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Top 10 insights from Charities & NGOs: Behind the scenes – influencing & policy

5 February 2019

As part of UCL’s Charities & NGOs Themed Week we held a panel session titled “Behind the Scenes – Influencing & Policy”.

We were joined by Jens Van den Brande, Economist at the National Foundation for Educational Research, Shilpa Ross, Senior Researcher at The King’s Fund, Annabell Rebello, Job Coach and Skills Trainer at Mencap and Beth Blackmore, Operations Executive at Koreo working with Charityworks.

Here are some key insights from the event, combined with some tips from UCL Careers Consultants.

  1. Don’t be too narrow minded, learn from different experiences

A common theme was not to be too focused on one specific ‘dream role’. Gaining experience within the sector can provide valuable experience and insight that could allow you to cross over to another organisation or role. In entry level positions or smaller organisations, you are often asked to get involved with numerous projects, assisting a variety of teams, which enables you to develop a variety of valuable skills. This will help you develop expertise and give you a flavour of the different types of roles found within charities and NGOs which can help you find that ‘dream role’.

  1. Get experience that will give you a head start

All panellists highlighted the importance of gaining work experience early in your job search. Work shadowing, internships, volunteering in a charity or even joining certain university societies were all stated as excellent opportunities to gain valuable experience for your CV and may even lead to directly hearing about a paid opportunity within an organisation.

  1. You can contribute!

Don’t underestimate what you can contribute now; panellists highlighted that across the sector young people are underrepresented on charity boards of trustees. Investigate becoming a charity trustee – look up “Young Charity Trustees” on Facebook or LinkedIn for inspiration. Check out the Charity Digital Code – charities need digital skills at all levels. As one panellist said – you are the digital natives!

  1. Find a cause you’re passionate about

Panellists felt finding a cause that you feel passionate about can be crucial in succeeding with your job search within the charity sector. Employers are often looking for driven staff who want to make a real difference in the area they work. Taking the time to do some research in your areas of interest can lead to finding an organisation with goals that align with your passion and will result in you having the opportunity to work with like-minded people. Guidestar is a great resource for finding UK charities working in a particular field.

  1. Understand the sector you want to work in

Looking into specific roles that interest you within the sector can often give you the edge when applying for roles. Do some research into the organisation you want to work for. Get an idea of who their competitors are and find out how certain organisations are unique. Why is it that you want to work for them specifically? Through doing your homework on an organisation before applying you gain an understanding of the roles they have on offer as well as which positions would suit you best.

  1. Variety is the spice of life!

Many of the panellists stated that the variety within their role was one of the things they enjoyed the most. Interacting with a variety of stakeholders, hearing their stories and working towards making a difference in the lives of others was something that made their work worthwhile.

  1. Find your unique selling points (USPs)

Identifying your USPs was something many of the panellists mentioned as being particularly important and would enable you to stand out from the crowd during an application process. Having these USPs will set you apart from other candidates and focus on the attributes you have that employers can benefit from. Examples of USPs can be some particular work experience, a postgraduate qualification or particular skills you have acquired.

  1. Access support from colleagues and networks

One of the key benefits of working within the charity sector according to all panellists was the collaborative, friendly and driven nature of the workforce within the sector. Making the most of colleagues, asking them questions and tapping into their skills and knowledge can be invaluable when gaining knowledge and understanding best practice. Seek out a mentor – someone in the sector prepared to take an interest in your growth and development, who you can share your goals and fears with openly, who will be a source of wisdom and encouragement. Try the UCL Alumni mentoring database or ask around in organisations you have contact with.

  1. Funding limitations leads to lack of job security within sector

One of the major challenges mentioned facing the charity sector is a lack of funding and financial security. This can lead to a lack of resources, lower salaries, limited staff benefits and an uncertainty surrounding job security when compared with corporate organisations. Although this seemed to be a challenge across the sector, one of the panellist had a very positive way of looking at this, stating that a lack of job security leads to a varied career and therefore gaining a wealth of skills and experience.

  1. Basic competencies are key to most positions

Panellists highlighted the importance of needing to meet key competencies when applying for roles. Organisations will often outline key qualities they’re looking for in candidates, which will equip them with the attributes needed to carry out the advertised role. It is important to show an understanding of these competencies and have strong examples of times when you have demonstrated these skills. Quite often these competencies are based on softer skills such as communication, problem solving and team work.

In summary:

An organisation’s workforce will often come from a range of different backgrounds, this is why focusing on your passion for the cause, drawing from your USPs and previous experiences, along with being able to demonstrate key competencies will put you in good stead to succeed in the application process.

International Development Themed Week | 4th – 8th February 2019

1 February 2019

We have an exciting week of events coming up to help you better understand this sector and possible routes in – full of opportunities to hear from professionals working in this field about their roles and organisations.

What is International Development?

The sector is about supporting people from economically disadvantaged places around the globe to address a range of issues that includes poverty, human rights violations, education and healthcare. Many organisations not only respond to emergencies but work with developing countries to implement long-term and sustainable solutions.

Introduction to International Development will give you the information you need to get started thinking about a career in this sector.

This lunchtime session will give an overview of the areas of work, the types of organisations and different ways to get into the sector.

How do I get into the sector?

Like any sector, there are many different routes in but usually you will need an undergraduate degree for entry-level or volunteer positions. However, many organisations also offer graduate schemes and internships.

Pathways into International Development will give you a chance to hear from professionals in the sector about the paths they took, other possible routes and what is offered by the organisation they work for. You might even learn things that you can include in your future cover letters!

What is it like working in the sector?

So, you’ve done your research about the International Development sector, you have identified some organisations and roles that sound interesting on paper – but what is it really like working in this sector on a day to day basis?

Alumni Perspectives in International Development, will give you a chance to hear from professionals – all of whom started their journey at UCL.

Spotlight on Global Health

This year we have a spotlight event on the area of Global Health.

Careers in Global Health is our final event, aiming to showcase both clinical and non-clinical roles. You will get a chance to hear from professional in this area, the sort of projects you could get involved in and how to progress while still at UCL.

What else is happening during the week?

Keep an eye out on the UCL Careers Twitter page for current jobs and opportunities related to this sector.

I’m a bit nervous about talking with guest speakers

Not to worry, many people find this daunting, so why not attend the upcoming Careers Essentials workshop on Career Essentials: Making the most of Panels and Alumni events. We have even written a blog on this exact topic.

How to get the most from a panel or networking event

28 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

Are Graduate Schemes Still Open?

11 January 2019

Which can I apply for? Are graduate schemes right for me?

If you haven’t applied to a graduate scheme already, you might be asking yourself some of these questions. There’s no need to worry. If you want to find a programme, there are still plenty currently taking applications. You might even decide that graduate schemes aren’t worth it. After all, one in six graduates leave their first employer within the first two years.

Which graduate schemes are still open?

Prospects

Many of these programmes are still taking applicants. Others take on graduates on a rolling basis. So who’s recruiting students? Prospects have put together a handy online tool where you can search open graduate schemes. Use their filter options to reveal graduate programmes which you can sort by industry and location.

So which employers are still looking for current students and recent graduates? Here’s a little taste of the ones that are still open, from a range of sectors.

Find out who’s still taking applications on the Prospects search tool.

Clearly employers are still searching for students to recruit, so do some research across the web and try and meet as many graduate recruiters as you can at our events.

Are graduate schemes right for me?

It is easy to feel pressured into applying for a graduate scheme – but these schemes are not your only choice. Most employers (including those who run graduate schemes), hire graduates on a continuous basis.

You only need to check the current vacancies on myUCLCareers to see this for yourself. You can search other major jobs boards, such as LinkedIn or Indeed, including the term “Graduate” and you will see plenty of graduate roles that aren’t part of a particular scheme.

This is particularly true for organisations who are not large enough to warrant a graduate scheme. This is why international organisations which hundreds of staff are much more likely to have schemes on offer. Working for a company like this might not suit your goals, so don’t be afraid to look elsewhere for graduate jobs. Read more about the difference between a graduate job and a graduate scheme on Gradtouch.

Further study is another popular choice, with 30% of UCL graduates in 2016 securing further study courses after six months.

Full-time work (49%), Part-time work (9%), Work and study (1%), Study (30%), Due to start work (1%), Unemployed (2%), Other (8%)

 

 

How can I improve my applications? (for all graduate jobs)

All graduate jobs, whether part of a graduate scheme or not, want you to demonstrate your motivation, desirable qualities, skills and experience.
One of the best ways to do this is through volunteering and work experience. By finding an internship or other work experience you will show your motivation to employers, gain useful real-world experience, and learn more about that particular role or sector.

You might realise that you don’t enjoy a particular sector as much as you expect. This means you can look for something different when you graduate. If you love the job, you’ll be able to demonstrate your awareness of the sector to future employers. It’s very common for people who do internships while they study to secure a job with the same employer when they graduate.

Have work or volunteering experience? Let graduate recruiters know what you learned using examples. Be sure to tell them how you can apply those lessons when working for them. It’s what you’re aiming to do after all!

In your final year or recently graduated?

It might be time to start looking at what’s available and applying.

Our careers consultants can help you review your CVs and applications in one-to-one advice sessions and mock interviews. These will give you the confidence you need to evidence your best qualities when applying.

Graduate schemes often use recruitment tools such as assessment centres and psychometric testing to filter applications. Although these can seem intimidating, the more you know about them, the less scary they become.

UCL Careers run a range of workshops, talks and employer-led events through the year. These include mock assessment centres, employer networking and application sessions. Any of these could help with your graduate job applications, so see the full events calendar and book your place.

Remember, UCL Careers is here to support you, no matter what stage your at in your career planning; whether you’re applying to graduate schemes or any other kind of work or further study. Find out more about what UCL Careers can offer you.

Interview with BAFTA Television Programme Manager, Kam Kandola Flynn

8 January 2019

First of all, what does BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) do?

Our mission is to bring the very best work in film, games and television to public attention, and support the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. We do this by identifying and celebrating excellence, discovering, inspiring and nurturing new talent, and enabling learning and creative collaboration.

BAFTA Trophy

In addition to our Awards ceremonies, we have a year-round programme of learning events and initiatives that offers unique access to some of the world’s most inspiring talent through workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes.

The UK boasts a wealth of talented people who could make a huge contribution to the continued excellence of British film, games and television. We want to ensure that this talent is nurtured and supported, so that talented individuals have the opportunity to succeed whatever their background, and – through accessing the expertise of their peers and established practitioners – reach their full potential.

And what do you do at BAFTA?

At BAFTA I work within the Learning and New Talent team who work with practitioners from the television, film and games community to discuss and define creative excellence in order to share the tools with wider audiences to make better film, games and television.

I manage and programme our television industry activity which ranges from industry focused debates and lectures addressing issues of the day, to craft-led masterclasses, panel events, Q&As, exclusive screenings and new talent initiatives. The aim is to share insights and expertise into the craft of programme making from BAFTA winners, nominees and the best minds in TV with a wider audience to develop knowledge, skills and talent. I also nurture BAFTA’s relationships with industry practitioners to ensure we are reflecting and supporting the work of the television industry, as well as working on our new talent initiatives which aim to discover, nurture and support the skills and development of the next generation of talent.

What did you do previously?

I studied media and cultural studies at Nottingham Trent University graduating in 2001, during which I did lots of work experience in media-related environments such as hospital radio and being a production runner for shows such as Big Brother. I also thought it would be useful to build up my administration/office skills, so I also pursued part-time work that would get these skills up to scratch. After I graduated, I moved to London and got a job as a runner in post-production then secured my first media job working for a company that programmed the in-flight entertainment for airlines. However, I knew that I wanted to work in television, so I applied for a role at Carlton TV (now ITV) working with a producer as an administration assistant – so putting those admin/office skills to good use! Then I moved on to Channel 4 as a commissioning assistant before joining BAFTA as a regional programmer, which eventually led into my current role (after a short stint working on the Edinburgh International Television Festival).

What do you enjoy about your role?

BAFTA rewards excellence in screen arts, and I love having the opportunity to not only work with practitioners at the top of their game but also supporting talent and skills development in TV, especially at a time where the industry is working so hard to try and level the playing field for anyone from any background or experience to be part of it.

What are the current challenges facing this sector?

The television workforce is not as representative of society in general as it could be. There has been a recent focus on diversifying the workforce and levelling the playing field across the sector in technical, production and editorial roles – so there are lots more opportunities around than there used to be not only to get into the industry but also to sustain a career.

With recent “Digital Disrupters” (as they are referred to in the business) such as online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Facebook, the challenge is to make shows that appeal to younger people. There is an eagerness to find stories that will engage and be relevant for this demographic.

What are common graduate routes into the industry?

As an industry we have many routes in but for graduates there are training schemes and apprenticeships – you can find out about some of these via ScreenSkills the industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen-based creative industries. All broadcasters like BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Channel 5 advertise their opportunities online, and places like the Unit List and Talent Manager promote jobs.  However, you can also get in via junior roles such as runners, researchers or production assistants. Everyone has their own routes.

What would be your top tips for getting into this industry?

  1. Build your network! As much as possible in your own relevant area of interest. This should include peer-to-peer relationships, as these may be your future collaborators.
  2. Get as much work experience as you can – including developing ‘soft skills’ (like teamwork and communication) as these are important. Be hardworking, nice and talented (or at least two of those!)
  3. Make content – e.g. short films, interview led pieces – as this shows passion and your creative eye.
  4. Think about your own unique selling points – e.g. if you have an interest in cooking or medieval art or can speak Italian then hone that knowledge, be passionate – this knowledge will come into use.
  5. Don’t be afraid of stepping sideways in job roles – take your time to develop skills and knowledge
  6. Be flexible if you can – it is largely a freelance industry. See everything as an opportunity.
  7. Although London has been traditionally been the place to be, content hubs are expanding and growing all over the UK in places like Salford, Bristol, Leeds and Glasgow. These will be great places to start your career and build up your skills.
  8. Think outside of editorial roles, and into craft areas where there are particular skills gaps such as visual effects or editing. E.g. see BAFTA’s Television Craft Awards for a range of potential roles.
  9. Check our BAFTA Guru for insights from industry professionals at.
  10. Be you – that’s the best quality you have.

BAFTA offers internships as well as permanent and freelance roles in administration and event production – to see what currently is being offered, they advertise on the BAFTA Jobs website and on Twitter and Facebook

Written by Sally Brown – Careers Consultant at UCL Careers

This blog was written as a follow up to our Media Themed Week. Find out more about upcoming Themed Week events on our website.

Insights from the ‘UCL Careers: Insights into Publishing’ event

4 January 2019

UCL Careers recently hosted a panel event around getting into publishing and understanding what a role in the industry involves. Here’s what our panellists had to say:

Hannah Ray, Editorial Director at Macmillan Children’s Books

‘Editing means different things in different companies. My role as Editorial Director is around 30% creative and 70% business-focused – such as costing and selling strategies. Highlights include having the opportunity to work with both established authors and new talent. Challenges include working to deadlines when there are so many people involved – such as when people get sick and there are many people waiting for the book.’

 headshot of Hannah Ray
headshot of Allie Collins

Allie Collins, Editor at Bloomsbury Sport/Freelance Editor

‘When you work freelance, you have more control over your own time and projects. Conversely, working in-house means you get to see books through from start-to-finish. Sometimes a challenge as an editor is managing authors’ expectations – such as the design of the front cover –  so often you need to act as a mediator.’

Tom Atkins, Freelance Proof-reader  

As a freelance proof-reader you come in at the end and cast a slow lengthy glance over the proof pages – so you get to work with paper and pencil! It is great if you love spotting flaws – like spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes and any minor plot inconstancies. Working freelance can be lonely though, and you don’t have guaranteed work or a pension – not to mention that you have to do your own tax returns!’

headshot of Tom Atkins
headshot of Ella Kahn

Ella Kahn, Literary Agent at Diamond Kahn and Woods

As a literary agent you are at the beginning of the process – essentially a manager for authors. You may work with a range of publishing houses – both large and small. You often will meet editors for coffee and lunch to build up a picture of what they are currently looking for in a commission. It is both a sales and editorial role and you have a close relationship with the authors you represent – often being both a nanny and a lawyer for them. You might get over 50 submissions from authors a week, but only take on 1-2 people a year. Highlights include working with authors and championing them to get the recognition they deserve. Challenges are dealing with rejection – on both sides. You have to handle turning people down and getting turned down by publishers.’

Top ten tips on getting into publishing

  1. Have passion: this is a very competitive industry. Everyone’s CV is impressive, so tailor your cover letter and light up when you talk about the industry in your interview. It is not enough to say ‘I love books’ and don’t have an overly romantic view of the industry – there is a lot of business to it such as profit and loss. So show you have negotiation skills and that you can use an Excel spreadsheet. Communication and relationship-building skills are also vital. Show transferable skills.
  2. Understand the importance of networks: start to meet people now, whether this is professionals or peers also pursuing this industry.
  3. Do your research: when applying to publishing houses, learn about the books they publish – look at things like Amazon rankings and understand the different genres.
  4. Ask insightful questions at interviews: good examples include “What is coming out soon?” “Which books are you most excited about publishing in the next year?”.
  5. Be aware of current trends: Know who the big authors in your genre of interest are.
  6. Consider taking a job in a department that is not your first choice: once your foot is in the door you might be able to change departments.
  7. Follow key people on Twitter: try searching hashtags such as: #askagent #askapublisher and #ukya
  8. Want to work freelance? you might want to start in-house as it is very rare editors will work with freelancers they don’t know. You can start doing freelance work on the side.
  9. An MA in publishing can be useful: it gives you a great overview of the different areas, but it is not a pre-requisite, as publishing is trying very hard to be inclusive. If you want to do a professional course, ensure it is an industry recognised one.
  10. Keep going! Be resilient and thick skinned – you will get interviews. Learn from interviews you fail at and ask for feedback and put it into practise.

Want to learn more?

 

Getting in to Publishing isn’t a breeze – but it is worth the effort!

27 November 2018

VINTAGE This guest feature from Konrad Kirkham, Senior Production Manager at Vintage (Penguin Random House) and UCL alumni, discusses how he launched his career in publishing, why working in publishing does not necessarily mean working in editorial, and what a role in the production team of a publishing house involves.

So, how do I get into Publishing?

This is a question I am often asked, especially by people on work experience.

Personally, getting in to publishing wasn’t a breeze. I was fortunate enough to take one of a couple of popular routes in, which was to undertake an MA course in Publishing Studies (the other being extensive work experience). These are offered by quite a few universities across the country. Whilst I wouldn’t say it’s a pre-requisite, the MA gave me a great insight into the business side of publishing, set me up with a lot of contacts across the network, gave me a 6 week block of work experience and introduced me to a great group of friends – whom I’m still in contact with today. It helps to know as many people as you can in Publishing, so I was glad the MA gave me that.

After my MA, I was lucky enough to be freelancing from my previous job, during which I spent a solid year interviewing for any role I could find (it’s not easy getting your foot in the door and I’m afraid to say does require hard graft), before eventually landing a job in production at Pan Macmillan. The MA came in handy here, as one of my MA buddies already worked there and gave me the intel on the job, as well as put in a good word for me. Like I said, it pays to know people! What I did learn from this, was not to be disheartened when I was declined jobs. They are all super competitive, so getting an interview and honing my interview technique was good enough in some cases.

As frustrating as it is, Publishing isn’t that easy to get in to, nor is it cheap. If you’re not doing an MA, you might need to spend weeks working for a small wage. There are some schemes being introduced to help graduates, but they are highly competitive and still far and few between. Whilst there are people who manage to get a job without the MA or without work experience, you probably won’t find many.

What can I do to give myself a better chance at securing a role then?

My advice would be to work hard, learn about the industry and keep your options open. Don’t limit yourself to looking for the mainstream editorial, sales or publicity/marketing roles. There’s so much more to publishing. For instance production, design, foreign rights (sales of foreign language editions), inventory (warehouse/stock management), sales operations (focusing on the logistics behind the sales), contracts, finance, working for a literary agent. The list goes on! There’ll be less competition for these roles, and once you have a foot in the door, it’s much easier to move jobs within a company. I’ve known many colleagues who have started in one area, and moved after a year or so. The industry is keen on developing people’s careers and having in-depth knowledge of different areas is a huge bonus.

And if I pursue a career in production, what can I expect to be doing?

The production department provide the link between the creative teams and sales, and the printer. Our job is to make sure the books look good, are produced to a high standard, don’t cost too much to make, and are delivered on time.

In the life cycle of the book, the production team will get involved very early on. Editors will ask us to cost up a project before they’ve even bid for a new title (or are coming up with ideas for new in-house books). We then work closely with them to discuss formats, finishes, paper types, special inks etc., and get the costs from the printer to make sure the book will make margin. Once a book is acquired, we will provide schedules to the editors/designer and sales teams to make sure that they know when we require text/cover files, or any other artwork needed, and be in regular contact with the printer whenever any of the book specifications change.

Once a book is ready to send to the printer, dependent on the book type, we might organise for colour proofs to be sent in for us to check and adjust if necessary, or work with the printer to troubleshoot any issues that may arise during print production. We will then make sure that the books are delivered to the correct destinations, at the required dates, and process printer invoices once the books have delivered.

What do you particularly enjoy about working in production?

Production is a really fun, varied, and exciting department to work for. We work with most other departments in some way or another, and get the chance to create some really beautiful books! We’re the team everyone comes to for advice, and are ultimately in charge of the final product. I’ve worked across both children’s and adult production departments, so have been able to produce a huge variety of formats, from glittery board books, to complex children’s novelty books, or standard black and white fictions books. I’ve also worked on massive brands and authors, such as Julia Donaldson, Chris Ridell, Where’s Wally, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and more recently Murakami, Jo Nesbo and Nigella! There’s always new developments happening in the printing world, which gives us the opportunity to try some really fun things. Plus there’s always the added bonus of potential trips to China or Italy to go and see books as they come hot off the press!

Sounds exciting! Any last words?

Hopefully this has given a little bit of insight in to the publishing world, and that it’s not all just about editing a book. If you’re really committed to getting in to the industry, it’s definitely worth the effort. You’ll be surrounded by hugely passionate people, and have the chance to work in a really rewarding job. Good luck!

Media Week is now on! Hear from professionals across this sector with events on broadcasting and publishing still to come.

Wednesday 28 November 18:00 – 20:00: Get into Broadcasting: Film, TV and Radio

Thursday 29 November 18:00 – 20:00: Insights into Publishing

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

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

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.

THE MOST REWARDING PART OF THEIR CAREERS

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”.

AND THE CHALLENGES…

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?

MOTIVATION TO HELP PEOPLE

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 & TEAM WORK

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.

ADAPTABILITY

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

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.

Museums, Arts & Cultural Heritage Week 2018

9 November 2018

Themed Week Icon of a dinosaur skull. Background of person sitting in a gallery of large classical art with text overlay "Book your place: Museums, Arts & Cultural Heritage Week"

Thinking of considering a career in Arts, Museums or Cultural Heritage? Not sure where to start? Looking for career inspiration?

This is the week for you! This is your chance to meet professionals and experts working in various roles within these sectors.

The following events are open to students and recent graduates from all degree disciplines and all of the events below are now bookable through your ‘myUCLCareers’ account.

Working in Arts and Culture | Monday 12 November – 5:30pm

Thinking about working in the arts or cultural sector? Come along to this panel event for the chance to hear from professionals currently working in managerial, creative and organisational roles within a variety of arts and cultural settings. Speakers will discuss the realities and rewards of their roles.

The panel discussion will be followed by Q&A.

Panellists include:

  • Kate Mason – Director at The Big Draw
  • Shelley James – Artist at Shelley James Glass
  • Meg Peterson PhD – Project Manager, Research and Higher Education at Battersea Arts Centre
  • Abby-Jo Sheldon – Development and Events at Freud Museum London
  • Caroline Marcus FRSA – Chair of The Board of Trustees at GEM (Group for Education in Museums)

Book your place at Working in Arts and Culture

Meet the Alumni | Tuesday 13 November – 6:30pm

How do you go from studying at UCL to working in exciting professional positions in museums, arts and cultural heritage. Learn from UCL alumni in this panel discussion and Q&A session?

The Q&A session will be chaired by Dr Nina Pearlman, Head of UCL Collections at UCL Art Museum, and Slade alumnus. You will then have the chance to meet and network with these expert panelists for an hour after the event, giving you insight into career options and making useful connections for your career journey.

UCL Alumni attending include:

  • Dhikshana Turakhia Pering, Youth Programme Manager at London Transport Museum (MA Museums and Galleries, 2008)
  • Lisa Westcott Wilkins, Managing Director at Dig Ventures (MA Archaeology, 2002)
  • Eric Brunjes, Chief Executive at Attack Magazine (BA History, 2006)
  • Adam Klups, Historic Buildings Advisor at Church of England (BA History of Art with Material Studies, 2011)
  • Jonathan Franklin, Librarian at National Gallery in London (MA Library & Information Studies, 1986)

Book your place at Meet the Alumni

Cultural Heritage Forum | Thursday 15 November – 6:00pm

Hear from UCL alumni working right across the cultural heritage sector including organisations such as the British Museum and on the restoration of the Houses of Parliament, one of the most significant restoration projects in Europe. This event will help shed light on the  wide variety of roles, across museums, the built environment and other in the cultural heritage sector.

Panellists include:

  • Mary Pierre-Harvey, Assistant Director at The Houses of Parliament (MSc, Architecture, The Bartlett)
  • Mads Skytte Jorgensen, Business Analyst at The British Museum (MSc, Archaeology)
  • Corrine Harrison, Library Archive & Museum Services Administrator (Royal College of Physicians)

Book your place at the Cultural Heritage Forum

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

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.

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