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Blogger community work MEDIA Programme Social work Student blogger Volunteer SU volunteering

How to get into Social and Community work

Emma Kelly, a Law student and blogger from our MEDIA programme looks at the skills you need to get into social and community work. 

Emma Kelly

1.         Do your research 

Social and Community work is a wide-ranging industry, offering opportunities to work in a range of employment fields. From working for housing charities, in the criminal justice field or as a social worker; there are various important jobs that are integral to the development of a fair and just society, and one that protects vulnerable groups. Therefore, it’s important to know which employment sector you are aiming to get into!

2.         Develop the essential skills 

Employers in this sector tend to be on the lookout for some integral skills while interviewing, so being able to provide evidence that you possess these skills will give you a head start on job applications or in the interview stage. 

–           Thinking critically and creatively: being able to demonstrate that you can think on your feet and problem solve effectively is a skill that employers will love. 

–           Great communication skills: working in this area will entail lots of communication, both verbally and written. Therefore, it’s important to demonstrate that you can communicate effectively with different groups of people, both over the phone and face-to-face. As well as evidencing that you can effectively make written referrals and briefs! 

–           Resilience: work in this industry tends to be emotionally challenging, and you will likely have to deal with families or individuals in crisis, it will be important to interviewers that you can demonstrate resilience and that you are not afraid of a challenge. 

3.         Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! 

The greatest ways to gain experience in the social and community work sector is through volunteering. You could volunteer with victim support organisations, homeless shelters or mental health charities. Charities such as Age UK, Bernardo’s or Home-Start are consistently looking for volunteers. Volunteering is a fantastic way of demonstrating to future employers your dedication to working in this sector, as well as building important contacts for the future! 

4.         There are various routes 

As wide-ranging as the Social and Community work industry is, the route into the industry is even wider. There is no one set pathway to secure a job in this industry. There are various undergraduate degrees in social and community work, Master’s, apprenticeships, and graduate programmes to choose from! From doing a straight social work degree at undergraduate level to applying for graduate programmes such as the “Think Ahead Programme”. There are various ways to secure your route into the industry! 

5.         Keep an eye on job openings

Once your qualified, you should be on the lookout for the right job! Keep your eye on sites such as Indeed, LinkedIn and MyFuture for job postings.

Search jobs by industry and sector in MyFuture

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Blogger campaigning government MEDIA Programme Politics Student blogger Student reps

How to get into politics and government

Lauren Watt, a blogger from our MEDIA programme has used her research skills to find out everything you need to know about pursuing a career in politics and government.

Lauren Watt

The first thing to ask yourself is why you want a job in politics and government. Because it will give you an understanding of where your skills might fit in the political eco-system and the government institution as a whole. Politics can open doors for careers in political work, social/political research, journalism, HR, and Marketing. You have to be stubborn, determined and most of all be able to take criticism in this type of career choice.

This blog will show you ways to build up your CV and what types of websites to look at to find career opportunities in this sector.

Know your subject matter

Having a degree in Politics helps, though it is not a must. If you can, take classes that help you understand the political system and what type of language and writing is used for the topic. Topics such as Business, Law and Education, for example. That’s not to say you can’t break into politics with a degree in another discipline, but keeping abreast of current affairs and have an overall knowledge of the landscape will benefit you in the long run.

Get involved in student activism

With all applications, having experience added to your CV will benefit you. It will show you have determination and skills that could help towards the job you are applying for. Being a student is the perfect time to join societies and clubs and demonstrate your activism and leadership. Queen’s offer plenty of opportunities to join political campaigns throughout your university experience. Attending events at the start of the year such as Fresher’s Fair – which starts at Queen’s in late September – will be the time to find clubs that best suit your interests. 

Engage in the local community

As well as university clubs, there are plenty of events outside of University to get involved in. Use social media to find local events, clubs and societies in our community. Campaigning is a good route to get into politics. It can be a long way round but attending these types of community events helps give a broader understanding and knowledge of what is happening around you. 

Network

Use events to network, push yourself out there and get outside your comfort zone. Working on public speaking is a must when working in politics. Community events are a good platform to practice public speeches and you will constantly need to improve. So, keep practicing, and join civic organisations to gain further confidence. 

With networking, gaining, and retaining relationships with others is an important aspect. In politics, you will be a part of campaigns, fundraisings and working with the media. You will need to have these contacts for support and guidance.

Seek Careers Guidance

As always, sometimes just asking the Careers Service at Queen’s can be as beneficial as researching yourself. It saves time, they can find you the best opportunities or contacts to speak to. And also, they can just make everything simpler. Constantly keep an eye out for opportunities on the University’s Careers page for anything around politics and other volunteer events.

Keep your options open

Politicians are the most known type of job in politics. And it can sometimes take years to create an opportunity in that career path, but don’t give up. It is easier to box yourself in to that one role but remember that there are multiple different opportunities in politics and government. From political to marketing. Gain information on the types of roles and find out what they look for, and if they will suit you. Not having a definite role is not a bad thing, it leaves you open to opportunities. The unexpected role might turn out to be what suits you best.

Search jobs by industry and sector in MyFuture

Undergrads – the SU are looking for next year’s Course Reps!

Hear all the reasons why you should volunteer from some current Course Reps, including:

  • Meeting new people from your course & school
  • Gaining transferable leadership, communication & teamwork skills
  • Improving the experience for current & future students 

Find out if there’s a role available on your course and volunteer by 9pm, Sunday 9 May at qubsu.org

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Blogger Careers by sector Media and communications MEDIA Programme Student blogger

How To Get Into: Media & Communications

Daniel McGibbon, a blogger from our MEDIA programme, shares the top tips he has learned about breaking into the media and communications sector.

MEDIA blogger Daniel
  1. There is no one route into the industry.

The beauty of entering the media and communications sector lies in its lack of a standardised process. There is no established set of hurdles to clear to get a job. In the points below, I’ll explore some of the vast array of opportunities, methods and avenues to enter the sector. The door is open to anyone with the drive to succeed!

2. Writing experience is invaluable

Having experience in writing is crucial when beginning a career in media and communications – the clue is in the name! Make sure to jump at any opportunity to gain writing experience. Whether it’s proofreading or article-writing as a university or school commitment, these are invaluable experiences to boast about when developing a professional CV. 

3. Build a portfolio

Employers seek people who are accustomed to writing and purveying concise, engaging information. Practicing your skills through something as minimal as a regular blog post shows not only an ability to write, but a commitment to your passion. Find inspiration through reading industry professionals’ work or using resources like The Associated Press Stylebook and develop a portfolio of writing to showcase your ability to potential employers!

4. Find an internship

It’s not a simple task to land a permanent job in media and communications without having some prior, relevant experience. This is an initially daunting thought but it’s a lot more achievable than you might think. 

Everyone must start somewhere, and local work experience, summer internships and similar temporary positions offer an invaluable introduction to the sector! Whether it is assisting at a local radio station or getting accepted to a short-term internship with a media organisation, all relevant experience will make you an attractive candidate for a permanent job. It’s as simple as reaching out and asking if they’ll take you on board for some work experience.

It is important to remember that these experiences are largely unpaid. Whilst big corporations are attractive, they typically exist in cities with huge living expenses that make unpaid positions untenable for someone starting out. Make sure to focus your energy on sustainable experience.

5. Look for an apprenticeship

Another entry point to media and communications exists in the shape of apprenticeships or long-term internships. This avenue offers fantastic experience of how a career in this sector operates daily. This can consist of positions anywhere from television production to online content creation. Check out sites like Idealist for some inspiration.

6. Put yourself out there

Ultimately, there are any number of valid and legitimate ways to enter media and communications, you just have to take the first step and look for openings! Write and read about your interests, ask around for work experience, and most importantly APPLY FOR THE JOB! There are vacancies out there waiting to be filled, it’s up to you to make yourself noticed and prove you want the job.

Want more information on breaking into the media industry? Explore careers by sector area on our website.

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Global Opportunities international experience MEDIA Programme Networking Think Pacific Virtual internships

Making a Difference from Home – My Virtual Internship Experience

Daniella Timperley is a 2nd year student at Queen’s and a blogger from our MEDIA programme. She recently completed a virtual internship with Think Pacific – a volunteering organisation working with remote villages in Fiji. Here is how she got on.

The Think Pacific Virtual Internship was the answer to getting my international fix in the midst of the pandemic. My expedition to Fiji was cancelled so I took on a 12-week internship which provided me with the opportunity to still make a difference in Fiji and more importantly learn about the Fijian culture. I was very fortunate to receive a full scholarship for the internship from Think Pacific.

A personal highlight…

Before you even get started on your internship, you are immediately welcomed into the Think Pacific family and immersed into a community of highly motivated change-makers who are ready to make their mark in Fiji. Some stand out moments during my time on the internship was definitely grabbing a virtual tea or coffee with another intern and getting to know all about them and their goals. Other interns aren’t the only people in this online community that are committed to making you feel welcome on the internship, you will also be assigned a Think Pacific mentor that will be available to answer any questions you have and also guide you when you are creating your action project. A personal highlight of mine was my mentor calls with Cam. I loved sharing my ideas for my action project and Cam bounced off of my passion for my project and was extremely encouraging. Also Monday briefings with Cam and Katherine was a personal favourite moment each week on the internship. This feeling of being surrounded with support from the Think Pacific family definitely fuels inspiration and motivation to continue to make a difference. 

Learning a new culture…

The discovery phase of the internship is the first of four phases, but it is the most fascinating. In order to be able to make a sustainable impact in Fiji through your action project, you need to understand the people, the culture and their way of life before coming up with a project that can be put into action in Fiji. The discovery phase covers everything from understanding the complex term ‘vanua’, learning some of the Fijian language, getting an idea of the gender roles in Fijian society, getting to grips with the sustainable development goals and so much more. It is really hard to be able to make a difference in a country you know nothing about, but this phase really breaks down everything you need to know to become familiar with the country and help you to feel connected to Fiji. During the discovery phase I set 3 goals that I wanted to achieve throughout the course of my internship; my personal goal, my professional goal and my contribution goal. My goals are as follows:

1. I personally want to enjoy learning about the Fijian culture and in particular Gender Equality and Women’s role in society in Fiji. 

2. I want to boost my network by taking part in one virtual coffee every week with other interns in my field.

3. I will learn 7 modules per week during the discovery phase.

Making the most of the experience…

As you go through the different phases of the internship, you can explore as much as you like. If you are an international development intern, you can still learn all about global health or mental health so the possibilities and learning opportunities are endless. I personally loved looking through all the different organisations and action projects available. There are so many sports organisations, NGO’s and businesses in Fiji that you can choose to partner with. I partnered with FemLINK Pacific to create an awareness campaign for violence against women. I have been campaigning against violence against women for over 7 years but doing this in a different country, especially a developing country like Fiji was a challenge. I embraced the challenge and proposed an international campaign that still takes place in many countries across the world that encourages men to never commit, condone or remain silent about abuse against women. I have created a manual about the campaign and how it can be implemented in Fiji as well as social media posts that FemLINK Pacific can use to promote the campaign. So, I would recommend choosing a project you are passionate about but that will challenge you as I can say from experience you will get the most out of the internship and learn a lot about yourself.

Keep an eye on our events page for more virtual internship opportunities or contact our Global Opportunities team for information on work or study abroad opportunities.

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BIM Building Information Modelling Project Management Farrans Higher Level Apprenticeships Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week

HLA Student Case Study: Building Information Modelling Project Management

Niall Moore, Level 7 Higher Level Apprentice. Building Information Modelling Project Management, Farrans/Queen’s University Belfast

Niall Moore, HLA Apprentice

“My particular HLA was the Master’s level BIM. I’m currently 2/3 of the way through it on my second year part-time. I was one of three from Farrans to actually start the HLA in 2019. It’s been a very positive experience, obviously challenging, but very positive with plenty of group work. Being able to apply your own experiences to items of course work and vice versa. Bringing experiences learned in the classroom back to your work has been one of the biggest advantages for me.

With the vast amounts of guest lecturers that you have on this particular course, for example, is invaluable.  

People bring experiences from all walks of life into the classroom… People that work in construction law, specialist BIM consultancies…the list goes on. So real life experience has been bought brought onto the classroom also.

The flexibility and the support from staff on the HLA scheme is second to none. The lines of communication are very clear and it’s never an issue to get hold of somebody when you need them. So, it’s a very hands-on approach from the staff at Queen’s. Also, you get very rewarding feedback on your assignments, especially when it’s on an interesting that’s related to your day to day work. I find that very, very rewarding too.

I’m on a path to progression within the organisation and hopefully that can continue once I finish.”

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Queen’s

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BIM Building Information Modelling Project Management Employer events Farrans Higher Level Apprenticeships

HLA Employer Case Study: Farrans

Cara Hanna, Training Advisor at Farrans

Cara Hanna, Farrans

“I am a training advisor at Farrans, so I would be responsible for looking after our apprentices, placements and graduates. We are a civil engineering and building organisation, head office inNorthern Ireland, but we’re located across the UK and Ireland. We operate in all sectors of the construction industry, delivering a wide range of projects.

In relation to our apprenticeship story, up until 2016, entry into Farrans was placement or graduate. Other than that, it was experienced hire.

As you are probably aware, the construction industry has been dealing with a skill shortage for a number of years now.

So in 2016, we came together with other like-minded organisations, colleges and universities and the ICE and we developed WorkPlus.  

WorkPlus is an organisation that brings employers together in Northern Ireland and it offers apprenticeships at all levels in over 150 disciplines. 

At Farans, we offer our Higher Level Apprenticeships starting at level 5, which is foundation level, level 6 degree and level 7 Master’s in Construction Management, Civil Engineering and Quantity Surveying as well as that the Building Information Modelling Project Management (BIM) Master’s course at Queen’s. 

Apprenticeships have opened a whole new talent stream for Farrans. We are now able to attract employees into various roles, including engineering, estimating, programme planning and many others. 

At Farrans, we have seen our apprentices develop at a fast pace. 

Some of our apprentices in the business have more than three or four years’ experience, even though they haven’t got their degree yet. Some of our apprentices are operating at a site engineer level, yet they are still yet to complete their degree. 

We try not to class them as an apprentice, but by the role that they’re doing and experience that they’ve gained. 

The benefits for students that we have seen – this generation said they wanted more options, more choices and with apprenticeships we can offer that now. 

It’s no longer one route to gaining that degree or Master’s, there’s many more options and many benefits. 

Apprentices are able to put into place what they learn in real time.

They’re learning from experienced staff and they’re building that successful career path. 

The big selling point that we see whenever we’re talking to parents, careers teachers and young people is that you earn while you learn and the students have no debt.

Apprentices are important to Farrans because they not only give us a vibrant talent stream but they also give us the opportunity to shape, nurture and support the apprentices on their journey from the very start. We believe that everybody deserves an opportunity and we understand that not everybody learns in the same way. Being able to offer many apprenticeships is a great opportunity.”

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Queen’s

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Higher Level Apprenticeships Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week PwC Software With Digital Technology

HLA Student Case Study: Software Engineering with Digital Technology

Maisy Sinclair, Level 6 Higher Level Apprentice, Software Engineering with Digital Technology Partnership, PWC/Queen’s University Belfast

Maisy Sinclair, Level 6 Apprentice

“I was doing a weird mix of A-levels – Art, Spanish, Maths and Software Systems and I had never done any computer-based subjects before that. I really liked Software Systems, it was a challenge, so then I applied for Computer Science at Queen’s. I got an email about this course.

My dad never went to University or anything but he himself did an apprenticeship and he was really encouraging me. It’s really good to have practical experience as well as educational, so I just jumped at the chance and took it on board and I’d definitely say it has lived up to my expectations. 

I like the way it’s structured and I get to go on different placements throughout my whole degree rather than having one full year out.

It’s really good to be able to have that uni experience and being able to apply that to the job environment. From my perspective, I was able to have a full year in uni before I had to go into placement and start applying it to the workplace and I definitely found that I was more equipped to work better in the working environment that if I had had to go in blind with no university education at all.

In terms of then coming back to uni after placement, I’ve definitely been more in tune with the business perspective when I’m studying my modules.

So, I’m not just thinking about studying for an exam, I’m thinking, well how can I apply this work that I’m doing in uni to a business perspective and a job in the future.”

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Queen’s.

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ECIT Higher Level Apprenticeships Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Computer Science Software With Digital Technology

HLA Academic Case Study: Software with Digital Technology

Dr Charles Gillan, senior lecturer at the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

“I’ve been with Queen’s now about 20 years as a senior lecturer and throughout that time, we’ve always had very strong links in our computer science department with industry, particularly on the research side with the ECIT Institute. It makes sense, then, for us to expand and deepen or links by proactively collaborating with employers for the undergraduate programme. And that is what the Higher Level Apprenticeships allow us to do on. We have a Software Engineering with Digital Technology partnership, which is strongly associated with PWC.

We engage with other employers as well in the University, law enforcement and banking to name two, who are particularly strong players in the IT sector in Northern Ireland. 

The content of our degrees therefore reflect challenges facing industry today and indeed facing all IT-based organisations. So, it’s not a surprise to learn that in the later years of our degree, students engage with cyber-security topics: malware and analytics related to Security. Plus, on the other side, artificial intelligence and machine learning are now driving lots of parts of the economy and our students have the opportunity to engage with modules on those topics. This is in addition to traditional computer science topics, such as advanced programming and performance. So, in the round it’s a degree which allows students to engage with all the topics that are active in IT at this time, so they generally report that they find it very interesting and exciting.”

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Queen’s

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Employer Engagement Higher Level Apprenticeships Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week PwC Software With Digital Technology

HLA Employer Case Study: PWC

Joanne Corry, Student Recruitment Manager, PWC

“Our Higher Level Apprenticeship that we have with Queen’s University Belfast is a Software with Digital Technology. We have just recruited our fourth intake for 2021. It is a four-year degree programme, and you are an apprentice from Day One at Queen’s University. 

“For us as a firm, this partnership brings a lot of benefits. We have students that are quite focussed on what they want to do and the career path that they want to take.

They complete placements throughout their time at University with PWC – in first and second year, a 3-month placement from June to August, and then in third and final year they do nine-month placements, split over two placements. 

For us as a firm, it diversifies our workforce. So, we’re getting them straight from A level, they are learning up-to-date academic knowledge in that field and bringing those key skills into our workplace, which really benefits us as a firm.

We’ve had some amazing students in and we have already used some of their proposals of work they have done.

For the student, it is excellent. You are an employee of the firm from Day One. You get all your fees paid, you get a salary from PWC and alongside the salary and the University learning, you also have that support network in the firm as well. 

So, you will be able to be mentored by people that are specialist in the area that you wish to pursue your career in and support your academic learning also. 

We became involves in the HLA partnership because we felt it was necessary for our firm to look at other options and it’s been a real success to date.

It is important for PWC to have an influence on what’s covered within the programmme because that is what we need future employees of the firm to be aware of. Mixing that academic with industry experience gives the student a better overall experience of putting the theory in to practice, so it really important to have industry within that academic piece, to bring it all to life for the students and  see how it works in the real world.

There is a learning experience to come with it. There is a bit more pastoral care needed and a bit of upskilling in professionalism and how to conduct a conversation with clients etc, but what I would say is they take it up really quickly because they’re really engaged and really committed to what they’re doing.

We don’t really see them as apprentices but as graduates within the firm because they are doing the same level of work and they are coming back with that experience each placement.

There is probably a bit of structure needed in place to support them because it is a big learning experience for them, going betweenUniversity and the workplace. We have put a lot of time and effort into that to make sure we do give all the support that’s required.” 

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Queen’s