Gratrick on Gratrick: An interview with my 20-year-old self

Guest post by Paul Gratrick, Careers Manager for the Faculty of Humanities


This June sees 10 years since I graduated with a degree in Philosophy from Durham University. Given my current role as Careers Manager at the University of Manchester (thereby speaking to students on a daily basis about life after University) and in anticipation of the upcoming Grad Fair, I have used a real life time machine to chat to my 20-year-old self who is currently in April 2007. Despite a decade passing, a lot of the issues are still the same for current students and so this chat aims to explore some of those.


Paul G_Headshot

Paul at 30 – unfortunately we don’t have a photo of the younger Paul as selfies weren’t a thing in 2007…

30 year old me: Paul! Great to see you again, and at 67% of the age I am at now. How are you?

20 year old me: Good thanks, just up from a nap. You still have the same haircut I see. Nice.

30: I’ll die with this haircut. I thought it would be good to interview you, just to see what you think is going to happen in the next ten years, and how you’re finding life right now. What job do you think I do for a living at the moment?

20: Honestly? I’ve no idea, although I would definitely say NOT a full-time Philosopher.

30: Haha, yes your philosophy days are somewhat over, but you’ve kept all your textbooks to keep up the illusion! I work at the University of Manchester in the Careers Service which basically means helping students find and achieve their career goals. That wasn’t my first job though, what do you think that was?

20: First job after Uni? Well I’m currently applying for a lot of marketing and recruitment types roles in London, so one of those… I hope! Otherwise these applications are for nothing.

30: Your first job was ‘International Management Trainee’ at a company called Meltwater. You landed this after countless applications and three failed interviews in London. It was a heavily targeted sales role, which you turned out to be quite good at! Lots of sourcing of leads, cold calling, meetings, selling, negotiation, client relationship management. On reflection it was your competitive nature that helped you succeed at it. It’s the kind of job that a lot of graduates did straight out of University and it can be a sink or swim role – you swam for a bit!

20: For a bit?

30: The sales role was fun and good for straight out of uni, but the relentless target culture was something that became too repetitive and you wanted something more stable, and more to do with people development as you enjoyed this a lot once you’d progressed to be a manager at Meltwater. The sales and client management skills you developed are still in use now though, so it was by no means wasted years.

20: So what comes next?

30: You started working for the University of Manchester at their Business School, working with MBA students. It was rather fortuitous as they wanted someone to advise students around the tech sector, and you had worked in tech/software in your sales roles. It just seemed to all fall into place at that time with no real planning…which was good as you were recently married.

20: Married?!

30: Yes – to your current girlfriend. And you also have two kids now – a boy and a girl.

20: What… the…

30: And it’s great. You owe a lot to her.

20: Okay cool. I feel like we’re all ready to leave university but not ready to start a career!

30: To be honest you adapt pretty quickly – you’ve no other choice! Your first job doesn’t start until August and so that leaves a few weeks after graduation to travel and generally chill out. Working 9-5 is tough at first but your weekends just become golden time! What are you worried about at the moment?

20: My dissertation to be honest. Most of it’s there; I just need to write it all up. A couple of people I live with have jobs already sorted and that’s stressing me out a bit.

30: It’s still like that these days. Juggling final year deadlines and finding a job is tough. Like I say, you end up starting a job in August and that’s common for a lot of graduates. The number of vacancies advertised shoots up after Easter and ahead of graduation. There’s a lot of choice, especially with such a non-vocational degree like Philosophy, and there are a lot of graduate jobs out there still.

20: What should I do between now and August, if you’re saying I start a job then?

30: Keep doing what you’re doing. Get a decent grade for the dissertation; you aren’t getting near a First mate, keep applying for jobs that interest you because you will see plenty out there. And lastly just enjoy it, no one tells you these are the good old days whilst you’re in them, and on reflection the three years at university were some of the best in my life – defining in fact – as you meet your future wife and best friends and it opens up doors that you wouldn’t otherwise have been at. A lot of things will happen by chance though, so there is little point in worrying too much about it. Be kind, be honest and be ambitious and you’ll do fine.

20: Is it all worth it? Going to university?

30: Gut reaction – yes. But I’m still only ten years into what will probably be at least a forty year career, so what do I know? The people you see coasting at university tend to coast afterwards for a bit as well, so you definitely get out what you put in. It’s a time I look back on with many happy memories, and you will never again have so much free time so enjoy that whilst it’s here.

20: Okay, well this has been super weird but useful too. Thanks, future me!

30: No worries. Laters.


University of Manchester students, any subject and year group, can contact the Careers Service with any queries either on 0161 275 2828, in person at the Atrium 1st Floor University Place or at Whether you have something in mind or no idea what to do we can help.

Graduating soon? Here’s what to do next…

You’re mixed with the feelings of sheer joy and absolute terror at the idea of finishing university;  you are purposefully ignoring the fact that you haven’t started thinking about your career despite your jammy housemate securing a graduate scheme way back in November; you feel a little bit sick at the mere idea of job hunting… sound familiar? If so, we’ve got the perfect antidote.

The Grad Fair 2017

  • When?
    We’re holding The Grad Fair earlier than ever this year. Having previously been in June each year, we’ve brought the Fair forward as we found a lot of students were missing it as they had finished their exams, and were off gallivanting around the country celebrating their new found freedom – we don’t blame them! So, just so you don’t miss out on this great opportunity, this year it will take place on Thursday 4th May. Swing by any time between 10:30am – 4:00pm.
  • Where?
    The Armitage Centre, Moseley Road, Fallowfield, M14 6HE.
  • Who?
    From large international companies to small local businesses, there will be a whole range of employment opportunities available, spanning across many different sectors (including postgraduate study)! So far we have over 140 exhibitors confirmed so there really is something for everyone this year.
    Just to name drop a few, exhibitors will include Abercrombie, Aldi, City Year UK, Civil Service, Dyson, Explore Learning, Havas Lynx, Manchester Enterprise Centre, MediaCom, Teach First, and many more. There’ll also be a whole host of higher education institutions offering postgraduate opportunities.
  • Why?
     hall full of employers, looking to hire graduates? Sounds pretty ideal for anyone who has not yet secured a job! In addition, there may well be opportunities for summer internships, working abroad and some part-time jobs.


A few things to remember…

Firstly, you are not defined by the degree that you did at university. If you studied Politics, there is no necessity for you to join the local government; if you studied Chemistry, you don’t have to go into Science. The world really is your oyster! The Grad Fair is the ideal place to get a feel for the different sectors and opportunities which are out there.

Secondly, the first full-time job you do does not determine the rest of your life. I repeat, the first full-time job you do does not determine the rest of your life. More often than not, the most successful people will have done a series of different jobs which will have equipped them with key transferable skills. Try to attend The Grad Fair with an open mind and don’t be put off by opportunities if they aren’t exactly what you are looking for – it may help you get to where you want to be in the end.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s free! We do advise that you register in advance to obtain a ticket to attend the Fair, although you can register on the day, too. Make sure to join the Facebook event to keep up-to-date with the Fair, and get some useful hints and tips on how to make the most of it.

Once you’ve graduated, you might find that opportunities like these specifically tailored to you don’t come around all that often, so we strongly recommend you make the most of it. See you there!

Five tips for getting work experience in TV

There are no two ways about it – getting into the media is difficult. As somebody who’s been trying to get into TV for a while now, it can feel almost impossible to get that first break. So when work experience opportunities pop up – especially with the really big names out there – hundreds of eager students and graduates flood the inbox of a poor unsuspecting work experience manager, vying to get their foot in the door.

Last month, I undertook a two-week work experience placement at the BBC in MediaCityUK, working on the production team for an upcoming Christmas TV show (let’s face it; there are definitely worse ways to spend two weeks!). I spent a week working in the office alongside the Production Management Assistant, getting an overview on how the producers make everything happen from start to finish, from coming up with the initial


Filming from a Manchester rooftop, trying to ignore the biting November chill

idea, to getting in touch with contributors, to booking transport for the show’s presenters, to handling the raw footage from the camera teams. The second week, I was out working as a runner with all of the camera teams, assisting at shoots on various locations around Manchester. While on work experience, the BBC really treat you as an important part of the team – I was given real, practical tasks, handling a lot of responsibilities, and I didn’t even make a single cup of tea. Trust me, I tried, you have to make a good impression and all that…


From this placement, I’ve learnt so much about the industry and the kinds of jobs involved, gained some fantastic practical skills of how to co-operate on shoots and acquired some knowledge of loads of different roles along the way. If you’re really passionate about getting into TV, or generally working in the media, I can’t recommend it enough.

It is, of course, a difficult industry to get into and to get real-world experience in, so here are my five tips for getting experience while at university.

Perseverance is key

You’ll have to get used to rejection. Roles are competitive, and you’ll have to learn to bounce back, to figure out how you could improve (whether it’s your skills, your experience or your application), and to keep at it. It was the fourth time I had applied for this work experience placement, having previously been knocked back. This time round I made sure I’d gained a bit more experience elsewhere, really thought about how to articulate my experiences and enthusiasm for the industry, and made sure I put in a great application, too.

Don’t wait for the opportunities to come to you

The kinds of opportunities you’ll come across online will usually be those with the big names in the industry, such as the BBC or Channel 4, and this isn’t really representative of how the industry works. Do some research to find out about some smaller independent companies – they may not have work experience schemes on their website, but they will usually welcome an email asking about the chance to come in and shadow for a day or two. It’s a really great way to make connections in the industry, and in a smaller company you may even have a bit more room to show off your skills. A good place to start is TV Watercooler, who list a variety of companies offering work experience, although make sure to look elsewhere, too.
Also, while at university, take the initiative to create your own experience. Get involved with student media, such as the Mancunion or Fuse TV and Fuse FM – it’s where you can make your first steps into media, meet like-minded people, and also make all your mistakes!

Use social media

It turns out that we now live in an age where Facebook has become the place to find work, not just procrastinate from it. Pages such as The Unit List and People looking for TV work: Runners are good places to search for entry-level work, and to get tips on your CV.

Join the Media Club

The Careers Service’s Media Club meets regularly for guest presentations and networking events with professionals and recent graduates working in TV, film, radio, broadcasting, journalism and more. Join the club on Facebook.

Watch some TV!

This is definitely the easiest step, but arguably the most important! If you want to work in the media, you have to be passionate about the content and be able to show it. Watch shows that you like, and that you don’t – think about what makes a good story, or how you could make it better. Listen to the radio on the way into uni. Come up with your own show ideas – who knows, hopefully you’ll be able to make them a reality soon!

3 Things to do before & after the Law Fair

Guest blog post written by Avni Devgan, Law student at the University of Manchester


The Law Fair is now less than a week away and for those who are interested in attending it, here is a list of things you should do before and after the fair to get as much out of it as you can.

Before the Fair:

  1. Go through the list of exhibitors on the Careers Service website and try and get an idea of who you would be interested to interact with.
    Every organisation, firm and chamber has a different work ethos and demographic so make sure you’re making the most of your time by meeting the ones that match what you may be looking for now, or in the future. You don’t have to go on to every exhibitor’s website and scan all the information on it on to your memory. However, narrowing down what you’re looking for by choosing between organisations that are national or international, engage barristers or solicitors, sponsor work visas or do not sponsor them, fund your training or don’t, will help you gain some guidance to navigate your way through the fair. When you’ve got an idea of who you’d like to meet (or even if you don’t!), it’s a good idea to prepare a list of questions to take with you, such as how to get some work experience at the organisation, or about the work they’re engaged in.
  1. Pick up a Starting Point Guide for careers in law from the Careers Service (or view it online). 
    If you think you may be interested in a career in law, do your research and find out what positions and sectors suit you. From being a solicitor to a barrister, and even a CiLex, these guides offer a lot of information about what pathways to working in law are currently available and how you can prepare yourself to work in them. Knowing about these pathways will also aid you in narrowing down what you like, who you would like to meet at the Fair and what you would like to ask them.
    Starting Point Guides are available from The Careers Service, in the Atrium, University Place, or online here.
    Law for law students guide
    Law for non-law students guide
  1. Try and keep an open mind.
    The Fair is a place where you can learn about things you may not know by interacting with people representing different legal organisations engaged in different legal work. Coming to the Fair with preconceived notions about what may not suit you may result in you losing out an opportunity to discover a legal career you could be truly passionate about. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t research on firms and careers that you know will be interested in working in, but do try and think outside the box and interact with exhibitors who you may not have considered while doing that research.

After the Fair:

  1. Look for vacation schemes, mini-pupillage or any work experience related to the career pathway that interests you.
    If you’ve found something you think you would like to work in, look for some internships so you can experience what it would be like to work in that position or at that particular organisation. The exhibitors should have information on such internships and how you can apply for them, and they may also be advertised on CareersLink and websites such as TARGETjobs and Milkround.
  1. Book an appointment with the Careers Service for CV writing advice and interview practice.
    These appointments are extremely helpful as they help you to polish your CV and tailor it according to the internship you are applying for. Interview practice is a great way of knowing what you can expect out of interviews, and to prepare for them if you’ve gotten through the first round of internship applications.
  1. Research on whether you need to study further for the career you’re interested in pursuing.
    Studying at university is expensive and it is important that you know whether you need to undertake further studies for the career you’re interested in pursuing and if yes, how you can arrange the finances for it. Pick up a Starting Point Guide for the career you’re interested in from the Careers Service to know more about this, and then make an appointment for career advice to decide how you should plan for this period of study.

You can sign up for your free ticket in advance here, to avoid queueing on the day.

Also, make sure that you download the new Manchester Careers Fair app – it’s the digital fair guide to see which exhibitors are at the fair, where they are, and what opportunities they have available. Available now on the App Store and Google Play store.

I hope this helps and and that you have a great time at the Fair, good luck!

From the exam hall to the office – starting a new graduate job

I’m Jamie, I just graduated with an undergraduate degree in Music, and a few weeks ago I started my new job here at The Careers Service.

My final year at The University of Manchester was a strange one indeed. Final year is without a doubt the most stressful – the workload piles up, the exams are worth more than ever before, and the pressure is on to figure out what to do after your degree. At the same time though, you’re probably at your most comfortable. You’ve spent three or four years getting used to the student lifestyle and truly making Manchester your home – at least that’s what it felt like for me.

The most daunting part of applying for jobs and graduate schemes is that you don’t really know what to expect. Going from university into a job is probably going to be the biggest jump out of your comfort zone since you came to uni in the first place, once again having to meet new people, get settled into a new routine, maybe even moving a to new city and not really knowing anyone.


Graduating on one of those rare sunny Manchester days

The job search

After trawling through job site after job site, applying to a bunch of graduate schemes and internships that I’d be interested in, I stumbled across this role on Careerslink – a job at The Careers Service as Student Communications and Marketing Assistant. Looking at the job description, there were some things I felt comfortable with – the design work, working with social media – and definitely some things I didn’t. Not really having much experience in marketing, I felt a little bit out of my depth but regardless, I was really interested in the job so I spent a couple of days working on a cover letter and sent off an application.

The interview

I remember when I got the call – I was in the middle of an assessment centre for another job I’d applied for (talk about great timing!) when my phone went off. Luckily we were on a tea break. I’d been invited for an interview. Cut forward to a week later, a load of interview prep and research under my belt, and having spent an inordinate amount of time picking out the right tie (not too dull, but nothing too garish), I’m sat in the interview room. Half an hour flies by, and of course I focus straight away on what I think went wrong. The questions I think I didn’t answer well, how I spent too long talking about irrelevant things, the awkward silences that seemed to last an eternity before I started talking. Oh well, it’s all good interview experience, right?

The job

To my surprise then, I got the job! It’s great to be able to see the University from the inside, effectively – seeing the inner workings of the Careers Service, and getting to know some of the exciting things I’ll get to work on this year. Of course I was pretty nervous on the first day; wondering if I’ll fit in, if I’ll know what I’m doing, if I’m out of my depth, but everybody here has been hugely welcoming and offering me their support and advice should I ever need it. Also, there’s a tonne of cake. Never a bad thing.

From day to day I’m doing things that I’m pretty familiar and comfortable with, like designing banners, flyers and promo material for events, as well as posting on social media on behalf of The Careers Service. I’m also doing a lot that’s completely new to me, like working on marketing plans and strategies, creating newsletters and even writing careers-related blog posts (yes, like this one!). One thing I’ve quickly caught on to is that you’re always learning, whether it’s being shown a new skill, learning from your mistakes, or even just how to have a good telephone manner when you’re on the phone to IT for the tenth time in a week trying to get your email account set up…

Starting your first steps after university – whether it’s chasing after that dream job, starting on a graduate scheme, or going on to postgraduate study – is definitely a daunting prospect. I’ve learnt that the first step is the hardest – the step to push yourself out of your comfort zone and do something new and unfamiliar.

Throughout the year I’ll be regularly blogging on here, so keep an eye out to see how I’m getting on in the new job!

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