Maths graduate Ben Devlin explains how the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair helped him realise the range of careers available to him.
Queen’s graduate Ben Devlin works as a Retirement Consultant at Willis Towers Watson in Dublin. He was taken on by the firm as a graduate actuarial consultant in late 2017. He may have made the transition from university to work look easy, but the reality was lots of applications, CV and cover letter submissions and interviews.
“I secured my graduate job after applying to many different actuarial roles,” says Ben.
Asking the right questions
Ben was able to get a better understanding of the options open to him by asking the right questions at the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair: What positions at your company would be a good option for someone with my degree? What is it like to work at your company?
“I was able to get an insight into the range of careers that are available to me as a graduate. I was able to talk to people who worked for these firms and get an insight of what it is like to work for these firms on a day to day basis,” he says.
Building up skills
Ben built up relevant work experience during his time at Queen’s.
“I participated in the London Finance and Business tour where I was able to get an experience of what it is like to work in an environment such as London. This helped me understand the roles that existed in firms in the finance industry and understand the application process. This in turn helped me prepare better for interviews and to land a summer internship the following year.”
His advice to current students? “Make the most of the opportunities available at Queen’s. It is also important to get internship or graduate applications in as early as possible in order to become more familiar with the application process,” he says.
When Queen’s graduate Rachel Murphy (nee Hill) met her employer at a Queen’s Flagship Careers Fair, it took her career off in an exciting new direction.
Like many students, History graduate Rachel Murphy (nee Hill) chose her degree subject because of her passion for the subject, rather than because she has a particular career goal in mind.
“In terms of my career, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, which made deciding on a subject to study at university quite tricky. In the end, I decided to study History as it was a subject that I loved at school and the subject which I knew I would enjoy the most. Enjoying my time at university was very important to me and this was my main motivation to study at Queen’s and to study History,” she says.
Exploring my options
While at Queen’s, Rachel was keen to explore career options and to build up valuable skills that would make her more employable after graduation. She gained work experience at PwC and built up her confidence by sitting on the Students’ Union Council.
“This was great experience and built up my confidence for going forward into the working environment,” says Rachel.
She also booked a consultation with a Careers consultant at Queen’s Careers service to get CV and interview guidance.
She started the September following her graduation, moved through the Management Programme and was promoted to Management Assistant seven months later.
“The job had various roles and responsibilities which keep me very occupied throughout the day,” she says.
For more of an insight into the Graduate Management Programme at Enterprise, watch this video:
Four year on, Rachel is Projects Officer at the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster, the largest rural youth organisation in Northern Ireland which aims to nurture and develop young people. She credits Queen’s Careers service for helping her develop the skills she needs to succeed and for giving her that crucial first employer introduction.
If, like Rachel, you are unsure what you want to do after graduation, register today for our Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair. You can meet employers who are looking to recruit graduates just like you.
But don’t take out word for it – here is what Rachel had to say:
“My advice for current students is get involved with Queen’s and all it has to offer. I would also advise to make use of the careers service as soon as possible and to really think about what their plans for after University,” she says.
Forgot dressing a stall with company branding, Graduateland, our event host platform, will do all your selling for you. Once you’ve registered via MyFuture, you can set up your online stall with just a few easy clicks, preloading videos, company details and FAQs.
2.You can pre-record the most relevant info
With the online presentation function, you can record a presentation for candidates to watch in real time. Beats talking yourself hoarse on a stand all day. What’s more, candidates can upvote each other’s questions so you can ensure you are answering the most important FAQs.
3. You can hone in on the right candidates
Using filters to sort candidates, you can read student profiles and invite the candidates with the skills you are looking for to engage in a live chat or video call. This is arguably a much more efficient and strategic way to engage with our students.
4. There are no queues
The logistics of a traditional fair dictate that only a certain number of students can get near you at any one time. With our virtual fair, an unlimited number of students can see your online stall. Candidates can even view your profile in advance of the event, along with your relevant job opportunities. What’s more, the number of representatives at your stall is also unlimited, meaning you can select the right representative to speak to a candidate.
5. It’s cost effective
You don’t need to spend money on branded pens to compete for attention. Our virtual event means you have a captive audience of top talent at your fingertips. This generation have grown up with tech and are digitally savvy, so it’s easier than ever to communicate and engage with candidates. Meanwhile you’ll save time on branding, travel and time out of office.
To register for Queen’s Graduate Placement and Recruitment Fair on 21 and 22 of October, visit MyFuture today.
From August 31, you can set up your online stall via the GraduateIreland platform.
This four-point interview prep checklist has been put together by our awesome Careers Team to help you nail that all-important job interview.
1.Cover the basics
Make sure you know who you are meeting, when and where. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people mess up the logistical details of job interviews – either by miscalculating the time it will take to get to the interview location and arriving late or by noting the time or location down incorrectly. Confirm the date, time and location, along with your attendance when you respond (promptly) to the interview invite. Avoid awkward introductions my memorising the name of the person you are meeting.
If it’s a video, skype or phone interview, make sure you are in a quiet location that has a good connection. For video or skype, make sure that your surroundings and the clothes you are wearing look professional.
For more tips on virtual interviewing and assessment centres, check out our Masterclass on the GradFest2020 site.
2.Do your research
Look up the company’s website, paying particular attention to theirmission, strategy and values – try to weave these into any answers you give about why you want to work for the organisation. Learn who their clients/customers are and who their competitors might be. Don’t just look at what a company says about itself (many employers provide company information via MyFuture), but what employees and past employees say about them. Review sites such as Glassdoor allow you to read what employees say about the company culture as well as interview experience.
Take time to investigate what is going on in the relevant industry and how that impacts upon your prospective employer.
For top tips on how employers are navigating the post COVID-19 workplace, check out our Masterclass on adapting to the changing world of work.
3. Know what job you are applying for
Read and re-read the job description so you canrefer to it in your interview answers. Look at the company website for more role information and how that fits in the structure of the organisation. Look for networking opportunities to speak to people in the company or the industry.
Once you have an understanding of the organisation and the role for which you are interviewing, think about your key selling points and how they relate to this job. Evidence with examples each of the elements in the person specification. It can be useful to use a mind map to remind yourself of elements from your degree, your extra-curricular activities and your work. Or to use a timeline for the last few years to draw out the key milestones and what you gained from them. Pay attention to the things you really enjoyed and the challenges you overcame. Use this evidence to prepare STAR-formatted answers for each of the skills elements in the person specification.
During our live online session, employers from Almac, TLT, Deloitte and Citi as well as our very own Claudine Sutherland, discussed the skills that recruiters are looking for now more than ever. Here is what they’ll be assessing you on:
“A customer focus, a strive to exceed expectations, a high standard of work, the ability to follow standard procedures of good manufacturing practice (GMP) and to lead by example – what I mean by that is to be a positive role model amongst your peers.” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“Communication is a key skill employers look for and the foundation on which you build other skills. Think about the most appropriate way to communicate, smile, feel the fear and embrace it, be honest.” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“It’s important that you foster teamwork with colleagues; get to know them. Pick up the phone, use Skype or Teams, instead of an email. These are skills I know Queen’s graduates already have from using Canvas, the university’s online learning platform, and from communicating upwards to lecturers” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“Use the job-specific knowledge you already have, either from work experience of from hobbies or sports and apply it to the work force. Show you can be a critical thinker with good problem-solving skills.” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“Brush up on industry jargon, understand what the job entails. Organisation is pivotal, take notes, devise training matrixes with mentors, learn from mistakes, build a network and contacts and work on your Microsoft Office skills. – Keith Barkley, Citi
“When it comes to progressing in big organisations, hard work is key” – Keith Barkley, Citi
“Attitude and motivation is 70% of it, being willing to learn and adapt is vital; Covid-19 is a prime example. If you have the right attitude, we can work with you to fill the experience gap. Self-awareness and knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important. Play to your strengths, you can’t do everything. In a team, acceptance and tolerance is key.” – Stephen McMaster, Deloitte
“Flexibility is important. Graduates often think they need to stick to one clear career path. We like to see people who have done something different and got a broad range of experience. Be flexible. Look for opportunities wherever they come up.”” Andrew Ryan, TLT LLP
“We employ people with a knowledge of the commercial world; that’s not just about reading the Financial Times, it’s about having an opinion on those matters. One of the top things we look for is a commercial awareness and client focus, so understand the business you are in and what you can bring to clients.” Andrew Ryan, TLT LLP
“Take ownership, be self- aware, know your limitations – employers will provide mentorship and will support your transition to the workplace. Think of your wellbeing, when it comes from self-awareness, it’s about recognising when you need support and take that support when its offered.” – Frances Weldon
“If you are in a role that genuinely interests you, you will perform better, learn faster and progress more quicker, so play to your strengths. Integrity is a massive factor, being honest in your work. If there are challenges, knowing about it is important so we can fix it. Lastly, supporting your colleagues in the firm. We are all working to the same objectives, play to your strengths and help others where they need help. – Stephen McMaster, Deloitte
We assess recruiters by our six leadership standards, the three main ones being 1. Drives value for clients – that comes back to how everyone pulls together as a team; 2. Champions progress – embracing change, and lastly, 3. Lives our values – treat people with dignity and respect – Keith Barkley, Citi
Missed this session? Join our live employer Q&A June 18th at 11.30 am Gradfest2020
Employers from EY and Pinsent Masons and our own Mary McLaughlin offered top tips to nail that online interview or assessment centre.
Tech can be glitchy
Check your wi-fi in advance and have a back-up plan in place in case of technical difficulties (e.g. your phone as well as a laptop). Also pause before and after you speak to avoid that awkward moment when you talk over your interviewer. Another top tip was to access Teams via Chrome rather than Safari.
2.Your appearance is not the only aesthetic on show
Just like in a regular interview, you need to make sure you look professional (sit up straight and make eye contact), but our panel said you also need to consider your background too. Avoid a wardrobe bulging with clothes behind you. Find a well-lit, neutral space in your house – somewhere quiet that you won’t be disturbed by noisy family members!
3.Ask the right questions
You know that moment at the end of an interview when they ask you if you have any questions? Always have some questions up your sleeve, ideally about the company goals and values. Remember in a virtual interview, you won’t get shown round the office, so ask something that will help you decide if a company is right for you. NB: Now is not the time to talk about perks like holidays and salary.
4. Virtual assessment centres follow a similar format to IRL
Just like in a real-life scenario, virtual assessment centres comprise of ice breakers via Teams, group exercises and individual numerical and written exercises. Top tip for group exercises: make sure you contribute and make your ideas heard. Jump in with solutions but don’t take over.
5.Prepare as much as you can
Have a pen and paper to hand during the call – you can practice maths skills online via jobmi.com. Better yet, log on to MyFuture to take a mock video interview that you can record and watch back. Sounds cringe, but when you notice your weird tics (avoiding the camera, overuse of ‘umms’ and ‘errrrs’) you can correct them before the real deal.
Missed today’s session? You can re-watch in your own time at Gradfest2020
Join our next live session on June 18th at 9.30 am and find out how LinkedIn could be the ace up your sleeve.