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How to prepare for our Career Fairs…

UCL Careers30 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

Want to be a Management Consultant? Then start thinking like one!

UCL Careers26 September 2014

Management Consultancy is a popular career choice for Management Consultancy Fairmany graduates and competition for places on graduate schemes is fierce.   A good degree (1st or 2.1) is a pre-requite together with a range of high level skills such as the ability to gather and analyse complex information, solve problems, think creatively, present information clearly and concisely and manage projects.  However, many graduates will meet these criteria, having developed these skills through a range of experience and activities – what can you do to stand out from other applicants?

Selectors will be looking not only at your ability to do the job but also your passion for wanting to do the job. So what sort of things can you do to demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm for management consultancy?   Well, showing a genuine interest in business and the wider environment in which organisations are operating is essential. Just mentioning a couple of companies that you’re interested in will not impress – demonstrating that you’re already thinking like a management consultant will!       Think of organisations you’ve experienced yourself – maybe as a student, a consumer, an employee, a patient. Did you spot any inefficiencies or poor processes? What could be changed and how? What might be some of the barriers to change? Carry out a SWOT analysis on different organisations (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).  Starting to identify and work on your own mini case studies will be excellent preparation for the selection process which will include working on a business case where you will be expected to present recommendations based on your analysis of a range of information provided to you.

Preparation is key to success so:

Attend the Management Consultancy Fair. This event offers an excellent opportunity to research the industry, find out what differentiates consultancies, industry sectors they specialise in, clients they work with and to find information that’s important to you personally that might not be easily accessible on websites.

Analyse your skills and collect evidence to demonstrate how you have applied these skills. Search for ‘management consultancy’ here for links to professional bodies, industry news sites, job vacancy sites, and more

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what Management Consultancy is, what it involves and why you think you will be well suited to it.   Using the same link and searching for ‘management consultancy’ here you can gather a wide range of resources and tips to help you prepare for the selection process including links to practice case studies.

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

Why Employers Helping You with Your Employability Matters

UCL Careers10 April 2014

The activities you will participate in at UCL’s Global Citizenship Summer School are divided between those led by our very own top-notch careers consultants, and guest employers from a variety of sectors. If you’ve attended any Skills4Work events before, you’ll be pretty familiar with why this employer involvement is such  a useful tool. If you haven’t, or you’re still a bit confused about what you’ll get out of this element of Summer School, read on.

Say you’re a highly motivated student who knows exactly what firm they want to work for. For the sake of a good example, let’s presume you study finance and it’s your dream to work for Barclays. Would you pass up an opportunity to get a personal session with somebody who recruits graduates to work for Barclays, in a totally informal way, and receive feedback from them on your CV and your interview abilities? Of course not – it’s an excellent opportunity and you never know how far impressing the right person at the right time can take you.

UCL Careers Speed Interviews

The scenario described above is not, of course, applicable to everyone. Let’s look at another example – say you are serious about your studies and have a good idea of what you want to do, but only vaguely where you want to work. Why not take the totally free opportunity to meet a recruiter from the sector or sectors you’re interested in, who will give you extremely relevant feedback to prepare you for your applying within their industry.

Who knows— you might even be surprised when you’re a student who just wants some professional feedback— anybody’s professional feedback—and you realise that your skills are quite well suited to an employer that you’d never considered before.

At Summer School, you will have the opportunity to meet a variety of employers. At the alumni panel, UCL graduates who are now at places like BskyB and Deloitte (and many more!) will answer your questions and tell you about the skills they developed when they were in your position.  At the speed interviewing, you’ll answer competency questions under time pressure to a variety of employers who include Morgan Stanley, GlaxoSmithKline, and LBA Books. You can get your CV checked by employers such as Macfarlanes or Cisco. This is just a glimpse of the sectors and types of employers who will be present – think of the different helpful viewpoints you will be exposed to and the invaluable advice you will receive tailored to your employability.

To register and find out more about the UCL Careers Employability Summer School as part of the Global Citizenship programme run by UCL, head on over to: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/global-citizenship/programme

– Weronika Benning, Skills Administrator, UCL Careers

What is the Global Citizenship Summer School Employability stream?

UCL Careers26 March 2014

Ok, I know what some of you may be thinking. Two weeks? In early June?  What am I going to get out of this? What will be expected of me?  How does this beat spending time with friends, reflecting on the year, or just getting outside after exams?!?!

If you’ve got your dream job or internship lined up for the summer, then the answer is pretty simple: it may not.  But if you’re wondering what to do next, don’t have any work lined up, and are feeling some dread about what’s to come after your time at UCL – chances are you’ll be feeling that way even if you do spend the first few weeks of June out in the park.

So why don’t you put that time to good use?  Why not take part in workshops and projects, with a group of like-minded students, learning key skills to help you get a job or internship? If you can’t banish that dread, why not at least harness it to achieve something positive?

BackgroundInternational Flags

In today’s job market, getting a good result from UCL will work in your favour. However, a UCL degree alone will not land you the graduate job you want. These days, it is your experience, motivation, skills, and importantly, how you market all of these, which can make the difference between getting a job and having your CV being binned at the application stage.

So, how will UCL’s Summer School Programme help you?

Over two weeks, UCL Careers will help you explore and build your skills in various aspects of your career: from planning, to applying, to interviewing, to researching wider issues that will serve you well as you progress onwards from your first job.  Not only will you learn from each other, but you will gain priority access to over 40 employers who are looking to recruit students, now, for paid opportunities.  You will also get 1:1 time with these employers, as well as with a range of experienced careers consultants, giving you feedback and insight into how you are marketing yourself in the world of work.

So, how will all of this unfold?

Week One

Summer School 2013

In week one we will be breaking down the career essentials, looking at everything from how to plan your career, to how to put together a CV, to how to engage with employers effectively, to how to approach assessment centres.  Some of the key questions we will tackle will be:

How can I….?:

  • make decisions around career choice?
  • personalise my CV to a specific employer?
  • really use LinkedIn to get jobs?
  • sound credible at interviews?
  • do well on online aptitude testing?
  • stand out from the crowd at assessment centres?
  • really connect with employers?

We’ll approach these through workshops, team work, plenary speakers from a range of sectors – from the humanitarian field to banking and finance – intensive employer-led feedback, and debriefing sessions with careers consultants.  All of this will prepare you not just for putting this into practice in Week 2, but for your career journey long ahead.

Week 2

Jobs Market 2013Week Two will kick off with the Jobs Market, where you will get priority access (ie. first in the queue ahead of all other students) to over 40 employers who have immediate vacancies in 2014.  With the intensive preparation from week 1, you’ll be well placed to have meaningful conversations with them which will hopefully lead to a role for you.

For the rest of the week, we’ll push you to dig deeper and really test your careers skills.  Working in teams, you will carry out a Labour Market Research project, where you will explore key themes of Global Citizenship,  such as ethics, how to market yourself in an increasingly transnational jobs market, and how to identify companies and sectors at the cutting edge of global workforce.  You will also apply the skills you’ve learned to a wider global picture, and then present back to a panel who will give you intensive feedback, helping build your presentation skills and confidence for when you have to do this in the real world.

Finally, we’ll end the week with drinks and a chance to unwind before the weekend.

Register now!

If that’s not enough to grab your attention, you can also put this on your CV to show employers just how serious you are about your career, and why they should hire you.  Attendance in 70% of these sessions will count towards our HEAR.

REGISTER NOW – TO SECURE YOUR PLACE YOU NEED TO BRING A £20 DEPOSIT TO UCL CAREERS, ULU Building, 4th Floor.

What’s In a Name? Volunteering vs The Internship and the Beauty of Starting Small

UCL Careers28 February 2014

This post originally appeared on the VSU Blog.

Katy Murray, who graduated from UCL last year, reflects on her experiences in the world of volunteering … katy_murray

There comes a time in every student’s university life when it dawns on them that this cosy, safe bubble of structured learning and student loans is not going to last forever. Soon the panic sets in, and there becomes one word that university students cling to like a life belt in the stormy seas of reality, an ideal they pursue like a holy grail of employment: The Internship. Yet applications for Internships can be as competitive as the post-graduation job hunt, especially now that organisations are facing increasing pressure to pay their interns (and rightly so). “The Internship”, however, is not the only line of defence between you and unemployment; if you are looking for valuable skills regardless of pay, volunteering  can be just as valuable as an internship, and, especially when volunteering for a small organisation, can even make you more resourceful and more used to unexpected challenges.

During my second year, I learnt the power of starting small.  I was incredibly fortunate to find an unpaid role in a small social enterprise company. I am still amazed and the enormous level of responsibility, autonomy, and opportunity this small organisation gave me. When I finished, with a view to gaining more hands-on experience on a smaller scale, I contacted the UCLU Volunteering Services Unit to see how I could help.  Working with the VSU took me into some tiny charitable and not-for-profit organisations in London, an eye-opener to the real communities behind the commercialised veneer of WC1.  These are noble and desperately needed organisations, a lifeline for the communities who are being ever squeezed by London’s ceaseless gentrification.  Yet these places are likely to fall beyond the radar of many an ambitious UCL student looking for big CV points, their senses finely tuned to the scent of a near-by careers fair or looming graduate scheme application deadline.

Frankly, I know this because I was precisely one of those students. I volunteered with the VSU, but this was not before I had narrowly missed an opportunity for an internship for the British Red Cross. When working for the VSU I visited many small scale charities, but until visiting, it would never have crossed my mind to cook food for a group of elderly people in a local Highgate community centre. This was because I “knew”, like every tactical student trying to tot up employability points around their course deadlines, that for a busy recruiter glancing at my CV (according to UCL Careers, the average recruiter spends about 90 seconds scanning each CV) a big name like the British Red Cross or Oxfam would catch the eye better than X unknown local charity. What I have learned from my time with the VSU, however, is that not only is this a miscalculation, but that to continue with this attitude could mean that many bright, creative and caring young students could miss out on some eye-opening experiences; experiences which expend their employability not only on paper, but far more noticeably in person.katy_murray

A good example of this is a memorable experience I had when I met with the head of a local community centre. I waited for her in the main hall of the centre, where she joined me to conduct the meeting.  As the meeting progressed, however, more and more people entered the hall, offering us food, interrupting us frequently with questions, or dragging chairs loudly across the floor. As I was trying to conduct this meeting, which I found stressful with all the noise and interruptions, I began to feel a bit irritated.  As I left, however, the coordinator apologised for the busyness of the hall. It turned out that a meeting was about to start which was incredibly important for the community centre, informing its participants of the government cuts and changes to benefits.

As I reflected on this experience, I realised that this meeting had demonstrated to me the remarkable nature of some of these small organisations and initiatives. They are chaotic because they are dealing with people whose whole lives are chaotic and difficult. Yet the manager was still able to give me her time despite the importance of the meeting that was about to begin. Meanwhile she was calm, collected, and dealt with each query briefly but effectively, while I sat there stressing that this was not meeting my expectations of “professional”. When I relayed this epiphany to John Braime, the VSU’s Volunteering Manager, he nodded fervently. “Absolutely,” he said “I often give talks to some of the UCL business students. I tell them that an internship at a big consultancy firm is all well and good, but if you really want to learn about time and people management, try going down to your local community centre and see about taking some tips from them.”katy_murray1

Going to a large company or organisation in search of valuable work experience is, of course, still an excellent career move. Larger organisations can offer you a valuable starting step on a career ladder and provide you with some important experience. Yet it is important to look for more than a “name” as your key criteria for choosing your next employer. Since graduating I have begun volunteering at the Children’s Heart Federation, a national organisation with only 8 permanent members of staff, which I found out about through the VSU’s weekly emails. I am now second in command on a campaign which has recently featured on the One Show, Radio Four and BBC Breakfast. On my second day, I was surprised with the opportunity to accompany my line manager to Parliament to lobby an MP. Last week I represented the company at an all women’s networking event, where I gave two presentations. Again, this opportunity was offered to me last minute, and I had just enough time to be briefed on what I had to say before my cab arrived and I was on my way to give my speech.

Volunteering is never dull, and full of exciting (and often unexpected) challenges. Therefore not falling for a name not only applies the name of the organisation, but the name you attach to your experience. “The Internship” has become the holy grail because it implies a structured and supervised programme of learning, work experience, and/or training. “Volunteering”, on the other hand, is often shunned because to most it implies tasks which are valuable and often very rewarding on a personal level, but which are unlikely to provide many professional skills. This, as I hope I have demonstrated, is not the case. Most importantly, as these examples show, working for a small charity that does not have the resources of its larger counterparts, offers constant opportunities to exercise and develop one’s own resourcefulness. This is the fundamental power of starting small.

Can I buy you a cup of coffee?

UCL Careers8 October 2013

City Business Women Coffee

As a careers consultant it is common to suggest that investigation about the career of interest would be a good idea. One of the absolute best sources of research is people who are already working in your area of interest. In some careers (e.g. academic research, freelance work of any kind), building contacts is absolutely essential.

This suggestion can often met with a look of fear at the thought of approaching a complete stranger for help. So, I wanted to share a few simple tips to make this prospect much easier than you realised. Don’t forget, people like to talk about what they do and offer advice. Networking in various forms is a normal part of the working world.

1)     Offer to buy them a cup of coffee. Just ask for 10 -15 minutes of someone’s time and offer to buy them a coffee. This will really soften the request, it is friendly and will make it seem less like a chore to the recipient. It really does work, and will continue to be useful after you secure employment, where you want to open dialogue with someone that you don’t normally interact with.

2)     Be prepared. Whether you offer to buy a coffee or not, if you have a meeting with someone make sure you have questions ready to ask them. This is critical to getting a good result from the meeting. I have met all too many people who managed to get a meeting and were so excited, that they forgot to prepare any questions and have gotten off to shaky starts!

3)     Make sure you ask open questions. Avoid questions which lead to yes/no questions. Start with What, When, Where, Why, How and you will be in good shape. You’ll learn more and they’ll feel valued. Some ideas:

  1. How did you get into this line of work?
  2. Who is the most successful person at the moment? What do you think they are doing that has led to this?
  3. What is the managing director like? (The values of the person at the top often reflects all the way through the organisation).
  4. How does this organisation promote people?
  5. What do you wish you had known before starting here?

4)     Avoid selling yourself unless you are specifically asked a little about your background. Keep it relatively brief, you don’t want to use up too much of their time. You will make a good impression if you are genuinely there to gather information. If they like you, you can approach them at a later date.

5)     Ask an alumnus. Many alumni are open to being approached about their career experience. Simply log in to https://www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni-community/ with your UCL ID to investigate further.

6)     Exploit your LinkedIn network. I often ask people what they’d say if a friend said “I know someone who’d love to learn about what you do for a living, can you spare them a few minutes?” The answer is almost always yes. Just 100 contacts, who each had a 100 contacts, gives you access to 10,000 possible conversations!! This has to be one of the most powerful uses of LinkedIn.

7)     Share your connection. Don’t forget to let the person you are approaching know if you have something in common. Are you both from UCL, the same LinkedIn group or perhaps you are working on a project in the same field. It will increase the likelihood that they will be interested in meeting you.

And a final top tip from a fellow Careers Consultant: At the end of the conversation, ask if there is anyone that they would suggest would be worth contacting.

Have you ever bought someone a coffee in return for advice of any kind? Or do you have some killer questions to ask? Let us know in the comments below.

– Trevor Bibic, UCL Careers, Careers Consultant

This blog post was originally posted on 8th October 2013.