Are you a recent graduate with a big idea that you want to make happen? To encourage and support innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise, we’ve collated a list of useful resources for budding entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland.
Advantage work with students, young graduates and young business owners providing a creative, innovative, cost-effective resources. The Business Planner tool is a useful resource for young people who want to start their own business.
Through this government portal, you can access heaps of useful information covering everything from writing a business plan to applying for a loan and registering your business.
Invest NI is the regional business development agenc. They help new and existing businesses to grow with financial support, advice and guidance.
NI Business Info
A free service offered by Invest NI, NI Business Info has essential information, support and services for start ups. Access guidance on regulations, funding options and more.
Propel offers you workshops, tutorials, networking opportunities, mentoring, financial support and access to investment to help you turn your business idea into a world class company.
Shell Livewire supports young entrepreneurs with sustainable business ideas that address the UK’s future transport, energy, natural resource or urban development needs.
Over 300 million people around the world use LinkedIn to maintain their professional network. There are other professional social networking sites which are popular in certain countries or for certain industries, but LinkedIn is currently the largest and most diverse. They have created some useful videos and help guides for students.
Think of your profile as your online CV. Remember that people are likely to skim-read it so focus on key strengths and experiences rather than listing everything you’ve done and all your duties and responsibilities.
Understand how to use privacy settings on your other social media accounts. When people search for you online, you want to be able to control what they find.
Join and contribute to LinkedIn groups. There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn. Make sure you pick relevant ones that you can be active within. There are lots of groups for students studying specific subjects as well as for professionals.
Research information about companies and look for the profiles of people with whom you may be interested in making contact. LinkedIn’s alumni tool (Topic 5 on the LinkedIn for students website is a good way to find out what graduates from your course are now doing.
Start to build your network by sending connection requests to relevant people. Alexandra Levit’s article “4 Steps for Effective Online Networking” and Alyssa Walker’s article “How to Build a Professional Network Online” have some tips for how to do this effectively. Most people will ignore the standard request sent by LinkedIn “I would like to add you to my professional network” unless they know who it’s from, so make sure you tailor each connection request. You’re also more likely to get a positive response from people you have met.
You might already have heard of DegreePlus, Queen’s employability and skills award that recognises extra-curricular activities. It looks great on your CV, but why?
Well, it shows employers that you have learned much more at university than just what was taught on your degree.
The below 12 DegreePlus Skills show recruiters you have the potential to transform organisations and add value early in your career.
What employers want: Cognitive/intellectual skills
What DegreePlus can equip you with:
Problem solving skills. The ability to analyse issues, identify barriers and offer/implement potential solutions. This may involve prioritising tasks, coping with complexity, setting achievable goals and taking action. It may also involve innovation at relevant points.
Applying subject knowledge and understanding: potentially from the degree pathway.
What employers want: Professional attributes/attitudes
What DegreePlus can equip you with:
3. Communication skills: the ability to communicate effectively in a range of professional contexts (both orally and in writing).
4. Teamwork: the ability to work with others in a team, to communicate, influence, negotiate, demonstrating adaptability/flexibility, creativity, initiative, leadership and decision-making.
5. Interpersonal skills: includes ability to engage with and motivate others, sensitivity, global and cultural awareness, moral and ethical awareness and the ability to adjust behaviour accordingly.
6. Leadership skills: leading other individuals or groups through a set of complex decisions as part of goal achievement within projects or significant and challenging activities.
What employers want: Technical skills
What DegreePlus can equip you with:
7. The ability to utilise modern technology: associated with work place or work-related activity.
8. Information technology skills: includes ability to learn, apply and exploit relevant IT programmes.
What employers want: Business and organisational skills
What DegreePlus can equip you with:
9. Business operational skills/ Commercial awareness: understanding of relevant commercial, marketing, management and/or financial processes/principles. Awareness of differences in organisational cultures and practices.
10. Business communication skills: Written, verbal and/or online.
What employers want: Language Skills and Cultural Awareness
What DegreePlus can equip you with:
11. Proficiency in foreign languages: developed through courses or overseas experiences.
12. Cultural awareness/intelligence: and the ability to implement this in a variety of multicultural contexts.
Our alumni session at GradFest2020 gathered together four successful graduates who told Rachael Corridan about the career lessons they’ve learned since leaving Queen’s. Here is what they had to say.
“Every rejection is a learning experience”
Niall McLaughlin, kdb+ developer, AquaQ Analytics
“I studied Chemistry at Queen’s and obtained valuable skills such as analytical skills, great communication skills, problem solving and adapting to new challenges. After graduation, I spent some time working as a chef, this was extremely beneficial as it’s placed me in a high pressure environment where time, teamwork, efficiency and multitasking were all critical to the day to day tasks. These experiences have helped me grow as a person and I now feel fully equipped to handle anything life throws at me.
“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; you will get there. I had a non-traditional route to a grad job, which taught me a lot of transferable skills. Take every rejection as a learning experience and learn to be the best version of yourself.”
“Develop your soft skills until you find the right job”
Jack McCloskey, Seagate
“I graduated Mechanical Engineering in 2019. On the back of my placement, I did an employer project with Seagate. After graduation, I developed soft skills through part-time jobs, volunteering, interview skills and travelling until a graduate job eventually came up. There are good and bad points about working in your placement company. You are familiar with the working environment, but you are straight in the deep in working with senior management.”
“Working as part of a team is so important”
Zachery Jordan, First Deriviatives
“Make the most of the transferable skills you have gained from part-time jobs; it’s so important to work as part of a team and be coherent in the ideas you are putting across.”
“Explore your options; squeeze every opportunity”
Michael Kelly, IBM London
“There will never be a graduating class like this one, but the world will not pass you by. Explore your opportunities. I missed the big four application deadlines as I was studying abroad, so I got a job in recruitment with a high basic salary, but it wasn’t the career for me. It served as a launchpad to where I am now. Squeeze as much out of any opportunity.”
“You don’t just graduate and get picked up by an employer, you have to be proactive; I opened myself to more graduate opportunities by looking in London. Take time to explore your options and find something you love. Throw yourself into everything you are asked to do in the workplace, even if a project doesn’t feel exciting, look at what you can learn from it.”
During our live online session, employers from Almac, TLT, Deloitte and Citi as well as our very own Claudine Sutherland, discussed the skills that recruiters are looking for now more than ever. Here is what they’ll be assessing you on:
“A customer focus, a strive to exceed expectations, a high standard of work, the ability to follow standard procedures of good manufacturing practice (GMP) and to lead by example – what I mean by that is to be a positive role model amongst your peers.” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“Communication is a key skill employers look for and the foundation on which you build other skills. Think about the most appropriate way to communicate, smile, feel the fear and embrace it, be honest.” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“It’s important that you foster teamwork with colleagues; get to know them. Pick up the phone, use Skype or Teams, instead of an email. These are skills I know Queen’s graduates already have from using Canvas, the university’s online learning platform, and from communicating upwards to lecturers” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“Use the job-specific knowledge you already have, either from work experience of from hobbies or sports and apply it to the work force. Show you can be a critical thinker with good problem-solving skills.” – Frances Weldon, Almac
“Brush up on industry jargon, understand what the job entails. Organisation is pivotal, take notes, devise training matrixes with mentors, learn from mistakes, build a network and contacts and work on your Microsoft Office skills. – Keith Barkley, Citi
“When it comes to progressing in big organisations, hard work is key” – Keith Barkley, Citi
“Attitude and motivation is 70% of it, being willing to learn and adapt is vital; Covid-19 is a prime example. If you have the right attitude, we can work with you to fill the experience gap. Self-awareness and knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important. Play to your strengths, you can’t do everything. In a team, acceptance and tolerance is key.” – Stephen McMaster, Deloitte
“Flexibility is important. Graduates often think they need to stick to one clear career path. We like to see people who have done something different and got a broad range of experience. Be flexible. Look for opportunities wherever they come up.”” Andrew Ryan, TLT LLP
“We employ people with a knowledge of the commercial world; that’s not just about reading the Financial Times, it’s about having an opinion on those matters. One of the top things we look for is a commercial awareness and client focus, so understand the business you are in and what you can bring to clients.” Andrew Ryan, TLT LLP
“Take ownership, be self- aware, know your limitations – employers will provide mentorship and will support your transition to the workplace. Think of your wellbeing, when it comes from self-awareness, it’s about recognising when you need support and take that support when its offered.” – Frances Weldon
“If you are in a role that genuinely interests you, you will perform better, learn faster and progress more quicker, so play to your strengths. Integrity is a massive factor, being honest in your work. If there are challenges, knowing about it is important so we can fix it. Lastly, supporting your colleagues in the firm. We are all working to the same objectives, play to your strengths and help others where they need help. – Stephen McMaster, Deloitte
We assess recruiters by our six leadership standards, the three main ones being 1. Drives value for clients – that comes back to how everyone pulls together as a team; 2. Champions progress – embracing change, and lastly, 3. Lives our values – treat people with dignity and respect – Keith Barkley, Citi
Missed this session? Join our live employer Q&A June 18th at 11.30 am Gradfest2020
Employers from EY and Pinsent Masons and our own Mary McLaughlin offered top tips to nail that online interview or assessment centre.
Tech can be glitchy
Check your wi-fi in advance and have a back-up plan in place in case of technical difficulties (e.g. your phone as well as a laptop). Also pause before and after you speak to avoid that awkward moment when you talk over your interviewer. Another top tip was to access Teams via Chrome rather than Safari.
2.Your appearance is not the only aesthetic on show
Just like in a regular interview, you need to make sure you look professional (sit up straight and make eye contact), but our panel said you also need to consider your background too. Avoid a wardrobe bulging with clothes behind you. Find a well-lit, neutral space in your house – somewhere quiet that you won’t be disturbed by noisy family members!
3.Ask the right questions
You know that moment at the end of an interview when they ask you if you have any questions? Always have some questions up your sleeve, ideally about the company goals and values. Remember in a virtual interview, you won’t get shown round the office, so ask something that will help you decide if a company is right for you. NB: Now is not the time to talk about perks like holidays and salary.
4. Virtual assessment centres follow a similar format to IRL
Just like in a real-life scenario, virtual assessment centres comprise of ice breakers via Teams, group exercises and individual numerical and written exercises. Top tip for group exercises: make sure you contribute and make your ideas heard. Jump in with solutions but don’t take over.
5.Prepare as much as you can
Have a pen and paper to hand during the call – you can practice maths skills online via jobmi.com. Better yet, log on to MyFuture to take a mock video interview that you can record and watch back. Sounds cringe, but when you notice your weird tics (avoiding the camera, overuse of ‘umms’ and ‘errrrs’) you can correct them before the real deal.
Missed today’s session? You can re-watch in your own time at Gradfest2020
Join our next live session on June 18th at 9.30 am and find out how LinkedIn could be the ace up your sleeve.
Nightmare interviews are pretty common – just ask these hilarious Twitter users who shared their experiences online after Twitter user Harriet Williamson asked her followers to recount their worst recruitment stories. Thankfully, recordings of our live Gradfest2020 sessions on acing online interviews and assessment centres are available to watch when you need them so you can avoid similar mistakes.
The panic run
2. The hungover handshake
3. The storage cupboard
4. The coffee table
5. The accidental porkie
Avoid ending up an embarrassing Twitter lesson and access essential graduate job-hunting and interview tips and resources via qub.ac.uk/GradFest2020
Ahead of our online Career Networking Evening on June 22 at 6pm – 7.20pm, we look at four ways our alumni network can help you navigate the global job market.
1. Our alum understand what makes big bosses tick
You have probably seen the term ‘commercial awareness’ in job descriptions, but what does it mean? And how do you acquire it? This skill is all about knowing what makes an organisation or industry tick. If you can show a prospective employer that you understand what they want to achieve and the challenges they are facing in the marketplace, you’ll impress.
Alumni in industry can help you read the room in an industry or organisation and get a handle on organisational goals. Take Queen’s Psychology Graduate Tessa Breslin. In her role as Managing Director and Head of Americas at YSC Consulting, Tessa partners with leaders and organisations around the world to enable them to direct their drive and create transformational change.
Tessa will be joining our Networking event live from New York, so you’ll have the opportunity to get an insight into what drives the leadership of some of the major blue chip client companies she has worked with.
2 You’ll benefit from their connections
Growing your professional network is a great way to advance your career, industry knowledge and confidence. As a Queen’s graduate, you can draw on the experience and connections of our network of more than 200,000 alumni around the world. Each of those alum will in turn have built up a contacts book of trusted friends, colleagues and clients.
Since Fergus Boyd left Queen’s with a BSc and PhD in Electronic Engineering, he has worked as VP/IT Director for five-star boutique luxury hotel brand Red Carnation, and VP Digital & IT for millennial hotel chain YOTEL. Prior to that, he held senior IT and digital roles in British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which both involved leading mobile and digital initiatives and delivering innovation programmes. He is now Chief Technical Officer at MindSauce, a start-up that aims to become the world’s leading platform for global micro-consulting.
He brings to our Networking event, a unique perspective on the shift towards remote working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. They know what employers are looking for
Who better than a recruiter to get an insight track on what employers are looking for? Jordan Hendricks is a Recruitment Executive at First Derivatives, a software and services company.
With a Master’s in Business Administration (International MBA) from Queen’s and significant global PR and marketing experience, Jordan is well placed to advice graduates on the recruitment landscape and the impact of COVID-19 on the future of hiring. She joins our networking evening to discuss the long and short term impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
4. They can offer a world view
Our alumni span the globe and their combined knowledge and connections ripple across the international job market. Since leaving Queen’s with a PhD in Analytical Chemistry, Binod Maitin gained significant experience as a Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer at Diageo (United Spirits) and as Head of Analytical Research at the Shriram Institute For Industrial Research. He is now an Independent Technical Consultant at FlavorActiV and Chief Technology Officer at Trillium Beverages Pvt.Ltd. He joins our networking event from India to offer insight on his own personal career journey and the evolving global labour market.
Film & Theatre Making student Christian Green spills everything you wanted to know about Queen’s Career Development Programme in NYC.
What inspired your trip to New York?
I applied for the Career Development Programme to NYC because, as a film student, I have long considered the option of moving to America post-graduation. The trip appealed to me because of the focus on developing skills and personal traits that employers look for, like confidence, communication and professionalism. It also promised to help us to develop a, “global/cultural awareness”, and despite me being to America with my family on multiple occasions, I had not yet developed that awareness of America’s business landscape and what it is like to network and put yourself forward as a young business professional in that kind of environment. I was more than interested in the diverse range of pre-planned company visits and also the specific visit of going to meet a BAFTA winning filmmaker.
What were the highlights of the experience?
On a personal level, my top highlights of the trip would have to be:
Meeting with filmmaker Marcus Robinson at the World Trade Center and receiving an open invitation to come and work with him post-graduation.
Seeing the city for the first time. The hike I did on my own through Manhattan (visiting most of the iconic locations within the city as well as iconic film locations).
Going to see The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.
The Queen’s Alumni Networking Evening where I had the privilege to speak in front of past Queen’s students from all fields and generations.
Last, but certainly not least, getting to meet such a diverse and wonderful group of Queen’s students whom I had the pleasure of sharing this experience with. Everyone was able to take a lot away from the programme and we all made memories and developed friendships that will last us a lifetime.
What was the most surprising thing about the experience?
What surprised me the most whilst in New York was the fact that the world of business (whether that be corporate or commercial), even within a large city like New York, is not as intimidating as it is made out to be. When people think of business in its stereotypical form (briefcases, suits and all), we all instantly picture the elite, the select few. Who handle money and have careers that some of us could only dream of. My main observation from one meeting to the next during the visit was that this is not the case at all. Yes, you do need to have certain qualifications, a specific work ethic and can-do attitude in order to succeed but once you are in, everyone is just like you. Most of the people who spoke to us were either Queen’s alumni or natives of Ireland or Northern Ireland and because of that, they interacted with us all on a very personal level. They wanted to hear about us and what we studied and aspired to do just as much, if not more, than they wanted to talk about themselves and their companies/success stories. Even some of the CEOs that we met, who initially seemed quite intimidating and powerful, were not that much different from the nine of us seated around the table. They simply worked hard, dreamed big and made the right decisions when the opportunities came along. As sung by the legendary Frank Sinatra, “If I can make it there, I’m gonna make it anywhere”, and that just about sums up the world of success and professional business within New York; if you can get your foot in the door and be heard, the possibilities are endless.
In what ways has the trip been life-changing?
For myself personally, the key life-changing piece of information that I learned from the programme is that “corridor vision” can narrow down your career options and that ultimately, you can tailor your own future for yourself. For the people who are maybe are not so sure of what they want to do or they are open to the idea of alternatives, at each and every company in New York we were told in some shape or form, “If you come from a university like Queen’s with a good degree (no matter what field), that shows a certain kind of determination and aptitude to learn”. And with that, the opportunities for post-graduates who simply have the confidence to make the move and the determination to succeed are almost endless. Whether it be the likes of internships at KPMG or Moet Hennessy or the TwitterU programme, your degree does not tie you down to one door at the end of the corridor, one job. Do not become so fixed on this one role that you ignore all of the other opportunities that present themselves to you along the way.
In what ways did the trip enhance your CV?
In terms of my CV, the trip helped me add the credibility of being a Global Ambassador for Queen’s but also helped me to develop a lot of my own skills which I can now list with confidence such as public speaking, team work, team leading, presentational skills, organisational skills and professionalism. It really did open my eyes to what it is going to take for me personally to go out to the States and take in the culture shock but also adapt to it.