University of Leeds 2018 Sociology graduate Alice Whapples explains how her part time jobs have given her a wealth of transferable skills. She has some tips on how to identify vital employability skills you have gained from work and study.
Alice is currently an Employment and Progression Assistant at the University of Leeds Careers Centre giving careers support to our Arts, Humanities and Cultures undergraduates.
I often hear people talking about trying to ‘bulk up’ their CV with relevant work experience, or worrying that they do not have enough experiences to talk about in interviews. When I started looking at employment I was exactly the same.
Identifying your skills
Employers are increasingly looking at an applicant’s awareness of the skills they currently possess and an ability to demonstrate them in relation to the job brief. This can seem daunting, especially when you feel like you haven’t got enough experience of the working environment. However, many students don’t realise that skills they have gained through part-time work and during projects at university are transferable for loads of jobs within the graduate labour market.
Kelsie Root graduated with a Masters in History of Health, Medicine & Society at the University of Leeds in December 2018, having put off jobsearch until completing her studies she found it difficult to find the right job with the right organisation straight away. Read how Kelsie learnt the importance of understanding what she could bring to an employer and finding a role that fitted with her skills, motivations and values.
Focusing on my studies
When I graduated in December, I was excited, relieved and deeply anxious. I had spent the year with my nose to the grindstone working on my MA and the various side jobs that paid the bills during the previous year. The demands of MA study and juggling paid work made it so difficult to spend time finding opportunities, drafting applications and getting feedback that eventually I gave in and decided I would start looking for a full-time job after I had handed in my dissertation. This felt like a good idea, and I now think it was the right choice for me at the time. Once I’d finished, however, I immediately felt like it had been a mistake. I had no idea what I was going to do next.
Applying for any job…my misplaced efforts
I quickly realised my first step had to be figuring out how to showcase my skills. Using the resources from the Careers Centre website I looked over all my work experience to date and put together a skills-based CV. This helped me to match my skills to job descriptions and work out what I could do. I started applying to any job that matched my skills-based CV and secured a variety of interviews. As soon as I started going to interviews, it became clear that I was doing something wrong. I just wasn’t gelling with the teams, the places or the work itself. I soon became stressed, questioning how I could keep motivated when all my efforts seemed to be misplaced.
On Thursday 2nd May 2019, Women in Leeds Digital (WiLD)‘s inaugural conference took place here on campus at Nexus Leeds, as part of Leeds Digital Festival 2019. Our Assistant Head of Careers Jess Henderson attended, and provides this summary.
I was so glad to be able to attend this event. The digital sector in Leeds is massive and growing rapidly. The sector is diverse, dynamic and exciting. We know lots of Leeds students wish to stay in or near Leeds after university and this conference provided an excellent showcase of the range of careers in digital, alongside debunking many myths or assumptions people make about getting into the digital sector:
Spoiler; you don’t need a IT related degree or background to work in digital. Continue reading
Jamie Gayya is a recent University of Leeds graduate, currently working as an Employability and Progression Assistant based in the University of Leeds Careers Centre.
Here she talks about how immediately after graduation she felt the pressure of being left behind as friends secured graduate jobs or further study. However, by reflecting on her skills and values and undertaking volunteering she found a career path she is very much engaged in.
The benefits of University
In many ways, university has been more than just a place to gain an academic qualification. It has been a place that has exposed me to various opportunities and challenges – all of which have significantly contributed to both my career and personal development. Beyond the accomplishment of graduating, my time at university has been significantly rewarding and memorable, as I have taken part in various opportunities. I have been involved in supporting a candidate campaign during the student executive elections, was a committee member for the Leeds Filipino society, and worked as a Leeds Loves Ambassador to promote the study of Arts and Humanities to secondary school students.
Where to start?
Having these experiences enabled me to gain a range of transferable skills that were useful for the world of work. Furthermore, these opportunities were very helpful in distinguishing what I enjoyed and disliked. Despite acquiring all these skills, finding where to start after graduation continued to be a challenging and nerve-wracking phase. With my friends securing places for further study, graduate jobs and employment, I felt a lot of pressure that I had to get my career rolling to make sure that I wasn’t left behind. “But where do I start?” was a constant question and thought.
This is the first in a series of careers insights, find out what University of Leeds graduate Jazz does in her role as a Brand Manager at Mars.
Name: Jazz Moodie
Grad Scheme: 1st Year Mars Leadership Experience graduate (MLE scheme)
Job Title: Dolmio Brand Manager
University: University of Leeds, studied Management with Marketing and studied abroad.
Favorite Mars Product: goodnessKNOWS
What I do
My role as brand manager is pivotal in ensuring that the business has a long term view of innovations and product developments coming to market. I am working on projects ranging from packaging redesigns on existing Uncle Ben’s ranges, to scoping out obscure opportunities in Italian, that are way beyond our current capabilities. What I love about my role on a day to day basis is that I connect with so many different areas of the business. When I’m scoping out a new product opportunity, I will work with our consumer insights team to understand the kinds of products that consumers would value. From these insights, the marketing team pull together an array of potential formats that the new product might take to suit these consumer needs perfectly.
From concept to supermarket
One example, Dolmio launched a new range of sauces, bursting with 2 portions of your 5 a day (Dolmio Veggie Goodness) – this was based on the insight that consumers are searching for simple ways to get vegetables into their mealtimes. Once a concept is decided, we work with our agencies to design packaging that stands out on shelf! We put a lot of effort into getting every detail right – I got to work with an incredible team made up of a Food Photographer and a Food Stylist to make sure our product and meal shots on pack reflects the quality of our product. It’s really interesting visiting our agency offices in London to see where the creative magic happens! It is so rewarding to then see concepts come to life and land on the shelf in my local supermarket!
Assessment centre top tip
Make sure you sign up to a mock interview at the Careers Centre where they will run through the most frequent questions asked at Mars interviews. Use the STAR method in your interviews and practice going through the steps (Situation, Task, Action and Result), making sure to add what you learnt from the experience! Understand your MBTI personality type and how you work with others.