X Close

UCL Careers

Home

Find Your Future

Menu

Archive for the 'Careers Advice' Category

Sustainability in the Built Environment

20 February 2019


Sara Godinho Senior Consultant at XCO2 and Lecturer at University of Suffolk

The long and winding road…

(*Spoiler alert: my career path has been a bumpy one, filled with trial and error. I don’t regret a single thing as every experience was valuable but hasn’t definitely been a straight line!)

I decided to study Architecture (MArch University of Lisbon) as I was told by a high school career advisor that it would be the best way to combine my creative and artistic side with my analytical thinking. It wasn’t really! While I liked studying Architecture it never really fulfilled me. During my studies, I had a module on Environmental Design that caught my attention. It sparked curiosity and interest in sustainability and environmental design that hasn’t fade.

After graduating and working for a couple of years in my home town Lisbon, I decided to move to London. I was always very oriented to international experiences, I did Erasmus in Norway, studied in Japan for a year, so it was only a matter of time before going abroad again. I was also increasingly frustrated as an architect only focusing on design and ignoring the environmental impact. I really wanted to make a difference and work on making buildings more environmentally friendly. London was an easy choice because after living in Japan, I understood how European I am. I also had a good English level and the UCL MSc Environmental Design and Engineering programme seemed really good. Coming to the UK was a breath of fresh air! The master was a lot of hard work but one of the best years of my life. I learned a lot, made great friends, and had a real “this is it” epiphany as this was the area I wanted to be working on!

I decided to stay after graduation but had a tough time getting a job, it took me about six months and a lot of rejection. I was trying to enter this new sector and was also a foreigner. I got interviews and having UK education helped but everybody kept seeing me as an architect with no UK work experience. I decided to change my strategy and got a job in an architecture practice. It was small and specialised in Passivhaus and was a great learning experience. I got to work on site delivering one of the most demanding energy certifications in the world on a project that has now received a CIBSE Building Performance Award! At the time, the practice had also some research funding so I was lucky to work on Post Occupancy Evaluation of Passivhaus buildings and study their actual performance. It also confirmed that I was less interested in the design and more on the performance so, a couple of years in, I decided to try to move into environmental consultancy. Having now UK work experience made change easier and I finally made it into consultancy work. Funnily for my current job at XCO2 my architectural background was valuable to them as we work with a lot of architects and, being trained in their language, is helpful.

At XCO2, my role is to lead on the energy and sustainability strategies for a project, being a masterplan, new built or refurbishment. My work focuses on reducing the environmental impact of the construction industry, improving buildings’ energy efficiency and performance while promoting occupant wellbeing. Buildings are such complex and beautiful constructions and we spend most of our time inside one so it’s really gratifying when my advice contributes to improving a building’s energy performance or occupant comfort.

Teaching came by serendipity into my life two years ago. Through connections, I saw that the University of Suffolk was looking for a Lecturer in Technology. I applied and got selected and immediately panicked! Would I be able to do it? Instead, I absolutely loved it from day one and teaching has been incredibly transformative for my career. Being able to digest all my knowledge and experience into teaching has made realise how passionate I am about sustainability in the built environment and how much it matters to me to pass on the concepts and the skills and influence future architects. I don’t see sustainability in the built environment as an add-on but as an absolutely fundamental aspect of design. I want my students (and everybody!) to know of the impact buildings have in the environment and in our wellbeing and give them tools to thinks and create better ways of designing.

Although balancing two jobs can be demanding with conflicting needs at times, they absolutely complement each other. My industry experience means I can bring very practical knowledge to my students and teaching requires me to translate difficult concepts into comprehensible principles. It keeps me very aware of the bigger picture and my focus on improving sustainability in the built environment.

 

 

 

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…)

Sustainability Fortnight: What you can expect

8 February 2019

Sustainability is a big deal. It’s one of the most pressing challenges we face today and many of us want to get involved through impactful careers.

The UCL Careers Sustainability Fortnight is designed to give you insights into the roles, rewards and routes into this rapidly developing sector. Here can you develop you understanding of the business issues and global challenges of the sustainability sector, preparing you for career in the field.

Interested in tackling sustainability in NGOs, businesses and governments?

Employers look for graduates who can:

  • Analyse real-world situations critically
  • Understand international issues in a global world
  • Demonstrate ethical leadership
  • Work within different social contexts
  • Engage with a diverse range of people
  • Use resources and budgets wisely

If you have the skills needed to tackle global challenges, you will be well placed to find employment across the sector. Employers are looking for sustainability conscious employees  across the entire organisation – not just in ‘sustainability’ roles. Whether that’s understanding climate risks in an investment portfolio or Modern Day Slavery issues within recruitment roles.

What’s on:

  • Panel talks and lectures from sustainability experts and professionals
  • Q&A sessions so you can have your questions answered
  • Bike sale and maintenance events
  • UCL Sustainability tours
  • Hot-topic discussions
  • Business forums

What you will learn:

  • How do organisations define sustainability
  • Inform yourself with the chance to challenge business representatives at panel and networking events
  • What Corporate Social Responsibility really means
  • How to be an Environmental Auditor
  • What skills you need to be competitive in the sustainability job market
  • The future trends for the energy or construction markets
  • How different sectors are moving towards a sustainable future

Sustainability is a realistic, interesting and prosperous career path with has many routes in. With a broad range of roles available, there will be something to suit anyone with an interest in the sector.

Find out for yourself at one of our events!

  See what’s on and book your place today!

 

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

Erasmus+ funding available for EU internships

15 January 2019

Thinking of undertaking an internship in the EU this summer? Perhaps you’re looking for an opportunity or you’ve already secured one. Either way, you may be eligible to receive the Erasmus+ Traineeship Grant to help you with the costs associated with interning outside of the UK.

Last year Tanja Hann returned home to Germany to undertake an internship in a research institute. She told us more about the experience…

“The Erasmus+ Traineeship Grant allowed me to undertake an internship where I found out what real work in a research laboratory looks like. I have always wanted to become a research scientist, but never really had any actual experience with this. Of course, I also had occasional doubts – what if the job is not right for me? What if it is totally different from what I imagined? The internship definitely helped me to get a better impression of what type of career I want to pursue and erased any doubts I had about whether this path would be right for me.”

How did you find your internship?
The internship was not compulsory to my degree programme – it was fully up to me to decide where to apply. Sourcing the internship was more straightforward than I initially expected. I knew roughly what I wanted to do and what expectations I had and so I just started searching online. I quickly found a couple of research institutes that raised my interest and then proceeded to search for individual research groups. When I found the website of the laboratory I eventually worked with, I knew their work would be right for me – so I just contacted them and was lucky enough to receive a positive reply!

What did you do during your internship?
My internship took place in a research laboratory which is focussed on gene therapy. I was able to get involved in several ongoing projects, which was a really valuable aspect of my experience. One of the projects hadn’t yet reached the experimental stage and I was able to contribute to planning it from the very beginning. This involved reading many research papers on the topic and coming up with an overall project objective. This experience not only taught me how to be a scientist “behind the scenes”, but also gave me the opportunity to learn experimental procedures within another, larger project. The tasks I completed were typical for a cell and molecular genetics laboratory and involved cloning, Western analysis, qPCR, transfection of mammalian cells and even iPSC development.

Why did you choose to undertake an international internship?
The country in which my internship took place was not new to me – however, given the international background of the research institute I worked with, I came into contact with many different cultures at once. My co-workers and I often found ourselves discussing differences between languages, cuisines and even day-to-day habits. This not only taught me to look at things from a different perspective but was also a lot of fun!

What skills did you develop during the internship?
Naturally, working in a research laboratory for two months taught me a lot of experimental techniques relevant to my field of study, as well as the process of planning an advanced research project. However, I learnt so much more than that. During the internship, I wrote a scientific report on all of my accomplishments during the time – this was a really valuable experience and improved my scientific writing skills. On top of that, I believe that working with a variety of people in the laboratory really boosted my communication and teamwork skills, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Has the experience influenced your plans for the future?
The whole internship experience strengthened my desire to pursue a career path in this industry by giving me a much better impression on what this type of work actually involves. I feel like I am more prepared for life after university now and it all seems much less scary!

What tips do you have for other students thinking of doing an internship overseas?
My main tip for students considering going overseas would be: be open to everything. Your experience will (most) likely not be precisely what you imagined and it would be pretty boring if it were, right? You will learn so many things and gather valuable experience – for your studies, your career and your personal development. Another tip I would give to virtually anyone with high career aspirations is: do not be afraid to dream big! You will only have a chance to succeed if you are unafraid to try so do not let anyone, including yourself, tells you what you cannot do!

You don’t need to be doing an internship in a research institute to receive the Erasmus+ Traineeship Grant – all sectors are eligible! If you’d like to apply for the grant, have a look at the Funding page on the Global Internships Programme website to find out more.

Photo from Tanja Hann 

 

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.

Skip to toolbar