From an MSc to a PhD

30064935701_ab73fc378c_zMany students who are considering a PhD do a Masters degree first. So what advantages do you get as a Masters student or graduate applying for a PhD, and how can you make best use of your time?

There are three main aspects of a PhD application – motivation, skills and knowledge – which can be impacted by a taught postgraduate degree:


Many students take the wise decision do a Masters before a PhD to see if they are suited to independent research – therefore reflecting on how you enjoyed this part of your Masters degree should be an important part of your application. However, there are other possible aspects of your Masters research project that can help. Most projects are carried out alongside, or under the supervision of, PhD students. Talking to them will help you to confidently explain in your PhD application why you want to do a PhD and what the common challenges are. Your project will also allow you to give details on how you were motivated to complete your research in spite of specific obstacles and problems, which is essential for a good PhD student. Finally, if you are doing a Masters in the same subject you are planning to do a PhD in, this shows interest in the subject.


There are lots of skills needed for a PhD that can be obtained or strengthened by completing a Masters. Do note that many of these will be different than those for a job, and also that PhD positions often don’t have a job description with a list of skills to work from. So you will need to reflect on what skills are needed to successfully complete a PhD (attend the S&E Doing a PhD event in November to get started on this – check for registration details) and then see which ones you can evidence from your MSc. Literature search, scientific writing, lab and computational techniques are some examples, but each PhD project will have their own set of skills that would be required to be able to carry out the research.

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PGT: How to become an Investment Banker

Students aspiring to land places on graduate schemes in the city should start their career planning as early as possible. With many of our Masters students moving to live in the UK for the first time, and many Masters courses lasting only one academic year, getting your head around the UK labour market, applications and the selection process can be a daunting task. This article aims to bring together some tips on how to maximise your chances of success, and to get you off to a good start in your job hunt!

First off, it’s important to build up a strong understanding of the industry – by getting industry information from, by reading relevant articles on, developing commercial awareness through articles in The Financial Times and brushing up on financial jargon on Investopedia. There is also a wealth of information for students looking to break into investment banking on This knowledge will bring a range of benefits;

  • It will help you understand the range of departments and roles available within an investment bank, and help you figure out where you might fit in. Investment banks hire not only investment bankers, but also has trading, sales, research, technology, operations, compliance, legal and HR departments. Different investment banks are structured differently, with different names for their respective divisions.
  • If you aren’t sure if investment banking is the industry for you it will help you figure out the answer to this question. Consider whether the working pattern will suit you (some departments within the investment banking sector typically work long hours, and other departments typically have a very early start) and whether you will be using the skills you enjoy using in the role.
  • It will help you build up a strong understanding of how an investment bank operates – for instance how it generates income, who its clients are and what impact the changing regulatory environment will have on the industry – all of which will sure to impress at application/interview stage!

Secondly, many more people apply to investment banks than there are jobs available. For instance, JP Morgan hired only 1 in 50 graduate applicants in 2016 (The Financial Times).

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Practical tips for international postgrads looking for work in the UK

international (1)With strict visa regulations, it can be difficult for international students to secure a graduate role in the UK. However, it is not impossible and we have many international alumni who have successfully found interesting graduate roles here. As a postgraduate student, you only have one year during which you can gain valuable work experience and focus on your job hunt, while at the same time concentrating on your studies. This can be a challenging task and it is therefore helpful to have a good understanding of the local employment situation and requirements, so you can effectively manage your time throughout your studies.

We will mainly focus on the switch from a tier 4 to a tier 2 visa, which is an employer sponsored visa, but keep in mind that there are other visas that may be applicable in your individual case.

So, where can you find graduate roles in the UK?

The good news is that there are around 30,000 employers registered to sponsor tier 2 visas. The full list can be found here and a searchable list here. If you see a job that you like, it can be a good idea to check these lists first in order to find out whether the employer would be able to hire you. Doing this research will save you some valuable time and help to avoid potential frustration.

Now, let’s look at some top tips that may help you land that UK graduate role: 

Get some London based work experience – Getting work experience in the UK, during your studies or holidays, will enhance your CV and increase your chances of landing a role upon graduation. This could be in the form of volunteering or temping (keeping in mind hourly work restrictions relating to your individual visa).

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Guest blog: How to prepare for the 6 most common interview questions

If you’ve recently graduated, you may already be thinking ahead to what your next steps might be in terms of your career. As you begin to do so, your mind will start posing questions about the interview process – and that can feel quite daunting if you aren’t sure what to expect.

Read on to find out the 6 most common interview questions, with some tips on how to prepare for them and answer with confidence on the day.

Tell me about yourself

This is always one of the first questions in an interview. The reason you’ll be asked this is not because they want to know about your likes and interests, but because they want to hear what you value most about yourself in your career.

Think of it as a little bit like the overview you give on a CV.

The company will want to hear about your commitments to your career and what kind of person you are as a professional.

It’s useful to find out a bit about the company’s ethos ahead of your interview, so that you can gauge how you should approach this question.

cup-1615074_960_720What is your greatest strength?

If blowing your own trumpet is no easy task, then this question can be a tough one to answer.

The key here is to keep it relevant and think about what the company is looking for in you. It’s worth reflecting on previous jobs where possible (part time, internships and volunteering are all noteworthy), so that you can demonstrate your strengths.

This is a question that could ultimately set you apart from or give way to other candidates, so take this opportunity to closely match the qualities that the company is seeking.

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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

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 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


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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Employment law: Know your rights (Part 2)

Following on from our recent blog Employment law: Know your rights (Part 1), QTemps Recruitment Manager Rachael takes us through some more employment law issues you may encounter when applying for a new role.

True or False … ?

It’s illegal to make me work on a Bank Holiday

FALSE – Although it’s common practice for employers to give time off for a Bank Holiday, it is not a legal right. Some employers may close down on a Bank Holiday which means you will have to take that day off, whereas other employers may pay you more to work for the day, especially in hospitality or retail. Make sure you check your contract to see what you are entitled to.

Nobody can give me a bad reference

FALSE – Your employer can give you a bad reference, however they have to have evidence to support this. For this reason most employers choose not give a good or bad reference nowadays, instead just confirming dates. When leaving a job it’s a good idea to get the details of your manager and ask them if it’s okay to put them down for a reference for your new job. Also ask them if they will just confirm dates or whether they can give you a more detailed reference. Some employers require a detailed reference from your previous employer before you can start.

Verbal agreements don’t count as a contract of employmenthandshake-1205055_960_720

FALSE – Although it is best practice to get a written contract, verbal contractual agreements are legally binding. If you only have a verbal agreement it would be best to push them to get a written contract so there are no disputes about the terms and conditions of your employment.

Lying on your CV can get your fired

TRUE – Technically if you lie on your CV you are committing fraud. If this is found out by your employer, you could not only lose your job but you can be taken to court. If you feel you have to lie on your CV to be selected for an interview then the job is probably not the right one for you.

I’m an intern: don’t I have the right to minimum wage?

TRUE – As an employee of the company you do have the right to minimum wage. To determine if you are an employee you must personally be providing a service or you must be working under a contract. Some industries do not offer paid internships, especially media, arts and music. You can choose to do an unpaid internship to get a foot in the door but you must keep in mind that it is unpaid.

Guest blog: Can you Turn your Hobby into a Digital Career?

Turning your hobby into a career can be risky, but the benefits of successfully doing so will lead to a happy work life and future career! Do you spend time scrolling through social media pages, taking photographs or even creating a blog? But never really thought much more of it? You might want to consider taking these hobbies one step further. If you’re a student who doesn’t yet have a clear career direction, or are unsure where your degree will lead you, transferring your skills developed from your hobby and focusing them towards a career could prove a successful transition.

Here are some factors to think about before you make the transition from hobby to career.

Consider your options 

__1First off, consider your options and where a hobby can take you. Think about what you do in your spare time, which might involve spending lots of time on various different social media platforms. Your social media skills are transferable into the workplace. There are lots of job opportunities within marketing departments of organisations who need tech savvy individuals who can ultimately help build their brand through social media. You might be someone who is creative and has the ability to sketch drawings or create high quality graphics. But is currently doing a degree in a non-creative discipline. Don’t let this limit you to the certain subject area. You could create a portfolio of your work and maybe try freelance work, to see how well your work is received. Remember what you pursue your degree in does not necessarily restrict your future to that subject area.

Develop your skills

The next stage we suggest you embark on is to, develop your skills. If you are serious about turning your hobby into a potential career, think how you can improve what you already know to a professional level. For example, if you are interested in web development start by learning the web fundamentals of HTML and CSS. This will provide you with the knowledge to create and design the structure of a webpage. If you already have these skills expand them further by learning JavaScript to develop the websites interactivity. However, this will take lots of your time to learn and can be difficult. So really consider if it’s something you will be committed to learning and pursuing a career in.

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