Tag Archives: Work Experience

Class of 2019: Transferable skills – from bar work to a graduate role

University of Leeds 2018 Sociology graduate Alice Whapples explains how her part time jobs have given her a wealth of transferable skills.  She has some tips on how to identify  vital employability skills you have gained from work and study.

Alice is currently an Employment and Progression Assistant at the University of Leeds Careers Centre giving careers support to our Arts, Humanities and Cultures undergraduates.

I often hear people talking about trying to ‘bulk up’ their CV with relevant work experience, or worrying that they do not have enough experiences to talk about in interviews. When I started looking at employment I was exactly the same.

Identifying your skills

Employers are increasingly looking at an applicant’s awareness of the skills they currently possess and an ability to demonstrate them in relation to the job brief. This can seem daunting, especially when you feel like you haven’t got enough experience of the working environment. However, many students don’t realise that skills they have gained through part-time work and during projects at university are transferable for loads of jobs within the graduate labour market.

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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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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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How I got my job – Information Systems Intern at Mondelez

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Find out how Poonam, an IT student, secured her placement as an Information Systems Intern at multinational company Mondelez. Poonam talks about her decision to do a placement year and how the experience has benefited her, and gives some useful tips for getting an IT internship.

Attending university was a vital step towards my goals especially within the current climate of a competitive global economy. So naturally a placement year was always something I wanted to do; gaining hands on experience within an industry, taking an educational break from University life and extending my professional network with people who are already in the field.

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How I got my job: Communications Director at TPP

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English and Philosophy graduate Sarah talks about her experience as Communications Director at healthcare IT firm TPP. She talks about how activities and skills she gained at university helped her land this position, and provides some useful tips for anyone who’s aspiring to a career in marketing.

I’m Communications Director at a healthcare IT firm called TPP, based in Leeds. I lead a small marketing and communications team of five people and we support the sales team in keeping our current customers happy and well informed, trying to get new sales and promoting the work we’re doing. Our largest customer in the UK is the NHS and we have over 6,000 NHS customers. This means me and my team need to keep up to date with government policy and know who’s who in the world of healthcare.

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How I started my own business: WayWest Design

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This week, Jack, a New Media graduate talks about his experience of setting up his own business, WayWest Design – he explains how the Enterprise opportunities at the University have helped him throughout his entrepreneurial journey and what benefits this experience has brought him. If you’re interested in starting your own business, read on and don’t forget to check out the Leeds University Start up Service page on our website for more information.

About my business:

I’m Jack Weston, founding Director at WayWest Design. We provide expert services in Web and App Development, Digital Design and Illustration, Photography, Videography, Motion Graphics, SEO Consultancy, Marketing Consultancy & Digital and Marketing Strategy to our worldwide client base. Our purpose is to deliver specialist knowledge in our field as well as maintaining a personal quality for our clients.

WayWest was established whilst I was still studying at the University of Leeds. I have always had passion for design so I began designing logos, graphics and websites for friends and family members free of charge in order to gain experience and add to my portfolio. From there, I was recommended to people and businesses outside of my network, rapidly increasing my profile and has spiraled into the successful business that it is today.

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Getting into… the PR industry

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Lucy, HR assistant at PR company PHA media talks about what steps you can take to kick start your career in the PR industry, whether you have a relevant degree or not. If you’re interested in a career in PR, read on and don’t forget you can come and talk to us for additional guidance.

The PR industry is exciting, fast-paced and always on the lookout for graduate talent.

PR has something for everyone. Whether you are a creative media graduate, an English student with a flair for writing, or a sports fan with an interest in events. Many graduates are considering a career in PR because of its wide subject area, it’s focus on creating exciting news pieces, and the fact that no two days are the same.

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