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Interview with an Alum: Sarah Fortais, PhD Fine Art, Slade School of Fine Art 2018

Joe O'Brien24 November 2020

Read time: 5 minutes

Interview with Sarah Fortais, PhD Fine Art, Slade School of Fine Art 2018

What is the core purpose of your role and what typical activities does it involve?

As a self-employed artist I create work for exhibitions, performances, private commissions, and public artworks. These include large-scale, permanent bronze works as well as ephemeral works made from found materials. I also teach, running courses during the Slade Summer School and giving lectures both across London and in Canada. My specialisation is sculpture and performance and so most of my teaching revolves around these subjects, but sometimes it also incorporates the study of creativity and ways of implementing creative methodologies, which relates to my PhD research.

I live and work in my studio and so a fair chunk of my time is spent ensuring that all my equipment is running safely and also coming up with new ways of storing more and more work.

Another important part of my day-to-day operation is organising logistics for installation and delivery of artworks, and keeping up to date with necessary safety training and licensing. This has at times involved learning to use different types of 3D rendering software, so as to ensure work can be approved before installation. Because I build and install most of my works by myself, staying physically active is extremely important to my job, and I try to take time away to hike and stay active. Most of the time however, I seem to get my exercise by wearing spacesuits or carrying giraffe parts across London.

What kind of people and clients do you work with?

I have worked with UCL on a number of projects including the UCL Donor Wall, which involved working with hundreds of different people including students, staff, volunteers, charities, private and corporate benefactors, and recipients of research scholarships or patients of medical procedures directly resulting from UCL’s research. I also work with artist groups such as London Sculpture Workshop and London Bronze Casting and institutions like the Pompidou Centre and the Victoria & Albert Museum. I have taught students aged 10 and upwards but primarily I focus on teaching University students completing a Bachelor’s degree in a creative subject. In addition to lecturing on fine art programmes, I have also lectured for London College of Fashion because my PhD research focused on defining cool, which also included defining concepts such as trend and copying. Through exhibiting and performing my work I have been able to travel across the UK as well as France and Canada, and have been able to work with local residents, tourists, refugees, and first-time gallery goers. Part of why I have chosen to be self-employed is because I enjoy working with continuously changing clients.

How did you get to where you are now?

I completed my PhD research in 2018 and so I have only been self-employed in the UK for the last year and a half. In order to gain contracts I first answered a lot of open calls for artworks and volunteered my time invigilating exhibitions for my peers, in order to gain a back-catalogue of work and experiences that I could draw from when applying for paid contracts. I still sometimes exhibit my work for free or for a small financial loss for the exposure which I feel has led to many groups independently contacting me with offers of commissions and performance opportunities. I also try to experiment with my performances in public and document them whenever possible. This means that even when I have a work-in-progress I can get public feedback and sometimes even free materials or meals!

What have been some challenges to your role due to Covid-19 and how have these been responded to/managed?

Seeing galleries and campuses close to the public has meant that many of my contracts/commissions have either been postponed or cancelled outright. I also lost a commission due to the fact that the client felt that they were no longer able to support an artwork that encouraged people to come together, which was a real shame because for me that’s what makes art-making worthwhile. As a result of losing these opportunities, I took on two key-worker roles in London, one as a part-time Art Technician at a public high school, and another at a bakery, to make ends meet. I have since left the bakery position as enough of my fine art contracts have picked up again, but I used the position as an opportunity to practice my fine motor skills, to increase my knowledge of health and safety in the public sector, and to divert/recycle food waste. I have found working as a technician with high school aged students to be very rewarding and it’s inspired me to begin private tutor sessions as well as revisit some mixed media projects that I did not resolve while on my BFA. Furthermore, as a key worker I have been able to commute without interruption and subsequently I produced a performance series with artist Emma Burdon to chronicle how London’s coffee shops have been adapting and changing over the past months.

How do you see your work, or that of the sector more generally, impacting on societal wellbeing as we learn to live with Covid, and do you see any signs that investment in the arts will increase as part of the health and wellbeing response? 

I think most people are aware that both making and experiencing artwork can have a profoundly positive impact on wellbeing. It’s also acutely apparent that there are many, many groups of people underrepresented in the arts and excitingly, I have seen a positive shift at the grassroots level toward supporting artists from a wider range of backgrounds. At the same time, I feel that most large institutions have yet to reflect these changes, and I also feel that overall, the arts industry places far too much emphasis on exclusivity both for its commercial viability, and for determining its conceptual and social value. What I would like to see is a large-scale reimagining of the fine arts sector and for artists to become employed across a wider range of disciplines, so as to more deeply integrate art-making into every sector. I have always preferred to find art in unexpected places and so I feel that personally, in order to make work that I feel is relevant to other people, it should take place in any setting that people are willing to constructively criticise, interact with, or enjoy it. In 2018, artist Zeinab Saleh curated an exhibition titled Widening the Gaze at UCL’s Slade Research Centre, which included an astounding array of works by artists whom I feel are already challenging and profoundly impacting the arts industry in ways that can only result in improved societal wellbeing.

How would you go about getting experience (placements, work experience, internship) in the industry you work in?

There are many online opportunities available on an international level that have recently become exclusively online. As for work experience, I would suggest that artists continue to answer open calls (many groups like A-N and Curator space have been posting calls consistently over the last few months) and asking for feedback whenever possible. I also have found it immensely helpful to look outside my industry for experience. For example, while completing my education I worked as an Assistant Foreman and Environmental Resource at Habitat for Humanity, and also was employed by my Students’ Union while studying at Central Saint Martins. As it might not be possible at the moment to gain experience invigilating or assisting other artists in their studio, I would instead suggest honing your skills on small, manageable projects or experiments and document them in a way to build up a portfolio for future assignments.

What is the one thing students can be doing right now to boost their career prospects at a time where opportunities in the arts may be limited?

As a sculptor, I would suggest focusing on resourcefulness and using any time that can be made available to develop new ways of sourcing materials, techniques, and ways of presenting, and then resolving a few artworks that can be used to showcase your adaptability to employers/clients/institutions. My advice is not to focus on self-reliance, but rather, to use the changing environment as part of the process of generating artwork and finding safe ways of being visible. For instance, I used the changing rules about travelling in London to my advantage and was able to produce a performance which took place completely masked on the London Underground. Prior to lockdown, the TFL told me I was not allowed to create such a performance but with the changing rules it actually meant that my performance became not only allowed, but became the safest way to travel. The only misstep at this time would be to stop producing artwork.

Do you have any top tips for current students who may be interested in your career area?

For any portfolio it is paramount that it includes what appears to be completed works. However, I want to stress that whether or not you as the artist thinking that the work is completed is irrelevant to whether it appears completed to others. Thus, my advice is to focus on how you frame or present your works so that each time you share them they can, for each client, uniquely and contextually be experienced as completed works. This will give you a competitive edge compared to other student portfolios that stress artworks as assignments or experiments, as they are not using their portfolio as an opportunity to demonstrate an understanding of the client’s needs or sensibilities.

Sector Insights: The Different Career Avenues in Accounting

Joe O'Brien10 November 2020

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Tom Bilby (Guest writer from The Accountancy Partnership)

Ever considered a job in accounting? Did you know there’s a lot more roles available in this sector than being an accountant? There’s a range of exciting and rewarding careers available for those who choose this route. After all, the whole business world runs on finance!

After you’ve finished your degree, you can choose a role in accountancy that suits your personality, working style and niche interests within finance. You’ll go on to complete specific qualifications that will refine your expertise and allow you to increase your potential salary.

That’s why it’s essential that you understand the routes available to you at this stage. Let’s take a look at just a few of the accountancy roles you may or may not have heard of.

Bookkeepers

Bookkeeping is one of the most common routes accountants take in their career. It involves looking after the accounts of a business or person, so that tax and other financial obligations can be calculated correctly.

There will always be a high demand for bookkeepers within the industry, so it’s a reliable role to pursue. There are also plenty of opportunities to become a self-employed bookkeeper if you have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Auditors

A financial auditor is responsible for reviewing a business’ accounts, documents and data to ensure compliance with procedures. This is a great role to go into if you have an eye for detail.

Auditors don’t just work for the tax people either. They’re often employed by companies seeking methods to be more risk averse and save on costs. They’re the detectives of the accounting world!

Management Accountants

If you’re an accountant but you’re not a fan of the bewildering world of tax, perhaps the management accountant route is for you. These accounting experts will take responsibility for improving the overall profitability of the company.

Generally, they’re folks who love patterns and efficiency, and will model new projects and ideas to propose to the financial director and senior management team.

Forensic Accountants

Forensic accounting is possibly the coolest job title in the accounting world, but sadly does not actually involve analysing financially motivated murder scenes. It does however, involve reviewing accounts and documents for discrepancies and inaccuracies.

It’s another ideal role for those who enjoy detail-oriented tasks.

F, P & A Analyst

F,P & A stands for financial planning and analysis. If you take on this role, you’ll be interpreting and breaking down financial information for senior decision makers in the business. For example, you might model and analyse the company’s performance over the last year, and present this to the sales director.

This is a role that will suit those who seek to be actively involved in the direction a company will take. It can be very rewarding, but requires someone who is highly confident in their analytical skills.

Payroll Manager

It’s exactly what you’d think. Payroll managers manage the payroll! In this job you’ll be responsible for ensuring people get paid the right amount, at the right time. You’ll also need to have a strong understanding of income tax and other deductions such as pensions, student loans and national insurance.

There are obviously some key personality traits you need to get into the world of accounting, but don’t forget, there’s also a hugely diverse amount of career pathways to suit your personal preferences and strengths.

Spend some time at the start of your journey trying to find out what’s best for you; there are plenty of opportunities for work experience and there’s no harm in pivoting your career at any point.

Whatever path you choose, you’re bound to find a long and rewarding career in accounting.

Article By – The Accountancy Partnership

My Global Internship: 8 steps to making a strong application

skye.aitken18 November 2019

Written by Rhiannon Williams, Global Internships Manager at UCL Careers.

Welcome to the third blog in the ‘My Global Internship’ series. You’ve heard about global mindset and how you can get started with your search for an international internship. Now it’s time to think about making some applications…

Student working at a desk in a sketchbook

Whether you’re applying for an internship in a company that’s around the corner, or on the other side of the world, general advice around how to construct a great CV, cover letter, and application is universal. You’ll want to prepare an application that highlights your skills, experience, and interests in order to convince an employer that you’re the best person for the role. Saying that, there is some additional preparation you can do if you are preparing an application for a global internship. 

  1. Research, research, research

Use a site like GoinGlobal (a service that UCL Careers subscribes to) to check the conventions in the country you’re applying to. You don’t need to follow every rule – not only do CVs and cover letters differ from country to country, but also job to job and industry to industry. However, you might discover some useful guidelines, such as countries where it is standard practice to include things like a photo or pre-written references.

If you are planning to undertake an internship in Europe, you could also check out Europass, an online tool that helps you prepare the necessary documents to highlight your skills and qualifications, including template CVs, cover letters and a language self-assessment tool.

  1. Get your numbers right

Including a telephone number? Remember to include the right international dialing code. Writing a date? Get the order of day, month and year right for the standard practice of the country you’re applying to a job in. These seemingly small differences show that you’ve done your homework and back up any claim you’ve made of showing attention to detail!

  1. Highlight your language skills

It’s not always a prerequisite of a role to have any additional language skills, although if it is, you should certainly mention how you meet that criteria. Be honest with your skills and include your level of fluency. If you claim to be fluent in a second language, a native speaker can easily check this at interview stage. Write your application in the same language as the job advert (unless it is explicitly stated to submit it in another language).

Student standing by a flag

  1. “Translating” your experience

Be aware that your qualifications, or even institution, may not be as well recognised in the country you are applying for an internship in. You can include the international equivalent to your degree (Scholera has a free conversion tool) and consider changing UCL to the local language (e.g. UCL is 伦敦大学学院in Chinese). You could mention that UCL is a world-leading university (top 10 according to the latest QS rankings) or include something specific about your department or course that makes it stand out internationally.

  1. Highlight your international experience

By applying for an internship outside of the UK and/or your home country, you should highlight your ability to work in a global context, adapt to a new environment and work with colleagues from different cultures. Highlight past experiences living abroad, language skills, working with peers from different nationalities and any examples of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and overcoming challenges. Remember to also address the other skills that are required for the role – you might be able to adapt to life in the country as easy as pie, but you’ve also got to show that you’re the right candidate for the role! UCL Careers has plenty of general advice and guidance to help you write excellent CVs and cover letters on the UCL Careers website as well as the following CareersLab videos.

  1. Declare your visa status

Whilst not a requirement, it can be useful when applying for an internship in a foreign country to make clear your visa status at application stage. There may be cases where it’s simply not possible for an employer to accept an international candidate, so you could either find out beforehand or outline the situation in your application. Note that your visa status is different to your nationality, which you don’t have to disclose on your CV.

  1. Get a helping hand

All job applications should be proofread and spell-checked but this is particularly critical if you’ve written it in another language. Even if it is in English, it might be worth getting someone who doesn’t know UCL or your degree subject to read it to see if they can easily follow what you have written in your application. You could even contact recruitment agencies in the country where you intend to work and ask their advice. 

  1. Applying speculatively

Not all internships are advertised and many students approach companies directly with the aim of securing an internship with that organisation. They may have found the company online or used their personal network to get contact details of an appropriate person. This is a really positive, proactive of finding opportunities and shows your eagerness to work for that company. If you go down this route, it is really important that you understand the culture before you send any emails. In some cultures, addressing the email or letter to ‘Dear Sir/Madam rather than a named contact can be seen as rude so try and find exactly who you want to approach.

Next steps

So it’s time to start making those applications! Remember you can have your application checked by a UCL Careers Consultant (in English!) before you send it off to an organisation. Next time we’ll be exploring video interviews, which are very common in the recruitment process when applying for internships overseas.

My Global Internship: where to start and how to find one

skye.aitken14 November 2019

Written by Rhiannon Williams, Global Internships Manager at UCL Careers.

Student on an internship stood by a river holding a camera and smilingWelcome to the second blog in our ‘My Global Internship’ series. Last week we learnt about global mindset and now we’re going to talk about how you can find an international internship, what you should think about when searching and places you can look to get you started.

Did you know students who go abroad during their studies are more likely to gain a 1st degree and be in graduate-level jobs six months after graduation? They’re also likely to have a fantastic time and build their confidence, so it’s a win-win all round! If you haven’t thought about going overseas before, perhaps because you don’t even know where to start, then we’re here to help you.

Before you start

Before you start actually finding specific roles to look at, you should think about the following things:

  1. What sort of work do you want to do and what are you aiming to get out of the whole experience?Are you looking to travel and explore a new culture (and thus open to all opportunities) or do you want to do a particular role related to your degree or career objectives? Perhaps you want to work in a large corporate environment or you want to try a smaller company or start-up where you may get more responsibility?
  2. Where do you want to go?Have you got a particular city, country or continent in mind? This may depend on your answer to question 1 as there might be particular countries or regions that are better suited to the work you’d like to do. Write down all the places you’re keen to consider – it’s worth drilling down to city-level as the experience can differ within country.
  3. How feasible is it to work in a particular area or country?You will need to think about travel and accommodation, and find out if you need a visa. Also, do you need to be able to speak the local language? Some countries are more accessible for English speakers than others, so if you don’t have a second language then perhaps start with these (but remember that the business language in some countries not on this map might still be English).
  4. What is the environment / culture like and how will you adapt to this?Whilst this is something you will prepare for once you’ve already secured an internship, it is a good idea to also research this early on because it may help when making applications.

All of the above will take both some thinking on your part, but also some research. A great place to start is the GoinGlobal website. Access this site via the Working Outside of the UK page on the UCL Careers website. You can also use the working abroad pages on TargetJobs and Prospects to help you. Make a note of your answers to the above – they might change over time as you explore new places, and that’s absolutely fine!

Looking for opportunities

Three students sat on a sofa working on laptopsAfter you’ve done a bit of thinking, next up is to starting looking for opportunities. Finding an international internship in a country you have limited experience with requires you to be proactive, but the rewards will be worth it. Here’s some places to start:

  • myUCLCareers jobs board – click on the Search tab > Vacancies and use the locations or country filter on the left to narrow down the options.
  • LinkedIn can be a valuable tool to help you find companies or contacts in countries that are of interest to you. Use the locations filter on the search function to target a particular country, or search via industry if you know what sector you want to work in.
  • General job boards such as Indeed, Reed and Google all have options to search by country and industry. org is a great platform for finding opportunities in specifically in Europe.
  • Local job boards can also be a great way to find opportunities, particularly from smaller organisations focusing on targeting local students. Search ‘job boards in x country’ to see what is recommended. For example, Welcome to the Jungle is a popular job platform in France for students to find opportunities in French SMEs.
  • Directories are a great way to help you find companies that you might be interested in working in, particularly ones you haven’t heard of yet! Sites like co allow you to search for companies by sector or location and provide general company information as well as links to jobs. If the company doesn’t have any jobs listed, there’s no harm in applying speculatively – we’ll cover this in the next blog!
  • Direct application to an organisation – this is the DIY route to finding an internship abroad. Take a look at the Careers Essentials module on guides on job huntingto help you with various stages of the job hunting process, whether at home or overseas.

So, open your laptop and start a spreadsheet – this will help you to keep track of websites you’ve explored, information you’ve found out and log some companies that you’re interested in applying to. Who knows what you might find and where you might end up going! Next time we will drill down into how to make an application, focusing on important things to consider when applying for overseas roles.

UCL Careers Fairs 2019: Engineering & Built Environment Fair

skye.aitken14 October 2019

Considering a career in Engineering?

The UCL Careers Engineering & Built Environment Fair features some of the top employers from the fields of chemical, civil and environmental, electronic and electrical, and mechanical engineering, as well as construction and the built environment.

An Employer speaking to a student at the fair

Employers will be hiring for permanent graduate positions as well as internships and placements so this fair is mainly aimed at final year and penultimate year Engineering, Bartlett or related students.

All students are welcome to attend in order to research companies, but there may not be suitable structured programmes on offer.

When: Monday 21 October 2019 | 5:30pm – 8pm

Where: North and South Cloisters, Wilkins Building

Some employers attending include:

·      Mott Macdonald

·      RAF

·      GSK

·      Atkins

·      Bouygues UK

·      Eurostar

·      Berkley Group

·      Ministry of Defence

Plus many more!

For a full list of employers attending the fair, visit:

Engineering & Built Environment Fair

You do not need to book to attend our Careers Fairs, but you must bring valid UCL ID to gain entry.

For more information on about the fair and how to prepare, visit: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/about/events/careers-fairs

How To Plan Your Graduate Job Hunt | CareersLab

skye.aitken14 October 2019

It’s that time again – we’re kickstarting our week with another episode of CareersLab with Careers Consultant, Raj Sidhu.

Are you wondering how to structure and organise your year to maximise your chances of getting that dream graduate role?

Then watch this video to learn:

  • The right things to do and when
  •  How to research, plan and apply to roles with confidence

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

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

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

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

skye.aitken8 October 2019

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

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

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

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

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

UK Job Hunting For International Students | CareersLab

skye.aitken1 October 2019

It’s time for the second episode of CareersLab!

Are you an international student looking to pursue a career in the UK after graduating?
We’ve made this video just for you!
Watching this video will help you:
  • Understand how international students can get to be employed in the UK after graduating
  • Get real data on which firms sponsored UCL graduates between 2014 and 2018
  • Understand the UK recruitment culture

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

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

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

UCL Careers Researchers Programme – Summer 2019

UCL Careers18 March 2019


Find your future: UCL Careers Researchers EventsUCL Careers are delighted to confirm their programme of workshops and events for the summer term 2019, specifically designed for UCL’s Researcher’s community.

The programme includes workshops led by UCL Careers Consultants, for careers both in academia and beyond, to help researchers identify and develop core competencies, which are vital for competing in the job market, as well as a mix of Employer Forums and Employer Workshops that give the opportunity to hear from professionals in a range of sectors outside of academia, to ask questions, understand the job market and build business networks.

Researchers won’t want to miss the big event of the summer term – the annual full-day ‘Professional Careers Beyond Academia’ Conference. Presented by UCL Populations & Lifelong Health Domain Early Career Network & UCL Careers, supported by UCL Organisational Development, this conference will be held at the Institute of Child Health on 6th June, focusing on the field of life & health sciences and its related areas, such as UK and Global Public Health, Science Communications, Research & Development, Consultancy, Government Policy and more.

Booking on all events is now open.

For the full programme of events/workshops coming up for researchers this summer and book your place/s, please view the ‘Events Calendar’ on our Researchers page.

 

Any queries, please contact careers.researchers@ucl.ac.uk

Working on resilience: What would the Victorians do?

UCL Careers15 March 2019

Black and white photo of Victorians in front of a brick house. Three rows with six young men at the back, three women and bearded man in the middle and three children at the front.

Written by Recruitment and Selection Advisor, Susanne Stoddart.

For many employers, resilience springs to mind not only as an invaluable soft skill but also as a skill that is underdeveloped in graduate workers. Indeed, in a recent QS report on The Global Skills Gap in the 21st Century resilience was identified by employers as the skill that graduates are lacking in most when compared with its perceived importance. Defined as an individual’s ability to overcome difficult experiences and adapt to new situations, resilience is required to solve problems and prosper in today’s fast-changing job market. Resilience is also needed in order to manage setbacks in the job hunt and application process before even setting foot in the workplace.

“There is, perhaps, no situation in life in which difficulties have not to be encountered and overcome before any decided measure of success can be achieved. Those difficulties are, however, our best instructors, as our mistakes often form our best experience.”

In 2019, there was an ever-growing collection of personal development books on the market promising to help readers build that bounce back mentality so sought after by employers and necessary for overall wellbeing. But this isn’t a new trend in popular psychology. Around 150 years ago Victorian advice manuals also had a lot to say about resilience and its relationship with success. The above quote is taken from the first ever personal development self-help book, published by Samuel Smiles in 1859 and aptly titled Self Help.

Here are four tips that Dr Smiles (in an advice manual called Character, 1871) and Edward Sisson (in The Essentials of Character, 1910) had to offer on developing the ability to overcome problems and adapt. The advice still has relevance today for anyone looking to enhance these vital work skills. It reminds us that resilience is a skill that can be developed by trying to adopt certain behaviours and attitudes.

  1. Be Optimistic
    For Edward Sisson, resilience involved developing a positive mindset or – in his words – ‘a more robust cheerfulness under the test of pain, loss, misadventure, disappointment’. Sisson wrote that ‘the cheerful man gets into the way of looking on the bright side… he gives preference in his attention to the pleasant, the encouraging, the desirable’. Living up to his name, Samuel Smiles also heavily prioritised a happy disposition when faced with challenges, highlighting that ‘cheerfulness is the first thing, cheerfulness is the second, and cheerfulness is the third’.
  1. Become a Lifelong Learner
    Sisson believed that adopting a mindset that was continuously open to learning opportunities encouraged ‘the sort of education that removes mountains and turns obstacles into stepping-stones’. This enabled an individual ‘to take charge of their own culture and career’. These words have considerable relevance in today’s fast-changing job market where roles such as app developer didn’t even exist ten years ago and workers need to constantly update their skills and competencies to help futureproof their career.
  1. Identify Goals
    For Sisson, having goals in life was vital for helping to put short-term difficulties into perspective, noting that ‘the forces of character flow most effectively into action only when they are rallied to the achievement of clearly conceived and firmly held purposes.’ Smiles agreed, expressing concern that without a future focus challenging times can force a person to become ‘like a body of stagnant water, instead of a running stream doing useful work and keeping the machinery of a district in motion’. Long before the popularisation of SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) goal setting, Sisson highlighted that a person ‘must not merely dream of strength, of wisdom, of skill and power’; they should take steps and ‘resolve to attain them’. They should hold themselves accountable for ‘pursuing and achieving, and be inspired and energized by the vision’.
  1. Make Connections
    Long before LinkedIn, Smiles recognised the importance of networking and building relationships that could provide a source of support and inspiration during periods of difficulty, uncertainty or exploration. Smiles advocated building connections with others in order to ‘learn not only from what they have enjoyed but – which is still more instructive – from what they have suffered’ on the road to success. Networks, Smiles continued, provide a means for ‘increasing our resources, strengthening our resolve and elevating our aims’. Alternatively, ‘an entirely new direction’ may come as a result of ‘a happy suggestion, a timely hint, or the kindly advice’.

 

Have the Victorians inspired you to start strengthening your resilience today? If so, why not begin by exploring the UCL Alumni Online Community? On this exclusive networking site, you can make connections with alumni from all over the world and even search for a mentor from the pool of experienced alumni working in a wide range of sectors.

Have you already identified any career goals that will help you stay on track or would you like some help investigating your ideas further? Remember, whether your aim is to explore your options, find opportunities to develop your skills and sector experience, or apply for a job, UCL Careers is here to help.