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What to Expect from Sustainability Fortnight 2020

JoeO'Brien10 February 2020

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

What does ‘Sustainability’ really mean?

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

What kind of industries are hiring for this?

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

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

Coming up on the programme:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Careers with Global Impact: Working in International Development

JoeO'Brien6 February 2020

Written by Shally Sawhney, Skills Officer at UCL Careers.

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

1.00pm – 3.00pm

Have you considered a career in International Development?

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

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

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

Book your place now!

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

JoeO'Brien3 February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

What makes your role interesting and what makes it challenging?

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

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

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

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

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

What top tips would you give to students?

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

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

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

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

7 Things We Learned at Media Week 2019

JoeO'Brien11 December 2019

Written by Rhiannon Williams, Global Internships Manager

Media Week took place at the end of November and we explored the diverse areas within this sector including advertising, broadcasting, publishing, PR, marketing, and journalism. We had a fantastic line-up of speakers across 5 events, including 14 alumni sharing their insights into life after UCL. So, what did we learn?

  1. Be open minded and don’t be afraid to try different things
    From working in a kitchen to doing internships in sectors such as finance, our panellists tried a range of things before embarking on a career in their industry. Being open minded when starting out is often valuable as it can lead to new opportunities that you may have not considered before.

    Perhaps consider the differences between working in an agency and working in house. In agency, you may have a broader variety of projects and there is potential for more rapid career progression, whereas in house you can understand the workings of one organisation in more detail and build relationships with senior stakeholders in the company. Assess which may work best for you and research job profiles for entry level roles like Press Assistant, Junior Account Executive, and Marketing Executive on websites such as Prospects to build an understanding of what is involved in the role.

  2. Take advantage of having London on your doorstep
    With some of the country’s biggest brands and creative agencies based in the capital, it’s a great time to source work experience whilst you are studying at UCL and benefit from the opportunities that many students in universities around the country may not have access to as easily.
  3. There is more competition than ever before in publishing
    Don’t be passive with opportunities as there will be someone else ready to make something of them if you don’t. Make your own luck and demonstrate your curiosity when applying for opportunities. Book-selling skills are incredibly attractive to publishers (working in a bookshop means you know what sells!) but remember that everyone else ‘loves books’ so don’t use this as your USP when writing your application.
  4. Use your network to get a foot in the door
    Networking plays a big part in this industry so think about your network and if there are any friends, family or acquaintances who may have a connection to or work in the industry. You can also try the UCL Alumni Community which offers the opportunity to connect with former students who are now working in a range of roles. Be sure to use LinkedIn as well which allows you to search for and connect with employers.
  5. Like most sectors, there are good and more challenging elements
    There are challenging sides to the industry, particularly at junior level. You may be required to take on a variety of tasks from sourcing props for a campaign shoot, carrying out basic administration duties, and compiling large databases of media and celebrity contacts for a campaign. Gaining experience will allow you to assess if the working environment is right for you.
  6. Follow, and prove, your passions
    Showing evidence of your passion for your chosen field, through work experience, self-driven projects, collaborative work and/ or research, will not only prove to yourself that it’s right for you but it will speak volumes to prospective recruiters / clients too.
  7. Be yourself
    Your uniqueness is a selling point. Develop your interpersonal skills – working in media means talking to all sorts of people so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You never know, the person you’re talking to might be the one to give you your next opportunity!

What next?

Seven Tips For Securing A Career In Cultural Heritage

JoeO'Brien26 November 2019

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

As part of Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Themed Week, we held an event on Careers in Cultural Heritage on 14 November 2019. Four panellists joined us for a Q&A discussion, sharing their insights from the experiences they’ve had during their time in the industry.

Here are the top tips that we took away from the event:

1. Pursue your passion

Tellingly, each panellist told us why they love what they do. They were passionate about various things including research, history, volunteering or arts and literature, all of which allow them to contribute to the industry in which they work. Pursuing your passion will not only contribute to your drive in the workplace, but means you’re more likely to enjoy your role. Make sure that you can demonstrate this passion, through attending relevant talks and events, carrying out research or even going on to do a postgraduate qualification.

2. Find a skill that you are good at

Having a desirable skill that you are good at, which you’re able to evidence during an application process, can give you an advantage when applying for opportunities. Some of the panellists mentioned how they utilise particular skills that they are good at and tailor this towards opportunities for which they are applying. Demonstrating your suitability for a role through this particular skill allows you to carve out your own area of expertise within an industry.

3. Gain relevant experience

Relevant experience can be crucial in job applications. Through this, you’re able to demonstrate your understanding of the sector, the day to day responsibility required for the role and how you are well equipped to do this. Work placements as part of a Masters are excellent opportunities to gain these experiences, as are internships and volunteering opportunities.

4. Be adaptable

Show that you can turn your hand to multiple tasks to demonstrate your adaptability and broad skillset. Panellists highlighted the importance of being able to work with a range of different collections, taking on more management responsibilities through their roles and juggling multiple projects across different locations. Whatever the work involves, showing a can-do attitude and being able to adapt to changing circumstances is a valuable skill for this sector.

5. Make the most of development opportunities

The Cultural Heritage industry seems to be fiercely competitive, therefore panellists were keen to emphasise the importance of making the most of developmental opportunities when they come around. This could be gaining further experiences within your organisation, taking part in training offered by your employer, pursuing further education or undertaking a

traineeship. All these opportunities will enable you to further your knowledge as well as giving you valuable practical experience.

6. Push yourself

All panellist spoke about the importance of working hard and showing a commitment to the work that you do. Push yourself; this commitment can lead to the opportunity to take on more responsibility and gaining further skills, which may prove useful later on in your career. The panellists said this with the caveat that with a long career ahead of you, you should make sure to avoid burnout.

7. Network

Networking can be important in many different sectors. Building contacts and professional networks can be crucial in getting valuable insights and hearing about future opportunities within certain industries. The picture painted by our panellists was of a highly competitive industry that has stiff competition for each vacancy. Through your networks, you will be able to set yourself apart to gain valuable insights that can give you the edge when applying for vacancies.

You can read our other post-event blog from Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Week: Careers in Museums

If you want to speak to one of our Careers Consultants about your career, please book an appointment via MyUCLCareers

How To Develop Your Career Ideas | CareersLab

Skye AAitken4 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skye AAitken1 November 2019

Written by Colm Fallon, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers

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

Panelists sat on chairs on stage

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

  1. Rapid changes are the norm

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

  1. Evidence is key

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

  1. Experience is knowledge

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

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

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

  1. Everyone gets imposter syndrome

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


Applying to GSK’s graduate scheme in 2019/20? | CareersLab

Skye AAitken8 October 2019

This week, Careers Consultant, Raj Sidhu, takes CareersLab on the road! Watch his journey to GSK’s headquarters to learn more about their graduate opportunities.

Want insider tips from GSK’s graduate recruitment team, that could help you with every graduate scheme application you make?
Then watch this video to learn:
  • The best time to send graduate scheme applications
  • What the recruitment process for a graduate scheme looks like
  • Insights into GSK’s graduate scheme

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

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

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

8 Steps To A Spectacular CV | CareersLab

Skye AAitken25 September 2019

This week we launched a brand new YouTube series called CareersLab. In the first episode, Senior Careers Consultant, Raj, shares eight of his top tips for creating a spectacular CV:

Have you ever felt as though your CV doesn’t fully convey the qualities you could bring to an organisation?

Then watch this video for 8 powerful tips you can use to transform your CV today!

  • Learn exactly how to tailor your CV
  • Understand how to present your experiences in a way that an employer can fully appreciate – with multiple examples
  • Learn how to present your degree, software and other skills to present the whole you

We’ll be posting a CareersLab video every week on YouTube and right here on the blog.

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

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

Career Essentials Group Work Sessions Launching This Autumn

Skye AAitken24 September 2019

Three students around a table having a discussion

We are delighted to let you know that this Autumn UCL Careers are launching Career Essentials Group Work, a new series of lunchtime small group sessions. These sessions will give you the opportunity to work with other students on your applications, learn from each other’s experiences, share ideas and receive advice from the trained facilitator. Our new sessions are a sub-branch of our long-running and popular Career Essentials programme, which covers a wide range of career topics. With a maximum of 6 participants at each session, our new group work programme is designed to help you take practical steps to developing your own applications in a supportive environment.

Throughout the Autumn we will be running a fortnightly CV group work session from 13:00 to 13:50 at UCL Careers. In this session, you will gain feedback and tips on how to present your CV. You will also learn how to tailor your CV for the particular role you are interested in applying for and make an impactful first impression with recruiters.

The CV sessions will take place on the following dates:

Please click on the above dates to access myUCLCareers for more details about the CV sessions, the required preparation work and to book your place. Bookings will open two weeks in advance of the sessions.

Please note:

  • Places are limited to 6 participants at each session and therefore booking is essential. Only book if you are able to attend.
  • To take part in the sessions you must complete the short preparation tasks and be willing to share and discuss your work with other participants.
  • The CV session will focus upon CVs for non-academic purposes, such as job and internship applications.

In the Spring our Career Essentials Group Work programme will be expanded with further practical sessions on making speculative applications and using STAR to showcase strengths and skills on application forms. More details to follow soon.

Remember that you can also access support for UCL Careers by booking in for a 1:1 application advice appointment with us.