Ghadir Ghasemi is a Laidlaw Scholar in the final year of his Chemical Engineering degree, find out how he has developed his research and leadership skills through this funded scholarship.
Laidlaw Scholarships are open to first year undergraduates, providing the opportunity to develop leadership and research skills through a range of personal development activities and two six week periods of project work.
How did you secure your scholarship?
I initially found out about this scholarship through an email from the Engineering Employability suite. I took the time to read all the information given about this and was required to submit an initial application which consisted of four different questions-its main aims were to demonstrate my suitability to the proposed research project and to the scholarship as a whole, with regards to the leadership aspect.
The application process was very straightforward. Once I had sent my initial application, I was shortlisted to take part in an interview with the two project supervisors. The interview was not very long and the supervisors wanted to find out more about my passion for the project as well as the leadership aspect of the scholarship. Within a couple of hours, I received an email from the interviewers saying that I had been selected to receive the scholarship. Prior to sending my application, I attended an informative session which gave me tips and advice on how approach the interview. I also talked to staff at the employability office who helped me to prepare my application and subsequently practise for my interview.
Second year University of Leeds Music student Rory Heron discovered the charity People in Action through the University Union’s Volunteering Fair in his first year and now works as a support worker.
Rory Heron (left) with Ruben Martini
Read how his interest in music and community work has led him to setting up a music project with People in Action and support from LUUMIC Leeds University Union Music Impact in the Community
The charity- People in Action
I found out about People in Action and the support they provide for people with learning disabilities and autism at the University of Leeds volunteering fair. I decided to volunteer for this charity because I was eager to make a difference in the Leeds community during my time studying music at university, and I’ve always been interested in improving the quality of life of people with learning disabilities.
Volunteer to paid support worker
After engaging in voluntary work at various community groups, I was offered a paid role as a one-to-one support worker for an individual with a learning disability who was passionate about music and wanted to start a band. I assisted them in the process of communicating with some of his peers about starting a band, and once we found some people who were interested, we began meeting up and creating music together using the facilities at the university’s School of Music. The band were given opportunities to perform live at events that People in Action were organising, such as the Leeds Young Talent Show. The band received such a positive response from these performances, inspiring others to not let their learning disabilities get in the way of them pursuing their dreams.
Setting up a music project
It then occurred to me that I could set up my own community music project with People in Action that would allow young adults with learning disabilities to collaborate and make music together in a fun and relaxed environment. I realised that I could get volunteers from LUUMIC Leeds University Union Music Impact in the Community to help run the sessions, through my position on the committee. I discussed the details of the project with the People in Action office staff, university staff members and the LUUMIC committee about setting up the project. In September 2018, the project was officially up and running every other Sunday using the School of Music’s ensemble rooms. Since then, I have been recording some of the music created during the sessions and uploading them to YouTube as the Sunday Band Project
Link to Leeds Ambassadors support prospective students from overseas by sharing their experiences and insight into living and studying at the University of Leeds. Learn more about the role from two ambassadors Anderson and Paulina.
Anderson Etika (left) from Nigeria recently completed his PhD in Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, he secured a post as a Link to Leeds Ambassador in his second year of study.
Paulina Pawlak (2nd on the right) from Poland is studying an MEng in Applied Computer Science at the University of Leeds.
What is a Link to Leeds Ambassador?
Anderson: The role of a Link to Leeds Ambassador involves being a first point of contact for international students interested in studying at the University. As a student ambassador, I am an information point for prospective students (via instant messaging, emails, social media, chat events and campus and city wide tours). Through these mediums, I am able to share my experiences as a student and a resident of the city of Leeds. This includes sharing my experiences about accommodation, transportation, food in Leeds, scholarships availability, my research specific involvement and other issues faced day-to-day by students. Also as part of the job, I am involved in events and activities such as; summer programmes, blog writing and other administrative tasks.
Anderson: Being a Link to Leeds ambassador has been one of my most cherished experiences as a student at the University of Leeds. The job allowed me share my personal experiences at the university and the city of Leeds to prospective students. This was fulfilling for me as it gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing people, and I was able to assist them in my own little way.
Paulina: There are many benefits of being a Link to Leeds Ambassador the major one is sharing my excitement about University to prospective students – very often now I experience people randomly coming to me and telling me “Oh I was emailing you, you helped me so much!”. It gives me a feeling that my job really matters.
As 2019 begins here is a myth busting insight into the graduate recruitment market.
University of Leeds Careers Adviser Suzie Bullock summarises the keynote speech from the Institute of Student Employers conference delivered in December 2018, by:
Tristram Hooley, Chief Research Officer at the Institute of Student Employers, and Charlie Ball, Head of HE Intelligence at Graduate Prospects. For more information, see the full presentation: 10 things you should know about the graduate recruitment market
So, the UK graduate labour market, what should you know?
- It doesn’t exist.
Instead there is a series of discrete, usually urban regional labour markets that often influences the markets around them. Remember, most people in the UK are not graduates and most jobs are not at graduate level.
- It is quite stable.
The past is a fairly accurate guide to the future. Graduate jobs next year will probably be the same jobs as last year. Don’t expect radical changes. Graduates should see a steady salary increase.
- It doesn’t look too bad right now.
For graduates, the recession ended in 2013. There is low unemployment among graduates and the postgraduate career development loan system is working. But warning signs are showing.
- The B word.
A recession is looming and that, combined with Brexit, is likely to lead to economic vulnerability. Recruitment is slowing down but the impact on graduates is less.
- Place matters.
London is the biggest graduate job market in the country, followed by: Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds – around a third of all graduates started work in these four cities in 2017 . London is the least cost effective city to live in, Derby is the best, with Sheffield, Newcastle, Plymouth and Southampton close behind. Graduates are becoming concentrated in larger cities with local towns finding it hard to recruit graduates. The cost of living is making graduates less mobile – to live in London it is estimated that a starting salary of £29,000 would only just cover the cost of living. This is having an effect on employers and, for example, PwC is moving out of London to more regional centres as they recognised that only a third of graduates wanted to move to London.
- Employers are using a mix of approaches to recruitment selection.
While most employers say they rely more on a competency-based approach, 55% are combining approaches to include competency-based questions alongside strengths- based questions, technical questions and values-based questions. Employers continue to use different approaches to recruitment with 89% of Institute of Student Employers’ organisations reporting that they use assessment centres, 71% use psychometric tests, 71% use face to face interviews, 66% screen CVs, 58% screen by degree classification and 39% screen by phone interview.
- There is a significant shortage of graduates now.
There are severe shortages in these roles: nurses; programmers and software development professionals; HR and recruitment; medical practitioners; welfare and housing associate professionals; business sales executives; IT user support technicians; sales account and business development managers; marketing associate professionals; general and specialist engineers; managers and directors in retail and wholesale; design and development engineers; web design and development professionals; vets; chartered and certified accountants.
- Life isn’t fair.
Former public and independent school pupils dominate the UK labour market. But employers say they want to increase their intake of students from state schools and improve the diversity of their workforce so are trying out blind recruitment techniques and removing potential barriers, such as UCAS points.
- Graduate schemes aren’t everything.
Other options to consider are larger companies recruiting ‘direct to desk’; large companies that aren’t big enough to have a graduate scheme; SMEs; non-graduate roles; and self-employment. 30% of graduates went to work for companies with fewer than 250 employees.
- There is a lot we don’t know.
Most data comes from very early in a graduate’s career. Someone graduating in 2018 is likely to still be working in 2070. Based on those figures, someone retiring now, would have started work in 1966.
Remember, we are here to help you with all things career related; making choices or plans, supporting you with applications, interviews and more. See our Careers Centre website for details on how we can help you.
In June 2017 Abigail Heffer graduated from the University of Leeds with a 2:1 in BSc Biological Sciences (Ind), she now works at ApotheCom as a Senior Account Executive. Abigail secured a placement year at Roche during her studies- with CV support from the Careers Centre. Follow Abigail’s journey from University of Leeds student to the rewarding, dynamic, fast paced world of Medical Communications.
Applying for a placement year
From relatively early on in my degree, I knew a lab-based career wouldn’t be for me. I wanted the buzz of an office, and to have a role that necessitated communicating with a wide range of different people and personalities. An office-based role in the pharmaceutical industry seemed like it might be a good fit, and so at the beginning of my second year at University I applied for industrial placements with the major players – Pfizer; GSK; AstraZeneca; Johnson & Johnson – but with no success.
Careers Centre support
I hadn’t previously considered visiting the University Careers Centre, but as something in my applications wasn’t hitting the mark, I turned to them for support. The Career Advisers were incredibly helpful, making some key tweaks to my CV and covering letters that would help me stand out from other candidates. Multiple applications and many mock interviews later, I was very happy to find out that I had been offered a placement with Roche in their Clinical Operations department, Welwyn Garden City.
University of Leeds English & Philosophy graduate Annie Moss completed her degree studies in 2018, she now works for Xpertise Recruitment. Annie’s placement year in a recruitment consultancy helped her to understand that this fast paced challenging, rewarding profession was for her. Here she offers insight and advice on how it could be the right career for you.
How I got into Recruitment
I graduated in 2018 from Leeds University with an industrial degree in English and Philosophy, then I went straight into recruitment. Possibly not the most obvious choice considering my degree background, but definitely the right one for me.
I got into recruitment when I was researching industries for my placement year. I didn’t know anything about recruitment at this stage and was looking at roles in marketing, supply-chain, HR, (you name it, I applied for it)! Then I came across recruitment and after spending one day in the office to have a look round, I realised that it was a really good fit for me.
Why a career in recruitment?
Because recruitment is a fast-paced, lucrative, challenging profession. In the words of my manager, “if you want to progress in your career and achieve your financial goals quickly, then recruitment is a great industry to be in.”
Lucy Bolland graduated in 2017 in MA Advertising and Marketing from the University of Leeds. Currently an Outreach SEO & PR Specialist at Hub MDP she also has her own blog Life of Luce. Before moving to Leeds to study she completed a BA in Public Relations at the University of Sunderland.
My first graduate job
In September 2017, roughly two hours after handing in my dissertation, I bagged myself a role as a Marketing Assistant at a designer ladieswear shop in Sheffield. I ultimately wanted to stay in Leeds, but with huge competition from other graduates and no real digital experience other than my own blog and social media channels, I began to realise how I may have to make personal sacrifices at this early point in my career.
In my first role since graduating from my masters, I discovered more about a website’s CMS (Content Management System). I’d very much recommend setting up a blog before graduating, as I already knew the basics of navigating a websites backend which really helped me with my first role. I also learnt the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), which would then lead me into my next role.