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5 Key Resources for Networking from Home

Joe O'Brien2 June 2020

Read time: 5 minutes

Written by Nicole Estwick, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Networking in the traditional sense is a concept that can fill some with dread, but there is now more than one way to meet and connect with individuals that share a common interest with you. No longer is it solely about making an approach and sharing small talk in a room full of people, but a large part of networking now also takes place remotely with individuals using a range of platforms to build an online profile in order to connect with recruiters, employers and other professionals.

But where do you start with finding, interacting and building a network of contacts in the field you’re interested in? In this post, we’ll outline the key resources you can use to build your network from the comfort of home.

  1. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is perhaps the most well-known platform for connecting with professionals online with a broad range of users across different industries and levels of experience. For students, it can seem a daunting place, however it is valuable tool in optimising career development and networking opportunities.

In terms of where to start, if you have an up to date CV then you can use this as the basis of creating a profile where you can also breakdown the skills and areas you wish to pursue a career in – this is key as recruiters often use LinkedIn to find potential candidates. Once you have a profile, you can start to build connections to grow your network and seek out new contacts. Start small with this by connecting with friends, family, and work colleagues before moving onto connecting with contacts of theirs that might be relevant to you and your career interests by sending a request along with a brief message. From there, if you continue to make connections and develop your profile, your web of contacts will grow, as will the opportunities you are presented with.

  1. UCL Alumni Online Community: For those who are looking to make contacts within a smaller pool of people, the UCL Alumni Online Community offers a great opportunity to connect exclusively with former students from UCL who are now working across the world.

Within the platform, you can search for alumni by the course they studied, the department they were in or even by employer so you can identify how many students have gone onto work for a specific company in the online directory. Select alumni within the directory will also be labelled with a ‘Willing to help’ badge whereby they have agreed to support current students with careers advice or in some cases to become a mentor to students who are looking for guidance with their next steps. To use the website, you will need to register before gaining access to the directory to connect with UCL Alumni and start making new contacts.

  1. Social Media: Whilst many of us use social media to connect with friends and family, platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can be particularly useful for making professional connections, especially in areas such as the arts and creative industries where recruitment processes vary in comparison to more traditional sectors.

Where appropriate, consider making a professional profile away from your personal account and use this to follow new contacts and employers, share your work and engage in conversations with others online. You can also use the Direct Messaging (DM) function to send an introductory note to organisations or individuals you are interested in and in some cases this can often be a much more successful way of making contact as opposed to email which may not be reviewed as often.

  1. Forums: Although somewhat trickier to source, forums are another useful way to engage in conversation with others who have a similar interest to you. They can also be useful in conducting further research into the trends or challenges that may exist within your chosen industry and allow you to seek out information that may not be as readily accessible on mainstream websites.

Consider starting with the professional body of the sector you are interested in, which often have forum or chat pages where professionals discuss current industry news and issues. In the current climate, some of these bodies are also offering virtual webinars and events which could be another way of sourcing new contacts in your network.

  1. Apps: There are apps available for most things on the market at the moment and networking is no exception. One of the apps that has gained popularity in recent years is Shapr, where you can build your profile based on the career fields you are most interested in, your professional goals, and your status as entrepreneur, freelancer, student, etc. A similar app, Debut is aimed directly at students looking to showcase their profile and skills to connect with graduate employers. Whilst these apps do include paid for content, there are also some free features for networking so it’s worth taking the time to try these out and decide what could work best for you.

In trying one, two or even all five of the options listed above, there is the potential to not only progress your career but also build your confidence in networking- a skill which will be essential not only now but in the future too. Watch the CareersLab episode on mastering online networking for further advice or visit our online careers library for helpsheets.

Virtual Internships: What are they worth?

Joe O'Brien2 June 2020

Read time: 3 minutes

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

The value of practical, in-house internships was summarised well by the then Director of Resourcing at Deloitte in 2018 – “It’s a win-win. Students find out if that career is for them. Companies get early access to talent.”

Given the situation we are in, there has been a requirement for companies to make a shift towards offering virtual internships in order to comply with the social distancing advice from Government. Consequently, the questions that have cropped up most often in relation to virtual internships during my student appointments have been, ‘Are they worth the effort?’ and ‘Surely there are more benefits in waiting and applying for an internship in a practical setting itself, instead of completing an internship from my bedroom?’.

After speaking with a few students who are currently undertaking virtual internships and from looking at the benefits from a recruiter perspective, I will outline 4 reasons why virtual internships are definitely worth your time and what they can offer you during the lockdown period.

  1. Flexibility and comfort

Undertaking standard working hours in a typical in-house full-time internship often involves a commute, at a time when you are likely to still be studying or conducting research alongside your internship.  Being able to save time on the commute and embrace the flexible working practices that have been adopted by many companies during this time, you may find it easier to handle the various workloads whilst gaining valuable skills and thereby boosting your CV.

Some students may feel pressured at the prospect of meeting the whole team on their first day of an internship.  However, speaking with a student who had experienced this initial apprehension in past in-house internships, they noted that the introduction procedure is somewhat different in a virtual internship.  Instead, most companies assign a specific manager or supervisor to either individual interns or groups to introduce you to the set up.  This gentle introduction would serve you well if you are particularly anxious about undertaking an internship or if this is your first internship experience.

  1. Technology and adaptability

With the advancement of technology playing a huge part in how companies were operating even before the lockdown, being at the forefront of the technological change and being able to witness how companies are now dealing with these unique circumstances could prepare you well for a shift in standard working practices.  Key commentators are beginning to question whether some companies will introduce remote working as a more common option or even default position, such as the estate agency company Purple Bricks for example.

The Big Four companies that many graduates find so attractive have had a long-standing positive approach to working from home, even in junior positions.  A student who has undertaken a virtual internship with an app-developing company also explained that the use of remote technology has been very useful for learning new software and technical skills.  Using the screen share option on video calls allowed her to receive one-to-one visual learning sessions that may not have been so in an office environment.

Having had the experience of working remotely and using a plethora of software to do so will provide you with experience and a skillset that could serve you well in a role that offers this benefit in the future!

  1. Develop skills in a professional setting

Working remotely offers you the opportunity to develop key skills, that perhaps a practical setting may not be able to offer as easily.  Organisation, self-motivation, adaptability and independent working skills are critical in making sure that you are dealing with your responsibilities efficiently – especially in a virtual capacity.

Many competency-based applications these days require you to outline examples of when you have demonstrated adaptability, worked effectively in a team and when you have succeeded independently.  The application of a strong example of working independently in a professional setting (rather than academic) is something that is less common in student applications as junior/graduate roles rarely involve a great deal of independent duties due to experience levels.  A virtual internship would be a great way of demonstrating that your independent working skills have been developed, beyond the remit of your studies.

  1. Commitment and resilience

Not everyone is going to apply for virtual internships.  Some people may consider waiting until in-house opportunities are available will be the best use of their time. Therefore, as a recruiter, to see that a student has undertaken a virtual internship will inevitably boost your credibility when you are explaining your commitment to your chosen career path. It will demonstrate that even in the challenging times, you were prepared to develop your skills and garner knowledge in an industry you want to achieve in.

So, my advice?  Get stuck in!  If you discover there’s a virtual internship available, giving you an opportunity to explore an industry you’re considering pursuing a career in, I advise you apply and try to get the most out of it!

Next steps

If you have an application in mind and want further advice, please do book an online one-to-one application advice appointment (via Microsoft Teams) through the UCL Careers website to talk through your application, CV and/or cover letter.

Building Resilience in Your Job Hunt: How to Progress Your Career Planning and Overcome Setbacks in Challenging Times.

Joe O'Brien26 May 2020

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Nicole Estwick, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

We have all experienced setbacks, in one way or another, during our lifetime where things may have not quite gone to plan. The world of work is no different and in the current situation we find ourselves in, many individuals who are looking to gain work experience as part of their career planning or secure their first full time role after graduation face a number of challenges ahead. What is key though, both in the current landscape and in your future career, is building a level of resilience to ensure you can keep moving forward in spite of challenging circumstances.

Resilience, in its simplest form, can be defined as the capacity to recover and adapt to new and difficult situations and it is a skill that is highly regarded by employers across a range of sectors. But for many, perseverance in the face of adversity is easier said than done.

So how do you keep going with your job hunt at a time where vacancies have been impacted, competition for roles may have increased and employers are making changes to their recruitment processes?

The answer is in the 3 A’s: Acceptance, Adaptability and Action

  1. Acceptance

Although a large part of resilience is focused on the ability to move on, another aspect of the skill is accepting the reality of a situation and keeping a sense of perspective.

In the context of your career, speaking to friends, family and even connections made through LinkedIn can often be great source of support and give you a fresh perspective in helping you to see that highs and lows are often part of the job search and you are just one of many who may have to make a few attempts before making headway into your preferred career.

What is important in accepting setbacks is seeing it as part of the bigger picture which in this case is an unprecedented situation, reflecting on what you can learn- whether that’s through sourcing employer feedback or reviewing past applications and using this to grow and move forward with your job search.

  1. Adaptability

A key part of resilience is also the ability to be flexible and adapt to changes that are happening around you.

In practical terms, if your current job search isn’t producing the results you hoped for, you may want to consider changing your approach, much like employers who are changing some of their processes based on the current situation.

This could be as simple as applying for a broader range of roles within the company or sector you are interested in, based on increased demand for certain types of roles over others during this period.

Additionally, you could also look to adapt how you are searching for vacancies. For example, if you have solely been applying for advertised jobs, consider proactively sourcing contacts, sending speculative applications where appropriate or putting yourself forward for volunteering especially as many organisations are seeking extra support at this time.

In being flexible and taking on a range of approaches in your job hunt, this could open up new opportunities that you may have not come across before.

  1. Action

Finally, a key part of resilience is the ability to take action to move forward and in the context of careers there are a range of things you can do to increase your chances of success in your job hunt.

A good place to start with this is by making a plan of action whereby you can set yourself some clear, manageable goals, such as completing a certain number of applications a week to have a sense of direction and focus- which can be a great help at a time where things may seem overwhelming.

Your actions also do not have to be solely based on making applications, but you can also look to invest in your personal as well as professional development. Why not focus some of your time on upskilling yourself in areas you would like to improve on or gain a broader range of skills by volunteering? Both of these can be used to strengthen future applications you make too.

Lastly, it’s important to remain positive and celebrate successes no matter how small during your job hunt as this will drive you to keep going despite the bumps you may face along the road. Take the time to remind yourself of some of your achievements to date as a reminder of how you can reach the goals you set for yourself and will do so again in the future.

Although job searches will vary from individual to individual, resilience will no doubt be required at some point in everyone’s career- what is and will remain key though is ensuring that if you fall down, you can dust yourself off and get back up again whatever the circumstances may be.

To find out more about the importance of resilience visit the UCL Careers’ Skill Hub page.

Becoming and Staying Technology Literate

Joe O'Brien20 May 2020

Estimated read-time: 2 minutes

Written by Victoria Abbott, Recruitment Selection Adviser at UCL Careers.

In this post we’ll look at the significance of remaining technology literate (or tech savvy) during these challenging times, with a focus on available communication and collaboration platforms, security measures and also importantly, relaxation time!

What do we mean by becoming ‘technology literate?’

This means your ability to use current technology to find, create and communicate information, both correctly and efficiently.

Why is this so important for me right now?

With the current situation affecting students across the globe, it has become increasingly important for you to remain tech savvy, both to aid with your studies and to remain competitive in the workplace. Communicating with fellow students and colleagues, as well as friends and family is also highly important for maintaining relationships with the outside world, whilst promoting good mental health. Many employers are working to adapt placements, internships and work experience opportunities from physical to virtual environments, so it’s a good idea to make sure you are comfortable with the current online platforms and conferencing services available.

What technology is available to me?

Various platforms for communicating and collaborating whilst working and studying remotely are available, and several have risen to prominence during the current situation. These include Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet.

  • Microsoft Teams is a platform that combines a chat function, video meetings and the ability to share and store files. Don’t forget that as a UCL student, you automatically have access to this software.
  • Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing service, enabling virtual meetings with remote or international colleagues and clients.
  • Google Meet uses your browser to share video, desktop and presentations with teammates in real-time.

Don’t forget that all of the above platforms allow both video and audio-only or both, plus chat and instant messaging functions. Until you are ready to go ‘live’ on camera with employers, you can choose the audio-only option or make use of the chat function. As well as the above options, online platforms also offer the ability to collaborate in ‘breakout rooms,’ contribute work, videos and slides with screen sharing and draw, type and add stickers to your shared content.

What about recent security concerns surrounding some virtual platforms?

Recent news stories focusing on ‘Zoombombing,’ where trolls attempted to interrupt a Zoom meeting, directed software providers to tighten up their online security, with all platforms freely sharing the following useful security tips for users:

  • Leave plenty of time to download your software in advance. You don’t want to be rushing and turn up late, even to a ‘virtual’ meeting.
  • Face your fear. If you are unsure about technology or don’t like using computers, make an effort to learn more about it. Many sites offer free online courses to build your knowledge and understanding.
  • Always ensure your device is compatible before downloading any new technology, and ensure you load all application updates as soon as they become available to maintain robust security.
  • Use a virus-checking software application on laptops and PCs – many are available for free or as part of your broadband package.
  • Avoid common scams via automated calls and malicious websites, and double-check before clicking on suspicious links in emails or text messages if you do not trust the source.
  • Ensure virtual meetings are created with passwords, proper registration and ‘waiting-room’ protocols to create a secure and productive environment.

How can I use technology to relax?

You may be finding the current situation challenging, so it is very important to remember to take a break from studying or job hunting. Other applications such as Houseparty, Facebook and Instagram are available for communicating with friends in a more informal or relaxed setting. LinkedIn is also useful for building networks with employers, academics or groups that interest you. Various mindfulness and wellbeing apps are also available to download, with basic packages often offered for free to students.

Remember that technology is here to help you, open up opportunities and make life easier – as are your friendly UCL Careers team!

Whether you’re exploring options, writing applications or want support preparing for live or recorded video interviews, our range of different appointment types will give you tailored one-to-one support. Although our office is closed, our virtual doors are still open and we’re running as many appointments as ever, via Microsoft Teams.

Five Alternatives to Cancelled Laboratory Projects

Joe O'Brien19 May 2020

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Given the current situation, you may find yourself in a position where you’re unable to conduct a laboratory based project or placement as initially intended. It may be disappointing to miss out on this opportunity but there are some options that will still provide you with experiences that will help with your future job hunt within the science sector.

  1. Gain virtual lab experience

You might not be able to work on your pipetting in person but there are programmes out there that enable you to experience a virtual laboratory experience. Companies such as Labster offer hundreds of different lab based simulations, providing an introduction as well as detailed explanation of experimental laboratory techniques. The simulations offer 3D virtual images and storytelling illustrations, links to further information and built-in tests so you can check your level of understanding.

Alternatively, there are other companies that offer virtual experiences on preparing and analysing the results of laboratory experiments such as Learning Science. You can find upcoming free training webinars, which anyone can sign up to attend from the Francis Crick Institute. These cover some basic laboratory techniques that may be of interest.

Familiarising yourself with these processes, even if in a virtual environment, will equip you with valuable experiences for  when the time comes that we are safely able to return to working in laboratories. Unfortunately not all these services are accessible to individuals, with group / course licenses required to access some of these resources. If you are not able to access these at the moment there are plenty of other ways to upskill at this time.

  1. Conduct your own desk research

An integral first step of conducting your own research is knowing what is already being done in the field. By carrying out your own desk research you’ll be able to demonstrate your understanding of a topic outside the core academic content. The easiest way of conducting this desk research is through looking at the latest publications on this subject. Websites such as PubMed, ResearchGate and UCL IRIS enable you to find out the latest research in a given field.

Once you’ve carried out desk research, collating this information and presenting it in a clear way can be a way of showing your understanding. Depending on the communication skills you want to develop you may wish to present your findings in the form of a literature review, an essential skill for anybody conducting research. Alternatively, you may wish to focus more on developing your science communication skills and present the information you’ve acquired in the form of a scientific blog. This could be for an established blog such as UCL’s Kinesis Magazine, UCL Pi or you could even set up your own.

Whichever way you decide to present your information you’ll be able to find guides on how to produce these online, for example ‘How to write a literature review’ on Scribbr, Science journal’s article on ‘How to keep up with scientific literature’ or this post by Nature on ‘Why science blogging still matters’.

  1. Upskill using online courses

Although wet laboratory projects will currently be on hold, dry lab research and data analysis may still be a viable option for you from your own home. Given the current circumstances, many education providers are offering free courses, making this a perfect time to upskill and learn some new techniques. Our previous blog post on 10 Free Digital Resources to Upskill Yourself from Home highlights some of these providers.

Whether you’re interested in learning how to code, conduct data analysis or learning a new programming language such as Python, education providers Code Academy, Google Digital Garage and Springboard offer courses on these topics.

Alternatively if learning about antibiotic resistance, environmental sustainability or the fundamentals of immunology is of more interest to you, be sure to take a look at websites such as Future Learn, Coursera, Alison and edx to view the full range of courses they have on offer.

Being proactive and learning new skills or gaining knowledge about a new area of science is a great way of showing your passion for science as well as demonstrating your innovation.

  1. Keep up to date with the latest scientific talks

An alternative way of gaining expertise on a particular topic is to engage with talks and webinars that are being delivered on the topic. A number of organisations may be running such webinars, which are a great way of engaging with new scientific content. Even if live events have already taken place, recordings are often made available afterwards. Scientific journals such as New Scientist, Nature Research and Science all offer such webinars, as well as institutions such as Imperial College London, Inside Scientific and the Academy of Medical Sciences YouTube channel.

It’s also worth looking into the scientific talks and resources from learned societies. These may focus on a particular area of science, such as the British Society for Immunology’s recent webinar series on Covid-19, the British Ecology Society’s Ecology Live series of webinars or the Physiological Societies webinar programme to enhance your career. These are just a selection of some of the resources we’ve found, but be sure to search further and make the most of any online resources that suit your interests.

  1. Grow your network

Finally, you may wish to enhance your scientific network and reach out to those working in the field that interests you. Platforms such as LinkedIn and UCL’s Online Alumni Community are great ways of contacting those working in your field of interest. Through reaching out and having conversations with these individuals, you’ll gain insights into the work they do, have a source of relevant advice and grow your network. This can prove invaluable at a later date when it comes to job hunting.

This is a selection of some ideas for proactive projects you could be pursuing from home, however it is not an exhaustive list. Hopefully this provides some inspiration for you if your laboratory placement has not gone ahead as planned. UCL Careers is still open and delivering our services online, so be sure to get in touch or book an appointment if we can be of any further assistance.

Career Lessons from the Covid-19 Response

Joe O'Brien14 May 2020

Read time: 4 minutes

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

A lot has changed in the UK over the past few weeks and these changes have brought about challenging times for businesses, with staff being furloughed and whole industries needing to adapt to change fast. In this blog post, I’ll be focusing on the skills and qualities that employees have had to demonstrate in these challenging times and what we can learn from them in order to enhance your own employability.

I’ll be concentrating on three key skills that the workforce has been exercising during this time and highlighting how these will be useful for future employers in any given circumstances.

Adaptability

In the past few weeks everyone has had to adapt to the current situation and the challenges that it brings. Many businesses have altered their usual processes and get used to a new way of doing things. This might be developing new ways of offering services or ensuring that staff are supported to be able to work remotely. Staff responding swiftly and demonstrating flexibility to evolving circumstances mean that organisations have been able to continue to offer services and, essentially, continue operating.

Adaptability is a skill that’s always in demand; organisations seek out candidates who demonstrate agility in order to work outside their comfort zone. This could be using new technology, familiarising yourself with new topics or simply showing a willingness to try out new processes. Consistently performing at a high level despite changes to the environment you’re working in will make you a valuable employee. To be able to convey this, be sure to have strong examples of times you’ve shown adaptability and flexibility in your work.

Read our Skill Hub page on Adaptability for more ideas about how you can develop and evidence this skill. You can also watch this video for top tips on adaptability from recent graduate, Chenil.

Communication

With a dramatic increase in remote working, communication has become essential for organisations in ensuring their entire workforce is on the same page and up to date with what’s happening across the company. Employees no longer have the option of popping to someone’s desk to ask a quick question, or getting everyone in the same room. Regular catch ups or newsletters may now be part of a normal day and organisations have had to think about how they keep stakeholders informed about what’s going on and how they can access services. Frequency, pitch, length, granularity, tone are some important considerations when delivering these key communications. By taking time to think about the target audience and tailoring messages accordingly, organisations are able to send coherent, informative communications.

Clear, tailored and concise communication is a valuable skill to any organisation. Employers value workers who can effectively work with others, deliver key messages and ensure everyone is fully informed. Whether this be communication with other staff members or stakeholders, the ability to clearly communicate enables businesses to save time and ensures maximum productivity. Any employer will be grateful for a clear communicator who tailors messages to audiences, so be sure to have examples of times you’ve demonstrated these skills ready for future applications.

Read our Skill Hub page on Written and Verbal Communication for more ideas about how you can develop and evidence this skill.

Problem Solving

The ability for an organisation to overcome the current challenges they’re facing has ultimately come from their staff’s problem solving capabilities. Through coming up with solutions, businesses have been able to use this opportunity to foster innovation. Although some challenges may be too great to overcome, having the mentality to look for alternatives and come up with solutions are key qualities businesses are looking for in employees.

The ability to look at a problem and apply knowledge to come up with a solution is invaluable. It enables businesses to overcome difficult circumstances and secures innovation at the company, ensuring they remain at the forefront of their given industry. Don’t feel that you need to come up with a ground-breaking solution; employers are likely to value enthusiasm, working methodically and a can-do attitude. They’re after innovative thinkers, who focus on coming up with creative solutions instead of dwelling on problems. Think about times you’ve faced challenges in your own work and how you showed innovation to come up with solutions to these problems and be ready to talk about these in your applications.

Read our Skill Hub page on Problem Solving Skills for more ideas about how you can develop and evidence this skill.

For ideas on how you could gain these skills and demonstrate them in your applications you can book a one-to-one appointments with a UCL Careers Adviser, take a look at the UCL Careers Skills Hub and be sure to keep an eye on upcoming blog posts for further ideas of what you could be doing.

Update on Vacancies and Job Opportunities in Light of Covid-19 – May 2020

Joe O'Brien12 May 2020

Read time: 2 minutes

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

Recap

In our April Employer Insights blog post we highlighted the current uncertainty across the graduate labour market due to Covid-19. However, we also showed that some organisations are adapting through remote working and have confirmed their intentions to continue recruiting. Opportunities are still being advertised and we encourage you to keep monitoring vacancy sites such as the myUCLCareers jobs board. Over the 7-day period from April 27th to May 3rd, a total of 162 vacancies (including summer internships and graduate roles) were posted on this jobs board alone.

Variance in Vacancy Numbers

As highlighted in a series of blog posts by graduate labour market expert Charlie Bull, vacancies are down but significant variance in the situation is emerging depending on a range of factors. These factors include organisation size (smaller organisations are more likely to be in survival mode with recruitment set at low priority) and opportunity type (internship and placement opportunities are expected to be more impacted than graduate roles). In terms of location, analysis of vacancy posting numbers on website Indeed indicates that the UK jobs market has been badly affected (with only New Zealand and Australia seeing steeper vacancy falls). However, within the UK, there has been an unequal impact and London has consistently registered the smallest decline.

Sector Specific Changes

Vitally, different sectors are also experiencing the impact of Covid-19 on their business activities differently, and this is reflected in their current vacancy posting numbers. Indeed’s weekly analysis of UK vacancy posting numbers, through to April 24th, (linked above), shows a 53% drop compared to this time last year. Unsurprisingly, sectors such as hospitality and tourism, customer service and beauty and wellbeing, where business activity has significantly reduced, if not ceased, show the largest decline in job postings. These findings suggest that the lower-skilled, non-graduate jobs market has been hit the hardest by Covid-19.

At the other end of the scale, healthcare jobs have seen the smallest decline. When LinkedIn analysed their UK vacancies stats up to mid-April they actually found that healthcare vacancies had increased compared to the same period last year. They also found that vacancies within software and IT services were down from last year far less than the average decline (19% compared to an average decline of 39%). This is perhaps as a result of these sectors’ ability to more readily transition their workforces to remote working.

What Next?

Although Covid-19 has had an impact on the graduate labour market, the data suggests that sectors with a greater focus on non-graduate level employment are most significantly affected.

  1. Opportunities are still being advertised and remember that you can book a one-to-one appointment with us to gain feedback on your application draft or to explore your next steps.
  2. You may also find it helpful to have a look at our frequently asked careers questions in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak, or check out our CareersLab Covid-19 Q&A video.
  3. For further ideas on taking positive steps at this time, why not take a look at our recent blog posts providing tips and advice on how you can upskill from home and how you can continue to move forward with your career planning.

What to Expect from a Virtual Application Advice Appointment

Joe O'Brien6 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

Joe O'Brien5 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.

 

How to Move Forward with Your Career Planning in Challenging Times

Joe O'Brien29 April 2020

Written by Nicole Estwick, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers

In these uncertain times, your career planning may have taken an unexpected turn. Despite the challenges you may be facingUCL Careers is here to support you with a range of advice and guidance on all aspects of your career planningwith onetoone video appointments, e-learning resources and virtual events. 

So what can you do to progress your career journey from home? Individuals will be at different stages with their plans, but below we offer some valuable tips and practical advice for managing your career in a time of uncertainty. 

1. Come to terms with change 

In recent weeks, we have faced a number of changes that have been challenging for a variety of reasons unique to each of us. In the context of careers, many organisations are exploring how and where they’re able to adapt to remote working and this focus has in turn led to recruitment freezes, rethinking and/or restructures. 

For those who have opportunities secured or who are currently searching for opportunities, it is an concerning time, however it is important to note that resilience, flexibility and perseveranc— all of which will be key skills for success in your career  are now more essential than ever before. 

  • Resilience: Many people encounter setbacks at various stages of their life, whether they are personal, professional or due to other reasons that are entirely out of our hands, such as the situation we currently find ourselves in. Setbacks, by nature, are usually unpredictable and are often an unavoidable part of life. The important thing is how you respond to setback and challengesTo find out more about the importance of this skill and ways you can develop it, visit our Skill Hub page on Resilience and read this article from Target Jobs on Resilience: the ability to copy with setbacks. 
  • Flexibility: As businesses adapt to changes in their day-to-day operations, it’s important to have an awareness of this and adapt where necessaryAs Senior Careers Consultant, Raj Sidhu, mentions in a recent Coronavirus Q&A episode of CareersLab “It may be that you potentially have to alter some expectations of your first graduate role and if you can’t get into your desired job straight away, focus on securing roles that allow you to develop skills that correlate to your desired profession, because you can always pivot across into that once the labour market recalibrates. It won’t necessarily be easy to get a job graduating into a global crisis, but it should be possible – especially if you remain agile and sensitive to changes in workplace demands… conscious that with skills in adaptability, independent working and empathy will likely be prized more than ever before”. 
  • Perseverance: For many in their job search, it takes a certain level of patience and perseverance to secure their preferred role at any time, and now is no differentAgain, now more than ever, both of these qualities will be required as companies reassess every aspect of their business and some will have to make difficult decisions which could impact on your plans. It is important to understand these decisions in the context of the current climate and move forward to seek out alternative opportunities that you can take up during this time.

2. Enhance your skillset  

Whether you are set to carry out some form of work experience or not in the coming months, there are a range of tasks you can complete to up-skill yourself from home which will be valuable to your future career planning. These include: 

  • Developing a portfolio: If your interest lies in industries which are more creative, take the time to look into developing a portfolio of work that can be used in future applications. Visit ProspectsAdobe and Creative Bloq for additional information on this. 
  • Watching a recording / reviewing slides  from talks on a range of topics such as CVs and Cover Letters from our Career Essentials programme- a selection of these are also available with exercises in our short e-learning course . 
  • Reading our handouts  which provide an overview of different aspects of career planning such as speculative applicationsassessment centres and psychometric tests. 
  • And if you’re still working on career ideas, you can use your time to research and make use of online tools to generate ideas or explore your existing ideas in more depth. Watch our CareersLab episode on How to Develop your Careers Ideas to help you explore, test and prototype your career ideas. Further resources on this can be found on the UCL Careers website. 
  • Explore information about, or the language of, a country you are keen to work in in the future. 
  • In-depth study of a sector or employer that you are keen to work for in the future. 

 

3. Stay prepared and develop your CV 

No matter what stage of your career planning you’re at, it’s important to stay engaged. You might find value in using this time to develop and explore ideas that would enhance your CV, including: 

  • Brush uyour CVWatch CareersLab for 8 steps to a spectacular CV. 
  • Update yourLinkedIn profile. 
  • Take summer classes. Learn a new skill  there are a lot of free courses available online at the moment due to the lock down. Try FutureLearnThe Open Universityand LinkedIn Learning for some options. 
  • Start your own project/ business do an independent research project on the career area you’re interested in or start your own (online) business. 
  • Help out friends and family do they need their accounts doing? Do their kids need online tutoring? Do they need a website? Do they need help with social media? Can you teach them to play an instrument or other skill (remotely)? 
  • Start your own blog/vlog the world has changed dramatically in the past few months  perhaps you can document that. Books and films will be made about this period of time. You can use your research skills, observational skills and writing skills and even link your writing to your CV or LinkedIn profile. 

4. Seek out alternative opportunities 

Finally, in the current climate, normal recruitment processes will have changed for many organisations and so it’s a good idea to try to be proactive in seeking out alternativeopportunities such as remote internships and volunteering. You can do this in a number of ways including:  

  • Building your network through platforms such as LinkedIn to make connections with employers, follow companies and keep up to date with recruitment news. You may find it useful to watch our Mastering online career networking episode of CareersLab. 
  • Making use of UCL’s Alumni Online Community to make contact with former students working in sectors you may be interested in. If no opportunities are available take the time to conduct job research by finding out more about their role, what advice they can give and resources that can help you with your planning.   
  • Completing speculative applicationsAt the moment employer responses will vary to speculative applications on opportunities that may not be advertised so these will need to be approached with a degree of sensitivity. If approaching organisations directly, ensure you tailor your email to them and above all be flexible- you may have a clear sense of a role you’d like to do but consider alternative positions, which could support thein these challenging times.  
  • Researching virtual opportunitiesConversely, some organisations are actively advertising for roles that can be completed remotely and there are online programmes such as InsideSherpa which simulate a working environment. Research these in more detail and find opportunities online. We’d also encourage you to continue to monitor vacancy sites including the myUCLCareers jobs board. 
  • Finally, whilst volunteering may not be directly related to the career you are interested in, supporting local shops, community projects and the NHS at this time can help you to develop or build on a range of skills which can be applied to future professional roles. Consider this as an option if you’re able to.