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Career advice from top employers

At our recent Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair, we hosted over 130 top employers from all industries and sectors. We took the opportunity to grill them for their best career advice, so you can learn from leaders at the top of their game. Prepare to be inspired…

Use Queen’s Careers Service

“I would advise students to engage with the University Careers Service.  Guidance from careers advisors in making applications, developing your CV and identifying future career paths is invaluable. The University Careers Service works closely with employers such as Almac, they know what we are looking for and can really provide added value through employability training and support. Programmes such as Queen’s  Degree Plus Award provide students with a great opportunity to develop and hone the key skills needed to succeed within the workplace.”

Kim McAllister, Talent Acquisition Manager, Almac Group 

Keep an open mind

“If I was to go back in time, when I was starting my career, the key thing I would say is to keep an open mind. Back when I was finishing my undergraduate degree, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do but I ended up going down a route I wouldn’t have imagined in terms of working in recruitment and HR. I studied drama and English initially and the field of work I am in now is really focussed on people. I actually draw on a lot of the stud I learned in terms of communication styles and people from my undergraduate degree into my current role. So yeah, keep an open mind when you are finishing your degree about what it is you want to do. Be patient. Sometimes it can take a while to find the right kind of fit for you when you are graduating. Even in your first year or two of a graduate role you want to get everything right from the first go. It is okay to make mistakes along the way so be patient with yourself.”

Adrian McCarthy is the manager of For Purpose

Back yourself

“Always take the opportunities, don’t doubt yourself. You don’t know where they will lead and what you will learn along the way.”

Joelene RidgillPurchasing Manager at Seacoya Group Ltd

Build up your work-related experience

“I’d say, try to get as much experience as possible whether it be through part time jobs, internships or volunteering. For example, working in a shop or restaurant…if you can handle angry customers, you can handle anything! 

“Also remember that it’s not just about having the grades. Yes, they are important, but transferrable skills such as proficiency in Microsoft packages, time management, first aid training or experience in organising events, to name a few, are also important. A well­rounded individual who can adapt to different environments and maybe bring something new to the table is very appealing to employers.”

Robbie Barr, Partner, Muldoon & Co

Engage with employers

“Go to as many events run by employers as possible. They really give you an idea of the culture of the workplace and a feel for the people that work there. Liberty IT have a Tech Carnival event which we make as reflective of our culture as possible, it’s pretty casual, has a focus on our people’s passion for technology and is full of employees that are happy to tell you anything you want to know about working for LIT.”

Birgitta Swanberg, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Liberty IT

Have a career plan

“Know what your end goal is and plan your next move from there. Know what you need to do now to get where you need to go. Look for opportunities, even if you take small steps, those steps might take you closer to your end goal, whatever they may be. Be patient but don’t settle. Do your research and make a plan. This will help you when you want to apply for promotion or career advancement.”

Clodagh Mckeefry, Corporate Recruiter, MRP

Try new things

“Try new things and put yourself out there. You could end up in the best position by taking a chance and trying something new. Sometimes it is good to fall outside of the box and not to limit yourself to obvious career choices. Skills are interchangeable.”

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

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Virtual Recruitment Fairs: Build a Stand-Out Online Profile

At the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair on Oct 21 and 22, employers will use your online profile to find you. How do you build a profile that stands out from the crowd? Read on and find out.

You can upload your CV to your profile, so that will let an employer know what you’ve done. The key is to articulate what you have learned and the skills you have collected along the way. Employers want to know what skills and experience you can bring to the role. Below you will find a list of top skills employers told us they are looking for in student and graduate recruits, along with a brief explainer. Tag as many of these as you can to your online profile ahead of the event.

Cognitive/intellectual skills, such as:

  • Problem solving:  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.

(Other terms might include – Thinking creatively/Decision making)

  • Applying subject knowledge and understanding: potentially from the degree pathway.

(This might also include researching the types of industry/roles that the subject knowledge could lead to and mechanisms for doing this.)

Professional attributes/attitudes such as:

  • Communication skills: the ability to communicate effectively in a range of professional contexts (both orally and in writing).

(Could also include body language, presentation skills, listening skills, communication styles)

  • Teamwork: the ability to work with others in a team, to communicate, influence, negotiate, demonstrating adaptability/flexibility, creativity, initiative, leadership and decision-making.

(Might include knowledge of their teamworking style, types of teams, working with remote teams, leading teams, running meetings)

  • 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.

(Other terms might include – Emotional intelligence, self-awareness, building on strengths, self-management)

  • 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.   

(Leadership styles, leadership theories, performance, motivation)

Technical skills such as:

  • Utilise modern technology: associated with work place or work-related activity.  
  • Information technology skills: includes ability to learn, apply and exploit relevant IT programmes.

Business and organisational skills such as:

  • Business operational skills/ Commercial awareness: understanding of relevant commercial, marketing, management and/or financial processes/principles. Awareness of differences in organisational cultures and practices.
  • Business communication skills:  Written, verbal and/or online.

(Could also include – Business etiquette, coaching, collaboration, influencing others)

Language Skills and Cultural Awareness 

  • Proficiency in foreign languages: developed through courses or overseas experiences. 
  • Cultural awareness/intelligence: and the ability to implement this in a variety of multicultural contexts.

If you haven’t registered for the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair yet, make sure you do it today. Use your QUB email to enjoy uninterrupted access to our virtual platforms and register for both days so you can experience everything on offer.

Register now

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Eight Things We Learned from the First Employer Panel of the Semester

Leaders from PwC, Citi, Deloitte and FD joined our first employer panel to give an insight into graduate recruitment in Northern Ireland. Here are eight takeaways from the session.

1.Skills matter more than your discipline

“It doesn’t matter what degree you have, it’s more important that you have the right skills – you can develop those skills at uni. A lot of these skills you already have. We want to know you can lead yourself and others. What was your role in a sports team, in uni projects, and at the Students’ Union…”

– Stephanie Gowdy, Senior Manager, PwC

2.You can flex outside your subject

“Lift your head from academic study and look at the type of work a potential employer gets involved in. Then look at the skills you could bring to that work. We have English Literature graduates who are bringing great analytical skills to PwC, for example.” – Stephanie Gowdy, Senior Manager, PwC

3.A global mindset begins at home

This is about more than where you have travelled (though if you do want to broaden your horizons, don’t miss Go Global Week). “We want to see that you are global and inclusive. That you can network and work with different individuals. Have you worked in a team where someone worked differently? It’s about showing you can be understanding of how different personalities work together.” – Stephanie Gowdy, Senior Manager, PwC

4.Store takeaways from employer events

“Aside from the right skills, we are looking for graduates who are interested and can tell us something about the company. Show us you have a passion for the industry. Come to events like this and pick up tips and share them.” –Carla McGlynn, Technology Site Lead, Citi Belfast

5.Influencing happens outside of Insta

“We look for collaboration. How do you work with others and bring them along? It’s all about how you can bring staff along with you.”  –Carla McGlynn, Technology Site Lead,  Citi Belfast 

6.You can develop the skills you need at uni

“The skills we look for are: Management, Problem solving, Entrepreneurship, Creativity, Social Skills, Negotiation, Digital Know-How and Emotional intelligence. A lot of activities and skills you develop during uni will be appliable.”  – Karen Butler, Director in Consulting and Head of Talent, Deloitte 

7.There are opportunities to travel and make friends

“Take the chance and be open to new ideas and try new things you won’t know where it takes you. Our graduate recruits have gone to New York, London, Australia, Munich – you can go anywhere where we have clients. There is a big social aspect to it as well.” – Jordan Hendricks, Frist Derivatives

8.Use lockdown wisely

“Now is a good time to use the extra time to critically think about own skills and what you want to do.Use this time to optimise your CV – personalise your CV for each job. Do your research on the company you want to work for. Follow the  industry, look on LinkedIn… that genuine knowledge comes across well in interview.” – Jordan Hendricks, Frist Derivatives

Don’t miss our next employer panel featuring KPMG, EY, FinTrU and Allstate

Register here: https://event.webinarjam.com/register/125/4qlqlu22

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How the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair changed my life

When Queen’s graduate Rachel Murphy (nee Hill) met her employer at a Queen’s Flagship Careers Fair, it took her career off in an exciting new direction.

Rachel at her graduation

Like many students, History graduate Rachel Murphy (nee Hill) chose her degree subject because of her passion for the subject, rather than because she has a particular career goal in mind. 

“In terms of my career, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, which made deciding on a subject to study at university quite tricky.  In the end, I decided to study History as it was a subject that I loved at school and the subject which I knew I would enjoy the most.  Enjoying my time at university was very important to me and this was my main motivation to study at Queen’s and to study History,” she says.

Exploring my options

While at Queen’s, Rachel was keen to explore career options and to build up valuable skills that would make her more employable after graduation. She gained work experience at PwC and built up her confidence by sitting on the Students’ Union Council.  

“This was great experience and built up my confidence for going forward into the working environment,” says Rachel.

She also booked a consultation with a Careers consultant at Queen’s Careers service to get CV and interview guidance. 

Rachel booked a Careers consultation to get advice on her next move after graduation

Finding an employer

Rachel then attended the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair, where she came across the Enterprise stall. She found out about their Graduate Management Programme and applied. 

She started the September following her graduation, moved through the Management Programme and was promoted to Management Assistant seven months later.

“The job had various roles and responsibilities which keep me very occupied throughout the day,” she says. 

For more of an insight into the Graduate Management Programme at Enterprise, watch this video:

Career success

Four year on, Rachel is Projects Officer at the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster, the largest rural youth organisation in Northern Ireland which aims to nurture and develop young people. She credits Queen’s Careers service for helping her develop the skills she needs to succeed and for giving her that crucial first employer introduction.

Rachel now works as a Project Officer for a youth organisation

If, like Rachel, you are unsure what you want to do after graduation, register today for our Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair. You can meet employers who are looking to recruit graduates just like you.

But don’t take out word for it – here is what Rachel had to say:

“My advice for current students is get involved with Queen’s and all it has to offer.  I would also advise to make use of the careers service as soon as possible and to really think about what their plans for after University,” she says.

Register for the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair now.  

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graduate training schemes

All You Need to Know About Graduate Training Schemes

If you want to break into a big organisation, receive expert training and get well paid in the process, a graduate training scheme could be for you.

1. They are offered by big organisations

Graduates schemes are typically offered by big organisations such as the Civil Service, PwC and the NHS.

2. They are fixed term

Training schemes are typically offered to graduates for a fixed term of between 18 months and two years.

3. They are competitive

Graduate schemes are a great opportunity to work and train in a real job. As they are well-paid, they are competitive and many require a degree classification of 2:1 or above. 

5. You need to apply early

Don’t wait until graduation to suss out a scheme – applications will be open from the autumn of final year and typically close by Christmas. Check out MyFuture for details of graduate schemes relevant to you.

6. You can find them online

With a bit of desktop research, you can find details of graduate schemes across the UK and Ireland. Here are five sites to check:

Prospects 

Search graduate training opportunities with huge organisations including Google, Amazon and BBC. 

TargetJobs

From the Royal Navy to Bloomberg, search for graduate training opportunities.

Milkround

Search graduate jobs, schemes and internships.

Gradireland

Search graduate jobs, schemes and internships across Ireland.

Gradcracker

Search graduate opportunities in Engineering and Technology.