Making the most of summer

blog-picWith exams now over, it’s time to start making plans for the summer. Read on for advice from Careers Consultant Andrea on how to make the most of the next few months …

  • Think carefully before applying for advertised work experience positions so you identify the best opportunities e.g. what’s your main motivator for getting work experience?

– Experience in a particular sector?
– A chance to develop a new skill?
– Getting an ‘in’ with a particular company?
– Money?
– Broadening your network?

  • If you know a specific small company you’d like to work with then think about a problem that they need solving and then think of a piece of work you could do for them which would help solve that problem and add value (e.g. competitor analysis, a specific social media marketing campaign, running an event). Approach them on LinkedIn and ask if you can meet for a coffee for 15 minutes to discuss your idea.

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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.

Creating social change with ParliaMentors

Afsana_blog_imageAfsana Salik, 3rd Year International Relations student

ParliaMentors is a political leadership programme I’ve been on this year while studying at Queen Mary. I’m in a team of 5 Queen Mary students, all of us from different cultural and religious backgrounds. we’re supported to run our own social action project and we also get mentored by an MP. It has been an amazing experience for me.

It’s such a wonderful initiative that gives students from various cultures and faiths the chance to participate and make a change in society. The great thing about it is that it gives opportunities to students like me the experience of parliamentary life through mentoring by MPs. I’ve been mentored by Labour MP Stephen Timms for the last year. He is a very active and committed MP and so passionate about what he does. ParliaMentors also trains us to make social change in our communities. I’ve loved the training that I’ve been given throughout the programme. Each of these training sessions is based around skills like teamwork, leadership and public speaking, and they have been so useful and beneficial. And the training didn’t just support my participation in the programme – it also helped me in other areas, helping me to look at my community from a different angle.

My group and I have decided to deliver a social action project on mental health. We started by doing broad research into mental health in our local borough of Tower Hamlets, and after some thought, we have decided to focus on our campus. We are bringing together the students’ union, counselling service and students to bring changes in our counselling system, in order to make it more accessible. We believe our work will benefit the future students of our university and hopefully others in Tower Hamlets who also uses similar services.

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First year opportunities

_mg_6911_27399972986_oAs a first year student, a career might seem a long way off, but it’s important to start thinking about gaining work experience in your first year. This will improve your chances of gaining further work experience or internships in the future, and give you a taste of what it’s like working in a particular company or sector.

At last week’s ‘What Employers Want’ event, led by Accenture, we heard that demonstrating work experience on your CV can make the difference when it comes to shortlisting candidates. This is the case with most employers – they want to see that you’ve taken the initiative to get involved and demonstrate your interest in their sector.

The majority of internships are for students in their 2nd year (or 3rd year if it is a 4 year course), but there are a growing number of opportunities available specifically for first year students. These are called insight weeks, which can last anything from 3 days to 2 weeks. Some organisations also offer insight days, where students have the opportunity to spend a day finding out about the company and sector. It is worth noting that not all internships will specify which year of study you must belong to. Some placements with charities and media companies are open to all – for example, Cancer Research, Oxfam and the BBC.

Before you spend a lot of time on an application, make sure you check to see whether you are eligible to apply. See our list of first year opportunities below, but remember that this is not a full list of every single opportunity available. If there is a particular employer you are interested to find out more about, visit their website and see what opportunities are available.

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Guest blog: Becoming a Management Consultant

Lydia Hesketh, Inside Careers

Considering a career as a management consultant? Or are you already set on the sector and determined to achieve a graduate job in a top consultancy firm? There are many reasons why consultancy is a popular career choice: the salaries are some of the highest around, the opportunity to travel is vast and the diversity of work stretches across many sectors and industries.

But what exactly do management consultants do? A management consultant provides external advice for organisations that require specialist expertise or an objective outside perspective on their business. Consultancy usually involves the identification and assessment of a problem or the analysis of a specific area of an organisation, the reporting of findings and the formulation of recommendations for improvement. In essence, a consultant’s job is to advise a company on improvements that could be made to its business.

Basic Requirements

Before you start planning your path to a consultancy career it’s vital you understand the basic requirements and traits consultants hold.

In terms of educational requirements, you must have a strong academic background, educated to degree level with a minimum of a 2:1 or equivalent at a top university. The majority of firms now accept a wide range of degree subjects, with some strategy consultants looking particularly favourably on degrees with a numerical focus.

Soft skills are also highly sought after by employers, such as leadership and interpersonal skills as well as an entrepreneurial mind-set and intellectual curiosity.

If you are decided on a consultancy career, read on to find out what you need to do at each step of your journey.

First year

First year is all about exploring the profession; discovering if consultancy suits your skills and passions, as well as what kind of consultancy firms interest you. Some companies offer work experience to first years in the form of insight days or weeks. Look out for these placements opening in December and closing January to February.

If you’re unable to get onto an insight programme, joining a society or gaining part-time work is also a worthwhile experience that employers will look favourably upon.

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How to succeed finding part-time work with QTemps

What is QTemps? QTemps is our on-campus recruitment service specifically for QMUL students and graduates, and is a great way of earning money whilst gaining meaningful work experience. Our part-time and one off jobs are mainly for students. As Queen Mary University is a London living wage employer we don’t work on any jobs that pay less than £9.75 per hour.

Where are the jobs located? Most of our roles are internal, working with different academic schools and departments, whilst others are in and around East London. Recently we’ve had a lot of tutoring roles with local schools, which pay around £14.00 per hour.

How many hours a week will I work? We get jobs that are anything from just 1 hour only to other roles that started in 2012 and are still going!

Sounds great, what’s the catch? The only thing to bear in mind is that we get a lot of applicants for our roles (sometimes over 200!), so it’s important to make sure your CV is up to date. To increase your chances of being successful, make sure the education section is updated to say you are studying at QMUL, as the service is specifically for students and graduates at QMUL!

Any other advice? READ THE ADVERT! If the advert says you have to be available every Wednesday, for example, please only apply if you are available, as you will not be successful otherwise.

What have other students said?

”I have gained huge amounts from my placements. It allowed me to build up workplace skills and knowledge while studying.” Christina Govier, BA Politics Student.

”QTemps makes it much easier to get in contact with companies and the recruitment process is very simple. It provides a great opportunity to gain valuable skills and improve your CV for future jobs.“ Rafael Alves Sa, MSc Software Engineering Student.

How do I apply? Start by updating your CV*, then upload it and register on our website: http://tempjobs.london.ac.uk/QueenMary/Login.asp

*Not written a CV before or struggling to update it? Book an appointment with one of our Careers Consultants by calling 020 7882 8533 and see our online resources for further information.

If I’m stuck who do I contact?

Contact Rachael Blundell, QTemps Recruitment Manager: qtemps@qmul.ac.uk

How and why to get work experience

So why is work experience so important?

  • It means you can earn money during your studies
  • You’ll gain skills valued by future employers (e.g. commercial awareness, initiative, team work)
  • You can build relevant experience for your future career
  • You’ll find out what an industry / job role is like in reality
  • It helps to build your network / contacts

What can I do?

It can be challenging to find part-time work that is linked to your degree or the sector you would like to work in after graduation. Many students combine their part time job with some volunteering and work experience (e.g. internships and work shadowing) to earn money as well as gain valuable relevant work experience.

For a wide range of part-time, internship and work experience vacancies visit the Careers & Enterprise Centre’s job board: QM Job Online.

Roles on campus and in the local area

There are many part-time opportunities on campus, from Student Ambassadors and Library Shelvers, to residential, café, and bar staff. See the work experience hub to explore the variety of ways (paid and voluntary) you can develop your experience on campus. For jobs within the Student’s Union see: www.qmsu.org/jobs/

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