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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What 2 do with a 2.2

Congratulations to everyone receiving their exam results from QMUL; well done! Some of you might have faced the disappointment of just missing out on a 2.1, and are now left wondering what your future looks like with a 2.2. The first thing to remember is that a 2.1 isn’t a ticket straight into a dream job. Neither, on the other hand, is a 2.2 a life-long barrier to it.  Getting a 2.2 might be a disappointment and it might mean having to re-think your options, but it doesn’t mean automatic exclusion from a fulfilling career.

You have options …

You may be surprised to discover that the vast majority of employers are flexible in the grades they require because they’re more concerned with your personality, skills and experience. Remember, academic grades are not everything and you can certainly compensate for them in other areas.

There will of course be several immediate options that aren’t open to you, but just from taking a quick look at this Target Jobs article, you’ll see there are a number of graduate schemes accepting 2.2 degrees. It could be that when you apply to these schemes, the rest

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Charity fundraising – more than just shaking a bucket

It might surprise you but there’s actually a lot more to charity fundraising than you may think, and the term describes a wide range of incredibly important roles in charitable organisations.

So what roles are available?

A typical fundraising team might be made up of the following:

Community fundraising – This team works with a range of individuals, groups and organisations in the community, encouraging them to raise funds in their local area. This could include schools, places of worship, small businesses and local groups. A Community Fundraiser builds networks and relationships to increase the profile of the charity, whilst raising vital funds.

Corporate fundraising – Corporate fundraisers work with large national and often international companies to raise large sums of money for their charity. This is often in the form of ‘charity of the year’ partnerships and, depending on the size of the charity, these pots of money can be anything from hundreds up to £1million+. These roles involve

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Guest blog: MSc Engineering conversion courses at the University of Exeter

You don’t need to have studied Engineering to begin a career as a professional engineer

Why should I consider an engineering conversion course?

An engineering conversion course can be a great way to learn new skills, build on your existing knowledge and increase your employability. In an ever competitive job market, the demand for engineers only continues to rise. Employers are placing increasing value on graduates with well-rounded professional skill-sets and a broader knowledge base – gained from transferring from a different undergraduate specialism. All of this, plus the introduction from 2016 of postgraduate student loans of up to £10,000, make now a great time to consider a career in engineering.

How are the programmes delivered?

The programmes are delivered in short, intensive teaching blocks, enabling you to quickly build new knowledge in each individual area before moving on to the next. Some teaching takes place in conjunction with the University’s Business School. The structure of the courses mean that some modules are taught in conjunction with other programmes, enabling you to network with students from other specialisms and build professional contacts for the future.

What career opportunities are available following an Engineering conversion course?

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Prepare for the Fair

The Business & Finance Fair is for students who are looking to discover more information about a career in business and finance. The fair is designed to showcase the range of opportunities that are available in this industry, including work experience, internships and graduate opportunities.

Business & Finance Fair, Tuesday 11th October, 5-7pm, The Octagon.

To make the most out of the evening, read on for our 3 top tips on preparing for the fair …

  1. Research

Take a look at the list of employers who are attending (below) – this will help you prioritise who you want to talk with.

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Keep an open mind as opportunities can come from the least expected places and you could end up speaking to people from organisations that you might not have thought about before. Be sure to research as much as you can about the companies you really want to meet. You will impress them by knowing who they are and what they are about. When researching employers you can find out about the company itself from their website and social media pages, but also catch up on the latest news and current affairs, particularly any stories that might be relevant to the employer. Showing your commercial awareness this way will help you to stand out more in the recruiter’s memory.

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Thinking about postgraduate study?

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After your exams, you might be considering continuing with university life and doing a postgraduate course. A few students have mentioned this to us already, so before you decide on anything, we’ve put together a list of things to consider.

Think about why

Be honest with yourself about why you want to carry on studying. Is it to gain an industry-recognised qualification? Do you think it will make you more employable? The course doesn’t have to be purely for vocational reasons. Love of a subject is also a good motivator. What isn’t a good reason, however, is fear of having to job hunt, because you will have to look for work sooner or later. A postgraduate course is also a big commitment (financially and time-wise) so make sure you have thought about all the key elements beforehand and know where your motivation really lies.

Research what it will involve

There are a lot of differences between postgraduate study and an undergraduate course, not only in the expected standard of your work. Postgraduate courses can be much more specialised and ‘niche’ than an undergraduate degree. The form of examination may be different (more coursework, less exams). You may not have as many lectures or seminars and the cohort of students may be smaller. Some of this may not matter to you, but it’s worth having a clear idea of what postgraduate life looks like.

Know your term dates

One key difference to note is that the vast majority of postgraduate courses run from September to September. You’ll be a student throughout the summer when you’ll be expected to be working on your dissertation. You won’t, therefore, have the summer holidays to do an internship, if that’s what you were planning. This is particularly important if you’re an international student – you could be in danger of violating the terms of your visa if you work full-time during the summer when you’re a registered student. It’s worth clarifying all of this before you start a course.

Talk to people

It’s important to think about what sort of organisation you want to work for in the future and where you want to work, as employers can have different attitudes to postgraduate study. A Masters or PhD is certainly a requirement for a career in academia and some other areas of work, and is often expected by overseas employers. However, many UK employers will treat a postgraduate in the same way as a graduate, so it’s important to do your research.

Have a look at current job adverts for the sorts of roles you want to apply to in the future. Do they specify that a postgraduate qualification is required? If so, is there a particular subject they prefer? Some industries may prefer practical experience over qualifications. There is also the option to study part time, or take a short course, which would allow you to get a qualification AND work experience at the same time.

You could also speak to employers at careers events to hear their perspective on further study, or contact them directly on LinkedIn.

Plan what to do alongside your studies

Make the most of your time as a postgraduate to gain the skills and qualities employers are looking for. Work experience during the summer will be difficult, but you could do something part-time during term-time. Why not attend events to gain an insight into the industry you’re interested in or to network. You could do some volunteering, which is a great way to gain skills but can be more flexible to fit around your studies.

If you’re not sure whether to do a postgraduate qualification or not, why not have a chat with one of our Careers Consultants? They can help you to clarify your thinking and talk through your options. Contact 020 7882 8533 to book an appointment.

Come along to our Career Options Mini Fair

  • Haven’t decided what you want to do after graduation?
  • Wondering about summer internships?
  • Need work experience for your CV?
  • Want to talk to top graduate employers?
  • Want to find out about opportunities that are available to you?

Come along to our Mini Fair on Tuesday 17 May, 5.30 – 7.30pm, in The Peoples Palace Foyer

This fair is your chance to meet a range of graduate employers in person and discover internships and graduate opportunities that are open to you right now, this summer and when you graduate.

For more info and to register, visit www.careeroptionsfair.eventbrite.co.uk