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Student Interview – Aliza Ayaz (Part 1)

Joe O'Brien1 December 2020

Read time: 5 minutes

Written by Joe O’Brien, Marketing Communications Assistant at UCL Careers.

UCL Careers had a great chat with Aliza Ayaz, UCL student and founder of UCL Climate Action Society, about her experiences as a student, personally and professionally. She has interned for McKinsey, KPMG, the UK Government, the NHS and the UN. We asked followers on our Instagram to send in their questions for Aliza and we got so many, we’ve had to split this blog into parts!

  1. Which was your favourite internship and why?

Uh, tricky one! It’s really difficult to pick because I had different but equally enjoyable or insightful experiences during each internship. However, there is a clear answer when it comes to the steepest learning curve and the ability to create direct impact in real time. This was with a start-up in healthcare. As a Population Health student, it became clear that insight driven health is the foundation of any innovation-led approach to more effective, efficient and affordable healthcare. At this start-up, I was operating at the intersection of business and technology to combine real-world experience, clinical and business insights and new, enabling intelligent technologies to deliver the power of Insight Driven Health in this demanding new digital world. At this internship, I saw why the world’s leading healthcare payers, providers and public health entities are ready to pay for services that help them become the intelligent healthcare enterprises of the future – from the back office to the doctor’s office.

  1. How did you get your internship opportunities?

I applied as all are expected to. Details regarding internships are always advertised on a company’s website including opening dates, deadlines, recruitment process and candidate criteria. In some cases, I was recommended for an opportunity and contacted to discuss the role. I am very lucky to have a rich network of industry experts who see the potential in youth and are ready to give them a chance to do their magic.

3. How much time did you spend researching internship opportunities?

This may be a shock given my background but I wasn’t very efficient. I didn’t really have any idea about the scope of companies, who the major players were in a specific industry or why knowing the difference between industries or companies really mattered. So, I didn’t do any research the first time round. I was too busy enjoying student clubs – debating, horse riding, acting etc and so naturally had limited time anyway. I kind of applied anywhere and everywhere my friends were telling me to. This made sense because what mattered to me was gaining exposure across the public and private sector. I didn’t have a set career path in mind – I still don’t.

If I had better researched prior, I could have probably quantified a fewer number of companies I knew I wanted to apply to. Research definitely saves time and energy, allowing you to better focus on quality applications so I would recommend that you do that. But at the same time, I knew what I wanted at that point was to accurately compare how public versus private sector operates, how their work differed and how they impacted businesses, society and the environment. I gained this insight through the variety of places I applied to. You can tell a lot about an organisation just from its recruitment process. Their interview and application questions as well as HR conduct convey what the company values in its employees and what their culture is. This could be a perfect fit or a complete mismatch with your personality and work ethic. In two places, after submitting my application and moving onto the first informal chat, I knew I couldn’t thrive in that company’s culture and withdrew my application. At other times, I asked as many questions as I had during the interview stage to truly gauge whether the role is what I wanted or if I was the right fit for them.

4. How did you prepare for interviews?

Depends.

Is this designed to test my numerical or critical reasoning skills? Then I like to go with a fresh mind and that means 8 hour sleep plus a good breakfast. This helps me more than anything to focus and perform my best during the interview. Often, these tests cover areas you would have already studied over school life so it isn’t anything new. You might need a refresher, so practising some tests prior could help. But this isn’t always necessary and depends on how confident you feel.

If this is designed to get to know me better, I make sure they know I am very happy to do that. I listen to their questions and answer genuinely. The conversation tells me how much they want me just as much as it tells them how much I want them.

The company website almost always clarifies the aim of the interview so you can anticipate the kind of questions you will be asked. If this isn’t clear, then email the recruiter.

5. How do you balance your own hobbies and passions at the same time as your career goals?

I mean honestly, in the earliest days, I didn’t. I was very okay with that. I learned to not feel guilty about it. I missed friends’ birthday parties, I was MIA for a while. I think all my friends knew I had this dream of something I wanted to build. I am a really mission-oriented person. Nothing over-rides mission to me. I truly believe people in your life should understand that.

In social and environmental advocacy, my role is continuous and this is so intense. For me, there’s no better way to end the day than with the people who bring the greatest sense of calm and perspective to my life. It’s ideal to see my family in real life, obviously, but given their work & travel, video call has to do.

Also, I live by my calendar. I put everything in it — not just meetings, but thinking time and brainstorming time, even when the only person I’m brainstorming with is myself. It is unified across all elements of my life: personal, professional and everything in between.

So try to work smart because you have to make sure you arrange time. Fitness is also a big factor as it keeps you energetic which is really important.

6. How to stay true to your goal in a world focusing mostly on profit and career development?

I think this question explains why it’s important to not just set goals, but to ensure you set the right ones. Think what’s important for you – this could be launching a product, growing a brand, creating awareness, finding your soulmate, earning a crazy amount to live a luxurious life or making your parents proud– the list is never ending and there is no self-judgement. The more you want it, the more motivated you will be. Create a game plan for each of your goals and make sure your goal is measurable: hours with family and hours at work, revenue in business and income for supporting yourself, number of activities to unwind and the research amount for your career – again the list doesn’t end. Next, give yourself a deadline: by when do you want to achieve your personal and professional goals? Also, make little, tangible goals that lead to big ones. Get real about what’s holding you back. Be open to change and to inspiration. This might not work for everyone – there’s no perfect recipe – but it works well for many people that I have met.

7. What advice would you give a first year looking to get into the Sustainability field?

Join the Climate Action Society at UCL. We host a multitude of social events, educational workshops and conferences on all things sustainability that give you an idea of how you can pitch in, plus provide you with the opportunity to start delivering impact in real time immediately. Don’t worry about not having the knowledge area or the skill-set in climate advocacy, we are very happy to teach you this. Some of the ways we help you are also the advice I would give:

  • Try to shadow policy professionals in the sustainability area. Email people directly! You will learn how to interpret key policy needs and setting the scope of any sustainability reforms. It might also give you the opportunity to develop verbal and written skills in communicating climate evidence appropriately to different audiences. This is important for youth activism.
  • Take up the opportunity to interact with academics working on the sustainability key subject areas. We have plenty of experts at UCL.
  • Get in touch with NGOs in this field. We at the Climate Action Society help you do that! Look for opportunities to shadow NGO researchers in the teams working on commissioned research and gain an understanding of procuring and managing sustainability in a local council.

8. How was your experience in working in different student societies?

Each society has its own amazing reach, be it a cultural group, the coffee enthusiasts at the Coffee Society, the Lacrosse lovers or the Business-y bees. I attended numerous events by different societies throughout term-time and was a committee member at some. I was growing alongside: learning, joining teams, organising events, meeting people, having fun. Below, I summarise my experience:

UCL MUN Society: For those looking for a way to tackle their fear of public speaking, this is probably the best way to do so. You learn about world affairs, debates (present and past) and make new friends while engaging in contemporary intellectual conversation. And don’t worry, you have the support of the lovely committee to guide you throughout. I was part of the debating team at my high school and so it was natural for me to continue this hobby at UCL. Through this platform, I also had the pleasure to chair two of the largest MUN conferences: the UCLMUN and LIMUN.

UCL Pakistan Society (Vice President), UCL Afghan Society (Events): The small but frequent events are rich in culture. The food and dress-up events are beautiful ways to celebrate tradition. Having grown up all around the Middle East, I wasn’t exactly familiar with diversity in Pakistani or Afghan culture. But meeting a variety of different people at these societies took care of that and I came out with memorable friendships. It was the perfect mixture of laughter, warmth and new-found love for cultural history.

UCL Guild and UCL Business Society (BizSoz) (Vice President): I wanted to stick my hands into something-businessy, something-entrepreneurship and I was convinced cut-throat “corporate slavery” isn’t the only way to do so. Usama Yusuf, UCL Guild Founder, founded Guild because he believed there are truly so many pieces of the puzzle that is modern-day business: tech, consulting, finance, entrepreneurship, data science and so on. At the Guild, I found a place to gain exposure to industry leaders and students who were well-versed in the internship/job area. I learned a lot from their own experiences and bonded with students who shared the same entrepreneurial interests as me. It can be a bit daunting to join, and it really was for me; I still remember pitching my Vice Presidency 2 minute speech in an auditorium with 200+ people for the UCL BizSoc elections. Unlike other candidates, I had never really participated in BizSoc events so doubted I would be welcome, but I totally was. And that shows that the Business Society is for absolutely anyone.

Tip: What I see a lot is that students join a society then they sort of do it halfway. They don’t really focus on it because there are a hundred different societies to choose from and there is so much going on. There isn’t much harm in this except if you sign up to be a committee member. Explore to the extent you can pull your weight as a responsible team member – that then allows you to truly enjoy yourself at the society you become a part of.

9. Was it difficult to start your own society?

In order to start a society, the Students Union general procedure is super simple: fill in a short form, get 30 signatories and you can have your own society. Each term, the SU receives at least 20 different society proposals. That’s 60 proposals in one academic year. Starting a student club is designed to be easy because UCL promises an open space for initiatives. I know so many people who have started their own society for the sake of starting one. The difficult part is running it, staying true to the objectives and taking it to the next level to achieve the society’s goals.

While there will obviously be a number of struggles involved with putting in endless hours in addition to your academic responsibilities, raising capital, and working with a range of different members, the biggest challenge is often figuring out what the right end goal for your members is: what they will pay for, what they will enjoy, what they will dislike. I absolutely enjoyed all the challenges I faced at CAS; For one, they varied so much! My team and I all saw them as no more than hiccups and growing opportunities.

I know a lot of people note that CAS was mostly an instant success but that is because a lot of research went to it prior. For some of our other niches such as corporate sustainability and so on – that took us two years to perfect; we had to keep changing the “message” of our movement, going through numerous iterations, and moving forward so that the members were happy with the final product i.e our events. I placed a lot of focus on diversity & inclusion because welcoming everyone’s participation, not just their perspective was super important for the vision I had for CAS. We all loved this diversity and we bonded into the #CASfam. I also worked with the Under Secretary General for Recruitment Dhaval Nayi to revamp the structure of the society, discarding and adding roles each year, so I learnt that you shouldn’t be scared to fix what isn’t working. Always trust your instincts; it’s hard to shut things down but you have to keep moving. It’s great to have a dream, but you also need to make sure that what you’re offering is something that people need.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Apply now for UCL Connected Learning Internships

Joe O'Brien20 October 2020

Read time: 2 minutes

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

Are you looking to gain some experience to add to your CV? Or would you like an opportunity to reflect on your current strengths and develop new skills?

Then check out the UCL Connected Learning Internships scheme, advertised on myUCLCareers from 22 October 2020.

Paid internships are available across a range of academic and professional service departments throughout UCL, and you can apply for up to two opportunities that are most suited to your skill set, experience and motivations.

The internships are for 35 hours either full or part-time; and will run between 1 December 2020 and 29 January 2021.

What can I gain from a UCL Connected Learning Internship?

  1. Employability skills

Over 140 students working across 74 projects completed a UCL Connected Learning Internship during July and August 2020. Student feedback confirmed that these opportunities greatly improved key employability skills, including written and verbal communication, teamwork and collaboration, planning and organising, problem-solving, decision-making and even creativity.

‘Really enjoyed the internship. Interesting content and useful transferable skills that I’ll take forwards.’* 

  1. Designated support

You will also be supported by a designated supervisor within the hiring department, so you will have plenty of help and guidance throughout the opportunity.

‘I loved my team and how accommodating and friendly they were. They gave me a lot of flexibility and allowed me to try to pursue what I want to get out of the internship.’*

  1. Self-Reflection

After completing a self-reflection tool, you will also have the option to discuss your experience with a member of the UCL Careers team, to fully reflect on how the internship has supported your employability skills development. This is a great chance for you to articulate your new skills, competencies and motivations on your CV and within future applications.

‘It was an amazing opportunity to help the department, knowing that this will have an impact on the students.’*

  1. Income

Internships are paid at the London Living Wage, so are a great opportunity to obtain both an income and gain some valued skills and experience at the same time.

‘A great experience that led on to a further 8 week post.’*

Do I need to meet any particular criteria to apply?

  1. UCL Student

You must be a current UCL student to apply.

  1. Time Commitment

You should also ensure you can commit enough time to complete the internship during the period specified and as agreed with the host UCL department.

  1. Online/Remote Working

Internships will be conducted online, so you must have the ability to work independently (and remotely) and the circumstances to carry out the work in this way.

  1. Individual Role Requirements

Each internship will have specific requirements, so please do check the individual role descriptors for each internship that you wish to apply for.

Remember that you can book a one to one appointment with a member of the UCL Careers team for personalised practical tips and advice to help you better understand how recruiters will shortlist your applications and how you can best demonstrate your motivation and your most relevant skills and experience.

When is the deadline for applying?

The deadline for applications is 4 November 2020, so check out the opportunities available and start planning your applications now.

Apply now via myUCLCareers

Good luck!

*Quotes from students who completed a UCL Connected Learning Internship during July and August 2020

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.

Bagged Yourself a Summer Internship Overseas? You may be able to Secure some Funding too!

Joe O'Brien9 March 2020

Written by Hidy Fu, Global Internships Officer at UCL Careers

At UCL, we are really keen to help enhance the global nature of our student experience. One of the most practical ways we thought we could help is by supporting you financially with your great effort in having secured your own internship! Interested to find out more? Read on!

We have two types of funding: The Global Internships Bursary and the Erasmus + Traineeship Grant.

Have a quick glance at some of the key elements of the funding on offer, which are two separate schemes, both under the Global Internships Programme:

Global Internships Bursary Erasmus + Traineeship Grant
  • Up to £500
  • Up to €520* monthly
  • Internship outside of UK
  • Internship must last for at least 4 weeks
  • Internship outside of UK, within EU
  • Internship must last for at least 60 days
For both:

  • Open to non-finalist undergraduates and non-Tier 4 postgraduates
  • Priority given to those who have not received global internship funding before

* An additional grant of €20 a month is awarded to students who meet widening participation criteria (added automatically for eligible students).

If you like collecting badges, you will be glad to hear that the bursary or grant will be recognised on your Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR).

Want to apply for both to increase your chance of securing funding? Well you can! You will need to submit two separate applications and will only be able to receive one (if your application is successful) and it will be at the discretion of UCL Careers to determine which type of funding you will receive.

Follow the links below to read all the terms and conditions and start thinking about applying! Application will open next week!

Global Internships Bursary                      Erasmus + Traineeship Grant

Deadline to apply for both funding: 26th April 2020

Questions? Not sure? Drop us an email at globalinternships@ucl.ac.uk.

If you are still looking for an internship, overseas or within the UK, why not get some ideas from our website or log in to MyUCLCareers and look at the managed opportunities we have sourced for you, under the Global Internships Programme. You will have to hurry as the deadline to apply for those is Sunday 29th March 2020.

Kick Start your Career: Do an Internship!

Joe O'Brien2 March 2020

Written by Katharine Evans, Internships & Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.

Internships are a great way for you as a graduate or a finalist to get a taste of different roles, organisations, and working environments to help you work out what you do and don’t from your career!

Undertaking an internship
You have a lot to gain from doing an internship. From being able to develop common workplace skills such as team work and commercial awareness, to demonstrating work experience on your CV and making new connections with employers. You will be able to explore a field of work and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses to build your confidence, and understand how theory and research relate to practice in a work context.

If you’re a graduate or finalist, you can find a summer internship in our UCL Careers Summer Internship Scheme for Finalists & Graduates where you will be paid London Living Wage. Opportunities are live now until 27th March.

If you’re still studying you can look at myUCL Careers for opportunities you might wish to apply for, directly to employers, or through sending in speculative applications. We’d advise reading this for more information and watching our Careers Consultant, Raj’s, CareersLab video on finding an internship.

See the following tips for other ways to boost your careers prospects once you have finished your studies and during an internship:

Creating a portfolio
For some roles (particularly those in media, fashion and design) it’s important to have a portfolio of work to show employers at interviews. This could include photos, drawings, examples of writing or anything they demonstrates your creativity. During your degree you may have started this portfolio, however an internship following on from graduation could help improve this. Not only will an internship as a graduate help increase the pieces of work in your portfolio, it’s also a great way to show that you understand how to deliver to budget and in line with a client brief. Remember to ensure that you also have a digital portfolio in the form of a website, then you can include the link on your CV or in future applications.

Have you connected?
If you have made some connections during your studies then re-visit them. Leverage your network to identify people who are in your desired field or industry, and set up an informational interview to learn more about your potential career path. Begin speaking with potential mentors, UCL Alumni and build (or rebuild) relationships with existing mentors. This will put you in a strong position now you’re graduating and remind people that you are still interested!

Building your online brand
Linked to networking, your personal brand is how the outside world, including prospective employers see you. Sites like LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook can powerful tools to let employers know who you are and what you can do – https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-careers/2016/04/26/can-social-media-get-you-a-job/. LinkedIn is now not only a social media site, it’s also one of the most popular job sites. The increase in people applying directly with their LinkedIn profiles means that you need to ensure that yours stands out and shows you as the excellent graduate you are!

Learning about you
The first step in making an informed decision about anything relating to your career is understanding yourself. If you don’t really know what you want or what you are good at then this can be really hard. Use the time after finishing your course to get to know yourself a bit better. Travelling, making new friends or learning new skills (online courses) can be a really good way to bring out your strengths and help you find your passion. A seven or eight week internship post-graduation is a great way to fit everything in whilst still getting to trial a potential career. Remember you can come into UCL Careers for a short guidance appointment with one of our Careers Consultants.

Kick Start your Career with an Internship in an SME

Joe O'Brien24 February 2020

Written by Katharine Evans, Internships & Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers

On your first day at UCL, graduation was so far around the corner it didn’t even figure in your thoughts, you knew that the next three or so years would be a transformational journey. You’d be learning new skills, meeting new people, and reading a subject that you were passionate about. These years were to be your formative adult years in so many ways, and clearly the most important of these would be your career (not that we’re biased at UCL Careers). Then September 2019 arrived and you realised that the end was fast approaching. If you’re studying a postgraduate degree, then it’s likely you’ve always felt that “the real world” was just around the corner.

There’s no correct answer to where you should be in your career planning at this stage. Some of you may have had your career ambitions and route decided since you were six, and others may not yet have a clue! At times it might feel like everyone else is sorted career wise, but we see over 6,000 individual students a year at UCL Careers, and we know that there’s no standard to how your career path is!

This might sound scary, but graduate unemployment is at its lowest rate in 39 years. In part this is due to graduates filling the country’s skills gaps. A big part of this is graduates utilising their transferrable skills into roles within sectors that may not appear obvious. A great way that graduates are able to do this is by getting experience in a range of roles and sectors, and taking a holistic approach to their education, realising that simply studying at university gives one a whole range of desirable skills, regardless of the subject one reads. After all we’re working for longer than ever and moving jobs more frequently than ever before. 96% of graduates switch careers within three years.

So much choice can become overwhelming, so a great way to get a taste of different opportunities, sectors and roles is through internships, whether this be as a graduate or during the course of your studies. This year our Summer Internship Scheme in association with Santander is open exclusively to UCL Finalists and Graduates (PG and UG)

The UCL Careers Summer Internship Scheme (subsidised by Santander) hosts a range of opportunities that are exclusive to UCL. These opportunities all pay the London Living Wage, and are with SMEs based across London. SMEs make up 99.8% of all London’s private sector businesses.

Employment in SMEs represents 60% of all UK employment. But often when people think about graduate jobs they think about the large, internationally known employers. There’s no doubt that working for a bigger employer has its benefits, but there’s also drawbacks to this employment choice, and some people may prefer the chance to work in a smaller organisation. Some of the advantages to working in an SME:

  • Greater scope of role.
    • When working in a smaller organisation it’s likely that you’ll be far more hands on, and the remit of your role will be wider, you’ll be able to explore different aspects of the role and see where your strengths and passions best fit. Widening one’s skillset allows you to be more competitive within the job market if you decide to move on.
  • Closer working relations with colleagues
    • If you’re working in a department at a large organisation it’s likely that you’ll be based in an office with the rest of the department. In an SME you’re more likely to be working in an office with multiple departments and you will be able to see a range of roles in action; so although you’re working in one specific role, you’ll likely see how other staff and teams work, and maybe you’ll see that a different role is of interest to you.
  • Recognition of the interconnectedness
    • Smaller organisations are often aware of the amount of collaboration across all their teams so are far more likely to explain this to you, and you’ll see it in action, giving you an unrivalled bird’s eye view of how businesses function and how all the cogs fit together.
  • Impact and increased responsibility
    • A close-knit working environment with a less hierarchal environment often enables you to take more ownership over the work you do. As everyone plays a key role in contributing to the success of the business you’ll see the impact of your work and have a sense of pride and achievement at the fact that you are directly adding value towards the bigger picture. This means that you’ll get directly noticed for hard work and achievements.
  • More personable
    • You’ll never feel like you’re just a faceless employee if you’re constantly interacting with the leaders of the organisation. A smaller team can help you feel more welcomed into the organisation. SMEs are often seen to be doing their upmost to improve employee wellbeing, with many providing free breakfasts, fruit, drinks, and breakout spaces, etc.

An SME isn’t one size fits all, there’s a huge difference between working in a micro organisation with just 4 employees and an SME with 249 employees across 6 offices, but through the UCL Summer Internship Scheme you can spend 7-8 weeks in an organisation getting an idea of the work environment you thrive in, and the type of role you’re passionate about, and it may end up being the first step on your career ladder.

Exclusive Overseas Internships Available to UCL Students!

Joe O'Brien5 February 2020

Pictured – Winner of 2019’s Global Intern Photo Competition.

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

Would you like to spend your summer undertaking an internship overseas? Applications for the Global Internships Programme are now open!

What is the Global Internships Programme?

The programme aims to encourage students to undertake a summer internship outside of the UK. UCL Careers does this by working with employers to secure exciting exclusive and semi-exclusive opportunities for our students!

What kind of internships will there be?

We are currently finalising the opportunities for 2020 but aim to have a range of roles available. Last year we advertised internships in business development, research, marketing, teaching and translation across countries including Spain, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Vietnam and Singapore.

Exciting! How do I apply?

You can browse the internships via the Global Internships Programme scheme on your myUCLCareers account. If you would like to apply for any of the roles, you will need to answer a few questions and upload your CV. After the deadline has passed, UCL Careers will review all applications before deciding which ones will be shortlisted and sent to the organisation.

Ok, what’s the deadline?

The first batch of internships will go live on 12th February and close on 8th March. We will then release a second batch of opportunities on 13th March which will close on 29th March.

Sounds great, how can I increase my chances of being shortlisted?

Tailor your application! This is really important and will significantly increase the strength of your application. You can book an Applications Advice appointment at UCL Careers to have it checked before submitting it.

I’m nervous about applying for an international internship…

Undertaking an internship in a new country can be really daunting, but also really exciting! You can learn new skills and languages, expand your international network, develop your cultural awareness and hopefully have fun exploring your new environment. UCL Careers will provide you with tips and advice to help prepare you for the experience overseas.

Here’s what some previous participants said about the programme:

“My global internship was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Although it was nerve-wracking at first… if you want to learn more about the world and yourself, I highly recommend taking on an opportunity like this. Breaking out of your comfort zone is key for growing as a person, so pack your bags and off you go.”

“My advice if you’re thinking of undertaking a global internship? Don’t be afraid to face new challenges – these experiences will help you grow the most professionally and personally (and they usually make the best stories).”

“Be bold, brave and confident in yourself and never lose sight of the fact that you deserve to be in your position as much as anyone else!”

What’s next?

Make a note to check your myUCLCareers account on 12th February (and again on 13th March) to see what opportunities are available to you. We look forward to receiving your application!

Looking for Work: Be Safe, Be Smart

Joe O'Brien28 January 2020

Written by Rochelle Rozasty, Internship Programmes and Recruitment Services Manager at UCL Careers

Be smart and safe when looking for work or an internship

At UCL Careers we know that looking for work or an internship can sometimes feel daunting. Not only do you have to make time to find something that suits you, make applications and go to interviews, but you also have to ensure the legitimacy of the opportunity.

It’s important to be smart when checking out a job advert or offer. So we have put together some information to help you on our website for you as a student, as an intern and as a worker or employee.

When looking for work opportunities

As a student you may be targeted directly by some unscrupulous organisations and people who are trying to defraud you by claiming to offer work or other opportunities in an attempt to gather personal data and/or bank details. On the Payment rights and safety as a student, intern and employee page on our website, we explain what to look for and what to do if you’ve inadvertently been scammed. Further information can also be found through our parent body – The Careers Group.

When looking for an internship

When looking for an internship it’s important to make sure that not only will the internship give you a good learning opportunity but also that it is safe and has adequate insurance in place to cover you should any problems occur. We advise you to make sure you have details about the internship/placement in writing from the host organisation and you review the legitimacy of the internship, including payment. Look at the tips given on the Payment rights and safety as a student, intern and employee page on our website.

When securing a role

When you secure a role you are likely to be a worker or employee.  It’s important to know what status you are as this affects your employment rights. We’ve given you some information and signposted you to further resources about this on the Payment rights and safety as a student, intern and employee page on our website.

Your contract and if you have issues with your employer about payment

One of the things you are likely to want to know more about is what to expect in a contract and what to do if you have issues with your employer about payment. You can navigate your way through this by reading our blogs in our new UCL Careers Explains blog series.

Opportunities through myUCLCareers

Finally, just to let you know, we try to make sure the opportunities that come through our jobs board – myUCLCareers – are not discriminatory and the pay (for UK roles) meets National Minimum Wage legislation.  On occasion unscrupulous employers slip through our checks. Do let us know if you find something where the advert does not match reality and we will review what the employer has told us which may lead to us barring them from our system.

Be smart and be safe!

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.

My Global Internship: what does it mean to have a ‘global mindset’?

skye.aitken6 November 2019

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

A student with sun glasses on stands in front of a view of a European cityWelcome to the first in a series of blogs aimed at helping students to find, apply for, prepare for and undertake a global internship (usually meaning outside the UK and probably your home country). We will be publishing blogs under the #myglobalinternship tag across the autumn and spring terms, so keep an eye out!

So maybe you’ve been applying for international internships already, or perhaps it’s something you’d like to start doing. Wherever you’re at, you may have come across the term ‘global mindset’ and you might wonder what this actually means.

One of the simpler definitions we like is ‘the ability to operate comfortably across borders, cultures, and languages’ and for a student to be a ‘global graduate’ they need to be able to possess a range of competencies such as team-working, adaptability, resilience and self-awareness.

Why is it important?

In an increasingly globalised workplace, employers require their staff to have intercultural competence to enable them to collaborate effectively with their colleagues and in different cultural settings (such as in a country you may not have experience before). They also need employees from diverse backgrounds to represent their client base, who can also grasp the interconnectedness of international business.

A report from McKinsey’s Global Institute shows that ‘cross-border data flows are increasing at rates approaching 50 times those of last decade. Almost a billion social-networking users have at least one foreign connection, while 2.5 billion people have email accounts, and 200 billion emails are exchanged every day. About 250 million people are currently living outside of their home country, and more than 350 million people are cross-border e-commerce shoppers’.

In addition, ‘increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the centre of organisational operations’ according to the Future Work Skills 2020 report. This means employers are looking for candidates who can keep up with this rate of change and collaborate virtually by working productively and effectively as part of a virtual team (e.g. one across different global sites).

What kind of experiences can you draw upon?

By studying at UCL, you are already in a great position to talk about your experiences of interacting with individuals from different cultures, given that there are over 150+ nationalities represented on campus. You can also demonstrate your global mindset by talking about the following experiences on your applications and in interviews:

  • Living abroad (during upbringing or as part of course)
  • Picking up language skills
  • Transitioning from home to London
  • Coming to London from outside of the UK
  • Representing one organisation at its interface with another in a different region/country/culture
  • Presenting papers at international conferences or in committees
  • Having an interest in current affairs, listening to/reading global business news (be prepared to back this up)
  • Independent travel
  • Sensitivity to different regional/class/cultural attitudes, e.g. travel, voluntary work, vacation jobs

Plus, if you decide to undertake a global internship in summer 2020 then that will enhance your global mindset even further! For further reading about global skills, you may enjoy the QS 2019 Global Skills Gap Report which aims  to  provide a greater understanding  of  the  gaps  between  graduate  skills  and employer expectations around the world. You can also book a careers appointment to talk about these skills and explore how you can highlight yours to future employers!

Future blogs in the series will look at:

  • How to find international internships
  • Making applications for international internships
  • Conducting video interviews for overseas roles
  • Preparing for your time abroad
  • Working in a global workplace