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UCL Careers Researchers Programme – Summer 2019

Chloe JAckroyd18 March 2019


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

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

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

Booking on all events is now open.

For the full programme of events/workshops coming up for researchers this summer and book your place/s, please view the ‘Events Calendar’ on our Researcher page
www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/about/eligibility/researchers

 

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

Sustainability Fortnight: Careers in Conservation, Ecology & Wildlife

Joe SSprecher15 March 2019

 

Careers in Conservation panel

The 20th of February saw our second panel discussion for Sustainability Fortnight exploring careers in Conservation, Ecology & Wildlife. Our panellists were:

We heard from each panellist about their career path and the decisions that led them to their current roles – to hear their stories, you can read their biographies and view the event recording.

The speakers had plenty of advice for current students – and what you can do now to shape your own career.

Get involved

Gwen Buck, Policy Advisor at the Green Alliance, found her career after becoming interested in the politics around the environment and conservation. She found that involving herself in events and networking opportunities in the local area enabled her to find out about companies and career opportunities she might not have found otherwise.

“Make sure to ask people plenty of questions!” – Gwen Buck, Policy Advisor at Green Alliance

Clare Pugh, Senior Ecologist at Atkins, also recommended joining the Ecology Network as another way to broaden understanding of the industry and access contacts and career opportunities.  Both panellists were keen to point out that even though experience might not be in the form of a formal work placement any experience can still be greatly beneficial.

David Kirby, Associate Ecologist at WPS, finally added that “gaining any kind of experience is a good idea”.  This can be particularly useful in gaining practical experiences such as surveying and gaining a surveying license; these are necessities of the roles at his firm and can be gained whilst still a student.

Attitude

Jonathan Brauner, Logistics and Business Liaison at Wildlife for All, was keen to stress the importance of a positive attitude when working in this area.  “All of the staff at our organisation are voluntary” he stated.  “This means that it is vital that anyone looking to work with us has the right attitude, both in giving their time and their approach to the work”.  Gaining work experience in the industry can often be temporary, unpaid or physically exerting and therefore anyone looking to participate should be positive they are willing to take part and happy to do a range of tasks.

Persistence is key

Francesca Trotman is the Founder of charity Love The Oceans and was keen to point out that persistence has been a key trait which her career has benefitted from.  “I always knew what I wanted to do but setting up a charity which works in Mozambique has plenty of challenges”, she said, “but I’ve been told I won’t be able to do something 1,000 times and have always managed to do them so far”.  She also felt that being flexible is a real benefit, particularly due to the atypical types of opportunity that come up to someone looking to work in the industry.

Potential growth areas

The panel were asked about potential growth areas which students may see increased opportunity in for the near future. Clare discussed areas within her work in sustainability for large consultancies and pinpointed biodiversity net-gain (improving biodiversity rather than simply offsetting losses) as an area that is being increasingly promoted within her field.

David added that there are increases in the use of new technologies, for example in the collection and analysis of data, which is also growing and is an area which students should look to understand and develop new skills in.

Want to learn more? You can find event recordings and resources from previous Themed Weeks on our website.

Sustainability Fortnight: Careers in Energy

Joe SSprecher15 March 2019

Careers in Energy Panellists

The 18th February saw Sustainability Fortnight kick off with a panel event exploring careers in the energy sector. Our panellists were:

We heard from each panellist about their career path and the decisions that led them to their current roles – to hear their stories, you can read their biographies and view the event recording.

The speakers had plenty of advice for current students – and what you can do now to shape your own career.

Networking

Every single member of the panel cited the importance of networking, and several mentioned the connections they built by attending events such as this one. University career events bring professionals straight to your doorstep and make it easier than ever to engage with people in the industry. You can always reach out to them for a coffee or a phone call in the future, as many of them are happy to help and to give their advice. And don’t forget LinkedIn! Sara from XCO2, who also lectures at the University of Suffolk, reminded everyone to make sure your profile is up to date and filled out, and to use it to make connections with new contacts, as well as keeping up with old one. She estimated that 75% of her job roles came from ex-colleagues and references, so make sure you keep contact open with your professors and colleagues as you move between organisations. Charlotte, from the Renewables Consulting Group, added how useful your university’s alumni network can be. You can join UCL alumni network and find access to thousands of past students, many of whom are now offering mentorship opportunities.

Keep your goals in mind

“Follow your values”, recommended Ben, from Azuri Technologies. “Create your own mental checklist of what you want and stick to it when you’re job hunting. Keep a shortlist of the companies you’re interested in rather than jobs”. He went on to urge the importance of focusing matching your values to the organisations you’re applying to, and suggested signing up to their job feeds or newsletters, as well as attending their events.  Fiona suggested starting with research into how many types of companies there are in the energy sector, and to look at the Energy Institute and similar organisations – they often have student groups and networking events.

Sara pointed out that “Your first job might not be the one you want, but keep your ideas guiding you. Learn from each role.” She and Fiona both emphasised the importance of keeping an open mind, both about the type of company and the type of role you might be interested in. All of the panellists encouraged the benefits of “portfolio careers” and experimenting – particularly in a field as dynamic and changing as the energy sector.

Focus on your own development

“Soft skills are important”, Charlotte advised – practice your public speaking and writing skills.

Ben offered some pointers on the importance of feedback – “Feedback is golden. Ask your peers for feedback when working on group projects. Don’t take it to heart but try and develop from it.”

As always, don’t forget to tailor your cover letters! Jean-Paul, from Zenobe Energy, acknowledged that having to write them can of course be horrible – so don’t waste your efforts, and make sure they are tailored to the job and the skills.

Stay resilient

“Don’t be let down by rejection”, advised Jean-Paul. He also encouraged students to continue to go to events and to keep talking to people – you never know what will lead to an opportunity. Fiona echoed this: “Don’t take rejection personally, sometimes it’s just about timing.” Sometimes re-applying to an organisation later on might yield a very different outcome.

Want to learn more? You can find event recordings and resources from previous Themed Weeks on our website.

How to get the most from a panel or networking event

Joe SSprecher28 January 2019

Going to a panel or alumni event will give you the opportunity to meet and hear from a range of speakers. They will be able to provide insight into their industries, and stories from their own careers that might prove to be invaluable when starting your own career.

To get the most out of attending a panel or alumni event, we’ve got a few tips to help you before, during and after the event.

Before

Research the speakers and their organisations. There’s plenty of easy ways to find out about companies and their opportunities, as well as the speakers themselves.

Start with LinkedIn to find out about the speakers and the organisations. On LinkedIn, there’s also a fantastic feature attached to organisations that shows you which alumni from UCL work there. It should prove useful to see which UCL graduates work for the organisation, as well as their roles. You might also be surprised to see the wide range of degree backgrounds that our graduates have within a single organisation!

There’s also Glassdoor, a helpful resource for finding reviews as well as other information such as salaries and even past interview questions.

Lastly, do a search on Google and look through the news to see what has recently been written about the companies in relevant news feeds.

If you’ll be attending an alumni networking event, consider what you wear to event to help you make a great first impression.

During

Take notes during a panel event, whether it’s simply to keep a list of websites or events that speakers recommend, or advice that you’ve found insightful.  This may also assist with asking questions, as you might want to follow up with questions on something that was said during the event.

At an alumni event, try to engage in a conversation with an alum. A simple tip is to ask open questions to begin with such as “How did you start working for …”, as this cannot be answered with a short yes or no, and that will help your conversation start flowing quickly.

For any type of event where you can network, always try to connect with people that you are interested in speaking with. Sometimes the connection will be the start of a longer conversation and potentially lead to future opportunities.

After

Within the first couple of days after the event, reach out to your new connections via LinkedIn or email. If they’re a working professional, remember that their time may be limited so be considerate when asking for advice.

What are your next steps? Is there a new jobs board to sign up to, or a networking event worth signing up for? Aim to have two or three simple actions that you plan on following up and set a simple deadline for each action.

As great as a panel or networking event is, the true value often comes once you capitalise on what you have learnt through the event.

Want to attend an exciting panel or networking event? The UCL Careers Themed Weeks give you the chance to meet professionals in a range of exciting sectors such as Charities & NGOs and International Development.

By Jai Shah – Careers Consultant

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

Joe SSprecher12 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.

Career Lessons from Love Island 2018

Chloe JAckroyd24 July 2018

Remember that time we changed your lives with the three key career messages we took from last year’s Love Island? Well, it was such a great idea, it brought us such a lot of professional respect, and it gave us such an excellent excuse to watch Love Island at work*, that we thought we’d do it again before this year’s show comes to an end:

1) Show me the evidence
If you transcribed all of Georgia’s Love Island communications, uploaded them into NVivo or Wordle, and created a word cloud, it would look something like the below: 


 

 

But did that convince us she was loyal or honest, babe? No. In fact, rather the opposite. It was her actions – staying true while Josh was in Casa Amor, leaving the villa with Sam – that eventually won us over.

Although some may not like to admit it, employers are no different to Love Island viewers. They need evidence to be convinced. So what can you do? Well, it’s wise to use employer language in applications. If your target employer has asked for leadership skills, explicitly tell them when you’re talking about leadership skills. It makes their job easier. But rather than simply declaring what a fantastic leader you are in your own opinion, why not provide examples of how you used your leadership skills, and what you achieved with them? This evidence-based approach will help you feel more comfortable promoting yourself, and the employer feel more comfortable believing you.

 

2) Negative experiences can be valuable

 Laura, Laura, Laura. Our hearts have broken for you not once but twice. Should you regret your missteps? Should you lament moments spent with Wes and New Jack as wasted time? No! For through those relationships you learned what you do not want, and that allowed you to see what you do want – a mature carpenter and model who has kissed Britney Spears – more clearly.

When I speak to students and graduates about their past internship or placement experiences, they often view them as useful only if they turned out to be exactly the right role, with the right employer, for them. Of course that’s a wonderful result, but it’s not the only useful one. There is value in all of your past experiences as long as you take the time to reflect and draw it out. What was it you didn’t enjoy about a role? The task? The colleagues? The environment? And which elements did you enjoy? Exploring these questions is crucial in getting to know yourself, and deciding what your next step will be.

 

3) A little role play can help

Oh hell, when surfer New Laura entered the house, Dr Alex made a real hash of the one relationship that seemed to be working for him. But he saved it by role playing a first meeting at a bar with Alexandra, and now they’re living happily ever after together**.

Maybe a little role play can help you too. Interviews are a crucial part of an application process, but they’re a relatively unusual scenario many people have limited experience with, especially in the earlier stages of their careers. So when you have an interview coming up, we advise getting as much practice as possible. Set up mock interviews with your friends and family, especially those who have knowledge of interviews and/or the field you’re entering. And book a mock interview with one of our careers consultants, who can help you role play in a safe setting, and then provide feedback to improve your performance for the real thing.

*If my boss is reading this then obviously I’m totally joking

**Correct at time of writing.

 

Written by Sophia Donaldson, UCL Careers

 

Top Tips for Application Forms from Skills4Work Panellists

Joe SSprecher11 May 2018

Sally Brown – UCL Careers Advisor

On the 3rd October, UCL Careers welcomed four speakers from different companies to speak to students about their application processes and to offer some ‘top tips’ about completing application forms. What was clear was that although every company has their own way of shortlisting candidates, some specific annoyances regarding poor applications were common to all recruiters.

Online application forms

All the panellists stated that their company asks you to fill in an online application form. They often ask for the same information that you will have on your CV – such as your academics and some personal details – but often in a format that suits the needs of the company. The representative from PwC was keen to highlight that due to the desire for social mobility, many companies (inc. PwC) do not ask for your work experience at this stage – understanding that some graduates may not have had the opportunity to undertake relevant or unpaid work experience/internships during their studies. So don’t worry if you feel your current work experience – such as bar work or retail – doesn’t directly relate to the industry you are applying to, they will be looking for a breadth of transferable skills they can build on.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Talk to people already doing the role you are interested in
  • Check whether it is the right ‘fit’ for you through researching the role and company thoroughly before applying.

Online: Motivation and Competency questions

Online questions regarding candidates’ motivation to apply to the company, their industry knowledge and basic common competencies (such as team-work) were common amongst the companies represented. It was also common that some candidates offered generalised responses that could be applied to any of their competitors.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Research! Research the role as well as the organisation.
  • Take your time – allow 1-2 weeks to fill in the in the application.
  • Research the industry to build up your commercial awareness – reflect upon how current issues may affect the company.
  • A ‘real human’ will read this – all the panellists agreed that their companies do not use software to filter candidates.

Video Applications

Yes the 21st century is here! Both the panellists from Unlocked and the Bank of England stated that they use video as part of the process. This is where you receive some written questions, get a few minutes to prepare your answer and then you are filmed saying your responses. These are reviewed later, as there is no one on the other side of the camera whilst you are speaking. The aim is to find out what you are like as a person and your communications skills.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Check what else is in view of the camera e.g. remove the picture of you and your friends at a Halloween party, lock up the cat etc.
  • Dress smartly
  • Find a quiet place, but not too quiet that you are inclined to whisper.
  • Try to look directly at the camera and not at the ‘thumbnail’ of you.
  • It is acceptable to jot down key points during the preparation time and refer to the paper during your answer – but avoid reading from the notes like a script.

Online testing:

Two of the panellists – from PwC and The Bank of England – stated that their company uses some online testing that may include numerical, inductive (sometimes called logical reasoning) or verbal reasoning tests, work style preference questionnaire, or a personality test.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Don’t lie or second guess yourself on the latter two – they are there to help the company work out a ‘best fit’ for you regarding departments.

Five Top Tips for applications:

  1. Don’t copy and paste information off the website for your application.
  2. We know what we do – show us why it interests you and discuss how you would be a good asset.
  3. Take opportunities offered – reply to e-mails that offer you information, meetings or chats.
  4. Be specific to the firm you are applying to – show a genuine interest.
  5. Research! How can you show motivation about something you know little about?

 

Focus on Management 2018 is now open – APPLY NOW!

Chloe JAckroyd13 April 2018

 

 

Taking place on Tuesday 5th & Wednesday 6th June, this year’s Focus on Management course is now accepting applications.

If you want to…

  • Tackle a variety of real-life business challenges through case studies
  • Gain commercial awareness from some of the top graduate employers
  • Network with various graduate employers and managers from their departments
  • Begin the transition from university student to working professional

… then Focus on Management 2018 is the course for you!

Focus on Management is a two-day course packed full of activities, which will give you an interactive and rewarding immersion into the world of business. Your team-working, problem-solving and presentation skills will be put to the test. You will work in teams, facilitated by a team manager, on business case studies from graduate employers.

You will have the opportunity to meet and learn from different companies, including Amazon, the Civil Service and GSK. More organisations to be announced soon. Previous years have included PwC, P&G, Capco, Wellcome Trust, ICAEW and WaterAid.

See what students said about the course on YouTube

Go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/focus for more details and application instructions

If you are interested in this course, you may also be interested in graduate opportunities available from our sponsor Amazon. In particular, their Leadership Development Programme is suitable for aspiring managers. Once you complete Pathways, all kinds of opportunities open up for you across the full Amazon ecosystem, including Retail, Kindle, AWS (web services), and more.

Previous Pathway graduates are now:

  • Directors of Fulfillment Centers
  • Speciality businesses, such as Prime Now
  • Customer Service Directors
  • Senior Managers of Transportation Optimisation
  • General Managers

But of course, as a global ever-evolving company they have numerous opportunities throughout Europe across their operations, corporate to technology business areas. See below chart for both graduate programmes and internships available in Europe.

Breaking into International Development

Chloe JAckroyd14 February 2018

What do you imagine when you think of working in International Development? Maybe you envisage working on the ground in a remote, developing part of the world to address issues such as poverty, disease and education. This image of front line work provides the visible and public face of International Development but have you considered the wide range of roles and functions required to support the successful execution of projects on the ground? These support roles may be less visible but could provide a good foothold into International Development. For example, policy, advocacy/outreach, human resources, finance, IT.

If you’re considering a career in this rewarding sector you will probably want to start preparing yourself sooner rather than later as International Development is a competitive field to break into.

Here are a few tips to help you with this.

  • Have a clear idea about the kind of development work you want to do. This is likely to involve investigating the different roles within International Development and considering which of these roles might be a good fit for your academic background, experience, skills and career interests.
  • Think about specialist or technical skills/qualifications/experience that might be required and consider how you might acquire these.
  • Gain experience and build networks/contacts through volunteering activities, involvement in fundraising or campaigning activities, blogging etc…
  • Commitment to/experience of International Development is essential and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to secure a graduate position without having relevant experience (voluntary or paid) on your cv.
  • Consider gaining relevant/transferrable experience and qualifications outside the International Development sector. It’s not unusual for professionals to transition from the commercial sector into international development a few years into their career.

To find out more about careers in International Development, including opportunities to meet employers and alumni working in this sector, please visit:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/about/what_we_offer/events/themed-weeks/development

 

Five top tips for launching your career in the charity sector

Chloe JAckroyd6 February 2018

Anjali Dwesar manages Charity Apprentice  – an online course run by international development charity Child.org. Charity Apprentice is a free 10-month course that anyone can do in their spare time to gain the skills needed for a career in the charity sector. A combination of online learning and real-life challenges, the course has been designed by charity professionals and covers topics ranging from effective advocacy to social enterprise to fundraising strategy to sustainable development.

Anjali is here to give you her five top tips for launching your career in the charity sector.

  1. It’s all about the skills and experience
    The charity sector is extremely competitive, and landing a job in the sector isn’t based on good intentions unfortunately. In order to stand out amongst the other candidates, it’s really important to build up your skills and experience during your time at university and beyond. You need to demonstrate to employers that you’re qualified for the role and that you’re going to make a success of it. Of course, you must demonstrate passion for the cause of the charity – but ultimately, it’s your skills and experience that will get you the job.
  1. Find out what you’re good at
    The sector is hugely diverse, and there are such a wide variety of jobs available. Saying that you want to work for a charity is not enough – you need to think carefully about your skill-set and what you can bring to the sector. It’s not just campaigners, fundraisers or volunteer managers that the sector needs – there are jobs in designing, coding, project management, and many more. Explore the team page of charity websites and look at the kinds of jobs available – you might surprise yourself!
  1. Be impact-driven
    I’ve met some of the most passionate and inspiring people in the charity sector. Yes, it is a lovely place to work but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! If you’re working in the sector, your job is to make the world a better place and that’s hard work. You need to demonstrate in your applications that you’re driven by the question: how can I make the most impact in my job?
  1. It’s not what you know…
    Don’t rely on the big charity recruitment websites – smaller charities might not have the budget to post their opportunities on there. Make sure you’re using lots of different tools to find out about job vacancies, both online and offline.  Use LinkedIn, Twitter (#charityjobs), Facebook groups, attend charity networking groups, events etc.
  1. Don’t give up!
    You might not get your dream job straight away, but all experience you gain will be valuable. Say yes to opportunities and work hard – you will get there!

To find out more about Charity Apprentice, visit  charityapprentice.org.

 

 

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