10 New Year’s Resolutions that will help your career

As they say, there is no time like the present, so say hello to 2016 and 10 New Year Resolutions that will help your career! Remember not all of these may apply to you, but find the ones that do and stick to them!

Join a careers newsletter

Most career websites offer email alerts, which allows you to tailor them to exactly what you are looking for. This will keep you updated for any new jobs that pop up and their deadlines. No more finding out about your dream job, only to see that vacancies are closed until the next year! You might also find out about job roles you hadn’t thought of before. The QMUL Careers & Enterprise website has lots of case studies from past students talking about their different journeys in their careers. https://qmjobsblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/what-can-i-do-with-my-psychology-degree/

Make a list

Write down all the things you hope to achieve career-wise 2016 and tick them off when you accomplish them. Lists are also great to help track progress and give a boost if you’re feeling stuck.

Talk to your boss

This isn’t as scary as it sounds. New opportunities often crop up in the workplace but aren’t widely advertised. Talking to your boss can give an insight into any new roles or perhaps work shadowing opportunities for example, that can teach you about a new sector and help you build up your career. For those of you that don’t have a job, speculative enquiries are also a great way for finding out about upcoming roles!

Use your Careers Centre

Why not make an appointment in the New Year with the Queen Mary Careers & Enterprise Centre?  Get advice on how to write a good CV and valuable feedback on applications. Also check out the Careers Centre website and online blog that has lots of tips on how to climb the career ladder. https://qmjobsblog.wordpress.com/. Likewise have a look the Careers Centre for various work experience opportunities. QTemps offers students part time work and QProjects advertises various charitable vacancies around East London. http://tempjobs.london.ac.uk/QueenMary/index.asp

Attend more networking events

Networking events may seem long or even daunting, but it’s a great way to gain desired industry contacts and build up communication skills. Make it a point to attend once a month and follow up with connections made. These events are also good for demonstrating your interest for your chosen industry on applications. A few lines explaining what you learnt can easily show your commitment.

Clear your space

Studies have suggested that cluttered personal spaces affects your ability to focus and process information. A little bit of New Year cleaning will not go amiss and make you less prone to distractions!

Get your thoughts on paper

Alongside your list, a vision board, brainstorm or spreadsheet is a tangible way to represent your dreams, goals and aspirations. Place It somewhere you walk by or pass every day to remind yourself of exactly you want to achieve!

Get information and inspiration from your contacts 

Think about who you know and how they can help you. Getting real life knowledge about the world of work or your chosen industry can be incredibly helpful. From the realities of working in a particular job, or how to gain an edge in a competitive labour market, you could also gain insight on work/life balance or the best way to get into a particular type of work for example, all of which will help you to make more informed decisions about your future. Consider contacts from previous work experience, volunteering, family, friends or even people you meet at networking events (see the point 5 above) who can share their pearls of wisdom!

Go to taster or open days

Not quite a full-blown work experience but they do guarantee to give you an idea of what an average day might be like in your chosen field. Not every sector has these, but it is worth asking your department at university or workplace.

Stick to your resolutions

This may seem obvious but it’s easy to let your resolutions fall to the wayside when life gets a bit hectic. Make it one of your goals to stick your goals so that you stay on track in 2016!

Aseosa Uwagboe
QTemps Admin Assistant

The Ultimate Careers Guide

Whether you’re looking to boost your CV with an internship, find a part-time job during your studies, develop work-related skills or identify your dream career, The Ultimate Careers Guide is here to help.

Written by the staff at Careers departments across the University of London, the guide is piled high with tips and advice, including: Effec_Effective networking-page-001

  • 10 ways to get experience – and get ahead
  • How to develop your commercial awareness
  • Consider your options
  • Is further study right for you?
  • Create the ideal CV
  • Impress at interview
  • All about assessment centres
  • Effective networking
  • Starting your business

And so much more!

So come into the Careers & Enterprise Centre and pick up your copy!

Feeling lost and confused about your career?

Our Careers Consultants can help! You don’t need to know what job you want to do and you don’t even need to have specific questions to ask. Even if you are feeling a bit fed up or worried about your future options, or just want to check you are on the right track, a chat with one of our Careers Consultants can really help.

Our Consultants are trained extensively in guidance and advice – skills similar to a counsellor. This means they are very good at listening and talking things through with you. They can help you think about problems in a different way and look at things from a different perspective. They can help you decide about your priorities, think about practical steps to take or just reassure you about your employment prospects. Friends and family are always great to talk to, but sometimes having someone who is impartial can really help you see things a bit clearer. And because they are impartial, our Consultants will never judge you or push you towards something you don’t want to do.

Maya in thought

For example, I was talking to a student recently who had received a job offer for a sales role but wasn’t sure about taking it since she didn’t really like the ethos of the company. She’d been doing lots of volunteering and interning, and had some really interesting things on her CV, but as yet had only had this one offer for paid work. Even though she didn’t like the sales job, she was feeling under pressure to take it. So I advised her to have a chat with one of our Consultants. They weren’t going to tell her what she should do, but they would listen to her and explore her thoughts and options with her, so that whatever she did decided she could feel more confident she’d made the right choice for her.

So whatever your concerns about your future career, you should come in and speak to us. Even if you have no worries and are just curious, you never know what useful tips you might receive!

Careers: Some of the Questions, All of the Answers

It’s finally happened: your blogger is heading for the Twilight Home for Retired Careers Consultants and, from the dim recesses of her memory, she has pulled the most frequent career dilemmas.  Here’s how to show them who’s boss.

I don’t know what I want to do.

See here, shipmates, this is not a legal requirement of obtaining a degree.  There are usually many paths you could take, so no wonder some amongst you are dazed and confused.  There is a school of thought that says people find their career by “happenstance” i.e. they fall into it by accident.  Call me a cynic, but I think this tends to occur when you know your skills and you put yourself in the right place at the right time.  In other words, opportunity awareness.  What’s important is to stop procrastinating and start researching because careers consultants no longer sprinkle fairy dust to come up with a customised career for the clueless.  Yes, we can help and that’s our raison d’etre (look it up) but the input, imagination and energy need to come from you as well.  It’s often about perspiration rather than inspiration.

I DO know what I want to do, but I don’t want to do it all my life.

No worries.  We reckon that today’s graduates will have (at least) three distinct careers in their working lives. That’s careers as in entirely different occupations, not a trio of related jobs – you’re likely to have many, many of those.  And you may end up very far from where you began: the start line is a long way from the finish (about 50 years if this government has its way) and a lot can happen en route.

I’ve got a 2.2.

Welcome to a very big club. And you shall go to the ball, Cinderella. People with 2.2s DO get jobs.  Shock, horror.  And they progress from there.  It’s just that getting that initial foot in the door may take longer, be less straightforward or even plain harder than for those with academic laurels.  But after that the playing field is level and you can zip ahead of the opposition. And no-one will ever ask you about your class of degree again.  Ever.  Promise.

Will a Master’s get me a better job?

Maybe.  Maybe not.  Like everything else it’s down to a whole lotta variables. It won’t always compensate for a 2.2 if that’s your cunning plan (you see – I know the way your minds work). And it’s not a good method of deferring a career decision.  Yes, it’ll buy you time, but at a cost – have you seen the price of tuition fees? And without the requisite work experience it may propel you no further forward. See here: the only good reason to do a Master’s is enthusiasm for the subject.

The only way you are going to crack these predicaments – and more of same – is by getting some objective advice. Come down to the Careers Centre: I won’t be there, but my colleagues will – and they’ll see you bang to rights.

So that’s it.  Time, as Shakespeare observed, to trudge, pack and be gone.  Like retirement, graduation and the years leading up to it, is what Peter Pan called an Awfully Big Adventure.  And a bit scary at times.  But I know that the Mile End Brigade will soar into the stratosphere with just a little bit of help from my friends.  As Peter Pan (him again) said – “First star on the left and straight on till morning.”

Take care, be happy.  I wish you all well.

Gill Sharp

(now retired) Careers Consultant, Careers & Enterprise Centre

The most common things I’ve heard as a Careers Consultant

As careers consultants, we are used to dealing with everything and anything!  People who use our service have very different backgrounds and very different future ambitions and that can lead to a huge range of very different questions or predicaments.  However, listed below are perhaps some of the most common things we hear and some helpful hints that we may give to people in that situation.

“I’m stuck.  I don’t know what I want to do at the end of my course.”

This statement is usually followed by a look of embarrassment.  People who say it often feel like they’ve failed in some way, that they are the only person without a career plan. In reality, however, not only is this probably one of the most frequent things we hear but it is also an encouraging sign that the student is starting to think seriously about their options rather than just jump head first into wrong decisions.  We can help students to start their research by suggesting the kind of things they need to be thinking about and by signposting them to useful online tools such as www.prospects.ac.uk/links/pplanner which may help them to generate some initial ideas.

“What jobs will be open to me with a degree in ‘xyz’?”

One of the biggest myths in the UK higher education system is that you need to study a certain degree in order to enter a certain career.  Of course there are cases where this is true (predominantly specialist scientific/tech careers) but in the majority of cases graduate recruiters do not demand a particular degree discipline. And, even if they do, it is often quite possible to get there through conversion courses, through further postgraduate training or through acquiring experience or knowledge in the area.  So rather than asking “what jobs can my degree in ‘xyz’ get me?” think more along the lines of “what jobs am I interested in?”  Graduate recruiters tend to be more interested in the skills that you have gained whilst completing a degree (research, planning, using initiative) and the level of learning potential that it represents rather than the specific knowledge gained through your degree course.  So don’t put limits on the option you believe you have.  Think instead about what careers you would enjoy doing and use websites like www.prospects.ac.uk and www.targetjobs.co.uk to expand your awareness on the types of careers that exist.

“Will I get a job straight after graduation?”

Understandably, this is an area of concern for a large number of students but it is a really tricky question to answer as it depends on so many different variables.  So let’s focus on the things we do know for sure. Firstly, and as a general rule, students with a 2.1 or higher find it easier to access more opportunities, due to grade eligibility for many positions. Secondly, more and more recruiters are favouring candidates with good quality, relevant work experience or internships. And thirdly, the quality of job applications varies dramatically from student to student, often regardless of their career potential.  Luckily for current students, the graduate employment picture is an improving one, with many companies increasing the number of vacancies available. What we advise is that students put themselves in the best position possible to take advantage of the opportunities that graduation will bring them, by getting a strong degree classification, building up work experience (and networks) along the way and producing great applications – with our help, of course!

“What can I do to improve my CV/application form?”

As career consultants we do a lot of CV and application form checking and this is a skill you really need to get right if you are going to optimise your chances in the graduate job market.  Also it is a subject area where a little help goes a long way so, no matter how good you think your applications are, we are always really pleased when students do come and seek our support. Of course, the specific advice that we give you will depend upon the methods of application in use and, of course, the quality of the initial application that you present us with, but we can provide guidance to help make sure you are bringing out the unique skills that you have and to make sure that you are tailoring these to the requirements and competencies that the employer is looking for. With CVs, much of the battle is making sure you present the most important information in a way that is easy to access in the brief 5-10 seconds it is reckoned that recruiters spend looking at them.  A final piece of advice here: never underestimate the time it takes to make quality applications so make sure you book an appointment well ahead of any deadlines so that you have time to make adjustments and further drafts.

Hannah Morton-Hedges

Careers Consultant

Feeling lost and confused about your career?

Jeff

 

Our Careers Consultants can help! You don’t need to know what job you want to do and you don’t even need to have specific questions to ask. Even if you are feeling a bit fed up or worried about your future options, or just want to check you are on the right track, a chat with one of our Careers Consultants can really help.

Our Consultants are trained extensively in guidance and advice – skills similar to a counsellor. This means they are very good at listening and talking things through with you. They can help you think about problems in a different way and look at things from a different perspective. They can help you decide about your priorities, think about practical steps to take or just reassure you about your employment prospects. Friends and family are always great to talk to, but sometimes having someone who is impartial can really help you see things a bit clearer. And because they are impartial, our Consultants will never judge you or push you towards something you don’t want to do.

For example, I was talking to a student recently who had received a job offer for a sales role but wasn’t sure about taking it since she didn’t really like the ethos of the company. She’d been doing lots of volunteering and interning, and had some really interesting things on her CV, but as yet had only had this one offer for paid work. Even though she didn’t like the sales job, she was feeling under pressure to take it. I immediately advised her to have a chat with one of our Consultants. They weren’t going to tell her what she should do, but they would listen to her and explore her thoughts and options with her, so that whatever she did decided she could feel more confident she’d made the right choice for her.

So whatever your concerns about your future career, you should come in and speak to us. Even if you have no worries and are just curious, you never know what useful tips you might receive!

What can I do with a Maths degree?

QMUL student, Khadhija Khanom, tells us about her experience of figuring out what she would like to do with her Maths degree. picforblog edit

“My name is Khadhija Khanom; I am a part time third year student studying MSc Mathematics (BSc with integrated Masters). I am of Bangladeshi descent and I am the second female in my entire family to pursue further education.  I went to Mulberry School for Girls and Sixth form before attending QMUL.

After my A levels, The Brokerage Citylink, a charitable organisation based in the City of London helped me secure a Summer Internship with UBS Investment Bank working in Equities Research. I was working alongside senior business analysts in a very dynamic and challenging environment.

After doing my internship I still was not 100% sure what I wanted to do; I was advised to go to the Careers & Enterprise Centre by my Advisor. I went to my appointment with a Careers Consultant fully equipped with a piece of paper writing down all my work experience, what I enjoy and what I definitely don’t. I spoke for a while with a very friendly and understanding consultant. She helped me narrow down the rather large network of career possibilities that were going through my head at that time.

Mathematics is a subject that can open many pathways to careers from Research to Teaching to Banking. And I wanted to be greedy and try and do every possible job until I could secure the one I truly wanted. And she said that, it was ok to do that, there is a very small probability that I would strike gold on my first ever job. She advised me to volunteer, join societies and be active during my time at University. So I nominated myself and got elected as Course Representative, became a Mathematics Ambassador both for two years and volunteered as a mentor for PASS (Peer Assisted Study Support which is a student run mentoring scheme) and later co-ran the scheme myself.

In my third year and I applied to become an upReach associate and through the help and support of upReach as well as the Careers Centre, I was successful in gaining a place in the Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP) with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office through the Civil Service Fast Stream (CSFS).

There is a substantial amount of help available in the Careers & Enterprise Centre, including application/CV advice, hand-outs such as ‘Understanding Interview Questions’, and even practice numerical and verbal reasoning tests. The list really does go on. Having used all these resources, I was invited for a telephone interview. I booked a Practice Interview with Jeff Riley, another Consultant and also coincidentally a Careers Consultant for the Mathematical Sciences department. After a grilling hour of why I want the internship and who I am, Jeff made me realise I wanted this internship more than ever. I felt ready for my actual telephone interview. And now I am one of 15 interns hoping to start summer 2014 by working with some very important people with the Government.

I believe that I would not have gotten an internship with Foreign Office with CSFS; a very competitive program with thousands of applicants if it hadn’t been for the support I had been given throughout my time at University; from my Advisor Prof Oliver Jenkinson, the Student Support Officer and of course the Careers & Enterprise Centre.”