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“How I’m developing my career USP”

At Queen’s, you’ll find lots of opportunities to develop your skills, create your own brand and discover your own personal USP (unique selling point), that will ultimately get you hired in the future. Here, Lucy, Lauren and Daniella from our MEDIA programme reveal the different tacks they have taken to improve their employability and their career confidence.

‘I’m building an online brand’

Lucy Roy

“In the year of 2020, we have seen that anything can happen!  This year has meant that not only have we as students have had to adapt our ways, but so too have employers. The increase of webcam interviews has meant recruiters will be researching candidates’ online profiles more than ever before. So, there is now more pressure to demonstrate an online presence to potential employers and recruiters.  

But developing an online presence doesn’t have to be difficult! It can be as easy as gaining a social media following, constructing an online portfolio of works or starting a LinkedIn account. 

Discover how to use LinkedIn effectively

Not only is LinkedIn free to use, it is also a great way of making connections with professionals in your sector.  

There’s also a handy job search engine with plenty of job listings waiting for your application!  

Not to mention, you can upload your CV and create content for potential employers to view when they’re exploring your profile. 

So why not create an account? Simply add a professional photo, a summary of yourself, your skills and employment history and there, you have an online presence!” -Lucy Roy 

‘I’m volunteering online’

Daniella Timperley

“For a lot of young people, volunteering is a great way to gain skills for employment and gain independence. This has been a little bit tougher to do during the COVID-19 lockdown with a lot of charities closing their offices and working from home. I personally am a really dedicated volunteer of Women’s Aid and have been for over six years. I’m used to attending events and public speaking which both haven’t been possible. I’ve found a way that I can use my other skills to still positively impact the charity from home as I am a broadcast production student and have experience making short films. I decided I would produce short videos for the charity’s social media to compliment and promote their campaigns. For their autumn campaign, I made a short film called ‘Walk A Mile In Her Shoes’ where I emailed staff and volunteers to take a video of their shoes walking outside in their gardens or on their walk for example so that I didn’t have to come into contact with anyone and I could still edit together a really powerful piece to push their campaign forward and encourage more engagement. This really benefited my skills and working remotely under the extreme circumstances of the pandemic, but still being able to produce work.

Daniella contributed virtually to the ‘Walk a Mile in her Shoes’ campaign

If there is a cause or charity you volunteered with before the pandemic and you haven’t felt connected or felt there was no way you could contribute, then think deeper and approach them. Maybe they don’t know how you could be helpful but see it as an opportunity to progress your career and enhance and gain skills. For me, this was producing short videos because that was something related to my degree and I knew I was capable of it but whatever degree you are in, think about what skills you have or need for that career and approach a charity that could really do with your help remotely through these tough times. This could also be as simple as an online fundraiser for a small local charity that is struggling to stay afloat. So get involved and make a difference in your community from the comfort of your own home so you can develop your CV.” -Daniella Timperley 

‘I’m attending career-enhancing events’

Lauren Watt

 “Cinemagic, Belfast’s Film and TV Festival, hosts a CineFocus Jury event every year. If you like to watch films and appreciate the cinema this type of event is for you. Do you tend to discuss and review the films you watch? The CineFocus Jury event is for you! I recently took part in the event. The event is for 15 – 25 year olds which means it is the perfect event for students in university. You have the opportunity to watch movies from all over the world. Review, comment and judge them with forms that you send in. Ranking the films as you review them you decide what will be shown at the festival.

It is an interactive and challenging experience based on your critical skills and experience with film. You can add it to your CV as an experience.

It is pretty easy to do, you email and apply for the event. With a small fee you receive the details to sign and receive the link to go onto the online Cinemagic Festival online. You create an account; login and the event should be added to your screen. It’s as simple as that.

Cinemagic is a great site for events along the media sector. It’s also a way to connect with others in the industry and join events where they host meetings with professionals in the media sector. It’s a great place to gain valuable insight. So be sure to check the website out!” – Lauren Watt

Career advice with Dermot O’Leary courtesy of Cinemagic

For more ways to develop your employability at university, check out Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills website.

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Five Ways To Enhance Your Employability At Uni

Pick up a hobby

Find something you’re interested in! Blogging is a great way to improve your employability, as regular articles will show off your content-writing skills to employers. On the other hand, playing a team sport will demonstrate that you understand how to work in a team. You could even try a hobby that is a bit more ‘out there’ – pushing the limits of what is considered the norm will give employers a reason to look twice at your CV!

Write, write, write

Queen’s has its own newspaper and other platforms which provide plenty of writing opportunities – get involved with these to hone your content and copywriting skills to stand you in good stead for graduate jobs. There is always a reason to improve your written communication, and journalism also contains elements of research. Ask around and find out what you can contribute, and don’t forget to keep a record of what you do to show employers later on!

Learn a language

Having a second (or third) language under your belt can help you to stand out in a competitive jobs market. Business in all forms is increasingly international so mastering a well-used language such as Spanish or French will often give you an edge. What’s more, the hard work and dedication that learning a new language entails is bound to impress employers. There are plenty of online resources and apps available to help you to become bilingual!

 Take a short course

There’s no better way to improve your graduate employability than by embarking on a short course to improve your skills. Short, online courses from providers such as FutureLearn and Coursera are available in a range of subjects, so if you want to discover what’s involved in a particular role or brush up on soft skills there will be a course for you. It doesn’t have to be related to your career – any course taken demonstrates to employers your initiative and organisational skills!

 Become an ambassador

Being a student ambassador is the perfect chance to demonstrate your drive and commitment, all without doing too much strenuous work. MyFuture often advertises opportunities for student assistants in the university and students’ union in a range of areas. Often these jobs will pay, so it can be doubly worth your while applying. Lots of companies also have university ambassador schemes, which you can apply to as well!

For more on developing your employability at Queen’s visit our Degree Plus site and find out how you can get an award at graduation on recognition of the skills you have built up.

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My Goals Before I Graduate

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.

My goals

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.

Read more from Dara:

How leverage Queen’s online careers portal MyFuture.  

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How to Volunteer at Uni – and Make it Count!

Thought about volunteering but don’t know where to start? Órla Mallon from our MEDIA programme has collated this handy guide. Read on and prepare to feel good.

Órla Mallon is a third year student studying Liberal Arts, with a main pathway in English Studies. She is participating in this year’s MEDIA programme, and hopes to go into a career in the media industry.

Volunteering is a fantastic way to make a difference during your time at University – and Queen’s has an opportunity for everyone. You can develop a range of skills, communication, organisation, problem solving, adaptability and much more. The invaluable skills you can gain will look great on your CV and will show potential employers that you can take initiative and work hard for something you’re passionate about. Being a volunteer also gives you a chance to give back to your local community and make new friends! 

Here are seven different volunteering opportunities available – but remember the list doesn’t end here. Check out the QUB Volunteer page, or Volunteer SU website for more options. 

Raise Funds for Charity

Charities such as Nexus NIGuide Dogs for the Blindand Action on Hearing Loss (and many more) are always in need of local fundraisers. Not only could you be helping raise funds for charity, but you can demonstrate your organisational and communication skills.  Or, if you know any other worthy causes, don’t be afraid to get involved to raise some cash!

Volunteer with the Elderly


Sometimes older people need a hand sometimes – and it is so easy to be there for a chat. If you consider yourself a good communicator, or you want an opportunity to develop those skills, there are many roles available with Parkinson’s UK or Age UK, or, become a helpline operator onHourglass NI. You could also lend your hand to those suffering with Dementia or Alzheimer’s through The Alzheimer’s Society

Be part of Local Conservation Efforts

If you have a passion for environmental issues, and especially if you want a career within the environment sector, this is a perfect opportunity! Belfast City Council often runs conservation programmes, as well as opportunities with the National Trust.

Help in a local Charity Shop

There is a charity shop on almost every street in Belfast – and they are often looking for volunteers! OxfamCancer Research UKBritish Red Cross and Marie Curie are just to name a few. Check with your local charity shop to find opportunities and develop your interpersonal and communication skills while you’re at it. 

Join the Fight to End Homelessness

Volunteering with Simon Community NI might just be one of the best things you ever do. They are Northern Ireland’s leading charity in the bid to end homelessness and aim to provide a roof over everybody’s head. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they have issued an urgent appeal for emergency staff, demonstrate your ability to take initiative and volunteer now!

Promote positive Mental Health and Wellbeing

Northern Ireland charity Mindwise aims to support people living with severe mental illness, through a wide range of methods, including providing housing, navigating the criminal justice system, supporting vulnerable people, and creating resource centres for people to socialise. Many of their volunteer opportunities involve facilitating or teaching a class – so if you have an interest in music, photography or gardening, this would be perfect for you! Mindwise also provide Safeguarding Adults training, and First Aid training, skills that are valued in any workplace. 

Homework Clubs!

This is just a short list of all the potential ways you could make a difference while you’re at Uni, so keep looking for opportunities to create positive change! 

Volunteering can count towards your Degree Plus award. To find out how, visit the Degree Plus site.