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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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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Time for Graduate Plan B…


(Photo from Pixaby) 

“so, what’s your backup plan, then?” 

“pardon?” 

“your backup plan – you know, in case things don’t go as you expect?” 

“oh” 

Have you ever been in this situation, where you’ve got a great idea for something and it seems brilliant, but then someone bursts your bubble by asking what you’ll do if things don’t go as planned? Often, it’s not what you want to hear – why are they raining on your parade, suggesting that the thing you’re so passionate about won’t work? 

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So you got a 2:2 – what happens next?

It’s the time of year when degree results are announced and, amid all the celebrations, there are some of you for whom things may not have gone according to plan. It’s understandable to be disappointed if you did not get the classification you hoped for, but if you are worried about what this means for your job prospects, take heart, there are still plenty of options open to you.

1. Look for graduate schemes which accept 2:2s – and beyond!

Increasing numbers of graduate schemes do not require a 2:1 for you to be able to apply. This is a trend which extends across many sectors, so it is worth searching the opportunities out. See this article by Target Jobs for useful links to sector specific recommendations: Also bear in mind that only a minority of graduates end up on these large graduate schemes each year; the vacancies on MyCareer are one good starting point for a wider range of graduate opportunities.

2. Be positive about your achievements

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Are You Set For Summer? Take our Careers Quiz

June 4th sees the launch of Before You Go Week, an intensive week of events, talks and individual appointments to help you make the most of the summer months – whether you are graduating, or coming back to the University in September.

We’d love to support as many of you as possible. Take our quiz to find out if you could benefit from coming in to see us before you go!

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4 Top Tips for Landing Your Dream Job (and why I should know…)

Landing your dream job can feel like the stuff of fantasy, but it doesn’t have to if you take the right approach.

As an ex-lawyer turned career coach with experience in property, PR, teaching and copywriting, I know all too well how important finding the right job is and the frustrations of being in a role which doesn’t quite fit.

I also know how much you’ve invested in your studies, the time you spend thinking about your career and that fulfilment can hinge on more than a pay cheque.

So here are my top tips for securing a job which ticks all the boxes:

  1. Know Your Values

Knowing who you are and what you want is essential to positive change. Before considering what kind of company or organization you’d like to work for, ask yourself what gives your life purpose and meaning, in and outside work. Your values might range from money, work-life balance and family to meeting new people, travel or having fun.

If you’re unsure what drives you, ask yourself what you couldn’t do without in a dream day, what you’re doing when you’re happiest or what you’d love to be paid for. If you’re still struggling, ask yourself what you really dislike and turn this on its head. For example, if it’s working long hours with little time to socialize, it may be that work-life balance is top of your list.

Once you know what drives you, focus on organizations which meet these needs and maximize your chances of fulfilment.

  1. Harness Your Strengths In Your Search

If you’ve got into the University of Bristol, chances are you’ve got strong analytical and critical thinking skills – the perfect combination for identifying your dream job! The most fulfilled people are resourceful in harnessing their strengths, helping them narrow down their ideal workplace, prepare for interview and seal the deal.

If you’re struggling to find the time or perspective to research what kind of organization appeals, reach out to one of our career advisors. They’ll help you move from where you are now to where you want to be. Our applications advisor will also have top tips for how to craft a winning CV, covering letter or application form.

  1. Prepare For Interview

Whether you’re a rising star or a Mensa child, intellectual skill and charm are no substitute for interview preparation. The most common pitfalls are being unable to communicate what an organization does, why this appeals and how your experience and skillset set you apart.

Avoid this by thoroughly reading the organization’s website, articles published by key stakeholders and talking to any contacts you may have. Then identify questions you could be asked and practise your answers with a trusted friend or one of our careers advisors. Ensure you tailor your answers to the skills and experience required in the job and person specification. And if you’re asked a competency based question (tell me a time when…), structure your answer around the STAR acronym – check out this handy video for tips.

Finally, be sure to show-off commercial awareness by reading up on market and organizational developments.

  1. Trust Your Instincts

You can read all you want around the firm but there’s no substitute for face to face gut feeling. If you have a good gut feeling, trust it. If not, ask yourself which of your core values aren’t being met and if this is a deal-breaker. Good luck!

 

Stupidly busy? Be smart and manage your time effectively.

Sometimes it seems there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. With the competing demands of revising for exams, writing essays and applying for jobs, good management of your time is essential.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider if you are filling your time wisely. Are you putting off more challenging tasks by cleaning the house, doing the washing up, checking Facebook? My advice…..

Stop Procrastinating!

  1. Just start – do something (anything) to get the task under-way.
  2. If it’s big, break it down into smaller parts and do a little each day so you don’t feel so daunted by it.
  3. Do one thing at a time. Just because you can do ten things at once doesn’t mean you should. Focusing on one thing at a time means you’ll do better work, finish faster, and move on to other, more enjoyable activities.
  4. A cluttered desk is not helpful. Clear your desk of everything not related to what you are currently doing. This will help you concentrate and focus your attention.
  5. Identify your ‘prime time’. We all have a time of day when we are alert and attentive. The secret is to recognise when this is and do the tasks that require energy, concentration and thought when you’re at your sharpest.
  6. Plan ahead by creating a schedule including study, work, and your personal commitments for the next few months. Then…
  7. Prioritise: to be effective, you need to decide what tasks are urgent and important and focus on these. You’ll feel a real sense of achievement and satisfaction from ticking completed tasks off you list.
  8. Work in blocks of time: try a maximum of an hour before taking a 15min break, this way you’ll concentrate better.
  9. Minimise interruptions by switching off your phone, signing out of social media, turning off alerts and push notifications or asking friends not to disturb you. You can survive without knowing your friends’ latest status update for a few hours.
  10. Give yourself a reward once you complete a task to keep you motivated.

Some people believe they need the chaos of leaving things to the last minute and the pressure of a tight deadline to motivate them: ask yourself whether this is really effective or whether it’s disguised procrastination.

If you just do it now, you can look forward to some real leisure time later without the pressure of future work hanging over you. Breaking tasks down and scheduling work ahead of time also means you won’t get overwhelmed later on. It’s all about delayed gratification and you might actually find you produce better work under less stress.

Claire Wrixon
Careers Adviser

So you got a 2:2 – what happens next?

 

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It’s the time of year when degree results are announced and, amid all the celebrations, there are some of you for whom things may not have gone according to plan.  There seems to be a lot of pressure on students to achieve a 2:1 these days, but this is really only significant if you are aiming to secure a position on a graduate scheme, as recruiters often use degree classifications to screen the vast numbers of applications they receive.

According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the percentages for those in full-time employment six months after graduation are actually the same for those with Firsts, 2:1s and 2:2s, so things do have a tendency to equalise over time.  Please do bear in mind that only a minority of graduates end up on these large grad schemes each year, so it’s important to take a deep breath and consider your options – of which there are many.  We also recommend taking a look at our previous post What If I Don’t Want a Graduate Scheme? to help you work out what your next step might be.

Some graduate schemes do accept 2:2s

You may be surprised to know that not all graduate schemes require a 2:1 for you to be able to apply.  Some engineering and accounting firms (not the Big Four) will accept a 2:2, and some well-known schemes run by HMRC, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the NHS are all still open to you.  Many firms will also consider applicants with a 2:2 if you contact them to explain any genuinely mitigating circumstances in advance of submitting your application; this will also avoid your being screened out by computer before you have had a chance to explain your situation.

Work your way up & gain experience

You can also prove you have the skills to do the job by taking on a graduate internship or placement.  This offers hands-on experience which will look great on your CV, as well as offering an opportunity to impress while actually doing the work; many internships can work as extended interviews.  Search company websites to see what’s on offer (internships are advertised throughout the year) and try our UoB Internship Scheme, which is open to graduates.  You can find opportunities advertised on the Careers Service website or find your own and talk to us about funding.

Work for a small business

Working for a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) or a start-up could be the perfect way to get your career moving.  Small businesses place the emphasis on skills and work experience when recruiting as they need you to be able to make a contribution straight away and hit the ground running.  Some SMEs advertise with the Careers Service but you should also do your own research, make a shortlist and start calling them directly about what could be available.  These working environments may not offer structured training but you’ll have much earlier responsibility than in a grad scheme, if you can prove the quality of your work, and you will feel as if you are making a difference from the outset.

Think carefully about opting for a Masters

Many graduates immediately start applying for a Masters in the hope that attaining a higher degree will negate having a 2:2.  However, most recruiters will still use your undergraduate degree result for screening if you apply for a graduate scheme, even if you have bagged yourself a Masters.  If you’re thinking about taking the postgraduate study route, talk to the employers you’re interested in working for to find out which specific courses they might view as an enhancement to your profile.  A Masters degree does not necessarily make you more employable in the way that relevant work experience can, so do your homework before making an expensive mistake and taking another year out of the labour market.

What do you really want to do?

Sometimes, not getting what you want offers an important opportunity to take a step back and reflect on other possibilities.  There is a whole world of work out there that doesn’t require a 2:1 and a training scheme.  Come in and talk to a Careers Adviser about what you can do with your skills, what you enjoy and what your next steps could be; there are more job roles out there than you can possibly imagine.  You may decide to work for yourself, take a year out, travel or gain valuable experience before you throw yourself back into the graduate labour market and try again.  Just remember that there are many ways in which you can add value to your CV and impress a potential employer without the magic 2:1 on your transcript.

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser

Image: http://www.gothinkbig.co.uk/features/