Student story: Work experience in the heritage sector

jessJess Weeks, 3rd year History student

Every professional I have ever spoken to in the museum and heritage sector has told me experience is key. Unfortunately, it took me until my third year to understand how serious they were and how many resources were available to me at Queen Mary. One day I finally went to the careers office as I was struggling with making the decision between applying for an MA or just going straight into the world of work. They very clearly told me that work experience should be my top priority during my studies; my CV was limited and needed more to it, and the work experience would highlight the different fields and different jobs available within the sector.

I started looking at all the different companies and museums in the sector, paying particular attention to the Historic Royal Palaces because I love the Tower of London and Hampton Court. I noticed on their website they recruited volunteers and had apprenticeship and internship opportunities. Although none of these opportunities were advertised at the time I wanted to make a start and therefore I emailed all the people listed on the ‘contact us’ page because I was taught that there’s no harm in trying. I received a reply pretty quickly saying that there weren’t any opportunities. However, after a few weeks I received an email asking whether I would like to come in for an interview for the Learning and Engagement team of volunteers.

The interview was not what I had expected at all. It was much more informal and was primarily the team discussing their individual roles, what is expected of us as volunteers and what events we will be assisting with. We had to introduce the person sitting next to us and that was pretty much our talking done! We were then asked to select which palace was our preferred choice of work, I chose Kensington Palace and the Tower of London, and then that was it- we were officially HRP volunteers.

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Student story: How to make the most of your time at QMUL

kamrulKamrul Alom, 2nd year Politics student

Why you need experience:

They often say you need experience to get experience, which I believe is important. In this day and age, this saying has pertinence as many students have upped their games. It’s your job now to match them in the challenge and really stand out from the crowd with real life experience. However, experience can come in different forms – it does not have to be a job or structured internship. For example, many students make the most of the many student experiences available to them; if you were an Events Officer for a society, you can often relate this to jobs requiring organisational skills, media skills and of course event management. During my first year I got involved in a number of work experience opportunities available at Queen Mary – such as the QProjects roles, QConsult and SU roles. One role I undertook was the Public Relations Project Lead (QProjects), where I was able to gain an insight into what PR is really about, and it allowed to me gain new and relevant skills, including relationship management and the ability to project plan events. These kinds of experiences allowed me to stand out from the crowd at interviews and applications, as I had already gained experience and exposure to a number of fields, from PR to Banking, as well as gaining a variety of transferable skills.

A masterpiece does not take shape until you add all the pieces (Nyeeam Hudson):

Again I’d like to stress that it is important to gain any, and as much, experience as you can fit into your timetable (time management is key). Another reason why, is that it fits into the greater masterpiece that is your CV, profile and character. Every experience will undoubtedly add to your CV, regardless of how short, relevant or complicated it was, as well as helping you to learn more about your strengths, skills and what you’d like to do for a career (or not). For me this was my experience at Morgan Stanley (Summer Analyst) and Queen Mary Widening Participation (WP Ambassador), where I realised that I actually really enjoyed working as part of a Bank and giving back through Queen Mary. These experiences had also allowed me to come to see what my strengths and areas of improvement were, which allowed me to develop myself and look to improve my skills. It taught me the different ways to connect and communicate with others, for example the way I would communicate at Morgan Stanley was very different to how I supported classrooms through the Queen Mary Widening Participation scheme. Communication is one area that I’ve come to develop, as I learnt how to be an effective and confident speaker in different situations. In summary, it really shaped the way I am through chances to grow and learn, the way I present myself and my confidence in my abilities. Also, adding to my CV and as a result feeding into the bigger picture, no matter how small each experience was by itself, it played a part in my CV and development.

Student story: Grad scheme success

se16-8131Hi, my name is Liam, I’m a fourth year MSci Physics student, I just got back from studying abroad at The University of Miami and I’ve got a place on a graduate scheme with Schroders.

I feel like I really made the most out of my time at university. In my first year I joined the boxing team and the physics society. In my second year I started my own business, became social secretary for the physics society, the president of the surf club and a competitive swimmer for Queen Mary. That summer I networked my way into work experience with The Met Office, where I wrote writing a path finding algorithm for them. Although I had some programming experience from my degree, I taught myself a lot in order to get this job. In my third year I studied in Miami, joined a fraternity and a financial investment society (TAMID Group). During this summer I did two internships back to back over sixteen weeks when I cam back, I don’t think I could’ve possibly managed this without my work experience at The Met Office. The first was working as a data analyser for a trading team in an energy company, Good Energy. The second was working as a database analyser with Hilger Crystals. All of these positions and jobs taught me a lot about time management, software development, data analysis, communication skills and leadership.

This year I joined the executive board of the first fraternity in London, focused on my academics and finding a job. From the minute I got back to London in September, I arranged to have a careers appointment. I got a few brief tips on my CV and a lot of resources regarding what companies offer graduate schemes. I was mostly applying for companies which offered roles relating to data analysis, software development, consulting and technology. Despite having studied physics for the past four years, I had very little interest in pursuing further education or becoming a scientist.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_c25Finding a job is stressful, it takes up as much time as one and doesn’t pay you anything. I went through hundreds of pages of different companies that the careers team provided me with, applying to each and every one. My first few applications took up most of my day, but once you get into the rhythm, it becomes a lot easier. If I had a whole day, I could do a video interview, a couple of phone interviews, a few psychometric tests and four applications. I think the hardest part was finding enough jobs which my skill sets were suitable for.

My top tips would be to apply for as many as you possibly can. Most of your applications will be rejected almost immediately by their CV sorting algorithms, so I am a strong advocate of quantity over quality. Always make sure that you’re writing well structured answers to the applications, but don’t spend a whole day worrying about one cover letter. Make sure you know a lot about the company if they’ve offered you an interview and be a team player at assessment centres. Remember that if you don’t get a graduate scheme, it’s not the end of the world, I know loads of people who found their jobs shortly after graduating. So long as you’ve got perseverance and charisma, you’ll get a job.

Student story: CUB Magazine, Queen Mary & The New York Times

Angelica Hill, 3rd year English and Drama student

After spending a year after school at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, I discovered that my passion lay in the words and not in the acting.  I signed up for the English Literature and Drama Joint Honors Degree at Queen Mary.  As soon as I arrived I started writing for the various student publications available: The Print, The Tab, and CUB Magazine. Coming from an arts background, the publication I was most drawn to was CUB.  It gave me the opportunity to write about global cultural events and issues in whatever style I wished.

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After writing a few articles during my first year I applied to become the Arts Editor of the Magazine at the end of my final term of first year.  A year later I managed to be appointed Editor-in-Chief for my final year.  I will hand over to the newly elected Editor-in-Chief on March 22nd.

This progression from Contributor, to Editor, to Editor-in-Chief allowed me to first see how a magazine works from the perspective on a writer, and to receive feedback on my writing on a range of different topics, from an array of different people.  Any improvement to writing style can only be good for studies, and it was something fun to do – particularly trying different style of writing to engage in alongside the academic writing I was doing as part of my degree.

Moving on to being an editor, I developed a focus on detail concerning grammar and punctuation, as well as enabling me to see all the different styles of writing the contributors had: what worked, what didn’t.  More importantly, it taught me how best to communicate with those submitting their work concerning changes and content suggestions.  Continue reading

Graduate story: Beyond the lab

shahidMy name is Shahid Dharamsi, and I graduated from Queen Mary in 2015 with a Masters in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. As a ‘man of science’, it would only seem logical to utilise such a degree by working in a research department for a pharmaceutical company, or further the educational pursuit by applying for a PhD position with an acclaimed professor. Perhaps stretching, but not exceeding, the limits of the logical approach, one may try their hand at teaching science at various levels, working in schools and colleges across the country.

My story is a little different. As I sit here, on the 19th floor of a skyscraper in Canary Wharf, in between audit meetings and performance reviews, I’m able to conclude that it has been a rather unconventional period since my final exam (Colloidal Chemistry)! I work as an auditor on a three year graduate programme for one of the biggest accounting firms in the world, EY, and am 12 exams out of 15 on my way to becoming a Chartered Accountant.

The journey began when I embarked upon an internship, organised by Careers & Enterprise, working as a PR intern for a medical technology start-up called Geneix. I immersed myself within the business for my three month placement, learning new skills each day to include journalism, project management, and market research. Curiously, I felt very much at home whilst operating in an environment that was very much alien to me at the time. I enjoyed the feeling of the unknown, and the ability to be an effective part of a vibrant team. Whilst there was no aromatic resonance, or Schrodinger’s equation to solve, I felt the softer skills developed from my degree were utilised to great effect.

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Student story: Hasan, QConsult Commercial

hasanMy name is Hasan Hoque and I’m in my second year of university studying BSc Economics, Finance and Management at Queen Mary. I took part in the autumn round of the QConsult Commercial Programme where I worked as a consultant in a team of five on a live project for a business client. This opportunity is perfect for anyone interested in consultancy or those looking to build upon a variety of transferable professional skills. To apply for the next round of QConsult, click here.

You are initially required to complete an online application form which is a chance for you to showcase your interest in the programme, your skills and past experience. You don’t need to have experience in consulting; as long as you can communicate your passion and skills effectively you’re on track to making a great application!

Next is the assessment centre: the assessors are extremely friendly and want you to perform your best. You’re told how you’ll be assessed and what they’re looking for in successful candidates, so that whether you succeed or not, you’ll have valuable experience which will come in handy when applying to graduate roles. If you aren’t successful you’re encouraged to seek feedback and apply the next round. Once you’ve been accepted onto the programme you’ll be assigned a team and will attend a training session. This is so you are aware what is expected of you as a consultant representing Queen Mary and that you have the knowledge to work effectively to produce the best results for your client. It’s also an opportunity to meet your team members and be introduced to your team’s project.

You then attend your initial client meeting where you have the opportunity to visit the client’s office. You’ll go through the project brief with them and what they expect you to have achieved at the end of the project. My team prepared some ideas and questions beforehand to pose to our client to gain a better understanding of their aims and objectives. I found this extremely helpful as it ensured we were on the right track when we started working. Our client was very specific with their demands so it was essential we cleared any doubts. We then kept constant communication with them, updating them about our progress.

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Student Enterprise Blog: Ammarah Javid

1t7a0222-iloveimg-convertedHistory graduate Ammarah Javid

I took part in 3DS in 2015 and it was such an exciting learning opportunity for me. I learnt so much in the space of a few days and built long lasting relationships with the mentors who were genuinely interested in helping us grow our ideas. Essentially, it gave me the confidence to start a project I am working on now, one and a half years later. Starting a business always seemed so difficult and complicated to me but the incubator session proved that team work and strategy planning were all the ingredients you needed to execute and bring to life your business idea.

Using these skills, my Co-Founder Abdul Shakur and I have planned our first event on the 8th February which has also been sponsored by NatWest, within a few weeks of coming up with the initiative. Our project is called London Diverse Professionals (LDP) and the aim is to tackle the diversity issues in various industries by creating greater interaction between professionals and minorities, women and those from less privileged backgrounds. We hope that we can help students build their networks before entering the workplace as opposed to after beginning their careers.

I have a lot of faith in the underlying objective and I look forward to embarking upon my own journey of challenges. Incubators like 3DS are great because they create so much more than 3 days of activity. They instil confidence, spark interest and ignite potential within students that lead to future lightbulb moments which may well be life changing for themselves, let alone anyone else. 3DS was definitely my wake-up call and I recommend it to anyone that wants to either start their own business, develop their skills, or simply want to unleash their entrepreneurial drive and spirit!

Event Link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/diversity-networking-evening-sponsored-by-natwest-tickets-31240861257.