Two types of consultations are available – 30 minutes to discuss any aspect of your career management or 15 minutes to receive feedback on your CV or LinkedIn profile.
The aim of these consultations is to support you so that you can successfully manage your own career. As a result, students and graduates are limited to no more than 5 appointments per academic year. Most people use only 1 or 2 appointments in any year.
When should I start thinking about career management? It’s important to focus on your studies but the application processes for graduate schemes and taught postgraduate study start to open in the September/October of your final year. Many employers hire graduates that they already know through placements or internships, so it pays to start career planning sooner.
Am I on the wrong course? Many students have doubts about their subject choice at various times throughout their time at University. It’s important to be proactive in handling these doubts. Don’t just give up and stop attending! Targetjobs have some useful advice to help you understand the root of the issue and what to do next. Book an appointment with a Careers Consultant to discuss career options related to different subject areas and speak to your Personal Tutor (if applicable) or Adviser of Studies if you are considering changing to a different course.
To turn this into a shortlist of career options, it’s important to consider what’s important to you in a career e.g. your motivations, the skills you enjoy using and where in the world you want to live.
Gain further insight into different roles and companies by attending Careers events.
How do I stand out from the crowd? – Get some international experience – read our Study / Work Abroad pages – Get some work/volunteering experience – see Careers Events – Gain accreditation for engaging in employability-enhancing activities through DegreePlus
I want to start my own business – QUBSU provides support to Queen’s entrepreneurial students and recent graduates – Opportunities for developing entrepreneurial skills can be found on the DegreePlus website
While you are a student at Queen’s, you will have access to Microsoft Office 365 for free. It includes Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote (which are hosted in the Microsoft Cloud).
When you use Office 365, you can access your files stored on OneDrive for Business from virtually anywhere—by using a PC, a Mac, and even select mobile devices. You can also share files with others or synchronise OneDrive with your laptop or home PC.
Below you will find a list of the features included in Office 365 and how to use each to its fullest:
A list of applications is presented below
OneDrive – Personal storage space with the option to share files or folders. You can access your files like another drive on your device. The files are stored in the Microsoft Cloud.
OneNote – OneNote is a digital notebook that provides a single place for all of your notes and information (and you can create notebooks to share with other colleagues). OneNote saves as you type.
Teams – Teams facilitates chat-based working with other students and includes file sharing and other tools that help teams work collaboratively.
Forms – Forms are easy to create – surveys for people, inside and outside Queen’s. Forms produce charts and an Excel file stores all the responses.
Sway – Sway is a web-based way of putting across ideas, through text, imagery and animations. These can be used to persuade or inform.
Planner – Planner is a way of allocating and scheduling tasks. And can be associated with Teams
Word, PowerPoint and Excel – These are available as a subset of the Office 2016 equivalents and they can be used via a browser on any device connected to the Internet (whether or not you have Office 365 on the device).
We have a packed semester of activities and events planned for 2021. You can check out the full schedule here. Here are just five ways you can challenge yourself next year:
Embrace your leadership potential
We have 100 free student memberships for Queen’s students to the Institute of Directors worth £75 each. If you are serious about success, an IoD student membership can give you the competitive edge, with benefits including access to:
A guru panel of entrepreneurs and business leaders
Internships and work placements
A peer-to-peer networking community
Direct – a magazine for board-level executives
Claim your free membership via the IOD site using the code QUB2021.
2. Channel your creativity
In the first of our bitesized session in 2021, you’ll learn to Think Creatively. This lunchtime session is about how we can use tools and techniques to increase our creativity.
3. Learn a new language
Would you like to complete a fully-funded language course through Queen’s Language Centre? The Global Opportunities Team are offering 50 students a free language course in Semester 2.
4. Explore study abroad options
Does the thought of studying in Australia or Canada appeal? Don’t miss our study abroad into session.
5. Develop your people skills
Our WORKING WITH CUSTOMERS AND CLIENTS workshop will give you an insight into what is required to be a great people person in the workplace.
Our friends over at TARGETjobs have collated this list of tricky interview questions with tips on how to answer them. Read the full article here.
‘What is your most significant achievement?’
This question is designed to assess your values and attitude as much as your achievements, and employers often want you to talk about your activities outside education. You’re more likely to come across well if you choose to discuss something you’re genuinely proud of, which could be because it involved leading others, overcoming obstacles or persisting in the face of the odds.
‘What motivates you?’
You are particularly likely to be asked about your motivation in a strengths-based interview, which focuses on what you enjoy doing and what you do well. This is an approach that graduate recruiters are increasingly using alongside or instead of competency-based questions.
Your answer should draw on an example from your extracurricular activities, work experience or studies that suggests you would be strongly motivated by the job you are applying for.
‘Give an example of a time when you showed initiative.’
If an interviewer asks you to describe a situation in which you showed initiative, avoid giving an example of an idea you had but never put into action. It’s much better to talk about a time when you not only came up with a solution to a problem but also acted on it.
‘What is your biggest weakness?’
The problem with this question is that you’re being asked about your shortcomings, when your instinct, in an interview situation, is to keep your flaws as well hidden as possible. What you need to do is to frame your answer to as to give it a positive spin.
Strengths and weaknesses can be different sides of the same coin, so another way to approach this question is to think about how you overcome the potential downside of your greatest strength. For example, if you’re a natural teamworker, is it difficult for you to cope with conflict or assume leadership abilities? How do you cope with this?
‘Are you innovative?’
Graduates are sometime asked to give an example of when they were innovative, ‘thought outside the box’ or used creative thinking to solve a problem. Many graduates are concerned that their examples are just not innovative enough, but the interviewer won’t expect you to have given the prime minister tips on handling Brexit! Instead, talk about times when an idea from you had a positive impact: for example, if you came up with a fundraising idea for charity or found a way to save time on an assignment.
1. How to understand an organisation and how it creates value
When researching an organisation, you shouldn’t just look at what an organisation does, but how it does it; explore the activities and processes within an organisation. From the outside, two organisations may appear to be delivering equivalent services or products in the same way. They may have broadly similar suppliers and workforce sizes, their location and other large-scale features may even be comparable. Yet the costs incurred by processes inside these two apparently similar ‘black boxes’ may be vastly different. So, although what goes into each organisation and what comes out may seem pretty much the same, the ways in which they create value could be radically distinct.
2. How to understand an organisation’s value
An organisation is a machine for adding value. In its simplest form this means it takes an input at one value and, if successful, converts it to an output at a higher value.
The concept is seen most clearly in manufacturing, where raw materials are worked on to produce finished goods that customers value and are prepared to pay a premium for. Whilst the raw materials or components already had worth, the process of manufacturing added more value.
Commercial awareness means being aware of how change to one aspect of an organisation’s system can have disproportionate, far- and wide-ranging impacts on many other components.
3. Where you fit in in the value chain
The course mentions three components in the value chain:
creativity: coming up with a new product or process
manufacturing: churning out the product (this is the tangible part of the chain but it adds less value than you might think)
marketing, branding and advertising.
When it comes to applying for a position within an organisation, ask yourself
Does your role fit neatly and exclusively into one of these three stages?
In terms of a value chain are you closest to the ‘inputs’ or the ‘outputs’ of your organisation? (Roles close to the input end might be procurement, enquiries, goods received, etc., those nearer to the output end might be invoicing, delivery, after-sales services, etc.).
We talk of a value ‘chain’ – but to what extent does a linear chain (receiving work and passing it on, with added value) represent your work situation?
Reflecting on the above will help you demonstrate your commercial awareness to a potential employer.
If you haven’t heard already, all Queen’s students are being given the opportunity to take a course at Queen’s Language Centre for free in Semester 2 – all the details including how to apply can be found here. There are so many benefits to learning a new language. Here are just seven of them.
It Boosts Your CV
Having another language is seen as a major plus by employers, particularly in today’s global job market.
2. It’s Good for the Brain
The cognitive thinking and problem-solving skills required to learn a new language rivals Sudoku when it comes to giving your brain a workout.
3. It develops a global mindset
Learning a new language gives you a greater global understanding of the world and how it works.
4 It allows you to experience other cultures
Learning a new language exposes you to new cultures. You will have the chance to see new things from a different perspective and be able to connect with people across the world. You get to learn what’s fashionable within a culture, including music, style, history and literature. This, in turn, will help you grow as a person and appreciate things that you wouldn’t have noticed before.
5 It helps you multitask
Switching between languages outs extra demands on your brain – those that can manage it are better at multitasking and managing stress.
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.
In the summer of last year, I was adjusting to life in a new city having just started an Erasmus work placement in Madrid. I was enjoying my new independence, tapas, and post-work sunbathing. By March of 2020, a global pandemic had well and truly made itself known throughout Spain, and my international experience, like so many other things, came to an abrupt end.
Suddenly, I was back living at home, completing my final year online and coming to terms with the pending post-graduation panic. It was all a far cry from the pre-pandemic blissful ignorance I was enjoying this time last year.
Final year is stressful at the best of times, with countless deadlines, exams, job applications and big decisions. Combine that with a switch to online classes and a global pandemic looming large in the backdrop, and it’s a recipe for final year fear.
Learning to adjust
The switch to online learning was something I, like many others, found very daunting. Microsoft Teams classes and breakout rooms were not how I had imagined my final year of university to be, but I am learning to embrace the positives. For starters, I love avoiding early winter morning commutes to 9am classes. Moreover, I’m recognising that the skills I’ve gained by being thrown into the deep end of online working will be highly valued amongst future employers.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the need for virtual work skills is no longer limited to telecommuters and global teams; it now extends to most office work. The virtual skills I’ve developed through being immersed into the world of online learning are truly indispensable and highly valuable to employers, so I’ll remember to show them off in my next interview.
Looking to the future
And as I begin to look at interviews and how my post-university career path will begin to take shape, I’m aware that my comfortable student bubble is about to burst and real adulthood and responsibilities are looming.
‘What are your plans after university?’ is a question that rings throughout final year, and while some have a five-year career plan up their sleeve, I count myself among the many who haven’t figured out what I’m doing at the weekend, never mind next year.
If you’re in a similar situation, and are finding your future really daunting, fear not. Here are some tips that have helped me:
Don’t get caught up on what your friends are doing. It’s easy to feel that just because everyone you know is applying for Big 4 grad schemes, you should too. It’s important to think about what’s best for you, and understand what you really want. Queen’s Careers Service is on hand to help support you in deciding what to do next. You can book a 1-1 appointment with a Careers Consultant to discuss any aspect of your career management or even receive feedback on your CV/LinkedIn profile.
Explore your options! Research, research, research. Graduate jobs are not the only option. Think about postgraduate study – maybe a Master’s programme will be the next step for you? Or, with vaccine hope on the horizon and a slow shift back to normality looking increasingly promising, why not think about working, studying or volunteering abroad? Queen’s Global Opportunities Team can advise you about programmes available. You can arrange a virtual appointment with one of the team to chat about the travel options available to you through MyFuture.
Leverage the new skills you’ve developed. Although this year has not been the most ideal in terms of academic experience, think about the skills you have developed through its challenges. Not only will employers love those new virtual working skills, but also the adaptability gained by facing a having to suddenly adapt to online classes, resilience gained by facing and persevering through your studies during a very difficult period, and undoubtedly problem-solving in overcoming various issues and problems brought about by the challenges of this year. Think about how to showcase this new skillset, considering how this relates to your ‘selling points’ for your next interview. Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills website has some great interview tips and advice to help you think about this.
Find comfort in the unknown. Be at ease with the fact that 2020 has been completely unprecedented. It is completely normal to feel anxious and unsure about what your next step is. It’s important to remember that your future isn’t a race or a competition, take your time and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your classmates or lecturers. If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, there is support available in the form of Queen’s Wellbeing who are on hand to help those struggling through these very strange times.