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Alumni Global Opportunities Gradfest2021 Graduate success History and English Teaching

Career lessons from a graduate teacher

Maddie Warren, a Queen’s History and English graduate and a newly qualified teacher offers her advice to students and graduates.

Maddie Warren, teacher and Queen’s graduate

You are supported to explore your options at University

When I started at Queens, I thought that I might want to be a teacher. And I did my first year of Queen’s and I kind of like I loved it. I loved getting involved in different things at Queen’s, I became a student ambassador, and did lots of tours for Queen’s, and kind of really, really enjoyed my first year. And towards the end of it. I had a bit of a careers crisis where I thought that maybe I didn’t want to teach. Maybe that wasn’t the right role for me.

I kind of had a bit of a freak out and really, really didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I had a chat with my university professional tutor, which was really helpful. And I also went to a few talks that were run by different businesses at Queen’s and one of them was an organisation which organised things like camp America and stuff like that, and I got in contact with them. And they ended up getting me a placement to go and work in Spain for the summer. So I went over to a lovely place near Marbella, in the south of Spain. And I spent my first university summer kind of working there looking after some children, learning Spanish and teaching English there. And that was amazing. 

Education is an experience, not just a route to a career

My summer in Spain was kind of life-changing for me. I realised that I didn’t need to have a career when I finished university like straightaway. I met a lot of different people who were travelling around and I realised that there were kind of like loads of different things I could do and doing an English degree or humanities degree didn’t lump me into doing just the one career. So that was a really, really great opportunity for me. When I came back to Queen’s for my second year, I got really involved with the Widening Participation Unit, and started to do a lot of outreach stuff with the university. So I started to help to run workshops for primary school children, who might be the first in their family to go to university and kind of really work with some of the deprived communities around Northern Ireland.

And I found that so rewarding, probably the most rewarding experience that I ever had. I met some really, really interesting people from all over Queen’s and I met some people who

really kind of motivated me and helped me to think about what I actually wanted and to think of education as, or my education path and my degree as more of an experience than a direct route into a career.

Build up work experience where you can

I ended up going and spending my summer in America where I worked for a camp for young girls, and doing a lot of empowerment work with young girls in America, and sort of building them up to feel like they can, they are equals and have the same opportunities. The camp was a no-technology camp, and fully outdoors, we were living in the woods for the whole duration of it. And that was really, really great for the kids, especially some of the girls who had sort of had no confidence in society without things like makeup, or their phones or things like that. So that was really, really great.

Yeah, I loved it. And kind of ignited that passion, again, to work with young people. And yeah, to work, it was nice to get to work with them sort of outside of an educational setting, and do different kinds of workshops and things with them.

Life experience will benefit your career

The experiences that Queen’s had given me made me feel like I could become a better teacher if I had more life experience. So it was really important for me after graduation that I didn’t just kind of graduate from my degree and become a teacher straight away because I wanted to have experiences that I could bring to the classroom and bring to young people to help them become rounded people. I think that school is so much more than just your kind of academic education. I think it was really important to me that I was able to shape children as citizens. So I really wanted to get some more life experience. So I decided that I wanted to do an International Development Master’s.

Global experience is life-changing

My Master’s degree is in gender violence and conflicts. And when I went into the Master’s, I knew that I wanted to do some work in India. So when I was writing my thesis, I got the opportunity to move out to India and become a research assistant for a charitable organisation called Men against Violence and Abuse.

It was about working with men, especially in deprived communities in Bombay, to prevent abuse against women. It was really, really tricky for me to kind of set that placement up, I had to do it all myself. But luckily, whilst I had been at Queens, I was given the opportunity to kind of sort some placements out. I went to college in America for a while and had a lot of support with that at Queen’s, but had kind of been taught the skills to set things like that up. So I went out to Mumbai, and I didn’t know anybody. And going out there was probably the scariest experience of my life. But I did make some amazing friends and I got to work with this brilliant, brilliant organisation. I got to do some really great research with them, which benefited them and also write my thesis at the same time. So kind of a win-win situation really. I worked a lot with boys who were at college, so between the ages of 16 and 18 running workshops, discussing the treatment of women in their society, especially by sort of the older generation of men and how they wanted to improve it and what they already knew we did a lot of training around sexuality, and around transgender people, which is kind of still a very, can be a very frowned upon thing in some Indian societies.

There are different routes into teaching

I applied to a few different teaching courses. And there are lots and lots of routes into teaching, which I think people kind of don’t really realise. I ended up doing a route called Schools Direct where you are kind of placed with a school and you have a university link. So I worked at a school in West Sussex and had a link with Sussex University and found it so rewarding from kind of day one. It was definitely the most nerve wracking thing I’ve ever done in my life. My interview was to teach a year eight class of 13 year olds, I had never taught before, I had kind of worked with, with young people to do workshops and things like that. But there are a lot more interactive than lessons where I had never kind of led from the front like that. So that was really scary, but it obviously went okay, I got the position. 

Life throws your curveballs

I went onto my teacher training in September of 2019. That’s was an absolutely exhausting year. I think a lot of people say that teacher training is one of the hardest years of your career if you become a teacher. I don’t know if I’ve been in the career long enough to confirm or deny that. But I can definitely say that it was exhausting.

Funding for teaching degrees is quite limited. It’s becoming even more limited. So I was having to work at the same time. I would go to school Monday to Thursday, University on a Friday. And then Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays, I would work at a restaurant. I was lesson planning and marking in the evening, I was still writing University assignments. I was absolutely shattered. And when the pandemic came in the March I was our placement stopped. And I was absolutely crushed.

Honestly,, at first, the pandemic was a bit of a, I was slightly grateful for it, because I don’t know if I would have been able to keep going at the rate that I was. Luckily for me, I had been offered a job just before the pandemic hit. And the job that I had been offered was to start in June. So I had a couple of months between finishing my teacher training and starting my job were kind of nothing was happening. And then I started my job in June and I started teaching online, which is not something I think any teacher had ever planned to do was a massive learning curve as elsewhere a lot of things during the pandemic. But I found it really rewarding, you know, found that I was kind of getting to know some students online, which was really nice. And, and yeah, it was great. And then I went and started in school in September, and have been at the school for just over a year now.

You’re still learning on the job

During the year, I have been involved in a couple of other things. I do some mentoring. So I do mentoring for students who are often economically deprived eor socially deprived in some way. And I also work with the woman’s voice group that we have in school. I do some mentoring there and I help run some some workshop sessions, which is kind of more like the stuff that I had been doing before.

I have found teaching so incredibly rewarding. I absolutely love it. I think that’s the skills that I learned at Queen’s, the things that I was able to do in terms of student ambassador in terms of working for the WP Unit, in terms of the trips abroad, going to college in America, working in Spain… they helped to set up for me all of that really. It gave me a huge amount of confidence. It also allowed me to be independent and kind of gave me guidance on how to do things whilst ensuring that I did them myself, which I think are things that you kind of don’t necessarily learn whilst you’re at school.

The hours are long

In terms of my career now, I think that people massively underestimate the hours that go into teaching. I leave my house by seven o’clock, most mornings, and it is not uncommon for me to get home, you know, half, five, six, I would say. The last week of term has been quite lovely, because I’ve been able to leave nice and early.

There is always extra, your job is never finished, there is always extra things you can do. There are always kind of students that you care about that you want the lesson to be tailored for them in a certain way. There are always more things you can plan. There are always more parents you can contact. It’s a job that is never finished. And it has been really, really important to be able to prioritise tasks in, otherwise I would live at school.

So that has been a thing  I underestimated, kind of how never ending the to-do list is and the fact that you just can’t like it’s it is impossible to do at all. I am a person who loves to finish things and you just can’t do it. So I think I definitely underestimated that.

The rewards are huge

Working with young people is just so rewarding  –  seeing the difference in their progress both academically and as people is phenomenal; having kids come and tell you that they love your subject or they have a great lesson,; having kids email you over Christmas to say Happy Christmas because they have built relationships with you. Back in May, I had a group of students invite me to a birthday party in my classroom for me, where they had baked me cupcakes and decorating my classroom and hid in a cupboard.

Lots of people have said to me that they think they would enjoy teaching, but they think it would get really samey which always shocks me because I have never done anything which has been so varied in my life! I can teach the same lesson four times in a week, and it would never be the same.

And just  knowing that you can shape their future. And knowing that, as well as being able to shape their future, you can really make students feel seen and feel represented. 

There are no career wrong-turns

To an extent there are no wrong decisions. I think that everything can teach you something. I think the decision, the people that I have met because of the choices I’ve made… I can’t imagine my life without the people that I’ve met at university or my travels in in the different organisations that I’ve worked for. And yeah, I just think that things come around. If you’ve done something and it’s not right for you, then make another decision and find something else. I don’t think that careers these days have to be linear.

I felt a huge amount of pressure coming out of university to know what I wanted to do. I felt that from my family, I think, to kind of know what I wanted to do; to get job; to settle down; to make money for myself. And actually, it’s okay to just take a break to figure things out to try different careers. You don’t have to get it right first time.

You can re-watch Maddie’s recent live stream here:

https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/graduate-support/UpcomingLiveStreams

Categories
Alumni Gradfest2021 Graduate recruitment Graduate success software development

“Thanks to what I learned at Queen’s, I’ve been able to hit the ground running in my role.”

MSc Software Development graduate Adam Hamill is now an Associate Consultantin Data Analytics Managed Services at
Version 1. Here is how he got there…

Msc Software Development graduate Adam Hamill 

Describe your career path to date. 

I graduated in 2016 with a degree in Electronic Engineering. I worked in an electronics company for around 3 years, then returned to university to do a Master’s course in Software Development and after I graduated I got offered a role in Version 1 which is where I am working now. 

Why Software Development? 

I always had an interest in IT and anything to do with computers. I knew a lot of friends that had got jobs in the industry too and had great things to say about it which made me apply for the Master’s course and I am now very happy I did. 

What is your current role like? 

No two days are the same, there’s a lot of variety in the types of work I could be doing and the different types of customers I could be working for. I enjoy that every day I know I will be learning something new.

What does an average week look like for you?

At the moment I’m still junior in my role so my week involves a lot of shadowing other members in my team, seeing their thought processes in working out problems and giving my own input if I feel I can help out. In a week I could be working with one customer on helping produce a dashboard in Power BI to suit their needs, while for another customer I could be trouble shooting any backend problems they may have encountered using SQL. 

What is the most challenging part of the job?

Keeping on top of all the various customers we provide support for and their ongoing requests. 

What is the most rewarding?

Receiving positive feedback from customers, knowing that you have made their day even a little bit more convenient is always a great positive about my job.  

What are your career aspirations? 

I would like to be highly experienced and knowledgeable in my field and feel that I am a great asset to the company.

In what way do you feel like you’re making a difference in your job?

I enjoy the fact I get to work with globally renowned companies and that my work contributes to making any processes or systems run smooth as possible for the customer.

What expectations did you have about this career path that you have found differed from reality?

Along with the technical skills required, there is a steep learning curve into learning each customer’s systems and solutions which is something I hadn’t expected.

What skills did you learn at Queen’s that have helped you in your career?

Good timekeeping skills has definitely helped me as I can have many tasks with deadlines all running at the same time just like University. Additionally, communication skills gained during group assignments in Queen’s have been a great help in my career. Technical skills learned such as programming, database design and security have enabled me to hit the ground running in my role. 

What advice do you have for students and graduates wanting to move into this area?

If you are thinking about doing it and know you will be able to give it your full effort, then go for it. 


How did your Queen’s experience help your personal and professional development?

I made lots of new friends at the course who I still see regularly which was a great bonus of attending the course! 

How did the people you met at Queen’s inspire you?

The passion from my teachers for their subjects helped inspire me to achieve my best results in the course.

What’s the one thing you’ll never forget about your time at Queen’s?

Changing very quickly from traditional lectures to virtual lectures thanks to a pandemic!

Interested in working for Version 1? Don’t miss our Instagram Live on 9 June at 3pm on @QUBCareers Instagram when our student host will be getting top tips on navigating the recruitment process at Version 1. Version 1 will also be talking about the importance of embracing workplace tech on @QUBCareers Instagram at 12pm on 15 June. Visit the Gradfest2021 site to find out more. 

Version 1 are proud sponsors of Gradfest2021
Categories
Discover EY Employer Engagement Employer Insight Employers EY Gradfest2021 Graduate recruitment Graduate success

“I’ve travelled to Frankfurt and worked with exciting clients like Google”

Maths Graduate Shannon McAteer is now a Business Consultant in Technology Risk at EY, Here is how she got there…

Queen’s Maths graduate Shannon

Describe your career path to date. 

I began applying to graduate jobs during the summer of my graduation, and I had already decided to apply to EY and other “Big Four” firms. I had online assessments to complete for EY and then I had to attend an assessment centre for a day to complete various tasks with different interviewers and other candidates. Once I passed the assessment centre, I had one final interview with a Senior Manager in Belfast, and soon after this I was told I had been successful, and I would be starting in September that year. The job began with 2 weeks training in Dublin (with all expenses paid which was nice), and once back in Belfast I started on my very first audit for Belfast City Council. After a few other short projects, I joined the team working on the Google engagement in November of my first year, and I have been working on this project ever since. So, I was definitely thrown in at the deep end but there is always plenty of support, and all grads just learn as we work on different projects. 

Why technology risk? 

Even after I finished university, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do as my career, and with Maths as my degree, it didn’t really narrow down my options at all (which is good and bad). I had first learned about the “Big Four” at grad job fairs, and I started to do my research to see if any of the career paths they offered interested me. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be an accountant, so technology risk caught my eye, especially as this is a sector that is continuously growing and changing. As I had applied for several companies, in the end I was torn between another Big Four company and EY, but as soon as I completed the assessment centre, I knew it was the company for me. EY is very people orientated, and everyone I met seemed really nice and helpful, and I also knew there would be opportunity for travel through EY, which definitely interested me as well.  

What is your current role like? 

The current project I am working on can definitely be stressful at times, and sometimes the hours are long during really busy period, but the team I am working with is fantastic, and this always motivates me to do the best I can for the benefit of the project as a whole. There are always new tasks and things to learn because it’s such a huge company with so many internal systems, and the scope of work we do for Google is always growing and changing, which makes every day new and challenging. 

What does an average week look like for you?

I will be honest and say most weeks are not just a 9-5, but the team I work with is quite flexible in terms of the hours you work each day, which is great. There can be lots of calls with the client, but also time to work by yourself and get work done which I enjoy too. We also have regular check-ins with the team, which includes sub-teams in Belfast, the US and the Philippines, so the different time zones can also be an interesting factor.  There are also always lots of social events, for my project and for technology risk or just the Belfast office, all of them have been virtual recently of course, but hoping to start getting back to in-person events now too. 

What is the most challenging part of the job?

The longer hours in busy periods can be tough sometimes, I have had to work a few weekends and it can be stressful because of tight deadlines. But we always manage to get the work done, and the team will always be on hand to help. 

What is the most rewarding?

Getting to work as part of the team has been the best experience of my EY journey so far. It is a pretty big team consisting of people from all over the world, which is always so interesting and exciting. Also, at the beginning of my career in EY, I had the opportunity to travel to Frankfurt, Germany, to complete a data centre visit. I went completely on my own, and although it was scary at the time, it definitely helped me with my professional and personal development and is something I’ll always remember! 

What are your career aspirations? 

I want to keep moving up through positions in EY and hopefully become a Senior Manager one day (if not higher up). I also want to complete more qualifications to do with IT, cybersecurity, etc, to keep up to date with the ever-changing trends in this sector. 

In what way do you feel like you’re making a difference in your job?

Through our work for Google, we’re making one of the biggest companies safe to use for all of its customers around the world and getting to be a part of this is very rewarding. 

What expectations did you have about this career path that you have found differed from reality?

During the first 2 weeks training, I don’t think any of us thought we would be thrown straight into proper projects the way we were, I thought there would be a lot more training, or even just helping with smaller tasks on different projects. But I have enjoyed learning new things right from the start, and I always think it’s easier to learn on the job.  The Coronavirus pandemic has obviously changed things massively, so there has also been less travel and time in the office than I initially expected, but I am hoping to still experience this at some point soon. 

What skills did you learn at Queen’s that have helped you in your career?

I learned so many skills during my time at Queen’s that have helped me, for example; people skills, organisational skills, independence to be able to work alone but also being able to work well as part of a team. I also learned how to manage strict deadlines, and how to try and keep calm under pressure. As well as this I picked up so many basic computer skills that I still use every day during work now, like google sheets/docs etc.  

What advice do you have for students and graduates wanting to move into this area?

I would recommend definitely doing some research about which service line you want to go into, and then also which sub-service line, as EY or other similar companies have so many different roles and opportunities available. However, I know for EY there is always the chance to move around within the company if you feel another role would suit you better. A lot of EY’s hiring process is based on whether you’re a good fit for the company based on what type of person you are, how you work etc, but this works both ways, so it’s really important to be sure big companies like EY are also suited for you and what your career aspirations are.  


How did your Queen’s experience help your personal and professional development?

Studying at Queen’s helped me gain and improve upon so many professional and personal skills, without which I may not be where I am today. It also enabled me to enhance my interpersonal skills through completing a volunteering programming at the Sandy Row Community Centre and obtaining the Degree Plus certification which has been a significant factor in my personal and professional development. 

What’s the one thing you’ll never forget about your time at Queen’s?

My graduation day was one of the best day’s in my life to date. Being able to celebrate finishing my degree with my family and friends and knowing that all of my hard work over the last 3 years had paid off, is something that I’ll never forget. 

Interested in working for EY? Don’t miss our employer panel on 10 June at 12pm on @QUBCareers Facebook. They will also be talking all things Workplace Culture live on @QUBCareers Instagram at 12pm on 17 June. Visit the Gradfest2021 site to find out more. 

EY are proud sponsors of Gradfest2021

Categories
Discover EY Employer Engagement Employer events Employer Insight Employers EY First years Graduate recruitment Graduate success graduate training schemes placements Second years Social Media Takeover

Inside the Discover EY Insight Programme

I took part in the Discover EY programme in June 2018 and for me, the highlight was getting to meet and interact with different people across all the departments within EY. The Discover EY experience provided the opportunity to really understand the individual service lines within EY and what their main roles are. This was a huge insight to me as previously I wasn’t fully aware of the differences between each service line and what a typical day looks like working in each. 

Discovering options

The programme brought to my attention the scope of the work that EY carry out for big name clients and that there were so many more career paths and opportunities in varying departments, most of which I didn’t known EY even had. This was interesting to me as it showed how you can progress and try new things within your career at EY. The programme allowed me to see the differences between EY and its competitors through listening to some colleagues describing their career paths.

Discover EY Belfast

Finding mentors

Throughout Discover EY, each team had mentor leads, most of which were people completing their Graduate Training Programme. The networking and relaxed working environment made me feel at ease asking questions and getting to know the company better as I was speaking to people who were in my shoes a matter of years ago. We also had a BBQ one evening with some food and drinks which was very informal and allowed us to network with many different people within EY of all levels. The BBQ was enjoyable because it was outside of the office, and the new atmosphere made everyone feel relaxed and more confident to ask questions, as it can be intimidating asking questions in quiet room where there are a lot of people.

A Career launchpad

From the Discover EY programme, the talent team asked me to put forward service lines and choice of programme, i.e. summer internship or industrial placement, which I would be interested in. I interviewed for an Industrial Placement within Strategy and Transactions and was successful. I completed my Industrial Placement from July 2019 to September 2020 in the sub-service line Turnaround and Restructuring Strategy, from where I got an offer to complete my Graduate Training Programme from September 2021. Therefore, the Discover EY programme has made a huge impact on my career and has provided me with many opportunities and so I would advise anyone to give it a go.

Real challenges and skills development

From hearing of different career paths of those who worked in EY, I was inspired to learn more about Strategy and Transactions and work to secure a position within the service line. I had never understood or was aware of the different services provided in Turnaround and Restructuring Strategy and was interested in the tasks they carried out. 

Some of the tasks within the Discover EY programme included a case study of a hypothetical company. Each group had to interview some senior members of staff acting as the company directors, which helped develop skills that would be relevant if ever meeting clients. Reflecting real life situations showed what would be expected if I ever would work closely with clients in a career and provided me with application of client interview skills.

Start in first year

I was in first year when I applied for the Discover EY programme, and took part in it in the summer after first year. If I had completed it the year after I would not have had the opportunity to complete my placement with EY and then would not have been able to secure a Graduate role. It is important that in first year you seek information about companies that appeal to you and where you feel you would fit in well as it could open many doors for you.

The insight programme developed my network and made me feel more confident in what career path interested me most. It provided me with extent knowledge of the financial services industry and allowed me to develop skills in client scenarios which I could transfer to future interviews and further on in my career. 

About Discover EY

Find out more about EY Belfast by taking part in our Discover EY Insight Programme. 

Over the course of two and a half days you can expect to take part in:

  • Sessions that will help you understand what we do, our service lines and our client work
  • Interactive skills sessions and case study work
  • Networking events with EY staff and recent graduate joiners
  • Take part in assessed activities
  • Opportunity to hear from panels of EY staff 

You’ll learn lots about what we do – and about yourself. We want to help you understand how you can apply your strengths to your ideal career. If you show enthusiasm, make a positive impact and demonstrate strengths we look for in our teams, there is the possibility you will be fast tracked to a final interview for your chosen placement or internship with us. 

Discover EY is a learning experience aimed at first- year university students and those in their second year of a four year course. We welcome applications from students across all degree disciplines. 

A two-step application process includes filling in a basic application form followed by online assessments- including a numerical test. 

Apply now.

Categories
Career Options Career planning Digital publications Graduate success prospects Publications Uncategorised

6 Paths to Take After Graduation

Contemplating the road less travelled: student blogger Maeve McDermott

‘What now?’ is a question many of us will be asking ourselves this summer following graduation. Three+ years of lectures, tutorials, assignments, deadlines and structure that a post-graduation world doesn’t offer. Whilst this can be daunting and the post-graduation fear is real, it’s important to remember that there is no one right next step – there are a multitude of routes you can take after you finish your degree, and Prospects Student Career Guide 2020/21 takes you through just some of the options available.

  1. Graduate scheme 

Perhaps the most conventional route, a graduate scheme job or ‘professional level’/’high skilled’ job is a structured scheme whereby employers target graduates’ skills and experience and are normally available to those achieving a 2:1 or above. These schemes are run by many leading UK employers across all industries and often last 1-2 years, with many graduates offered a permanent role following this initial period. It’s worth doing your research if you have a specific company in mind – look at their website and social media channels to familiarise yourself with their work culture and values. Recruitment processes and timelines for graduate schemes vary from company to company so be sure to be aware of these well in advance.

More on graduate schemes

 2. Work for a small business

If working for a large company in a graduate scheme isn’t for you, you may prefer working for a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). Roles in small businesses often offer you more responsibility and a wider variety of opportunities, as well as the opportunity to see first-hand how your work is making an impact on the company. These roles can offer greater opportunity to really develop your skillset, often making them a more appealing option for fresh graduates wishing to gain as much experience as possible. SME roles often aren’t widely advertised, and SMEs usually recruit via word-of-mouth recommendations/networking or through your university. 

3. Self-employment

If being your own boss is something you like the sound of, self-employment may be worth considering. A somewhat less conventional option, this route requires a great deal of drive and determination, but undoubtedly has its benefits. Currently, one seventh of workers are now self-employed, and include innovative business owners, using their own experience and skills to identify gaps in the market, and freelancers predominantly in professions such as writing, programming and graphic design. Whilst this route can be a more difficult one, with challenges such as unstable income and tax refunds, resources for self-employed people continue to grow, including British Association for Supported Employment and Centre for Entrepreneurship.

More on launching your own business

4.Work abroad 

Maybe you have your sights set on something further afield? Expanding your horizons overseas won’t just allow for adventure and fun – structured work experience abroad such as internships can be a great way to travel and improve your employability at the same time. This type of work experience is often organised by third-party organisations such as The British Council and Erasmus+. Additionally, many students opt for a gap year following their degree, and choose to gain international experience working in USA summer camps, summer jobs in Australia or adventure working holidays in New Zealand.

Find out more about work experience and gap year opportunities.

Discover Global Opportunities.

5. Volunteer for an international project

Another way to get meaningful experience abroad is through gaining experience by volunteering for an international project. Working with local people in foreign countries and making a meaningful difference to their lives is a truly unique opportunity allowing for personal development, and can also impress future employers, demonstrating a caring attitude and a strong work ethic. There are countless volunteering opportunities available – from wildlife conservation to teaching English.

Discover volunteering opportunities.

6. Postgraduate study 

If you feel that you’re not quite ready for the world of work just yet, postgraduate study might be a possibility. Relevant postgraduate study can set you aside from other graduates and accelerate your career progression, as many roles in fields such as law and clinical psychology require professional accreditation gained through postgraduate study. Perhaps you want to become an expert in your field and even become an academic? Moreover, conversion courses offer you the chance to pursue a career often completely different from what your undergrad may have prepared you for. These are intensive postgraduate qualifications that allow you to widen your range of skills, expand your professional network and increase your confidence in a subject and sector you previously may have known little about. 

Discover postgraduate study at Queen’s.

It’s important to remember everyone’s career path is different and the countless possibilities definitely make that post-graduation fear a little less intimidating. The options really are endless, and this time next year you could be flourishing in a Big 4 grad scheme in London, or volunteering at a wildlife conservation in South Africa. The best thing you can do is reflect on what is best for you, think about what you really want and consider all of your options. 

For more on your career options after graduate, visit our website.


Categories
Advent Calendar advice Applications Graduate success

Careers Advent Calendar: Job Application Tips

  1. Give yourself time. Some employers expect that you will spend around 6-8 hours completing their application form – including the time taken to research the company/industry. It’s better to do a few good quality applications than lots of poor quality applications, so choose wisely which companies you want to apply to.

2. If completing a personal statement, make sure you address each of the criteria in the personnel specification/job advert. If you haven’t received selection criteria, research the company to identify what they are likely to be looking for.

3. Online forms may time-out so read the questions first, then draft your answers, then copy and paste into the form. This also means you can spell and grammar check your answers.

4. Keep a note of the answers you submitted.

5. Try to include many points, described concisely, rather than one or two points expanded at length.

6. You don’t need to use the full word count, but writing too little means that you’ve probably missed some key points.

7. Use the STAR format when answering questions about competencies: Situation, Task, Action, Result. Employers usually provide details on their website of the competencies they are recruiting against.

For more job application tips, visit Target Jobs

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Four Employers Who Offer Surprisingly Varied Careers for Graduates from All Disciplines

Nobody likes to be pigeon-holed – it stunts professional growth and limits your options. And the same can be said of employers. Just because a company dominates in a particular field or industry doesn’t mean they are only recruiting one type of graduate from one distinct discipline.  In fact, some of the most successful and agile workplaces are committed to recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds to maximise creativity and diversify thought. Here are just four of them.

Chartered Accountants Ireland

‘We embrace diversity and creativity in the workplace – we want to see difference around the table’

“As a body we are keen to attract the brightest and the best but from all backgrounds which isn’t often known or appreciated and we find the employers we work with really welcome and endorse a mixed skillset and really welcome students coming from all degree discipline.

“As a Law graduate, to me, chartered accountancy was boring – it was going to be number-crunching accounting and it was a far cry from what I saw myself doing. I have to say my mind was completely blown. I often get asked will an employer not favour someone from a finance/accounting background and the answer is no. They don’t want to have everyone around their table with the exact same thought process and methodology. They really embrace diversity and creativity in the workplace and that really helps them excel, forcing them to innovate and disrupt the norm which is necessary in the modern workplace. Communication skills are key, which people mightn’t fully appreciate. The ability to make good decisions – to weigh up qualitative and quantitative data, to use critical thinking, to be a strategist and to influence others. So that emotional intelligence is absolutely core to becoming a good chartered accountant because ultimately that is a business leadership passport.”

Sinead Fox-Hamilton, Chartered Accountants Ireland 

PwC

‘It’s not just accountancy – there is a whole range of varied roles across the board’

“There’s lots of areas in PwC you can join as graduates – we don’t require a specific degree. As a Psychology graduate, it was never somewhere I’d considered because I just thought it was very corporate; that it’s all accountancy-based and it’s very professional and it’s maybe not for me. But actually, what I’ve found is that it totally is for me and it’s the right place for me to be. We are an accountancy firm, but there’s so much more than that – so we recruit graduates into consultancy, tax, deals, working with different clients, mergers, audit and of course accountancy so there’s a whole range of things you can do at PwC varied across the whole board.

Consultancy for example is very much working with clients and problem-solving and finding solutions for those clients. Someone might come to us looking to do a new business merger or something like that so our consultancy team would look into that for them and be their advisors.” 

Sarah Delaney,  PwC

NatWest Banking Group

‘I’ve been here 14 years and probably had about 6 different careers.’

“The reason I’ve stayed so long in the bank is that, whilst I’ve been here 14 years, I’ve probably had about 6 different careers in that time. I have done a variation of different roles including business-facing HR consultant type jobs, business partnering jobs…Right now, I’m the HR business partner for three different areas and they are group business areas. I look after three business areas – financial crime and control, fraud prevention and shared services. These are the back-office areas – basically the bits of the bank that keeps everything ticking along, but you wouldn’t necessarily see those parts of the bank because they’re not there on the high street in branches and such. My role looks after about 8000 people and they are spread across the globe – predominantly UK, Poland and India but also I have a scattering of people in the States, Singapore and Japan and other ones and twos over the globe as well. So, I have very much gone from being an Island of Ireland-focused role back when I joined the bank 14 years ago to a truly global role now.” 

Sandra Wright, NatWest Group

Belfast City Council

‘In the council, you don’t just work on one thing, you have to flexible and respond to different demands.’

“We have a community plan which is focal to everything that we do and it’s called the Belfast Agenda and it focuses on Belfast becoming a safe, fair and inclusive city where everyone benefits from the success of the city. We’re looking for analytical skills, problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, communication skills – especially if you’re going out into the communities and engaging with the citizens of Belfast. As well as good written and oral communication skills, because you’d be working with a range of different audiences – so maybe colleagues, managers and members of the public. Researching and benchmarking skills are really important to us, work planning, project management and partnership working. So, whilst you’re at university, try to get as much experience as you can around that. Demonstrate that you’re self-motivated and you’re a good team player, and that you’re flexible in your approach to work. In the council you don’t just get working in one thing, there’s different demands all the time from different people and you have to be flexible in managing that demand, as well as working to tight deadlines.” 

Alison Long, Belfast City Council

To access more inspiring advice from business leaders, catch up on our Employer Panel series by re-watching our past events here:

https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/careers/careers-events/pastevents/

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Applications CVs Employers Graduate recruitment Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair Graduate success graduate training schemes internship Interviews

Ask the employer: What sets a winning job applicant apart?

Many graduate recruiters see piles of CVs and interview hundreds of applicants to fill jobs and placement roles. So, what sets a good candidate apart? We cornered some of NI’s top recruiters at the Graduate Recruiter and Placement Fair last week to find out. Here is what they had to say…

Include skills developed through extracurricular activities

“It is important to appreciate that on paper, all graduates from the same degree programme look the same. However candidates who succinctly articulate how their skills and experience meet the essential and desirable criteria outlined on the Job Description will stand out, as this shows they have considered the requirements of the role and thought about how they will bring value to the organisation. I would encourage students to really think about what they have achieved outside of their academic qualification.  Reflection upon the skills developed through involvement in extracurricular activities such as clubs, societies, sports, volunteering and work experience, and setting this in the context of the competencies employers seek, will set your application apart from others.”

Kim McAllister, Talent Acquisition Manager, Almac Group

EDITOR’S NOTE: Queen’s Degree Plus programme provides an opportunity to articulate the skills you have built up through extracurricular activities to employers. Find out more at GO.QUB.AC.UK/DEGREEPLUS

Show that you are keen

“If we get the feeling that you are super keen and can’t wait to get started sometime that is worth even more than a high score in the technical test. “

Elisa Herbig. Talent Acquisition Specialist at AquaQ Analytics

Make sure your CV hits the mark

“Your CV doesn’t need to be elaborate or fancy. A lot of the time what really helps people is having something presentable that is easy to read. For the recruiter who is going to be reviewing it. Making sure the formatting is correct. Making sure there are no typos. Making sure the application is as easy to read as possible. Highlight any relevant experience for the role. Voluntary experience is good to include. Even if you have been working part-time show you have been doing something alongside your academic studies.” 

Adrian McCarthy is the manager of For Purpose

Relax in the interview

“Top interview tip – relax! We are just as nervous as you are. We want to sell you the job as much as you want to sell your skills to us. We want to make sure this is somewhere you want to work.” 

Joelene Ridgill , Purchasing Manager at Seacoya Group Ltd

Include work experience in your CV

“It sounds obvious but, in terms of a winning CV, good grades go a long way. It shows that the applicant knows how to put the work in to achieve their goals. It’s also very important to have some work experience or extracurricular activities since a candidate will have gained invaluable skills and experiences that they can bring into their new role. It also shows their adaptability and an appreciation for hard work. 

For an interview, it’s easy to say but just try to relax and be yourself. Your CV already shows many of your skills and this is a chance to show your personality. Remember that interviewers are just people, and someday it will be you in the interviewer’s seat!”

Sarah Fleming, Senior Manager, Muldoon & Co

Read assessment centre instructions

“At Liberty IT, we don’t ask for your CV when you apply. We only ask for your basic details such as what you’re studying and what year you’re in. If you meet the criteria you will then be invited to complete an online coding test through Codility and if you’re successful in that you get to attend our recruitment centres. 

The recruitment centre is broken up into four sections to make sure we get the best idea of your skills, experience and potential. To do well, make sure you read the advice we’ll send you, be yourself and try to enjoy the experience.”

Birgitta Swanberg, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Liberty IT

Tailor your CV for the role

Information within a CV needs to be clear and concise. No long paragraphs.  Ensure your skills and experience are easily identifiable throughout. Remember the recruiter looking at your CV doesn’t know you so highlight your relevant experience using the job description. To help you refine your CV to the role and make it stand out from the pile. Finally don’t forget to include personal achievements. Competing in team sports is a good indicator that you work well within a team and have competitive nature. 

Clodagh Mckeefry, Corporate Recruiter, MRP 

Show who you are as a person

I want to see what you do in your free time. An academic record is fantastic but I want to know about your volunteer experience, part time jobs, clubs you’re a part of, etc. It’s all about showing people that you are capable of doing more and pushing yourself.

Jared Kearney, Senior Campus Recruiter, Citi UK and Citi Irelan

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Employer Engagement Employer events Employers Graduate recruitment Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair Graduate success graduateland Leadership

Highlights from Day Two of the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair

Leaders in industry gave some valuable advice to students and graduates during some inspiring presentations and workshops. Here are some of the takeaways from Day Two.

Neil Chief Economist on Island of Ireland at EY gave the keynote speech. 

Here is what he had to say:

“The most important message for students is to remain positive and upbeat despite what you read. You can very easily feel daunted or intimidating. At a time of change or disruption, there are plenty of opportunities. If you think of it this way, when there is lots of problems, the world needs problem-solvers.”

“Keep your sense of positivity, observe and learn but don’t be intimidated as if that will close down opportunities.”

“The world is always changing. The idea you can map out a career ten or 15 years is not true, you have to keep flexibility in your mind and approach.”

“The place you thought you would get a job, that may not be the case. Think what you enjoy and what you like doing. Think what competencies or skills you have. Be less predetermined in what those opportunities might be.”

“Be open mind and absorb what you can. Recruitment is a two-way thing. It’s not just what you have to do to get an opportunity, it’s asking yourself, can be at my best in that organisation?.”

Lessons from Leaders

Mark McCormack, Head of Technology at Aflac 

“Problem-solving is one of the most important skills you can develop for any career. It’s what separates us from the computers; that and empathy – and the craic.”

“I might work with computers but it’s the people that make the work interesting and fun.”

“You learn that the things that make you successful in one part of your career are not necessarily the things that make you successful later on. You have to learn and adapt. If you are not learning, then you are probably not enjoying yourself.”

“We look for three things: adaptability, resilience and reinvention.”

“Stay flexible, keep learning and find some good people to work with and you can’t go wrong.”

Lessons from Leaders

Mark Dougan, Director, Prince’s Trust NI

“Courageous leaders are stepping up every single day in NI: teachers, nurses, youth workers, business professionals and young people like yourselves… you are quite literally being made into a leader as a result of this crisis.”

“Lead with courage with a small l.”

“The only thing certain is uncertainty. We have to learn to co-exist with uncertainty.”

“You are courageous leaders in the making and at this moment you need to intentionally decide to get in the game.”

“Yes, it’s challenging and you will make mistakes but the more you do, the more rewarding it becomes as you develop your skills as an effective leader.”

“Everyone is struggling with different challenges and none of those challenges outrank others. Think intentionally how you enable others to lead with courage; set them goals and give them clarity that they need to be courageous leaders in their own right and they will bring their best selves to work every day.”

“Be curious. Ask questions, lots of questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question.” 

Missed a presentation or workshop?

You can re-watch on our past events page here:

https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/careers/careers-events/pastevents/

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Employer events Employers Graduate recruitment Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair Graduate success graduateland postgraduate

The Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair in pictures

Some highlights from our recent virtual fair. Don’t forget you can re-watch the presentations and workshops on our events page.