Does the idea of reaching out to strangers and making connections make you nervous? Well, fear not! Networking is not as scary as it sounds, especially when you’re a student at Queen’s University Belfast. In fact, it can be an exciting and rewarding experience that can shape your future in more ways than you can imagine. Building a strong support network during your time at university is essential, and here are ten different ways you can do it:
Join clubs and societies related to your interests or academic field: Queen’s offers a wide range of clubs and societies catering to various interests and academic disciplines. By joining these groups, you’ll not only meet like-minded individuals but also have the opportunity to connect with individuals who share your passion. Whether you’re into sports, arts, or academics, there’s a club or society for you.
2. Attend networking events and career fairs on campus: Universities often host networking events and career fairs where you can interact with professionals from different industries. These events are an excellent opportunity to expand your professional circle, gain insights into potential career paths, and even secure internships or job opportunities. Don’t miss out on these valuable occasions!
3. Participate in student government or leadership positions: Getting involved in student government or taking up leadership positions within student organizations is a fantastic way to network. These roles provide you with the chance to work closely with faculty members, administrators, and other student leaders. Not only will you enhance your leadership skills, but you’ll also forge connections that can help you throughout your academic and professional journey.
4. Engage in community service or volunteer work: Volunteering is a win-win situation. By giving back to the community, you not only make a positive impact but also open doors for networking. Many organizations and charities actively seek volunteers, and through these experiences, you can meet individuals who share your commitment to making a difference. Plus, volunteering looks great on your resume!
5. Form study groups with classmates to share knowledge and support each other: Studying can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. Forming study groups with your classmates not only allows you to share knowledge and resources but also fosters a support system. These study groups can turn into lifelong friendships and professional connections, as you’ll be navigating your academic journey together.
6. Utilise online platforms and social media to connect with like-minded individuals: In this digital age, networking has become more accessible than ever. Leverage online platforms and social media to connect with individuals who share your interests or career aspirations. Join relevant groups, participate in discussions, and engage with professionals in your desired field. Platforms like LinkedIn can be particularly helpful in building your professional network.
7. Seek out mentors from faculty members or professionals in your desired field: Mentors can play a crucial role in your personal and professional development. Don’t hesitate to approach faculty members or professionals in your desired field to seek guidance and mentorship. These individuals have valuable insights and experiences to share, and their support can be invaluable as you navigate your academic and career choices.
8. Attend seminars, workshops, and guest lectures to expand your knowledge and meet new people: Queen’s often host a range of seminars, workshops, and guest lectures featuring experts in various fields. These events not only provide opportunities to expand your knowledge but also allow you to meet new people who share your interests. Engaging in conversations with speakers and fellow attendees can help you build connections and gain new perspectives.
9. Join professional associations or student chapters of industry-related organisations: Professional associations and student chapters of industry-related organisations are excellent resources for networking. These groups often host events, conferences, and workshops specifically tailored to your field of interest. By becoming a member, you’ll gain access to a network of professionals and fellow students who can offer guidance, mentorship, and potential career opportunities.
10. Attend alumni events and connect with graduates who can offer advice and support: Alumni events provide a unique opportunity to connect with graduates who have already ventured into the professional world. These individuals have firsthand experience and can offer valuable advice and support. Attending alumni events and engaging with alumni networks can open doors to internships, job opportunities, and valuable connections.
Remember, networking is not about approaching people with an agenda or solely for personal gain. It’s about building genuine relationships, sharing knowledge, and supporting each other. The connections you make during your time at Queen’s can have a lasting impact on your personal and professional life. So, don’t let the word “networking” intimidate you. Embrace the opportunities available to you, step out of your comfort zone, and watch your support network flourish!
Conor Houston, Queen’s Law graduate is Director of Houston Solutions Limited, and Chairman of several organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses Northern Ireland, One Young World 2023 Belfast, and of Fleming Fulton School. He is also the Governor and Trustee of the Irish Times Media Group.
What does Queen’s mean to you?
I’m often reminded of Seamus Heaney, his famous line when he talked about the original centre. I think, as I reflected, I’m making this video today, Queen’s University very much is for me, my original centre. It’s where I formed my passion for Law, which was the career I practised in for most 10 years. But it also gave me a number of skills, perspectives and opportunities that continue to this day, and I’m very proud that I have for almost 20 years, I’ve had an association with Queen’s University.
What was your Queen’s experience like?
I graduated in 2004, with my Law degree. I had a fantastic three years at Queen’s, made a lot of friends who are still very much friends today, and I suppose it ignited my passion and interest in in law and the rule of law. I was very fortunate through my times at Queen’s to be involved in a number of summits and conferences, but also to go and study at the European Public Law Group Academy in Greece, in 2004, which was a really fantastic opportunity. It was my first time, I suppose, with young people from right across Europe studying together, all the different languages, cultures coming together and united by European Union law.
That was a very formative and special time. And in fact, a number of the things that I’m continued to be involved in, tend to have that international perspective and lens. After I had completed my Law degree, I went on to study for my Master’s in Human Rights law, and was very fortunate that there was an opportunity to do a cross border element. So I did the first half of my Master’s in Queens, and the second half of my masters at the National University of Ireland in Galway. And again, that was a very special time and experience and a number of the friendships and relationships I enjoy to this day were because of that cross-border experience.
What was your first graduate role?
I graduated from Queen’s with my Master’s and I then went back to Queen’s to study at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, where I was finally admitted as a solicitor in 2008. I was lucky that I had a firm that I did my apprenticeship with John J. Rice and Company in Belfast, which was a criminal and human rights firm.I worked there for almost 10 years and was fortunate to be involved in many of the pioneering human rights cases of that time. I was dual qualified in that I was qualified both in Northern Ireland and also in the Republic of Ireland. So I practised a lot in Belfast and Dublin. And during my time in practice, I was very involved in the profession. Firstly, through the Young Lawyers Association, the Northern Ireland Young Solicitors Association, which I ended up becoming Chair of, and we had some fantastic conferences and events and a lot of fun with that group. I was then the first lawyer for Northern Ireland to be appointed to the board of the European Young Bar Association, which our relationship continues to this day. And 2010, we actually brought the European Young Bar Association conference to Belfast, so it was fantastic to bring all these international lawyers to our city.
What has been a career highlight?
I suppose a combination of all those roles, as well as being so very fortunate to be representing some leading human rights cases represent journalists, politicians, and many others. I suppose I became very interested in how law can affect change, I was very passionate about making a difference. And that’s what attracted me into law, the power of law to create change in a society.
I was very fortunate that the cases I got to work on, were very much about driving that change. But I suppose I became interested in how could I do even more so in 2014, I was awarded a scholarship by the United States State Department. And I spent a few months, I took a sabbatical and took a few months out to Boston College and then into Washington, and on their rule of law programme, which really started to develop my thinking more around the skills and experiences and perspective I had, and what I could do.
Whilst my mission was very much about helping people and making a difference, trying to refine what I could do with that, I became very interested then around maybe getting involved around politics and trying to create change to help complete our peace process, and to, I suppose, realise the enormous ambition and potential of Northern Ireland.
What are some of your favourite work-related projects?
I was very honoured to be appointed as the programme director at the Centre for Democracy and Peacebuilding. And I worked there for a number of years and worked on some fantastic projects around working with, for example, community organisations, youth groups, loyalists bands. And it was a great privilege to be involved in their work in trying to help to complete the peace process and build capacity within both civic and political society.
One of the amazing projects I got to work on with them was the EU debate programme, which was set up about nine months before the EU referendum. And the idea was to create a space for informed thinking and debate in Northern Ireland, on the issues that the Brexit referendum would have, particularly as it pertains to Northern Ireland.
I was involved with the board in rolling out a very ambitious programme where we engaged with community groups, youth organisations, religious organisations, every political party in Northern Ireland. And we really began a conversation, we weren’t trying to determine the outcome of the debate, we were trying to make sure that there was a debate. So we were neutral in that we weren’t trying to tell people to leave or remain, we were just trying to present all of the arguments and create that space. And that was a very humbling experience.
Queen’s University Belfast were very involved in supporting that project. In fact, we launched a new debate in the Great Hall in Queen’s and academics from the School of Politics, including Professor David Phinnemore were involved in writing a briefing paper for us. So it was very important to us that it would be underpinned by that credible academic expertise, but also the have that support of the reputation of Queen’s.
Why did you set up your own business?
I decided to set up my own consultancy, and I suppose what brings together a number of the clients and projects that I work on, is that one thing to realise the ambition of Northern Ireland. So I work with a number of leaders, all of whom may be coming from very different backgrounds and sectors, but all of whom are very passionate about realising the enormous potential of Northern Ireland, and trying to drive change here.
I suppose that’s what unites the number of projects that I’m privileged to work on now. And as I mentioned, I’m government trustee of the Irish Times Media Group. So the Irish Times is owned by a trust, and there are eight of us appointed to effectively act as the shareholders of the group. So we’re there to sort of look at the long term vision and that’s been particularly interesting, interesting in an age of post truth and thinking about the lines around freedom of speech, etc. So, and a lot of that, of course, goes back to the learnings that I had when I studied both my Law and Master’s degree around the issue of proportionality and competing rights.
What is One Young World?
I’ve been involved in leading a bid to bring One Young World to Belfast in 2023. So in 2017, I was asked to address the one Young World Youth summit in Bogota, Colombia. One Young World is the world’s largest youth summit. It brings over 3000 young people from every country in the world, to a city each year. And it’s one of the only organisations aside from the Olympics that actually gets every country in the world involved.
And this is about identifying the future leaders, both within business but also within NGO sector, just young people that are passionately driving change right across the world. So I was very fortunate to be invited to address this summit in Bogota, Colombia in 2017, and was introduced on stage by the then president of Colombia, President Santos and the late Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations. Both of those men spoke about the impact that Northern Ireland had on their journeys to peace, and this was a very humbling moment for me.
When I addressed the summit, I realised the power of our generation and the generation watching this video, to effect real change, not just within the place we will call home, but also in terms of making an impact in the world. So I then began the process of building a team to put together a bid to bring One Young World to Belfast in 2023, and we were successful in that.
How has your degree from Queen’s helped you?
Queen’s is that passport, not just for your career, but to accessing opportunities, and a fantastic network right around the world. So, you know, I’m extremely proud of the many hats and roles and things I’ve been involved in being a graduate of Queen’s University is really up there, and I look forward to continuing that role with Queen’s.
What challenges have you faced?
When I was a lawyer, and some of the projects I work on, particularly some of the Civic roles that I have, I think one of the challenges your generation is going to face is how we engage with the people we disagree with. So one of the challenges is always when you have very passionate about change, or seeing something happen, and you encountered the resistance to that.
I think that one of the big challenges that I challenge myself every day, I think that we have to all turn on is what can we do to engage with the people that we disagree with, how we, I’ve often said we don’t have to agree but being disagreeable is a choice. So we need to find more places and spaces in which we can find that ability to respectfully engage with each other and actually see that compromise is an art, it’s not a sellout.
I think this is something that I encourage your generation to really challenge I think that the future will belong to those who can build relationships that can be constructive that can respectfully disagree with each other, but can see the common good can work together for the common good, can see the bigger picture that is the challenge of your generation.
What gets your out of bed in the morning?
I don’t feel that there’s an average week. For me, I think that’s probably what I love most about my, my work. In fact, I don’t even feel like I have a job because I’m very fortunate that everything I do, whether it be in my business life or my civic life, they are projects and issues that I’m very passionate about. So I jump out of bed in the morning, passionate about making the change in the area that day, whether it be through being on the border shadows and LGBT youth organisation, whether that be in promoting the role of small businesses through the five and a half 1000 members, and I have the privilege of being Chair of the FSB, and speaking up on their behalf, whatever I can do to to advocate change, to advance those who are trying to make a real impact.
That’s what sparks me on in the morning.
What advice do you have for graduates?
I think that’s one of the most exciting things about this generation, the graduates of today is that you really do have a blank canvas to create the kind of life and career that you want for yourself. And Queen’s University, as I say, is the ideal place to give you that toolkit for you to be able to do that.
It’s for me, it’s that life journey, it’s not just about getting that degree wasn’t really that important that you do, and it’s about the relationships that you build, the skills that you have, and they will sustain you for the not just years but decades ahead. And you know, as I said, it’s 20 years this September since I started Queen’s, and I’m reminded of something my late grandfather said to me, he said 20 years is a long time looking forward, but nothing looking back.
And for the first time, I can tell you, it doesn’t feel like two decades ago I entered Queen’s University, but those two decades, I’ve had that original centre of Queens, which has, as I say, been a constant thread throughout my career both here in Northern Ireland and through the international experiences and opportunities I’ve had.
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.
Throughout the academic year, the Careers service at Queen’s host employer events, fairs and industry insight opportunities. These are a great networking opportunity and offer the chance to ask questions of some key players in your target industry.
However, often the word ‘networking’ can fill you with dread. Don’t fret – it’s something you do every day. “Networking is something we do everyday, often without realising it!,” says Emma Lennox, Queen’s Careers Consultant. “It’s about reaching out to people, sometimes with an objective in mind (potentially employment-related) and sometimes not.
It’s about connecting online and in person. If online, be professional, join groups and post meaningful comments, expand your network and be curious!” she says.
Before the sessions
Emma suggests doing a bit of desktop research before attending an employer event so you know who is going and what you might want to ask. While the guest speakers will be doing much of the talking, it doesn’t hurt to have a short bio prepared in case you are asked. According to Emma, this should answer three key questions: Who are you?
What do you do/study? What are you looking for?
At the sessions
Emma has prepared the following cheat sheet of questions you can ask employers at networking events:
How did you start in this area of work?
Where do you see a person like me fitting into this field (industry, company)?
What professional associations should I join?
What professional publications should I read?
What are some of the problems and issues your organisation faces?
What are the most necessary skills for these types of jobs?
What are the trends affecting your business?
What’s a typical career path for someone coming in at my level?
Can I keep in touch with you and let you know my progress?
The theme for the Work Experience and Placement Fair on 24 February is #ExperienceMore and we are giving you the opportunity to do just that with four amazing employer panels taking place in the run up to the fair. Designed to give you access to networking opportunities and to provide valuable introductions to key figures in your target industries, here is the who, what, where and when you need.
Want a career with international travel?
Join our expert panel to talk about their international career paths, their road to success and valuable lessons learned along the way. Hear from Michael Barton, Invest NI Regional Director for Canada, and Exchanges4Peace Jessica McClearn on working in NYC.
Whether you want a career in environmental conservation, heritage organisations, archives, museums or galleries, our expert panel will feature Louise Smyth from NI Museums and Kim McMonagle from the National Trust. They’ll be talking about the skills and experience you need to move into the sector.
Want to work in the Public or Not for Profit Sector?
Perhaps you want to work for a charity or an NGO, or forge a career as a public servant. Our panel features representatives from The Probation Board for Northern Ireland and the Community Foundation who’ll be discussing their own path to success and how you can move into the sector.
From arts & culture, music, publishing and film industries, you’ll need a portfolio. Join our panellists and find out what skills and work experience are needed to build your body of evidence successfully to move into the sector. Featuring employers from ALT Animation, Hypixel Studios, film production company Retinize and writer and director Rebekah Davis, this session will be packed with top tips on breaking into the creative sector.
Date: 24 February, 2.30-3.30pm
PLEASE NOTE: THIS SESSION WILL BE SCREENED WITHIN THE WORK EXPERIENCE AND PLACEMENT FAIR ON 24 FEB. ONCE INSIDE THE FAIR, LOCATE THE CREATIVE CAREERS STALL.
LinkedIn is like marmite. Some people love it. Some people loathe it. I confess to being nearer to the second category myself. But here’s the catch – it is a useful and influential platform for kickstarting your career.
Why? 3 reasons…
Networking – LinkedIn isn’t like other social media platforms. It has a career focused USP, meaning you can cultivate a specific professional network. You can follow what other people in your industry are talking about, share opportunities and ideas and, yes, even steal a few too!
Career Path – One of LinkedIn most notable features is that users upload their career and educational history to their profile. This means you can check out what career path your professional role models took when you’re planning your own professional journey
Jobs – LinkedIn is no silver bullet to your unemployment woes. But it does boast an impressive jobs feature, allowing you keep track of who’s hiring in your area, what skills and experience they’re looking for and more details on how you might apply.
Convinced yet? Well, let’s pretend you are.
So how can you make the most of your new LinkedIn account? Here 10 short, sharp, tip-top tips:
Profile Picture – Something vaguely professional please, no snaps from ‘Malouf 2k18 Lads Holiday’
Background Picture – Always more tricky I know, but popping in something, even just your top landscape shot, adds some personalization to your profile.
Make Your Summary Sing – This is your first chance to show off, so pretend it’s a job interview and sell your unique story!
Specific Skills – Don’t sell yourself short. Have a think about what you can offer to an employer, and try not to lie!
Job History – Take a few minutes and do this right. Make sure you get your employment and educational history correct, you’d be surprised how many people will see it.
Describe Your Work – Job titles aren’t enough, tell us what you did in the role.
Network Building – Be careful here, you don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry spamming your timeline. Remember LinkedIn is career focused, so only connect with folks who are professionally relevant. Colleagues, role models and career influencers? Perfect! That Ex you never got over? Avoid!
Endorsements – Not one of my favourite features but useful nonetheless. Give your connections some endorsements for their skills and, who knows, they might return the favour!
Contact Information – The internet is a weird place, so don’t overshare, but a professional email address allows those interested in your work to drop you a line.
Kill The Buzzwords – I know it’s tempting to fill your profile with all the latest, and still meaningless, industry jargon. But it makes for painful reading so cut the ‘synergies’, ‘passionate’ and ‘results-driven’ lines. When it comes to who you are – show, don’t tell!
Now you’re all set!
One thing’s for sure, LinkedIn isn’t as fun as other social media platforms. So, don’t forget about it as the notifications pile up. LinkedIn is a platform that’s on the rise, make sure you make the most of its ascendency.
Student blogger Dara O’Donnell from our MEDIA programme shares her pre-graduation career game-plan, including leveraging the power of LinkedIn to make vital contacts.
As a final year Film Studies and Production student here at Queens, it has been a whirlwind to say the least and not how I expected to be partaking in my last year at university. For the most part, the switch to online learning was daunting and difficult to get to grips with, being in a practical field that relies on hands-on work and lots of group collaboration. Nevertheless, we adapted quickly and moved on. Personally, I look forward to the exciting times ahead, albeit uncertain, that is to come of final semester and graduation of 2021.
Facing the world of work
Before the pandemic, being a nearing graduate was just as nerve wracking an experience as it seems to me now. With levels of unemployment rising and general anticipation in the air about our future, it is easy to get lost in it. However, it is not all despair, there have been lots of promising opportunities presenting themselves for graduates, surrounding this new world of remote work, affording the chance for people to gain experiences of remote internships for global companies, without having to say those emotional goodbyes to friends and family.
Deciding my path
Like most graduates, I am not 100% clear on what path I want to take for my future career. What I do know is that it belongs somewhere within the creative industry. Therefore, in realising this and approaching the new year, I am taking it step by step to apply myself and achieve some goals before I graduate, setting myself up for the best possible future.
Some of these goals include; creating an engaging LinkedIn profile that will showcase my personality and ultimately attract potential employers and building a solid creative portfolio to advertise my creative skills. When restrictions lift, I am excited to get out there and film more projects and overall work to improve my creative ability, expanding skills and networking with other like-minded people in the field.
Even in these daunting times, I am optimistic and anxiously looking forward to the future and the wide and many possibilities that are presented after graduation.
FORGET PALM PRESSING AND SWAPPING BUSINESS CARDS, NETWORKING IN THE REMOTE WORKING ERA IS AS EASY AS ONE, TWO, TWEET
As a university student, you’ve probably been advised to start building your professional network while you are still at university – but what does that mean and where do you start?
Sandra Scannell Head of the Employer Engagement Team at Queen’s explains: “A great degree can get you far, but the network and connections you build at university can help you get there faster. While the old adage ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is not entirely accurate – a brilliant academic qualification makes you more likely to get a job than a non-graduate (89 per cent compared to 72 per cent, according to the Department for Education) – networking remains an essential part of the graduate job hunt. According to recent statistics from LinkedIn, as much 85 per cent of jobs are filled via networking. No matter what way you cut it, it’s important to know people.”
Networking without the stress
Traditionally, networking on campus might have meant completing a circuit of the Whitla Hall at the annual Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair, collecting handshakes, business cards and solid job leads. All very well if you are the confident type; slightly awkward and stressful if you are not. This year, however, the event is being hosted virtually – levelly the playing field.
“The virtual platform dispenses with a lot of the embarrassment and stress that comes as part of a traditional networking environment– especially if you are more introverted or less confident,” says Sandra. “You can ask questions directly to recruiters and companies via live chat instead of navigating the throngs to speak to a busy recruiter, who is already being bombarded with questions. You can hone your ‘elevator pitch’ into a succinct 100-word introduction on an online profile, giving you a stronger chance to get noticed. A few simple clicks and you can add you CV and the URL to your LinkedIn profile. Names and key details are displayed on screen – meaning awkward introductions are also dispensed off.”
As easy as Instagram
The good news is, if you’ve ever used Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you know how to network online. “The Instagram generation are more than capable of flexing to new ways of working and are very comfortable networking in the digital realm,” says Sandra. “Facebook was launched in 2004, meaning students enrolling in 2022 will be the first generation of university students for who social networking has always existed. You have the tools to build an online brand: whether its chronicling your life on your Instagram grid or presenting a professional profile picture, you are more than ready to network from your laptop.”
The golden rules
While modern day networking is as easy as clicking a button, some golden rules still apply, of course. “Preparation is key,” says Sandra. “Doing your research on a company and making sure your CV is tailored to the job you want, for starters. Our Careers Consultants are still on-hand to walk you through the recruitment and application process. But, rest assured, you already have a lot of digital tools in your armour – and you know how to use them.”
She adds: “Professional networking sites like LinkedIn allow you to sell your personal brand with key words and phrases relating to your target industry, well-written profiles and a strong professional headline. You can join LinkedIn professional groups, participate in conversations and pick up industry intel. Twitter allows graduate jobseekers and recruiters to connect through hashtags like #hiring #recruiting and #gradjobs. You can follow potential employers, Tweet organisations and ask about graduate opportunities… The online networking opportunities for students are endless.”
Whether you’re trying to build your personal brand or enhancing your profile for your job search, LinkedIn is a powerful tool.
The first step in building a LinkedIn Profile that will blow recruiters away is to know what industry and types of roles you are interested in. This will help you decide which of your skills to highlight more prominently and which keywords to use. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, it’s time to get to work on the specifics.
First Impressions count!
First and foremost – your name. You should only use your full name on LinkedIn, you don’t need to add any degree qualifications, nick names, initials, etc to your public name. You’ll also need to upload a profile photo – this is your opportunity to show how you present yourself! Make sure the photo looks professional, dress smartly and have a plain background.
The headline you choose here should be relevant to you – and get creative! This is the first thing people will read about you, so make it count. Your headline should be short, snappy and clear. Don’t forget you can also customise your URL!
Highlight your unique skills in the ‘About’ section
Imagine you’re in an interview and you’re asked, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ Your ‘About’ section on LinkedIn should sum up this answer. Take some time to expand on what makes you unique, highlight key achievements and portray who you are and your values. This is your opportunity to highlight your personal brand!
Be sure to keep in mind that this is a summary of your accomplishments, make sure it’s not too long. You want someone to be able to read it quickly and get a feel for who you are; if your summary drags on, readers may skip over important information!
Your profile is your profile, so it makes the most sense to write your summary and details in first person.
Your Experience and Education
If you’re looking for your first professional job, don’t panic about the experience section. Focus your efforts on the Education section – list the modules you took that are relevant to the job role you’re after. Were you a part of any clubs or societies? Note those down!
If you have had work experience, summarise the company you worked for and your role. Don’t include anything sensitive or confidential, like the names of clients you may have worked with. Highlight your key contributions to the role and the skills you use.
Don’t make this section a copy of your CV, use this as an opportunity to expand!
Your unique skillset
LinkedIn is the perfect platform to list out all of your key skills. Take the time to select at least 10 core skills to add to your profile. This will help recruiters to identify what talents you have, and help you to find jobs that align to your background. If you spend some time endorsing your colleagues, it will also help boost your profile if they endorse you back!
Whether you’re looking for your first job or just boosting your online brand, investing some time in your LinkedIn profile is never a bad idea. At First Derivative, we’re excited for you to be taking that next step! Are you ready to join the #FDFamily? Take a look at our current vacancies here.
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.