How to Fast Track your Career – First Steps for first year Arts and Social Science students

Ant portrait

Hi and Welcome to City University!

I’m the Careers Consultant that works particularly with Arts and Social Science students,  although I see all students. I gave lots of talks about CityCareers during Induction Week, so hopefully, you will know about us and how you can  use the service to get into the career you want by the time you graduate! But actually, as many arts and social science degrees aren’t very vocational, (unlike subjects like Business, Law & Engineering)  too often, students do not know the full range of  careers that are open to them at the end of their  degree. And in fact, most careers are open to you!   In reality, Arts and Social Science students too often postpone exploring their ideas and don’t visit CityCareers till the last minute in year 3. Often, they also don’t attend the many events we hold on campus where you can find out about different careers and employers to help you to make up your mind. Third year is the worst time to be making basic careers enquiries, because it is a very busy year academically. It’s also a time to be making job applications, often early on in Term 1! So follow these top tips if to avoid graduating into volunteering or continuing with your student job…. Continue Reading


Top Tips on Applications from IBM

Last night, along with over 200 students, I attended the first evening session of the Employability Skills Programme, How to write winning CVs and applications with IBM.  They had some great tips for students getting started with applications for internships, placement programmes and graduate schemes.

  • Always put your full name in the file names of your documents – this helps the recruiters keep track of your application.
  • Don’t copy and paste from previous applications. It’s so easy to miss a reference to a different company or to end up with answers that don’t quite fit for the company you’re applying to.
  • Write your answers to application forms in Word first. This way you can use the word count and spell check to make sure you’re within the limit and don’t have any spelling errors.  Sometimes application forms can have technical issues and this will ensure you don’t lose your answers.
  • If you’re asked to write a personal profile, make sure you reference the skills the company is looking for.  But make sure you have examples to back up anything you say in your profile!  If you say you’re a great leader, you need to have an example of your leadership abilities to provide in a further question or at an interview.
  • Research the company in advance.  Look at their website: what new products, services or innovations are they promoting?  Check them out on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to see what the company is promoting about themselves.  Look at major newspapers to see if the company has been mentioned and in what context.
  • Don’t apply to a company just because you think you should or because everyone else is.  You should WANT to work at the companies you’re applying to.  Read their Careers and HR websites – get a sense of what the company does, what you’d be doing, what the atmosphere is like and what the benefits are.  You should be able to show a strong interest in the company and their roles.
  • Apply early!  Many companies recruit for their on a rolling basis.  The sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll hear about whether you’ve passed to the next step.

Many application forms and interviews will include comptency questions, or questions on specific skills like teamwork, leadership, communication, or problem-solving.  These are really important to the recruiters to help them assess your suitability for their roles.  Here are IBM’s top tips on answering these questions:

  • Make sure you use the STAR Framework: Situation, Task, Action, Result.  If you’re not sure how to apply this to your experiences, book an appointment with one of our Careers Consultants and they can help you think about your experiences in this format.
  • Use one example per question – it’s better to go into more detail on one example than to try to fit more than one into the space alotted.
  • Your work experience and examples don’t necessarily need to be related to the type of work the company or the role does – your experiences in retail work, working for the university, volunteering, sports, or student societies are fine, as long as they illustrate the required skills.

If you’re applying and finding that you’re struggling to think of examples for some of the competency questions, make an appointment to speak to a Careers Consultant.  They can help you think about what other things you might do to develop the skills you’re missing.

To book an appointment with a Careers Consultant, visit CareersHub.

To register to attend future Employability Skills Programme sessions, click here.


First Steps: Frequently Asked Questions about Careers Appointments and Events

One of your first steps on your career journey should be meeting with a careers consultant to discuss your plans or review your CV,  and attending careers events to meet employers and start to get an idea of where you’d like to apply and what their requirements are.  We often have a lot of questions on booking appointments and events.  Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about these processes.

How do I book a CV check appointment?

20 minute CV Check appointments can only be booked one day in advance, from 5:30 pm.

1. Go to Booking an Appointment

2. Click on the day on the calendar (remember you will only be able to book 20 minute appointments for the next day!)

3. Click on the time you want to book. Available appointments will be in red.

  • If the appointment is gray, it has already been booked by someone else.
  • If an appointment says “prelisted” it is not available to book yet. You will need to wait until 5:30 pm the night before to book the appointment.

4. Choose the topic for your appointment, and enter your comments in the comment box. The more information you provide the more the consultant will be able to help you.

5. Upload your CV.

  • If you don’t have a CV at all, please see our Writing a CV factsheet and write a draft before your appointment.
Why isn’t the appointment available to book?

20 minute appointments become available each evening at 5:30 pm for the following day. If you tried to book an appointment for any day other than today you would have to wait until 5:30pm the night before. This should be specified in a blue box on the appointment details

If you tried to book for the next day and it was after 5:30 pm, the appointments may have all been already taken.

What if I need to cancel my appointment?

If you are unable to attend your appointment, you can cancel by going to My Appointment Bookings and clicking on the appointment listing. You will then see a Cancel My Booking button. If you need to cancel at short notice or are unable to cancel online, please call us at 020 7040 8093 or email us at careers@city.ac.uk to let us know.

What happens if I’m absent from an appointment?

When you book a careers appointment, it is your responsibility to make a note of this in your diary and attend your appointment on time.

Non-attendance at an appointment or cancelling at short notice (except in case of an emergency) wastes the consultant’s time and prevents another student from using this time. You should treat careers appointments as the first step in your career search and present yourself accordingly. This means attending your appointments, being on time, and being prepared with your documents printed in advance.

Please note that if you are marked as absent from two appointments within two weeks you will be banned from using the service for two weeks from your second absence.

How to book events – step by step

Please follow the instructions below and you should be able to view all the events that we will be running on campus this term.

  1. Go to the Careers Homepage and click on Register for Events
  2. Click the Book Now button
  3. Log in using your City ID and password
  4. Now you should see the main student homepage – click on View All Events under Events
  5. Find the event you would like to attend, click the title, then click “Book in to attend this event”
  6. You can book all other events you are interested in attending following the same steps.

If you are still experiencing difficulties, please visit the Careers, Student Development and Outreach Service (Drysdale Building) and we will take you through the process.

What if I can’t attend an event?

To cancel your place at an event, you will need to log in to City CareersHub, go to My Event Bookings on the left hand side of the page, click on the event, scroll to the bottom and click on “Cancel my booking”.

What does waiting list mean for events?

Due to space restrictions, we need to set a booking limit for each event that we run. Once this limit has been reached, we will operate a waiting list. When a student cancels their booking, everyone on the waiting list will be notified and the place will be bookable on a first come, first served basis. During the busiest periods, we have up to 600 students on a waiting list, so please be patient. If you find that you are getting too many emails, you can remove your name from the waiting list. If you are particularly keen on attending an event but have not been able to sign up online, then please come to the venue early. If there is space in the room we will do our best to squeeze you in.

What happens if I miss an event I have booked?

When you sign up for an event, it is your responsibility to make a note of this in your diary, turn up on time and ensure that your attendance has been recorded by a member of the Careers team. Non-attendance damages City’s brand. If you sign up then we expect you to turn up. This is a matter of courtesy if nothing else and students who do not show up for what is, in effect, an appointment will not be well-regarded. Remember that failure to attend creates a negative impression of both City students and the Careers service, and employers will not be willing to run similar sessions if students fail to attend presentations and workshops that they have booked for. Please note that if you are marked as absent for two events within two weeks, you will be banned from using the service for two weeks after your second absence.