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Career tips from an Editorial Assistant at the Royal Opera House

ManpreetDhesi19 March 2015

This blog post originally appeared on the Develop your Career blog

Paul Kilbey, Editorial Assistant at the Royal Opera House, shares his experiences in Arts publishing.

How did you get into your role?

I’ve wanted to work in publishing for a long time.  I studied music at university but was always more interested in writing about it than performing or composing, so I gravitated towards jobs where I used language.  After a while teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad, I moved to London and was lucky to be able to do a couple of internships, building up my professional experience.  There were then a few years working in and around classical music for startups, and I got my current job in the Royal Opera House’s Publishing and Interpretation team a couple of months ago.  I am also a freelance writer specializing in classical music; I write for a few magazines.

Over the last few years I have written a lot of articles for a number of predominantly online publications.  This has been really important for developing my writing skills, although it hasn’t always been the same as a conventional grounding in journalism or publishing – it has all been fairly off the cuff, and online is totally different from print, both in terms of how it works and also the standard expected.  All the writing made me well qualified for my current role – I’m an Editorial Assistant – but I still have plenty to learn.

What do you do day to day?

It’s very varied, and the workload changes depending on what projects are coming up.  There is always work to do preparing for future productions, although of course it gets busier in the immediate run-up to a show.  I have work to do in a number of areas including writing, proofreading, liaising with advertising clients and also working with publishing software.

What are the best things about working in your role?

My colleagues are very nice, and it’s an exciting place to work, with the rehearsals and performances happening all around us backstage.  And after a few years with very small companies, I am still hugely enjoying the perks of working for a major employer – cafeteria, IT support, payroll department, etc. Most of all, the job is an ideal mixture of my interests – classical music and publishing.  I’m lucky to be able to work in both at the same time.

What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

Firstly, it’s worth remembering that any sort of office experience is good.  Employers want to know that you can be trusted to correspond with people in a professional manner.  I had done very little office work on graduation, and this probably set me back a bit.

As for writing online – there can be huge benefits to doing this, but only if you’re serious and sensible about it, and aware of its limitations.  Blogging can lead to all sorts of interesting things, and so can writing for the many websites out there that will take your content, publish it, and not pay you.  But, unsurprisingly, doing this can also be very unrewarding, both financially and professionally.  You shouldn’t confuse success in these media with professional experience in journalism or publishing per se.  My advice is that if you’re considering writing for a blog or another website, it’s crucial to remember the value of what you’re doing.  This means two things: firstly, that you know what you stand to gain from your writing, even if you’re not being paid (are you gaining useful experience? Exposure? Nothing at all?); and secondly, that you only write things that you’re confident are good enough to merit publication.

Employment Opportunities within the IT & Technology Sector

ManpreetDhesi16 October 2014

There are a wide variety of opportunities in the IT & Technology sector. Check these out …

Industries that fall under the IT umbrella include:

  • computer programming;
  • computer consultancy;
  • computer gaming;
  • computer networking activities;
  • computing facilities management;
  • data processing;
  • data hosting activities;
  • internet service provision;
  • telecommunications;
  • web portals.

Within these industries, there are many spheres of work available to graduates, including:

  • art and design;
  • design and development engineering;
  • electrical and electronic engineering;
  • financial management;
  • human resources management;
  • information technologies;
  • marketing and PR;
  • operational management;
  • project management;
  • production management;
  • strategy and planning.

The IT and computing sector is forecast to continue to expand, and to be a key element of business growth. Employment in the sector over the next decade is projected to grow nearly five times faster than the UK average.

Who are the main graduate employers?

Many of the largest companies in this sector are organisations that play multiple roles. The sector varies immensely in occupational scope and breadth, and so do employers.

In the private sector, big employers are typically international companies such as Accenture; Capgemini; Cisco; Cognizant; IBM; Infosys; Logica; Microsoft; Tata Consultancy.

In addition, however, over half of IT professionals find roles outside of the IT industry. Other industries that are big employers of IT professionals include:

  • financial services
  • major retailers
  • telecommunications
  • public sector
  • manufacturing
  • games development

Many small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the industry provide a range of specialist services, particularly in consultancy and technical roles. Common jobs for graduates are software designers and engineers; web developers and producers; computer analysts and programmers; web designers, IT consultants; help desk technicians.

What are the key issues in the IT sector?

With the current situation in the global economy, business is operating in a climate of uncertainty, and this makes companies reluctant to make major decisions. Infrastructure and technology upgrades are not always a priority. This is considered by far the biggest pressing issue for UK IT firms.

The sector is highly innovative, but also subject to constant technological development. This can present a significant challenge in ensuring businesses and staff are able to adapt to constantly changing technological requirements.

The fast-moving nature of parts of the industry, and the continuing growth of the sector means that many employers are experiencing significant skills demand. Recruiters reported difficulties recruiting software developers and programmers and web designers, and found the following skills most likely to be in short supply: .NET, ASP.NET, Dynamics, SharePoint, Visual Basic, Visual Studio, C# and PHP. The sector also reported gaps in sales skills, business skills, higher level technical skills and sector knowledge.

Data security, privacy and intellectual property issues are all important in the sector and businesses spend significant resources to deal with current requirements and to be prepared to adapt to a changing legislative landscape.

Source: Prospects

The UCL IT & Technology Fair on Thursday 16th October 2014 is kindly sponsored by Cisco

“But I’m not studying computer science – can I still work in IT & Technology?”

ManpreetDhesi15 October 2014

The answer is YES!

IT & Technology is a broad sector which encompasses a multitude of roles and types of companies. In addition to the programming and developer roles typically associated with the sector there are also a wide range of other positions: project managers, business analysts, consultants, salespeople. For these roles, employers state that deep technical knowledge is often not initially required; what is important is an interest in technology, a desire to learn and possessing business-orientated skills such as communication and project management.

Melanie Baldo graduated from UCL in Italian and Management Studies and is now a Project Manager at Bloomberg. Melanie states: “I never for one minute imagined when I graduated with a degree in languages that I would be working for a financial data company running some of their most complicated and important projects with high profile clients.”  Whilst in the Technology sector, Melanie’s role focuses on client relationships and project management and she encourages students from non-technical backgrounds to apply. Many technology based roles do not require a technology background and companies often provide training for these positions.

The UCL IT & Technology Fair gives you the opportunity to discover how IT & Technology underpins business and the diversity of opportunities available.

The UCL IT & Technology Fair on Thursday 16th October 2014 is kindly sponsored by Cisco

IT and computing: Employment trends

ManpreetDhesi15 October 2014

The IT industry is continuing to expand rapidly. Employment opportunities are continuing to increase at all levels and in different industry sectors.  Employment in the IT sector is expected to grow at 2.19% a year, almost 5 times faster than the predicted average growth for the UK.

The IT sector is looking very positive for the future;

  • Increase in use of personal devices – this means a greater need for IT and telecoms professionals who are able to understand the vulnerabilities of underlying architecture and infrastructure and to develop new security solutions.
  • Development of sustainable IT to minimise the environmental impact of technology.
  • Growth is predicted to be strongest in highly skilled areas – software professionals, ICT managers, IT strategy and planning professionals.

What skills are needed?

Employers do recruit graduates with non-IT degrees into consultancy and business analysis roles, where they can apply a broad technical knowledge to commercial environments. More technical roles such as network engineers, software developers and programmers do require graduates with relevant technical degrees such as computer science, information systems and software engineering.

The ‘soft’ skills required are:

  • Communication (written and verbal) and interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork
  • Organisation and planning
  • Problem solving
  • Commercial awareness and customer focus
  • Enthusiasm and motivation
  • Adaptability, flexibility, willingness
  • An ability to learn new skills quickly

There is a skills shortage in this sector. The skills that graduates often lack are;

  • Business skills
  • Higher level technical skills
  • Sector knowledge/experience
  • Technical skills: programming languages, operations systems knowledge, network and infrastructure understanding and development skills.

Research shows that employers want to attract high quality recruits to IT and computing, which means postgraduates, and specifically doctoral graduates, are very well placed to take advantage of this skills shortage. Doctoral study is not essential although it can provide an edge in an increasingly competitive job marketplace. A doctorate degree still needs to be supplemented by continuous personal skills development.

It is predicted that the skills shift that is already taking place in the IT and computing sector from the UK to lower cost countries will continue to create challenges in terms of career paths and skills development.

Source: CRAC

The UCL IT & Technology Fair on Thursday 16th October 2014 is kindly sponsored by Cisco

Application tips for engineering students

ManpreetDhesi11 October 2014

The engineering sector is similar to most others and it highly competitive. We’ve popped together some tips to help with the application process.

Apply early

First and foremost if you want an engineering graduate job or internship then you better get applying. Deadlines for graduate schemes and internships are different from those at university and applying early could give you a huge advantage. Although many jobs have ‘open’ deadlines or closing deadlines around the end of the year, it pays to take action in September and October as deadlines don’t tell the full story.

Most employers assess applications as and when they are submitted. Many even hold assessment centres and make numerous job offers to early-bird candidates by the time the official closing date rolls round. This means that even though there are spaces left by the closing dates, there will be far more competition for fewer jobs.

Consider jobs or internships at small engineering companies

Don’t just look at big companies. By working for a smaller company you will often have more opportunities and responsibility than at a larger one. You’ll be amazed at the diverse range of smaller engineering consultancies that are able to offer graduates positions.

Non-engineering experience can boost your CV

  • If you can’t find work experience in engineering, try to find a role that enables you to develop and demonstrate key skills (leading teams, problem solving, negotiating, etc) which can then be transferred to engineering.
  • While at university, get involved with as much as you possibly can while still maintaining a 2.1 level of degree. If you can demonstrate core skills that your degree probably doesn’t give you, you will be more employable.

Be positive and passionate

  • Apply when you are in a positive state of mind.
  • Work on showing interest and passion. Create your own projects, follow your own processes, contribute to open source projects, etc.
  • Apply for jobs you have a passion for, and ignore how much they pay.
  • Your passion will show in your application/interview and you will be more likely to be successful.

Research the industry you most want to work in…

  • Do your homework into the particular sector you are interested in to give you an extra edge.

… but don’t get obsessed with an ‘ideal job’

Get feedback on unsuccessful applications

  • Seek feedback from employers, especially after an interview. I found the most effective method to be phoning people rather than emailing as emails can be easily ignored!

It’s not what you know…

  • Make use of any contacts you have already in jobs or the sector you want to work in. Networking is important: attending careers fairs and presentations are good starting points.

For more career advice, search for graduate jobs and internships in the engineering sector please visit TARGETjobs Engineering.

The UCL Careers Engineering fair on Monday 13th October is kindly sponsored by Targetjobs Engineering.

 

 

Ever wondered what types of exercises are used at assessement centres for engineering graduate jobs?

ManpreetDhesi9 October 2014

Psst…. We have the answers.

Assessment centres are used by most major recruiters as part of their selection process for their graduate engineering schemes. Although the content varies from company to company there are numerous common elements.

Most assessment centres are designed around companies’ core competencies – the skills they need the most in their graduate engineers. Technical ability will obviously be tested, but be prepared to show your soft skills. There’s no point designing a brilliant new product or system if you can’t communicate the concept to colleagues, for example, or convince them of its potential value to the business.

Typical activities:

  • Interviews: technical interviews, competency-based interviews or both
  • Group activities: these will often involve discussions and making decisions around a given business issue
  • Giving a presentation: you may be given the topic in advance and it may be something like discussing a technical project you have been previously involved in. Other employers give the topic on the day itself. This will often relate to the business and may involve candidates doing fact finding or decision making.
  • Tests: including psychometric tests, personality questionnaires, or test to check the basic understanding of engineering principles. Some employers also check candidates can extract relevant details from a large amount of information, and communicate the key points

The social side of assessment centres

Most assessment centres include opportunities to chat to recruiters or current employers. Use this chance to learn more about the business. Enthusiasm, interest in the company and good manners will go down well.

Dealing with assessment centres nerves

The more prepared you are the less nervous you will feel. Yan Zhou, a structural engineer and former Imperial College London student, talks about his preparation: ‘I collected information about the company and I tried to understand what kind of people the company was looking for. I also went to my careers service for advice and tips.’

Assessors will do their best to put you at your ease. Yan says, ‘In my technical interview, the engineers gave me clues when I was facing difficulties, which made it less stressful.’

Don’t start comparing yourself to other candidates. Employers are marking you against their selection criteria, not against other candidates. Keep the employer’s selection criteria in mind throughout the event.

Don’t shy away! However nervous you feel, remember that to succeed at an assessment centre you need to participate fully. If the assessors don’t see or hear anything from you, they can’t assess you. It is important to get your points across – but don’t be overbearing or rude.

You will have various opportunities to demonstrate your skills, so if you think you’ve not done so well on one activity, put it at the back of your mind and move on to the next task.

Finally, remember this is not just the employers assessing you; this is your chance to find out more about the organisation, and learn more about the values, structure and culture in the workplace.

For more career advice, search for graduate jobs and internships in the engineering sector please visit TARGETjobs Engineering

The UCL Careers Engineering fair on Monday 13th October is kindly sponsored by Targetjobs Engineering.

For the attention of logical thinkers!

ManpreetDhesi8 October 2014

Logical algorithms associated with science and developed in the effort to make sense of the world dominate your thinking patterns. You are studying fascinating ideas, structured theories and new ways to apply old ideas. There is an Engineering Fair on and you probably don’t really feel the pull to go and find out what is going on. The comfort of your course and academic work is too cosy for you.

The Engineering Fair is on because employers are looking for people like you. The world needs logical thinkers and problem solvers. They want to use your clear thinking to achieve results, your objective mind to highlight causes and effects, or utilise your lateral thinking to bring valuable perspectives to light.

The options for you are endless. You can work in technology, management, retail, law and financial professions.  In addition, many other specialist professions unrelated to your subject will be keen to harness your skills and train you. With so many choices, you have a challenge: which one to choose!

Like many other decisions you have to make, such as buying a mobile phone or finding a place to live, the more investment of time and grey cells that you spend researching, analysing, reading and checking things out the more informed you will be to choose the right career option for you. The Engineering Fair is the kind of opportunity that you can utilise depending on your time investment and preparation.

Make it your business to know their business and its relation to you.

So don’t just come browsing mindlessly.

  • Research the companies’ products, services and the overall industry.
  • Look into the roles the companies offer and consider/ predict the roles that they are going to need in the future.
  • Look at their industry and think of questions to ask to enrich your base knowledge.
  • For your career planning, think of roles that you might be interested in, and then identify why you are interested and what goals you are trying to fulfil.
  • Challenge yourself by asking difficult questions about how you will shape your future.
  • Make notes of your thoughts and reflect on which ones can be used for discussions at the Engineering Fair.

Use your talent to set targets to achieve at the fair in order to utilise this opportunity and draft a strategy to get the best out of the fair.

You will be surprised when you finish your studies; networking opportunities disappear and will not be so readily accessible. You may wish you had made the most of these opportunities!

The UCL Careers Engineering fair on Monday 13th October is kindly sponsored by Targetjobs Engineering.

 

 

UCL Engineering Fair is coming…

ManpreetDhesi7 October 2014

If you want to work for a great engineering company when you graduate or find out about internship opportunities, the UCL Engineering Fair 2014 is for you!

When: Monday 13th October 2014 5:30 – 8pm

Where: North and South Cloisters

The event will give you the chance to meet lots of employers that want to employ Engineering graduates. It will be a great opportunity to find out more about their companies, make contacts and see the breath of future career options.

Some employers include:

TARGETjobs (sponsor), AMEC, Centrica, Colas Rail, Fluor, Jaguar Land Rover, L’Oreal, Mot Macdonald, TFL, Thales and many more!

for more information: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs

Do I need to book to go to the Fair?
NO! Due to the size and duration of each Fair, visitors can come and go as they please while a Fair is on so booking is not necessary.

Please be aware however that the Fairs are very popular and entry to the exhibitor stands will be controlled to avoid overcrowding and entry to all Fairs is on a first come-first served basis. You may therefore be asked to queue on arrival and we thank you in advance for your patience. A valid UCL ID card (student, staff or GradClub member card) is required to gain entry into the Fair. If you don’t have valid UCL ID, you will not get in!

The UCL Engineering Fair 2014 is kindly sponsored by TARGETjobs Engineering

3 ways to find our more about Management Consultancy

ManpreetDhesi30 September 2014

The Management Consultancy fair is kicking off our autumn careers fair schedule this year on Wednesday 1  October.Management Consultancy Fair

If you’re thinking about coming to the fair, it’s a good idea to do your research on management consultancy beforehand so you can make the most of the opportunity to meet employers. These are three ways you can get informed and come prepared:

The Management Consultancy fair is kicking off our autumn careers fair schedule this year on Wednesday 1 October.

If you’re thinking about coming to the fair, it’s a good idea to do your research on management consultancy beforehand so you can make the most of the opportunity to meet employers. These are three ways you can get informed and come prepared:

  1. Search Careers Tagged, our online careers library

Careers Tagged is full of information to help you at every stage of career planning, from thinking about your options to creating great CVs and job applications. All resources are picked and checked by careers professionals. Search for ‘management consultancy’ for links to professional bodies, industry news sites, job vacancy sites, and more:

http://www.careerstagged.co.uk/resources/management%20consultancy/all/popular/1

  1. Check out the TARGETjobs guide to management consultancy

This is a really useful guide with insights into major management consultancy employers, what employers are looking for, and how to demonstrate your skills in applications and interviews. Come in to UCL Careers on the fourth floor of  Student Central (ULU building) to get a copy to take away (subject to availability), or the full guide is available online:

http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/management-consulting

  1. Research the job market on What Do London Graduates Do

What Do London Graduates Do is a website for information on what graduates from University of London colleges have gone on to do in the last 5 years. It can give you real life information on recent graduates working in management consultancy. Search by the job ‘management consultants’ on http://wlgd.thecareersgroup.co.uk/ to see how many graduates are working in management consultancy, the companies where they’ve found jobs, the salaries they’re earning, and how they got jobs: http://wlgd.thecareersgroup.co.uk/Details/JobTitle/24231

Looking at this can give you valuable insights into how to approach your job hunt. For example, you can see that 32% of graduates working in management consultancy found out about their jobs through personal contacts and networking, and 21% through previously working at the company. So networking and getting work experience are clearly important if you’re considering management consultancy. Coming to the Management Consultancy Fair is a great way to start networking and meeting employers.

The UCL Careers Management Consultancy Fair on Wednesday 1st October 2014 is kindly sponsored by Accenture

How to prepare for our Career Fairs…

ManpreetDhesi30 September 2014

Every year UCL Careers holds a number of Careers Fairs to help you talk to employers and find out first hand what they are looking for. You will get more out of the Careers Fair if you spend a little time preparing…

Be aware that there will be a mixture of all kind of employers from all kinds of sectors exhibiting each day and you might find an employer that you had never really considered before as being a front runner for you. To help you prepare effectively we’ve put some handy tips together to get you started:

Before the fair

We strongly encourage you to do some research on the exhibitors before the fair: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs

As well as reading the exhibitor profiles, click through to the organisation’s own website to find out more about them.

You can then decide which exhibitors you particularly want to talk to, and you will be able to ask more informed questions. Try to prepare some questions in advance and think about the main points that you would want an organisation to know about you – it can help you feel more confident.

At the fair

At the fair, each exhibiting organisation has a stand and their reps are there to answer your questions about what the organisation does, what jobs they offer to final year students and graduates, what internships/placements they provide to earlier year students, and any other opportunities that they offer.

Wherever possible, try to talk to someone on the stand instead of just picking up a brochure. Use the opportunity to ask your questions face-to-face.

If you are feeling a bit nervous about approaching your first choice organisation, it can be a good idea to visit some other stands first to practise your technique.

If you are given a business card, make a point soon afterwards of noting on it anything that it would be useful to remember. Have they suggested you email them with further questions? Did they give you advice on their recruitment process?

Even if you have a ‘hit list’ of exhibitors, consider other organisations at the fair that are less well known. They might be offering just what you are looking for.

Remember to bring your UCL ID or GradClub ID card as you won’t be able to enter the fair without this!

Other hints and tips

  • Remember that many of the opportunities are available to students of any discipline
  • Staff on the exhibitor stands are often relatively recent graduates who can tell you what it is really like to work in their organisation
  • If you want to have a CV ready to hand over, arrange an appointment at UCL Careers before the Careers Fair to ask for some CV feedback
  • The fair may be busy when you arrive – don’t be put off. People tend to congregate by the entrance, so head to another part of the fair where it will probably be quieter
  • Avoid walking round the fair with a group of friends. The exhibitor may not realise that you are interested in them, and you could miss out because your friend happens to be more talkative than you!
  • If you feel overwhelmed, and don’t know what to do or where to start, make sure you visit the UCL Careers for help.

For further information about the fairs, please visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs