Interested in postdoctoral study and considering your funding options?

Are you contemplating postdoctoral study and considering your funding options?  If so, you might be interested in attending some of the events planned for Fellowship MAY!

Fellowship Day began as an event in the School of Medicine and Dentistry more than a decade ago, and invited representatives from the major Research Councils, Charities and Trusts to come and speak about funding opportunities available for postdocs and early-career researchers.

This year’s event will change slightly in that it will be a series of talks, seminars and funding-related workshops taking place at Mile End, Whitechapel and Charterhouse Square campuses, running from 8-19 May 2017. The schedule for Fellowship MAY! is available below. 

To book on to these sessions, visit our bookings page cpdbookings.qmul.ac.uk, login and search for ‘FM‘ in the course code field.  This will list all Fellowship MAY! workshops.  If you don’t yet have a cpdbookings account, you can register here.

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Career myths – let’s do some busting!

It’s confusing world out there, with so many mixed messages about careers and the world of work. Let’s look at some of the most commonly spoken career myths and discover the truth behind them.

“The earlier you decide on your choice of career, the better.”

Not necessarily. While it may appear to give you a ‘head start’ over others, that is no use if the choice isn’t the right one. What is most important is that you conduct thorough research to enable you to make the best choices for your future. Getting a range of exposure across a number of industries, whilst at university, may help you discover which is right for you. And don’t forget that these days it is common for people to change careers several times throughout their working lives, perhaps as their own needs and circumstances change.

“Your career should be directly relevant to your degree or university was a waste of time”.

Wrong! A degree isn’t a vocational training programme (although, in some cases, it may carry professional qualifications with it). It’s an academic qualification which shows your ability to learn whilst developing a whole host of useful transferable skills such as research, communication skills, critical thinking etc. Additionally, university provides a unique environment in which to bolster your transferable skills whilst also exploring different career options. This is why the majority of graduate employers do not specify a particular degree discipline from their applicants and prefer, instead, to draw from students from a diverse range of academic backgrounds.

“The best careers are those that pay the most.”

To some people, yes, to most people, no. There are always going to be people who are more money motivated than others and for these people a high salary is going to be important. But let’s not forget that there is usually a big pay-off for a fat pay cheque. These jobs often involve insanely long hours and a lot of responsibility and pressure. If that doesn’t drive you then think about what’s important to you – do you need a job that helps other people/has professional respect/is intellectually challenging? Aligning your career with your own set of work values should help ensure that you find the best job for you in the longer term.

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Interview mistakes to avoid!

According to the Undercover Recruiter, 33% of recruiters know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they’ll hire someone. So what can you do to give yourself the best chance of success? Their top tips include:

  • Research the company. You’ve heard it many times before, but it really is important to understand the job you’re applying to, the company and how the industry works. See our advice here.
  • Be ready to describe your experience. They suggest that ‘Tell me about yourself’ is the most commonly asked interview question. So how exactly should you answer? Well, you’re in luck! We’ve got a blog to help you right here.
  • Be aware of your body language. Failing to make eye contact, crossing your arms and using too many hand gestures are all quoted below as some of the most common non-verbal mistakes. Why not book a 1-2-1 mock interview with a Careers Consultant to perfect your technique?

See the image below for a summary of the findings from The Undercover Recruiter’s research.

90-seconds-interview-hire-you

Credit: The Undercover Recruiter

 

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.