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.
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.
Economics and Politics student Tom talks about how he landed his position in Financial Services, Audit at Deloitte.
Working in Audit in the Financial Services industry means providing advice on financial reports of banks, insurance firms and investment managers. The purpose is to inform the senior management and other stakeholders on whether the information presented in their financial information is accurate and up to date.
Deciding a career path
After finishing second year I still didn’t have any great idea of what I wanted to do after graduating. Continue reading
In part two of our ‘Tackling the Application Process & Being Open about Disabilities’ series, we are continuing the discussion on whether applicants should be open about their disability and what makes an application stand out.
Should I be open about my disability at the application stage?
It is your decision whether and when to be open about a disability and a careers adviser can help you to explore the pros and cons, so that you can make that decision. There are some exceptions, for example, if you have a condition like epilepsy that has health and safety implications – beyond these exceptions it is up to you.
A graduate I saw recently was advised by her friend not to be open about her disability on application forms. After numerous unsuccessful applications she decided to ignore this advice and successfully applied and got a great graduate job!
Take time to write a quality application
Research complete, you can now start writing your application. Written applications come in different formats, generally it is a covering letter and CV or an application form. Here are some general pointers:
- Application form questions are generally based on your interest in the role and organisation (commitment), competencies (skills) and personal strengths (behaviours).
- Have you researched the organisation thoroughly enough to address your interest in them and the role?
- Examine the job description: what specific skills and attributes are they looking for?
- Select recent and relevant competency examples from your university life and degree, extra-curricular activities and work experience. The ‘STAR’ approach here is an ideal way of articulating your skills.
- Quality check your letter writing etiquette – how to structure and avoid minor mistakes that will put your application in the ‘no’ pile e.g. ending your letter ‘Yours faithfully’ when writing to a named person, grammar and spelling errors. Structure, format and write your CV succinctly. You can also check our website for more information and resources on applications.
Checking before pressing send is a must! If you have a disability that affects your written communication skills (spelling and grammar) have your application checked by someone else before sending and use all the resources at your disposal.
This is now a commonly used term associated with being successful in the workplace and you will need more of this than other applicants (add link to resilience article). Legislation will support your path to employment but you cannot rely solely on it. Be persistent, curious and learn how to articulate your added value, abilities and diversity. In addition, make good use of disability services, your careers service and other support available to you.
Need further advice/guidance? Make sure to check out the resources available on our website and book an appointment to talk to us.
Steve Bone is a Careers Consultant at Leeds University, he supports students applying for graduate opportunities and advises his careers colleagues on inclusivity. In this blog, he highlights observations of the additional challenges faced by students with disabilities and shares advice on how to overcome these. This blogpost was originally published on Myplus Students Club.
Remember, you have something extra!
When supporting students with a variety of disabilities (both physical and unseen), what strikes me is that a positive approach to the application process is key. Successful applicants reflect on their ABILITIES and articulate these positively, alongside disabilities that the employer can make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for in the workplace.
Getting through to the application stage is a challenge; have I understated this? For prospective undergraduates who are unaware of their dyslexia, it is even tougher! So when I heard that an undergraduate, unaware of his dyslexia, had managed a successful application for an internship, I wanted to know how. Continue reading
This week Andrea, a MSc Global Supply Chain graduate tells us about how he got is graduate position at Pladis and gives some detailed advice on the application process.
My name is Andrea Scirè, I am 22 years old and, after having finished my course in September, I graduated in December 2016 from the Leeds University Business School with a 2:1 (68%) MSc in Global Supply Chain Management.
When I left my home town, Rome (Italy), in September 2015, I could never have imagined that, slightly more than a year later, I would be working in the UK as a graduate with pladis (the number one biscuit manufacturer in the UK and Turkey and worldwide, known for iconic brands such as McVitie’s, Godiva and Ulker). But, believe me or not, this is what happened.
In the next few paragraphs, I will explain how the Professional Development Hub of the University of Leeds Business School and the Careers Centre helped me in getting selected from over 200+ candidates applying for this graduate scheme.
Saad Ali is a final year student doing an integrated masters (MEng) in Mechanical Engineering. He is also currently working part-time at Slipstream Engineering Design and has completed a number of placements throughout his time at Leeds. In this article, he shares his experience of applying to placements and advice on how to make the best of your time at university.
Not spending enough time on applications
After sending numerous applications without any success, one day sat in a career’s lecture, I realised that I probably spend more time deciding what to watch on Netflix than I do my applications. My first ‘proper’ application took me 40 hours to write, it was a form with two questions for internship at Toyota Boshoku in Japan.
Visit to Kinkakuji Castle with a fellow intern during my placement in Japan
I went over it several times, and got help from my Faculty Employability team and the Careers Centre, to ensure each sentence was as concise as it could be whilst delivering my knowledge of the company and industry, and demonstrating how my skills aligned with the job role. It eventually secured me my immensely rewarding and ‘life-changing’ summer placement! Continue reading