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UCL Careers Explains…Why you need a National Insurance number and how to get one

Skye AAitken3 December 2019

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

A person writing at a deskWhy you need a National Insurance Number

National insurance is a tax on your earnings that goes into the National Insurance Fund which pays for various benefits. You pay national insurance contributions between the ages of 16 and state pension age on earnings.

Your National Insurance number is unique to you throughout your life but you cannot use it as a form of ID. It is made up of 2 letters, 6 numbers and a final letter. Such as: QQ 12 34 56 C.

Everyone who wants to work in the UK must have a national insurance number. You can start work without one but you must then apply immediately. The law requires you to apply for NI number if you do not already have one and you are working or are intending to work.

How to get a National Insurance Number

If you are looking for work, starting work or setting up as a self-employed person, you will need a national insurance number. If you have the right to work in the UK (even if it is only part-time), you will need to telephone The National Insurance Number Application line on 0800 141 2075, lines are open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm. You will need to phone from the UK. You may be required to attend an ‘Evidence of identity’ interview.

There are many services online that offer to get you an NI number for a fee. These sites should be avoided, they don’t provide you with any advantage, and instead charge you for their services, when it’s easy to go the official route and get your national insurance number for free.

Once your application is successful, you will receive a letter confirming your NI number. Take good care of this as it is your reminder of your NI number and you will need to use it when you contact HM Revenue and Customs or the Department for Work and Pensions. As soon as you have your NI number, you should tell your employer.

UCL Careers Explains…Starting a new role

Skye AAitken28 November 2019

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

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will help you understand more about contractual information, payment for your work, Income Tax and National Insurance.

Today’s blog post has been designed to help you understand what employers should be providing you with when they offer you a job.

A person working on a laptopJob Details

When you are offered a job it’s an exciting time and you will likely be really happy to have secured a position. Once you have agreed to take the role you must ensure that you are given all the details that you need about it. It’s important to make sure that you have the information in writing from your new employer – this could be in the form of a formal document or an email exchange. Your employer is legally obliged to provide the terms and conditions of employment within two months of your starting date, but it is best if you can go over the details with your employer as soon as you join the company. Often an employer will give you details verbally however, the basic idea behind having the details in writing is to give you and your employer information that you can both refer back to if any disputes arise. As such the contract / email exchange should include all of the following:

  • The name of the employer and employee
  • The job title
  • Date of commencement of employment
  • Duration of employment – is it for a fixed period or ongoing?
  • Place of work
  • Rate of pay and when you will be paid
  • Normal hours of work
    • Check the normal working hours and look for mentions of compulsory overtime, or whether time off in lieu (TOIL) is given. Some employers limit the hours that can be worked and others may ask you to opt out of the “working time directive which aims to limit hours to 48 hours per week – see https://www.gov.uk/maximum-weekly-working-hours”
  • Holiday entitlement and holiday pay
    • All full time UK workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days of annual leave. This is made up of 20 annual leave days plus 8 bank holidays.
    • Part time workers are entitled to the pro rata equivalent.
    • If you’re working on a zero hours contract, or a temporary role you may find that you accrue holiday hours for each hour worked or you may be paid holiday pay separately from your hourly pay, this equates to 12.07%.
  • Pension scheme
  • Sick pay
  • Notice period
  • Disciplinary rules and procedure
  • Grievance procedure

Payment

If you’re working a job with set hours your pay may be set out as a pro-rated annual salary – for more information about this see https://www.themix.org.uk/work-and-study/workers-rights-and-pay/pro-rata-pay-1685.html. If you’re being paid hourly and you often work different hours each week, then your employer should let you know in writing how much you’re paid per hour, and your standard working hours. It’s important to find out how your hours are worked out. Eg. are they recorded through clocking in? Do you complete timesheets? Or is each shift recorded by your manager? Regardless it’s a good idea for you to also make a record of the hours you work. You should also make sure that you know whether your breaks are paid or unpaid and whether overtime, or weekends and night shifts are paid at a different rate.

Occasionally your employer may want to change the terms of your employment. Even if you have only been given the terms verbally the employer must obtain written permission from you for any changes. Any changes that you agree to must be backed up with a written statement within one month of the changes taking place.

Top 5 Skills For Careers in the Arts

Skye AAitken27 November 2019

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

UCL Careers held an event about Careers in the Arts on 15th November 2019 as part of our Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Themed Week.

Our panelists were:

Joane Filipe: Exhibition Designer & Creative Producer at InterestingProjects

Chloe Godman: Gallery Manager at Open Gallery

Julia Padfield: Press & Publications Assistant at Shakespeare’s Globe

Anna Testar: Assistant Curator at Royal Academy of Arts

As part of a really interesting evening, these are some of the most useful skills to develop for your career in the Arts from our panelists’ perspective:

1. Be Proactive

It can be tricky to start a career in the arts, so be proactive in seeking out opportunities to gain experience or create your own. Start a blog, put on exhibitions of your or your friend’s work, volunteer at galleries and apply for internships – these are all great ways of building up your experience, and you’ll make connections at the same time. You don’t have to just work within the arts – you’ll gain transferable skills no matter what work you do and don’t be too concerned if your career isn’t linear, as you’ll be able to spin your experience and skills back to your arts work. Say yes to anything interesting that comes your way and take the time to work out what you’re good at.

2. Attention To Detail

You may be writing exhibition guides, arranging the logistics of an exhibition tour, communicating with the public through social media, licensing images, tracking invoices and payments to your business, or many other tasks you will be asked to complete in the course of your career – attention to detail is crucial in maintaining a high standard of work, especially in an industry that doesn’t have much money to spare on mistakes.

3. Organisation And Multitasking

Organisational skills are very useful to have in any sector, and the arts is no exception. You may need to juggle several projects (for example planning several future exhibitions) at the same time, prioritise conflicting deadlines, and keep a careful track of budgets, so the ability to multitask and being methodical prioritising your work will be crucial.

4. People Skills

Whether you work with customers and clients or colleagues, in sales or in a press office, as a curator or designer, you’ll need people skills to succeed. You might need to be persuasive to make a sale or negotiate a loan of an artwork for an exhibition, to be collaborative while working on a team project, or engaging while talking to a school group, but working effectively with others is key. You can also use your people skills to build up a network of useful contacts across the industry, which may prove invaluable in your next career move.

5. Passion

The arts is a competitive sector, so having a passion and knowledge of your subject may allow you to stand out next to another equally-qualified candidate – you don’t need to know everything about a topic, but showing enthusiasm at interview can certainly impress employers. Your enthusiasm may also help to create relationships with other professionals (they may remember you when a job becomes available), and can help sustain you through the frustrations of job hunting and through a career where high pay is rare. Indulge your passion by reading, going to exhibitions or the theatre, listening to music – the more you build connections between different artistic creations the broader your knowledge will be, which will only help your work. Conveying your enthusiasm to those consuming the arts can be the most rewarding part of your job.

If you’d like to explore more, blogs and resources from the Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Themed Week can be found on the UCL Careers website.

Insights Into: Working In Travel Journalism

Skye AAitken27 November 2019

Written by guest writers, Sophie Dening and Katie Bowman.

A common thing people write under ‘hobbies and interest’ on a CV is ‘travel’. But have you ever thought about turning this interest into a career? Sally Brown, UCL Careers Consultant, talked to two UCL alumni who have done just that. 

Image of a woman taking a photo of some ruins in the sunshine

Sophie Dening, Editor and journalist

UCL graduate: BA French Language and Literature (1997)

Sophie is a self-employed editor and journalist – for publications such as Condé Nast Britain, Gourmet Traveller, the Evening Standard and the Daily Telegraph. She is also the acting production editor at Lonely Planet magazine.

How did you get your job?

I applied for my job as production editor at Lonely Planet magazine via a jobs site. I had been on extended maternity leave following a long period as a freelance food and travel writer. It took me six months of applying for jobs before I got one, and I had to accept a drop in my salary. 

What’s a typical day like?

I check emails and make sure I am up to date with where we’re at with all the pages of the magazine, as well as future issues and side projects, then divide my time between writing, editing and working in InDesign. I also manage another subeditor and a freelancer, and work on the flatplan and lead a weekly editorial meeting.

What do you enjoy about your role?

I enjoy working with words, I enjoy carrying out varied high-level administrative tasks, I appreciate working with a team and learning from them, and I enjoy regular hours and low stress.

What are the challenges?

Getting everything done in time, always – deadlines. Sheer volume of work.

How relevant is your degree to your current job?

Currently not particularly, more tangentially, in terms of working with texts. But as a freelancer I have worked as a translator for hotel brands, and worked extensively in Paris and France as a food and travel writer, where I have used my French language skills.

How has your role developed and what are your ambitions? My role here at Lonely Planet has been interesting as I have acted as a sort of workflow consultant as well as carrying out the usual tasks. It is a year-long contract covering someone else’s role. My ambition at present is to continue working for LP when I finish my contract, as a writer or project editor, and to find other regular freelance work that will fit in with my family commitments.

Any words of advice for someone wanting to get into this sector?

Try to get experience any which way you can: work on a student paper; write a blog; enter writing competitions, in order to populate your CV. And do try to enter a sector that will hold your interest for years to come; once you are established as any sort of specialist, it can be hard to move around within publishing. Advice for someone wanting specifically to become a production editor or chief sub in travel publishing? Get any subbing experience as you can and apply for junior subbing roles. You need to be really good at English, and be able to spot a spelling mistake – aka a typo, in the trade – at 20 paces. Read up on style (I recommend Butcher’s Copy-editing, Cambridge University Press). Travel writers and editors tend to be fairly well-travelled and may start to specialise (in terms of destinations) right from the start of their careers – rather than entering travel publishing in order to travel. You are bound to experience rejection in the publishing industry (don’t lose confidence – there are jobs out there!), and salaries have not gone up much recently. It can be tough being a freelancer, or advancing in a competitive sector. But it is an interesting industry, always changing, and full of great people and varied work.

Image of a woman walking through a field holding a camera

Katie Bowman, Features Editor, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

UCL graduate: English (1999)

Katie has worked in her current role for nearly 17 years, she has also worked as a sub-editor for Condé Nast International and Marie Claire Australia.

So, what does a features editor for a travel magazine do?

The Sunday Times Travel magazine is different from newspapers – it is on sale in stores competing with magazines such as Vogue. It is mainstream, glossier and I suppose more ‘glamorous’ than a newspaper travel section. My role is varied, from looking at how to make the front cover enticing to deciding what goes into the rest of the 164 pages of the magazine. The features have to be both inspirational and also realistic to sell well – ensuring well-timed ‘big hitters’ such as New York or Paris. Locations such as these can be revisited year after year, compared to a newspaper who might focus on recent events across the world such as bombings or natural disasters.

What is your role like on an average day?

My actual day to day activities involve commissioning freelancers, going through ideas pitched by more junior members of staff and perhaps travelling myself.

With regards to travelling, if this is a major focus for you then you might consider working as a freelance writer/journalist instead. The main advantages are that you have control over your schedule, where you go and can work around your other commitments such as family. Working on a magazine ‘in-house’ often means you are getting involved with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the publication rather than the actual travelling. As the dynamic of teams vary from magazine to magazine, then it is essential that you find this out before applying – as you might find an in-house role will only allow you to travel sporadically if at all. 

What do you enjoy about your role?

The change – I have been in this role for nearly 17 years, but the novelty still hasn’t worn off! This is because the world never stops feeling new – even a location that we have featured many times can change – such as a new restaurant or a new local event. Travelling is all I ever wanted to do – in fact, I would rather stay in travel (such as being a flight attendant) than journalism (such as working on a financial publication). I love planning trips, not just going on them! 

What are the challenges?

The pay really – you won’t make much money if you want to work in this industry! Just doing freelancing alone also probably won’t allow you to pay your rent/mortgage. Most freelancers do other roles – such as copy writing or editing – alongside their freelance work.

 How relevant was your degree to your current role?

My English degree is not directly relevant to my current role, but it was helpful in the past for me to secure internships. I was competing against people who were studying master’s degrees in journalism, so having the name ‘UCL’ was really helpful in getting opportunities.

Do you have any tips for current students wanting to get into this industry?

Do an internship with a well-known publication whilst you are living in cheaper student accommodation. We have interns who are forced to either spend a lot of money travelling into London or sleeping on friend’s floors in order to do the internship.

How would I find out about internship opportunities?

Our two-week programmes are always oversubscribed, but follow us on social media as we may have someone drop out – so we might ask for a replacement at short notice. Most internships are unadvertised, so choose a few publications and write a perky and engaging cover letter – remembering that you are not applying to a big corporate company, so don’t make it cold and impersonal: ensure you write to a named person rather than ‘Dear Sir or Madam’. In the letter, state clearly your availability – if you can only offer a couple of afternoons a week due to your course timetable that is fine.

What might make an application for an internship stand-out?

A clear level of maturity – so make sure your CV looks professional and highlights that skills that would make you useful in the workplace such as computer skills, languages and other office skills. Make the life of the person reading your application as easy as possible. If you already have a blog / website then write this on your application – it is useful for me to see your potential.

But the other important thing is to make the most out of the experience once you are there. Don’t have too high expectations of the internships – you won’t be writing big cover stories! You also might not always be doing the most exciting tasks – but grit your teeth and get on with it. Also, leaving early without a valid reason can give a really bad impression. Be proactive during the experience, approaching people with your ideas – ask them ‘What can I pitch?” or “Can I offer some ideas?”.

What would you look for when commissioning a freelancer?

Similar to other editors, I tend to work with freelancers I have worked with before – as I know I can trust that they will deliver. However, this does not mean I am not open to working with new people. Their initial pitch might be something I could use in a smaller story and I would be looking for something that is tailored to this magazine – which the freelancer has been clear about where it would ‘sit’. It is the responsibility of the freelancer to curate and build the stories – not to send the same pitch to 20 different magazines.

Any other tips for potential freelancers?

Be aware that you will receive very little feedback. But give the initial pitch the time it deserves and it will pay off in repeat commissions. After you have done an internship with a magazine, then offer to write for free ‘on spec’ pieces – this could be as simple as writing a piece about your recent holiday destination. You will then accumulate by-lines and build up a professional portfolio – you only need 2 or 3 well-known publication names – then pitch properly using your portfolio. It is not always enough just to have published in a university magazine – as they are not always well-edited. Having a well-known publication in your portfolio is invaluable.

Seven Tips For Securing A Career In Cultural Heritage

26 November 2019

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

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

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

1. Pursue your passion

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

2. Find a skill that you are good at

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

3. Gain relevant experience

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

4. Be adaptable

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

5. Make the most of development opportunities

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

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

6. Push yourself

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

7. Network

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

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

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

Your Future in Start-ups! | CareersLab

19 November 2019

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to work in a start-up or perhaps even launch your own? In this video, UCL Careers Consultant, Raj, talks to entrepreneurs and start-ups about lessons they learnt and different routes in. Watch now for an insight into the Innovation & Enterprise team here at UCL!

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

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

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

UCL Careers Themed Weeks 2019: Media Week

Skye AAitken14 November 2019

Want to work in the media industry? Find out more at Media Week!

A lecture theatre full on students with panelists sitting on stageAre you thinking of working in the Media industry after your degree? Or is this simply a sector that you would like to explore further? We have put together a number events in the final week of November to enable you to take things further through a spotlight on this diverse and exciting sector.

Monday 25 November

The week kicks off  with an evening insight into Publishing, where people working in a range of roles from editing, agency and rights will take your questions. We are excited to have speakers from Bloomsbury Publishing, LBA Books, UCL Press, Rakuten Kobo and DK (Penguin Random House), working in a variety of roles.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Tuesday 26 November

We will take a look at what it’s like to work within Advertising, Marketing and PR. Professionals working in advertising agencies, consumer and corporate PR and marketing will be discussing their careers, the difference between the various areas and some of the exciting projects they have worked on. Panelists will also offer tips on how you can make your first steps into each of these areas.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Wednesday 27 November

We are delighted to have News Associates running a journalism workshop exclusively for UCL students and recent graduates. This is an interactive session aimed at those looking to pursue a career in UK based journalism.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Thursday 28 November

We finish the week on  with an incredibly exciting line-up focused on the Film, TV and Radio industries. Joining us will be BBC TV and radio presenters, a junior music manager and a film director. We expect this to be a popular event so don’t miss out!

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

 All the events are open to UCL students and recent graduates with an interest in the sector, regardless of your degree subject.

Did you want to explore things a bit further before the panels? Take a look at Prospects.ac.uk to see just how many roles there are within the Media industry. Prospects also breaks down the different roles within Advertising, Marketing & PR.

UCL Careers Themed Weeks: Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Week 2019

Skye AAitken24 October 2019

Are you considering a career in Museums, Arts or Cultural Heritage? Then this is the week for you! Come and find out more about these sectors from professionals working in various roles within these sectors. All events are open to students and recent graduates from across UCL.

A speaker at a lectern speaking to a room full of studentsIf you haven’t attended events organised by UCL Careers before, we strongly recommend you read through our Themed Weeks page for information on what to expect, how to prepare and how to book.

Events can be extremely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!

Watch event recordings on our Themed Week archive. These include complete panel discussions and in-depth interviews with experts.

Please note that photographs, video, sound and/or written submissions taken at our themed week events may be used in future printed and electronic UCL promotional material. Photographs/video will be stored electronically as well as in hard copy. 

Events open for booking on Monday 28 October 2019


Careers in Museums

Monday 11 November 2019: 6pm-7.30pm

Come and meet representatives from the museum sector to hear about their job roles and what excites them about working in this sector. There will be a panel discussion, Q&A session, and a chance for informal networking after.

Among the museums represented will be:

View event details and book your place


Working in the Arts

Tuesday 12 November 2019: 6pm-7.30pm

Thinking about working in the Arts? Come along to this panel event and have the chance to hear from professionals currently working in managerial, creative and organisational roles within a variety of arts settings. Speakers will discuss aspects of their experiences such as: what they enjoy about working in the arts, how they got into their current role and their ‘top tips’. The panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A and informal networking.

Panellists work in organisations such as:

View event details and book your place


Careers in Cultural Heritage

Thursday 14 November 2019: 6pm-7.30pm

Interested in working in the diverse world of cultural heritage? Come to a panel discussion with cultural heritage professionals, to hear about their roles and career path and to gain tips on how to get into the sector. The panel will be followed by Q&A session and informal networking.

You will hear about experiences working in:

View event details and book your place

 

UCL Careers Fairs 2019: Engineering & Built Environment Fair

Skye AAitken14 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

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

Skye AAitken8 October 2019

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

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

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

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

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