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Archive for the 'Skills' Category

Are you interested in real-life experiences of students and graduates looking for work?

By UCL Careers, on 7 February 2017

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Are you following The Great Grad Job Hunt channel on YouTube? It’s a great project which aims to help students and graduates discuss job-hunting and will create an online series that documents the real-life experiences of students and graduates looking for work.

Tania, a post graduate from UCL, on understanding e-trays, how they work and where to find them – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOJb4BrNpTo

In this video Tania, a UCL graduate, talks about how you can practice e-tray exercises before an interview or assessment centre and the online tools available for this.
You might be interested to know that UCL Careers has access to Assessment Day, the online resource mentioned here, which provides a practice e-tray activity as well as verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, inductive reasoning, logical reasoning and diagrammatic reasoning tests. To register ans access the subscription-based test materials on the Assessment Day website for free, all you will need is your UCL email address. Recent Graduates should read the information about “Email for Life” on the Alumni Relations website for details on accessing your UCL email account after graduation.

You can also find other resources to practice assessment centres and psychometric tests by logging into Careers Tagged: http://www.careerstagged.co.uk, and follow The Great Grad Job Hunt Here  where they’ll be covering CV tips, interview preparation and much more.


Green Shoots Link-Up

By UCL Careers, on 1 February 2017

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As part of Charities and NGOs themed week, we have asked one of the London-based charities attending the Link-Up event to introduce themselves to you in advance.

Muneezay Jaffery tells us about her charity Green Shoots Foundation and the internship opportunities available to UCL students. (The photo shows two interns in the Green Shoots Office in Lavender Hill.)

Please tell us about your charity
Green Shoots Foundation is a small charity set up in 2010, by Jean-Marc Debricon, who aimed to make use of his finance and banking background for more worthwhile and long-term projects. In the past seven years, our small team has established three main programs in seven countries. Our work pertains to skills training, be it medical for HIV treatment in Myanmar, Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan or agriculture skills in Cambodia and the Philippines. We also facilitate educational loans for social entrepreneurship in India.

Green Shoots started out with a microfinance focus but very quickly developed into adopting a skills-based approach. We believe investing in people and, then making loans, improves livelihood opportunities and brings about sustainable transformations. For example, our work in Cambodia for the past three years has focused on updating and bringing sustainable agriculture skills to government run schools in rural areas. Now, as we transition to the next stage, we are taking an enterprise approach and will focus on the cultivation of agri-business ideas. In all our countries of operation we work with trusted local partners rolling out projects on the ground.

What activities have previous UCL interns been involved in whilst volunteering at Green Shoots and what can an intern expect when they first start?
UCL interns have been instrumental in helping us with fundraising in the UK. This can involve everything from managing the database of trusts and foundations, to writing grant applications and researching new opportunities. With a recent intern, we have diversified our fundraising strategy to include the approach of “twining” with local schools. This has proven to be successful as we approach local primary schools to buddy up with schools in Cambodia, exchange letters and photographs but also fundraise with us throughout the year.

How have interns developed their employability whilst they have been working with you?
By working in fundraising candidates, especially those interested in Global Development or charity sector careers, learn the basics of grant writing- what makes a good application and how to structure proposals. Transferable skills such as time keeping, being organised, and writing formal correspondence are also ways interns have developed their employability. Our office environment is quite friendly and laidback. As we share it with another charity, interns are able to participate in team meetings and contribute towards day-to-day running. Whilst at Green Shoots they also get the opportunity to attend relevant training events, panel discussions and make use of networking opportunities.

What advice would you give to UCL students and graduates who may be looking to set up a charity or similar organisation?
Although it might seem out-dated, when it comes to setting up a charity or deciding on a project, thinking in terms of Theory of Change and working backwards is a good way to start. By this I mean, knowing the impact you want to make and then figuring out how to go about it.  This approach also helps tremendously with decision making for activities, setting realistic and achievable goals and constantly thinking about how to measure and report them.

Being transparent and accountable towards the individuals we work with and to donors we raise funds from should be the first rule for being involved in the charity sector and I always find fundraising is a good way to understand that relationship.

Find out more:

The Green Shoots Foundation will have a stand at the Charities and NGOs Link Up event this Thursday alongside other organisations including Oxfam, The Children’s Trust, The Challenge, Ark Teacher Training, CharityWorks, Unlocked Graduates, UCL VSU, Sustrans, UCL Amnesty International Society

*Sign up to attend this event via your My UCL Careers account


Charities & NGOS Week – Pursue a fulfilling career in this sector

By UCL Careers, on 25 January 2017

Charities and NGOs Week: 30th January – 2nd February 2017

Though important, there is so much more to working in the charities and NGOs sector than shaking a tin, volunteering or delivering aid to those in need on the frontline.  Many charities and NGOs are run as professional businesses that carry out functions such as research and lobbying, as well as raising and redistributing funds.  In the pursuit of addressing human or environmental needs, the sector can be intensely competitive in terms of attracting media attention, funding and other resources.  Most non-profit organisations rely on paid staff as well as volunteers and the sector attracts intelligent people with a passion for their work.

UCL Careers Charities & NGOs Week 2017 aims to dispel some of the myths that surround working within this sector.  Through a series of four events, this themed week will provide students with an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the diverse range of roles available to them, from campaigning and policy work to international development and disaster relief.  The employer-led insight and applications session will help prepare students to demonstrate their motivation and enthusiasm and ultimately increase their chances of job success.  The final event in the series will provide an excellent opportunity for students to link up with employers, be inspired and pick up some top tips from the experts, who are currently working in the sector.

Charities attending include:

MacMillan Cancer Support
Save the Children
The Wellcome Trust
Islamic Relief
and more…

For further details about UCL Careers Charities & NGOs Week 2017 including how to book:




Thinking about working in museums, cultural heritage or the arts?

By UCL Careers, on 3 November 2016

MUSEUMSSo you think you might be interested in working in museums, cultural heritage or the arts but aren’t quite sure where to start? You’re probably not alone. Whilst there are broadly four types of museums and galleries in the UK – national, regional and local, university and independent  – these represent a vast array of collections, artefacts, objects, specimens and homes. From well-known and established collections to the history of anaesthesia it could seem a daunting task to know where to start.

In addition, unlike other sectors, there is no clear pathway for starting out your career, such as through a graduate scheme for example. Volunteering remains an important way to develop your interests and skills, though opportunities for paid work do exist. The good news is the sector requires people with diverse skills to thrive including education, programme, science, history, business, marketing, finance, and digital to name a few. And while funding cuts have meant that museums have to rethink the ways in which they operate, this also means that there can be lots of opportunity for those with creative ideas and an interest in innovating.

However, the sector remains competitive. Jobs in museums, galleries and libraries made up just 5% of jobs in the creative industries in the UK last year, a 6% increase since 2011 (Creative Industries: Focus on Employment June 2016). So being proactive, gaining valuable experience and making contacts is crucial.

London is an exceptional city in which to launch your career in this industry. With over 278 of the 2,500 museums in the UK located in London alone (Museums Association; Londonist) this city hosts a diversity of cultural places to work right on your doorstep. To help you explore the many options and opportunities for work in this sector, UCL Careers has organised a programme of panel events for Museums & Cultural Heritage Week beginning Monday 14 November: Museums Forum, Cultural Heritage Forum and Working in the Arts. A Museums & Heritage Volunteering Fair will also take place during the week.

Each panel event will feature expert speakers who will provide insight on the sector by sharing their own career journeys, their perspectives on what is currently driving the sector and what keeps them excited about this field. They will also offer valuable advice for those looking to get a foot in the door.

Kicking off the series is the Museums Forum featuring speakers from the Grant Museum, the Museum of London and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). Panellists for this event include:

Jack Ashby, Manager of the Grant Museum and former head of Learning and Access for all UCL Museums and Collections for a period over 2009 and 2010. Jack has interests in scientific communications and evolutionary biology.

Jackie Kiely, Curator in the Department of Archaeology Collections at the Museum of London. Jackie has published widely on Roman artefacts.

Danielle Thom, Assistant Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Danielle specialises in 18th century art and co-curated the exhibition A World of Fragile Parts a special project exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale running until 27 November.

The panel will also feature a current student who held a summer internship at the British Museum.

Register to attend this and the other events online via your ‘My UCL Careers’ account.

UCL Careers Museums & Cultural Heritage Week is part of the #UCLInspireMe series.

Other events in this series:

  • Museums & Heritage Volunteering Fair, 15 November @ 17:00
  • Cultural Heritage Forum, Tuesday 15 November @ 18:30
  • Working in the Arts, Wednesday 16 November @ 17:30


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Source: Walt Disney – Donald Duck – Modern Inventions (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSohVE6Zmjc)

UCL Careers Essentials – New for 2016/17

By UCL Careers, on 3 November 2016

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 13.29.24 A series of lunchtime talks and experiential workshops providing insight, advice and interactive opportunities to engage with all aspects of careers management and navigating selection processes no matter where you are in your careers thinking.

From understanding the graduate job market to career decision-making; mock aptitude tests to interview success; finding and funding a PHD to getting to grips with Linkedin and social media – the programme aims to equip you with the essential know-how to begin to move forward and engage more confidently with ‘Finding your Future’.

Talks and workshops titles will be repeated on a regular basis in the Autumn, Spring and post-exam season. Please register to attend using the links below. For more information and to register to attend – http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/essentials

Essentials Programme

Improve your CV
7th November 1-2pm,
repeated 21st November 1-2pm

Did you know that the average employer can spend less than 30 seconds assessing a CV? Is it true that some employers ignore personal profiles? Should a CV be more than just a life history of everything you’ve ever done?

Find out how to market yourself effectively in a UK CV in this interactive session. We’ll simulate a CV sifting exercise allowing you to ‘sit in the recruiter’s shoes’ and assess multiple CVs under time pressure. Understand how to create a strong first impression, keep the reader’s interest and make your evidence ‘relevant’.
Book Now

Application forms, cover letters and supporting statements
10th November 1-2pm,
repeated 22nd November 1-2pm

Do companies use ‘killer questions’ to sift out weaker candidates in application forms? Does a recruiter pay more attention to a CV or cover letter? What’s the difference between a ‘functional’ and a ‘narrative’ personal statement?

In this interactive session, we’ll review motivation and competency-based application answers, assess sample cover letters and personal statements and get an insider’s view on what recruiters are really looking for.
Book Now

Succeeding at interviews
17th November 1-2pm

Did you know that most interview questions are predictable or that what you say can be less important than how you say it?

If you’ve been invited to an interview, you’ve already impressed but for most, interviewing is a daunting experience – so how can you navigate interviews successfully?

Find out how to prepare ahead for the types of questions you can expect, create a strong first impression and learn answering strategies for motivational, competency and strength-based questions. We’ll critique videos of graduate-level interviews and get inside the recruiter’s head to understand what they’re really looking for.
Book Now

To register and find out about future Careers Essential events – http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/essentials UCL Careers

Public Health Partnerships & Programmes Manager at Body & Soul: Inspire Me

By Weronika Z Benning, on 31 August 2016

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Bianca shares her insight into how volunteering helped her to secure he rcurrent role at Body & Soul, an Islington based organisation that supports children, families and young people who have or are closely affected by HIV.  Here she talks to us about how the skills she developed while volunteering at UCL helped her get her current role.  For more insights from recent graduates working for smaller organisations, visit https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-careers/ and search #SMEProfile.


“Volunteering is a win-win situation really. You are helping charities to be sustainable and supporting people in need but you also gain great life and work experience and are doing something meaningful with your time.”

Bianca Karpf graduated from UCL’s MSc in Medical Anthropology in 2013. As a student, she volunteered with HIV charity Body & Soul, with the Council for At Risk Academics , and for international health charity Medact.

Where are you currently working?
I’m currently working as Public Health Partnerships & Programmes Manager at Body & Soul, a charity which supports children, young people and families living with or affected by HIV. My role involves public sector engagement, making evidence-based cases for statutory investment, project management and development and measuring impact within the charity.

I am also about to start a new volunteering role as at Food Cycle, a charity tackling food insecurity through providing nutritious hot meals to those in need through surplus food donations from local businesses. I will be cooking meals and developing their community outreach.

What useful skills and experiences did you gain as a volunteer when you were at UCL?
So many! Patience was a key one for working with people on a frontline basis but also exercising empathy and being non-judgemental is an important skill to build trusting relationships with service-users. The experience of seeing how resilient and hopeful people can be even when they have lived through extreme hardship and terrible life experiences. I also learnt how to multi-task as I was juggling multiple commitments at the same time.

How has volunteering helped you in your career so far?
Volunteering as a research assistant during my time at UCL led to paid employment when the charity got a grant to develop the research. It also was great experience when I applied for research jobs in West Africa the following year.

Volunteering at Body & Soul inspired me to write about HIV and the voluntary sector in my master’s dissertation. That knowledge and the fact that I was already known to the charity as a hard worker and a loyal volunteer definitely helped me to get my current job here at the charity.

What would you say to UCL students considering whether or not to volunteer?
Volunteering is a win-win situation really. You are helping charities to be sustainable and supporting people in need but you also gain great life and work experience and are doing something meaningful with your time. It is a great way to break out of the student bubble, and an antidote to restlessness! Volunteering puts your own problems into perspective and introduces you to people from a really broad range of backgrounds.

You can volunteer in such a wide range of capacities that there is sure to be something that is your fit. It can be frontline and working with children or vulnerable adults, or you can volunteer/intern in an office gaining valuable work experience. At my current place of work we have volunteer complementary therapists, handymen, phone support volunteers and fundraisers so search what is right for you. Volunteer fairs are a great way of chatting to people from the charity and finding out about a broad range of organisations.

Interested in finding out more about volunteering? Visit UCLU Volunteering Services Unit’s webpages.

Head of Adult Services at Body & Soul: Inspire Me

By Weronika Z Benning, on 26 August 2016

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Adrian shares his insight into how volunteering helped him to secure his current role at, Body & Soul, an Islington based organisation that supports children, families and young people who have or are closely affected by HIV.  Here he talks to us about the skills he developed while volunteering at UCL helped him get his current role.  For more insights from recent graduates working for smaller organisations, visit https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-careers/ and search #SMEProfile.

“I became a much better communicator after volunteering. Volunteering also allowed me to put a lot of what I was writing about in my dissertation into context.”

Adrian Deen graduated from UCL’s MSc in Science, Technology and Society in 2014. We recently spoke to him about how his student volunteering experiences have influenced his career so far.

Where are you currently working?
I’m the Head of Adult Services at Body & Soul, an Islington based organisation that supports children, families and young people who have or are closely affected by HIV. My role involves planning and programming the workshops and events that take place on our Tuesday service evenings. I also liaise with our member’s medical teams, attend conferences and do casework on practical issued our members might face.

What volunteering were you involved with whilst you were at UCL?
Whilst at UCL I volunteered at Body & Soul and it was off the back of volunteering that I was encouraged to apply for the job that I now do.

I also volunteered at CORE Arts – an art school in Homerton for people with severe and enduring mental health problems. I also volunteered at the Grant Museum of Comparative Anatomy as well as for The Parent House – an Islington based charity for asylum seeker parents.

What useful skills and experiences did you gain as a volunteer when you were at UCL?
I became a much better communicator after volunteering. Volunteering also allowed me to put a lot of what I was writing about in my dissertation into context.

How has volunteering helped you in your career so far?
Volunteering has had a direct impact on my career – again, got my current job through it.

What would you say to UCL students considering whether or not to volunteer?
Absolutely do it! University (and school in general) can be a very self-absorbing pursuit. You tend to spend long hours thinking about your own thoughts, writing these thoughts down and usually getting told they’re good. Volunteering or just doing anything for anyone else can be an incredible humbling thing, it’s grounding which, for students can be a very good thing.

Make sure you volunteer at a charity that actually means something to you. Volunteering for the sake of it is no use to anyone, especially not the people/organisations who need enthusiastic volunteers to continue doing the work they do.

Interested in finding out more about volunteering? Visit UCLU Volunteering Services Unit’s webpages.


Pokémon GO, mindfulness, planned happenstance… and careers

By Weronika Z Benning, on 10 August 2016

Image from http://powerlisting.wikia.com/wiki/Spiritual_Meditation

Image from http://powerlisting.wikia.com/wiki/Spiritual_Meditation

Earlier today I was sitting in Gordon Square, one of the most beautiful spots in London in my opinion, watching endless people wandering zombie-like while staring at their mobile phones and completely ignoring the idyllic scene around them while they hunted for Pokemon.

Friends and colleagues have defended Pokemon Go! by saying it’s just a game, and it’s fun, and it’s surely better than slobbing on the sofa playing a computer game in your living room. They also claim it has helped them meet and connect with fellow Londoners, as they bang into them on their way to capture an imaginary critter, which I do appreciate, and blimey does London need more connection between strangers!

However, purely from an outsider’s perspective (as I daren’t download the app) it just looks like all that’s wrong with our society right now and the pinnacle of this rising tide of distraction that has been washing over us since smartphones and 24 hour connectivity entered our lives. We spend every waking hour (definitely including myself in this) eye-locked in to our computer screens, or jumping to check a notification on our phones. Meanwhile, this constant distraction means we’re always in our heads, find it increasingly difficult to concentrate on one thing at a time and are less attuned to what’s actually around us.

But what’s this got to do with careers, I hear you ask! 

Well, there’s a recent career theory called Planned Happenstance, which suggests that rather than having a rigid career plan and charging off towards set goals (rather like those Go! players storming around the streets of London to find a rare Pokemon) another more effective approach to careers might be to consciously put yourself in situations and in a mindset where unexpected opportunities might arise. The theory suggests that sometimes careers aren’t things we can plan for (what with a constantly shifting labour market, plus so many jobs and roles out there right now that we’d have no idea existed) but that we’re better off being flexible and open-minded, and ready to jump into action should something come up.

To do this, we need to be curious and creative, we need to follow our interests and make sure we’re creating chances for ourselves by being in the right place and the right time, and we need to maintain a positive attitude to turn serendipity into opportunity. 

So, for example, you meet a person at an event and get chatting and the organisation they work for sounds super interesting, so you ask more questions about what they do and how that person go into doing what they do, and make sure to add them on LinkedIn. The connection you build during that conversation means that when that person is hiring for a new project they’re running, they write to you to see if you know anyone who may be interested. The job itself is too senior for you, but you decide to take a punt and ask if they might have any need for extra support on the project, to which they respond and say yes actually, they were thinking they might offer an internship, and invite you in for an interview!

For this kind of approach to work, you need to be alert and aware. At events, you need to be looking out for who you could connect with rather than sitting in the corner Whatsapping your mates. You need to be fully involved and present in the conversation in order to make the connection a meaningful one, and you also need to think laterally to spot potential opportunities that might not be so obvious.

All of this requires mindfulness – the ability to be alert and focused in the present moment, and fully aware of what’s going on around you. In this world of WhatsApp, Pokemons and SnapChat pulling at our attention, this is harder than ever, and really requires practice. Here are some of the ways you might do this…

> Start meditating– mindfulness meditation is probably the most direct way to train your brain and practice getting back to the present moment. There various ways of doing it, but all revolve around choosing a point of focus (say the breath, or the sounds around you) and spending some time (maybe 10-20 minutes) intentionally bringing your attention back to this focal point. This is not as easy as it sounds, and your mind will wander, that’s what minds do, but the important thing is to keep bringing back and to try not to blame yourself when you lose focus, because it’s all part of the process. Every time you notice you’ve lost attention and come back to the breath or whatever you’ve chosen as your ‘anchor’, the more that part of your brain is strengthened, like a muscle.

> Everyday mindfulness – another thing to try is to choose an activity that you do every day, say brushing your teeth, and decide that for that activity, you will try to remain fully in the present for the whole duration, bringing your focus back every time it wanders off. Or you might choose a doorway you often walk through and choose that as your prompt to bring your mind back into the present, wherever it’s wandered off to.

> Have a digital detox – why not decide on a time in the evening where you will turn off your phone and computer and any other digital device and leave it off until you wake up the next morning? I’ve started doing this, at 9pm every night, and it’s surprisingly hard to stick to, but my sleep has got a lot better. Or you could choose a half day at the weekend to try this. If the thought fills you with dread, maybe it’s a sign that it would be a good thing to try!

> Take a mindful walk – choose a walk you do every day, say the walk to the Tube, and make a special effort to stay present, really noticing what’s around you with all your senses – the colour of the leaves, the faces of the people walking past, the feel of the ground beneath your feet, the smell of the grass. I’d especially recommend doing this in Gordon Square – it really will take your breath away!

The more we practice being mindful, the more we gradually are able to be in control of our thoughts and are less susceptible to distractions. We also notice more, which might mean we’re better able to spot those amazing career opportunities when they come our way, rather than spending a potentially fruitful conversation mentally planning what to have for dinner, or going past a really interesting event poster because we’re running off to catch a Pokemon!

Good luck, and if you’d like some extra help, there’s a great phone app called Headspace which offers a really good, engaging introduction to mindfulness.

UCL also has a programme called Ten Minute Mind , which helps you learn to manage your stress through ‘mindfulness meditation’ for only ten minutes a day. You’ll be emailed a short track every morning to listen to. There is also an online course called ‘Anxiety: Beat it and Regain Your Peace’ available for students free for 6 weeks.  It consists of a mixture of talking head, video, audio and  written lectures. The longest lecture is 11 minutes but they are on average 2-3 minutes long so you will be able to engage at your own pace.

By Anna Levy, Careers Consultant

How your year-abroad can boost your employability

By Weronika Z Benning, on 24 May 2016

Guest blog post by Claire Kilroy from Inspiring Interns

If you spent time abroad as part of your degree, hopefully the first thing that springs to mind when asked about it is what a great time you had. Since coming home, you’ve been bursting with stories about the amazing things you saw and did; in fact, you probably can’t remember the last time you told an anecdote that didn’t start with the words ‘When I was in…’

But it’s one thing to talk about your time abroad to family and friends; it’s another to try and explain to an interviewer why your experiences overseas make you the perfect hire. However, your year abroad can help you stand out from the crowd when applying for graduate jobs. Recent graduates are limited in terms of their work history, so having a range of other experiences you can draw on to illustrate your skills and competencies is vital.

Plus, in an increasingly internationalised work economy, many employers are on the hunt for global graduates. This means someone who will instinctively consider a wide range of perspectives and international influences when approaching an issue. If you’ve done a year abroad, you no doubt fall in this category. You just need to be able to prove it.

So, how should you go about it? Here’s some advice about how to change the way you think and talk about your year abroad to boost your employability:

Break it down

It’s easy to fall into generalisations when talking about your year abroad. So much will have happened that sometimes all you think to say is “It was awesome” – but that doesn’t tell the interviewer anything substantial about your experiences. Somehow, you need to organise your thoughts so that you can speak about specific events or subjects effectively.

Start off by asking yourself some simple questions. These might come up in an interview, but more importantly they provide a focus for your thoughts. Try to think of at least two or three points for each answer.

  • Why did you choose to do a year abroad in the first place? What were you hoping to get out of it?
  • Did you have to apply to go abroad? What steps did you take?
  • What did you have to do before you went abroad? Did you have to set up a foreign bank account? Find accommodation? Did you encounter any difficulties?
  • Did you do anything differently? Like join different societies, take up a new hobby, get a new interest?
  • What was most daunting about going overseas? How did you cope?
  • What were the most significant similarities / differences between the country you went to and here? What did you miss most about home and what do you now miss most from overseas?
  • What was the highlight of your year abroad? Why?
  • Do you think the experience changed you in any significant ways? Why / why not?
  • Did you find it difficult adjusting to being home again?

Lead by example

In an interview, it’s not enough to claim you have a skill or throw around buzzwords like ‘international mindset’; it’s all about using examples drawn from your previous experiences to prove you’ve got the goods.

So take time to consider the competencies you want to show off at interview, and what experiences you can draw on from your year abroad. These might include:

Adaptability: this should pose no challenges in terms of coming up with examples – after all, you adapted to living in a different country. That means successfully navigating anything and everything from a confusing public transport system to a radically different academic system to simply a different pace of life. If you can manage that, you can manage change in a work environment. To give your answer depth, consider what you found most challenging about adapting, and how you overcame it.

Problem-solving: no doubt you encountered obstacles during your year abroad. These might be problems that required a long-term strategy – like needing to secure funding before you left – or ones that required you to think on the spot – like getting totally lost in a foreign city. Accommodation-related problems are also common, although hopefully you won’t have experienced anything quite as dramatic as one young man who came home to find all his furniture was gone because of a misunderstanding with the landlord.

Resilience: this is easily linked to your examples about problem solving. Resilience refers to how you cope under difficult circumstances or after suffering a setback – you want to show that you where able to keep moving forwards and maintained a positive attitude. Aside from practical challenges you could also talk more generally about coping with homesickness.

Communication: this is undoubtedly the foundation of a successful year abroad. Whether you were operating a foreign language or your native one, you’ll have come across numerous situations where you had to rely on your ability to communicate. Your landlord, your professors, your fellow exchange students, your friends… the list is endless.

Networking: though closely linked with communication skills, this is a chance to show off your ability to build and maintain strong relationships with those you met. Even just knowing you have people to stay with if you go back is a point in your favour, and you never know who might prove unexpectedly helpful in the future.

Goal-orientation: think about what you set out to do during your time away, and what you did to achieve this. You might have wanted to become fluent in the language, and taken extra classes or have chosen to stay with a host family that spoke no English. Or maybe you wanted to travel and see as much of the country as possible, and needed to be very organised with your time and budget.

Working collaboratively with people from diverse backgrounds and countries: employers consider this the most important ‘global competency’; they want to hire graduates who understand the complexity of cultural relationships and act accordingly. To have lived in and integrated into a foreign culture will set you apart from other graduates.

Apply your thoughts

Having structured your thinking about your year abroad, you should now find it easier to approach the type of questions you’ll face in an interview. Some questions might ask directly about your year abroad, while other more general questions might provide the perfect opportunity to bring in your experiences. Remember, you want to offer your interviewer answers with real substance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show your enthusiasm for the topic!


Claire Kilroy is a content writer for the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency, Inspiring Interns. Check out their website for listings of graduate jobs and internships, or head to their blog for more graduate careers advice.


Registration now open for Global Citizenship Employability Programme 2016

By Weronika Z Benning, on 25 February 2016

On Friday 19th February UCL’s 2016  Global Citizenship Programme launched, and undergraduates and postgraduate taught students across UCL will be able to register to take part in one of the different programmes taking place from 31st May-10 June.

What is Global Citizenship?

Global Citizenship is UCL’s initiative to build students who can:

  • look beyond their individual and local interests and see the complexity of an interconnected world
  • understand the nature of the challenges that face that world
  • are aware of their social, ethical and political responsibilities
  • are ready to display leadership and work together to change the world for the better
  • are able to solve problems through innovation and entrepreneurship
  • prosper in a global jobs market that values the skills UCL provides

It’s made up of 10 different strands to choose from: 6 Grand Challenges targeted at first and second years only, and 4 more Pathways open to second years, penultimates, finalists and postgraduate taught students. The Global Citizenship Employability Programme (GCEP), run by UCL Careers, is one of these latter strands – so if you are thinking about what your future may hold beyond UCL, read on!

What will you gain on the GCE programme?

UCL Careers Global Citizenship Employability Programme is an exciting and very hands-on 2 weeks. This programme is ideal for students who are interested in having a fulfilling and rewarding career, and who want to prosper in a global jobs market. In many ways the GCE programme is an ‘employability crash course’.

Over the course of the fortnight you’ll tackle all parts of the job search: from initial self-reflection right through to every aspect of a selection process. This is a unique chance to get a real range and depth of experiences on how to proactively approach employers and effectively search and apply for your chosen roles within any industry, to make the most of UCL’s global university status.

You’ll learn about Global Citizenship from an employer’s perspective, understand how your values might coincide with those of businesses and organisations and be introduced to ways of bringing the values of Global Citizenship to life in careers ranging from global charities and NGOs to large multi-national commercial enterprises.

What else does it involve?
The two week programme involves a mix of workshops, talks, panel sessions, networking events, and personalised one-to-one coaching with employers, Careers Consultants and UCL Alumni as well as priority access to the end of year jobs fair.

Programme highlights include:

  • Taking part in interactive workshops
  • Learning how to market yourself effectively
  • Practising assessment techniques commonly used by employers
  • Discussing Global Citizenship with a wide range of employers
  • Gaining feedback from employers

What did people say last year?

Don’t just take our word for it – check out our video and hear from attendees at last year’s programme. Most of all, be sure to register and come to UCL Careers to pay your £20 deposit to secure your place!

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