Find Yourself a Mentor – Bristol Connects

Photo by Bhagesh Sachania

Are you in love with your subject and wondering how you can find that passion in your future career?

Is your head swimming with ideas about what you think you’d be good at and what would be rewarding work?

Do you find yourself wondering what might give you the edge in application and selection processes?

University alumni can be a great source of support. Not only do they have a natural affinity and familiarity with Bristol they can be a ‘real life voice’ that will provide realistic and impartial advice.

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#10YearsOfPLUS: Celebrating our Student Leaders

Student leader roles consistently make up around 30% of the intensive skills submissions on the Bristol PLUS Award, and the impact this leadership experience has on students can be extremely far-reaching, both personally and professionally. In 2017-18 we had a record number of student leaders apply for the Outstanding Award, with 50% of applicants articulating the significant contribution they’d made within their Student Union roles.

One of these students was Hari, the 2016-17 Chair of Bristol RAG. We caught up with him after graduation to see how the Outstanding Award experience had helped him get to where he is now.

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All you need to know about references

When applying for a job in the UK, references are a must. You might have seen people write ‘references available on request’ on the bottom of their CV – but what does this mean? A referee is simply a person who can confirm certain things about you, and it’s usual to include one academic and one professional reference. Here we give you a rundown of everything you need to know about references. 

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What’s the worst piece of careers advice you’ve ever been given?

Here at the Careers Service, we’re not in the business of giving out bad careers advice. When we saw this Moment trending on Twitter, we thought it would be interesting to see what the team at the Careers Service had to say:

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Calling all Bristol PLUS and Outstanding Award graduated alumni!

Did you complete the Bristol PLUS or Outstanding Award as part of your university experience? 

If so, we want to invite you to help us celebrate the ten year anniversary of the Awards!

The Bristol PLUS Award started in 2009 as a way to reward students for developing extracurricular skills and experiences alongside their degrees, and help them articulate the value of that experience to employers. In ten years, the premise of the Award has not changed, though it has evolved in response to student feedback, university projects and labour market developments, to ensure that the Award remains credible and beneficial to every student who dedicates themselves to achieve it.

Here are just a few highlights:

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Myth buster: common misconceptions about graduate schemes

Graduate schemes are structured training programmes run by a variety of employers to develop talent for their business. They are normally between 1 and 3 years long and involve training in a specialist role, or a range of placements or projects in different areas. These positions tend to be openly advertised and are usually highly competitive. We explore some of the myths surrounding this popular route.   (more…)

Unleash your potential with Bristol Futures online courses

From 24 June you can enrol on three free Bristol Futures online courses. These courses: Sustainable Development, Innovation and Enterprise, and Global Citizenship will help you explore your place in the world, develop fresh insights, and learn new skills while enhancing your employability along the way. (more…)

Who are the Faculty Employability Team?

Last week (12 June 2019) the Faculty Employability Team at the Careers Service won the ‘Enhancing the Student Learning Experience Award’ at the Bristol Teaching Awards. To celebrate this fantastic achievement we thought it was about time we introduced the team and explained a little more about what they do.

The Faculty Employability Team (Back row L to R: Peter, Ellen, Eilidh, Tim, Gareth. Front row L to R: Holly, Natalia, Hannah, and Jo.)

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Why employers love global experience

Are you planning an adventure this summer? 

 

 

 

 

 

(image from Pixabay)

You may be about to travel, volunteer, work or study abroad and you’ve probably thought about what you’ll gain on a personal level. But have you considered the employability gains too? The two things aren’t mutually exclusive! What you’ll learn from personal challenges will positively influence your ability to perform in the workplace – enabling you to listen, communicate, adapt and solve problems. 

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What it’s like to be an entrepreneur

Each year the Careers Service can give up to £40,000 in funding to University of Bristol student and staff business ideas through the New Enterprise Competition (NEC) and Enternship Scheme. Some of our previous successful candidates have share their stories here.

Simmy Dhillon
Economics, Finance & Management student and founder of Rice n Spice (RNS)

Can you explain your business idea in a nutshell?
RNS provides healthy, tasty and convenient chilled meals to clients to save them time shopping, cooking and cleaning. We serve a lot of gym-goers and athletes but our meals are also used by all sorts of professionals, students and even grandparents!
When was the idea conceived and how did it all start?
I’ve always been quite entrepreneurial and given my passion for food and healthy living, everything just kind of fell into place. I started RNS during my first year at university to provide fellow students with a healthy takeaway option, it has since developed into a meal prep business with a far more diverse client pool.
Which competitions/schemes did you apply for and what was the result?
I successfully applied for the NEC development stage. I would like to apply for more competitions but applications require a lot of time which can be difficult to find alongside running the business and studying!
How have you found the Basecamp Enterprise Team programme and support?
The support from Basecamp has been great, being able to get advice from experienced people and funding from competitions is so valuable. Especially for students, we’re inexperienced and lack capital.
What top tip would you give other budding entrepreneurs?
Ship and iterate. It’s difficult to get your product perfect, I look back at photos of the product when I first began and I can’t believe how much it has improved since then. It’s important to get your product out there, seek feedback from users and continually improve it. If you’re not embarrassed by your initial product then you’ve probably waited too long to release it.


Ruth Bannister
History with Innovation student and founder of Roo Bannister Jewellery

Can you explain your business idea in a nutshell?
In a nutshell, I design and make pieces of jewellery inspired by Ancient World histories, to brings artefacts into the everyday and make ancient design both accessible and educational.
When was the idea conceived and how did it all start?
The idea was conceived in 2014 whilst I was studying for a BA in Ancient History and Egyptology at UCL. I would drool over treasures in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert, and I wasn’t the only one with my nose pushed up against the glass in the Louvre. I wanted more than to just look at the old gold, I wanted to touch the pieces, wear their adornments, and learn more about their past. I decided to make myself some jewellery inspired by some favourite artefacts, and then I decided that I wanted to fill the market gap I had discovered.
I’m studying History with Innovation, which means I’m  able to study things like the history of alcohol and take inspiration for my jewellery designs. I’m also studying silversmithing part-time at the Bristol Folk house and I am developing the future of my brand as part of my innovation coursework. I’m gaining credits for designing the future I want, and I love it.
Which competitions/schemes did you apply for and what was the result?
I applied for the University’s Enternship scheme and I was lucky enough to gain a place. After a mentor matching speed date session, I was matched with Danielle Morgan who comes from a marketing background and works as a consultant to many businesses including a fabulous independent shoe designer. I did a little happy dance when I got matched with Danielle, as she was the only female mentor in the room and she was just perfect for me. I knew we’d get on well and I’ve loved the support I’ve received from her. We’re still in touch even after the summer Enternship scheme.
The funding the university gave me has allowed me to make such positive progress this year. My obstacles right now are predominately financial but the financial support allowed me to pay my Bristol rent over the summer and keep my makings to pump back into the business to produce my collections, create samples and organise my first photoshoot.
I now sell online, I am stocked with with five UK independent retailers, with a few more organised for the coming months, and I had my first press feature in the September edition of AnOther Magazine. My name was alongside Dior, and I can honestly say without this support this wouldn’t have happened.
How have you found the Basecamp programme and support?
Basecamp have been great. I love my little meetings to catch up with the staff and get advise. They’re so genuinely excited and interested in what I’m trying to do. Their suggestions are always valuable and their ears have been open when my boyfriend is just bored of my jewellery talk. They’ve given me the encouragement to go for this, and I shall!
What top tip would you give other budding entrepreneurs?
Take opportunities wherever you can. I am so grateful for the Enternship scheme, but I also took the summer to do an enterprise course with PrincesTrust for additional support.
If you’re interested in starting something up, then maybe use your time at university to play with potential business ideas. Being at university is sort of a safe bubble to explore ideas and see what works. I have some free time and I have a student overdraft (which I exploit wisely!). It doesn’t take much money to get something started, and social media is on our side. Just play and explore, and see where it takes you!


James Nightingale
Engineering student and founder of Abon

Can you explain your business idea in a nutshell?
How many of the people that read this eat a nutritious meal every day? It’s embarrassingly few of us, we’re busy people and don’t necessarily have time or inclination to slave away in the kitchen every night. The ideal ready-meal is tasty, nutritious, cheap and quick to prepare. Currently, there isn’t one product that ticks all the boxes, and supermarket shelves are filled with uninspiring compromises. The solution is A Bag Of Nutrition (Abon), a frozen, vacuum sachet of curry or pasta sauce. Each sachet guarantees three of your five a day, is vegan, gluten free, preservative free, and can be prepared in less than five minutes. Just add the sachet to a pan of boiling water with your rice or pasta, snip it open and enjoy!
More and more people are recognising the benefits of a plant based diet, but being vegan can be really hard- our products are a shortcut to this healthier, more ethical lifestyle.
When was the idea conceived and how did it all start?
I first came up with the idea for Abon halfway through last year. It all happened by accident. I cooked too much pasta sauce and poured the surplus in to a freezer bag. I forgot about it, and then found it months later. Rather than thawing it out I impatiently added it to the boiling pasta water. Unfortunately, it resulted in a horrible mess- but got my creative juices flowing and resulted in Abon!
Which competitions/schemes did you apply for and what was the result?
I applied to the New Enterprise competition ‘ideas’ and ‘growth’ rounds, as well as the ‘Enternship’ programme. I received all of the funding I needed for initial product validation, market research, product development, public and product liability insurance, a website, brand development and many other overheads which I wouldn’t have been able to finance privately.
The support has been more than just financial. Basecamp provided office space at the Centre for Innovation over the summer, introduced me to a fantastic mentor who has been instrumental in Abon’s success, and provided the guidance and advice I needed, as someone not from a business background.
How have you found the Basecamp programme and support?
Basecamp has been invaluable for Abon. Early stage businesses outside of the University typically have to relinquish some equity early on at relatively poor rates, as the risk to investors is high. The grants from Basecamp have meant I can focus on developing an excellent product, growing the business sustainably and still owning 100% of the business. They also secured me tickets to various networking events, awards shows and workshops, all of which have helped me to become a more rounded entrepreneur.
What top tip would you give other budding entrepreneurs?
Just give it a go! The only way you can be certain your idea won’t work is if you don’t try. Startup success rates can be really intimidating, but from my point of view the rewards of running your own business justifies the risk.