The first year doesn’t count, right?

I’ll never forget my three years of University, especially the first. My hopeless navigation skills, overhaul of books, sudden sense of freedom & overly spaced out campus were all part of the journey, but its questionable whether I actually remember much of what I was taught. When you first arrive, you’re faced with so many new ‘life lessons’ that it’s hard to even consider that you’ll be squeezing in the essay work as you’re burning a salad. My fond memories perhaps are centered more towards Freshers’ week and the many friends that I made, not to mention the student hall bar that I spent many a night at.

monsteruniYou see upon enrolling, I was made aware that my first days of studying would not be counted towards my overall mark. A pass, regardless of the grade would be sufficient to qualify me for my next round of hurdles so needless to say I was less inclined to put my studies at the top of my to do list (not that I like to admit this!)  Today, this way of learning is the same for many courses, degrees, and universities all over the UK, with thousands of students knowing full well that the ‘hard work’ will most probably start in their second year.

The question is, is this the correct way to approach it? It’s obvious that it works, I graduated with a good grade and so did many that I studied with, but it doesn’t mean that it’s effective. Whilst we all love the idea of a little lenience, we are still paying the full whack. With this in mind, surely it would be in our best interests to make the most out of what we’re given, regardless of whether it doesn’t always count. Finding your voice and your own style of writing is essential, especially in certain subject areas. It’s understandable that many of us struggle when completing our first few assignments, referencing is suddenly thrust upon us and we’re thrown in at the deep end. Receiving a few low grades to begin with is fine,  that’s what the first term is there for. But ask yourself whether you really need to continue on a path that suggests it doesn’t really matter? Or should we aim to improve ready for when the big boys are set?

There are plenty of qualified graduates out there, but if you put the extra effort in earlier on, you’ll most likely put yourself in a much better position to stand out from the crowd. This said, if our first marks counted, it may ease the load in those last months before graduation and help to create a less stressful environment (I never particularly liked the no sleep, full of caffeine, square boxed computer screen look). The actions and habits you develop in first year can potentially follow you into your second, third or even fourth years, so it would be in your best interests to get ahead around the way of the essay world as early on as possible. It’s easy enough to put a failed mock or exam to the back of your mind when you feel that you’ve got a few years to correct it, but the bitter truth is that if you get enough marks of that nature, they will be your final grade.

In my own experiences, I do understand that your first months of the new life should be about finding your feet. If you make a small amount of mistakes along the way then you’re hardly damaging the prospects of your dream career in three years time, so learn from them. Although your degree mark is extremely important, maturing and adjusting into adult life will help you succeed just as much in the long run. University isn’t just about academia; personal development plays an important and integral part, so balance your academic and social life. I’m sure I speak for many when I say if I could go back and change a few things about the way in which I worked in my uni days, I would. In adult life there aren’t many situations where you’re granted the option of a second chance, and by god I wish I’d respected this. It goes without saying that all of us should enjoy letting the seminar notes gather a little dust, but keep in mind that a bit of extra hard work when the start gun blows will go a long, long way.

Written by Hannah Tuck, Staffroom Education

Make the most of your time at university

 

What to do this Summer – Working Holidays

Dreaming of a nice holiday this Summer but money’s tight? Then combining a job with a holiday could be the answer. Ok, so you may miss out on a few hours on the beach or Smiley face and sandsightseeing, but the benefits can more than make up of that. Apart from the money, think about the people you will meet and the new experiences you will have and it will definitely make it onto your CV.

Even though a lot of working holidays feature sport and/or young people, you can find other types of work if this isn’t what you would like to do. You need to start looking now though to ensure you get the best possible choice as deadlines can be early. Don’t wait until June before applying!

There are a number of great opportunities already posted on Unilife Connect – see below – and more will appear over the next few weeks.

Working holidays in the UK

Summer School Counselor, ISSO, Scotland and Cambridge, also Connecticut.

Easter & Summer Holiday Camp Staff, Barrachdas Activity Day Camps
Like this one? Then you may also like Rockley, Camp Beaumont, PGL

Working holidays around the world

Summer Hospitality Placement at a USA Resort

USA Summer Camp Jobs: Summer 2016 or USA Summer Camp Jobs
Like these? Then you may also like BUNAC, Camp Leaders, Camp America

Summer School Counselor, Connecticut, USA, also Scotland and Cambridge.

Camp Counsellor in European Sports, Adventure & Language Camps for kids & youth, Camp Europe, Germany

Seasonal Work Opportunities, Mark Warner, Greece, Sardinia, Corsica, Turkey
Like this one? Then you may also like Thomson and First Choice Summer Jobs, Kings Recruit

Learning a new skill more important than money?

5 week funded TEFL/TESOL course in Witney & Hungary £250.00 Spring, Summer and Autumn 2016 – £250.00 covers all tuition, certification, return flights and accommodation.

Canal Restoration Working Holidays £63 learn skills such as bricklaying, stone walling, machine operation and restoration techniques – £63 covers food, accommodation, transport.

Check these sites out as well

Natives
Small Earth
Season Workers
USW Careers Working Abroad

Our top tips

  • Start researching opportunities now
  • Read the small print. Some organisations require an upfront fee to cover costs, such as visa, travel and insurance. Worth noting what you get for your money too so that you can compare similar organisations.
  • Know exactly what’s expected of you in the role you’re interested in. It will also give you an advantage when applying if the job is competitive.
  • Beware of any company offering work that is paid as commission, the achievement of ‘targets’, or on stepped incentives. Ask yourself why they aren’t paying a sensible wage – it might be because it’s cheaper for them not to.
  • If you are organising your own working holiday, some countries do issue temporary working visas and some don’t, others you may be able to work without one. The number of working visas that are allocated each year can vary and change year on year. Check out the country’s UK embassy website for details.
  • Check your travel insurance covers everything you need it to and the country you are going to!

Need help with your application? Book an appointment with the Careers Service.

Ho ho ho, tis the season to apply for graduate jobs and placements!

It’s nearly the end of the Autumn Term which means that Christmas is just around the corner, and this year Father Christmas’ sack is full to the brim with graduate jobs, summer placements, year out placements and lots of other opportunities!

Right now on Unilife Connect there are 268 live opportunities advertised, with most of these having multiple positions available – some have thousands!

Add it all up and there are tens of thousands of graduate jobs and placements available for students to apply for right now, but some have closing dates coming up over the next few weeks so now is the time to get applying.

There are even more opportunities available on other sites and the Job Searching page on the Careers Site links to the best ones.

The Careers Site and Unilife Connect are packed full of cracking resources to help you present yourself well and stand out. The Advice on getting a job section is the first place to go to help you sort out your CV, complete good applications and prepare for interviews and assessment centres. The Interactive Employability Tools on Unilife Connect are fantastic and include things like a CV Builder, Practice Aptitude Tests (Psychometrics), an Interview Simulator and lots, lots more.

Don’t forget there are lots of closing dates coming up soon so don’t miss out!

Making the most of careers fairs

Careers fairs are a fantastic way to meet employers face to face, to gain an insight into what it would be like to work there, make contacts, find out things which aren’t on their eventwebsite, and of course to make a good impression!

Employers will often bring along recent graduates or students currently on placement, giving you an excellent opportunity to pick their brains about the projects they are currently working on and of course get some top tips on the application process they went through.

Do your research before the event, know what recruiters will be there, what they do and the opportunities they have. Don’t make assumptions about the opportunities employers have just because of the kind of company they are as they often recruit graduates from a variety of different subject areas e.g. lots of big companies have legal departments.

Concentrate on the employers you are most interested in and what you want to talk to them about. Think of insightful questions to ask them and avoid common ones like “what does your company do?” as this suggests a lack of interest.

Even though employers aren’t necessarily expecting you to be dressed in a power suit, you do still need to appear smart and professional.  You also need to behave professionally, for example finish your coffee and put your phone on silent before entering the event.  This might not be a job interview but you want to try to create a good impression.

We see lots of students who visit fairs to collect freebies and build up a lifetime supply of free pens, which is fine but won’t get you a good job or placement.  Make best use of the time you have at a fair by talking to the employers, getting an insight into their organisation and making a good impression on them – they may keep a look out for your application if you impressed them!

Don’t be shy, employers want you to come and talk to them – be prepared to introduce yourself by telling them who you are, what you are studying and the kind of job / placement you are interested in.  If you visit a fair with friends don’t hide behind them and hope that they’ll do all the talking, get stuck in!

Careers fairs have specified start and end times and can be very busy so get there early to give yourself enough time to talk to all of the employers you want to meet.  Consider having your own simple business cards printed so that you can exchange cards with recruiters.

Before leaving the fair double check the programme to be sure that you have spoken to all the employers that you are interested in.

Don’t forget to follow up after the event, and be sure to note application deadlines into your diary allowing plenty of time to complete them properly.

 

Matthew

Matthew (USW Careers)
Linkedin

How to make the most of your engineering placement or internship

If you’ve got engineering work experience lined up for the future, in the form of a Engineering work experience RateMyPlacementplacement or internship, then you’ve got a great opportunity to open your eyes to the world of professional employment in this exciting sector.

Work experience programmes are valuable to your personal and professional development, because they let you apply what you’ve learned so far during your degree in a real-world setting.

Other major benefits of doing a placement or internship include finding out whether a career in engineering seems right for you (before you graduate) and also gaining vital experience that you can include on your CV.

After graduation you’ll find that many companies ask for potential employees to have some relevant prior experience, so if your CV does contain this then you’ll be in a great position.

What are placements and internships?

You may have heard these terms be thrown around without much explanation about what they are, so if you’re a little confused about what exactly they involve, we’ve provided a brief description of each one below.

Placements – a lengthy period of work experience that you’ll spend working for a company and being treated as any other employee would be.

This means you’ll be involved in important projects and have the chance to show your value as an employee. If your degree is a four-year long course, the third year will often be a placement year in industry. These can last for up to 12 months.

Internships – these are shorter periods of work experience that generally last about four months. Other types of programme, like summer internships, can be shorter still (about one or two months) and be completed between your academic university years.

Both types of experience are incredibly valuable to your professional development, so if you’re interested in one, pick the programme that suits your requirements the best.

Make the most of your engineering work experience

Once you’ve secured your place on a programme, you should make sure you approach it with the right attitude. Below are some tips on how to get the most out of your placement or internship.

Be proactive – if this is your first taste of full-time work, then it’s understandable that you might be nervous. That’s fine. However, don’t let this impact your work and willingness to get stuck in.

Your manager and colleagues will be keeping an eye on your performance and attitude, so if you let nerves get the best of you, then you may not come across as well as you want to. Ask for work and things to do. If your manager has nothing for you, ask other colleagues and departments if there’s anything you can help with.

Not only will this let you try your hand at different tasks, it will also help you make a good impression on your team.

Ask questions – okay, so there’s no such thing as a stupid question – as long as it’s work-related. If there’s something you’re unsure of or need some help with, it’s fine to ask for help.

Get a feel for the culture – following on from the last point, you should be able to quickly work out what kind of culture exists in the company. Some places might be quite serious, while others may be far more laid-back.

If it’s a corporate atmosphere, you may have to hold off on speaking about your favourite show on Netflix (at least until a social event comes around). If it’s a more relaxed place, you may find it easier to settle if you do join in with the random conversations.

Really it comes down to getting a feel for the situation and using your common sense.

Find a mentor – if you want a bit more support, or even someone to learn from, it’s worth asking for a mentor when you start your placement or internship. Not only will this mean you have someone to confide in and discuss your progress with, it will also aid your professional development.

When you’re nearing the end of your placement or internship

The chances are that your time working for the company will fly by, but make sure that you do the following things while nearing the end of the programme to make the most of the experience.

Get feedback from your manager – if you’re part of a placement year in the industry as part of your degree, the feedback you get from your manager could contribute towards your final grade. Even if it doesn’t count towards your degree, it’s still worth asking anyway, as it will let you see what you did well and how you can improve / develop your skills. Make sure you bring it up in plenty of time before you leave, not the last afternoon!

Ask for references – as your experience is likely to become a crucial part of your CV, it’s a good idea to ask if your manager or mentor will be your reference. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you should also think about adding your placement or internship to it before you leave and asking if your colleagues will provide references on there too.

Enquire about future employment prospects – if you feel like you’ve done a great job for the company, it’s worth asking (if it hasn’t already come up) about the likelihood of returning in the future as a graduate. Many companies use placements and internships as a means to scout out future talent, so you may well get a nice surprise.

We hope you’ve found this advice useful on how you can get the most out of your engineering work experience! You can find plenty more information about working in the engineering sector by clicking the link above.

Written by Nick Clapp, copywriter at RateMyPlacement.

Do we need a CV anymore?

Pencil link question markI’ve found myself pondering recently on how long it would be before we no longer needed to create a “standard” CV. Over the last few weeks, I’ve attended several seminars and a course where developing a professional online presence has been mentioned and with so many different ways to promote ourselves online I couldn’t help but think why do we still need what seems to be now such a one-dimensional way of presenting our skills and experience.

A quick and not very scientific check of all the vacancies posted on the USW Careers jobsite showed that last year around 37% of employers requested a CV as a way to apply for their graduate job and with a month to go, this year it’s 34%. In 2011 it was 47%. Is that higher or lower than you would have guessed? For me, it’s actually a bit higher than I thought it would be. When I looked at who asked for a CV in 2014, I expected to see just small local organisations, but no, there were some large national ones among them. And I thought I would at least find a few employers asking for a link to, say, a Linkedin profile, nope, then again I didn’t spend a lot of time on this and I may have come across one or two if I had.

So for the time being there is still a need to create a CV. Even so, a standard CV is no longer sufficient. The speakers at the seminars I recently attended recounted several tales of candidates being rejected after being researched online and an HR friend of mine said that some social media was a bane for HR advisors. Now, don’t all go rushing off and hiding your social media accounts, as no presence at all can be equally as damaging. Employers say they are looking for candidates with the right “cultural fit” and in a recent study it cited that 50% of the employers said that they’d been positively attracted to a candidate because of good things they’d read about them on social networks.

It’s about bearing in mind that someone other than your mates maybe looking and adjusting accordingly. There are definitely things you post on your social media that can speak volumes about you – in a good way – and these things can complement a well-constructed professional profile.

So here’s some of the advice I’ve heard recently…

    • Think about a long term strategy
    • find a voice
    • make a network
    • help and share don’t just ask
    • communicate with people not the logo
    • work out your values
    • join networking groups
    • follow employers you would like to work for
    • think keywords for profiles
    • get recommendations
    • and be a contributor

More Information

Check your own social media profiles using http://reppler.com. This will highlight any inappropriate content, and show you what aspects of your information are publicly available.

Linkedin’s Your career starts here video

USW Careers Social Media and Job Search

92% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in the hiring process – a study by Jobvite (pdf)

If you want to think more about how the line between public and private information has blurred, take a look at this thought-provoking TEDtalk by Alessandro Acquisti. He also talks about current research using photos to find information available online. Perhaps the future will be that we will only need to send a photo to apply for a job and I’m sure there will be an app for that!  Now where’s that pen for the handwritten covering letter.

sharonh

Sharon (USW Careers)
Linkedin

Going global can change your life!

The JET team came in to give a talk about JETworking as an Assistant Language Teacher in Japan on Thursday 16 October – and if there are any schemes around that can change your life then this is one of them. The JET scheme has been around for many years, and I know graduates who have enjoyed it so much they extended beyond their one year contract and, in one case, stayed the maximum of three years and came back married to another JETer from Germany! However, you will need to be quick to be part of this paid opportunity, as the application window is only open between October and November.

Teaching English is one way of working overseas, but there are many other schemes available to students and graduates that could be equally as life changing. One graduate I know went to Canada on a work and travel scheme, this lead (after a bit of bar washing-up) to working in a great job in an advertising agency in Toronto and is now applying for permanent residency.

Any stint of working overseas or going global as we might say will take you out of your comfort zone – it challenges you – but it will also help you understand what you are capable of. It will certainly help you develop your communication skills! And for sure, working in another country really stands out in any future job applications.

“If you have international work experience, you’re likely to be confident and have an outgoing personality, which helps you engage with stakeholders”  Quote from How valuable is international work experience, ft.com

For ideas take a look at our Going Global section or come along to our Going Global Week (10 – 14 November).

global-week-14

More on working aboard:
http://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/working-abroad
http://www.prospects.ac.uk/working_abroad.htm

 

sharonh
Sharon (USW Careers)
Linkedin