“There is just so much to gain”
Read on to find out how Hassan benefited from completing the Award, and how he feels it helped him secure a job after graduation.
“There is just so much to gain”
Read on to find out how Hassan benefited from completing the Award, and how he feels it helped him secure a job after graduation.
Postgraduate Research students; why not challenge yourself this year and develop a range of skills and experiences to enhance your career prospects and opportunities after your research? Last year PGRs from all faculties took part in the Bristol PLUS Award. The feedback was fantastic, as these case studies show:
Hannah Barber: Part-time Medicine PhD
As a part-time PhD student, my schedule can be very busy. The PLUS Award provided me with a great opportunity to enhance my employability skills and CV without consuming too much time. The award encourages you to take part in extra-curricular activities which will help you seek out a career. The experience enhances your reflective skills which I found could also be transferred to my daily research.
Through the PLUS Award I learnt about career opportunities beyond research. It taught me how to lay out my CV in a clear and concise manner which will attract a future employer’s attention. I found the whole experience very useful and would recommend it to anyone who is keen to make their CV stand out from the crowd.
Ji Youg Li: PhD: Philosophy
Doing well in postgraduate research is not only about academic success, it is also important to develop transferable skills. In signing up for the Bristol PLUS Award I wanted to engage in activities that would be beneficial for my career. I branched out in the variety of activities for my work experience and had fun as well! I also became more productive in my academic work, as I learnt skills in maximising my time and effort.
Through PLUS I gained insight into how to articulate my skills to others, how to reflect on my experiences and how I can apply transferable skills to career-related opportunities as a PGR student. The employability workshops were especially helpful, breaking down the key points needed to enhance my CV and prepare for interviews. The great thing about the PLUS award is that it encourages you to try new things and go outside of your comfort zone. Bristol PLUS was not simply an ‘award’ but a source of inspiration for me to keep being proactive, and to continue to practice and apply my skills. I really enjoyed my experience; the award offers an invaluable experience for PGRs so I would definitely recommend it.
David Dewar: MPhil: Music
Though a somewhat mature PGR, the Plus Award seemed a useful and potentially helpful achievement. I started thinking about how I could use the award in my own situation.
The workshops were relevant to my future aims, and were also interesting and not too time consuming. Reflection on what one has achieved was a further rewarding feature. More recently I have learnt from interviewers in academia, industry and music that the record of such an achievement on a CV stands out and demonstrates your abilities, achievements, and self-endeavours; very valuable skills to advertise when backed up by formal recognition from the University of Bristol. I would recommend it to everyone, particularly PGRs; it’s enjoyable and meaningful.
Visit the Careers Service website to find out more about the Bristol PLUS Award and book on to an Introductory talk before 9 February 2018. Intro talks are open to all students and PGR tailored Intro talks are offered on 19 October and 19 January.
After a challenging two years of A-levels, a laborious UCAS personal statement, and a nerve wracking exam results day, receiving offers from universities was tremendously exciting. Once my place was confirmed at the University of Bristol, I felt immense satisfaction knowing the next direction for my life. However, I did not expect that sense of achievement to be so short lived. Within my first few months of University I came across a news headline: “Work experience is key to graduate success”.
The sense of assurance from reaching University was replaced with questions. Where do we start with work experience? How are we supposed to find relevant work experience if we haven’t found a passion yet, or a desired career path? How will I succeed in interviews if I lack the enthusiasm to work in that specific sector? My first term quickly became daunting.
“Being a first year, I had plenty of time to dedicate to this process!”
This all changed for me around May 2016, when I completed the Bristol PLUS Award. Thinking about life after University as a first year, I started with the basics. I knew I was going to need a CV that had value. Looking at my CV of my life so far, I noticed that beyond summer work at a pub and my education, there was little substance. I knew then that I needed to develop this while at university, and I was soon to come across the Bristol PLUS Award. Reading quotes from other students stating that “The award leads to infinite possibilities for the future.” And “The plus is not merely an award, it’s a REward.” I thought I better get myself involved.
The first step was an introductory talk at the Careers Service which laid out the Award criteria. 50 hours of work experience, 4 workshops, an intensive skills activity, report and final workshop, achievable? Being a first year, I had plenty of time to dedicate to this process!
Work experience: I started working for a university bar a couple of evenings a week, and had completed 50 hours before I knew it. This gave me valuable experience as part of a team in a high pressure, busy environment. It also improved my time management and organisation skills, balancing my degree and part-time job.
Workshops: I attended mainly Careers Service workshops including an insightful event with the BBC on what skills they value in employable candidates. In addition I went to practical workshops on CVs and interview skills. The latter introduced me to the importance of body language and the impact it can make in an interview.
Intensive skills activity: I volunteered on open days, introducing the campus to prospective students. This honed many skills such as leadership, creativity and the ability to think on my feet. I had learned via the workshops that these were desirable skills to employers.
“The PLUS Award has changed my view on the world beyond university. It has made something that seemed so large and complex, seem much smaller and simpler.”
Transform and grow
The PLUS Award has changed my view on the world beyond university. It has made something that seemed so large and complex, seem much smaller and simpler. In my second year, I got an internship in the Careers Service. One of my projects was reconnecting with PLUS Award graduates, many of whom credit the PLUS Award as integral to their success beyond university. The best way to get ahead is by getting started, and the Bristol PLUS Award is an exceptional place to start.
By Finn Morgan, Geography BSc
The Bristol PLUS Award deadline for all undergraduates and postgraduate research students is rapidly approaching! We know this is a stressful time for students with final deadlines and exams, but if you are registered on the Award, do not let your progress go to waste! Find that last bit of energy and complete the Award by June 9!
Achieving the Award will help you when applying for jobs or internships, and if you are not a finalist, it sets you up to aim for the Outstanding Award next year! As a bit of inspiration, you can read about one of our PLUS and Outstanding Award alumni here, who is now enjoying working life being employed by Microsoft. More student case studies can be found on our website.
Name: Derek Bekoe
Current Job title: Software Engineer (Microsoft)
Graduation year from Bristol: 2015
Subject studied: Computer Science
How did the PLUS Award help prepare you for your career after University? Are you glad you took part?
During my time at university, I completed both the PLUS Award and the Outstanding Award. I’m glad I took the steps to complete the Awards because it taught me the importance of what it means to be employable and how to gain employability-related skills.
How useful was the PLUS award in preparing you for the recruitment and selection process with your employer?
The PLUS Award got me more involved with the Careers Service. It really helped me prepare for the behavioural questions in interviews. I learned the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Response) through my mock interviews and it proved invaluable in my real interviews.
Is there anything in particular you gained from the PLUS Award that you feel you would not have gained if you had not taken part?
Completing the PLUS Award pushed me to complete more hours of work experience and volunteer work outside of my studies. During interviews, I would end up having conversations about the projects and volunteering I had done outside of my studies and that helps when you want to stand out!
Any words of advice or encouragement to current students thinking of taking the Bristol PLUS award?
I’d highly recommend signing up for the PLUS award and putting your all into each part of the award. After the PLUS award, also consider the Outstanding award as both awards really help prepare you for interviews and landing that dream graduate role.
This year we’ve been running new tailored PGR Introductory talks for the Bristol PLUS Award and suggested work experience and intensive skills activities that are relevant to PGRs thinking about academic and non-academic careers. This has seen up-take of the Award amongst PGRs increase by 667%! Below Miquel and Oli talk about what benefits they got from doing Bristol PLUS.
The Bristol PLUS Award encourages you to be more proactive during postgraduate study. To complete it you must accomplish a set of requirements, involving different skillsets. By participating in the PLUS Award you increase your chances of getting a job by attending workshops on, for example, job hunting, networking, or interview skills.
I attended a workshop about creative job searching that offered a set of useful tools to find jobs, and emphasised the importance of networking in this process. I also learnt about assessment centres and what to expect in the selection process, and attended a very useful workshop about enterprise, innovation, and communication for researchers. These helped develop my skills in giving effective presentations of my research, and a clearer mindset for tackling common problems faced by researchers. I am now more confident when presenting my research, and am also more organised when preparing for meetings, taking notes, and summarising afterwards.
The Bristol PLUS Award has improved my skills, and is really useful in encouraging a proactive habit for learning and appreciating a set of skills not acquired during a postgraduate degree. I am now more prepared to find a job and make a good impression – the next step is to find a job!
The Bristol PLUS Award allowed me to gain accreditation for work I was already performing, and helped strengthen my applications. It will demonstrate to potential employers that I take career development seriously, and that I am taking strides towards enhancing my employability skills.
I first read about the Bristol PLUS Award whilst browsing the Bristol Doctoral College’s course system. When I attended the introductory talk I had already completed the vast majority of tasks required to complete the award. The mainstay of tasks I completed were in relation to my intended future career path in teaching and research, so it was easy to fit in around my study.
Work experience and workshops
Throughout the Bristol PLUS award there were several workshops and opportunities available through the Careers Service, as well as the possibility to use external workshops. To develop my teaching skills, I worked as a tutor with the company MyTutor, who offer online tuition for GCSE and A-level pupils in an interactive online classroom. I attended education workshops and undertook the ‘starting to teach’ course offered by the Bristol Doctoral College, which constituted my intensive skills activity. During this time, I gained insight into the challenges of teaching in university, and began to work on techniques in teaching. I also gained skills in lab demonstration, and this will undoubtedly strengthen any future applications I make in this area.
The booking and submission process were easy, and fully-integrated online, allowing you to submit from anywhere, and to complete the Award at your own pace. This was very convenient for me as I needed to fit work toward it around my busy schedule.
In summary, I feel the Bristol PLUS award can only strengthen a CV, as it helps you develop core skills that serve to enhance future job applications.
For more information and to find out how to sign-up for Bristol PLUS next year, read our Bristol PLUS Award webpages.
As the deadline for the Bristol PLUS Award looms on the 9 of June, and the last Intensive Skills day has passed, we thought it might be useful to talk about other ways to fulfil the Intensive Skills Activity section of the Bristol PLUS Award.
Your Intensive Skill Activity needs to fulfill the following criteria:
The below are suggestions to give you some inspiration and are NOT exhaustive, we encourage you to find your own activity that is most relevant and beneficial to you!
What have previous students done? What haven’t they done!?
Achieved their Pilots license – Learnt a new language – Mentored A-level students – Completed an online MOOC – Been on the Goldney Ball Committee – Led expeditions to the Peruvian Amazon – Had seats on the European Youth Parliament – Edited an online magazine – Organised plays – Taught children to code – Been trained to be part of Nightline and Drinkaware – Led conservation talks for children – Kept elderly people company as a “Chatter” – Volunteered at festivals, farms, and even Volcanology labs!
So what are you waiting for? The possibilities are endless!
In September I moved from my sleepy village in North Devon to the wonderful city of Bristol, and was excited to open my arms to all the city had to offer. I was able to move into my halls a week before the rest of my housemates, and as everyone in my halls knows; I used this time wisely!
One of the first things that I did was to visit the Careers Service. I knew that I wanted to work alongside my academic studies, and I wanted to find something as relevant as possible. Before visiting, I spent a couple of hours looking through their website to get an understanding of what services they provide, and to create a list of questions to ask in person.
The Bristol Internship Scheme really stood out to me. After reading I could find an internship myself I knew I wanted to apply. I had just got back to the UK after spending the summer experimenting with photography in Vancouver. I knew that an internship in this area would enable me to continue this work, provide me with an income, and compliment my academic studies. The next day I went to the Careers Service and found that applying to the Bristol Internship Scheme was a lot easier than I first imagined. Quite surprisingly after making a lot of calls, I found an internship with a photographer a week after moving to Bristol!
I am now coming to the end of my two month photography internship and it has been extremely informative and a great way to compliment my studies. I was also happy to find out that this work could be used towards the Bristol PLUS Award, so I signed up for an int roductory talk and chose to attend Basecamp workshops and other intensive skills activities leading me to achieve the Award in December.
No-one else on my course knew about the Bristol PLUS Award, and hadn’t thought about using the Careers Service so early in their studies. There are some great reasons for using these services in your first year. Firstly, the activities on offer are really complimentary to first year studies! One of the best things about completing the PLUS Award so early has been improving on my verbal communication skills which has increased my confidence in seminars. Secondly, by completing the Award in your first year you open up a competitive lead by freeing up time in your second and third years to pursue other national or international awards and prizes, experiment by starting a new business, or volunteer or take extra internships. As the graduate jobs market changes over the coming years this is going to be of great benefit and will allow you to make the most of your time at university!
The next step for me in the New Year is to attend more of the application skills workshops at the Careers Service, and apply for the Outstanding Award. I’m also planning to look for an internship for 2017 in the creative industries. If you have just joined the University this September, and have been thinking about getting a New Year’s challenge; the Careers Service is a great place to start!
By Joshua Greenidge
Foundation Year in the Arts and Humanities
The Bristol PLUS Award provides a framework to help you develop employability skills through extracurricular activities and learn how to articulate them to employers in the recruitment process. Perhaps you already work part time, have volunteered or attended some extracurricular talks. So what are the benefits of the scheme in addition to just undertaking this activity alone? Don’t let us convince you, let these recent PLUS award students explain the benefits.
To get a graduate job…
“I learned about the importance of preparation; knowing the company and the role is crucial during an interview. I also learned about the importance of presenting a good first impression. I have gained a place on a graduate scheme thanks to the Bristol PLUS Award and the skills I have learned through the completion of the award.” – 3rd year Geography BSc.
To gain transferable skills to complement your degree…
“The Bristol PLUS award has given me an excellent introduction into the unfamiliar world of employability. Much of what I learned I have found personally to be equally as useful as my degree in regards to finding employment post-graduation.” – 3rd year Physics (MSci)
To aid your career planning…
“Throughout the Bristol PLUS Award, I have developed a newfound sense of confidence about leaving university and entering the world, no longer as a student. I feel a considerable amount of support from the Careers Service and their role in enabling students to be prepared for the future.” – 2nd year Biology (BSc)
To rise to a challenge and become more confident…
“As a university student it is easy to become trapped in the university bubble, but I think the PLUS award helped me venture outside of this…If I had the chance to do it again I would have liked to have attended even more talks at the Careers Service as they were very beneficial. From the PLUS Award I will take the lesson of going the extra mile in order to make myself the most appealing candidate for future employers.” – 2nd year History BA
Just for fun!
“I thoroughly enjoyed the PLUS Award. It is structured very well and has allowed me to develop personally, socially and academically and given me the confidence and potential to thrive in my future years at University.” – 1st year Law and German (LLB)
So what are you waiting for?
Registration for the Award re-opens in September and closes in February. Check the website for more details. You may have already completed activities this summer to help you get ahead. What else will you discover by taking on the Award?
The Careers Service’s new hashtag is #GetCareerReady. What does this mean? And how can we help you to Get Career Ready?
Explore – what’s right for you and what are the options?
What does a career mean to you? What job is right for you? Before you can answer these questions you need to know what will suit you. The Careers Service guide has some straightforward exercises to complete that will help you think about this. Look at this online or come in and pick up a copy at the Careers Service.
Exploring is also about understanding what jobs exist out there. Trying to understand the job market can be incredibly hard, there are 1000s of opportunities and unless you have a very clear idea of what you want to do, searching for companies and graduate roles can be daunting. We run regular talks on how to research organisations and industries, plus we have a number of sector guides on our website to get you started.
Alongside exploring your options you need to be developing your own set of skills, understanding what makes you unique and learning how to manage yourself. Not much then! So how do you do all that?
The main thing you need to do is get involved in activity as part of your degree, as well as away from your studies. It’s important to be active, not passive, do not expect opportunities to come to you. The more you get involved in societies, volunteering, part time work, sports, initiatives within your school, research lectures and work shadowing, the more you will be developing skills and becoming the “all-rounder” that employers look for.
Jo Hutchings, the Information, Advice and Guidance Manager at the Careers Service says “in my experience the students who come into the Careers Service who have been proactive in getting involved whilst at university, generally have a more mature attitude, a confidence in the way they present themselves and the ability to take feedback and act on it. These are all qualities, that if I notice them in a short 15 minute appointment, an employer is certainly going to see at an interview or assessment centre stage!”
The Bristol PLUS Award is designed to help all students develop skills at university, with opportunities to reflect on your experiences, to gain a better understanding of who you are and your strengths. This enables you to become more self aware, a quality all employers look for.
Finally, competing for jobs/further study
So #GetCareerReady is about understanding what jobs are out there and what might suit you. Once you have started to establish this, you need to get applying to compete for opportunities.
And, it is a competition; you need to be prepared to work hard for the opportunities out there. Put time into your applications, research organisations, understand the roles you are applying for and get feedback before your final submission. The Careers Service is well equipped to give you this feedback and advice through our appointments. We also have a wide variety of talks to help you prepare for the application process. These are complemented by online advice and practical help with our interview simulator on mycareer and practice selection tests.
So if you want to #GetCareerReady, come into the Careers Service to find out how we can help you, as one of our recent users said:
“The Careers Service is fantastic. Professional and comprehensive. I can’t flaw the incredible service”
A group of Bristol PLUS and Outstanding Award students joined the Careers Service in celebrating amazing student achievement that has taken place this year at the Bristol SU award ceremony. The award ceremony, which took place on Thursday 11th June saw University of Bristol students, staff and external partners gather to celebrate a year of student success. Held in the recently refurbished Richmond Building, the glitzy event was a night to remember, honouring student activity through societies, sports clubs, volunteering, fundraising and student media. 14 awards were presented this year, including the Employability Award, sponsored by UBS which recognised those students who had shown particular excellence through the Bristol PLUS Outstanding Award. The Bristol PLUS Outstanding Award is an extension of the Bristol PLUS Award for students who can demonstrate evidence of high level employability skills identified by employers as skills that are crucial for the workplace. In order to achieve the Outstanding Award students must give a presentation to a panel of University of Bristol staff, employers and alumni. Each student must articulate the following skills:
This year 480 students have completed the Bristol PLUS Award and 25 of these went on to achieve the Outstanding Award. Of those 25, 5 nominees were short-listed by the Careers Service. The nominees were:
We were delighted to announce Emma Phipkin as the winner of the award. Emma was selected for demonstrating particular excellence in articulating the skills required both in written form and during her presentation to the panel.
Many thanks to Jamie Corbin for providing this photograph of Emma being presented with her award by Stuart Johnson, Director of the Careers Service.