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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Graduate story: Gaspare Chirillo, Law

GaspareI am Gaspare Chirillo and I have recently graduated from Queen Mary. I have completed a Law degree with a first class and, also, I have been a recipient of the Principal’s Prize for outstanding academic achievements. In addition, during my third year, I have been awarded the Draper’s Scholarship by the Law School; thanks to it, I will undertake an LLM in American Legal Studies in the USA. Particularly, in order to secure this scholarship, I have received great support from the QMUL Careers & Enterprise Department and would like to share my experience.

My time at Queen Mary has been a great ride which equipped me with all of the skills and experiences that I believe would be significantly helpful for my future career. Thanks to the quality of the well-structured law degree and the excellence of the academic body, I have gained a significant knowledge of the legal and commercial field. Moreover, I have been supported by the Careers & Enterprise Department throughout my law degree, which I feel has made me more employable and has helped me in obtaining important results.

Since the first year of the LLB, I have relied significantly on the Careers service which is available to all students of all degrees. I attended many 1-2-1 sessions with Careers Consultants and learnt many skills, including how to make a job application stand out tips

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The value of volunteering

There are many reasons to volunteer, like wanting to help others, keeping up a hobby, making use of spare time, meeting new people etc. Often people forget that volunteering can also be an important step to getting that desired job or place on a postgraduate course.

Volunteering can give you structured opportunities to establish, improve or maximise general workplace skills like time management, communication or more specific skills that an industry demands – see Prospects’ Job Sector information to identify some of these. Volunteering can introduce a range of scenarios that you could use as examples to help answer competency questions for job applications and is a great addition to your CV, showing an employer that you have gained valuable work experience and taken the initiative to get involved in different things outside of your studies.

Work experience through volunteering can be vital to being accepted on a postgraduate course especially if the degree is more vocational or it’s a change in career direction.  For example it is likely that an IT graduate wanting to do an Masters in Social Work would need to build up practical experience of working with vulnerable people. Volunteering can also be an information-gathering exercise to know more about the area you are hoping to study as a postgraduate.

Remember that there are some practicalities to consider before you start volunteering like commitment, location, financial support and application processes. There are many different ways to volunteer – for example, being a member of a society committee, being a course rep or helping out at your local community centre.  Here is a brief list of places to look for volunteering opportunities to start you off:

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How to stand out from the crowd

One way to get yourself noticed by employers is to ensure you have the skills that they look for. This could mean sharpening your Excel skills, gaining some basic knowledge of HTML, or maybe doing an introduction to business, marketing or accounting. It’s a great opportunity to build your CV, prove your interest in a particular career area, or try out a new subject. It also shows that you have the initiative and dedication to learn something on your own accord.

Read a few job descriptions for the type of roles you are interested in applying to and see what employers skills they look for. Are there any areas that you feel you can develop to boost your chances of getting selected?

If you attend careers events (see our calendar) you could also ask people working in the area you are interested whether they feel there are any skills that would be particularly useful. These might not necessarily be what you might expect. Journalists for example are required to take more of their own photos to accompany a story, so basic photography skills can be really valuable. Likewise if you are interested in marketing, some basic knowledge of HMTL or data analysis could also be beneficial.

There are a number of free courses that you can do online, many of which often require only 2-4 hours a week of your time:

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses

https://www.codecademy.com/

There are also a huge number of free tutorials available via youtube.

If you would rather learn in a classroom environment, there are a huge number of colleges and adult education centres that offer evening, weekend and short courses in a range of subjects. You might like to browse http://www.hotcourses.com/ for opportunities in your area.

QProjects: Meaningful work experience in the charity sector

The great American writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard once said, ‘the best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today’.

In this day and age it seems his statement remains just as apt; the headlines and the employers continually stress upon us the importance of being as ‘job ready’ and ‘employable’ as possible upon graduation. And they tell us a crucial part of this lies in getting some work experience under our belts before our University days are out.

Sensible, indeed, but perhaps easier said than done. It’s not like we’re short of things to fill our days; lectures, reading, societies, essays, sports, more reading, socialising. Possibly also a few shifts at the local Sainsbury’s to keep us out of the red.

But how the heck does one manage to undertake work experience on top of all of this?

Introducing QProjects; challenging, meaningful and time-efficient work experience placements in local and national charities.

At 8 hours per week over 3 months, QProjects are designed to fit snugly around your studies. You’ll bag yourself an impressive piece of professional experience to boast about on your CV and get that all important ‘employability’ factor, without having to sacrifice your grades or your social life.

Moreover, it’s the chance to break out of the QMUL bubble for a few hours a week and put your highly valuable skills and expertise into practice to help the local community. Now, future employers will be impressed by that, surely.

In the last academic year, we placed 51 students into 30 different charities (mostly in East London), including MIND, Cystic Fibrosis Trust and NSPCC. Past QProject leaders have led marketing campaigns for museums, run focus groups with NHS patients, secured thousands of pounds of funding for small charities through writing bids and planned and delivered arts festivals. And many more.

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Student story: How work experience has helped me prepare for the working world

DomasLLB student Megan Domas is in her third year at QMUL. Last year she was a Student Adviser in the Legal Advice Centre, and below she tells us how gaining work experience has helped her prepare for her future career.

As a student, it is very easy to get caught in the bubble of university life. Focusing on the demands given by our tutors and lecturers that often means spending hours in the library whilst juggling sleep, household chores and a social life at the same time is an essential learning curve in its own right. Reaching a good balance makes for a rich experience and allows you to excel at university. But what about afterwards? It is true that good grades can open opportunities for you but in the competitive world that we live in having work experience shows that you have more than just good learning skills – it means you have the practical, essential skills needed to help you in any job.

That is why as a law student I decided to apply to be a student adviser at our university’s Legal Advice Centre. This role entails being assigned to my own cases and going through the process of interviewing a client, researching their legal issues and then writing a solution to their problems in a letter within a fortnight. Understandably, this was completely different to studying and preparing for coursework but was key in highlighting the difference between actually practising the law to studying it. This is an important learning step for a lot of students, in many different subjects, who go straight from university into a job completely unprepared and as a result find the transition extremely difficult.

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The Basics: CVs

What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a record of your experience, skills, achievements and education, and is an important document which is a crucial part of applying for a job. It’s not simply a list of everything you have ever done, but instead a way of “selling” your skills and experiences to an employer, in relation to a particular role.

CVs for most jobs in the UK should be two sides long, however there are two exceptions to this rule: if you are applying for a job in the financial sector, or for a position in the USA. Check the individual job application in these cases, but unless otherwise stated, your CV should be only one side long for these applications.

The golden rule for writing a CV is that it must be tailored to the role you are applying to, i.e. you write a new CV for each role and demonstrate how you match what an employer is looking for.

What should you include?

Personal details

  • Your full name should come at the top of your CV, preferably in bold and in a larger font than the rest of your CV.
  • Next comes your address, but try to fit this on one line if you can – space is valuable! On the next two lines include your telephone number and email You do not need to include your date of birth.
  • You do not need to write ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top, as it is clear what the document is.

Profile

  • You may wish to include a short profile (or personal statement). While this is not compulsory, it can make your CV stand out from the crowd by providing employers with a summary of your key skills. It’s also an opportunity to highlight any particularly relevant achievements or experiences you want to draw the recruiter’s attention to. Make sure that this is relevant to the role you are applying for.

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