The jobs & work experience website we keep going back to

Do you find the huge amount and variety of careers information on the Internet confusing? Do you wish there was a website with the resources you need, and none of the hassle?

Let us introduce www.prospects.ac.uk.prospects logo

What It Is
Prospects is a brilliant website with career information and advice for students and graduates. Search and explore jobs & work experience, and find out more about key topics like further study, working abroad and self employment.

  • Use their industry overviews to see what it’s like to work in different areas –  from Finance to Media, Science and Property. Find out about the variety of jobs that are available, how to get in, and what you can expect to earn.
  • Browse the lists of postgraduate courses with details of bursaries and funding available.
  • See tips on job hunting, writing a good CV, preparing for interviews &  assessment centres, and much more…

 

Why You Should Use It
If you’re confused about what to do after uni, use Prospects to  find out what you need to know to help you make decisions. The detailed job information can help you narrow down your choices by getting a real sense of what a job involves.  As well as getting ideas about possible options, there will also be jobs you decide you definitely DON’T want to do. You will probably also discover job titles you didn’t know existed! They also have a job match tool – ‘What jobs would suit me’.

If you already know what it is you want to do, the detailed information and advice will tell what you need to do to get there. Remember, knowing about what is happening in the industry and understanding the job role will help you make targeted and convincing applications and will help you impress at interview.

And finally…
Book a session with one of our Careers Consultants to talk about your ideas and options in more detail. Just give us a call on 020 7882 8533 or drop by our office in room WG3 in the Queens’ Building to set up your appointment.

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Help! I’ve not got onto a graduate scheme. What can I do now?

As with many students the whole world over, the obvious destination upon completing your degree is a place on a graduate trainee scheme.  It’s the expected norm, right?  And yet numbers of graduating students each year vastly outweigh the number of places on such schemes.  Contrary to popular belief, it is only small minority of students who start their career this way.  As unsettling as it may be to find out you are not one of the ‘lucky ones’ there are plenty of options for you to explore.

Direct entry/junior roles

Just because a job opportunity isn’t officially labelled as part of a graduate scheme, doesn’t mean it won’t have something to offer graduate applicants.  A huge number of employers will be looking for ‘graduate calibre’ applicants in junior roles that can offer great future opportunities. Or starting a little lower on the ladder, perhaps in an admin role, can be a great way to show your talents. Employers are not daft – they will spot the hard workers and people with potential.  Who knows where things can lead.  Use job boards to seek these opportunities.  Sign up with recruitment consultants.  Network with your friends, family and industry links to try and expose some of those vacancies that are never advertised.

Internships

The traditional route of doing an internship, graduating, then starting a grad training scheme is being challenged.  The competitive job market over the last 6 or 7 years, and the shrinking of graduate opportunities that came with it has resulting in a rise in the number of students who are prepared to turn this order on its head by graduating first, and considering an internship later.  Perhaps it simply took you longer to discover what you really want to do (it happens!) and only now are you in a position to start making headway into your chosen industry. Just because you are a graduate, doesn’t mean that internship opportunities won’t be open to you, and won’t be a good career move post-graduation.

Further study

Has applying to grad schemes unsuccessfully highlighted a skills gap in your CV? Is there something other applicants are offering that you aren’t? Is this something you could address through further study or vocational training?  Maybe you have always toyed with the idea of doing a Masters and this is now something you wish to consider more closely (but don’t let this be your only reason for choosing a Masters – remember there are no guarantees that employment will be any easier at the end of it). Doing further study and combining this with relevant work experience can, however, help to produce a well-rounded applicant of the future.

Temping

There’s a lot to be said for the temping market, particularly if you still remain a little uncertain as to which industry you wish to enter. Or perhaps if you are lacking in experience and finding it harder to access permanent opportunities? If this is the case, it may be worth considering registering with a few recruitment consultants operating within the temping market. Show willing to try your hand at anything so that you get good exposure to a range of industries. Or focus on one area you really want to work in and be prepared to expand your experience and professional networks.  Temping is great for building adaptability and initiative. And what starts as a one week assignment could even become a successful career.

Time out

Let’s face it, at the end of 3 (or more) years of study you may be feeling just a little burned out. It could be that the job rejections you have received are actually a blessing in disguise as what you really could use is a bit of breathing space!  Go travelling, get some volunteering experience, rediscover who you are and what you want.  Then come back to the job market feeling refreshed and ready to go.

A place on a graduate scheme is not an indicator of ultimate career success, nor is it right to assume that it is the best option for you.  Career is a long distance race – an unpredictable journey of twists and turns – and not a sprint to the finish line, so don’t be disheartened if it hasn’t started the way you wanted it to.  There is still everything to play for.

What to do if you don’t know what to do

With so much invested in your degree course, it can be a worrying time if realisation hits that you are still unsure of exactly what you want to do at the end of it.  Everyone at university has a career plan, right?  Well, if only it were that simple…Career choice is a complex matter.  Done successfully, it takes research, planning and a lot of awareness both of yourself and the world of work. So what can you do if you don’t even know where to begin?

Be reflective

Every journey should have a start and an end and yet when it comes to career, people often want to reach the finish line without taking the first steps. It is important to start with the basics and take a thorough approach to your research.  Think about the type of person you are, the things you enjoy and the areas of work or life that interest you.  Draw from any previous experiences, either from work, study or hobbies – think about what you have enjoyed and what you haven’t, the working environments that you’ve liked and that you’ve disliked, and what the reasons for this may be.

Focus on the skills you can offer and how these can be transferred to different roles and industries.  Are you a great organiser? Do you have an analytical mind?  Perhaps a creative environment would work best for you? Think hard about what you need from a job. Do you thrive on risk and challenge? Is job security important to you? Do you need to be doing work that contributes to society?  Start to build up a picture of where you would best ‘fit’ in the world of work and the types of jobs that would keep you motivated and interested for the longer term.

Be inspired

If you are finding it hard to identify your own skills then let others do it for you. Speak to people who know you well and seek their ideas about the kind of skills you can offer and the type of work you may be suited to. (Sometimes it is much easier for other people to see the things that we don’t see in ourselves). Use people around you (family, friends etc) to develop you understanding of the world of work. Speak to them about the reality of what their work involves and what they do or don’t enjoy about it. If you have a particular career idea in mind, do you know of anyone who currently does that job?  If so, put time aside to speak to them in detail about their work and how they got into it. Examine the job market as part of your research.  Look at live vacancies to give you an idea of the kinds of skills and experiences employers are looking for, as well as a realistic picture on availability of job opportunities.

There are a whole host of useful resources out there to help you expand your knowledge on jobs that exist.  Websites like www.prospects.ac.uk and www.targetjobs.co.uk provide useful information on the industries that exist, the careers within them and the employers who present some of the biggest opportunities in these areas. Similarly, online tools such as the Prospects Planner (www.prospects.ac.uk/links/pplanner) use questions about your skills and motivations to generate some career ideas. These can be used as a great starting point for further research.

Be realistic but open minded

Stay true to yourself when you make your decisions.  It is easy to be swayed by the lure of a six-figure salary but if your initial research indicated a preference for consistent working hours and low-stress then it would be advisable for you to rethink!  And whilst realism is essential, it is equally important to stay open-minded in order to allow you to consider all the options available. A huge problem faced by many is simply not knowing what exists so use your research to expand these ideas and don’t be limited by your degree topic – in the UK the majority of graduate recruiters won’t specify a particular degree discipline so a world of opportunities are open to you.

Finally, don’t forget the Careers Service is here to help you.  It is really important to be aware just how common it is for students to be unsure of their career direction so don’t feel embarrassed about asking for support and guidance in reaching these decisions. You don’t need to have the answers now but what is important is that you are starting to work towards them.

Hannah Morton-Hedges

Careers Consultant

Considering a science PhD? Four (more) questions to ask yourself…

Why do a PhD? There isn’t really a right or wrong answer to this question. But you have to remember that this is a 3-4 year commitment, which will demand a lot of you and most certainly not pay you handsomely in return. The reality is that, especially towards the end of your PhD, you’ll be earning substantially less but working longer hours than if you had taken a graduate entry science job. Of course, it’s not all bad. Over the course of your PhD you will have opportunities to meet and work with a number of passionate researchers, travel to conferences to present your work, (hopefully) publish your findings and develop your own research skills and knowledge. So, the point that I’m trying to make is that, while there are many different and equally valid reasons to do a PhD, it’s a good idea to take a step back to think about your motivations and whether you’ve really looked at all of your options.

Where? This is an important consideration, depending on your specific project area, different facilities or resources may be more important than others. It’s also a good idea to pick somewhere that you think you would be happy to live (or commute to) for the duration of your PhD. Also you might want to think about how close you are to potential employers should you be looking for work either during or after your PhD. However, unlike with an undergraduate degree, this is a less important consideration than…

Who with? Your supervisor will have a massive impact on your PhD, your progress and the skills that you learn. For example, working for a professor who has a large research group, is well established in the field and has a very busy schedule will be very different to working for a younger academic who is still trying to make a name for themselves, has a fairly small group and is generally available when you need them.

What project? This may well be the most important consideration. Remember that this project will occupy most of your time for the next 3-4 years, so be sure to pick something you enjoy!

If you’re now left with more questions than answers, remember that your department has a number of academics and PhD students who have all been through this process themselves…make use of them! You can also discuss your options with a Careers Consultant too…

Tanya Boorman
Careers Information Assistant and PhD Candidate
QM Careers