Category Archives: Class of 2019

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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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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Class of 2019: Confessions of an Arts Graduate

 

 

University of Leeds Arts Management graduate Victoria Williams reflects on the frustrations she initially felt applying for roles in a competitive field, and how broadening her search left her feeling more confident about achieving her goals in the long-run.

 

Career aspirations

I recently graduated from my Master’s degree in Arts Management and Heritage Studies, at which point I realised that I could’ve done a lot more job preparation over the course of the year! The arts sector is incredibly competitive, and I applied for many jobs in very varied roles, from Administrative Assistant to Exhibition Coordinator – I just simply wanted to get my foot in the door.

Broadening my job search

Whilst the feedback I received from my interviews was very positive, I lost out every time to someone with just “that little bit more” experience, which felt very frustrating. At that point I realised that my degree was not going to be enough, and learned that a lot of people working in the arts had done countless internships and volunteering positions to put them in the front of the queue when organisations were hiring. This was when I broadened my job search even further, applying for entry level roles in unfamiliar areas such as careers which I currently work in, where I’m able to tie my existing experiences and skills into the job.

Securing a job with Careers Centre support

I applied for my current role as Employability and Progression Intern, and also made an appointment with a Careers Consultant at the Careers Centre to check over my application beforehand. This paid off and I got invited to the Assessment Centre, for which I made another appointment just to be on the safe side. The advice I received was definitely beneficial, and I was offered a position as one of nine interns.  My role includes working in a team in addition to independent work, as well as project management which I’m really excited about. I’m hoping that these areas will strengthen my CV with valuable work experience, putting me in a stronger position to apply for more arts roles in the future.

My advice

I would tell anyone who has found themselves in a position of struggling to get a job in their chosen career field (like I had) to not give up, and strongly encourage them to think outside the box. Consider positions which you may never have thought of, but where your existing skills can be transferred. It’s also really important that the job description sounds interesting to you, or that you admire the work that the company does. There’s nothing worse than starting your first job after you graduate, hating it, and ending up back in the job hunt after your first week.

Another thing to reiterate is that the likelihood is you won’t be stuck in your first job forever, so absorb everything you can and take on every opportunity to make your CV amazing for your next 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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