Case Study: Find out about Andreea’s journey with IKEEP!

The Intrapreneurial Knowledge Exchange Enterprise Pathway (IKEEP) begins with fully funded training to equip you with the skills to drive innovation and bring fresh thinking to businesses. 

Once you’ve completed your intrapreneurial training, you can apply for a project placement and get the opportunity to take your new skills and help a business solve an innovative challenge. 

 

Andreea Patrunjel, MSc in Computer Science

Andreea Patrunjel, a postgraduate student, studying an MSc in Computer Science at the University of Bristol, took part in the IKEEP programme. She completed IKEEP’s online Intrapreneurial training and went on to apply for and take part in the 4-week project placement. She was matched with a Bristol start-up, Groundwaves, a company which have pioneered some of the most powerful haptic technology, and applied it in a footwear product, fusing the worlds of fashion and technology. 

We caught up with Andreea to hear more about her experience with IKEEP… 

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Case Study: Senmag Robotics’s experience with IKEEP

What is IKEEP? 

The IKEEP Programme consists of high-quality knowledge exchange opportunities, providing fresh perspectives and skills to enable regional businesses to grow while honing the talent of future graduates. 

Students involved will have participated in online training in a range of business areas such as managing innovation, business model development and project management. Student teams are ready to be placed within a company to develop business model solutions, improve market awareness and more! 

Senmag Robotics’s Experience with IKEEP 

Senmag Robotics took part in the IKEEP Programme this year. The student team, matched to this business, carried out market research to evaluate the most suitable markets and potential customers/early adopters for their product. They were also involved in the company’s website design, implementing improvements using HTML and CSS. 

Spyros Lavetiz, the CEO and Co-founder of Senmag Robotics

Senmag Robotics is a Bristol-based start-up and New Enterprise Competition finalist producing affordable haptic feedback technology, which allows a user to physically interact with computer simulations, making environments and objects in AR/VR feel solid. 

Spyros Lavetiz is the CEO and Co-founder of Senmag Robotics and has recently completed his final year of a master’s degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Bristol. 

We spoke to Spyros to find out more about his experience with IKEEP…  

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Become an INTRApreneur with IKEEP

Would you like to develop your Intrapreneurial skills and gain invaluable experience working with entrepreneurs?

The IKEEP programme includes free online training in a range of business areas such as managing innovation, business model canvas and leadership strategies.

After you’ve completed the training, you can apply for a short project placement (a commitment of 70 hours per student, spread flexibly over 4 weeks). You will work remotely for a regional business as part of an interdisciplinary team of 3 students. Upon completion of a project placement, you will receive a stipend of £450.

Mansour Alshamsi, Year 1, BSc Marketing

We spoke to Mansour, a student who participated in our IKEEP training and industry placement to find out how his experience was in the IKEEP programme.  (more…)

Completing your Masters application? Let us help!

Having explored whether postgraduate study is an option for you, and weighed up the pros and cons, you’re now ready to submit your application… but where do you start?!

We often meet students and graduates that find making a start to this process overwhelming. This blog gives you a checklist to inspire you to make a start and provide you with resources that can help you to complete your application.  (more…)

What’s the fuss with the PLUS for Postgraduate Researchers?

 

The Bristol PLUS Award is the University’s employability Award, open to students across all years of study – including Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs). In fact, PGR achievers speak so highly of the Award process, we thought we’d share highlights from their feedback: (more…)

Postgraduate study? The right option for me?

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

If you are a final year student and unsure whether further study is an option for you then take a few minutes to read on.

For some students, a postgraduate qualification is a necessary requirement for their chosen career role and in some sectors acknowledged as an advantage. For others, there is a genuine desire to continue within academia for the joy of learning either for more depth in their existing subject area or indeed a new one. This acquisition of ‘knowledge capital’ is no bad thing and even better if combined with the development of higher-level skills and work experience at the same time. (more…)

How to write a winning personal statement for postgraduate study

application_-_pen1A personal statement is your chance to make a great first impression when applying for a postgraduate course. It provides a space for you to convince the admissions tutor(s) that you have the motivation, relevant knowledge and academic capability to successfully complete the course, and reflect well on the institution.

When writing your statement, always check whether the admissions team has written instructions on what to include and how much to write – and if they have then make sure you follow them! Often, however, you will be largely left to fill in the blank space yourself – and in that case we recommend you write about 500 words, which equates to approximately 1 A4 page.

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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/

What if I don’t want a graduate scheme?

 

If you’re a penultimate or final year student, you may well feel that applying for a graduate scheme with a large recruiter is the only career option available to you.  This is because these organisations have very large budgets and can afford the kind of publicity that is probably appearing everywhere you look on campus.  It’s also possible that friends and flatmates are busy filling in the lengthy application forms required for these schemes, or that parents are advising you to apply as a ‘safe option’.

However, the truth is that only a minority of graduates secure these jobs. PwC reported receiving 30,000 applications for only 1,200 available positions and, while they seem like a secure option, you only have to look at the current problems with The Co-operative, for example, to realise that the graduates who started their training schemes with this group may now be reconsidering their position.  Realistically, your job is only ever as stable as the notice period you are obliged to be given before being handed your P45.

The most important aspect of career planning is choosing something that not only matches your skill set but that you will also enjoy.  So, if you think that a graduate scheme isn’t for you, here are a few alternatives to consider.

Working for an SME or start-up

A small to medium-size enterprise (SME) employs up to 250 employees, but you could be working with as few as two or three people in a small business, so it’s possible to make a significant contribution and feel that you are making an impact.  You could also gain responsibility much sooner than through a graduate scheme if you can prove the quality of your work.  Many graduates now run their own businesses and know first-hand the skills and talent that you could offer.  They won’t have the budgets to advertise any vacancies though, so you’ll need to get networking, search for opportunities via social media and approach businesses directly.  Make sure you’ve done your research into the company and be clear about how the skills and experience you have to offer match their requirements; remember that it’s about what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.

Taking a non-graduate job

There are sectors such as media where you simply won’t be able to find a graduate scheme.  You have to work your way up and make the most of work experience or internship opportunities to be able to make contacts and build your portfolio.  Taking a non-graduate job can be a useful way to get your foot in the door, but you need to network and build your reputation if you want to get ahead.  It is wise to have a Plan B if you take this route, in case your progress is limited.  If you opt for unpaid experience, make sure that the potential benefits outweigh the costs and that you are not being asked to undertake unreasonable duties.

Graduate internships and work experience

Recruiters have realised that graduates may not have committed to a career path by the time they leave university, so you will also find vacancies labelled ‘graduate internships’.  These structured programmes, often lasting six months to a year, are a great way to try out a role or sector and gain valuable experience before deciding what you would like to do more permanently.  You can also ask organisations that interest you about work experience opportunities even if they are not advertising specific vacancies; see our web pages on making speculative applications.  Have a look at the UoB Internship Scheme to see a range of current opportunities.

Postgraduate study or retraining

If you are considering this option, then be sure to check with potential employers if they need you to take a higher degree or postgraduate diploma in the first place and, if so, which particular courses they recommend.  Many students are surprised to find out, for example, that consulting firms don’t require a business Masters and that you can apply with a wide range of degree subjects.  If you don’t do your homework, further study can be a costly mistake as well as an extra year out of a very competitive labour market.  Don’t make assumptions about what might put you ahead of the game, given that many recruiters now see work experience as a greater enhancement to your CV than more qualifications.

Also, bear in mind that academic options are not the only ones available.  You can study more vocationally as a chef, costume maker or personal trainer, for example,  to move your career forward, and this could be more cost-effective and take up far less of your time.  Funding is challenging to find for further study, but Professional and Career Development Loans are worth a look, especially to cover shorter, more vocational courses.  We also have information on our web site to help you find potential sources of financial support.

Taking a year out

Many students ask us how employers view a year out after graduation.  Generally, employers tell us that they don’t mind at all, especially if you come back with new skills gained from work experience or travel and are now ready to settle down and focus on the job.  Better to get that urge to volunteer in Africa for six months out of your system now than to start work and realise that your next holiday won’t be longer than a fortnight.

Being self-employed or working as a freelancer

Finally, if you have a skill, product or service that you think you could sell, it’s always worth looking into being self-employed.  It’s not as hard to set up a business as you might think, but keeping things going could be a challenge unless you are very self-disciplined and are prepared to market yourself.  The University’s Research & Enterprise Development (RED) department can help students and graduates to set up their own businesses, provide working space and offer valuable advice on all the essentials such as developing a business plan and managing your accounts.  Get some work experience in a start-up (see above) to see if this way of working would suit you.  The Careers Service also has several books on self-employment in its library, including the very useful Brilliant Freelancer, if that option appeals.

And there you have it – a wide range of options other than graduate schemes to explore.  If you’re not sure about your next step, come in to Careers and speak to our staff about how to find the information and guidance you need.  Good luck!

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser

(Image sourced from: http://suzanneevans.org/2014/01/the-choices-you-make)

I think I’m on the wrong degree course!

change course

The Careers Service sees many students in this particular situation every term, and an appointment with one of our careers advisers can help you to think about your career options with a change of subject, as well as the potential consequences of leaving your degree programme altogether.  Here is some advice for three of the most common dilemmas we help with related to this area.

I like this university but I want to change my degree subject

This is potentially trickier than you might think.  Being admitted onto one programme of study doesn’t mean that you can simply swap to another.  Each school or department carries out its own recruitment and has different numbers of places available on each course.  There may not be a place available for you to switch from Chemistry to Biology, for example, just because you are already a student in a particular university.

To clarify your options, find out who the admissions tutor is for the course to which you want to transfer; this information is usually found on the website for each school or department.  Ask if they have any available places and if they are willing to consider your case based on your existing academic performance and career plans.  Do bear in mind that if you are performing poorly in your academic work in your current subject, it may be a challenge to convince another department that you should be admitted to their programme.

If you want to make a radical subject change, such as moving from Mathematics to History of Art, a careers adviser will be able to help you consider your career options and any long-term implications. Do be aware that about two thirds of graduate recruiters don’t mind which subject your degree is in (unless you want to be something like an engineer or doctor!) as long as you have the right transferable skills and some work experience to offer.

I want to do the same subject but I don’t like it here!

As above, you need to contact the admissions tutor for the course in which you are interested at the university you want to move to and see which options are available to you.  Will you be able to transfer credits or will you have to repeat a year and maybe take some additional units?  Remember that degree courses in the same subject can be structured and taught very differently between institutions, so take the time to check and make sure that you are making the right choice this time.

If you need to repeat a year and this involves taking time out from study, then obtaining work experience could be a valuable addition to your CV and potentially make you more employable than if you hadn’t spent some time in the workplace.

I don’t know if I want to be at university at all

It could also be the case that being at university right now just isn’t working for you.   It’s perfectly okay to change your mind if you feel that you have made the wrong decision to start a degree.  You could go out and work for a while and then return to education later, if you like, although your funding opportunities may be affected by how long you suspend your studies. We have copies of the AGCAS publication Changing or Leaving Your Course at the Careers Service, for advice on these practicalities.  A careers adviser can help you to decide which route is best for you at the present time.  You will also need to speak to your Faculty Office and Student Funding about how to withdraw from your programme and what implications there are for your fees and loans.

Bear in mind too, that many people have successful careers without being graduates.  A lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners are self-starters who are good at marketing their skills and services.  Some of the larger corporations involved in graduate recruitment also now offer training schemes post A-Level for those who don’t want to go on to university for whatever reason, so it’s really worth looking for alternative routes into a career you would love.  The path may not be straightforward and progress may be slower, but your career will ultimately be based on how well you do a particular job and not on a degree classification, so you will eventually be on a level playing field with graduates in the same industry.

Whatever your dilemma, it won’t be anything we haven’t heard before, so do come into the Careers Service and ask if you can talk to someone about your options or start by looking at the advice on the University website about changing or leaving your course.

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser

Image:http://www.itworld.com