Tag Archives: skills development

The PLUS showcases your efforts! Bristol Graduate Alex Yeates on how the award prepares you for interview

Alex secured a role with Selfridges as a Front End Developer after graduating in 2015 with a BSc Politics and the Bristol PLUS Award under his belt.

“The Bristol PLUS Award encouraged me to pursue hours of paid work which helped populate my CV and gave me experience of what to expect in an office. It also helped prepare me with examples that I could talk about in my interview, to help showcase various efforts I made in trying to gain employment.

 

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10 Things to look out for at the Spring Careers Fair

or those of you who haven’t decided on what you would like to do after you graduate – don’t worry, there’s still time!

Check out what we have on at the Spring Careers Fair 2 & 3 May from 12-3pm.

1. Careers Fair Plus App

Download the Careers Fair Plus App from the App Store or Google Play Store. Check out which employers are attending on each day and use the filters to narrow your search. Don’t forget to let us know your thoughts once you’ve visited via the feedback form.

2. Employers

This is your chance to meet a range of companies of different sizes, and sectors, and to find out about opportunities for future graduate jobs and internships. Also, employers are still hiring; use the filter on the Careers Fair app to find out who.

3. Global Opportunities

Are you an International Student looking to secure work in the UK or back home? We’re holding a short talk on how to secure a job or work experience in the UK. This will be followed up by employer films highlighting their recruitment across the globe. Click here to sign up.

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Still need an Intensive Skills Activity for the PLUS Award? Don’t panic!

As the deadline for the Bristol PLUS Award looms on the 8 of June, we thought it might be useful to talk about ways to fulfil the Intensive Skills Activity section of the Bristol PLUS Award.

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!

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A Science Laboratory Internship – building on what I’d learnt on my course

During summer this year, I worked in a Biochemistry lab. My work involved looking at biological enzyme reactions which could be useful in biotechnology applications. Though this was a bit more left field than what I was used to in my regular Biochemistry degree, it was not as hard as it seemed. Thankfully, it turned out to be equal parts fun and work.

I found out about the opportunity by speaking to my tutor who suggested that I email labs whose work interested me. I was lucky enough to get a spot in the Anderson lab group after a short informal interview. From there, everything was pretty much settled besides funding, which required a written application and took a month to get a decision on.

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Why do the Bristol PLUS Award? A first years perspective.

New pressures

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!”

Take control

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 2017-18 reopens on the 18 of September 2017. Read the website and book your place at an introductory talk for more information and to take part.

Getting the most out of your summer job

For some, the summer vacation is the opportunity to travel or volunteer in other parts of the world. Some will have been lucky enough to secure a summer internship in their chosen industry, and some will choose to earn money through a job seemingly unrelated to their career plan. If you fall into this last category, and think that your summer job is simply about saving up for the next academic year…think again.

Working in industries, such as retail, tourism and hospitality, offer you an excellent opportunity to develop, and provide evidence of, your employability skills.  These skills, which are “the skills almost everyone needs to do almost any job”, were ranked by employers as the most important factor when recruiting graduates (CBI Education & Skills Survey, 2016).

Throughout your summer employment, take the opportunity to reflect on what you do, and look for ways to develop and demonstrate your skills.  Doing this now will provide you with practical examples to provide to future potential employers when applying for graduate jobs.

Here are five skills you could develop while working this summer:

  • Communication

Customer service roles are an excellent way to demonstrate how you communicate.  Think about all the people that you interact with (customers, colleagues, managers), how you communicate with them (face-to-face, telephone, email) and the purpose of your communication (greeting, explaining, persuading, listening).

  • Initiative

Even if it is a temporary job, show your initiative by looking for opportunities to accept more responsibility or make a positive difference.  Consider offering to train a new team member, or considerately suggest a new process that could improve sales or business performance.

  • Readiness to Improve

Request feedback and act on it to improve your performance. Not only does this show professionalism and a desire to be the best that you can, it will help you to identify any areas for improvement before applying for graduate jobs.

  • Problem Solving

This doesn’t have to be something worthy of a global news report! Solving a problem could be implementing a new email filing system that improves the speed of responding to client enquiries, or appeasing an upset customer.

  • Team Working

Whether you are working for a small business or a large organisation, it is likely that your summer job will enable you to demonstrate how you work with other people. Think about how you cooperate with others to complete a task and how working together can improve efficiency or business performance.

No matter what job you do, make sure that you get the most from your summer job by investing time in reflecting on your experience, and updating your CV to demonstrate the skills that you have.  

Intensive Skills for the Bristol PLUS Award – Make it count!

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:

  • gained employability-related skills.
  • participated in an interactive manner.
  • committed for a minimum of 6 hours.
  • reviewed the skills you have gained from the activity/event.

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!

  • Media & Creative Industries Week – Monday 20 to Friday 24 March. A unique opportunity to meet professionals from the media and creative industries, including some University of Bristol Alumni! Gain an invaluable insight into what employers are looking for, and how to break into your chosen sector! Did you know that if you attend 6 hours worth of these workshops this will qualify as your Intensive Skill activity?
  • Have you considered tutoring? –  Action tutoring recruit on a rolling basis so at this stage of the year where a lot of things seem to be winding down it is an ideal opportunity to gain some valuable experience and tick off those 4 criteria.
  • Try your hand at sports coaching! –  Any type of coaching certificate of qualification can be used including PADI dive certificates.
  • Become a First Aider! – The Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance run affordable First Aid courses.
  • Workplace training/shadowing – If you want to learn more about the sector you are interested in this is an ideal opportunity! Check out our resources on speculative applications to plan your approach.
  • How about a charity fundraising event? Comic relief is just around the corner, visit their page for suggestions of fundraisers you could run or be part of!

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!

Why should I do the Bristol PLUS Award?

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?

Ten Tips to make the most of your Christmas Holidays!

Now that the end of term is approaching and the holiday season will soon be upon us, have you considered how you might spend the break from University? If you want to make the most of the time, this can be a good opportunity to continue your Careers and Employability journey.

Have a look at our top 10 tips to help you maximise the break from University….

  1. Know yourself – choosing what to do after you leave University is a process that takes time and requires self-investigation, self-reflection and focus. If you’re really not sure where to start spend some time doing some homework on you! Ask yourself questions like: What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What motivates you and how does this fit with your beliefs and values? You may want to chat to friends and family about what they think your skills and strengths are, you may be surprised! There are lots of tools to help you start career planning including the Windmills Career and Life Management resource.
  2. Do some research – investigate the career options that are open to graduates from your degree using the Prospects ‘options with your subject’ Also take a look at the Careers Network to see what Bristol graduates from a range of courses have gone on to do.
  3. Volunteer and boost your transferable skills – December can be a busy time for the voluntary sector with lots of opportunities available, ranging from Charity shops to homeless shelters and residential homes for the elderly. Have a look at Do-It to see what opportunities exist.
  4. Earn some money – part-time work at this time year can be a great way to help you spread some festive cheer and also help you to enhance the skills that all employers value; for example working in a team and communication skills. Lots of companies require an extra pair of hands at this time of year. The Careers Service has information on how you can find part-time work.
  5. Keen to find out more about an area of work that interests you? Contact local employers to see if you would be able to do a day work-shadowing to gain an insight into their organisation and sector. There are employer databases on the Careers Service website to help your research into organisations.
  6. Personal Skills audit – look at graduate job opportunities in a field that interests you and list the skills employers are looking for, then audit yourself against these skills. Once you have identified any gaps, start to plan how you can fill them.
  7. Re-visit your CV – make sure your CV stands out. For more help on CVs look at the Careers Services resources on applications and Prospect’s resources. Maybe one of your parents or family friends would read through your CV for you!
  8. Develop your Social Media presence – LinkedIn is becoming an increasingly popular tool used by recruiters, so it’s important to have an effective profile. LinkedIn publish lots of useful resources for students and some fun clips.
  9. Apply for a summer internship – relevant work experience can be a great way to ‘test-drive’ if a career-path is right for you and help you explore your career options. The UoB Internship Scheme is aimed at Small and Medium size Enterprises in the UK, including charities, social enterprises and Non-Governmental Organisations. There are also opportunities available through the Careers Service website and sector-specific websites like Gradcracker for Science, Technology & Engineering students.
  10. Relax – Don’t forget to enjoy your break from University!

The Careers Service website has lots more support and information.

How to sell your skills and experiences to potential employers. It’s not as difficult as you think!

Spent this year working part-time in Burger King, and wondering why graduate recruiters would be interested in your application? However irrelevant you think your experience might sound, you might be surprised to discover that for a number of graduate and entry level positions, recruiters are more interested in identifying potential. Yes, it’s true that some jobs require specialist knowledge that only specific work experience or a degree can provide. However, at this stage in your career, transferrable skills can play a big part in how employable you are: the key is to make them sound relevant to the job you’re applying for.

So what are transferrable skills?
Transferrable skills refer to the competencies you gain in one particular setting, which you can carry over into other areas of your life. They particularly come in handy when you’re starting your career and don’t have directly relevant experience of working in a specific sector or a similar position before.

There are a number of core skills that most employers are after. Here are a few examples:

  • self-management,
  • communication,
  • problem solving,
  • team working.

When putting your application together think closely about the skills you’ve developed and the experiences you’ve had and how an employer might view them. Remember to provide specific examples of where these skills were gained. Doing this will make you more memorable to employers and will stop your application from sounding too generic.

How do I gain them?
The good news is you will already have some!  Skills are picked up throughout your life: through education, work experience, extra-curricular projects or volunteering. If you’ve worked in a bar or in retail then you will have had experience of providing customer service. Being friendly and approachable and solving customer problems effectively are key skills relevant to all employers. Also being punctual, reliable and trustworthy demonstrates good self-management – these skills will be an attractive prospect for any potential employer.

Alternatively if you’ve ever been involved in a group project at university, or if you play sport, then you’ve worked as a team. This is an opportunity for you to tell employers about how you can recognise and understand the viewpoints of others, appreciate the contributions made by all, and how you have built strong interpersonal skills. Furthermore if you ever had to settle disputes or disagreements while working with a group of people, this would show employers that you possess the ability to problem solve.

Help, I don’t think I have any transferrable skills!
If you feel that you lack some key skills, there is still plenty of time to gain them. Being at university is a great chance to build upon your talents. If you want to improve your communication for example, there are a variety of societies you can join which will help you with this, such as debating societies, drama groups or even the magic society. Additionally you can develop your communication skills by delivering presentations as part of your course. By getting involved in this type of activity, you will be able to demonstrate to employers that you can adopt your style to suit different audiences, and that you are able to speak publicly while overcoming nerves.

The important thing to remember is- you should not be discouraged from applying to something just because you haven’t been in a similar role before. Recruiters look for potential. They want someone who has the right aptitude for the role. So if you can show in your job application or at an interview that you have previously used the skills that they’re after, that you have enthusiasm and the ability to absorb new knowledge, then you will have a great chance of being considered.

Pagan Aspinall, Graduate Intern