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Blogger Career planning Clubs and Societies Degree Plus Global Opportunities Media and communications MEDIA Programme Queen's sport Student blogger

WHY QUEEN’S CAN GIVE YOU MORE THAN A DEGREE

Órla Mallon

A degree might be the main reason you go to university, but as Órla Mallon, a third year Liberal Arts student and blogger from our MEDIA programme discovered, there is so much more to gain from the Queen’s experience. Here, she lists 8 things she’s gained on top of her parchment. 

  1. New Friends

This might be an obvious one – but maybe the most important! At Queen’s, you’ll get the opportunity to make new friends, and forge a lifelong relationship, at every turn. Although this year has been a little different, Queen’s runs many events (either in person or online) during Freshers week, and more throughout the academic year, giving you a chance to socialise! If you decide to live in Queen’s accommodation, you’re sure to become best friends with your fellow students. 

2. Degree Plus

We all have hobbies or activities we love to do – at Queen’s you could get a formal recognition of them! Degree Plus is an award that formally recognises your extracurricular experiences, and is sponsored by employers. With over 100 activities that you can participate in, you’ll be spoiled for choice! From volunteering to peer mentoring and learning sign language (BSL), these skills deserve recognition. You can get an extra accreditation on top of a degree, build networks and gain experience for your future career – what’s not to love? To find out more, click here

3. You could meet your partner!

We can’t guarantee it, but it does look like love is in the air around the Queen’s campus. Just take a look at some of these Queen’s Love Stories. You never know who you might run into at Queen’s!

4. Career opportunities are endless

Your dream career is never too far away at Queen’s. Our Careers, Employability and Skills Service is always on hand to help you find your way into the world of work. No matter what career path you are interested in, there is always an opportunity to get ahead. They run careers and placement fairs, give you advice when it comes to interviews and CVs, and Queen’s is ranked 11th in the UK for career prospects after 15 months! Students can access virtual 1-2-1 appointments to hear how to make the most of their degree. Check out the Careers page to see all the opportunities. 

5. Belfast City

Even though Belfast student life is little different this year, it still has plenty to offer Queen’s students! Our student areas are vibrant and exciting, with endless cafés, restaurants and shops to explore. Or, take a walk through Botanic Gardens, or even Cavehill for a birds’ eye view of the city. 

6. Global Opportunities

Queen’s offers so many opportunities to go global – and while travel has been limited this year, there is still the opportunity to discover other cultures through virtual internships, language courses and international clubs and societies. 

For all of our Global Opportunities, click here

7. Queen’s Sport

If you love keeping active, Queen’s is the perfect place! There is world-class sporting facilities at our PEC – where students can join at a discount – and join any of our fitness classes. We also have a wide array of sporting clubs and teams to choose from. From martial arts, rugby, tennis, and gaelic football (all for men and women!), you can keep active, make new friends, and maybe win a nice trophy or two. Find out more about Queen’s Sport here

8. Clubs and Societies

Queen’s has over 200 clubs and societies for you to join. You can help out in charitable causes, get political, or, get creative with art and photography, you can even improve your language skills from home, and that’s just a few! Not only will you be expressing yourself and making memories, but a club also always looks good on a CV!  For a full list of clubs check out the SU Page!

What has made your Queen’s experience special? This year, Development Weeks is themed ‘Celebrate, Reflect, Introduce’ – send in your video to share your experience with the wider Queen’s community.

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Blogger community work MEDIA Programme Social work Student blogger Volunteer SU volunteering

How to get into Social and Community work

Emma Kelly, a Law student and blogger from our MEDIA programme looks at the skills you need to get into social and community work. 

Emma Kelly

1.         Do your research 

Social and Community work is a wide-ranging industry, offering opportunities to work in a range of employment fields. From working for housing charities, in the criminal justice field or as a social worker; there are various important jobs that are integral to the development of a fair and just society, and one that protects vulnerable groups. Therefore, it’s important to know which employment sector you are aiming to get into!

2.         Develop the essential skills 

Employers in this sector tend to be on the lookout for some integral skills while interviewing, so being able to provide evidence that you possess these skills will give you a head start on job applications or in the interview stage. 

–           Thinking critically and creatively: being able to demonstrate that you can think on your feet and problem solve effectively is a skill that employers will love. 

–           Great communication skills: working in this area will entail lots of communication, both verbally and written. Therefore, it’s important to demonstrate that you can communicate effectively with different groups of people, both over the phone and face-to-face. As well as evidencing that you can effectively make written referrals and briefs! 

–           Resilience: work in this industry tends to be emotionally challenging, and you will likely have to deal with families or individuals in crisis, it will be important to interviewers that you can demonstrate resilience and that you are not afraid of a challenge. 

3.         Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! 

The greatest ways to gain experience in the social and community work sector is through volunteering. You could volunteer with victim support organisations, homeless shelters or mental health charities. Charities such as Age UK, Bernardo’s or Home-Start are consistently looking for volunteers. Volunteering is a fantastic way of demonstrating to future employers your dedication to working in this sector, as well as building important contacts for the future! 

4.         There are various routes 

As wide-ranging as the Social and Community work industry is, the route into the industry is even wider. There is no one set pathway to secure a job in this industry. There are various undergraduate degrees in social and community work, Master’s, apprenticeships, and graduate programmes to choose from! From doing a straight social work degree at undergraduate level to applying for graduate programmes such as the “Think Ahead Programme”. There are various ways to secure your route into the industry! 

5.         Keep an eye on job openings

Once your qualified, you should be on the lookout for the right job! Keep your eye on sites such as Indeed, LinkedIn and MyFuture for job postings.

Search jobs by industry and sector in MyFuture

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Blogger campaigning government MEDIA Programme Politics Student blogger Student reps

How to get into politics and government

Lauren Watt, a blogger from our MEDIA programme has used her research skills to find out everything you need to know about pursuing a career in politics and government.

Lauren Watt

The first thing to ask yourself is why you want a job in politics and government. Because it will give you an understanding of where your skills might fit in the political eco-system and the government institution as a whole. Politics can open doors for careers in political work, social/political research, journalism, HR, and Marketing. You have to be stubborn, determined and most of all be able to take criticism in this type of career choice.

This blog will show you ways to build up your CV and what types of websites to look at to find career opportunities in this sector.

Know your subject matter

Having a degree in Politics helps, though it is not a must. If you can, take classes that help you understand the political system and what type of language and writing is used for the topic. Topics such as Business, Law and Education, for example. That’s not to say you can’t break into politics with a degree in another discipline, but keeping abreast of current affairs and have an overall knowledge of the landscape will benefit you in the long run.

Get involved in student activism

With all applications, having experience added to your CV will benefit you. It will show you have determination and skills that could help towards the job you are applying for. Being a student is the perfect time to join societies and clubs and demonstrate your activism and leadership. Queen’s offer plenty of opportunities to join political campaigns throughout your university experience. Attending events at the start of the year such as Fresher’s Fair – which starts at Queen’s in late September – will be the time to find clubs that best suit your interests. 

Engage in the local community

As well as university clubs, there are plenty of events outside of University to get involved in. Use social media to find local events, clubs and societies in our community. Campaigning is a good route to get into politics. It can be a long way round but attending these types of community events helps give a broader understanding and knowledge of what is happening around you. 

Network

Use events to network, push yourself out there and get outside your comfort zone. Working on public speaking is a must when working in politics. Community events are a good platform to practice public speeches and you will constantly need to improve. So, keep practicing, and join civic organisations to gain further confidence. 

With networking, gaining, and retaining relationships with others is an important aspect. In politics, you will be a part of campaigns, fundraisings and working with the media. You will need to have these contacts for support and guidance.

Seek Careers Guidance

As always, sometimes just asking the Careers Service at Queen’s can be as beneficial as researching yourself. It saves time, they can find you the best opportunities or contacts to speak to. And also, they can just make everything simpler. Constantly keep an eye out for opportunities on the University’s Careers page for anything around politics and other volunteer events.

Keep your options open

Politicians are the most known type of job in politics. And it can sometimes take years to create an opportunity in that career path, but don’t give up. It is easier to box yourself in to that one role but remember that there are multiple different opportunities in politics and government. From political to marketing. Gain information on the types of roles and find out what they look for, and if they will suit you. Not having a definite role is not a bad thing, it leaves you open to opportunities. The unexpected role might turn out to be what suits you best.

Search jobs by industry and sector in MyFuture

Undergrads – the SU are looking for next year’s Course Reps!

Hear all the reasons why you should volunteer from some current Course Reps, including:

  • Meeting new people from your course & school
  • Gaining transferable leadership, communication & teamwork skills
  • Improving the experience for current & future students 

Find out if there’s a role available on your course and volunteer by 9pm, Sunday 9 May at qubsu.org

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employability Student blogger

How Many Employability Skills Have You Collected?

Kirsty King, a blogger from our MEDIA programme examines some key employability skills and how you can build them up during your time at university.

During your time at university, there will be lots of opportunities to collect different employability skills. Some of the ways in which you can gain these skills could range from joining a club or society or completing a career development programme, to becoming a student ambassador or volunteering. The skills gained in your chosen activities will all add up and help you to reach your full potential in your future career.

Read on to find out some of the key skills that employers look for and how you can collect these at Queen’s…

Leadership

Employers like to see that you have experience of leading individuals or groups. At university, you could develop this skill by nominating yourself for a leadership position in a club or society, become a course, school or faculty representative, or even run for a part-time or full-time leadership position in the Students’ Union. This year, I have been on the committee for the QUB English Society, which has been a great way of learning how a society is run. It has also given me the opportunity to plan a range of events with other committee members.

Interpersonal

Having interpersonal skills means you have sensitivity and the ability to engage with and motivate others. A good way of developing these skills could be through volunteering as a peer mentor in your subject area. As a peer mentor myself this year, I have found the experience of helping first-year students with their transition to university very rewarding.

Communication

It’s important to be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing in a professional environment. You could develop this skill by writing for the university newspaper or getting involved in student radio. By taking part in the MEDIA Programme at Queen’s this year, I have learnt about how to communicate effectively in written blogs and social media posts. Furthermore, by presenting some segments on Queen’s Radio shows this year I have developed my oral communication skills. 

Problem Solving

Employers like to see that you can cope with complex situations. By taking part in a study or work placement at home or abroad during your degree, you will face challenges which you may not have encountered on your course, and therefore will have to use your own initiative. Last year, I took part in an Erasmus Study Placement in Belgium, during which I had to solve a number of issues which came with living and studying in a different country. Now, I feel more confident in my ability to problem-solve.

Teamwork

Being able to work in a team involves flexibility, adaptability and creativity. To develop your teamwork skills at university you could join a sports club, music group or any other team activity that interests you. During my time at Queen’s I have been a part of the Ladies’ Rugby Club, which has taught me the importance of teamwork and community spirit.

I hope this has given you an insight into some of the ways in which you can collect employability skills whilst at university. Why not check out the QUB Careers websiteMyFuture, or organise an appointment with a Careers Consultant to find out what opportunities are out there for you!

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CVs First years Student blogger TargetJobs volunteering work experience

7 things first year students can do to boost their employability

Our student blogger Maeve McDermott read the TARGETjobs Careers Survival Pack and here are her key takeaways. Number 4, get to know us better!

Your first year of university can be overwhelming. Moving to a new city and navigating a newfound independence, whilst mastering the art of referencing and attending lectures can mean that thinking about your future career is pushed to the bottom of your list of priorities. However, it is never too early to think about ways to boost your employability while still enjoying everything else that comes along with university life, and TARGETjobs Careers Survival Pack is full of tips on how to just that. Act now and thank yourself later and you can save yourself from that final year rush.

  1. Plan your path 

Thinking about your career early on can be daunting, so it’s useful to chart your direction and decide which route you are going to take so you have a structure to follow. Will you choose a sector/industry to work and look for employers in that sector? Or will you be more flexible about the role and sector, and instead focus on the employers you like and seek out their opportunities? Either way is perfectly fine, but it’s good to choose one path so you can effectively plan your career as early as possible. 

2. Clubs and societies 

Joining clubs and societies is not only a great way to meet people and have fun, but to gain those vital transferrable skills. Teamwork and problem-solving skills are part and parcel of being a member of any club or society, be it Brazilian Jujitsu or the Vegetarian Society, and it shows that you’re committed and have interests outside of your studies and your social life! Plus, having a role of responsibility through running events in any clubs or societies can demonstrate communication and organisational skills, which are sure to impress future employers – and can enjoyable too!

3. Part-time jobs and volunteering 

Part-time jobs and volunteering opportunities also give you the chance to build on those transferrable skills. Whilst stacking shelves or picking up litter mightn’t be what you want to do long-term, the ability to juggle work and study can demonstrate a strong work ethic to employers and really help you to stand out. There are plenty of rewarding and interesting volunteering opportunities available through Volunteer SU who are always looking for people to offer their time, and part-time work both on and off campus are advertised on MyFuture.

4. Get to know your university’s careers service

Explore what your careers service has to offer. From consultations to employer events to international study tours, your careers service is bursting with resources to help you boost your employability alongside your studies. Visit the QUB Careers website often and follow their social media to keep up to date with opportunities and events. Careers fairs and employer events are a great way to meet and network with employers directly – something that you can never do too early.

5. Develop a good study routine 

Establishing an effective study routine from the get-go can really work in your favour. Even if your first year counts for very little, having impressive first year grades will come in handy if applying for internships/work experience in 2nd year, as employers will only have these grades to base their decisions on. Plus, it’s good to develop those study skills early on in your university career to avoid the final year panic.

6.Look at work experience/internships

Be sure to check springtime deadlines/exam dates as some employers offer insight days, work experience, or internships for first year students. More and more large companies are offering these types of opportunities and having these names on your CV can look really impressive to future employers and can be a great way to decide whether an employer is right for you. After finishing your exams and assignments, what better way to start your long summer break than gaining valuable experience and building up your CV early on in your university career? 

7. Register with TARGETjobs 

Registering with the TARGETjobs website means you’ll get sent details of careers events, work experience and tips to improve your employability. They also run the Undergraduate of the Year Awards with an award exclusively for first year students, so what are you waiting for? TARGETjobs also run events to introduce students to employers, with some exclusively for first year students and some open to all year groups, such as webinars that can help with your employability. Have a look and see what’s on offer at targetjobs.co.uk/events

Doing just a few things per semester to boost your employability doesn’t have to be overly time-consuming. It’s really as simple as joining a club, volunteering for a few hours or attending an employer event and it can really pay off in the long run. Any effort you put in now will really help you in the future, and your final year self will be forever thankful!

Read more advice from TargetJobs here. 

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CVs Degree Plus DegreePlus employability Interviews part-time job Student blogger transferrable skills

How your part time job is improving your employability

Our student blogger Maeve McDermott, an International Business with Spanish student explains why employers love to see part-time jobs on graduate CVs and why the skills you learn at a part-time job can kick-start your graduate career.

A university degree can provide you with excellent academic skills – you’ll become a pro at writing essays and studying for exams and gain a lot of course knowledge. However, with thousands of students graduating with identical degrees every year, a degree alone isn’t likely to be enough to impress employers. While firms don’t expect graduates to have years of work experience and be experts in their fields, they do want students to have transferrable skills that can are beneficial in the workplace. When applying and attending graduate job interviews. you will be asked questions based on your skills and abilities (often in answers to competency-based interview questions) and part-time jobs can often provide a valid source of examples as internships. Part-time jobs are something a lot of students do alongside their studies, but the skills they gain are often played down. After starting a part-time job in Queen’s Student Guidance Centre in 2018, I’ve gained an abundance of transferrable skills, most of which are without even thinking about them! Here are some examples of how part-time work may relate to transferrable skills you can discuss at interviews. 

Time management 

Juggling a part-time work rota with deadlines, presentations and lectures is a skill in itself. You might have to work an all-day shift the day before a deadline which means you have to learn fast how to plan your workload in advance. Learning how to manage your time and prioritise tasks is a very important skill and one you can showcase to employers, as they are likely to value candidates who can work on various projects simultaneously with varying deadlines. 

Communication skills 

Almost all jobs require good communication skills – either verbal or written. For instance, I spend most of my day helping students and members of the public with queries of all sorts – from advising students on how to book a careers consultation to helping lost tourists to locate the Lanyon Building. Be sure not to underestimate the importance of dealing with customer complaints, writing formal emails to clients or colleagues, and communicating effectively with team members. These are all vital in developing proficient verbal and written communication skills which will undoubtedly be useful in your future career and valued by employers. 

Adaptability 

In my job as a Student Assistant every day can be different. Pre-pandemic, my role would vary from generating social media content, to helping students with queries, to hosting Western-themed careers fairs featuring cowboy hats and live alpacas (yes, really!). Having to adapt to different tasks and environments demonstrates adaptability, so think about how you’ve had to adapt to changing environments in your own part-time job – for instance, having to face a changing role due to the pandemic. Employers value employees who can successfully cope with changes in the workplace and greater adaptability often means greater productivity, and that you’re more equipped to face challenges.

Self-discipline/resilience

While working on Excel spreadsheets doing data entry mightn’t be the most intellectually stimulating of tasks, it can still demonstrate important transferrable skills. Even if some of your responsibilities in a part-time job are somewhat mundane and repetitive, if you can maintain focus and accuracy while performing a repetitive task, this can be a good display of your self-discipline and resilience – something that employers will greatly value. 

Problem-solving 

Being able to come up with solutions to problems is something that is very important to employers, and something that almost always crops up in competency-based interview questions. Problem-solving requires you to use logic and imagination to make sense of a situation and create a working solution by thinking outside of the box. In fact, the best problem solvers actively anticipate potential future problems and act to prevent them or to mitigate their effects. Problem-solving skills also relate closely to analytical skills and innovative and creative thinking as it is necessary to analyse a problem to come up with a useful solution and thinking innovatively or creatively can often lead to the best solutions. Maybe you’ve come up with a more efficient way to count stock in a retail job, or had to think on your feet to overcome a double booking in a hospitality job. No matter how insignificant problem-solving experience may seem, it can almost always be made relevant and applied in interview questions. 

Part-time work throughout university isn’t only a way of earning a few extra pounds alongside your studies. Having and sticking to a part-time job can demonstrate that you’re committed, and CFO of Liberty Global Charlie Bracken told the UK 300 that he was “more impressed by someone who has done a part-time job throughout university than someone who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro”. No matter how irrelevant your part-time job may seem to your degree, chances are it’s developing your transferrable skills significantly, and often without you even noticing.  

Degree Plus can help you formally recognise the employability skills you have built up during extracurricular work as student. Self-nominate by filling out the Combined Experience application form in MyFuture, evidencing two or more relevant activities – part-time jobs, clubs and societies and volunteering can all count.

Good luck!

Deadline: 1 April 

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