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Guest Blog: Why being unsure of what to do after university can be an advantage by Selesti

Leaving university can be tough – after years of studying you now have a degree but you might not yet be sure what career you want to go for or how to get started on the right track. To top it all off, you’ve probably got family members asking you what you’re looking to do, as well as the pressure of seeing your friends starting jobs or internships. Below, we’ll look at a few reasons why being unsure of what to do next can be an advantage, giving you the confidence to try out a range of roles leading you to a career that’s right for you.

Your first graduate job doesn’t have to be the same as your career

Many graduates feel that the first job they take will lock them into a career for life, partly due to hearing about the experiences of their parents and older relatives, when long term jobs were much more common. However according to economist Neil Howe, only 5% of us consider our first job what we actually want to do.

This means if you have a career in mind but aren’t sure how to begin, or haven’t found a career you’re interested in yet, don’t be afraid to apply for unrelated jobs initially – chances are you won’t stay in it, with the average person changing jobs more than seven times in their lifetime, a figure that is likely to grow as job-hopping becomes more commonplace.

Broad experiences can help you earn new responsibilities later

Because your first job likely won’t be what you want to do in your career, you shouldn’t be afraid to switch between different roles and industries to find something you like. In fact, job-hopping can actually play to your advantage, as you’ll be learning new skills in each job, giving you a broad range of experience that you can use in future roles.

This is especially useful if you’re applying for roles in small businesses, which frequently require staff to wear many hats, taking part in a range of disciplines such as HR and finance along with their main responsibilities. With some experience in a range of different short term roles earlier in your career, you’ll have an opportunity to show you’ll be able to take on all the required responsibilities without much training, increasing your employment and promotion opportunities later in your career.

You don’t need to find a job relevant to your degree

Did you know that less than a third of graduates take a job relevant to their degree? The fact is that your degree has taught you a variety of transferrable skills which are applicable to a wide range of jobs, no matter if your main area of study was highly specialised. For example you’re likely to be adept at report writing, analysis, problem solving and other widely used skills, no matter what degree you studied.

This is an advantage because there’s actually a broader range of jobs for you than you think, it’s just a case of being able to explain how your experience is relevant. Furthermore, there is no need to worry whether you’ve wasted or not used your degree – it won’t go to waste as you’ll be using the skills you’ve learnt, and you’re still likely to earn more than a non-graduate over the course of your career.

Find a career you enjoy

As we’ve seen, job hopping isn’t something to be afraid of, and a major advantage of not knowing what you want to do next is that you have an opportunity to develop your skills in a range of disciplines while finding a job that’s right for you.

This is exactly what Verity Prentice of Hallmark Care Homes did after graduating with a Journalism Degree. She initially took on a journalist role, however later moved into sales and then recruitment. She found that she missed journalism, but had learnt some very valuable skills on how to sell to difficult clients. This then led her to beginning a career in PR, which allowed her to combine the skills she had learnt at university and from her sales role, while being able to enjoy building relationships with people inside and outside of Hallmark Care Homes to help boost their publicity. Without being willing to try out different roles, she may not have found the career she wanted for the long term.

Don’t worry!

The most important thing to remember is not to be scared about starting your career on the wrong foot. No matter what your first graduate role is, you’ll be using your skills learnt at university, and you won’t be punished by future employers for changing jobs to find your true calling. Don’t forget that all the experiences you gain, no matter whether they are not directly in the industry you want to work in, will benefit your career, whether by helping you to secure new interviews or internal promotions.

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Guest Blog: How to get a job in marketing?

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This is an article following two successful candidates journey’s though the Victoria Plumb graduate interview process. They offer tips and advice of what to expect at an assessment day, and how to successfully make a lasting impression on an employer.

 

What to expect at an assessment day?

Individual Tasks:

Candidates were asked to bring in an email that had they had recently received that made them both open it and then visit the website/mobile site. They were then asked to prepare a short presentation about what was engaging and what they liked about it. This task was designed to assess candidate’s presentation and communication skills.

They were then asked to have a go at writing Meta descriptions as part of a search engine optimisation task. This assessed their ability to work under pressure, and their written communication skills.

Finally they were asked to complete a maths test, this assessed their ability to understand graphs and data.

Group Tasks:

Candidates were split up into groups of five and asked to design a new product, rebrand the company and finally prepare a group presentation to present their ideas. This task assessed candidate’s communications and presentation skills and their teamwork abilities.

Candidates Advice:

We asked two successful applicants for their tips to successfully navigate your way through an assessment day and final interview. Joe recently studied politics and parliamentary studies at Leeds University. Josh studied Photography at Lincoln University.

 

What to prepare before the assessment day:

Joe: I Googled the company, looked at the ownership and management structure, checked when company had been mentioned in the news and looked at history of the company. I Checked blogs and social media. Find all the information that is useful for the job you are applying for. Check competitors and general shape of the market.

Josh: I looked at the company and website. Checked when it was founded and found out who the CEO was. It is a good idea to view products and prices and look for the location of head office/warehouse/stores.

Top Tips: Always do you research on the company before you attend an interview. Know the job role and the kind of questions you’re going to be asked so that you can confidently answer them.

What to wear:

Joe: Play it safe. Not too smart not too casual. Wear a shirt and suit without a tie. Look professional.

Josh: Dress smart, wear a bright colour to stand out. I wore purple shirt and Cadbury tie. No jacket.

Top Tip: You don’t always have to wear a suit, but you need to make sure that you dress as smart as you can. You need to make a great first impression so make sure you’re presentable.

How you prepared your CV for the job:

Joe: I had a few CVs, One broad CV I send to the recruitment agency. Make sure you proof read your CV, it is a first impression so can’t contain any spelling errors. On my cover letter I linked my experience in politics and how it related to marketing skills.

Josh: I had several CV’s that were tailored for different skills. I had a CV that was great for marketing, it showed my skills with digital services and my understanding of website creating. I spent most of my time getting the cover letter right, this is the first thing the company sees. It is important to show who you are and get your personality across in the cover letter.

Top Tip: You should always tailor you CV for the job you’re applying for. Make sure you that find out what skills employers are searching for, and relate them to your experiences.

How to make a good first impression:

Joe: Make sure to start with a good handshake and give eye contact. Be yourself and show your personality. It’s not about ticking boxes, you need to make a connection with the interviewer. You can use a bit of humour to make a good impression, but don’t overdo it. On assessment days you need to let people talk, but stand your ground. The assessment day is about remaining relaxed, if you get the job you get it, if you don’t, you don’t.

Josh: It’s important to be as polite as possible, you’ve got to be friendly and have good manners. You’ve got to get across who you are. I’m not the most confident person but I decided to make the most of the day, relax and have a laugh.

Top Tip: Be confident and try to relax as much as possible. Remember that everybody gets nervous, so just try your best to be friendly and you’ll eventually ease into it.

How to stand out in a group scenario:

Joe: It’s important to listen to other people. Listening is a key skill, you can’t shout and talk over other people. Make sure you offer input, but only put forward good ideas. Relax and socialise with the group, and build rapport. Teamwork is key, you need to get along with your group members and work with the group. You need to realise that you’re not competing with the people in your group for the job and you need to get across your co-operation skills to be successful. Teamwork is a key skill in marketing.

Josh: You need to get across what kind of person you are and show willingness to take on other people ideas. It’s great to show your creative side. Be calm and converse with the other members of your group, make sure not to shout and especially don’t bicker with other member of the group.

Top Tip: You don’t have to lead the group to stand out in a group scenario. Make sure that you contribute great ideas and try to get people to work together as a team.

How to prepare for the final interview:

Joe: I looked at set questions that are usually used in interviews. I wrote 1 sentence answers to the common questions so that I had prepared answers. You need to make sure that you get your personality across, build rapport with the interviewers and ask questions. You need to remember that they are people not judges.

Josh: I researched everything to know about my job role and tried to make industry related answers to common interview questions. It is mostly important to get your personality across. Remember that you’re not competing anymore so you can show who you are. Try to treat the interview as a conversation. A great tip is to memorise your interviewer’s names beforehand so you already have an established connection before the interview.

Top Tips: Make sure you prepare for commonly used questions as you will get asked them. Try to relax as much as possible, be confident and get your personality across.

How to exit an interview/assessment day:

Joe: Relax and make sure you leave with a strong handshake. A nice comment such as “I hope to see you again” is a great way to end the interview. You need your last impressions to be formal and professional. It is a great idea to network with the people you meet on an assessment day, they often have similar interests and skills.

Josh: I made sure to meet and network with the other candidates, it’s a great opportunity to meet similar people. I made sure that the assessors knew I was glad to be there and thanked them for the day.

Top Tip: Final impressions are just as important as first impressions. Make sure that you remain professional and leave on a positive note.

How to prepare your online profiles:

Joe: I made sure that I had tight privacy settings on Facebook. Interviewers will almost definitely check your profile so it’s a good idea control your visibility.

Josh: I skimmed through my online profiles and made sure that all profanities were deleted. Then I tidied up my photos, and untagged photo’s I didn’t want my employer to see. There’s no need to make your online profile private, as long as the content on it is clean.

Top Tip: If you’re unsure about what’s on your public profile, it’s always best to be safe and make it private. Try to have a separate email for work/interview correspondence and name it something appropriate.

Common mistakes to look for:

Joe: Many people feel the need to stand out, but overdo it. Don’t be overbearing and don’t try to control everything in the process.

Josh: First off, don’t be late. Don’t try too hard, be natural, you’re not competing against the people in your group. And finally don’t talk over people it shows bad listening skills.

How to communicate with the company by email:

Joe: Make sure your emails are formal and tight. They need to look professional

Josh: Proof read your emails before sending them, emails are your first impressions before you’ve even met the company, its all they have to go on you. Make sure you’re professional through all communication with the company.

Top Tip: If you’re not great at proof reading get somebody else to help you.

Final thoughts:

Joe: Marketing is all about ideas, communication and creativity. Everybody is creative, so it doesn’t matter what you’ve studied at university. You need to offer something different, and prove that you can think outside the box.

Josh: Assessment days seem daunting, they’re of very long duration (6-12hours) so just try to enjoy the day, it’s important to come across naturally. Half the test on the day was during lunch when we weren’t being assessed. This is when people are getting to know you, and making mental notes. You need to remain as interested as possible and get your enthusiasm across.

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Guest blog post: 4 extra-curricular activities that employers value

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Guest blog post by Seb Atkinson

From Selesti, Creative Digital Agency http://www.selesti.com/

“Whether you’re approaching the end of your degree or starting a new academic year in September, adding extra-curricular activities to your CV is a great way to stand out when applying for jobs, and give you some great new experiences to talk about in your interview. Below are four examples of some skills that really add value to your CV and can really make a difference to your job applications!

Web skills

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Guest blog post: “Graduate job boards can be the worst… and I work for one”

graduate-jobs.com

http://www.graduate-jobs.com/

Guest blog post by James Howell

Content & Marketing Executive at Graduate-jobs.com

“Graduate job boards can be really frustrating. They can promise so much and offer so little when you’re frantically trying to hunt for a position so you can get your career on the move. I know this more than most too, I work for one. It might be surprising that I’m being critical of graduate job boards while being on the pay roll at one but it wasn’t so long ago that I was on the job hunt myself and I know the trials and tribulations.

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Guest Blog Post: City Alumna, Nancy O’Hare on working globally

Live the World, One Country at a Time

What has your career-path been: how did you get where you are today?

“I envisioned living overseas ever since my inaugural trip across the Atlantic at the impressionable age of 13. This nascent desire gained further traction throughout my undergraduate years and eventually attracted me towards the global business environment. Accordingly, I completed a 30-month Chartered Accountant programme with Deloitte Canada in 1999 and transferred to Australia to gain additional experience internationally. Financial advisory expertise is essential across several industries and remains a marketable attribute for the global finance professional.

Since leaving public practice with Deloitte, my career has principally focused upon the upstream oil and gas industry and spanned a broad spectrum of responsibilities within finance that includes corporate governance, financial reporting, taxation, commercial, budgeting, treasury and merger & acquisition activity.  As a recent graduate of the Executive MBA programme at Cass Business School with a 20-year blend of comprehensive management and advisory expertise, I consider myself privileged to have lived and worked across five continents that include such disparate countries as Australia, Switzerland, the Sultanate of Oman and Nigeria.”

What does your current role entail? What do you like most about your job?

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Opportunities for Non-Chinese students in China: with the British Council

British CouncilGeneration UK – China was launched by the British Council in 2013. It aims to help students from the UK boost their employability, enhance their long-term job prospects and develop a global mindset through study and work experience opportunities in China.

Funded Internships

As companies from across the globe engage with China at various levels, work experience in China is increasingly valued by employers. Working in China is a way for students to enhance their cultural awareness and is an excellent investment in their future. Our internships are within a range of different industries across six cities within China and are selected by our two partner companies (InternChina and CRCCAsia), who also guarantee a high level of pastoral care while students are in China. Application is open to

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Guest Blog: A career in IT with any degree, Written by Sophie Woods, Marketing Engagement and PR Assistant at FDM

 

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FDM is committed to championing diversity in the work place not only with different cultures and nationalities, but also with different academic backgrounds. FDM recruits hundreds of graduates every year from a variety of disciplines; however the majority of these have a degree in a STEM (science,technology, engineering, maths) subject, or more specifically, a computing-related degree. As part of our ongoing blog series, we spoke with FDM Consultants whose degrees couldn’t be further from the IT world; to discuss their success in the tech industry, despite arriving there via a less conventional route. The pie chart, right, shows all non-STEM and non-Business related degree disciplines recruited in 2014: showing the diverse range of graduates recruited including Archaeology, Media and Design and Modern Foreign Languages, to name a few.

Leaving Law behind to pursue a career in Technology: the journey of an IT Consultant

Ashik Nanji

 

Name: Ashik Nanji
Then: LLB Law, City University
Now: Technical Analyst, Virgin Media

Ashik Nanji studied LLB Law at City University in London and completed his Legal Practice Course at the University of Law in Bloomsbury.  He applied to FDM to pursue, in his eyes, a more interesting career path. Ashik is now an FDM Consultant on site at Virgin Media.

Ashik emphasised that, “regardless of the industry you work in, you need to have some level of passion for what you do”, and despite having enjoyed his degree, found himself “lacking that passion in law”, so looked to an alternative career path facilitated by FDM.

For Ashik, changing industry was a daunting process but his keen interest in technology and the opportunities available ensured his transition was a success; “Working for FDM opens doors that would otherwise be inaccessible to people with non-traditional IT backgrounds. The fact that after my training, I would be in a role at one of FDM’s many reputable clients gave me the confidence to take that step.”

Although law and IT are seemingly disparate fields, Ashik’s grounding in law provided him with a multitude of transferable skills such as the ability to extract and analyse information from a variety of sources, which has proven very useful in his current role. He commented on the well-recognised and valuable qualifications gained at FDM, which have further advanced his skill set. Ashik was quick to point out that he has “always had a loose ambition to work on the business side of a technology related product, though he never envisaged himself working within an actual Development team!”

When asked what the best thing about working at FDM was, Ashik said, “It’s hard to overstate the pervasiveness of IT in current times. Working in this industry, you know you’re developing a useful skill set that will likely have value in any industry that you may eventually move in to.”

Working with some of the most interesting businesses around today, in a fast-paced and fascinating field, is what drives Ashik. He concluded, “Most of all, technology is continuously evolving, so there’s always a new challenge to pit yourself against.”

Ashik’s story outlines the importance of passion as well as prospects in your career choice and once again, highlights the successful transition of a non-STEM graduate to an FDM Consultant.

Our Recruitment Team is on hand to give you advice on your career options at FDM, to get in touch please email uk.recruitment@fdmgroup.com or apply online atwww.fdmgroup.com/uk/apply

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Guest Blog Post: Introducing CPA Australia….

CPA Australia is delighted to be working with City to help open opportunities for students focussed on building dynamic and rewarding accounting and finance careers in the Asia-Pacific.  We are really excited to be meeting many of you at the Finding work in your home country session on Wednesday 11th Feb at 1pm-3pm in ELG11.  Before we do, we thought we would take a moment to introduce ourselves…

Who is CPA Australia?

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Guest Blog Post: City student Jennifer Murphy on “The Undergraduate Awards”

City students at the closing ceremony at Christchurch Cathedral

City students at the closing ceremony at Christchurch Cathedral

Guest Blog Post written by Jennifer Murphy

3rd year BSc Psychology student

City University London

 

“As a BSc psychology student, currently in my 3rd year, I heard about the undergraduate awards towards the end of my 2nd year. I soon realised that to enter all I had to do was submit a piece of existing coursework and 15 minutes later I had submitted my piece entitled ‘Susceptibility to false memory: factors that facilitate and inhibit’.

I was thrilled to discover that my piece had been highly commended by the judges, renowned experts in their fields. Before attending the UA summit in Dublin 2014 I wasn’t sure what to expect and was nervous about the prospect of spending 3 days with such incredibly accomplished undergraduates from all over the world. However, upon attending I encountered was a group of incredibly friendly, modest and inspirational undergraduates from a variety of disciplines, from philosophy to medicine.

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Guest Blog Post: Careers in the Financial Sector, by AllAboutGroup

City of LondonAll industries have their common misconceptions, but none more so than finance. For many people, the concept of working in finance immediately brings to mind an image of The Wolf of Wall Street, with shady investment bankers screaming down the phone while their lackeys run around doing all the legwork. In reality, however, finance incorporates as wide a range of careers as any other trade, with each profession bringing their own distinct talents to the industry. Financial corporations therefore need to hire employees from a broad base of skill sets and backgrounds by necessity, even requiring those who might not immediately appear to lend the relevant experience.

What is an actuary?

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