Category Archives: Develop your employability

Advice, insights and inspiration on ways to develop your employability whilst at university.

Student volunteering – making a difference in the Leeds community

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

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Your first employee handbook: what to look out for

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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.

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Why take a Careers module? My experience with ‘Career Planning for POLIS Students’

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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.

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Class of 2018: Can you really plan your career?

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This piece was written for Class of 2018 Month by Lisa Carr, a Careers Consultant at the University of Leeds Careers Centre.

We are taught from an early age that successful careers are the result of planning. Parents and teachers ask us what we want to be when we grow up. Employers ask us about our 10 year career ambitions in interviews.

Yet in this fast-changing age of the gig economy, portfolio careers, and an increasingly AI-driven and globalised world, how realistic is it for anyone to really plan their career?

Should you even try?

The answer is yes – and no.

The traditional approach to career planning is analyse-and-implement. You work out your motivations and interests (using something like prospects planner), find out which jobs match, and then apply to an advertised vacancy. This approach still works well if you like planning ahead, want to commit to a long term career path and are applying for sectors which recruit well in advance, such as banking, teaching or law.

But not everyone wants to commit to a long-term career path. Often, you don’t know what you like doing until you are actually doing it anyway. In real life, most people’s careers unfold rather than being actively planned.

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Why accounting students should take a year abroad

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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.

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Volunteering with… Skelton Grange

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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.

My Role

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.

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Advice on getting your first tech job – from an IT recruitment agency

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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.
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