Hey, everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the Career Fairs last week and walked out of the Whitla Hall with loads of information, advice, ideas as well as free pens and other goodies!
Maybe you got a sense of what employers you are interested in? If so, the next step is to get them interested in you. At the Career Fairs I talked to recruiters about the sorts of things they want from graduates. Responses varied, but a number of key things came up time and again.
Sorcha McGinn from First Derivatives spoke for many employers when she said:
“For us it is essential that you know the job you are applying for, our company and the business environment in general. So definitely do your research.”
In terms of what recruiters expect to see from applicants, Doug Stewart from Accenture offered the following:
“We get lots and lots of applications every year, so we’re not at the Career Fairs to get more, but to get through to the right people. Key competences, such as teamwork and leadership are essential to us. If applicants can link their past experience to these competences, that is what we want.”
Also – not to be underestimated – is how you come across. Migue Cabaccero Pinto from Microsoft Ireland said:
“First thing, try not to be nervous. Often we meet people with great skills but they lack confidence.”
All the more reason to sign up for one of our Skills for Success or Lunchtime CV, Applications, Interview Skills and Aptitude Test Workshops (check www.qub.ac.uk/careers > Events Calendar for details – and even if it says ‘fully booked’ come along anyway in case there is a free place on the day).
Anyway, after the Careers Fairs I kept thinking, yes, maybe I have all those competences – but how do I show that I have them? What experiences can I link these competences to (as Doug from Accenture puts it)? One possible answer – Student Competitions!
So, what are the advantages of taking part in a Student Competition? Firstly, there are always prizes waiting, whether it’s cash for your next holiday, or maybe even an internship. Secondly, it looks impressive on your CV and will make you stand out from the crowd. It’ll also help you gain invaluable teamwork, leadership skills, commercial awareness and the ability to think innovatively – exactly the kinds of things your future employers will be looking for when they’re reading through your job application. So even if you don’t win, you can’t really lose.
Are you convinced yet? Excellent! So what’s out there then? A great starting point is here at the Careers website www.qub.ac.uk/careers > Students and Graduates > Improve Your Employability > Competitions where you’ll find lots of examples such as:
New York City’s Next Idea 2011-12 competition, where you can win a trip to New York and a hefty cash prize!
Universities’ Brightest Business Brain where you can win a £1000 prize competing against students from other top UK universities; you don’t even need to be studying a business related degree.
Accenture Leaders of Tomorrow Award 2012 which promises an internship within the company and the chance to develop leadership skills during an all expenses paid trip to New York.
That’s just to name a few. For a heap of other competitions, or for more information on those mentioned above, make sure to check out the Careers website on a regular basis, as well as the Students’ Union site.
Next week’s blog will be about how to gain insights into graduate work (or work experience in general) before or during your final year. So be sure to join me again then!