Manchester Graduate Talent – A reflection

All good things must come to an end, and my MGT internship at the Careers Service is no exception. 12 months ago I was feeling lost over my future career; I felt like there was no clear path for me and my head was swimming with different options. While I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I did know that I wanted to stay in Manchester, so an MGT internship at the university seemed like a great option. I’d used the Careers Service as a student and found them so helpful and reassuring, so I decided to apply for the Information and Guidance Assistant role with the information team in the Atrium. Since then I’ve gained so many skills and not only learned about the role and the world of careers in general, but also about myself and what I want from a job. Here are a few of my biggest take-aways from my time as an MGT intern at the University.

1.    The options are HUGE

There are so many different MGT opportunities it is staggering. I got my job relatively early in the recruitment process (MGTs are advertised until as late as January, but the peak is between May-August) so I stopped looking for new MGT opportunities, but there are interns in every academic school, administration, comms and marketing, sports, the SU and just about every other area that you could imagine. Talking to the other MGTs I have learned about all kinds of exciting roles that are on offer at the university exclusively to UoM graduates from 2018 or 2019.

And it isn’t just roles at the university either, as the MGT programme connects local businesses with graduates and all kinds of different opportunities in a range of sectors can be found. Check out the Facebook page for more information.

2.    You will make mistakes, and that’s OK

During education you’re encouraged to never make mistakes, that they can’t be undone and you’ll be penalised when you do. ‘Unlearning’ this can be a bit of a struggle, but my internship has really taught me that mistakes are a part of life, and it’s how you work to fix the mistake and learn from the mistake that matters. Mistakes aren’t a failure, they’re an opportunity to do better next time. No employer expects you to walk into a job (especially an entry-level one) and to already know exactly how to do that job, so branching out, giving a few things a go and sometimes getting them wrong is how you grow in your career and as a person. Not only this, but making mistakes helps you develop your problem-solving skills and can be great to talk about in interviews!

3.    Make the most of your time

making a difference
Me and my colleagues with our Making a Difference Award for Environmental Sustainability!

When I came into my internship my attitude was to seize the opportunity to try as many new things as possible. I’ve undertaken my own projects, helped out with events and participated in Green Impact (we even won a Making a Difference award!) to try and gain as many skills as possible. The uni has great learning and development opportunities for its staff, so if you aren’t sure what you want to do or feel you might be lacking in some key skills for your chosen industry an MGT internship is a great chance to gain some of those skills.

Not only was I encouraged to use my time effectively while I was in the role, it also made me realise how important utilising your time as a student is as well. My experiences with extra-curriculars like PASS and my committee roles at the Manchester Swing Dance Society were a stepping stone to me getting this job, which in turn was a stepping stone to my new job. I’m so grateful that I took the time to do extra activities as a student, so if you’re coming back in September this might be something you want to think about too. Find out more about gaining experience here!

4.    Save your job descriptions

This is less of a ‘life lesson’ and a bit more specific to careers generally but still very important. When I was initially offered an interview for my internship, I decided it would probably be worth reading the Careers service guide on preparing for interviews so I would feel a bit more secure. In the guide it emphasised researching the role and going over the key skills the employer has asked for, so I looked the role up on Careerslink to see the description. Once I started looking I realised that, because the application date had closed, the job description wasn’t available anymore! Fortunately I had emailed the role to a friend and managed to find it that way and it was lucky I had or I may never have gotten the job. Not only did this extra research help me nab my role, but it also taught me a valuable lesson for the future: always save your job descriptions!

Luckily, if you apply to a job through Careerslink and this happens to you, you can ask the lovely info team to send you a copy! All you need to do is pop in to the Atrium or email with the vacancy ID and they can retrieve it for you. It’s a shame I didn’t know that at the time!

5.    Sometimes you need to take a step back to breathe

Before starting my internship I’d been in education for nearly 17 years. Like many others who aren’t sure what they want to do, I considered doing a masters and delaying the inevitable for another 12 months at some considerable financial cost because it was familiar. Education was my comfort zone, even having done an industrial placement. However, as time ticked on and I still hadn’t applied for anything, I had a proper think about why I wanted to do a masters, and how I could possibly choose which ones to apply for if I didn’t even know where I was going. After a tough final year I also had to think about my own wellbeing and whether I could really handle a masters.

Having told myself it was now too late to apply for a masters (it wasn’t), I started looking on Careerslink and discovered the MGT scheme. To me, this seemed like the best of both worlds, as it was a full-time paid job but it was in an environment that felt familiar. It wasn’t further education but it was within an educational setting. Plus, as it was a 12-month fixed term contract, it didn’t feel like I was signing my future away to something I potentially wouldn’t enjoy. I saw my internship as an opportunity to step away from further education, take a bit of a breather, decide where I was headed and start forging my own path.

As luck would have it, I have loved my role and my time at the Careers Service, and I know I wouldn’t be going into the great role I am now without the skills I’ve gained and the support I’ve received from my colleagues. I’m not saying that choosing a masters is the wrong path; for some people it is absolutely the best choice for them, but it really is worth taking the time to consider your options and why you want to do something before you commit to it.

Fancy taking up the mantle of my role at the Careers Service? Applications are open for the 2019 MGT position of Information and Guidance Support Assistant until the 2nd June (vacancy ID 88758) and is open to 2018 and summer 2019 graduates! If my role doesn’t tickle your fancy but you’d love an MGT role, keep an eye out on Careerslink as new vacancies will be posted throughout the summer!

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