Working for a greener future

Recently, we hosted an Environmental Careers Event, where QM students got to meet those working in jobs to do with the environment and sustainability. We had fantastic turnout of students and employers working various industries, including the Head of Sustainability & Environment at Heathrow, the Principal Ecologist at The Ecology Consultancy and the Principal Programme Manager at Global Action Plan.

The event ran like a ‘speed meet’, which meant that after a brief chance for the guest employers to introduce themselves, students grouped together at tables were given a prompt sheet to write down their questions or thoughts for the speakers.

Each guest then took a table and talked with the students about whatever they wanted to talk about. After 10 minutes time was rang and the guest moved on to the next table. That way each group of students got to speak directly with the guest and ask them the questions they wanted to ask. At the end of the event, there was a chance for students to speak again with the guests, get contact details or whatever they chose.

It’s so easy being green

The room bubbled with conversation throughout, demonstrating just how worthwhile the students were finding the event. Particularly useful was the range of guests – from their current roles to their educational and career backgrounds – this helped students to see that understanding environmental impact was important no matter what job they wanted to go into.

It also emphasised how important extra-curricular activities could be. Volunteering and doing things outside of their degree could really make a difference when it comes to selecting students for jobs, explained Gary Grant from Green Roof Consultancy. In particular, it can give students specific knowledge of ecosystems and so on, which might matter to future employers

Turn it Off Thursday 2

Simon Helmer from Briar Associates (an eco-engineers company) told us:

‘I got into the ‘green’ sector from a different industry via the business to business skills I had and a massive enthusiasm for environmental sustainability. So enthusiasm definitely helps…As a fresh graduate, I found lack of business experience hindered me getting a job. Anything a student can do to get some experience in a sector they are interested in e.g. via a short placements can help them to stand out from the crowd for a potential employer.’

Jess Hawes, from QMUL’s own Sustainability team believed it ‘was a fantastic way to find out about the diverse range of opportunities in the Environmental Sector…Having all landed jobs in the field we recognise the importance of starting early, and getting a good idea of what you want to do and how you can achieve it’.

And if the idea of getting some skills and experience in this area appeals to you, why not think about being a Green Impact student volunteer? For more information on the roles you can get in touch with the QMUL Sustainability team via their website: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/about/sustainability/index.html.

Focus on Technology

 

focus on technology

Starting on 3 November we have a range of events aimed at students looking to find out more about careers in technology and we’re also running practical workshops where you can find out key tips to help you get recruited.

1pm on 3 November – LinkedIn Lab – Led by Dr Maya Mendiratta, Careers Consultant to the School of Electronic Engineering & Computer Science.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool used by employers and recruiters to find good candidates for roles they have to fill. With content similar to a CV, it is a great way for you to have your skills and experience online to support your job hunting. You can also use it to network with former Queen Mary students, professional interest groups and employers.

In this workshop you will learn how to build or improve your LinkedIn profile and use it to find work experience or graduate jobs.

1pm on 4 November – IT Interviews and Presentations – Led by IBM

Technical interviews often involve challenging questions, and giving a presentation.

This session led by an IBM Consultant will go through the interview process and give you the chance to find out what makes a good presentation. At the end of this session attendees should have a clear idea of how best to prepare and deliver an interview and presentation under pressure.

5pm on 4 November – Careers in Technology Panel

This panel discussion featuring Clear Books, Google, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley and NET Builder will look at the vast range of roles available in technology focused organisations.

At the end of this session attendees will have a feel for what roles are available in organisations ranging from a start up to a multinational corporation.

2pm on 5 November – Women in Technology Panel

This panel discussion featuring Accenture, Buddybounce, CGI, Deloitte, EBay and Microsoft will look at misconceptions facing women in technology focused roles.

The panel will discuss their careers and also look at how the cultures of a range of organisations have changed.

2pm on 6 November – How to demonstrate technical skills in a job application – Led by RecWorks

Demonstrating your technical skills in a job application can be difficult. This session led by RecWorks will look at how you can maximise your experiences in a job application.

At the end of this session attendees should have an understanding of how best to write a job application.

6pm on 6 November – Start Up Stand Up – Technology Special!

Ever wondered what it was really like to work in a start-up, or how a tech entrepreneur came up with their initial idea?

If so, come along to this informal event run by Careers & Enterprise to hear local entrepreneurs speak open-mic style about how they set up their tech ventures.

Speakers include Simon Fox, CEO of Playlab, Parisia Louie, founder of Watchfit, and Uche Aniagwu and James Quigley, co-founders of Lychee.

Register for all these events via www.careers.qmul.ac.uk/events

What to do and what not to do at careers fairs

This October there are a number of careers fairs happening that you should be attending, including:

fair

These events are a great way of getting to meet employers, finding out about different career options, and doing some valuable networking.

We’ve written before on what to do when attending careers fairs, but this great post also explains what not to do at these events.

And remember, if you’re not sure about how to approach employers or how to go about networking, you can always come and have a chat with one of our Careers Consultants for some tips and advice.

Making the most of careers fairs

On Wednesday 19th March the University of London will be having its Spring Graduate Fair, at Senate House from 12 to 5pm.

The fair will feature up to 70 top graduate recruiters, training organisations, gap year alternatives, work experience and internship options. This will be a fantastic opportunity to meet employers, so to help you make the most of it here are some top tips:

Plan who you want to see

With so many exhibitors it will be impossible for you to have a meaningful conversation with all of them. Instead, you might want to figure out a priority list of which stands you want to visit. The Spring Graduate Fair website has information on all the exhibitors and a floor plan, so you could print this off and mark each table with a 1, 2 or 3 to indicate which are more important to you.

But remember, sometimes the best opportunities come from the least expected places and fairs are a great place to get talking to organisations you might not have thought about before. So although it is good to plan ahead, don’t just come along, see all your 1s and go home. Try to make some time to see a few of your 2s and 3s or to just have a wander around the other stands.

Timing

Throughout the day there will be presentations given by Careers Consultants and a chance to have your CV checked. So try and plan your time so that you can make the most of all the fair has to offer.

Also, although you’ll have your priority list, you might find that you cannot immediately get to talk to those you’ve marked as number 1. Often at careers fairs everyone will crowd around the larger, more well-known employers, particularly at the very start of the day. Take this time to do some browsing of other exhibitorss and see some of your 2s and 3s. If you come back to a stand when it is quieter, you’ll have more chance to talk properly with the recruiters there.

Manage your expectations

Careers fairs are information events. If you walk out with a job offer then that is great but it is unusual. Feel free to take along your CV just in case (there will be a chance to get it checked by a Careers Consultant anyway), but don’t expect to be handing it out to a lot of recruiters. Instead, use the event to gather information, do some networking and leave a good impression with the people you talk to. Think of this as a first step, the next one being the follow up (more on which below).

Make a good impression

Look presentable – smart/casual is the dress code for such events, but if in doubt it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.

For your number 1s, make sure you do a bit of research before the fair. Find out about the company itself 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. For your number 2s and 3s, think of some general questions. Recruiters are people too, so asking how their day is going and if they have been very busy is a nice way to strike up conversation. And as you get talking smile, be polite and show that you are listening and engaged. Jotting down notes will show the recruiter that you are really interested in what they have to say, as well as helping you to remember conversations. And if someone gives you a business card make sure you keep it safe.

Fly solo

It is okay to attend the event with a friend, but don’t spend the whole time together. Having a one-to-one talk with a recruiter gives you a better chance of making yourself memorable. If you find the idea of approaching a stand on your own daunting, prepare a few ice-breaker questions in your head beforehand. Again, doing some research can help you feel more confident when it comes to striking up conversation. And remember the saying ‘fake it until you make it’, i.e. even if you don’t feel very confident, try to pretend that you are and no-one will know the difference.

Follow up

A day or two after the event, take the time to email those you spoke to at the fair (this is where those notes and business cards come in handy!). Thank them for taking the time to talk to you, perhaps include something that helps them to remember you (‘I very much enjoyed our discussion on ___’) and reiterate your interest in their organisation. If you are not sure how best to compose this email, the Careers Centre can help you. By following up with recruiters after the fair it demonstrates that you have real interest in their company and it builds upon the favourable impression you would hopefully have begun to make at the actual event. That way, if in the future you need some advice or information on applying to that company, your contact might be willing to help you. And remember that when you make an application or get invited to interview, you can refer to this contact as someone who has inspired you, further showing your dedication to the organisation.

Tip of the Day – Networking

If you attend careers events, open days or other employer networking events make a note of the people that you meet. That way you can mention them if you apply to the company and get invited to an interview in the future. Mentioning real people and how you were inspired by them talking about the work they do, will make your answer about why you want to work for the company more specific.

How to stand out a jobs fair

For ideas and inspiration I occasionally read other blogs written by Careers Services up and down the country. This morning I found an alert in my inbox for a post all about standing out at careers fairs from the University of Huddersfield, which has some excellent tips that I’ve re-jigged a little for you here:

It’s hard to stand out amongst the crowds of students and graduates at careers events. Although you may be well aware that you should do some serious research and planning in advance of your visit, it can be difficult to know where to start.  Consider the answer to these questions:

  • Can you stand out from the crowd? Will you be memorable (in, of course, a good way…)
  • Imagine you were given five minutes to ‘pitch’ for a job with an employer, what would you say? What is your key message and could you condense it if you had less than two minutes for it?
  • If a company rep puts you on the spot and says – “so what’s your Unique Selling Point?” – will you have a ready answer or will you run for the door?

Here are some questions that can help you find the answers to the above:

  1. Firstly think about what you’ve done so far on your course. List the options you’ve taken and think about where you gained your best results. Now write down what you’ve enjoyed about the course. Any work experience? Make a note of that too, whether you did it for your course or to generate income. All of this is your starting point for reflection about your achievements as a student. And guess what – even if you enrolled last month you’ll still have started to gather evidence.
  2. What do you want to do after graduation? Or, what are your plans over the next two / three years of your course? Summarise your career goal. Think of how few words you can use to say it and then shorten it again. The most powerful statements are short and sweet, such as ‘focused on a career within IT’, ‘I am planning to teach’ or ‘training as a Solicitor is my goal’. The beauty of this point is that your answer need not be permanent. If you change your mind by the start of November? Believe me, most people do exactly that.
  3. Can you appear confident? This is all about making bold statements. This isn’t the time to be worried, or appear under qualified – and neither is it the time to be arrogant or to talk about your training needs. Believe in yourself – look at how far you’ve come whilst at university! State your skills and let potential employers know what you can do e.g. ‘The report from my placement employer highlighted my strengths in …’

None of this is easy and it certainly takes time. But you can use your findings to help you with application forms and interview questions in the future too. This self reflection can also help you think in a different way about which direction you want to take after university as well as what sort of employers might be right for you.

Insight into a career in banking

You often find that no amount of research into an industry is as insightful as hearing about the real life experiences of people who actually work within it themselves. Queen Mary students were given insight into banking and investment roles from industry professionals who were also Queen Mary Alumni.

Attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions and here are a few of the key points that I gathered from some of the responses that were given in regards to pursuing a career in banking.

Internships: Do not underestimate the value of securing an internship. Most banks will hire interns and the majority of graduate roles are filled by their interns. Don’t be selective when it comes to where you apply for an internship or graduate scheme. It could even be a good idea to consider relocating as there may be more opportunities available outside London.

Commercial awareness: as bankers it is important to remain up to date with what is going on in the world of banking and beyond. Employers want to see that you are able to make a valid contribution to their business and that you can actually demonstrate an interest in what goes on within the industry of banking.

Qualifications: financial education is an on-going process – make use of any opportunity to get professional qualifications.

Remain within the market: One of the most damaging things you could do is be out of the market. Make sure you remain in the market as the more gaps on your CV, the more difficult it becomes to get into banking. Employers want to see consistency and that you are actually committed to something. Use work shadowing, placements and temping to avoid gaps and use your network of contacts from previous work experience who may be able to let you know of future opportunities.

Hard work and commitment: a successful career in banking requires a lot of hard work and commitment, be prepared to devote a lot of time and effort into your work.

Managing your reputation: be smart about everything you decide to do. Employers want to know that they are employing people of a reputable character– this includes your online reputation. Don’t be surprised to hear that your future employer may decide to Google you!

For information about future events about finance and other industries see our calendar.

Novlet Levy
Careers Admin Assistant
Queen Mary Careers & Enterprise Centre