Tag Archives: Work experience and internships

My internship experience

by Jess Blackwell

I think it’s safe to say that I was feeling rather panicked before I got some advice from the Careers Service at University. In fact, I feel panicked is a slight understatement – I was absolutely convinced that I was doomed to a life of unemployment and/or a job that sucked out my soul. Luckily, the Careers Service managed to help me out a bit.

Jess Blackwell

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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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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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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.  

The Spring Careers Fair 2017

Our final employer event on campus this term was last week’s Spring Careers Fair.

New for 2017: careers fair app

This year we trialled a careers fair app which allowed students to research and prepare for the fair using our top tips section, filter and search to find the most relevant employers by the types of roles they were advertising and the academic departments employers were targeting, and then highlight these employers on an interactive floorplan.

We had over 500 downloads and positive feedback from students who downloaded the app. One student commented, “very helpful to plan who I’d like to speak to. Made my day more efficient. The map was a great feature.” Other comments included, “very useful resource”, “App very useful for prep”.

After the success of the Spring Careers Fair, we will be using the app for all of the careers fairs this autumn, if you want to get a sneak preview of the main features and benefits as well as check out the employers that are still recruiting and attended the event, the Spring Careers Fair app is still available to download – search for Bristol Uni Careers Fair Plus on the App Store and Google Play Store.

Bristol PLUS celebration

Exclusive to those who completed the employability award, the fair opened early with a welcome and the chance to speak to employers more directly over coffee and pastries.

The Bristol PLUS Award provides a framework to help you enhance your CV, develop a variety of employability skills and be more prepared for the interview process. A degree is no longer enough to make you competitive in the recruitment process. The Bristol PLUS Award rewards University of Bristol students who have gained significant skills and experience through activities outside of their studies.

Careers Service pop-up event & Bristol Opportunities area

One of the marquees outside the event held a Careers Service pop-up event with lots of taster talks open to all students as well as offering specific advice for postgraduate students. For those students still confused about their career options staff were on hand to offer one to one advice. The other marquee was the Bristol Opportunities tent, offering a list of immediate vacancies in the city, the chance to meet some local employers and advice on applying to the UoB Internship Scheme.

Employers love Bristol students

With a leading global reputation, and one of the highest rates of employability in the UK, your degree from the University of Bristol will help you get wherever you want to be. The quality of today’s students attracts many recruiters.

Employers from a diverse range of business areas attended this event including media, charities, consulting, finance, teaching, hospitality and IT, to meet with students and promote their organisation as well as upcoming and available opportunities. Around 2 thirds of these were SMEs with the rest being larger organisations. Many commented on the calibre of students and the conversations they had.

“Very inquisitive students.”

“It was a pleasure to meet the high quality students at Bristol.”

“It’s always great to visit Bristol Uni – lots of interested students with lots to bring to the charity sector.”

“A fantastic event for students to drink with cups from the fountain of business knowledge from fossils like ourselves.”

Missed out? You can still catch up

We are here to help you get to where you want to be when you graduate, offering you careers support in person, online and over the phone. The Careers Service opening hours are Monday to Friday 9:30 pm to 4:45 pm and in vacation 1:30 am to 4:45 pm. You can download the app to research employers and get ahead for next year. Our employer events programme will resume in the autumn term so check mycareer for updates.

Using the Careers Service – a first year student’s perspective.

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.

joshua-greenidge

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

Making the Most of Your Summer

Exams are almost over and it’s nearly time for a well-deserved summer break. Travelling, volunteering abroad and summer placements are popular ways to build your skills and experience during the long stretch of time between June and September, but don’t worry if you haven’t got one of them lined up as there are plenty of things that you can do to make the most of your summer.

Four things that you can do to make the most of your summer

  1. Volunteer in the UK – Volunteering is a fantastic way to help others and give something back to the community. Not only that, it can also help you to gain valuable experience, especially if you are thinking of going into an industry such as media, charity, heritage or other areas where it’s more difficult to secure paid work. If you’re not sure about what you might want to do after university, volunteering can also be a good short-term way of finding out what an industry is like to help you narrow down your choices.
  2. Work Shadow – Similar to volunteering, work shadowing is a great way to gain exposure to an industry that you think might interest you, but in this case it’s likely to be far more short-term and hands off, maybe only a week at a time. Lots of companies are happy to allow someone in just to observe, and it has the added benefit of helping you meet a wider variety of people and build up your crucial professional network!
  3. Read – Reading is a fantastic way to spend your spare time; whether you’re on the beach, in a park, or listening to the rain outside your window you can settle down and get stuck into a good book. Think about using part of your holiday to dig into some of your more interesting course material, read through articles to build your commercial awareness, or just to relax and get stuck into a novel that you’ve been meaning to get around to!
  4. Work on a Personal Project – Is there a project that you’ve not managed to find the time for? Now that your lectures, assignments and exams are out of the way, pour some of your energy and time into something that really interests you. You could aim to write a blog post or an online article on a topic that you’re passionate about, try to build an app that you had an idea for, or even start writing up a plan for your own business idea.

If you need any help with your career planning, don’t forget that the Careers Service is still open as normal for the next few weeks and then for slightly reduced hours over the summer months:

21 June 2016 – 16 September, 1.30 pm – 4.45pm Monday to Friday
(Careers Service closed Monday 20th June)

A first year’s ‘Spring Week’ experience.

ID, check. Two copies of relevant documents, check. Clean, well-ironed smart clothes, check. Room in the purse for inevitable free gifts from Barclays, check. Positive energy and attitude, check. “Never be late. Never be just on time. Always arrive a little bit early.” My friend’s advice echoed in my head, as I got on the London Underground and checked the time. I should be there 10 minutes before meeting time.

Upon arrival, the recruitment team took our name and relevant documents, and handed out our name tag for the week before being thrown into a swarm of people we hadn’t met, (or had, depending on whether you’ve done spring weeks or insight days at different firms), and given a briefing about what this week would entail: work experience, better understanding about the industry and Barclays, and networking opportunities. The recruitment team didn’t emphasize it specifically, but how we perform throughout the week – how we interact with others, the questions we ask to the company reps and the way we tackle tasks given – was going to be taken into account to our overall assessment on deciding whether or not we get an offer for the next year’s summer internship.

From that moment on to the end of the programme on Friday, my days were packed with heavily informative sessions such as trading exercises, talks delivered by senior executives, preparation for the assessment, work shadowing, various presentations and skills sessions and networking opportunities. We had to absorb and understand a lot of information, ranging from the simplest basics such as how to present yourself well or business etiquettes to learning about various divisions within the firm and how they work – all of which was extremely helpful. What I had learned about the industry and Barclays prior to commencing the spring week became more consolidated and contextualized in my mind, and overall, everything just made so much more sense. It could be intimidating, entering into a whole new world, where you don’t know the people around you or comprehend exactly what is happening, but more often than not, everyone is friendly and eager to help. I made sure to remember to just be myself, have fun, relax, and be willing to learn while doing my best and being well-prepared. Having fun and giving one’s best are not mutually exclusive!

My spring week ended with a weekend spent with the students I had met earlier that week, finally with a phone call the following Monday, letting me know that I have an offer for an internship next summer! It was a very intense, challenging week, but I did get out of the week all that spring weeks could offer: great experience, a better understanding of the company and the industry as a whole, a network of people that inspired and motivated me and an offer for next year. Oh, and the compensation for the week wasn’t too bad either!

By Jess Ye Seul Kim.

A 1st year Childhood Studies with Management (BSc) student.