InQUBEate Final Pitches

inOn Tuesday night we held the final pitches of our 8 week incubator programme. Over the past 8 weeks, 13 businesses have explored topics such as customer validation, market research and pitching, as well as having weekly support from mentors that have backgrounds in different industries such as advertising, Fin Tech and the charity sector.  The students pitched to a panel of judges and an audience of almost 50.

The judging panel consisted of 2 representatives from JA Kemp law firm (image below) who were providing £1,000 of legal advice for the winning business.  Another judge was Adam Goddall, a tech entrepreneur, product specialist and start-up mentor. Adam co-founded Monizo, the world’s first bank account for freelancers. Our fourth judge was Hannah Jackson who manages Expert Impact, a charity that supports established social entrepreneurs who are in growth stage by matching them with expert mentors. Prior to this she was at The Princes Trust running their enterprise programme in North London, supporting young, unemployed people to start and launch their own business.

judgesThere were 4 prizes up for grabs.  The winner of Best Pitch was ‘Scenicly’, a next generation navigation app which takes you on a personalised journey instead of the standard A to B. Best Progress went to social enterprise ‘Just Like Mama’s’ which is an app that will allow unemployed women in the Tower Hamlets area to cook home cooked meals for University students. Best Idea went to ‘Sweeter Than Pi’ which uses relevant and colourful social media posts to encourage young girls to engage with Maths and move towards STEM based careers.

Our overall winner was ‘SickCover’, an app that allows supply teachers to book cover in high schools. This received £1,000 of free legal advice from JA Kemp and this will be tailored to their business following an initial meeting. Other business ideas included a robotic device that aids the rehabilitation process for stroke victims, a cycling safety device and a vintage fashion brand.

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Skype interview success

Skype interviews are becoming increasingly common and they do have some advantages – you don’t need to spend time travelling to an employer’s offices, and you can be interviewed from the comfort of your own home. Unlike a pre-recorded video interview, a Skype interview allows you to talk live to a real person, preserving the human interaction which is so important in a face-to-face interview.

However, they can also be stressful: you might find that you’re worrying about the possibility of internet connection problems rather than focusing on the questions, and reading the social cues and body language of your interviewer can be much more difficult over video.

Preparing for a Skype interview should be different in certain ways from the preparation you would do for an in-person interview; focused preparation can help you to deal with the specific challenges that video interviews pose.

  1. Download Skype well before the date of the interview. Practice using it if you’re not already familiar with how it works. Make sure that your Skype name and photograph are professional.
  2. Practice answering questions on video: ask a friend or family member to log on to Skype, ask you interview questions and give you honest and critical feedback on your answers and body language. Ask them to tell you if you are fidgeting too much, if you’re audible and if you come across as engaged and interested. Practicing on video will familiarise you with the process and help it to feel less strange on the day. You might even want to record yourself so that you can review your own performance and identify areas for improvement. It is a good idea to try and have the practice interview at the same time of day as the real interview will be, so that you can check the lighting – you want to avoid being in a location which is either too bright or too dark. Continue reading

Next Award Funding/InQUBEate Deadline: 16th December

inqubeate 2InQUBEate is our 8 week mentoring and training programme that supports student entrepreneurs. Participants have weekly group and 1-1 mentoring workshops, receive seed funding, supplemented by training sessions covering all aspects of running a successful start-up business, including marketing, pitching, and business planning. If you are successful in receiving an award, you will automatically secure a place on our InQUBEate programme which will begin at the end of January.

Our Award breakdowns are as follows:

Try It’ Prizes
Win funds of up to £500 to get your social enterprise or business idea off the ground. To win a Try It prize, you don’t need to have a business plan, just a problem you want to solve and some idea how you might do it. You might want to test a solution to a problem you see around you on campus or in the community. Or it might be you want to test out a business idea.

‘Grow It’ Prizes 
Win funds of up to £5000 to develop your existing profit-making or social enterprise. To win a Grow It prize, your enterprise doesn’t have to be profitable yet, but you need to show a clear pathway to profitability. We’ll also ask you to outline exactly how this money would help you to take your enterprise to the next stage.

‘Build It’ Prize
If you have an idea that you can’t test before you’ve developed a prototype, you can apply for up to £10,000 to develop one (e.g. an app, website, or physical prototype). To win a Build It prize you need to undertake significant market research to show that your product has commercial potential and offers an innovative solution to a market need. 

For feedback on your idea please book an enterprise appointment by calling 020 7882 8533 and click on the following link for more information and applications:

Study Yourself Employable: 4 Things Ambitious Students Should Be Doing Now

Smart students already know that success requires great grades (two-thirds of companies require at least a 2:1) and relevant work experience (half of hiring managers won’t hire graduates without any). But these qualifications alone won’t make you stand out from the crowd. The average number of candidates for each job is 39, and that figure rises into the hundreds for competitive industries.

Want to shine? Here’s what you should be doing long before graduation:

  1. Write Your Graduate CV

Many students will have a CV which they made for their part-time job, but few Freshers will have bothered to write one for the job they expect to have after university. This is a mistake. Recruiters are busy people routinely faced with more applications than they can handle. The easiest way they can cut the pile down to a manageable size is by discarding any and every CV that doesn’t appear up to scratch at first glance.


To avoid this fate, your CV needs to be perfect in two respects. Firstly, it must show that you meet all the basic requirements. Secondly, it must be clearly formatted, correctly spelt, and easy to read. That is why starting to work on it early is essential.

Placing everything you can offer on paper makes it easy to spot any glaring gaps in your experience while you still have plenty of time to fill them. Have a look at some job specs from the types of industry or job you want to go into. You’ll probably notice that a lot of them ask for some specific skill, such as pivot tables or Adobe Photoshop, which you can learn to use in your free time.

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NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) – Is it for me?

You may have heard about the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP), seen as one of the main professional options for science graduates wanting to work in healthcare. It will reopen for applications in January 2017. So is it one of the options for you to consider after you graduate, and if so how best should you prepare for a successful application? 

Read on for further information about the programme from Careers Consultant Maya, who works with SBCS students.

Is this scheme the default option if I am taking a science degree and am interested in healthcare?

The short answer is no as the scheme is so competitive. In 2016 there were 5,768 applicants for 258 places in the whole of the UK. Not all applicants are fresh out of an undergraduate degree either, which makes the competition even fiercer. However, if you think you would like to do lab and scientific analysis in a hospital or other clinical setting, working in a team with other scientists, doctors and nurses, and do not want a research career, then it might be very well worth finding out more and giving it a go!

In 2016, clinical immunology had by far and away the highest competition ratio, with 80 applicants per post. There was some good news for the clinical bioinformaticians though, with only 5.25 applicants per post – see table below.

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How to survive Assessment Centres – expect the unexpected

Can you think on your feet?
Are you good at coping with a range of tasks?
Do you enjoy being challenged?
Do you work well in a team?

If you answered yes to the above then you will probably thrive at any Assessment Centre.

What is an Assessment Centre?

qpIf you are in your final year or have just graduated, the chances are that you are applying for Graduate Schemes that may involve taking part in an Assessment Centre (AC).

The employer will invite you for a day or half a day to take part in a set of activities that have been tailor-made to show how you deal with work related situations. This will also probably include one or sometimes two interviews – either with a panel or an individual. You will be invited as part of a group of other students ranging from just 4 to as many as 30 applicants to demonstrate that you have the specific skills and abilities required by the employer.

Hopefully, you will have already demonstrated this range of skills in your written application – the employer is now looking to see if you can deliver these in person at an AC.

Why do companies hold ACs?

Competition for graduate schemes is very tough. ACs are the most effective way for employers to assess whether you have not only the exact skills they need but, most importantly, whether you will fit with their individual work culture.

Applications to graduate schemes has risen 40% since 2012 according to a recent FT article. In addition the article reported that JP Morgan only hires 2% of graduate applicants to its investment banking division and Citigroup appoints just 2.7% of all applicants. These figures clearly reveal why companies are increasingly using even tougher ACs to identify the best candidates for their Graduate Schemes.

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QConsult case study: Mats Syversen

matsMy name is Mats Syversen, and I’m a student in my final year of a BEng degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Queen Mary. In October, I applied to take part in a programme called QConsult Commercial run by Careers & Enterprise at QMUL. This is a paid scheme where you, as a student, get an opportunity to work closely with working professionals, as a consultant, to solve realistic business challenges as a part of a team.

The process begins with an online application form, which you need to fill in explaining your motivation and interest in the scheme. If you’re accepted you will be invited to attend an assessment day, before you’re then, hopefully, accepted onto the scheme. If you are unsuccessful, you will still leave with a wealth of knowledge regarding how large enterprises conduct their candidate selection process, giving you the upper hand if you are thinking of applying for a job.

If you are successful, you will be split into project teams consisting of 5 people, with whom you will be solving the project brief together with. In my group I was assigned the role of Project Coordinator, which meant I would be working closely with the client, making sure the deadlines were met, and, most importantly, making sure all the team members were being included and heard.

No prior experience of consultancy is needed, as training will be given before the start of the project, which is why this project is suitable for anyone who’s interested in gaining relevant work experience as well as networking with professionals and other students. During the project, you will receive frequent feedback, advice and support from the Careers & Enterprise team, to make sure you are always on the right track.

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