Santander University Entrepreneurship Awards – deadline extended to Monday 24th April 

£82,000 up for grabs…

  • Open to current students and those who have officially graduated within 2 years 
  • Send submissions to enterprise@qmul.ac.uk

2017 categories

Pre-revenue category: This is defined as a business focusing on ideation, discovery and business validation with minimal sales generated (if any)

Post-revenue category: This is defined as a business focusing on efficiency and scale

Email enterprise@qmul.ac.uk with your video and business model canvas stating which category you are entering.

Helpful resources: business-model-canvas-support-document and 2017-entrepreneurship-awards-information-pack

Prizes

Pre – revenue winner 

  •  £20,00 of equity-free seed funding
  • Mentoring from one of the judges at the national final
  • Five page brochure or e-commerce website hosted for 12 months (Provided by Talent Cupboard)
  • An additional support package (details to be announced)
  • A fully funded intern.

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Effective cover letters: convincing an employer that you’re right for the job

hiring-1977803_960_720A cover letter is your opportunity to explain to an employer why you are applying to them, and how your skills, knowledge and experiences fit the role and organisation.

You should communicate effectively to the reader:

  • why you want to work in their organisation
  • why you want to work in that particular role
  • why your strengths, skills and experience make you the right candidate

Ideally your cover letter and your CV will be read together but you can never be sure, so try to make sure they can each stand alone.  That means your cover letter should refer to key facts from the CV but should amplify rather than duplicate.  Your CV should present more detailed evidence to back up the points you make in the cover letter.

Structure and content

There is no ‘magic formula’ for cover letters, but the following outline can provide a helpful structure. Think of sections rather than paragraphs, since some aspects may require two paragraphs. These sections may appear in different orders for different applications. Keep it to one side of A4.

Greeting

Always try to find a name, rather than a job title, as it demonstrates that you researched the organisation. ‘Dear Ms Smith’ is much better than ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ (avoid ‘To whom it may concern’).  Remember the signing off rule of ‘yours sincerely’ if it is addressed to a named person and ‘yours faithfully’ if not.

Introduction

Include who you are, your degree subject, university and situation – recently graduated, about to graduate, penultimate year.   Explain why you are writing (to apply for X position/looking for work experience) and where you saw the position advertised or, if it’s a speculative application, where you heard about the organisation.

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Final year student? No career plans yet? Don’t panic!

With Easter now a dim and distant(ish) memory and exams drawing closer by the day, final year students from all degree disciplines will be starting to focus on the big event that is graduation day. And yet this day of celebration – of marking years of hard work and commitment – may appear a little less joyous if uncertainty remains over “what happens afterwards”.

The truth is that for every undergraduate who has their career plans all sewn up, there will be others who, perhaps, haven’t got around to thinking that far ahead yet. Such is the reality of university life that whilst we know it is a good idea to start planning for the post-graduation years early, the pressures of studying, of meeting deadlines, of needing to juggle part-time work with study, means that longer term career plans are not always priority number one.  So what can you do about it?

Don’t be shy!

At this time of year it is incredibly common for our careers consultants to be meeting final year students for the first time. We know that these students can find it intimidating to admit they are feeling a bit stuck this close to graduation, but we are here to help and we work non-judgementally. We can promise you that you won’t be the first (or the last) student to meet us in these circumstances. An appointment can be a really useful opportunity for you to talk things through and discover your options, whether you already have a vague idea of the area you want to work in, or whether the whole job market still baffles you entirely. A careers appointment is often a first step in the right direction.

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Summer is around the corner …

The clocks might have only recently changed, but it’s not too early (or late) to think about getting experience in the summer.

Getting experience really makes a difference.  It looks great on your CV, and is highly regarded by employers.  The skills you develop will make you stand out from other candidates when applying to roles in the future.  Experiencing different jobs and organisations can also help you make decisions about your next steps. In fact work experience is often the best way to find out whether a particular option is right for you. You could discover interesting job roles you had never heard of, or perhaps find that what you thought might be your dream job isn’t really for you at all. The people you work with could also be useful for networking in the future.

Essential for employers: Employers want to see evidence of experience and transferable skills on your CV, as if you can prove you have used your skills effectively in a work related context in the past, it is a strong indication that you can use those skills again in the role you are applying to. In other words, it convinces the employer that you have the ability to do their job. Previous experience demonstrates initiative, drive and the motivation to get involved with activities outside of your degree – all characteristics valued by employers.

Choose wisely to meet your needs: If you don’t have much evidence of a specific skill on your CV, such as leadership or project management, find an opportunity where you can enhance and develop that skill e.g. organising a fundraising event for a charity. Whatever your degree and interests, there will be relevant experiences available.

Be open minded to avoid missing out on opportunities: Experience doesn’t necessarily have to be in the role or industry you are interested in.  Any work experience in sales, for example, will be a useful way to build your negotiation and client focus skills, which are useful in many non-sales roles. Think beyond just formal work experience schemes. It can be gained from part-time work, volunteering, extra-curricular activities, work-shadowing, or even starting your own business. 

Apply with care: Don’t assume that applications for part time or voluntary work don’t require time and effort. Always tailor your applications, as you still need to convince the employer that you have the relevant skills and are genuinely interested in the organisation. Remember, your application may be the first impression they have of you, so make it positive and professional.

If you are not sure where to apply see the Knowledge Bank for information on job hunting and our industry guides. Book an appointment with a Careers Consultant for further tips and to get feedback on your CV when you apply.

Careers Taster Scheme 2017

On 15th March the Careers Taster Scheme 2017 drew to a close, marking the end of almost two months of eye-opening career experiences for 138 Queen Mary students.

For those unfamiliar with the scheme, now in its second year, this is how it was structured:

  • 8 businesses took part, each hosting an afternoon insight session at their offices.
  • 138 competitively selected students chose their preferred employers, with each attending 3 – 4 insight sessions between January and March 2017.

Why do it?

How do you really know what it’s like to work at PwC? How can you really see if a digital marketing team would be a good fit for you? You can read a job description from back to front, you can scan a company’s website all day long, but to get a complete picture of what it’s like to work there, you need to visit. Employer insight sessions breathe life into your career choice.

How does it work?

The Careers Taster Scheme aims to widen student career choice by providing employer visits across different sectors.

Each CTS session lasted for between two and four hours. Employers presented to the attending students, giving them an overview of how the company works and how they might fit in. Often the employers would use a number of different speakers to highlight the variety of job roles available. In most cases the employer also incorporated an interactive game designed to illustrate the work they undertake – Liberty Specialty Markets did this particularly well, using a game to highlight how they price complex risks. Perhaps most importantly of all, students were able to see the office space in person, and in most cases were given a short tour of the premises.

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Erasmus+ Funding for Graduate Traineeships – Application now open for 2017

ErasmusPlus-KA1_traineeships_1Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme for boosting skills and employability through education, training, youth and sport. Queen Mary participates in the Erasmus+ Programme and will supply funding to a limited number of students for a traineeship in Europe.

Students in their final year who are planning on doing a traineeship (internship/work placement) outside the UK but in Europe (see list of Programme Countries) after they finished their studies can now apply for an Erasmus+ grant to help towards their living cost.

This is an excellent opportunity to gain international experience and to give your CV a competitive edge!

Why take part?

There are many reasons and some of them will be personal to you:

  • Gaining and improving a range of skills that are desirable to employers, including communication across cultural boundaries, self-management, independence, confidence, adaptability and self-reliance
  • Developing a global and cultural outlook, a quality highly sought-after by current employers
  • Building up a network of valuable contacts
  • Improving your (existing) language skills

How and when to apply?

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5 quick interview tips

handshake-2056023_960_720So, you’ve been offered an interview – congratulations! But how do you start to prepare? Research from CV Library suggests that 87% of UK workers research the company before an interview, 43% practise common interview questions, and 43% also prepare a smart outfit.

We’ve pulled together 5 quick tips to help you get started:

  1. Do your research – explore the company’s website and find out what they do, where they’re based and who their competitors are. You could take a look at their social media profiles or look at recent news articles to gain an understanding of what’s happening in the sector. See our recent blog from Careers Consultant Gill for further advice on how to research a company.
  2. Re-read the job description – it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the role you’ve applied to. After all, it could be a while since you filled out that application form. Make sure you understand what skills and experience the employer is looking for, as it’s likely you’ll be asked about this at your interview. Don’t forget to re-read your CV too!
  3. Book a mock interview – we run 30 minute face-to-face mock interviews where you can practise your interview technique and answer questions relevant to the role you’re applying to. These run throughout the week, so call us on 020 7882 8533 as soon as you have been offered an interview, and we can book you in. Please note that you do need to have an actual interview lined up in order to book one of these appointments.
  4. Practise common interview questions – try our online interview simulator (middle of top row) and browse a range of commonly asked questions, and read helpful do’s and don’ts. For each question, there’s also a short video from a recruiter outlining exactly how to ask the question.
  5. Make sure you’re prepared on the day – check your interview confirmation and remind yourself of exactly where you need to go (why not go take a look before the day?), who you need to speak to and allow plenty of time in case of transport issues.

For more information on interviews, see the Knowledge Bank on QMPlus – good luck!