Abdul Awke is a Leeds Chemical Engineering MSc graduate, and now works as an Employability and Progression Assistant at the Careers Centre where he helps final-year students with their career plans. Before starting here he admits he did nothing to help his chances of success after graduating, and here he shares 5 things he wishes he’d known during his studies…..
1. Commercial awareness
Commercial awareness is an understanding of how industries and businesses work, about knowing what’s going on in the world, and analysing the ways it might impact on your chosen sector and company. Understanding how your individual role fits within an organisation’s goals will help you judge whether a role’s right for you, and increase your chances of success, and as it’s relevant for all applications you’ll be completing it’s probably one of the most vital skills you can start developing in your final year!
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
This guest post was written by Jamie Costello, a Business & Communications student based in Manchester, drawing on experience working alongside Manchester solicitors and business law specialists Gorvins. As a freelance writer, Jamie writes on topics ranging from employment to strategy planning for entrepreneurs. Jamie can be found on Twitter at @Jamie88Costello.
Some new jobs will provide you with an employee handbook. The majority of the time it tends to be the larger businesses that publish these to their staff, but if you happen to be provided one, it’s good to know what you should be looking out for to protect yourself in your role. Here’s an outline of what you should be wary of.
Standard of Conduct
When you first step into a place of work, your main aim is to remain professional and conduct yourself appropriately. On occasion, some staff members can become laid back with their attitude within the working environment. For example, dress codes are provided as a guide on what attire is deemed appropriate in the workplace. In some cases your colleagues may adjust their attire for their own comfort, such as some staff choosing to wear all black trainers rather than shoes that would otherwise hurt their feet. If this is the case, you may be inclined to do the same, but be sure that the attire you choose is within reason. Read thoroughly through the rest of the conduct section so you’re aware of how you should conduct yourself at work, as this discusses disciplinary action and related policies. Serious breaches of conduct can escalate, with some cases becoming legal matters.
This blog post was written by POLIS student Sam Greet about his experience on the module Career Planning for POLIS Students.
When I was looking at my module choices for second semester, I wasn’t sure I had made the right choices back in September. My first lecture for one of my choices really didn’t suit me and I knew I had to think of something else to move onto, but amongst the array of discovery and optional modules I really struggled to narrow down exactly onto something I wanted to do.
Finding the right module
A module that I had originally glanced over (but not given much thought to) was the Career Planning for POLIS Students module. When it was getting closer to deadline for changing modules, I still had yet to find anything that really spoke to me from the traditional module list and I revisited the careers module in more depth. What I found was a comprehensive programme of teaching, with extended seminar sessions and no lectures that looked to develop all manner of skills and employability. However, I remained unsure about what this would really amount to in practice.
I’ll admit that I was at first concerned with academic rigour, as I very much enjoyed traditional subjects and essays, and was performing well with these. I decided to seek out lecturers and staff members to discuss the POLIS Careers module, and I was immediately reassured of the module’s immense value. Ultimately this convinced me to take the plunge and switch – and I can say that this was one of the best decisions I have made in my second semester.
This guest post was written by Kara Copple of The Accountancy Partnership, which manages accountancy and tax affairs for over 4000 UK businesses of varying size.
Congratulations! You’ve worked so hard and finally got your degree. You may be thinking “now what?” – should you go straight into the world of work, or should you take some time for yourself?
While some will opt for getting a job while all your knowledge is fresh in your head, there are plenty of benefits to holding off. A well-earned break after all those long hours of hard study sounds enticing, doesn’t it?
However, a survey conducted by HostelWorld in 2016 showed that only 25.93% of respondents had taken a gap year.
Productive gap years
A gap year might be a good excuse for a holiday, but the best ones are productive as well as fun. We’re not suggesting spending a year sitting on a beach sipping cocktails (although there will be room for some of that).
A productive year abroad can help set you up for a successful career in accounting if you use your time wisely. If you’d like to know the benefits of taking a year abroad, read on.
Ruth Trainor studies Sustainability and Environmental Management, and has been volunteering with TCV at Skelton Grange during her second year.
I am the proud owner of a badge that says ‘Ruth – Volunteer Leader’. I wear this every Wednesday – when lectures don’t get in the way – and spend that day in the woods and grounds of TCV Skelton Grange.
It’s a fairly awesome day, to be honest. I arrive at 9am, having cycled for about 40 minutes along the canal. The first order of business at Skelton is always a cup of tea, accompanied by a short catch up with the other volunteers and staff at the centre. Once the mugs are empty, we start setting up for the day.
Wednesdays are education days, so the activities run from around 11 to 2. These education days vary according to the season and the needs of the school, but all of them are essentially about familiarising the children with being outdoors and piquing their curiosity about the natural world.
This guest post was created in collaboration with Venturi Group – one of the UK’s top IT recruitment agencies.
As an IT recruitment agency, we work with recent graduates every day. For many students, getting that first foot on the career ladder after finishing university is a daunting prospect. While some nerves are unavoidable, there are things you can do to give yourself a headstart in today’s competitive job market. Below we have outlined some advice on what to do before beginning your search for your first role in the tech industry.
Get involved in projects outside university
You’ve probably heard this one a few time before. Employers look fondly upon students who are engaged in technical projects outside university. After all, it’s a clear indication of a genuine passion for technology. In a market saturated by graduates, having that extra something on your CV will inevitably make you stand out from the crowd. For example, being able to list coding projects you have worked on, hack-a-thons you have entered, or internships you have undertaken are all major advantages when it comes to applying for jobs.
Laura Nash is a graduate in LLB Law, and graduated from the University of Leeds in 2004. She now practises as a Solicitor with Blackstone Solicitors, and has shared her story and advice for students also pursuing law careers.
As a teenager, I had no real idea what road to go down with my A-levels and beyond. The advice from my older (and maybe wiser) cousin was to study the subjects I would perform the best in, as good grades would open the most doors. At A-level I chose to study English Literature, Classical Civilisation and Sociology, and thankfully achieved three A grades. I applied to read Law as I could not go wrong – a degree in Law, and possibly a career in Law too!
I studied LLB Law at the University of Leeds. Leeds is a city I knew well as a child. My Dad grew up in Woodhouse Park, and I have memories of my Dad driving me around the streets showing me his homes and schools whilst recounting tales. Leeds was the natural choice for me; a fantastic red brick University only an hour from my home town of Manchester. It was close enough that I could pop home for the night but far enough away that I didn’t have to!
My second year at Leeds was all about the vacation schemes! Days were spent in the computer clusters (I’m sure they look very different now!) drafting applications and frantically checking emails. I was delighted to secure vacation schemes at Eversheds and Hammonds in 2003 and I enjoyed them both thoroughly. I chose to train at Eversheds and qualified there in 2007 after a successful training contract, being offered jobs in 3 departments (in a recession), and coming first in the national trainee cohort at Eversheds in the Finance and Business Skills module.
Joseph Scott graduated from the University of Leeds in 2017 with a degree in English Language and Literature. After attending a couple of appointments at the Careers Centre he applied for a role as PR Intern at Cream Consultancy, a listing he spotted on the Careers Centre vacancy website.
I am a PR Account Executive for a small PR, digital and communication agency called Cream Consultancy which operates out of an office in the Leeming Building on Vicar Lane, Leeds. I have been working in this role for six months in addition to my initial paid internship in August. My role has a lot of responsibilities and diverse tasks which aim to support the Directors and Account Manager in their work with clients. The role of Account Executive exercises many skills and I am developing my writing, communication and customer service on a daily basis.
My Path to PR