We asked University of Bristol graduates from the class of 2017 how their first year of graduate life has been, what’s been the best thing about University, what they’ve learned, what they wish they’d known, and what advice they would give to the class of 2018?
Here’s what recent grads Hugh, James, Jenny, and Alex had to say:
Máire Power participated in our UoB Internship Scheme as a marketing intern for the science company, NuNano Ltd. We spoke to Máire and NuNano about their experiences.
Can you give us a summary of your internship?
‘I spent two months as a marketing intern for the science company, NuNano Ltd, based within the science incubator, Unit DX. NuNano manufacture nanoscale probes for the sensitive measurement technique, atomic force microscopy. I was tasked with designing and creating content such as articles, videos, and social media posts to increase the awareness of their brand.’ (more…)
Our Careers Network is bursting with inspirational stories from our graduates about how they found their first jobs after university. It’s a great place to start researching your career options! In our online library, you will will find tales of adventure, wise words and even a love story…
Tales of the unexpected
Even if you think ahead, sometimes life doesn’t go to plan. This was the case for Raven Swaine, who had planned to go straight into work after graduating, but instead took a year out.
Having left university without securing a graduate position, Raven travelled and volunteered, building up evidence of skills that employers are looking for. She applied speculatively to companies, resulting in a paid placement with First Actuarial – and six weeks later, a permanent job! So when life doesn’t go according to plan, use it as an opportunity to make a new one.
Memoirs of a graduate
It’s never too early to start thinking about your career. Whilst at university, you are surrounded by experts who can help you get to where you want to be when you graduate.
Craig Simpson met his employer, Newton Europe, for the first time at a careers fair and knew they were right for him. He moved fast, and within a month had a role with them!
To find the right employer for you, Craig advises that you do your research. He started by following our top tips for researching employers. He also attended our careers fairs, using this fantastic face-to-face opportunity to ask company representatives more about what it’s like to work for their organisation. True love could be just a conversation away!
How we can help
Recent graduate Brooke Theis told us that she learned not be afraid to start talking to people about what she wanted, because people want to help. That’s us!
We understand that no two stories are the same, so can help you with your research and questions. If you haven’t already, visit the Careers Service today!
Have you ever wondered what University of Bristol students go on to do after they leave university? Are you looking for inspiration? Take a look at ourCase Studies – real life accounts providing a fascinating insight into the world of graduate employment. In our profiles, Philip details his experiences as a graduate trainee at The Guardian, Ciara describes her role as a Consultant at EY, Elinam talks about entering further study, and Gowrishanker outlines his experiences of setting up his own business.
Hear from the graduates themselves about how having a degree from Bristol helped them to get where they are now. Did they start out with a clear career path in mind? Was the degree subject helpful in getting the job? Did they decide to pursue further study to improve their chances of finding the right job? How are they practising and developing the knowledge and skills they acquired whilst studying? How did a degree from the University of Bristol help to open doors to the career they were looking for?
Perhaps you feel as though you no longer want to follow the path that your degree naturally leads you to? Many of our case studies show how there are various alternative career paths out there where the skills and experience you have gained from studying for your degree can be put to good use: Greg, a Mechanical Engineering graduate who works as a Patent Attorney, Hannah, the Experimental Psychology graduate working as a Business Consultant for IBM, and Rosie, a Politics graduate working in the charity sector.
All of our graduates give excellent hints and tips for students that are exploring their career options – start thinking about your next steps early, make use of the careers service, never stop learning and “Network! Network! Network!”
Join our Careers Network to access more case studies and get in touch with Bristol alumni.
For all those aspiring to work in the Fashion Industry or to go into Journalism, Kate Blythe from Matches Fashion has kindly taken part in an interview which will be a very useful read!
Why did you decide to work in the fashion industry, and how did it start?
I always wanted to be a fashion journalist from the age of 10 or 11. I collected American and British Vogue magazines for years and fell in love with the beautiful images and inspirational features. From that age onwards I had my heart set on a fashion journalism career and so I focused on English literature and Language as my speciality. I took English, Psychology and History A Levels and then I went to Leeds University to study an English degree. Before university, however, I set up work experience at my local paper and then went to IPC to intern at various magazines such as 19 magazine and Just 17. As a post-graduate, I went to Time Out magazine in London where I worked for 6 months as a freelance writer, and from there I went to ELLE magazine where I worked for 4 years as fashion features writer before moving into the digital world after that.
What does a typical day for you look like at Matchesfashion.com?
I start work around 8.30am and have 30 minutes before the team arrive to get through my emails and answer any queries. I sign off, approve and commission all content across mens and womens digital and print titles so my day is a constant stream of questions from my team and proofs to sign off. I also oversee all video content, along with marketing emails, social media and all fashion. I can be approving a fashion rail full of clothes for a cover shoot one minute, then sitting in the executive team meetings discussing forward planning the next. It’s non-stop and very varied, which is why I love my job! I leave work at 6pm to get home to my three children before bedtime which is also when the US markets are up and so I then deal with talent agents regarding celebrity cover stories and shoots.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career has been building a world class team here at Matchesfashion.com and rebranding all of the website and content in a short space of time. It has been an exciting 18 months and the best is yet to come.
What do you enjoy the most about working in fashion?
I love all aspects of fashion – from the incredible talent of the designers behind the collection, to the beautiful product that is created to the editorial stories we pull together from the collections we stock. It is fast moving, exciting and inspiring.
What made you choose English as your degree, and what was your best experience whilst at Uni?
I have always been passionate about writing and would love writing essays at school and sixth form college. There is something about story telling that is very exciting to me and so there was really no other degree that I would have considered, other than fashion journalism. University was wonderful and I loved meeting great friends, learning new skills and knowing that I was preparing myself for a future in journalism. I couldn’t wait to get started!
Do you have any advice for students on how to stay creative and keep coming up with new ideas?
Read as much as possible – the news, websites, blogs, fashion commentary, magazines. Arm yourself with information and never think that you know it all. I am learning new skills every day and that triggers ideas in my mind for new ideas. Never plagiarise, always be original and stick to your passions rather than follow the pack. Then you will have the potential to be hugely successful!
Do you have any motivational words for students aspiring to make it in this very competitive industry?
Take on as much work experience as possible and when you are in a company doing a placement or internship, throw yourself into the role and make yourself indispensable. That is what I did and two months later I was offered a full time job. Never say no, always say yes to whatever task is given to you and your positive attitude and can-do nature will go a long way in impressing the right people.
What key skills do you need to get into fashion?
Great personal taste, passion for the subject you are working on and digital knowledge. Nowhere is purely print these days, so digital skills are a necessity for being a future fashion leader.
If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice whilst you were a student, what would it be?
I used to have to read a whole pile of books every week yet I never allowed myself enough time to really enjoy them. I would have told my younger self to enjoy the time I had and to absorb the literature I was reading, rather than racing through it all. I never have any time these days to read a good book, so that was my perfect opportunity.
A University of Bristol graduate talks about their experience of IT consultancy:
It’s a fact that Computer Science students in general enjoy excellent job prospects after graduating, with University of Bristol graduates being particularly sought after in the industry. All modern businesses require staff who understand how to fully exploit technology. In fact, many businesses will pay a handsome sum to anyone who can prove that they have the skills to unlock potential in their organisation using technology. So why is it that so many Computer Science students choose to apply for ‘safe’ graduate jobs (a.k.a. coding and development) instead of exploring all the different opportunities out there?
I graduated from the University of Bristol seven years ago. Unlike many of my peers, I was not looking forward to the prospect of sitting in a dark room cutting code all day. Instead, I opted for a career in IT consultancy. Consultancy firms essentially get paid by other organisations to take on their most difficult projects as they have the expertise to resource and deliver the most challenging IT programmes. As a consultant working for one of these firms, I am kept constantly on my toes. Engagements tend to be short, meaning the next challenge is always just around the corner, and I rarely wake up knowing what my day is going to be like or where in the country I am going to be working tomorrow.
After graduating and accepting a junior role in a large consultancy firm, I spent nearly four years as a consultant analyst working for the British intelligence services. Although the work I did is classified, I can say that working on the most complex projects these organisations had was both challenging and rewarding. More recently I have been able to adapt my skills to work in the private sector, where I have helped around forty different companies across a variety of sectors. I mention this to illustrate the sheer diversity of jobs out there for Computer Science graduates.
The one thing I have learnt in this time is that there is a desperate lack of graduates applying for the more niche, highly skilled technical roles that companies need, and an overwhelming abundance of graduate coders. I believe this is purely down to Computer Science graduates undervaluing their skill sets and focussing on what they believe they can do best – coding. However, the harsh reality is that coding is often done better, faster and more cheaply by teams of offshore developers. Outsourcing has changed the landscape of jobs available to Computer Science graduates and it’s time to adapt!
The University of Bristol Careers Service adds:
Our ‘My degree…where next’ pages offer an introduction to the many different options available to you with a Computer Science degree. It is useful to consider the destinations of previous Computer Science graduates, and read other case studies.
When I started as a Geography student at the University of Bristol in 2009 I had little idea of what career I wanted. I knew I wanted to be in a job where I really felt like I was making a difference to people’s lives and I had always had an affinity for the NHS but not being a clinician, I struggled to see where I might fit in.
After attending various careers events, courses and undertaking work experience, I learnt more about management in the NHS and was completely sold on this being the career I wanted. Somewhat putting all of my eggs in one basket, the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme was the only job I applied for and, fortunately, I was accepted on to the General Management stream of the scheme, which I started in September 2012. Eighteen months on, I can wholeheartedly say this was the best decision I could have made and I am enjoying a challenging but hugely rewarding start to my career.
The scheme is comprised of 3 placements over two years: one in a hospital (a more ‘operational’ role concerned with the running of services); a more strategic role involving project management; and a shorter two-month placement where there is more choice of where to go, inside or outside of the NHS, in order to develop knowledge or skills that will be useful to the NHS. At the start of the scheme there is also a month-long ‘orientation’, where I spent time in a variety of departments and organisations to get a better understanding of the different components that are part of the health and social care system: spending a day on an ambulance was definitely a personal highlight!
One of the elements of the scheme I have been most impressed with is the amount of responsibility I have been given from the very start. Despite having no previous experience in the NHS, I have now managed a department in a hospital, line-managed staff and led service-improvement projects, and worked collaboratively with patients and staff from a wide variety of disciplines. Being afforded this amount of responsibility, whilst at the same time being well supported, has allowed me to develop a huge amount of new skills and knowledge in a really short space of time and I have relished being able to make an impact from day one.
In addition to the work placements, I am currently studying for a Masters in Leadership and Service Improvement as part of the scheme. I have enjoyed being able to put some of the theory I have learnt from this, as well as skills learnt during leadership development courses provided by the scheme, into practice during my placements.
The fast-track nature of the Scheme has given me a mass of opportunities I would never have otherwise had and I would highly recommend it to anyone passionate about improving patient care and ready to offer the commitment and dedication needed to become a leader in the NHS.
Employer: freelance, but have worked for Hackney Music Development Trust, Red Production (Scott & Bailey Series 2), Scottish Opera and Sheffield Theatres.
Theatrical costume making – a non-accredited 15 week intensive practical course (Northern College of Costume, York, 2011)
MA Design Innovation Strategy (SheffieldHallamUniversity, 2001)
BA (Hons) Surface Pattern Design (University of Huddersfield, 1998)
HND Graphic Design (Nene College, 1993)
What does your role involve?
My work as a costume maker involves making up costumes under the guidance of the pattern cutter, assisting on costume fittings, and making alterations in time for the dress rehearsals. I’m also experienced in pattern drafting, draping on the stand, and some costume design (done on the course). As a freelancer I also have to be able to manage my time and be constantly looking ahead for the next project.
How did you get your job?
I did a two week work placement at Scottish opera in Glasgow straight after finishing a 15 week intensive costume making course. While there the ladies cutter/workshop manager gave my details on to a friend (a costume designer) who was working on an ITV drama in Manchester. I got in touch and met the Designer (Rhona Russell) after my placement and was offered a 16 week contract as costume trainee on the drama starting the next day! I think it was very much about having a direct contact and being in the right place at the right time. Following on from this I was recommended as a costume supervisor for Shadowball, a touring jazz opera, working with children aged 7-9 (by the Head of Wardrobe in Sheffield, where I’d volunteered one day a week for two months in 2010). I was then contacted by Scottish Opera who wanted me to work for them for 12 weeks, after being happy with me on my work placement. I also secured more work with Sheffield Theatres in November 2012 for pantomime and with Scottish Opera in 2013. So my few contacts have gone a very long way. I do hope to gain work in New York though, so that’s where I’ll really have to push marketing myself.
How did your degree help?
Having a degree has helped me gain all my organisational skills (as well as the 10 years that I worked for e-learning companies after my Masters). It has helped time management, project planning, developed specific technology skills (Adobe PhotoShop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver).
The intensive costume making course taught me historical costume construction, pattern drafting, draping on the stand, sewing techniques, tailoring. The course covers a lot in 15 weeks because by the end of it I’d made an 1820 gents eveningwear costume – consisting of pantaloons, shirt, waistcoat and tailcoat; 1880s bustle gown – consisting of underwear (combinations, corset bustle cage, petticoat), foundation skirt, bustle apron, bodice and additional gloves and bag; 1940s ladies eveningwear. Because the course was practical we only had one day per project to research and come up with the designs. It was much more focused on practical skills rather than design and development skills.
What advice would you give anyone else wanting to get into costume design?
Placements are so valuable. At the time it seems really difficult working for nothing, but it has paid off so much with how much work I’ve got from 8 days volunteering (over 2 months) at Sheffield Theatres in 2010 and 2 week work placement (unpaid) at Scottish opera in Glasgow. Costume making in particular is such a small industry in that everyone knows everyone, so it’s really important to make the best possible impression rather than taint your career with a lack of enthusiasm.
Due to the nature of the work, unless you live in or near London, you’ll have to do a fair bit of travelling to get work, but once you’ve made your few initial contacts they do call you back for more work.
A 2010 DEdPsy graduate Cardiff University, currently working as an Educational Psychologist for a local authority provided the case study below about her current role and how she got there.
How did you get your job?
The initial step was to get my first degree in Psychology- I graduated from Aston University in 2001. During that degree I worked as a clinical psychology assistant for the NHS for 12 months. After graduation I worked as a mental health support worker for a year, and decided that I wanted to pursue the Educational Psychology route and taught in a primary school for 2 years following a PGCE.
At the time, 2 years of teaching was a prerequisite to be accepted onto the DEdPsy course, and whilst it no longer is, the classroom experience gave me a firm foundation to then apply for an Assistant Educational Psychology post which then led to successful acceptance onto the Doctorate course.
The course consisted of placements working as a Trainee Educational Psychologist in three different local authorities, a number of research projects and a thesis. I graduated and have been working ever since for a local authority.
What does your role involve?
I work with children and young people between the ages of 0-19 and the systems around them (school, family, community) using a consultation approach in order to facilitate change. There is a lot of multi-agency and liaison work, which involves working collaboratively with school staff, parents, and a range of other professionals (e.g. Social Services, Speech and Language Therapists, Youth Offending Service, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) to identify and support any wellbeing or additional learning needs.
Adaptability and the ability to communicate with others is key. I work with 15 schools including primary, secondary and pupil referral units and work one-to-one with a child using psychological assessments, individual therapeutic work and observations. I also undertake more proactive group interventions to help the children and young people develop social skills, self-esteem and self-regulation. I also work at a systemic level, supporting schools to develop policies and interventions, and provide training to teachers, LSAs and ALNCOs on topics such as self-regulation, anxiety management, psychological approaches and attachment. There is a lot of administration too- I have to research and analyse the effectiveness of interventions, write reports and ensure that I keep up to date with the latest research in order to provide evidenced based practice.
How did your degree help?
If you want to become an Educational Psychologist having the Doctorate in Educational Psychology is an essential requirement by the British Psychological Society (BPS). My DEdPsy involved 3 placements which were invaluable in finding out the variety of approaches which are used in different local authorities. My 50,000 word thesis explored the impact of teachers using Solution Focused approaches in schools.
What advice would you give anyone else wanting to get into educational psychology?
With fewer assistant educational psychology posts available due to funding cuts, you will have to work harder to evidence your motivation for the DEdPsy course.
Experience of working with young people and children is essential. Get into a school and classroom setting to get a better understanding of the educational and school systems. Experience beyond the classroom is also invaluable e.g. in youth clubs, sports clubs, playgroups, voluntary agencies. This will give you a holistic insight into what children deal with on a daily basis and some of the challenges they face. It is vital that you gain experience of working with children from all backgrounds with a variety of needs and will be key in being able to demonstrate your communication skills and your empathetic nature.
Always consider the link to psychology in what you have done e.g. if you work as a learning support assistant or volunteer with a play scheme, think how you have used psychological principles to deal with challenges successfully.
Demonstrate your enthusiasm and initiative by asking to shadow professionals that work with children and young people- social workers, clinical psychologists, therapeutic workers. If they can’t spare the time for you to come out for the day, ask if you can at least speak to them – try to gain insights wherever and whenever you can. Ask questions and demonstrate that you’ve gone the extra mile with additional research- contacts can be key to professional development in this field.
Get research experience during the summer- seek out psychology research projects and get involved.
Consider choosing a dissertation topic related to children or young people. This will not only help demonstrate your interest and increase your knowledge but could also bring you into contact with a range of other professionals who also work with children.
Keep up to date with the latest research- journals such as Educational Psychology in Practice, Educational & Child Psychology, developments in the profession through the BPS and if possible attend any appropriate training courses.