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Charities and NGOs Week is around the corner: 1st-4th February 2016

Weronika Z Benning26 January 2016

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 aims to dispel some of the myths that surround working within this sector.  Through a series of four events, the themed week will provide students with an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the the diverse range of roles available to them, from campaigning and policy work to international development and disaster relief.  The interactive session on how to prepare persuasive applications will help 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 to network, be inspired and pick up some top tips from the experts, who are currently working in the sector.

For further details about UCL Careers Charities & NGOs Week including how to book:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto/charitiesandngos

Start the New Year off right if you’re planning on applying for a Grad Scheme

UCL Careers8 January 2016

Highly sought after by UCL students, graduate schemes have been seen as being the gold medal upon completion of your degree. However only a limited number make it through as competition is tough. On average, there are 85 applications for every single graduate scheme position. 

Myth: a degree will be enough. Employers are now looking for more from students. HSBC noted: “We recruit up to 1,500 graduates on to one of our 70 graduate programmes around the world. For those jobs, globally, we receive around 100,000 applications. As 90% have a 2.2 or a 2.1, it therefore takes something extra to stand out.”

The conversion rate from landing that internship in the company you want to work for to securing a place on their graduate scheme can be as high as 70-80% in some companies! Every company wants the best candidates, so do apply early. Some may fill positions whilst recruitment is still happening. Don’t leave it to the last minute to apply. Also, come and get your application reviewed by one of our specialist application advisors.

Only 7-10% of graduates who enter the workplace do so through a formal graduate scheme, so how do you maximise your chances at success? Preparation is incredibly important. We’ve put together a handy timeline of things to do, whether you’re a first year or a finalist who hasn’t even thought about what you are going to do when you finish.

UCL Study Level Spring Term (January – April 2016) Summer Term(May – August 2016) Autumn (2016)(Sept 2016 onwards)
First/Second year going into Penultimate year > Start looking at careers/jobs you may be interested through Careers Tagged

> Clarify Visa options in the UK (if international students)

> Research jobs in home country or country you wish to work in (UCL login needed to view this link)

 

> Apply for internships/gain work experience during the summer through UCL JobOnline > Career Planning

> Attend Careers Fairs and Employer Events

 

Penultimate going into Final year  > Gain relevant work experience either through internships or experience within that sector

> Identify your hard skills from your soft skills and compare this against their competencies and develop your skills

> Apply for internships for summer through UCL JobOnline

> Attend our Global Citizenship Employability Programme
 

> Attend our Focus on Management course

> Look at company websites, many open applications for their graduate schemes between July – September.

> Gain work experience during the summer

 

> Career Planning

> Attend Careers Fairs and Employer Events

> Identify Graduate Schemes & Apply

Final year becoming a Recent Graduate > Apply for graduate level jobs / schemes – some companies have rolling deadlines. You can find most of these via the companies website or through UCL JobOnline > Apply for graduate level jobs via UCL JobOnline

> Target unfilled Graduate Schemes via the companies websites or through UCL JobOnline

> Attend the UCL Jobs Market 2016 event (more information coming soon)

> Join UCL Careers Graduates  (once your course finishes)

> Follow steps above

 

 

 

We’re also open all year round so whether you want to talk about career options, have an application checked or have gained an interview and want to practice, we can help. Our website has a comprehensive amount of information for each step and you can pop-in personally and speak to one of our information team who can help.

And even if a graduate scheme doesn’t float your boat, we can help you find your future in your chosen career path as a vast number of our alumni go on to work within Charities, NGOs, Media, Law and Science sectors.

Good luck!

10 Reasons Why Graduates Sink or Swim in the Workplace

UCL Careers6 October 2015

Carla King, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers, managed large-scale, high profile graduate development programmes for over seven years in industry before deciding to make the change and help UCL students. Using her experience, she has listed the top 10 reasons why Graduates Sink or Swim in the workplace.

Swimming in the Dead Sea Swimming in the Dead Sea/Christian Haugen/Flickr.com

  1. Managing Expectations

One challenge graduates face is a mismatch between their own expectations and those of their new organisation. As difficult as it can be gleaning information up front about the role,  flexibility is essential. Most graduates quickly appreciate the need to work their way up and to seize opportunities. The most successful graduates are those who embrace whatever comes at them.

  1. Integrating and building relationships

A really insightful way of integrating into an organisation quickly is to make new contacts as quickly as possible. This means speaking to people outside of your team at every available opportunity, be it after a meeting or at the coffee machine.  The more you find out what people do the quicker you will be able to link your work with theirs that may potentially benefit your team.

  1. Managing workload effectively

Whilst you are likely to have only one line manager, invariably you will be working for multiple people on a daily basis. The key thing here is to manage your time well by blocking time in your diary, ensuring you keep to deadlines and managing your stakeholders’ expectations. If you’re struggling to meet a deadline, you should be transparent and tell people in good time, ie. 5pm on a Friday will not leave a good impression.

  1. Your profile and reputation

As you begin to achieve and build on your skills, it can be easy to become complacent. Graduates will sometimes fall into the trap of either only doing the basics of what is required or falling in with a negative crowd. Be aware of the risk that may stem from not going above and beyond, and of not being discreet. Once an impression is made, it’s difficult to un-do and your reputation is likely to precede you.

  1. Seizing opportunities

With every job there are the boring bits – don’t let it put you off! Most managers are happy for you to take on things that interest you as long as it won’t impact your work. Think about what you can comfortably do without impinging on your work. What might be an obstacle to you gaining the opportunity?  What will reassure your manager?

  1. Managing upwards

One of the largest of graduate complaints is a perceived lack of management or misunderstanding. Often, managers manage other staff as well as having their own large workloads. If you would like a catch-up, or to speak to your manager about something confidential, why not put half an hour in their diary if they have not already done so? If there is a project/ area you would like to get involved with, talk to them about it – line managers are not mind-readers!

  1. Making mistakes

Graduates have to learn about a new organisation, circumvent office politics, attend skills training, master a new role, all in a very short time. It’s a very steep learning curve. Making mistakes in your first ‘real’ role is to be expected. However, the way in which you deal with mistakes is what stands you out from others. Be responsible, transparent and think of a counter-measure so it will not happen again.

  1. Challenging constructively

Most organisations will talk about needing fresh ideas.  However, it’s how you communicate those ideas that will get you heard. At university, you may be used to challenging others in a social context. In an organisational context, you have to use professional language, logical thinking, and not to be bullish in your approach.

  1. Technical vs Behavioural

Graduates sometimes believe that all they need to be is technically brilliant. However, the reality is that in every role you need to communicate, influence, work in a team, sometimes lead on a project and be motivated. You will leave university with a specific skills set but your employer has recruited you on your potential. It is only with time and experience that the workplace will give you that which will make you into a well-rounded employee. Time is your friend, not your foe.

  1. Resilience

Over your time in education, you will have received lots of feedback. However, in a work context, feedback is different. As well as commenting on your technical ability, you will also have feedback on how you behave, e.g. why didn’t you contribute in that meeting? How might you handle yourself differently? The purpose of feedback is to increase your self-awareness to help you to adapt and improve. When receiving feedback, thank the person, digest the feedback, implement it and move on.

If you need advice on what is expected of you, book a Short Guidance session with a Careers Consultant

– Carla King, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers

How to prepare for our Careers Fairs…

UCL Careers30 September 2015

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 many different sectors exhibiting each day and you might find an employer that you had never really considered before becoming a favourite for you. To help you prepare effectively we’ve put together some handy tips to get you started

 

UCL Careers Fair

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.

> After your research, decide which exhibitors you particularly want to talk to, and you will be able to ask more informed questions. It can be difficult to understand the difference between big companies within the same sector.  Often it is the cultural aspects that make a real difference in the working environment and this can only be appreciated through talking and interacting with representatives at the Careers Fairs.  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.

> Come along to one of the preparation sessions organised by UCL Careers (starting w/c 5th October).

At the fair

> At the fair, each exhibiting organisation has a stand and their representatives 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.

> Shows motivation in a competitive job market esp. if you refer to attendance in applications/ interviews

> Often particular insight re. staff experience relating to specific projects they’ve been involved in or training they’ve had can be used as ammunition that can be a real differentiator when answering motivation based questions – ie lots of first hand information not available on any website that other candidates might not be able to 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

> 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.

> Staff on the exhibitor stands are often relatively recent graduates who can tell you what it is really like to work in their organization.  They may even refer to particular projects that they’ve been involved in or training that they’ve had –all of which is great information for you to use when you apply for a position at their company.  This insight is not available on any website and creates a unique impression when it is your time to apply.

> In a competitive job market, it can make a difference to refer to any interaction with employers during the application process

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

 

Career tips from an Editorial Assistant at the Royal Opera House

UCL Careers19 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

UCL Careers16 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?”

UCL Careers15 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

UCL Careers15 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

UCL Careers11 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?

UCL Careers9 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.