Author Archives: LeedsUniCareers

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The place to keep you up-to-date with the University of Leeds Careers Centre’s latest news and events. For more information, visit our website: http://careerweb.leeds.ac.uk

Class of 2019: I had no idea what I wanted to do, but this is how I found out!

Lewis Bailey studied Religion, Politics & Society at the University of Leeds, graduating in 2018.

With a love for Leeds but not many ideas of what to do next he pursued jobs where he could earn big money, however the reality of these roles led him in a different direction.

When I finished university my frame of mind was probably very similar to a lot of yours. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to stay in Leeds and carry on living with friends, and I wanted enough money to live comfortably by paying all my bills, but also being able to carry on having fun outside of work.

Money, money, money…

I’d done well in my social sciences degree, so I felt confident I could secure any entry level job I applied for in no time. I quickly found out that this wasn’t necessarily the case, and I learned I had to tune in better to what my prospective employers were looking for, which wasn’t simply a good grade on paper and a confident interview.

My primary motivation when applying for jobs was money, but this quickly changed. I applied for numerous roles in a sector which I had no interest in whatsoever, just because the salary was high and I had the chance to earn uncapped commission. I’ve always been told I have the gift of the gab, so I figured I could fake it ‘til I make it just to make a bit of extra coin. The feedback for every interview I did- and I did a lot of interviews- was almost identical. I was confident and approachable with great people skills, but the passion for the business just wasn’t there and employers were concerned I’d leave after a few months.

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Class of 2019: Transferable skills – from bar work to a graduate role

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.

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Class of 2019: How I learned to stop worrying and love the job hunt

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.

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Class of 2019: How personal reflection and work experience can help you get on the right track

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.

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Life on Mars: A Day in the Life of a Mars Grad

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.

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Class of 2019: How is customer service experience relevant to graduate jobs?

Many students and recent graduates are fearful that they lack the experience necessary to impress graduate employers, while overlooking their part time work in areas such as customer service.

Charlotte Hamer, an Employability and Progression Assistant at the University of Leeds writes about how her experience in retail has helped her career progression.

 

Those of you who have worked in customer service will know. You’ll just know. The customer service environment is like no other. Yet it has given me some of the most important professional skills I possess, which I’ve been able to transfer into every workplace I’ve been in since.

Working in retail

I worked for the same high street clothing retail brand from the age of 16 to 19, both in my home town and when I moved to university. Over those three years I worked with all manner of different people, from different places, of different ages and with different career goals. My ability to work in, and communicate effectively with, a highly diverse team developed incredibly quickly. I learnt to adapt my methods of communication based on the individual. This was particularly important when taking on supervisory role, in order to motivate disengaged staff. On top of that there was the diversity of the customers. At the age of 16 I had no idea that my ability to navigate a conversation with a very angry customer, who insisted they should be able to return the £6 pair of shoes they purchased two years ago and had worn every day since, because the sole had started to come away, would translate today into the people skills I use in my everyday work life.

Developing skills

When I first started working in retail I had never known pressure like it. Seeing a queue of customers building up so long that it snaked around the store while having a pile of returns to complete and a rack of clothes to put out on the shop floor could have been enough to send me into a frenzy. It took me some time but I soon learnt to use the pressure to increase my productivity and effectiveness without becoming stressed. Being able to stay calm under pressure is so important in any position that involves conflicting deadlines and with this being a key theme in graduate recruitment you are sure to impress recruiters with this skill.

Commercial awareness is another skill recruiters are eager for their employers to possess. Being able to express sector specific commercial awareness is usually enough to get you the mark. But you can go one step further by demonstrating a time in which you possessed and acted upon commercial awareness to make a business more profitable. It doesn’t have to be anything big. For me it was noticing when an item of clothing closely resembled that of an item of clothing I had seen on reality TV the previous day and placing that item on the most visible displays to increase sales. It is something simple but really effectively demonstrates to application of commercial awareness.

Valuable experience

I share this with you because so many students have worked at some point in customer service. Yet so many don’t see it as a ‘proper job’ that will impress employers – well I am here to tell you this is not the case. I have made connections with recruiters over shared experiences of customer service and made them laugh with the hilarious stories we customer service veterans have all come across at one time or another.

My advice

So be proud of your customer service background. If it was in retail like me, the restaurant business, or any other area, you’ve already developed so many of the skills that make you incredibly attractive to employers. Whether it’s communication skills, the ability to work as part of a team or under pressure, think creatively about how you can translate these skills to the requirements of a graduate role!

Read more about what is available to you as a member of the University of Leeds Class of 2019

And don’t forget you can continue to access the Careers Centre services once you graduate.

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How I got my job: Applications Engineer at DriveWorks

Ian Prossor is an Application’s Engineer at DriveWorks Ltd, a global software company based close to Manchester. He studied Mechanical Engineering at Leeds, graduating in 2017. He completed an 18-month graduate scheme with the company and is now a full-time member of the team.

My Role

There are a variety of aspects to my role as an Application’s Engineer at DriveWorks. First and foremost, my role involves working with our resellers to support our DriveWorks customers around the world. To provide some context, DriveWorks is a Gold Certified Partner product of SOLIDWORKS and is sold and supported through the SOLIDWORKS reseller community globally. This allows DriveWorks to sell software around the world with only ~40 employees. I have regular web meetings with customers in Europe and the USA, as well as occasional meeting with customers in Australia.
Another big part of my role at DriveWorks is to create and update demos and example DriveWorks Projects to be used at trade shows, to show to prospects and to promote DriveWorks functionality. I have personally worked on the Bi-Fold Door, Enclosure, Kiosk, Cupboard, Shower, HVAC and Picture Frame demos which are all available to try out on our DriveWorks Live website

Teaching and travelling

I’ve also been given the opportunity to teach DriveWorks to students, customers and resellers. I’ve been into universities in the UK to teach the DriveWorksXpress Training and Certification Programme alongside my colleagues and I’ve had the opportunity to teach customers and resellers at our annual Technical Event: DriveWorks World. This year the event will be held in Chicago and I’ll be flying out with other members of our team to train DriveWorks users.  Since all DriveWorks software is developed onsite, I work in close partnership with the Development Team to add and test new features and functionality. With 3 software releases a year, this is a very important and rewarding part of my role!
During my Graduate Scheme, I also achieved 4 globally recognised certifications and have since gone on to achieve a 5th and now I’m working towards my 6th!

Securing the role

I first came across DriveWorks at the Leeds University STEM Careers Fair in my final year at Uni. Following a great conversation with the team, I sought some advice from the Leeds Careers Team to write my CV. I was then contacted for an interview and assessment after which I was assigned a task to complete in my own time and present back to the Technical Team Manager. This presentation was conducted through a Skype, so I used one of the bookable rooms in the Careers Centre. I dressed as if attending a face to face interview which really helped me to get in the right mindset. I would fully recommend taking this approach and using the Career’s centre resources!

My timeline: from undergraduate at the STEM Fair in 2016 to representing DriveWorks at the same fair in 2018!

My advice

  • Try to dress smartly when attending the Careers Fair as it’s important to make a good first impression, however, don’t use what you’re wearing as an excuse not to attend at all. (I was actually in shorts and a t-shirt!)
  • At the Career’s Fair, don’t just head for the big names, or the employers you have researched. Do at least one loop and check out all the stands – you never know what opportunities could be out there!
  • Make a list of where your strengths and weaknesses lie within your field and see if any of the employers exhibiting play to these strengths

Most importantly, make the most of all the resources available through the Careers Centre. I made multiple trips to the Careers Centre to get help with my CV and it was definitely worthwhile.

Take Ian’s advice! University of Leeds students and graduates you can get help from the Careers Centre, with your CVs, application forms and interview preparation so get in touch, we’re here to help.

 

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