; whether you’re applying to graduate schemes or any other kind of work or further study. Find out more about what UCL Careers can offer you.

Interview with BAFTA Television Programme Manager, Kam Kandola Flynn

8 January 2019

First of all, what does BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) do?

Our mission is to bring the very best work in film, games and television to public attention, and support the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. We do this by identifying and celebrating excellence, discovering, inspiring and nurturing new talent, and enabling learning and creative collaboration.

BAFTA Trophy

In addition to our Awards ceremonies, we have a year-round programme of learning events and initiatives that offers unique access to some of the world’s most inspiring talent through workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes.

The UK boasts a wealth of talented people who could make a huge contribution to the continued excellence of British film, games and television. We want to ensure that this talent is nurtured and supported, so that talented individuals have the opportunity to succeed whatever their background, and – through accessing the expertise of their peers and established practitioners – reach their full potential.

And what do you do at BAFTA?

At BAFTA I work within the Learning and New Talent team who work with practitioners from the television, film and games community to discuss and define creative excellence in order to share the tools with wider audiences to make better film, games and television.

I manage and programme our television industry activity which ranges from industry focused debates and lectures addressing issues of the day, to craft-led masterclasses, panel events, Q&As, exclusive screenings and new talent initiatives. The aim is to share insights and expertise into the craft of programme making from BAFTA winners, nominees and the best minds in TV with a wider audience to develop knowledge, skills and talent. I also nurture BAFTA’s relationships with industry practitioners to ensure we are reflecting and supporting the work of the television industry, as well as working on our new talent initiatives which aim to discover, nurture and support the skills and development of the next generation of talent.

What did you do previously?

I studied media and cultural studies at Nottingham Trent University graduating in 2001, during which I did lots of work experience in media-related environments such as hospital radio and being a production runner for shows such as Big Brother. I also thought it would be useful to build up my administration/office skills, so I also pursued part-time work that would get these skills up to scratch. After I graduated, I moved to London and got a job as a runner in post-production then secured my first media job working for a company that programmed the in-flight entertainment for airlines. However, I knew that I wanted to work in television, so I applied for a role at Carlton TV (now ITV) working with a producer as an administration assistant – so putting those admin/office skills to good use! Then I moved on to Channel 4 as a commissioning assistant before joining BAFTA as a regional programmer, which eventually led into my current role (after a short stint working on the Edinburgh International Television Festival).

What do you enjoy about your role?

BAFTA rewards excellence in screen arts, and I love having the opportunity to not only work with practitioners at the top of their game but also supporting talent and skills development in TV, especially at a time where the industry is working so hard to try and level the playing field for anyone from any background or experience to be part of it.

What are the current challenges facing this sector?

The television workforce is not as representative of society in general as it could be. There has been a recent focus on diversifying the workforce and levelling the playing field across the sector in technical, production and editorial roles – so there are lots more opportunities around than there used to be not only to get into the industry but also to sustain a career.

With recent “Digital Disrupters” (as they are referred to in the business) such as online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Facebook, the challenge is to make shows that appeal to younger people. There is an eagerness to find stories that will engage and be relevant for this demographic.

What are common graduate routes into the industry?

As an industry we have many routes in but for graduates there are training schemes and apprenticeships – you can find out about some of these via ScreenSkills the industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen-based creative industries. All broadcasters like BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Channel 5 advertise their opportunities online, and places like the Unit List and Talent Manager promote jobs.  However, you can also get in via junior roles such as runners, researchers or production assistants. Everyone has their own routes.

What would be your top tips for getting into this industry?

  1. Build your network! As much as possible in your own relevant area of interest. This should include peer-to-peer relationships, as these may be your future collaborators.
  2. Get as much work experience as you can – including developing ‘soft skills’ (like teamwork and communication) as these are important. Be hardworking, nice and talented (or at least two of those!)
  3. Make content – e.g. short films, interview led pieces – as this shows passion and your creative eye.
  4. Think about your own unique selling points – e.g. if you have an interest in cooking or medieval art or can speak Italian then hone that knowledge, be passionate – this knowledge will come into use.
  5. Don’t be afraid of stepping sideways in job roles – take your time to develop skills and knowledge
  6. Be flexible if you can – it is largely a freelance industry. See everything as an opportunity.
  7. Although London has been traditionally been the place to be, content hubs are expanding and growing all over the UK in places like Salford, Bristol, Leeds and Glasgow. These will be great places to start your career and build up your skills.
  8. Think outside of editorial roles, and into craft areas where there are particular skills gaps such as visual effects or editing. E.g. see BAFTA’s Television Craft Awards for a range of potential roles.
  9. Check our BAFTA Guru for insights from industry professionals at.
  10. Be you – that’s the best quality you have.

BAFTA offers internships as well as permanent and freelance roles in administration and event production – to see what currently is being offered, they advertise on the BAFTA Jobs website and on Twitter and Facebook

Written by Sally Brown – Careers Consultant at UCL Careers

This blog was written as a follow up to our Media Themed Week. Find out more about upcoming Themed Week events on our website.

Insights from the ‘UCL Careers: Insights into Publishing’ event

4 January 2019

UCL Careers recently hosted a panel event around getting into publishing and understanding what a role in the industry involves. Here’s what our panellists had to say:

Hannah Ray, Editorial Director at Macmillan Children’s Books

‘Editing means different things in different companies. My role as Editorial Director is around 30% creative and 70% business-focused – such as costing and selling strategies. Highlights include having the opportunity to work with both established authors and new talent. Challenges include working to deadlines when there are so many people involved – such as when people get sick and there are many people waiting for the book.’

 headshot of Hannah Ray
headshot of Allie Collins

Allie Collins, Editor at Bloomsbury Sport/Freelance Editor

‘When you work freelance, you have more control over your own time and projects. Conversely, working in-house means you get to see books through from start-to-finish. Sometimes a challenge as an editor is managing authors’ expectations – such as the design of the front cover –  so often you need to act as a mediator.’

Tom Atkins, Freelance Proof-reader  

As a freelance proof-reader you come in at the end and cast a slow lengthy glance over the proof pages – so you get to work with paper and pencil! It is great if you love spotting flaws – like spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes and any minor plot inconstancies. Working freelance can be lonely though, and you don’t have guaranteed work or a pension – not to mention that you have to do your own tax returns!’

headshot of Tom Atkins
headshot of Ella Kahn

Ella Kahn, Literary Agent at Diamond Kahn and Woods

As a literary agent you are at the beginning of the process – essentially a manager for authors. You may work with a range of publishing houses – both large and small. You often will meet editors for coffee and lunch to build up a picture of what they are currently looking for in a commission. It is both a sales and editorial role and you have a close relationship with the authors you represent – often being both a nanny and a lawyer for them. You might get over 50 submissions from authors a week, but only take on 1-2 people a year. Highlights include working with authors and championing them to get the recognition they deserve. Challenges are dealing with rejection – on both sides. You have to handle turning people down and getting turned down by publishers.’

Top ten tips on getting into publishing

  1. Have passion: this is a very competitive industry. Everyone’s CV is impressive, so tailor your cover letter and light up when you talk about the industry in your interview. It is not enough to say ‘I love books’ and don’t have an overly romantic view of the industry – there is a lot of business to it such as profit and loss. So show you have negotiation skills and that you can use an Excel spreadsheet. Communication and relationship-building skills are also vital. Show transferable skills.
  2. Understand the importance of networks: start to meet people now, whether this is professionals or peers also pursuing this industry.
  3. Do your research: when applying to publishing houses, learn about the books they publish – look at things like Amazon rankings and understand the different genres.
  4. Ask insightful questions at interviews: good examples include “What is coming out soon?” “Which books are you most excited about publishing in the next year?”.
  5. Be aware of current trends: Know who the big authors in your genre of interest are.
  6. Consider taking a job in a department that is not your first choice: once your foot is in the door you might be able to change departments.
  7. Follow key people on Twitter: try searching hashtags such as: #askagent #askapublisher and #ukya
  8. Want to work freelance? you might want to start in-house as it is very rare editors will work with freelancers they don’t know. You can start doing freelance work on the side.
  9. An MA in publishing can be useful: it gives you a great overview of the different areas, but it is not a pre-requisite, as publishing is trying very hard to be inclusive. If you want to do a professional course, ensure it is an industry recognised one.
  10. Keep going! Be resilient and thick skinned – you will get interviews. Learn from interviews you fail at and ask for feedback and put it into practise.

Want to learn more?

 

How to get into publishing

4 January 2019

What is considered ‘publishing’?

publishing: the occupation or activity of preparing and issuing books, journals, and other material for sale (n.) 

To put it simply, publishing is about making concepts public; connecting people who create content with people who need that content.

Roles in publishing exist across the media industry, involving not only the production of books and journals but also magazines, newspapers, business media, musical scores and graphics – to name a few! As our world becomes more technologically advanced, new multi-media formats also contribute to shifting industry opportunities, challenges and career paths.

Publishing is a competitive industry, with notoriously few advertised entry-level positions. Whilst some organisations recognise this and are developing routes into the industry for a wider pool of candidates, these remain highly sought-after. The most common routes into publishing include postgraduate qualifications, work experience placements, graduate training schemes, networking and personal recommendations. Candidates with a strong work ethic and transferable skills developed via experience in other sectors, are also well regarded.

What careers can I have in publishing?

A career in publishing can vary depending on both the sector and department you work in.

Some of the more common sectors of publishing include:

  • Academic
  • Consumer
  • Educational
  • Professional
  • Scientific and technical

Within these sectors are a wide range of departments. For example within the book publishing industry, typical departments include:

  • Contracts: working with editors and literary agents or the author to negotiate the terms of the contract.
  • Design: reviewing the book and liaising with editorial and marketing to create a visual identity and oversee its implementation – from the jacket to the cover and interior.
  • Digital: creating, implementing and maintaining new and existing web initiatives, including the organisation’s own web offering, online features and marketing campaigns.
  • Editorial: acquiring and editing a manuscript, and seeing it through to publication.
  • Managing Editorial: overseeing the whole editorial process, including working with both editorial and production to keep an eye on schedules for both the finished product and wraparound materials.
  • Marketing: creating and producing creative campaigns, using methods such as digital and print advertising, social media and events, to promote and share the book with consumers.
  • Publicity: from author signings to social media schedules and pitching to newspapers, television and radio, the team are the vital connection in promoting the book to the media.
  • Production: overseeing the manufacturing process, from manuscript to book. This could include typesetting, working with suppliers and printers, and budgeting.
  • Rights: managing the licensing of the rights of any original publication both at home and abroad. Common examples are translations, audio editions, sequels by other authors etc.
  • Sales: working with outlets to ensure the book is readily available to consumers, such as online, bookshops, supermarkets etc.

These are all on top of ‘business-as-usual’ operations, such as Human Resources, IT, Finance etc.  Many organisations will also have additional departments such as audio, digital production (e-books), in-house distribution, packaging etc.

If you’re interested in finding out about the different functions of each department, you could check out this handy guide by Book Jobs. You could also explore the different teams at Penguin Random House, the largest of the ‘Big Five’ publishing houses.

What qualifications do I need?

Whilst MA courses in publishing are available (including at UCL!) and are an effective way to start building a network of contacts, it’s certainly not a requirement to work in publishing. If you’re considering a postgraduate course, it’s just as important to think about you want to gain from the experience, and weigh this up against the cost implications and other ways to reach the same goals, such as work experience. There are also some technical roles where a related degree would be valuable – such as a designer or digital engineer.

It is also a common misconception that the publishing industry focuses on hiring English or Literature graduates. In fact, it’s experience and drive that are vital proof of your motivation and skills for a career in the industry.

How do I get a graduate job?

There is no ‘one route’ into this industry, and it entirely depends on the type of role you are looking for. Some organisations highlight the importance of work experience when they hire for entry-level roles. Work experience is a great way to work with professionals in your area of interest, make connections and build up your skill set. Other organisations will readily accept candidates with experience in other fields that has given them transferable skills – think of it as the back door in.

Spent time working at a digital marketing agency? That could have set you up with the skills you need to succeed in the digital team at a publisher. Getting jobs in the industry can also be influenced by referrals and recommendations, so it is useful to start building up your network as soon as possible.

Publishing Graduate Schemes

Although graduate schemes in publishing are gradually becoming more common, competition tends to be high for a limited number of places.  Current schemes include but are not limited to:

  • The BAME Trainee Programme from HarperCollins, a twelve-month rotational traineeship around the business in London. Last year, applications for places starting in October 2018 closed in mid-April.
  • The Cambridge University Press Graduate Programme, a fifteen-month rotational programme experiencing different business streams. Last year, applications for places starting in September 2018 closed in February.
  • The Scheme from Penguin Random House UK, six-month editorial traineeships for applicants from a BAME or socio-economically disadvantaged background. Last year, applications for places starting in September 2018 closed in May.
  • The Fresh Chapters Traineeship at Hachette, a twelve-month BAME traineeship, half of which will be spent in editorial, and the other half in another department. Last year, applications for places starting in October 2018 closed in early July.

Work Experience

A slightly less competitive way to ‘get a foot in the door’ is through work experience. Many organisations run work experience or internship programmes – and if they don’t advertise them directly, there’s no harm in getting in contact and seeing if something can be arranged. Current work experience opportunities include but are not limited to:

  • Oxford University Press runs an eight-week internship programme for graduates throughout July and August. In 2018, the deadline for applying was in March.
  • Penguin Random House has a summer internship that runs throughout July and August. In 2018 applications closed in April. They also recruits four times a year for paid two-week work experience placements. The Spare Room Project supported by Penguin Random House, also matches interns from outside London with people in the book industry who live in the capital and can offer them a place to stay.
  • Hachette run Fresh Chapters, an eight-week internship programme in editorial, marketing or publicity as well as ongoing one week placements (advertised via Facebook and Twitter).
  • Harper Collins offer an internship programme of up to six-months as well as four-week work experience opportunities (advertised via Twitter).
  • Bloomsbury have a paid internship programme, with four intakes per year across Marketing, Publicity and Editorial. Recruitment for April 2019 will begin in February 2019.
  • Blake Friedmann offer three-month internships on a rolling basis. They also run the Carole Blake Open Doors Project – a two-week, all-expenses-paid shadowing scheme for students from under-represented backgrounds.
  • The Guardian offer two-week work experience placements in the Guardian and Observer Editorial departments, across a range of desks, typically between March-June and October-December. Applications for 2019 opportunities will close on 7 December 2018.
  • Dorling Kindersley offer internship and work experience placements. Check back for opening times for 2019 internship opportunities, work experience applications are received on a rolling basis.
  • The Publishers Association occasionally recruits for internships and short work experience.

In fact, a lot of organisations will invite applications to work experience schemes via their websites. Remember not to disregard the smaller, more independent, publishing houses – their schemes are normally less over-subscribed and in some cases can last longer than an average fortnight placement.

You can also use social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – to gather information and make industry connections. For example, if you want to work as a Literary Agent, follow both the literary agencies and the literary agents! You can also follow accounts dedicated to sharing jobs and opportunities such as:

@publishersassoc

@PubInterns

@BookJobsUK

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