Archive for June, 2011

The Last (blog) Post …

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

This is my final blog before I depart Queen’s for the world of work and I just want to offer some final advice…

Firstly to those, like me, graduating…

Well done, but remember a degree is, to some extent, just a question mark. You might be going into something related to your degree subject; on the other hand, if your degree is non-vocational, or the choice you made at 18 didn’t turn out to be the right one, you can always consider retraining. My own Queen’s degree is a law conversion course. Originally my first degree was in English and Management in Scotland. So, whatever you’re considering always be open to your career developing in different directions.

Also, don’t neglect your personal interests once you leave Queen’s. Continue in sports, clubs and societies or charity work after graduation as these can help make you a well rounded, interesting (and more employable!) person. As John Candy stated in the film Cool Runnings: “A gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.” For gold medal read a degree: you are more than your degree.

Secondly, if next year is your final year…

Really use the summer well. See all the advice from the blog post last week. You have a real opportunity to get a head start on your final year. Any work you can do in advance – whether it’s getting together an up-to-date CV, meeting with your Careers Adviser or researching job options – will pay dividends and could be a big help next semester when time is tight. The final year is very challenging academically and the more work you do now the less stress it will be.

So, that’s it from me – good luck! There will be a new Careers blogger next academic year – who knows, it could be you! Look out for the advert in the QUB JobShop in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading.

Making Use of the Summer

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Hope you made it along to the NI Graduate Recruitment Fair on Tuesday, and that you found it a great way to put yourself in front of organisations recruiting graduates. There were queues extending out of the Whitla Hall for much of the day as people waited to get in, so maybe new graduates are getting the message that there are jobs out there.

If you weren’t able to make it you can still check out details of the organisations that attended at or call in to the Student Guidance centre to ask if we have any of the event booklets left. Also, as mentioned last week, a great way to get further help is through the Graduate Workshops running throughout the summer. The next available sessions are on Thursday (2 separate sessions) and one each day Monday 20th to Thursday 23rd June. Check the previous blog for dates/times and register at > Events Calendar. All are held in the Student Guidance Centre. Following the Fair there’s usually an increase in demand so book your place now.

If you still have another year to go before you graduate though, this summer is a great time to starting researching all the graduate recruitment deadlines for the autumn. For some careers the deadline may be quite early eg many big companies have early autumn closing dates for graduate jobs and placement opportunities, while the PGCE at Queen’s has a deadline early in November.

Go to the company websites and access their application forms to see what types of competencies are required.  But how, you may ask, can you fill in all the blank boxes asking for relevant experience? On a practical level you can use this summer as a time to gain valuable work experience. This could be, for example, through voluntary work in a related area. For myself, I spent the last summer working in courts in the Witness Service. This volunteering may not have increased my bank account but did give me relevant experience when it came to interviews for law firms. Partners were very impressed by my experience with barristers, police officers and court officials and I’d recommend similar volunteering experiences.

Part-time or full time paid work can also be excellent, not just for the money but also the exposure to how organisations work. Opportunities can exist (even within your own part-time job) to gain experience in team working, project management, working with a budget and decision making skills etc.

All the options outlined above can really help with making the most of your summer and enabling you to put yourself ahead of the pack. OK, there’s a lot to do, but there are nearly four full months to use and you can still find time to eat plenty of ice cream and chill on the beach – so get to it!

Moving into the Working World: Life after Graduation

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Looking at the summer and not sure where to start with graduate recruitment processes? Feel like you’re hitting a brick wall at the application, interview or even the initial research stage? Well, don’t give up and assume graduate recruitment is over until the autumn.

For a start there’s the NI Graduate Recruitment Fair next week at Queen’s. It’s on Tuesday 14 June and there are well over 60 organisations attending – go to and click on the draft programme for details of who’s coming.

Another good idea would be to get help from Careers, Employability and Skills. From personal experience I have found that Careers workshops are a great learning opportunity, as well as a chance to meet and network with fellow graduates in the same boat. At the workshops you get training and advice from Careers Advisers who will aim to provide answers to your graduate careers questions and guide you through the often complicated graduate recruitment processes.

 The next available Graduate Workshops are following the Fair and we’ve packed 6 sessions into the space of a week as we know the Fair generates a lot of interest:

Thursday 16 June

12.00-2.00pm Graduate Job Search Strategies

2.00-4.00pm Personal Branding

Monday 20 June

12.00-2.00pm Graduate Job Search Strategies

Tuesday 21 June

2.00-4.00pm Develop Winning Application Forms and CVs

Wednesday 22 June

12.00-2.00pm Interviews – a Conversation with a Purpose

Thursday 23 June

2.00-4.00pm Personal Branding

All the above are held in the Student Guidance Centre. Following the Fair there’s usually an increase in demand and already the workshops are filling up fast so go to the CES website now to book a place

 For those seeking more personalized graduate recruitment advice my recommendation would be to also meet with a Careers Adviser at a One to One drop in meeting. These are available Monday to Friday 9-5 pm in the Student Guidance Centre. Here you can get specific tailored advice about your personal career plans outside the large group environment of a graduate careers workshop. Every adviser is very friendly and I’ve always learned something at every meeting. Go for it!