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Accessing Careers at a Time That Suits You – Careers Essentials Online Moodle

By Joe O'Brien, on 12 August 2020

Read time: 4 minutes

Written by Lee Pike, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Did you know you can access careers 24/7? That’s right! Whether you’re an early riser or a bit of a night owl, you can access essential careers help and guidance at a time that suits you.

Our one-to-one appointments, workshops, and employer events take place during ‘core’ hours.  Outside these hours you can still access a wealth of information through Careers Essentials Online. This is a video-based, interactive course on Moodle, designed to provide insight and practical tools for students at any stage of their career-thinking.

  1. Careers Essentials Online Structure

The online course has six modules to help guide you through whatever stage of career thinking you might be at. You can go through each in turn or just those that appeal or apply to you in the moment. Below is a list of each module with some descriptive text of each.

Module 1 – Your future and how to work towards it

  • Learn how to make next-step career decisions and understand more about yourself and what might be important to you.
  • Find out how to generate potential career options and carry out job research.
  • You can then approach the task of sourcing opportunities with confidence.

Module 2 – Understanding the graduate job market

  • We’ll demystify phrases like ‘Graduate Schemes’, ‘competencies’ and the ‘hidden job market’.
  • Understand more about the reality of looking for jobs / work experience.
  • Learn what employers look for when recruiting at graduate level.

Module 3 – Sourcing jobs and work experience

  • Understand the best sources of advertised jobs and work experience.
  • Learn strategies to access opportunities that are ‘hidden’ and how to apply for unadvertised work.
  • Find out how best to utilise the services of a recruitment agency.

Module 4 – Effective CV, cover letters and applications

  • Understand how to personalise a CV to a specific role to increase your chances of selection.
  • See examples of model cover letters.
  • Find out how to answer motivation and competency-based questions on application forms.

Module  5 – Interview success

  • Understand how the majority of interview questions are predictable.
  • Learn how to approach an interview including answer preparation by using relevant structures / evidence.
  • Learn how to create a great first impression.

Module 6 – Planning for success – managing your job hunt

  • Understand how to create a strategy to help you plan and move forward with your career thinking and job hunting.
  • Learn how to stay motivated and resilient on your journey.
  1. Module Structure

Each module has four sections: Interactive Tutorial; Support Centre; Key Resources; and, Feedback.

Interactive Tutorial

Interactive Tutorials are full of insight, advice and exercises to help you through each module topic. They range between 20 to 45 minutes to complete. An Australian study compared online tutorials using interactive material with electronic book material. It found that the interactive tutorials produce better results than non-interactive online tutorials.

Support Centre

The Support Centre is where you’ll find links that enable you to book a one-to-one appointment with a Careers Consultant or Applications Advisor. You’ll also find links to careers events, workshops and careers fairs. All events that are usually face-to-face are currently running virtually via Microsoft Teams and other virtual platforms. If you use the Careers Essentials Online before your face-to-face appointment, the appointment will likely be more focused as you’ll have a much better understanding of your issues before you meet.

Key Resources

The Key Resources are a selection of short downloadable mini-guides pertinent to the module topic. Many of these resources form part of the interactive tutorials. This section provides quick access to them rather than needing to go through the Interactive Tutorial.


Feedback is an important part of the Careers Essentials Online Moodle. We always want to improve our offering to you and your feedback is invaluable!

Next steps

Why not…?

  • Make a cup of tea and settle down to an interactive tutorial. You will learn something new at a pace that suits you.
  • Have a look at the services that are available to you through myUCLCareers and UCL Careers Events Programme.
  • Use the key resources from each module. Another fantastic source of online resources is the Careers library.
  • Provide feedback so the Careers Service can continue to improve the Careers Essentials Online Moodle – we’d love to hear from you!

How to Shine Like a STAR in Your Next Application…

By Joe O'Brien, on 17 July 2020

Read time: 4 minutes

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

With potentially fewer opportunities available in the graduate jobs market due to the current situation, you’re even more determined to complete your internship application to the very best of your ability. You’ve added your personal details, academic qualifications and previous work experience and you should have everything ready to send by the end of the day.

Then disaster strikes – you need to answer the dreaded competency questions section. You can feel the panic rising, and you rack your brain for anything you can write about, any anecdote or example that might satisfy the topic in question.

But fear not, as an experienced recruiter, I’ve spent many an hour pouring over hundreds of competency based application answers – the good and the bad. Competency questions can be difficult to answer, but by using the following simple strategy and some good storytelling, I promise that you will come up with answers to impress even the most cynical of recruiters.

Reveal all, I hear you say.

Here goes…prepare to be amazed by the mighty power of the STAR method.

STAR provides you with a simple, straightforward technique to answer both competency and strength based application questions by telling a meaningful and impactful story about your previous experiences. Don’t forget, the same tips also apply when answering questions during an interview.

STAR is an acronym that stands for Situation, Task, Action & Result.

(S) Situation – set the scene.

(T) Task – define the problem, goal or issue.

(A) Action – explain in detail your actions: expand on the what, how and why.

(R) Result – describe the outcome and show your success in using that skill.

You could also reflect on the experience at the end of your answer and tell the recruiter what you learnt or would do differently next time.

Let’s run through an example to fully develop your understanding. Imagine the application asks you the following question:

Can you describe a situation where you had to demonstrate excellent leadership?

Let’s break down the answer in the following way:

(Situation) Whilst studying for my degree at University…

(Task) …my study group were struggling to reach a decision on how to complete our class coursework.

(Action) What you did? I took responsibility over the situation, and organised a class meeting after our weekly seminar.

(Action) How you did it? I produced a timetable for the meeting to ensure all relevant points were discussed, ensured everyone had the chance to speak and raise their views, and then organised for a vote at the end of the meeting so that a decision on how to proceed was reached quickly and fairly.

(Action) Why you did it? I decided to manage the issue in this way to ensure that our coursework deadlines were not missed, and to avoid unnecessary conflict.

(Result) As a result, our coursework was submitted on time, class morale was boosted and we received an excellent grade.

Can you see how the answer uses the STAR method to fully develop the story and provide rich detail to the experience?

Remember to use an appropriate example in your answer, as you still need to be able to fully demonstrate the relevant skill being assessed, e.g. ‘Leadership,’ as per the above example. You should also aim to keep the Situation and Task sections simple and concise, whilst spending approximately 70-80% of your word-count on fully developing the Action section.

Take some time out now to brainstorm some of the different tasks and experiences you’ve been involved in, and how you can adapt them to demonstrate different skills. Remember that time spent volunteering or participating in extra-curricular activities is just as relevant as work experience here.

Have a bank of competency questions and answers ready, and you will always be prepared to shine like a STAR in that next application (or interview).

And remember that you can still book an online application advice appointment if you want to run through any specific competency questions with a trained advisor before you submit your applications.

Good luck!

How to Ensure Your CV Stands Out

By Joe O'Brien, on 14 May 2020

Read time: 5 minutes

Written by Emily Oliphant, Recruitment Selection Adviser at UCL Careers.

Before I dive in, I would like to take the opportunity to say that, amidst the strangest and most unpredictable times we have possibly ever known, UCL Careers is still running on full steam!  Although the challenges we are currently facing could hopefully be temporary and we look forward to the regular rhythm of the graduate recruitment market resuming in the not so distant future, there has been a drop in roles available (read our recent update on vacancies and job opportunities in light of Covid-19 for more information), which in turn could see the application process becoming even more competitive than before. To make sure you’re maximising your chances I thought I’d introduce you to my background and knowledge within the recruitment sector and share my key tips for helping your CV stand out!

Having started out in professional services recruitment over three years ago and joining UCL Careers in September 2019, I can confidently say that I’ve seen a fair few CVs in my time!

If there’s one thing that all graduates are aware of, it’s how competitive the graduate job market really is.  There were times that even I was surprised at how many applications I would receive in the first 24 hours of the job being posted online!  Therefore, there was only one key element that I had to apply when I was shortlisting candidates – SPEED.

Every recruiter works differently, but in my experience I can say with conviction that when I was faced with shortlisting 5 candidates out of a possible 200, I spent no longer than 15 seconds looking at a CV before I decided to either keep on reading or whether the candidate was rejected.  15 seconds.

‘How can that be!?’ I hear you ask, ‘I spent days putting that together!’.  The only way you’ll appreciate why recruiters are so brutal with their shortlisting techniques is by putting yourself in their shoes.

The standard number of jobs a Recruitment Consultant works on at once ranges, depending on the industries and departments they are servicing and types of roles they are recruiting for.  Personally, I ordinarily had around 20 roles to fill at any one time.  That means you have 20 HR/Recruitment Managers chasing you for a shortlist until you send one over.  Imagine you have 100 applications for each role to sift through…. That’s 2000 CVs to read right there.  And remember, this is only one element of a recruiter’s role!  As the CV mountain is climbing to Everest heights in your inbox, you have to manage reading all of them in between calling and meeting all of the HR Managers with updates and holding both phone and face-to-face interviews with all of the selected candidates.  Therefore, on an especially busy day, dedicating 15 seconds per CV could actually end up being decidedly generous.

So, in order to make yourself stand out you have to try to think like a recruiter.  To help you get started, think about the MAD SEA* of CVs recruiters are dealing with and try to apply these six key points when writing your own….

(*A slightly desperate attempt at a memorable anagram …!)

  • One of the easiest ways to catch a recruiter’s eye is to mirror the job description the recruiters have supplied you with.
  • For example, if it’s a Graduate Programme you’re applying for make sure your Education section is the first section on your CV, that way you’re ticking off their first box immediately.
  • If they are asking for specific skills in the qualifications section, make sure you are mentioning as many of them as you can throughout your experience. Mirror their language too – some larger companies are now using software that will be set up to recognise language matches between CVs and job descriptions so don’t be afraid to use exactly the same words they have.
  • Make your CV accessible by keeping your layout simple and professional.
  • There are numerous templates available but I would advise sticking to black and white and to avoid the use of columns and boxes. A confusing layout can make it harder for a recruiter to find what they are looking for quickly!
  • Don’t be afraid that by doing this that your CV won’t stand out. The content should speak for itself if you’ve mirrored their person specification on the job description.
  • You only want to be highlighting relevant details to the recruiter, not telling them your full life story – keep to a maximum of 2 pages.
  • Use bullet points and avoid heavy, long paragraphs. These will ultimately not be digested in 15 seconds and valuable information could be missed!
  • Tangible statistics are always good on a CV as it displays measurable success.
  • For example, instead of stating ‘I effectively increased the social media following’, it would be much for effective if you could be precise and write something like, ‘I increased the social media following by 25% in the first month’.
  • NEVER state you have a skill without providing an example.
  • A list of bullet pointed skills such as ‘teamwork’, ‘communication’, ‘organisation’ is essentially useless as anyone could have it on their CV.
  • Transferable skills are massively important to highlight though, so I recommend starting each bullet point with a key skill and then providing an example which displays you have put the skill into action. Example below –
  • Relationship building: built strong working relationships with three team members to present two group projects as part of my Business Management module
  • This goes from highlighting correct dates for education and work experiences (months AND years, please!) to making sure you have attention to detail.
  • I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen ‘Excellent attention to detail’ stated on a CV to find the bullet points aren’t aligned, different sized fonts have been used and a handful of spelling errors. These kinds of errors immediately damage your credibility – so check, check and check again!

Hopefully, this short blog has given you a snapshot into how you can lift your CV to new heights and break that 15 second barrier!

Next steps:

What to Expect from a Virtual Application Advice Appointment

By Joe O'Brien, on 6 May 2020

Read time: 2 minutes

Written by Susanne Stoddart, Recruitment and Selection Advice Manager at UCL Careers.

Still Here to Help You

Whilst the current situation is having a significant impact on the graduate labour market, some employers are still advertising remote work opportunities and internships, and further study and scholarships are still open for applications. If you’re currently preparing applications, it’s more important than ever to make your CV, cover letter, personal statement or other application documents stand out. That’s where we can help! Once you’ve written an application draft for a specific opportunity, you can still receive support and feedback from UCL Careers during a 20-minute one-to-one application advice appointment. Although we are very happy for appointments to take place over the phone, the majority of our appointments are now taking place virtually via Microsoft Teams.

Booking a Slot

In terms of booking a virtual application advice appointment, you can still do this through myUCLCareers. After booking a slot, the advisor who is scheduled to run the appointment will send a Teams meeting request to your email. This request will include a meeting link enabling you to join the chat via your web browser at the scheduled time. If you would like to turn your camera off for the appointment, in order to increase your bandwidth and improve your connection or because you would just prefer it off, that is absolutely fine. You can either email your advisor any documents that are relevant for the appointment (such as your application and the opportunity details) in advance of the meeting or you can upload the documents through the meeting’s file sharing tool.

Empowering you to Make Progress

Apart from the above logistics, our application advice appointments remain the same. They focus on empowering you to make progress with your applications, whether you’re applying for work opportunities and internships or further study and funding. Whether you have lots or little experience of making applications, we’ll listen to your ideas and any concerns that you may have in a completely non-judgemental way.

After providing you with some initial feedback on your application, your advisor might then spend some time looking in detail at the structure, tone or content of your application with you. You may have a conversation about how you can best demonstrate who you are, why you are motivated for this opportunity and what you have to offer. Your advisor might ask some questions to get you thinking about the transferable skills that you’ve gained from previous experience, and how you can use these skills to tailor your application for this particular opportunity. All of our trained advisors are dedicated to ensuring that by the end of your virtual appointment you sign off armed with clear, practical and personalised advice on how you can move forward with your current application, and confident in your ability to use this knowledge again and again when making future applications.

What Next

You can find further information on what you can expect from an application advice appointment and what application documents you will need to share with your advisor on our website. You will also find a link on that webpage to book your appointment with us when you’re ready. We look forward to working with you on your applications soon.

10 Free Digital Resources to Upskill Yourself from Home

By Joe O'Brien, on 5 May 2020

Read time: 4 minutes

Written by Nicole Estwick, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

With everyday routines changed for the foreseeable future, plans may have taken an unexpected turn, whether that is through alterations to upcoming jobs and internships or simply completing more of your work remotely.

However, there are a number of resources you can access to progress your career planning and upskill yourself from the comfort of home. Some are designed to enable you to develop knowledge or gain technical expertise in a completely new area, whilst others may help you to improve on existing skills.

In this post, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best resources you can access right now in preparation for your future career:

  1. LinkedIn Learning

In recent years, LinkedIn has become a vital tool for individuals looking to build their career, whether that’s through securing their first professional role after graduation or progressing onto more senior positions. Alongside the opportunity to search for jobs, network and connect with professionals, LinkedIn also offers a brilliant online learning resource called LinkedIn Learning.

The LinkedIn Learning platform offers over 6,000 courses in a range of areas including Project Management, Leadership and Problem Solving and as a UCL Student these are free to access online. On completion of any LinkedIn learning course you also have the opportunity to gain a certificate which can be added to your personal profile showcasing your credentials to potential employers.

Need an introduction to LinkedIn? Start off with the Learning LinkedIn for students course which provides a step by step overview of the platform.

  1. FutureLearn

FutureLearn has an extensive catalogue of courses on everything from business and media to literature and history. Its courses offer a chance to learn a condensed version of a particular subject in a similar format to a university module.

Alongside subject specific content, they also have a range of tips on work and study where you can learn how to develop research projects, write essays, and look into how to apply for opportunities and master job interviews.

  1. Code Academy

You may have not have considered coding before, but it’s increasingly becoming a highly sought after skill across a number of roles. Based on your reasons for wanting to learn how to code – whether it’s for web development, programming or data science – Code Academy has tailored courses to set you on the right path. The majority of their free courses take less than ½ day to complete, and there is also an option to take on more advanced courses if you are looking to build on your existing coding experience.

  1. Google Digital Garage

With digital connectivity being at the core of so many businesses, Google Digital Garage is on hand to equip individuals with the essential skills required for working in a digitised world.

Across a range of videos, webinars and online articles, the platform offers teaching on how to build your presence on the internet – so that you can effectively shape what potential employers see about you online– and for those looking to move into self-employment or start their own business there is guidance on how to build your business online, make the most of digital advertising, and get to grips with the basics of social media and data insights.

  1. Skillshare

For those seeking to develop their creative skills, Skillshare offers online learning focused on classes tailored for individuals with interests in topics including design, photography and video-making.

Users can opt for free or paid classes to learn a skill in their area of interest with over 1,500 classes available as part of their basic service.

  1. Alison

Alison is another online platform which offers free online courses taught by world-leading experts in their particular field. From soft skills such as time management and productivity, to industry-based skills such as digital photography and web design, they have a broad variety of courses most of which have an average complete time of 2-3 hours. On completion, you will receive a professional certification or in some cases you can even go on to secure a diploma in your chosen area.

  1. Duolingo

With the job market becoming increasingly globalised, being able to speak more than one language is another specialist skill growing in demand from employers.

To boost your skills in this area, try Duolingo– an app that offers an opportunity to learn or improve on your language skills in as little as 5 minutes per day. It is also a valuable resource to have if you are looking at international work experience or preparing to study abroad as part of your degree.

  1. Open university:

The Open University has been highly regarded from its inception for its online learning. Whether you are looking for subject specific content or courses on skills such as leadership, building relationships or commercial awareness, they have a range of free courses designed across introductory, intermediate and advanced levels so you can follow along at a pace that is right for you.

  1. Coursera

Coursera is a platform created by US academics where you can receive access to on-demand video lectures, exercises, and community discussion forums supported by leading universities and companies including Stanford, Yale, Google and Amazon.

During this period, Coursera have expanded the range of free courses available in their catalogue. More details of this can be found here

  1. Springboard Data Analysis

Data is a core function of business operations and so data analysis is becoming an increasingly important skill employers are looking for. Springboard provides an opportunity to develop skills in this area through their curriculum which covers topics including statistics, data visualisation and analysing data sets, alongside machine learning and computer programming. It’s a valuable resource for developing technical skills if you are looking to pursue a career in data or a related field.

These are just a selection of some of the digital resources that are just a few clicks away however further help and support is also available from UCL Careers.

Visit https://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/resources for details of additional materials that can be accessed from home.


Careers in the Life Science Industry Themed Week – A Wrap up

By Joe O'Brien, on 23 March 2020

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Last week UCL Careers ran the Careers in the Life Science Industry Themed Week. The week consisted of seven events taking place across four days with over twenty professionals from the industry coming in to share their insights. Here are some of the key points that we’ve picked out from what our speakers shared.

Be open

It can be tricky getting an idea of what career pathways are viable to you when you’re leaving education. Panellists throughout the events spoke about the confusion they had experienced and how they weren’t sure what their next steps were going to be. Some spoke about how they embraced this as an opportunity to explore roles they had never previously considered. Even if they went on to do something completely different afterwards, they could pick out the positives from the role, such as developing soft skills that have come in useful further down the line.

Be inquisitive

If you are unsure about the role you want to do next, there’s usually someone out there who you can speak with about your options. That could be via a Short Guidance Session with UCL Careers, speaking with people at events and career days, or this can be done online through platforms such as the UCL Alumni Community or LinkedIn. Speaking with others can open up a whole range of roles that you may have never previously considered and will enable you to gain valuable insight on how to get into certain sectors. It’s also worth noting that through sparking conversations such as these, you can grow your professional network, which may even lead to getting some valuable work experience or a future job.

Be passionate… but show this in the right way

A passion for science is something often required for a role within the life science industry and will be on the checklist of many of those involved in recruitment, but how do you show this? One panellist stated that he had heard the statement ‘I have a passion for science’ so many times that it now meant very little to him. Anyone can include this generic term in a covering letter or application, what really gets the attention of the reader is being able to demonstrate your passion for science. Explain where your passion has come from; what area of science in particular is it that you enjoy? This way, recruiters will be able to get a true understanding of your passion for a subject and start getting to know you as an individual.

Be up to date

The nature of science means that it is always advancing and changing, and consequently, so are life science careers. Organisations are ever-evolving, using exciting new science to tackle problems. Keeping up to date with these can be one of the major challenges of working in the sector, according to some of the people we heard from. For example, panellists spoke about how they were required to keep up to date with the development of the COVID-19 pandemic and react accordingly to this information as part of their role. Although this can be difficult, working in a constantly developing field was something that many speakers said was one of the best aspects of their job. Using recent journal articles or news stories will help you keep abreast of the latest developments and enable you to have informed discussions about these topics.

Be flexible

Many of our panellists spoke about how they didn’t land their ideal role with the first job they got. Sometimes you may have to work in a related field before moving over to an area that interests you more. Graduate schemes can prove valuable in such situations, as they often equip you with sought-after experience as you move through departments via rotations. If a graduate scheme isn’t for you, then plenty of our panellists spoke about how they got experience in graduate entry roles before landing the role that really suited them. A sideways move or promotion within an organisation can sometimes get you where you would prefer to be within a company.

Be focused on skills

Some of our speakers advised that highlighting your skills allows you to demonstrate your suitability for a role even if you haven’t got directly relevant experience. You may find that focusing too much on particular programmes or techniques may limit you as these are constantly changing and being replaced or updated. Instead, you can still demonstrate your suitability through mentioning specific skills that are particularly relevant to the role. Crucially, don’t forget to provide evidence of how you’ve previously demonstrated these skills.

Be specific

Whether it’s during an initial message when trying to grow your network, completing an application or preparing for an upcoming interview, make sure that you’re tailoring your information for the audience in question. It’s worth spending time researching the organisation you’re communicating with, get an understanding of who they are, what they do and what type of people they work with. Through doing this you’ll be able to link your own skills, experiences and values with theirs, demonstrating your suitability to work with them.

What is the Graduate Outcomes Survey?

By Joe O'Brien, on 13 March 2020

Written by Katy Coyte, Data Analyst at UCL Careers.

If you are about to graduate, or you’ve graduated over the past year, at a point in the not-too-distant future, you will be asked to take part in a government-backed survey called Graduate Outcomes. Graduate Outcomes asks about what you have gone on to do after your graduation and a range of other questions that will build up a picture of where graduates work and study, how much they typically earn and what industry sectors they prefer. Unlike DLHE, Graduate Outcomes will take place quite a long time after you graduate.

It’s a detailed survey that takes about 10 minutes to complete, but its results will be exceptionally useful to prospective students, universities and government agencies in understanding graduate career paths and the labour market.

Why are we telling you this?

We want to introduce the survey to you so you are aware that you will be asked to take part. You will receive a link to the survey by email, fifteen months after graduation, so if you have just completed your course, you’ll hear from the survey company in June 2021.

Why is the survey such a long time after graduation?

The time lag is to enable earnings data from the tax system and education data to be linked to the survey results. Previously, earnings were declared by graduates themselves. In this way, the survey result will be more robust.

Respond to the survey

When the time comes, please respond to the email link or to the follow up phone call and complete the survey. The survey company will be persistent in calling, as response targets for Graduate Outcomes are high, so responding promptly will save the need for continuous calls.

Your career journey

Remember that as a UCL graduate you can still use UCL Careers support in finding work and progressing your career, for up to two years after youíve finished your course. Take a look at our website (LINK http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers) for more information about our services for graduates

If you have any questions or would like further information please contact us (careers@ucl.ac.uk).

What did we learn from our “Biology and Business” panel? | Careers in the Life Science Industry

By Joe O'Brien, on 12 March 2020

Written by Sophia Donaldson, Senior Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Do you want to use your scientific knowledge and interest in business to help commercialise new discoveries? Well, you really should have come to our Biology and Business event on Monday night, shouldn’t you? Don’t worry though, if you couldn’t make it along, we’ve collected together the key take-home points below.

Who were the speakers?

Matt Aldridge, a trainee patent attorney at Kilburn & Strode LLP, where he works at the interface between science and law. Matt has a biochemistry degree from UCL, and an MSc in cellular therapy from bench to market from KCL. Matt spent a year working in a lab-based role before moving into patent law.

John Cassidy, an investment associate at Arix Bioscience, a Biotech-focused venture capital group based in London and New York. John has a neuroscience PhD from UCL, and experience in life science consulting.

Mikhaila Chowdhury, a brand manager at GSK consumer healthcare, where she focuses on digital marketing across oral care and wellness products. Mikhaila has a clinical background in dentistry, completing vocational training at UCL’s Eastman dental institute. After leaving dentistry, she studied a masters in international health management at Imperial, then went through the Future Leaders Program at GSK.

Ismael Gauci, a senior consultant at Deloitte, where he helps clients solve problems across R&D and clinical operations. Ismael has a PhD in cardiovascular science, and before joining Deloitte, he worked at Deallus, a smaller life-science-focused consultancy.

Rachel Greig, a medical science liaison at Incyte, a biotech company, where she focuses on the clinical development of treatments in haematology and oncology. Rachel has a PhD in immunology, and experience in policy work in the charity sector, and in public affairs at the pharmaceutical company Lilly.

And Ella Nuttall, a manager in KPMG’s healthcare and life sciences division. Ella took up an internship at the Wellcome Trust during her Psychology undergraduate, then after completing her MSc in health psychology at UCL, she worked as a health psychology specialist for Lucid, a medical communications agency, before joining KPMG.

What do people like about combining life science with business?

The panel all agreed that the best things include working at the cutting-edge of science, and having access to people who are leaders in their field. For instance, Ella mentioned recent trips she’d taken across the world – notably to Japan – to speak with scientific experts to inform her consultancy.

Some pros were particular to certain sectors. Matt enjoys playing with language and arguing a point, and his role in trying to prove a new invention is original allows him to do that. Mikhaila enjoys the creativity involved in her marketing role. Rachel enjoys the variety that her role brings, as she finds herself visiting different hospitals and interacting with different experts each day. And Ismael and Ella both enjoy the problem solving aspect of consultancy.

Panellists also spoke about the added dimension of having to think commercially, not only scientifically, as appealing to them. Mikhaila and Rachel see the movement between roles and divisions that is possible within large pharmaceutical companies as a benefit – once you get in, you can try new things.

What are the downsides?

The downsides varied depending on the role. The working hours were mentioned as a potential downside of consultancy by Ismael and Ella, and John also commented on this from his past consultancy experience. Ella emphasised that considering what work-life balance means to you is important, but she and Ismael both enjoy the exciting projects they work on, which keep them engaged during potentially long hours.

Something John misses from consultancy is the teamwork and the structured development. Venture capital involves a lot more independence and lone working, and individuals must take more responsibility for their own development, which can be a challenge.

As a Medical Science Liaison, Rachel enjoys her frequent travel to different hospitals, however, she is London based, and so her travel is often simply a normal London commute. She noted that colleagues based outside of London who cover wide territories may spend hours in the car to visit hospital sites, which suits some people, but not everyone.

Matt is early in his training as patent lawyer, but he mentioned encountering more resistance to patent applications than he expected. When you’ve argued a case and it gets rejected, that’s a low point of the role.

Will getting a PhD or a business qualification help me get in?

Three of our speakers had a PhD, and one speaker was a qualified dentist. So if you have a PhD or MD in the life science industry, clearly you won’t be the odd one out. But what if you don’t have a PhD already? Should you get one?

The general consensus from the panel was: only if you actually want one. They all emphasised what a lot of work PhDs can be, and the commitment needed to see them through. PhDs were mentioned as advantageous in patent law and biotech venture capital especially, to the point where some organisations may demand them, however, both Matt and John said there are other work experiences that can get you into both fields, and Matt is proof that people can enter patent law without a PhD.

The panel also agreed that if you want to take a business qualification for your own benefit – so you can decide if you enjoy business, or so you can feel more confident in interviews – then go for it. Matt enjoyed his science and business MSc, which he applied for through genuine interest. However, the panel all agreed that most employers think it’s easier to teach a scientist the principles of business than the other way around, and so your science knowledge and experience is likely to be more valuable than a business qualification.

So what can I do to enhance my chances of getting in?

  • Accept that confusion and rejection are normal, and keep trying. Every speaker shared stories of being confused about what direction to take, and then of being rejected once they’d decided on a direction. These are completely normal parts of everyone’s careers, and the panel encouraged everyone to keep ploughing onwards. 
  • Sometimes you need to take a job you don’t want to get to the job you do want. Sometimes rejection indicates there’s a gap in your experience that needs to be filled. So just as Matt worked for a year in a lab to gain hands-on science experience so he could get into patent law, and just as Rachel worked in public affairs to gain pharma experience so she could transition into a medical science liaison role, sometimes you may have to take a role you don’t particularly want in the short term, so that you can achieve your longer term goals. John too mentioned that it wouldn’t generally be possible to enter venture capital directly from science, as some prior business experience – perhaps in consultancy – would also be expected. And Ella mentioned that if you find it hard to get into larger consultancies, or if you don’t want to enter at the graduate level, gaining other work experience first – like her experience in a medical communications company, and Ismael’s experience at a smaller consultancy – will help.
  • Get networking! Our speakers provided examples of just how crucial networking can be, as Ella found her first post-MSc job through speaking to an academic, and Rachel found her way into pharma through a contact she met at a conference. So attend relevant events, chat to people, and reach out to professionals on LinkedIn.

Check out the other events forming part of Careers in the Life Science Industry Week here.

What to Expect from Sustainability Fortnight 2020

By Joe O'Brien, on 10 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

By Joe O'Brien, on 6 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!