Time to think outside the box

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As the job market becomes increasingly competitive and the volume of applications employers receive grows, it’s more important than ever to consider transferable skills, alternative roles and indirect routes into a placement – and ultimately your graduate job role.

Here are some ways to think outside the box when you’re making your application…

 

Think differently
Instead of following your usual thought process – for example: ‘I want to get a job in marketing, therefore I must get a placement as a marketing assistant’ – branch out and consider other roles. The qualities associated with roles such as a marketing assistant include a good eye for detail, the ability to effectively compare and analyse data, and a creative mindset. These can all be found in other roles, which can offer you the transferable skills needed for a career in marketing. Positions such as content writers, social media assistants, brand consultants and PR interns will still enable you to build transferable, industry-related skills.

Widen the employers you approach
Only wanting to work for a marketing company will limit your search. Many diverse organisations and employers have their own marketing teams or positions – including local businesses such as Dyson, Airbus, the National Trust, Bath Spa University, Clarks, Wessex Water and Bath & North East Somerset Council. This list is by no means exhaustive but should help you to spark some ideas! Different sectors and employers may offer additional benefits, too.

Attract the right attention
Think about how often a company receives the standard ‘please find my CV and cover letter attached’. You may well have the best CV in the world, but this opening email doesn’t inspire the recipient to keep reading or open your attachments. Consider using your covering letter as the body of the email… which you will, of course, have tailored and checked for errors. Both this and your CV should be well-researched and planned to not only showcase your skills but also your interest in that particular company. There are also non-traditional ways that you can showcase your skills. Build an online portfolio or film a video CV that’s then uploaded to YouTube? Use colourful or creative format? Do be sure that this method is appropriate for the industry, company and the role you are applying or approaching them for, though. If you’re not sure, stick with a CV and covering letter.

Don’t judge a job by its title
Don’t discard a job just because you feel it doesn’t apply to the level you are looking for. Many of us are often tempted to go back to old habits, such as only considering roles titled ‘graduate intern’. Entry-level roles such as junior business executive or business administrator may still be suited to your experience and skills.

It’s not always what you know, but who you know
When seeking opportunities, look at who you already know that might be able to help you get your ‘foot in the door’. Family, friends of friends, work colleagues or Bath Spa University alumni may all have links to the industry that you wish to work in. 70-80% of roles (including placements) aren’t advertised on the open market through job adverts or agencies. Instead, they are found through word of mouth and recommendations, or filled by candidates the company already knows as a result of previous placements and work experience. Speculative applications can put you a step ahead of other students and graduates. You can take a look at some examples here to get you started.

 

The hard and fast rule is not to underestimate the experience a different role might give you. By trying something new, you may find you really enjoy a role you hadn’t fully considered before.

Remember, the Placements team are here to help. If you’re currently seeking opportunities and not sure where to start, or want to talk about a role advertised through one of our schemes, come along to our drop-in, every Tuesday and Thursday during term time from 1pm-2pm in Steward’s Lodge. You can also get in touch with us by emailing placements@bathspa.ac.uk.

Considering a year in industry?

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Have you been weighing up the pros and cons of carrying out a year in industry placement as part of your degree? If you are, read on to hear first-hand from Bath Spa student Richard Napier about his experience of working for recruitment firm Hays

“I have been studying Business and Management at Bath Spa, and as part of my degree I wanted to take advantage of an industrial placement to gain exposure to the business world. I did my research via Rate My Placement; however, after speaking to various companies I got the impression I would be doing very basic functions in their businesses rather than gaining real insight.

“During my research, I discovered Hays ­– and the more I read about their 10-to-12-month internship programme the more attracted I was to applying. All of the reviews I read about the placement made it very clear that I would be given a lot of responsibility during my fixed-term contract and in theory run my own business (my desk) with the backing of a global brand (Hays).

“I discovered that I would be rewarded for my hard work through monthly performance bonuses; individual, team and regional incentives; and be offered the same flexible benefits package as all permanent employees.

“I was incredibly excited about the prospect of joining Hays, and when I did start in the business I was not disappointed. I loved the fact I was working in a fast-paced, target-driven and competitive environment, with like-minded people who not only worked hard but had fun doing it.

“Nine months into my internship I am more confident, have developed my sales skills and have had the business exposure work that I was looking for when I originally applied. The skills and knowledge I have gained through my internship cannot be learnt in a classroom. My success at Hays has meant I have been rewarded through remuneration and that money is going towards my post-internship summer vacation fund!

“I am extremely proud to work for the number-one employer of choice in the recruitment industry, and look forward to returning to Hays after my final year of university.”

To find out more about an internship at Hays, contact Talent Scout Richard Napier People and Culture Coordinator Anne-Marie Kalas.

Summer Placement Scheme

 

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Having survived Blue Monday, perhaps your thoughts have turned to summer – holidays, sunshine, socialising and coming out of hibernation! But inn the Placements team, we’ve turned our attention to the launch of the Bath Spa University Summer Placement Scheme.

Why would you want to spend your summer doing a placement/internship?

  • Allows you to develop specific industry skills
  • Work in or learn about a specific profession or sector where you will undertake a role with real responsibility or changes
  • Gain experience that you can add to your CV and later help you land that graduate job
  • Build new relationships and wider networks
  • Get paid!

For those of you who haven’t heard of this scheme yet, we work with a wide variety of local businesses to provide paid 3 month opportunities for second- and third-year Bath Spa students. Placements and internships will be advertised on My Career from the end of February, with start dates of May-July.

The majority of applications will be via a CV and Covering Letter – did you know you can get this checked through our Careers team, by booking an appointment or uploading to ‘Ask a Question’?

Alternatively, if you have already arranged your own local placement/internship for the summer why don’t you contact us to see if we can support this with our funding? We provide £1,500 towards the cost of the three months and the employer must make this up to reach at least National Minimum Wage.

If you’re interested in hearing more about the opportunities as they come in, please complete the short form here. Those that sign up by the 10th February will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 Sainsbury’s voucher!

For any support with finding placements/internships please contact the team on Placements@bathspa.ac.uk / 01225 876638 or come along to the Placements Drop In (1pm-2pm) every Tuesday and Thursday in Stewards Lodge.

Keep in Touch over Christmas!

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It’s almost the end of term, and the holiday festivities are looming. But as well as enjoying some well-earned rest and recuperation at home, the Christmas and New Year period is also a great chance to get thinking about careers – especially if you’re in your final year!

If you want to get on a graduate scheme, it’s well worth starting to consider where you’d like to apply. Our 10 top tips can help get you started, and we’ve also got plenty of information about various industry sectors available on My Career.

Equally, you might like to take some time to research placements and why they can be so useful. If you’d like an inside view from students who’ve been on placement themselves, check out this interview. Now is a really good time to familiarise yourself with our placements search tool, and to look into any other companies you might like to contact regarding a placement or internship.

While you’ll be off over the holidays, we’ll still be around for most of the break – barring our Christmas closure between 24th December and 3rd January – and we’ll still be contactable on careers@bathspa.ac.uk and 01225 875525.

If you’ve got a question for us, or have a CV/cover letter you’d like us to look over and provide feedback on, submit it via our Ask a Question facility and we’ll aim to get back to you within five working days.

Over Christmas, you’ll still be able to book spaces on workshops – keep an eye out for next term’s programme of events! – and 1:1 careers guidance appointments for when you’re back after the holidays.

So keep in contact with Careers over the festive break and, most importantly, have a very Merry Christmas!

Not Every Experience is Perfect – and That’s Okay!

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Placements Manager Jamie Bradbury shares the experiences that shaped his career direction…

When I started at Bath Spa University back in 2008, I felt sure I wanted to be a primary-school teacher. Friends and family had told me I was perfectly suited to it, and I had done the required 10 days of work experience in a primary school, which I had enjoyed. I had taken time out to work after finishing A levels but was finally ready to launch into university life on the 3+1 Education Studies course, with a guaranteed place on the PGCE. For the first time, I had my career plan laid out in front of me.

The course was fantastic. I made lots of friends and the tutors were always very supportive. My first taste of experience through the degree was a school placement out in Melksham, which I attended for one day a week. I was effectively working as a teaching assistant, helping out with all of the lessons and working with small groups of children.

It made me realise how much I enjoyed working with the children and being in a classroom environment. At this point, I was sure I’d made the right decision and was looking forward to the PGCE.

I’d been told that the PGCE would be tougher and more involved, so I knew I’d have to work really hard but was still very motivated. Long gone were the undergraduate days of eight hours per week… I was now getting used to a proper working week. The level of experience was very different in my placements, too. They were much longer and the expectation was to teach 60% of the lessons by the end of the first placement and 80% by the end of the second placement. Working with the children was still enjoyable, but there was something that wasn’t feeling quite right for me.

I’m a person who likes to be prepared and organised, but when teaching I was constantly changing lesson plans. I also liked to have freedom when creating my lessons, but had to fit in with the schools’ teaching structures, as well as their behaviour management and marking policies. Then there was more emphasis on paperwork – something I hadn’t looked at during my initial placement.

But I persevered and completed the PGCE, having gained plenty of experience in working under pressure, organisation, initiative, flexibility, communication and resilience. I had realised that teaching probably wasn’t for me, but shortly after finishing I got a position working with Bath Spa’s Placements team – a role that I really enjoy. I still get to deliver workshops – which is similar to teaching – and I’m in a working environment that I love.

So what did I learn from this? Firstly, that it’s okay to not know what you want to do. Work placements can give you a feel for what you do and don’t like within certain roles and places of work. The more involved the experience is, the more you’ll understand about it.

Secondly, that a bad experience can be equally as beneficial as a good one. You might get lucky and find your dream role, but a lot of the time it won’t be perfect… but you’re likely to have learnt more about your own preferences and how you deal with certain situations.

Thirdly, to keep an open mind and to make the most of opportunities that come your way. This is something I wish I’d done more of. Just because people told me I would make a good teacher, didn’t mean that I would be one. Between A levels and university I worked in a toy store, an auction house and a call centre and I’m glad I tried them all, because each time I found different areas of the jobs I liked.

Placemements: the inside view

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If you’re thinking about going on placement but wondered what it might be like, then find out more from graduates Hannah White and Daisy-May Chivers-Black who took part in our Summer Placement Scheme.

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They went on placement at The Wedding Secret, a website dedicated to connecting engaged couples with the wedding venues and services they need to hire locally for their wedding day.

Why did you decide to do a placement?
Hannah: I decided to get involved with the placement scheme as I had done the year before and found the experience beneficial. As a graduate I knew I needed to gain experience and further develop my skills so it seemed a good idea to go for an internship.
Daisy-May: The internship gave me the opportunity to gain experience in the field that I’d like to work in.

What did you do on placement?
Hannah: My job involved three key tasks on a daily basis. First, calling companies to offer a free, no obligation trial on the website. Second, writing the content for the listings of the business who signed up to the trial and then uploading this onto the content management system. Finally, helping to market The Wedding Secret via social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I create, design and action marketing campaigns to help deliver fresh content that, in turn, helps increase the reach of the business.

How did you benefit from this and what impact will this have on your career plans?
Daisy-May: My internship has been extended and I am hopeful that I will be offered a permanent job after the placement has finished. All aspects of my job have greatly developed my existing skills and enabled me to action the skills I obtained while at university in an actual, live business environment.

Describe your experience in one sentence…
Daisy-May: Working at The Wedding Secret was a really enjoyable experience that has given me the chance to apply the skills I learnt at university, thus giving me more confidence in my ability.
Hannah: Placements are a great way to show interest, build a network of contacts and put your skills into play in a real business environment. Therefore, I would, 100%, recommend that all students do or, at least, research a placement, as the experience is invaluable!

 

 

Careers & Opportunities Fair Round-Up

 

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Tuesday 25th October was, if you’ll excuse the self-congratulation, quite the day. We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone attended our first Careers & Opportunities Fair – a stunning 716 students and 33 employers! We hope you all enjoyed the day, and we certainly did. Our marquee in the Walled Garden was buzzing all day, and there was a fantastic atmosphere. It was brilliant to see so many of our students interacting with employers – many of whom later told us how impressed they were!

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Don’t forget to follow up with the employers you got chatting to on the day. Networking is an invaluable way of making contacts, and getting your name known by recruiters before you apply for roles is a great way to make sure that your application stands out.

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If you’d like some more advice and guidance from the Careers team, sign into My Career to check out our jam-packed programme of workshops for the rest of the term or book an appointment with one of our Careers Consultants.

If you weren’t able to make it to the Fair, don’t despair – our guide (handed out in hard copy on the day) is packed full of handy info on all of the employers in attendance, plus top tips from our team, and is now available online. Click here to take a look at the PDF!

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It wasn’t just the Fair going on, either. We had Google’s Digital Garage on-campus at Newton Park, giving talks to over 250 students about how to get stuck into digital, and the importance of having an online presence for your business. If you missed out, don’t worry – we have three more Make Your Own Career events over the next three weeks, covering freelancing, creative careers and entrepreneurship. Check out the Bath Sparks site for more info and to book your place for these must-attend sessions.

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Sion Hill didn’t miss out, either, with 100+ BSAD students treated to a fascinating session by Holly Burton from Crafts Council UK about how the organisation supports makers and creative enterprise. Take a look here to see what other workshops we have coming up at Sion Hill.

If you’ve got any feedback for us about the Careers & Opportunities Fair, we’d love to hear from you! Email us, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter to let us know what you’d like to see in future. We’ve got you covered!

What Employers Are Looking For at the Careers & Opportunities Fair

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There’s just one week to go until the Careers & Opportunities Fair (Tuesday 25th October, 11am-3pm in the Walled Garden, in case you’d forgotten) and we can’t wait for you to meet all of our fantastic employers!

While the Fair is the perfect opportunity for you to explore your career options, it is also worth bearing in mind what employers are looking to see from you. We’ve asked a couple of organisations attending what they’re hoping to see…

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Kate Buffery – Student Recruitment Officer, PwC
“Ask inquisitive questions – whether that’s about our various business areas or our application forms. That’s why we’re there, after all! Don’t be too shy to ask any ‘silly’ questions either, as chances are everyone who helps us out at our stand will have been through the graduate application process and would have been in your shoes only a few years before. Oh, and always take the freebies!”rmpAmirah Hajat – Rate My Placement
“Dress appropriately – first impressions are key, so if you’re looking smart and alert you’re going to leave a good, lasting impression for all the right reasons. If you’re dressed the part, you will feel the part, and this will enable you to be confident. You’re going to be talking to a lot of people – potentially people from companies you want to work for – so be don’t be shy. Remember: you’re a lion, not a mouse!

“Most importantly, do your research: wow the representatives by showing how enthusiastic you are about the company and the work they do. Look at if they have been in the news recently, the offerings they have for students and graduates as well as the specifics of the role you are interested in. Lastly, have fun! This is a marvellous opportunity to network, so enjoy it.”

Have a look at the event on My Career to see the list of exhibitors attending on the day. You’ll be surprised at the range of placement opportunities available at Bath and North East Somerset Council, for example – encompassing Operational Improvement, Sustainability, Disaster Planning and Marketing/Communications projects, as well as an exciting range of graduate opportunities with a wide variety of national and international businesses across all industry sectors.

Some companies receive hundreds of applications for their opportunities, so the Careers Fair is a great way to meet the recruiter face-to-face and make a lasting impression to set your application apart from others.

If you’re unsure how to prepare for the Careers Fair or don’t know what to expect you, why not book on to our Preparing for the Fair workshop and read our previous post on how to talk to employers?

For more information on the Careers & Opportunities Fair, like our Facebook page.

Careers & Opportunities Fair: What’s in It for You?

By now you’ve obviously heard about our Careers & Opportunities Fair, which is taking place on 25th October between 11am and 3pm in the Walled Garden. If not, you’ve clearly been living under a rock, and need to watch this video immediately:

But what’s in it for you? We’ve compiled a handy list of what benefits are on offer for Fair attendees (that means you)

1) A headstart when applying for graduate schemes
The astounding range of graduate schemes on offer can be overwhelming, can’t it? With different deadlines, requirements and applications/interview processes, there’s a lot to find out about. Many of the employers at the Fair will have their own schemes, so this is a fantastic chance to find out more about the various programmes and to get any questions you have answered in person.

2) A placement (or year in industry)
Our placements team do a brilliant job of seeking out opportunities for you to get hands-on experience in a huge range of workplaces. But it’s not just up to us! Tracking down your own work experience or internships means you’re able to try out a role that’s absolutely perfect for you – and talking to and building your own relationships with employers is one of the best ways to go about this.

3) A new set of contacts – and practice talking to them
As we’ve covered in a previous post, we know that talking to employers can be daunting if you’re not used to it. So with more than 30 companies on-campus, this is your time to get practising. Introduce yourself to the employers and have a brief chat – once you’ve got their details, you can follow up with them and get in contact with any further questions in the future.

4) Careers advice on hand
In addition to tens of employers, we’ll also have a Bath Spa Careers stand of our own at the fair – so you can pop by and pick up some advice from one of our friendly Careers Consultants, or ask us a question. We’ll be giving out brochures to take away and read in your own time, too, in case there’s anything you’ve missed or need to refresh your memory on.

For more information on the Careers & Opportunities Fair, like our Facebook page.

Introducing Bath Spa’s Careers & Opportunities Fair!

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Here it is… Bath Spa’s first ever Careers & Opportunities Fair, and it’s one you’re not going to want to miss!

On Tuesday 25th October, we will be welcoming 32 organisations onto campus who are keen to talk to YOU about the types of opportunities they have available and what it’s like to work within their organisations.

Taking place between 11am and 3pm in the Walled Garden, you can drop by between your lectures and on your lunch break to explore what’s out there in the big wide world of work.

The fair is open to students from all degree disciplines and all year groups. If you’re in first year, this is a great chance to start exploring possible career paths and talking to employers about what it’s like to work within their industry.

If you’re a second-year, you may be thinking about carrying out a placement or internship during the academic year or over your summer break. The fair is the right place for you, too. There will be employers there offering these kind of opportunities, who will be able to talk to you about what to expect.

Final-year student:, this is an absolute must-attend, even if you have no idea what you want to do once you leave University! It’s important to remember all those transferable skills you have developed and how they could be used in a number of different industries. Use the fair to explore graduate positions you may not have considered before and ask lots and lots of questions about the type of experience you would need to apply for the role – and, of course, any hints and tips you can gather for the application process.

A lot of the organisations attending will be bringing along recent graduates that currently work for them, as well as students on placement within their business – even some from Bath Spa. Remember that they want to talk to you just as much as you want to talk to them.

Prior to the fair, you can attend one of our workshops on ‘How to prepare for the fair’. Book your place through My Career.

Like our Careers Fair Facebook Page to find out more about the organisations you can look forward to seeing on the day.

See you there!