Tag Archives: Advice

Resilience – the art of bouncing back

Jo Horton joined the university as a Careers Adviser in May 2019, having completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Guidance Studies the previous year. Prior to this, she worked in a diverse range of roles, including university administration, publishing and as an English Language Teacher in Japan.

It’s 2002 and I’m sitting in Leicester railway station, crying my eyes out on the phone to my mum. Earlier that day I’d had an interview for my dream job as a Research Assistant in the History Department at Leicester University. The interview had gone well but I’d just received a phone call to tell me that I hadn’t been successful. They liked me and would have given me the job, except one of the other candidates had a PhD while I only had an MA.

Over the next few weeks I spend a lot of time thinking things like ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m never going to get a graduate job’, ‘What’s the point in applying for anything else?’, ‘Life is so hard – it’s not fair’. I briefly look into applying for PhDs but to get funding I’d have to teach undergraduates alongside my research, which I convince myself I am not capable of doing.  I drink a lot of wine and eat a giant bar of chocolate to console myself.  I stop searching for graduate roles and resign myself to a life of unfulfilling temp jobs.

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How I got my job: Graduate Recruiter & University Partnership Consultant at FDM

Lara Senhen  graduated from the University of Leeds with an MSc in International Business with distinction in 2017.

Here she talks about her own career path and gives insight into her current position at FDM.

During my studies, I applied for various graduate and entry-level jobs and it was frustrating receiving multiple rejections. I decided to visit a local careers fair where I signed up with a recruitment agency who called me a couple of weeks later for a job in Germany. I sent over my CV and I was invited to an Assessment Centre before receiving the job offer a couple of days later. Straight after handing in my dissertation, I moved to Hamburg where I started working for a programmatic advertising company as a Client Service Executive. Despite enjoying the job, I realised that I was not happy in Germany so I started applying for jobs again.

Applying to FDM

After sending my CV and cover letter to FDM, I attended various interviews as well as visiting the office itself. I received a job offer from FDM to work as Graduate Recruiter & University Partnership Consultant, starting in Summer 2018 so I relocated back to the UK.

Who is FDM?

FDM recruits, trains and deploys talent around the world through our renowned Careers Programme. With centres across the UK, mainland Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, we are a leading graduate employer, working with an impressive list of worldwide clients across multiple sectors. FDM provides industry recognised IT and business training, as well as invaluable commercial experience and the opportunity for rewarding professional development. We recruit all year round from any degree background, seeking those with a drive to succeed within the technology industry.

What is my role?

I recruit for FDM’s Graduate Programme which involves helping graduates find their preferred career pathway which is a fulfilling job in itself. I get the chance to go out to different universities, attend careers fairs and deliver workshops on video interviews, assessment centres and other employability skills. I also work closely with societies and support employability modules on different courses through delivering presentations. It is quite a diverse role where I split my time between the office and visiting various university campuses. It’s always great to be back as an alumna or visit different universities.

Hints and tips

Reflecting upon my experience, I think it is really important to have an open mind regarding what you want to do in life. When I started applying for jobs, I only applied for certain positions in specific industries but I realised that there so many other jobs out there which I never considered exploring. I would advise you to make use of the resources at your university, whether this involves going to careers fairs, popping into the careers centre for a one-on-one appointment or simply speaking to lecturers.
Finally, it is important to stay positive.

The Careers Centre is here to help whether you are a University of Leeds graduate or still studying.  So, if you’d like to chat about career ideas or get some feedback on your applications get in touch.   Careers Fairs and Events are a great way to meet employers so plan ahead, there will be lots of opportunities to network with employers in the coming year.

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Assessment Centres- presentation tips

 

 

Pablo Costa is a Careers Adviser here at the University of Leeds. Prior to working in HE he was a graduate recruiter running assessment centres- giving him an insider view of what it takes to succeed.  Around 89% of major graduate employers use assessment centres to evaluate graduate candidates (Institute of Student Employers, 2018), so, it is crucial to understand the variety of activities you may face in an assessment centre.

One common example is presenting yourself to a panel of recruiters. Here are Pablo’s tips on how to approach this exercise.

Assessment Centre: Presenting Yourself

It’s the day of your assessment centre and they have asked you to talk about yourself for 5 minutes in front of a panel of assessors.

If you’re like most people, talking about yourself in front of an audience isn’t the easiest thing to do. But, maybe you like it. If so, that’s great. If you don’t, then we need to look at ways to make this a more comfortable experience.

Why have they asked me to do this?

Well, it’s to see how well you tailor communication and engage with an audience (if they hire you for the role).

OK, what do you mean by tailoring communication?

This would mean understanding what your future colleagues and/or clients want to hear when you are delivering information to them. In other words, communicating what they want to hear and not rambling, waffling or going off-subject.

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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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