Enhance Your Employability & Develop Your Skills in the SU Elections!

nominations_17_facebook_post3Are you looking for a role where you will have a meaningful impact? Interested in working at a multi-million pound charity and social enterprise? Then look no further than the 2017 Students’ Union elections. There are over 40 positions you can nominate yourself for including full-time paid positions (salary £24.5K per annum) and part-time voluntary positions. Elected students will have a unique experience that gives them an incredible insight into the workings of the University, Union and commercial services, boosting your CV and enhancing your employability.

Elected students set the direction of the Students’ Union, deciding on student policy and running campaigns and projects to improve the student experience. For a full list of the positions available, click here http://www.qmsu.org/elections/positions.

Becoming an elected Officer at your Students’ Union offers excellent work experience that can be applied to a number of sectors, including the Civil Service, NGOs, the voluntary sector, social enterprise and the commercial sector.

Running your own campaigns and initiatives is a fantastic way to prove your initiative, resourcefulness and creativity to a future employer. You are supported to fulfil your ideas and take responsibility for your own projects, allowing you to stand out from the crowd and develop skills which are highly desirable in today’s competitive jobs market.

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Study Yourself Employable: 4 Things Ambitious Students Should Be Doing Now

Smart students already know that success requires great grades (two-thirds of companies require at least a 2:1) and relevant work experience (half of hiring managers won’t hire graduates without any). But these qualifications alone won’t make you stand out from the crowd. The average number of candidates for each job is 39, and that figure rises into the hundreds for competitive industries.

Want to shine? Here’s what you should be doing long before graduation:

  1. Write Your Graduate CV

Many students will have a CV which they made for their part-time job, but few Freshers will have bothered to write one for the job they expect to have after university. This is a mistake. Recruiters are busy people routinely faced with more applications than they can handle. The easiest way they can cut the pile down to a manageable size is by discarding any and every CV that doesn’t appear up to scratch at first glance.

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To avoid this fate, your CV needs to be perfect in two respects. Firstly, it must show that you meet all the basic requirements. Secondly, it must be clearly formatted, correctly spelt, and easy to read. That is why starting to work on it early is essential.

Placing everything you can offer on paper makes it easy to spot any glaring gaps in your experience while you still have plenty of time to fill them. Have a look at some job specs from the types of industry or job you want to go into. You’ll probably notice that a lot of them ask for some specific skill, such as pivot tables or Adobe Photoshop, which you can learn to use in your free time.

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Graduate story: From lecture theatres to that dream job …

Tips and tricks to make yourself more employable

Emma Biliri, LLM Graduate

emma-biliriAsk yourself this; would you employ you? If the answer is yes, no need to read any further (but don’t say we didn’t warn you!). For me, the answer was a no – I had the grades, I was passionate, but who isn’t in our generation?

It has been 3 years since I graduated with an LLB degree from QMUL and 2 years since completing my LLM.  I have since worked in numerous firms as a contractor and for the past year I am an Assistant Vice President of Information Security at Barclays.

What my journey from starting at QMUL to where I am now has taught me is that you are not the only one competing for that dream job – there are hundreds out there! Getting it, however, is not as hard as you think … 

Network, Network, Network

You are probably already tired of receiving emails inviting you to different networking, panel or career events. Do not ignore them; invest in a nice suit, polish your shoes, do some research and go to as many as you can. Listening to what people of the field have to say is priceless. It gives you a perspective of the ever changing corporate world, and gives you the rare chance to shake hands with the people who could one day be reviewing your CV. Talk to them, ask them questions and tips. Don’t worry about looking over zealous – they were in the same position. When you graduate, having the card or the LinkedIn connection of the firm’s associate you met at one of these events could take your application a long way.

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Enterprise: Who we are

Are you interested in starting your own business, developing an existing idea or networking with other aspiring and established entrepreneurs?

Do you want to develop your employability skills?

The Enterprise team can help you achieve these goals whether you want to start a business or learn more about the process itself. If you have a creative idea or an existing business that you want to expand, we can provide you with the funding, mentoring and skills that you need to succeed.

We provide seed funding, an incubator programme, mentoring, enterprise boot camps, specialist workshops, free stalls at markets both on and off campus, pitching events and talks from local entrepreneurs. To sign up to any of our events visit https://careersandenterpriseevents.wordpress.com/

InQUBEate is Queen Mary’s 8 week start-up incubator programme, which has places for students to join in Semesters 1 and 2.  During the programme you will have weekly meetings with mentors from a range of industries, receive training on a range of topics including marketing and legal issues, meet like-minded students to share your ideas with, and pitch for funding to a panel of judges.

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Why is work experience important?

Experience and employability skills clearly evidenced on a CV are the crucial factors that enable students to successfully navigate the competitive graduate job market which is set to expand by 11.9% this year, according to a recent report issued by the Association of Graduate Recruiters.

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the AGR, explains: “Graduate vacancies continue to grow year on year and graduates are still more likely to be employed than non-graduates. Employers would have recruited more graduates, over 1,400 more, if they could have found enough candidates with the right mix of skills. Candidates that understand the world of work, build their own skills and can translate that into a compelling proposition are much more likely to be successful in the jobs market.”

This is exactly why work experience is so important. Whether you are a first, second or third year student at university, Careers & Enterprise advises students to take part in a range of work experiences, internships or placements that are specifically designed by employers to help students achieve the following objectives:

Gain transferable skills

Even if your work experience or internship does not focus on a particular career path, it will help to develop key employability skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving skills that you will need in almost any job. Plus you will gain invaluable general understanding of life beyond academic study and will be able to demonstrate a responsible attitude to work on your CV and in interviews.

Build a network

Work experience and internships offer the perfect opportunity to make contacts in an industry you might be interested in. This is a unique opportunity to network with companies and individuals who might be interested in employing you after graduation. More than a quarter (26.5%) of graduate roles in 2013/14 were filled by individuals who had previously worked for the same employer, through an internship or placement.

Get a taster

The only way to truly know if a job is right for you is to experience it hands-on. Whether it’s an industry, role or company you’re seeking to discover more about, work experience or internships provide an insight that will help you to make the right decision about your career. Your placement will highlight which skills you have and which will need more work if you’re planning on pursuing this career.

Use your time at university to build a CV with a range of internships and work experiences. On  Graduation Day you will not only be celebrating your degree results, but the fact that you have the vital employability skills to help you succeed in an expanding but highly competitive graduate job market,

To browse the various work experience, internship and employment opportunities targeted at Queen Mary students visit QRecruit and QM JobOnline.

Commercial Awareness: Why you need it, how to get it

Quick Quiz

Commercial awareness –  regularly demanded, rarely defined.

Is it:

i) An ability to recite key articles from the  Financial Times and The Economist from memory

ii) Understanding that all organisations, especially big businesses, are there to make profit, carve out a corner for themselves and undercut the opposition

iii) In-depth familiarity with how the City works: knowing your bulls from your bears and your equity from your elbow

iv) The realisation that hedging is a financial term, not a horticultural activity

The answer is ii), though i, iii and iv will chalk up a few extra brownie points and are essential if you intend to go into high finance.

Quick Fix

Impress employers by showing how your part-time work has nurtured your commercial insights. Forget “I work as a shelf filler at Asbury supermarket”. Limp and lame. Instead “Working at Asbury, I have seen how they promote key products, raising turnover by 20% and drawing customers away from their main local rival Waitco.”  Sharp and shrewd.

If you want to go up several notches on the scale – a necessity when applying for the major grad schemes – add any or all of these into the mix:

Reading a respected daily paper or, alternatively, its website. Less Metro, Star, Sun or Standard, more Guardian, Indie, Times, Telegraph.

Forsaking Radio 1 for Radio 4

Taking a sales job, running a market stall, starting a micro business

Joining the Trading and Investment Society here at QM

Participating in an online “fantasy” investment game. Relax – no folding money changes hands. If you’d prefer, do this on an individual basis. Take out some “virtual” shares – again, you are not parting with any cash- in some actual assets and see how they perform.

Commercial awareness: you’ve got it. Use it.

Gill Sharp
Careers Consultant
QM Careers

Student Stories: Volunteering with QMSU

To highlight the value of volunteering – how it is great for your CV AND your social life, as well as being rewarding, we got one of our student journalists to tell us about his experiences…

“With the employment market in a pretty dire state, I knew I needed “that something extra” which would make me stand out in the saturated graduate pool. Volunteering was the perfect way to do this.

The skills that employers look for can be gained through volunteering. Whether it is building on your team working skills through cleaning out the Regent’s Canal with a group of other volunteers, or improving your time management by working volunteering around your learning schedule, volunteering is a great way to prepare you for the world of work. AND it looks great on CVs and applications.  In my role at Team Provide, which is a group of students that lead QM’s volunteering service Provide, I have gained invaluable leadership and communication skills. This was mainly through leading groups on various volunteering events, and even recruiting volunteers on campus.

Networking is another highly important factor to consider when preparing for your life as a graduate. Volunteering may be seen as an unlikely way of networking, unless you want to work in the Charity sector. This couldn’t be further from the case. I have volunteered on events where I have met employees from the Bank of England, PwC, Standard Chartered, Shell, Balfour Beatty, and various public sector organisations. They were full of praise for student volunteers, and have reiterated how volunteering makes a candidate more desirable.

Throughout my time as a volunteer, I met so many different students that I would not have otherwise met. Today, some of my best friends I met through volunteering. The various volunteering activities that I participated in were also extremely fun; dashing through the Kensington Olympia with a trolley collecting as many toys as possible was a personal highlight. These toys were then donated to the children’s charity, Barnardos. To sum it up, I was having a laugh with my mates, and all for a good cause. What else can I say!

If you do anything this year, show that you can use your initiative and undertake some form of voluntary work. Provide is the best hub for you to begin exploring different volunteering opportunities in London. Check out the website at http://www.qmsu.org/volunteering/ and sign up today. Go on, your CV needs you!”

Emmet McCallion
3rd year Business Management