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Sustainability Fortnight: What you can expect

By UCL Careers, on 8 February 2019

Sustainability is a big deal. It’s one of the most pressing challenges we face today and many of us want to get involved through impactful careers.

The UCL Careers Sustainability Fortnight is designed to give you insights into the roles, rewards and routes into this rapidly developing sector. Here can you develop you understanding of the business issues and global challenges of the sustainability sector, preparing you for career in the field.

Interested in tackling sustainability in NGOs, businesses and governments?

Employers look for graduates who can:

  • Analyse real-world situations critically
  • Understand international issues in a global world
  • Demonstrate ethical leadership
  • Work within different social contexts
  • Engage with a diverse range of people
  • Use resources and budgets wisely

If you have the skills needed to tackle global challenges, you will be well placed to find employment across the sector. Employers are looking for sustainability conscious employees  across the entire organisation – not just in ‘sustainability’ roles. Whether that’s understanding climate risks in an investment portfolio or Modern Day Slavery issues within recruitment roles.

What’s on:

  • Panel talks and lectures from sustainability experts and professionals
  • Q&A sessions so you can have your questions answered
  • Bike sale and maintenance events
  • UCL Sustainability tours
  • Hot-topic discussions
  • Business forums

What you will learn:

  • How do organisations define sustainability
  • Inform yourself with the chance to challenge business representatives at panel and networking events
  • What Corporate Social Responsibility really means
  • How to be an Environmental Auditor
  • What skills you need to be competitive in the sustainability job market
  • The future trends for the energy or construction markets
  • How different sectors are moving towards a sustainable future

Sustainability is a realistic, interesting and prosperous career path with has many routes in. With a broad range of roles available, there will be something to suit anyone with an interest in the sector.

Find out for yourself at one of our events!

  See what’s on and book your place today!


Working in Government & Policy: Rewards, Challenges and Top Skills

By UCL Careers, on 16 November 2018

Government & Policy Week icon showing Houses of Parliament UCL Careers Government & Policy Week 2018 welcomed a range of employers and UCL alumni working in government and the public sector to share their career insights and advice to students.

What do they find most rewarding and challenging in their careers? What skills and competencies are important to get into and work in the sector?

Find out what we learned below.


Employers at our ‘Careers that Make a Difference in the Public Sector’ panel said seeing the impact they are having on people and influencing society is one of the most rewarding parts of their jobs. For example, “on the Think Ahead programme, you work with mental health and social issues on the frontline, in people’s homes, so you see the direct impact you are having on people.” An alum from the TeachFirst programme said that the most rewarding part for them was “making an impact by opening people’s eyes to the possibilities in education that they can have”.

Frontline said that “producing long-term positive effects on society by building relationships with families” is most rewarding. Even working behind the scenes in the Civil Service, it was highlighted that “you have the potential to influence from the inside”.

Employers discussed variety and diversity in the job – no day is the same. An alum from Police Now said their “most memorable moment was working at the Olympics” and Unlocked said “working with prisoners is funny and interesting – they are always full of interesting stories!” The Civil Service Fast Stream shared that “a great advantage to working in the Civil Service is the size and breadth of the field – it’s so huge that there’s lots of range, diversity and opportunities to progress and specialise in”.


A common insight was that working in the public sector could be demanding and emotionally challenging. Frontline, Police Now, TeachFirst, ThinkAhead and Unlocked agreed that dealing with mental health patients, crime offenders, prisoners and children can be emotionally challenging: at times, they may not want to be helped and you can face confrontation.

In our ‘Influencing Policy’ panel, employers stressed the nature of politics as challenging. National Housing Federation said “Politics is insanely difficult and always changing – you need to put in a ton of graft work”. Advice from Agora think tank is “aim to be a good strong voice within change”. Working on policies you disagree with is a possibility in the Civil Service Fast Stream. Their advice on dealing with it is all about perception: “If the policy is contentious, it can actually be beneficial to work on it – you have the opportunity to make sure it is implemented in the best way possible”. They also advise that there are opportunities for less policy-focussed roles in the Fast Stream.

An alum who will start work as a Senior Public Policy Manager for Data, Platforms and AI for Vodafone Group expressed that “public perception can be a challenge as well as data ethics”.

So, what were the top skills for the public sector?


Employers emphasised that for a career in the public sector and government, you should show that you care about people. Whether you are working frontline with members of the public or influencing and writing policy behind the scenes, your work is affecting people and their everyday lives. Advice from Cancer Research is “find out what people care about and tailor your service towards them”.


Relationship building was another key skill desired by employers – especially those that involve working directly with clients on the frontline (e.g. Think Ahead, Frontline and TeachFirst). In the Civil Service Fast Stream, you will move from one department to another so relationship building and teamwork is also required in non-frontline work to collaborate with different teams and people.


Employers highlighted adaptability because frontline work may require you to attend emergency / crisis situations at short notice. Policy work is also difficult as politics is always changing. Agora think tank and Greater London Authority emphasised that “Brexit has left many unanswered questions about the future” so adaptability will be important.


Resilience was a key discussion amongst employers across the events. Responding and adapting to political changes or perhaps dealing with clients, emergencies and crises means that the job can be demanding and emotionally challenging. Being able to recover quickly from difficult situations is crucial for working in the public sector.

Speakers who attended: Agora think tank, Cancer Research, Civil Service Fast Stream, Frontline, Greater London Authority, National Housing Federation, Police Now, TeachFirst, Think Ahead, Unlocked & Vodafone Group.

There are still more UCL Careers Themed Weeks coming up! Media Week is next, starting on 26 November with, Charities & NGOs, International Development, Sustainability Fortnight and Life & Health Sciences Week still to come.

Visit our website to find out more about upcoming Themed Weeks.

Government & Policy Sector Resources & Research

By UCL Careers, on 26 October 2018

Government & Policy Week icon showing Houses of Parliament

Government & Policy Week might be over, but for you it could be the start of an exciting career in this sector. As part of UCL Careers’ Government and Policy Themed Week we have created this guide to provide a list of useful resources to help prepare you for the events and to continue your research into the sector.

Whether you want to join the Civil Service Fast Stream, work for your local authority, specialise on policy within a think tank, charity, union or pressure group, or pursue one of the hundreds of options within the public sector, this sector can be a rewarding and challenging place to start your career.

Key starting points

Finding information on the range of different graduate level roles available will help you get a better understanding of your different options and how to succeed once you get there. Using Careers Tagged, an online careers resource UCL Students have access to, we have compiled job profiles to inform and inspire your search.

These will provide key information on areas such as:

  • Main duties / responsibilities for the role
  • Expected salary information (starting and potential earnings)
  • Professional development, training and career prospects
  • Typical working hours
  • Entry requirements (formal qualifications and skills)
  • How to get work experience
  • How to identify key employers and where to search for job vacancies
  • Case studies of people working in these roles

View job profiles on Careers Tagged:

Professional organisations and other bodies

Many public sector professional body websites will produce career guides aimed at student / graduate level jobseekers, providing an insider’s view on how to start your policy career. They will also provide information for their members on areas such as events, news on current trends and future developments for the sector.

Keeping up to date with news through sites like these is useful for building your commercial awareness which recruiters look for in job applications.

The Careers Tagged Government & public sector professional bodies listing below will highlight major players in this sector and explain what sorts of information each one provides that might be useful to you when planning your policy career. They will also provide support with navigating these sites to find the student focused content.

Employer directories and job vacancy sites

Through ‘myUCLCareers’, thousands of organisations target UCL students and graduates by advertising a range of job vacancy types including work experience / internships and full time graduate level roles.

Try some of following searches on the myUCLCareers Vacancies tab:

  • Current government and policy sector job vacancies (using the ‘Occupational area’ filter for ‘Policy and Government’
  • Quick search for terms such as: Policy; Politics; Political; Future Leaders; Security; MP; Community; Council; Westminster; Strategy.

Employers may also promote recruitment / networking / skill development events both on and off campus. View and search upcoming events on myUCLCareers.

On your account you can also use the organisation search tool to identify recruiters by ‘occupational area’ who have a connection with UCL Careers.

Many recruiters won’t directly target UCL students through myUCLCareers, so it’s also worth expanding your search by looking through listings of the government and policy sector:

Students’ Union UCL

Club and societies and UCL are another great place to get a taste of government & policy. Taking part in events and society committees can showcase your enthusiasm to future employers and give you access to informative and fun events, often featuring partners from this sector. Search the Students’ Union UCL website for all available clubs and societies. Here are just a few:

Government & Policy Sector Themed Week

If you missed some events during our annual Government & Policy sector week or would like a reminder of what happened, the Themed Week resources section of our website will provide a mix of lecturecast recordings, speaker profiles and event summaries which will include top tips from all those involved with the week. Current resources are from last year’s programme but content from this years events will be published soon.

Government & Policy Sector Mentoring

Following the Themed Week, you might also want to explore the ‘UCL Alumni Online Community’ to identify UCL graduates who are now working in this sector and who are happy to provide support for UCL students.

We hope this gives you a good start for researching this varied and critically important sector. Don’t forget, these rules can be applied to any sector you choose, so let your curiosity guide you! If you need any further help, whether you want to discuss options, improve your applications or anything else, visit the UCL Careers website to see how we can help.

Government & Policy Week: Working in Policy Analysis & Think Tanks

By UCL Careers, on 12 October 2018

Guest blog from Andy Norman, Research Analyst at Centre for Progressive Policy

Profile photo: Andy Norman, Research Analyst at Centre for Progressive Policy








A job in policy analysis in a think tank can offer something special to those who are lucky enough to follow this career path: the chance to improve the lives of people up and down the country. Yet while it is always important to keep this ultimate goal in mind, the role of a policy analyst can be a few steps removed from the impact you are striving for. So if you want to see the direct impact on people’s lives on a daily basis that is often found in charity work or front-line services, then perhaps policy analysis is not for you. But what this job does offer you is an opportunity to make genuine improvements at a systemic level.

The day to day role of a policy analyst in a think tank is varied. Much of the job involves researching a specific topic – for example, healthcare or education – identifying problems and coming up with innovative policy solutions. One day you could be pouring over government datasets to extract key insights, the next you could be leading a focus group seeking the opinions of members of the public.

Coming up with practical, evidence-based policy solutions to some of society’s most complex problems, however, is really only half the job. The best think tanks work hard to ensure that their recommendations are actually implemented. A policy solution can be fantastic on paper, but if it never leaves the pages of a report then its impact will always be zero. That’s why a big part of what think tanks do is to work with policymakers throughout the process of researching and writing a report to make sure that the ultimate policy recommendations have a good chance of being effectively implemented.

Unfortunately, think tank policy analyst vacancies are extremely limited and so competition is tough. A tried and tested route into the industry is via an internship, usually paid the living wage. But think tanks often receive hundreds of applications from eager graduates for their internships so learning how to stand out from the crowd is key. Proving that your analysis skills are top notch is of course important. But showing that you are able to think innovatively to find new solutions to stubborn problems is crucial. But, in the end, what think tanks want to see from their applicants is a belief in and commitment to the kind of societal and economic change they are working towards.

While the work of think tanks can seem complex and confusing from the outside, the essence of what we do is actually very simple. Ultimately, those that work in think tanks analyse how the world is today, imagine how they want it to be in the future and devise policy solutions to provide a bridge between the two.

Government & Policy Week icon showing Houses of ParliamentInterested in a career that makes a difference? Government & Policy week is your chance to hear from those working at the heart of government; people who influence policy; and leaders in the public sector.


What’s happening?

Monday 22 October 13:00 – 14:00: Intro to Policy: what are my options?

Monday 22 October 18:00 – 20:00: Careers in the Heart of Government

Tuesday 23 October 18:00 – 20:00: Influencing Policy

Wednesday 24 October 12:00 – 14:00: Civil Service Workshop

Thursday 25 October 18:00 – 20:00: Careers that make a difference 

To find out more, visit the Government & Policy Themed Week page on our website and register to attend these events via myUCLCareers.

Sir Mark Walport: Careers in Science and Engineering within the Civil Service

By UCL Careers, on 17 November 2014

Recently we were very lucky to have Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, come in and talk about careers within Science and Engineering within the Civil Service.  The event was chaired by Anthony Finkelstein, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Engineering.

A video of Sir Mark Walport’s talk can be found below or on our YouTube account

This video was brought to you by the UCL Careers Government and Policy week team.