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Operations Officer: Inspire Me

ManpreetDhesi10 October 2015

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Laura Davies, UCL Alumnus (BSc Human Science, 2013 and MSc Technology Entrepreneurship, 2014) and Operations Officer at BaseStone, talks to us about how she got this role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into the sector. basestone.laura

How did you get into your role?

I’m Laura, I am the Operations Officer at BaseStone. BaseStone is a tool for architects and engineers to capture and communicate data more effectively. It connects people and data in construction, reducing costs and mistakes on projects.

I found out about the role through a mentor of mine. She knew the founder of the company and knew that they were looking for someone to help them grow the business. The majority of the team was made up of software developers so they were hiring for new employees on the business side.

I chose this career because of the opportunities for growth. There was a huge amount of potential for me to develop my own skill set, confidence and abilities in so many areas. I think I recognised that the business was at a really interesting point – the technology was in demand by the industry and there were many customers in the pipeline.  But there was a need for all of the pieces of the puzzle around the technology to be put in place – I wanted to be the person to do that! It was an exciting challenge and I knew that this would give me a breadth of experience like no other.

What are the best things about working in your role?

I think working with the a team that care so much about what they do is my favourite part of the job. Everyone is so passionate about our mission – bringing change to the construction industry. We work very closely together so it really helps that we all get on!

The work is also interesting. What we are doing is quite ground-breaking – we’re disrupting an ancienct industry. It’s really interesting to be part of the change. I get to go out on construction sites to visit our users. So I have been on Crossrail sites, seeing London’s future infrastructure being built which is pretty cool too.

As part of my role, I work with a huge range of people – from graduate engineers to important industry figures. It’s great to have that diversity

Biggest success in your role?

I am really proud of the community we have built around what we are doing. As the industry is quite old fashioned, we’ve developed our own community of disruptors. We hold events to champion disruption and discuss the future of the built environment. The last event had over 120 attendees and caused a real stir in the industry.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

The biggest challenge is having to hit the ground running with things you’ve never done before. But technology is a really supportive industry – there are mentors, events, free courses and many meetup groups that you can get advice from.

It’s a challenge but it pushes you to realise your full potential. It provides an excellent springboard for your career.

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

Developing your network is the single most important thing. As I mentioned, the world of startups and technology is friendly and supportive. People will generally be happy to have a coffee or call with you if you reach out to them. So don’t be afraid to ask!

I would recommend getting some experience in a startup before you jump right into one. I did the UCL Advances Summer Internship Programme in my second year of university. You get a paid internship for 8 weeks in a small company – I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

You can also develop yourself and build your skill set. I did the CodeFirst:Girls coding course which gave me coding skills that I still use today. There are many free courses like this in London, for both men and women to develop skills in tech. UCL Advances also do many events and workshops.

Good luck!

To find our more about working in a startup, either come in an speak to a Careers Consultant or visit UCL Advances.

What is Engineering?

ManpreetDhesi10 December 2014

In her final blog as a careers consultant here at UCL, Natasha Aminzadeh looks at “What is engineering?”

When I ask Engineers this question I get a reaction of disbelief. The question itself is too big and vague. No one is expected to define “medicine”.

But, just look at any urban or rural view at any time and engineering is everywhere…electricity pylons…, wind farms…, cars…..,the internet…,phone signals…,roads…,traffic lights…,drainage systems,… Engineering is all this and more…

Engineering is all around us. This makes it hard to explain.

Explaining Engineering:

Engineering is the act of manipulating science, materials and controlling resources including energy and managing the effects of the natural world in the way that a particular group need and want. This act of manipulating, controlling and managing can be of great benefit to Mankind. Engineering solutions are the natural output of human thought. Man has been an engineer since the beginning of human history.

Engineering is the compromise between idealism, possibility and necessity. It has evolved through formal training to increase its efficiency and build on past experience.

Why is engineering alien?

My time at UCL has confirmed the theory that Engineering is mis-understood as a discipline; and the way that non engineers describe it demonstrates this.

Essentially, every engineer is a practical problem solver with every engineering output bringing a new solution.  The French word for engineer is ingénieur which comes from innovation: starting something new…

The problem being solved can be big or small. But regardless of the scale of the problem, an engineer is always problem solving.

This is reflected directly at UCL Engineering where the major strands to engineering demonstrate our “Change the World” ethos.

Biochemical engineers scale up life science discoveries for use on a global scale…making medicines – from drugs to stem cell treatments – quicker to produce, more effective and widely available…they also use biological systems to generate other useful chemicals.

Mechanical engineers study motion, power and heat transfer to build machines and tools for just about everything you can imagine…from  oil rigs and Formula One cars to heart valves, robots, irrigation systems and satellite launch systems.

Chemical engineers take raw materials, reactions and ideas and scale them up into sustainable solutions for large-scale production. Virtually, all manufacturing and processing uses chemical engineers, whether they make beer, fresh water, bullet-proof polymers or fuel.

Electronic and electrical engineers make use of the properties of electricity and electromagnetism, from the scale of individual electrons right up to EM waves that cross planets…their work has brought us processing power faster than human thought, communications all over our planet and beyond, and revealed ever more about the world around us.

Medical physicists apply the fundamental principles of physics to the cause of human health. They are behind many of the lifesaving procedures carried out by modern medics, informing diagnosis, treatment and the maintenance of human health.

Computer scientists work in a massive range of activities – wherever there is computer/human interaction……from the basic instructions within processor cores, to the design of the buttons on a synthesizer app, to the algorithms which protect investment, or building minds that think for themselves.

Civil and environmental engineers work with local communities, natural resources and structures from microscopic to interplanetary scales, to improve our surroundings and the way we fit into them.

They design cities, buildings, transport, dams and much more.

In my 2 years at UCL, I have worked with students and academics who are at the cutting edge of world class research into all these engineering areas.

It has been a huge privilege to work here and to experience the inter-connected world of engineering at the academic level. Most of all I was able to work with UCL Engineering at the time that it is paving the way to enhancing the multi discipline collaborations (e.g. the introduction of the new Integrated Engineering Program (IEP) this year) as a response to the need to provide holistic engineering solutions to make the world finer place for all humanity.

CHANGE THE WORLD!

For the better!

Sir Mark Walport: Careers in Science and Engineering within the Civil Service

ManpreetDhesi17 November 2014

Recently we were very lucky to have Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, come in and talk about careers within Science and Engineering within the Civil Service.  The event was chaired by Anthony Finkelstein, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Engineering.

A video of Sir Mark Walport’s talk can be found below or on our YouTube account

This video was brought to you by the UCL Careers Government and Policy week team.

Why applying for an engineering graduate job gives you a big advantage

ManpreetDhesi30 October 2014

Deadlines for graduate schemes and internships are different from those you’re use to at university. You give yourself a huge advantage by applying well before the closing date.

If engineering is the sector you aspire to work in, it pays to take action in September and October when applying for graduate jobs, internships and placements. Don’t be lulled into inactivity by ‘open’ deadlines and closing dates that fall later in the academic year.

Did you know early graduate scheme applications give a numerical advantage?

Engineering employers go out their way to stress the advantage students give themselves by applying before the deadline. There are few recruiters that wait until their graduate scheme is closed to start the recruiting process. The majority of recruiters assess their applications as and when they are submitted.

The inevitable glut of last-minute applicants will face greater competition for fewer jobs than those early-bird applicants that have been organised and submitted theirs prior to the deadline.

Beware graduate schemes closing early

In some cases, engineering recruiters will succeed in hiring all the graduates they need before their official closing date, leading them to close the scheme early. If you see a graduate scheme or internship that you are keen to apply for, be prepared to apply as soon as possible. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to kick start your graduate career.

When are the deadlines for engineering graduate schemes?

  • Many engineering graduate schemes give their deadlines as ‘open’. Treat these with caution – the fact that you are free to apply at any time does not necessarily mean that there will be a suitable job available. If in doubt, apply before Christmas for roles starting the following year.
  • Among major engineering recruiters who do give closing dates, these tend to fall between December and February.
  • Closing dates for industrial placements and internships can fall as early as November (e.g. British Sugar). December to February is more typical (New Year’s Eve is a favourite); a few close later.

For more engineering career advice visit www.targetjobsengineering.co.uk

TARGETJobs Engineering kindly sponsored the UCL Careers Engineering Fair 2014.

Seven top tips to perfect your engineering CV and covering letter

ManpreetDhesi21 October 2014

Some engineering employers, notably smaller companies, prefer CVs and covering letter. Here are some hints and tips to help you perfect your CV and covering letter to convince recruiters you’re right for the job.

  1. Length of your CV: A CV should be no more than two pages of A4, and a covering letter just one page. By researching the skills sought by the employers you’re targeting and then matching your experience to theses you should be able to fit in all the information that is relevant to that particular graduate job.
  2. CV layout: the layout of your CV is important. Choose a layout that is clear and easy to read, avoid small fonts and large sections of text. Use a skills-focused or chronological format for your CV, depending on what sells you best, and remember to tailor your CV to each employer.
  3. Personal statements | Many students start their CV’s with a brief personal statement outlining their abilities and aspirations. If you choose to do this, be specific and keep it relevant to the engineering job in question.
  4. Educational history: your educational history from your university years should include your predicted or actual degree class, information on group projects and your dissertation, any modules relevant to the job, and relevant academic awards. Include you’re a level (or equivalent) subjects and grades. Give GCSE/standard grad results.
  5. Engineering work experience: outline engineering work experience in your CV, judging how much detail to give by how closely it relates to the specific job you are applying to. Explain what skills you learned and how they can be transferred to the position in question.
  6. Non-engineering work experience: Many engineering employers look very favourably on achievements and experiences outside engineering. This can be a real boost if you haven’t been able to secure engineering work experience – and can give you an extra edge if you have. Examples worth mentioning include fundraising, voluntary work, organising independent overseas travel, sporting achievements or taking a leading role in a university society. Don’t go into detail: summarise your achievements and any transferable skills developed.
  7. What’s the point of a covering letter? Most engineering graduates have a fairly wide range of career options open to them. Outside the engineering sector, graduate engineers are sought after for their numerical skills and problem-solving mentality; inside, there’s a wide range of industries and job types that engineers of most disciplines can choose from. Your covering letter, therefore, is a chance to convince the engineering employer in question that you want to work in their industry, for their specific organisation, and in the job role advertised.

For more advice visit www.targetjobsengineering.co.uk

TARGETJobs Engineering kindly sponsored the UCL Careers Engineering Fair 2014.

Planning on attending the UCL Engineering Fair? Read this first!

ManpreetDhesi12 October 2014

For those of you who have never been to an employer fair, you’re in for a treat: between 20-40 employers all in one place, each standing next to a glossy banner advertising their company, 45 minutes of queuing just to get in, hundreds of students pushing past you in order to ‘network’, it’s hot, stuffy, frenzied……Engineering Fair 2013

If this image fills your with some dread, you are not alone. However, with the right approach and a little research, the Engineering Fair (and all UCL Employer Fairs) could be a crucial step for you in helping build your career. Read on for some top tips…

  • DO YOUR RESEARCH

All fairs will have a list of employers attending on the event’s website– for Engineering, it is here. Read it! And do a little research on each company to help you choose a handful of key targets to approach. Start with the basics: what do they do? What types of divisions do they have: Chemical? Mechanical? Civil? What skills and expertise are they looking for? Which areas are they expanding into? Have they won any new awards? Do they place graduates mostly on site or in the office, or a mixture of both? What about summer internships? Sandwich year placements? Go even further by finding out what makes them different from their competitor – ie. a particular project(s), sector focus or working culture.

Spefically, you want to be able to target a company that works in the area(s) that are right for you. Whether you are from Engineering, Computer Science, Physics, the Bartlett, Maths, or other – do some research on the companies attending and find out what divisions they have, or what kinds of specialisms they have, which link to your own background.

  • PREPARE INTERESTING QUESTIONS

You may be thinking – what is an interesting question? First clue: not something that can be easily read on the company’s website. Engineering Fair 2013

Second clue: you are talking to an actual human being, who, like you, has thoughts, opinions, a back story, and with the right prodding, can give you a world of information you could never find through desk research. So, ask the questions that will give you insight into what it really means to work at that company.

And a final clue – 9 times out of 10, graduate recruiters will jump at the chance to talk about themselves. Not only does it offer a break from having to listen to student ‘pitches’ all evening, but it allows the opportunity to really reflect on what they like/don’t like about their job, and ideally will remind them of why they are representing this company in the first place.

The key to being interesting is to be INTERESTED. There’s a person in front of you, ask them to tell you their story.

  • OK, BUT WHAT SPECIFIC QUESTIONS TO ASK?

With all the above in mind, you might want to think about your questions in terms of finding out about the following:

  1. Details of the work, job satisfaction and motivation
  2. Career progression and development
  3. Colleagues, culture and environment
  4. The sector
  5. Routes in
  6. Managing the application process
  7. Areas of expansion of the business
  8. New technologies that they are promoting

Good questions could include: ‘what was your route into the sector?’; ‘what was the biggest surprise you found about working at xxx company?’; ‘looking back, what key skills do you think helped YOU to do well in this company?’

Or

‘how would you describe the typical atmosphere in the office day to day? Is it friendly/formal/informal? Are there lots of meetings?’; ‘why did you choose to work at xxx instead of the key competitors?’

Or finally

‘could you give me an idea of some of the areas that most applicants typically struggle with during the application process?’

Engineering Fair 2013Quick tip: read the name badge of the employer to see which area of the business they work in. If this person is from HR, they won’t be able to give you insight into the specific role you are interested in, but they can give you insight into where candidates typically succeed/fail in the application process. If they are a ‘business line’ staff, ie. they do the kind of role that you’re aiming to get to eventually, then you should focus all your questions around gaining insight from them on how they find their day-to-day job, working in that company, etc.

4) HELP! HOW DO I START THE CONVERSATION?

First, try to approach an employer when there are few- or no- other students hanging around that stand. This way you’ll have their undivided attention.

Introduce yourself- say your name.

Give a quick but personal summary (about 15 seconds)– for example ‘My name is xxxx, I’m currently a third year MechEng Student and have been building experience in xxxx. I’m really interested in your company (and do say the actual name of the company), specifically because of what you’ve been doing around xxxx, and was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about what it’s like to work here, and your own experience?’.

Then go for the questions!

To close, thank them for their time, ask them their name (write it down after!), and repeat your name and say you’re looking forward to applying (if you are in fact interested in them).

  • TOP TIPS

-Get there early – it will be easier to keep the attention of an employer if you’re the second or third (not thirtieth) student they’ve spoken to that evening.

-Approach each employer on your own. Nothing is less appealing (or less professional) than a group of friends arriving together and taking turns asking questions.

-Dress smart. Showing that you take this event seriously will make a difference. In the words of a top recruiter, ‘first impressions count: your approach may not rule you out, but it certainly won’t rule you in’.

-please don’t just grab a bunch of freebies and walk away without saying anything to the employer.

-if you’re nervous, ‘warm up’ by approaching a few other companies not on your key target list.

-know when to move on – if there is queue forming behind you, or the employer is looking distracted, say your thank you’s, repeat your name, and move on

WRITE DOWN NAMES of key people you talked to. You can reference these conversations with specific recruiters in your applications further on – this shows motivation, interest and that you have made an effort to learn more about the company and the sector from the inside.

-bring a few copies of your CV with you, but only give it to an employer if they ask for it

And finally, try to enjoy it! After all, at the end of the day, employers are all just people, and they are there because they really are interested in you!

Good luck!

The UCL Engineering Fair on Monday 13th October 2014 is kindly sponsored by TARGETJobs Engineering.

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