Self-employment alongside studying: top tips

Guest blog post written by Lucy Eliza Davis, Management, Leadership and Leisure student running her own fitness website. 

Increasingly, we’re seeing that some graduates want to work for themselves or start their own business after university. Self-employment can offer a more flexible way to live and earn – but isn’t without its challenges!

Some of you may even be thinking about running a business alongside your studies. One of our undergraduate students, Lucy Eliza Davis, has turned her passion for fitness into a business by launching her own website, blog and YouTube channel with the aim of encouraging, motivating and inspiring others to be healthy and active. She’s taken the time to write about her experience and share some of her top tips…


Lucy Eliza Davis: Student and online fitness guru

I have always been an athletic individual, from cross-country at primary school to swimming nine times a week throughout high school and college, making my debut on the GB team in 2014. After finishing swimming in April 2015, I’ve dedicated much of the past two years into the health and fitness industry.

Being a highly ambitious and optimistic individual, I’ve always wanted to be as successful as possible and dreamt of managing my own business. Over the last two years, I have developed as an individual, and whilst being at university, I have unquestionably advanced the skills I have used to grow and develop myself as a brand. To share one key piece of advice before I go into talking about my website; if you set your mind to doing something, it will always be achievable. You just have to distribute your time between studies and external interests evenly and consistently.

So to explain a little about the process of my website..

In December 2016 I decided to make a move into digital marketing, with the help of my good friend, Elliot Matthews. I was inexperienced in website design, not even knowing how I would go about creating one in the first place, but by using my connections and Elliot, we managed to pull it off. I knew if I wanted to increase my own individual brand awareness, a website was a must. Of course I was feeling a little skeptical and not sure how I was going to manage both university and starting a website, but at the end of the day, I knew it was possible if I continued to be organised and kept thinking how much it was going to benefit me. In February 2017 I finally got round to starting my own YouTube channel. It took a lot longer than I had expected, however I am finally there!

Starting out will never be easy and straightforward, or everyone would do it. But I can give you an insight into making the process that whole lot easier!

Lucy blog.jpg

Snapshot of Lucy’s website

Skills needed:

  • I can’t stress enough how important it is to be organised. And this isn’t just needed for having your own little business. If you are organised at university, I promise you will be making your life 10 times easier.
  • Time management is crucial. Don’t think you will be able to juggle both university studies and starting a business without having your day/week mapped out. Buy yourself a diary/whiteboard and make sure everything you are doing is noted down – your stress levels will dramatically decrease.
  • Innovative ideas will not go a miss. Never ever think an idea is ‘stupid’ just because someone else thinks it is, or you aren’t 100% confident. You will never know the success of an idea unless you share and utilise it!
  • Written skills will always be a useful when having a website aimed at connecting with your audience, and you want them to read your blogs. There is no point in writing something that you are bored writing yourself and know won’t engage people.
  • Having motivation and dedication not to give up when things are not exactly going to plan. You have to deal with failure and setbacks to understand how much you really want it.

Challenges and difficulties I have faced:

  • Over-facing myself with tasks – Sometimes, I forget to take a breather and take a step back when I have a million and one things going on. It’s so important to not take on tasks at that moment when you are already stressed. If you wanted to finish a blog post, and write some more of your assignment but didn’t have enough time – take a breather, make a brew, do your university work (always ensure your academic work is up-to-date over your website), and then if you do have time, work on your blog post.
  • When the assignment period is looming – This is still my greatest struggle with working on my own brand and when its time to start writing assignments. Don’t think you can leave your assignment until the last minute. Start the night you get set it, create a plan to follow… use your time wisely and you WILL be ok. If you don’t, you may do what I did when I was handed my first assignment and spend too much time on your own business, forgetting about your academic work. DON’T do this, it isn’t worth the stress.
  • Being patient has never come easy to me. My website was very slow starting off, and at the time I was worrying so much and didn’t think it was going to go anywhere. But at the end of the day, start-up businesses don’t always take off straight away. You do have to be patient when launching, just like I am being patient with my new YouTube Channel.

Highlights and things I have really enjoyed along the way:

  • The independence. Working for yourself is very satisfying as you get to see the results you have produced. Because I am in the fitness industry, I am lucky enough to engage with many individuals, and to understand how they view my brand.
  • You meet so many like-minded individuals when you create a website. Whether this is through the website itself or meeting with people along the way in the design process.

Top tips for students that would like to do something similar:

  • For organisation and time management – BUY A DIARY. Your diary will be your bible.
  • Use your connections and networks to engage with more and more people.
  • Write your goals down and look at them every morning to motivate you

So if self-employment sounds like something that you might be interested in, visit our website for more information, useful links and a comprehensive guide on how to get started with your own business, self-employment and freelance work.

Are you a Global Graduate?

Global Graduates is an exclusive programme for University of Manchester students, offering the opportunity to meet with alumni in host cities across the world (thanks to the generous funding of donors). This year’s programme will take 32 lucky applicants to Hong Kong, London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Singapore and Toronto – an amazing opportunity!

The 2017 programme is now open for applications from eligible undergrads (not in the final year of study), and we’re holding information sessions in February and March with further details – including application hints and tips. Not to be missed.

If you meet the criteria, I doubt you’ll need further convincing to apply….but if you do, one of last year’s Global Grads, Alasdair Irwin, has written about his experience.

Deadline for applications: Sunday 19 March


Alasdair in Hong Kong

“When applying for the Global Graduates programme, Hong Kong was the destination that filled me with the most wonder. Given the surge of China in recent years and Hong Kong’s long standing reputation as an economic powerhouse, it is somewhat surprising that Hong Kong remains an enigma for many in the West. Since starting at university, I’ve been determined to learn more about China and I saw this programme as the perfect way to do so.

After arriving in Hong Kong, it wasn’t until taking the late night shuttle bus to the hotel that I began to appreciate that I was somewhere special. Driving through an illuminated labyrinth of skyscrapers, it was hard not to feel overawed. This was a feeling that I was to experience a lot over the following week. The week consisted of meetings with alumni from The University of Manchester across a whole range of disciplines – from finance, to insurance, to engineering. Navigating around a hot and humid Hong Kong for 5-6 meetings a day without being late was challenging at times, but I’m glad to say we pulled it off – for the most part!

Before visiting Hong Kong, I had no idea that the University had another Manchester Business School based there. When we visited, we were told that we were now part of this global network and that we would always be welcome. This really brought home how lucky we were to be chosen for the programme.

A personal highlight of the trip was visiting Black Point Power Station operated by China Light & Power. We were treated to lunch with senior staff members and shown around the plant. I was also made aware of potential internship opportunities with the company which I will definitely enquire about further.

Although we had a busy schedule, this gave us more opportunities to learn from the alumni. After returning to the UK, I didn’t remember the times feeling tired or jet-lagged; the lasting memories were of the meetings with the alumni and being absorbed in a new culture in breath-taking surroundings.

This experience has given me confidence when dealing with professionals, allowing me to lose my inhibitions when networking. We learned what the alumni expect from graduates applying to work at their companies. This has given me invaluable insight which will be of great benefit when seeking employment. I would like to say thank you to all of the alumni volunteers for allowing me to have this life changing experience. I hope that in the future I might be able give back to the University as they have done!”


Alasdair and colleagues in Hong Kong

Explore your interests at My Future Fest


February is one of the coldest, darkest and wettest months of the year. January exams are over, semester two has just begun and summer feels like a very long way off. But that magical time of the year without exams or assignment deadlines will come around sooner than you think, and it’s also the ideal time to do something a bit different and build your skills away from the University. Which is why we’re bringing you My Future Fest – a day packed with opportunities to help you plan for your summer and discover what you might like to do in the future.

Here are three reasons you should pop down to My Future Fest on Tuesday 7 Feb, regardless of where you are in your studies.

  1. Discover opportunities that may surprise you.

You might think you know what you’re going to do this summer, but our exhibitors will have opportunities that you hadn’t even considered. Become a coach with SPORT Manchester or have a real overseas experience with the British Council’s Study Work Create programme. Coming down to speak to exhibitors can spark something that you just can’t get by trawling through a website.

  1. Get ahead of the crowd.

Whether you’re in your second year planning for the summer, or a final year student looking for graduate jobs, My Future Fest provides not only exhibitors with current opportunities but also access to staff who can give you expert tips and advice on developing your interests and skills – and putting it into words to help you land the job that you want. We’ll be there providing info on our Student Experience Internships and Manchester Graduate Talent programmes, and there will also be plenty of support for those of you facing the dreaded employer selection tests.

  1. Competitions and freebies!

If that’s not enough to convince you, there will be freebies on the day (including ice cream and cake), not to mention a number of competitions that you can enter if you head down to Uni Place. Prizes include £300 of travel vouchers, £100 Amazon vouchers and a Level 1 Coaching qualification for a sport of your choice (worth £150). Really, it’s too much to miss out on…

So make sure to join the Facebook event for further updates, and head down to University Place between 10am and 4pm on Tuesday 7 February to make the most of My Future Fest.

These students got involved last year and didn’t regret it…

Keep your cool this Christmas

So that’s it, semester one is almost over and many of you are getting ready to head home (or elsewhere) for the winter break. Whether you’re a first year student that’s just made it through your first ever semester at uni, or a seasoned postgrad that knows these winter breaks like the back of your hand, there can be so much going on at this time of year that your future career probably won’t be at the front of your mind. Which is fine… you’ve got your upcoming exams or dissertation to tackle while smiling politely through family dinners and social occasions. Until that dreaded question comes up: what are your plans after university? What do you want to do with your degree?

Cue awkward silence, followed by a muttered response about travelling the world, being snapped up by a major company in London or finally writing that best-selling book.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone in hating that moment – whether you know what you want to do with your future or not. I graduated over four years ago and still get irrationally annoyed whenever someone asks about my career plans. So I thought I’d share my top tips on dealing with this social anxiety and being that cool, calm and collected person with everything under control.


High quality decorations in the Careers Service office: Rodney the Reindeer

What to tell the family this Christmas

Friends and family are bound to ask about what you’ve been up to this semester and what you plan to do next. To handle this question like a pro, I have three tips:

  • Don’t be scared to say that you don’t know what you want to do yet. Many people don’t – so many that we have a whole webpage dedicated to just that. There is no shame in spending some time to work out what you enjoy and deciding what might be right for you.
  • Even if you’ve spent the semester enjoying yourself and making friends, fact is you WILL have developed your skills. It doesn’t matter how you acquired them – are you a better communicator now that you’ve worked with (or maybe even had a few clashes with) people from very different backgrounds to yourself? Have you learnt about time management the hard way, having left your work until the last minute? Don’t panic about what you’ve not done, but focus on what you have achieved. Use these skills as a starting point.
  • Rejection is nothing to be ashamed of. Learning to deal with a set back and turn it into something positive is one of the best lessons you can learn. So don’t fret if you didn’t get that job you wanted; pick yourself up and keep going. If you need further inspiration, check out these celebs, all of whom were rejected before making it big.

Socialising, socialising, socialising

There are so many social events at this time of year, it can be exhausting. And don’t worry, I’m not going to say “any event is a networking opportunity”. You should enjoy yourself and switch off sometimes. But I will say this:

  • Be honest about what you are thinking about for your future. You may find that friends and family have suggestions to help you out – maybe by putting you in touch with someone useful. No pressure.
  • By all means, have fun, but be aware of what you’re sharing on social media. Are you tagged in any pictures on Facebook that an employer may not look favourably upon? Are there photos on your Instagram that you wouldn’t want a potential boss to see? Here are some tips on managing your digital footprint.
  • If you’re exhausted from being sociable in real life, why not spend a bit of time on your professional profile online? Join LinkedIn if you haven’t done already, and put some time into creating a great profile. Get started here.

Don’t freak out about being “last minute”

Got friends that have already secured an internship for the summer, or landed that grad scheme? That competitive panic can creep in….but it’s all part of the plan, right? Remember that:

  • Yes, many of the graduate schemes with big companies close in October/November. But these schemes only account for a small proportion of the UK job market. There will be graduate level jobs advertised all year round – especially in the education sector, media, arts, charities and smaller companies. Look at employers that you might not know much about. There is plenty of time to find the right opportunity for you.
  • There are still summer internships out there – just search on CareersLink for those still advertising. Alternatively, our Summer Experiences Internships programme, in which second year undergrads take an internship either within the Uni or a not-for-profit organisation, is not even open for summer 2017 yet. So nothing to worry about yet, is there?

Exams & Dissertations

Feeling stressed about having to do some work and revision over the winter break? Try to keep on top of things while you’re away from uni to prevent too much stress when you’re back. Here are a couple of things to help:

  • Exam support workshops in AGLC every day between Monday 9 and Friday 20 January. Check out what we’re offering here.
  • While you’re not on campus, remember that the University provides a wealth of online resources to help with things from assignments, dissertations, presentations, or, well, anything really! Search for what you’re after here. I guarantee there will be something to help.

So that’s it for my tips for being in control over your winter break. Of course I have other tips, like don’t eat a full packet of mince pies in one go (speaking from experience, you won’t feel great afterwards). Don’t spend all of your money on overpriced mulled wines (ditto). But above anything else, have a great break and we’ll see you in the New Year!

Internships; a competitive advantage

Guest blog post written by Todd Davies, Computer Science graduate from The University of Manchester

Imagine an opportunity where you spend a summer travelling around, meeting amazing, clever and inspiring people on a daily basis, get to work on interesting and impactful projects, yet all the while getting paid for your trouble. In case you hadn’t guessed from the title of the post, I’m talking about internships.

On being asked to write a post about my internship as a Software Engineer at Google, I realised that merely describing what spending four months at a major tech company is like just wouldn’t do. I did other internships before going to Google, and my experiences at each have all contributed to who I am; I suppose it’s unsurprising that I feel moulded in this way, considering that these programmes are designed to grow and nurture students into somebody efficacious and employable.

As far as I can see, employers are looking for three things in new graduates; qualifications, qualities and experience. Since I’m writing to students at The University of Manchester, I’m going to assume that you’ll be suitably qualified when it’s time to look for graduate roles; a strong set of A-levels, and an Honours degree (let’s assume everything goes well) will make up the backbone of a strong graduate job application. However, the other two dimensions of an ideal candidate – qualities and experience – have a far more ephemeral path to fulfilment, with no ‘set formula’ (ie. work hard and pass your exams) like getting qualifications has.


Recommended for decomposing hard problems.

It’s easy to consider soft skills as easily acquired, less important trivialities in the grand scheme of things; boiling down to a good phone manner, grammatically correct emails and the ability to hold a conversation at the water cooler. Yet I think the phrase encapsulates far more than just being able to communicate. I was exposed to office politics for the first time on a previous internship, where I witnessed a meeting in which software engineers from two teams literally argued over which data format to use when encoding messages and where project allocation could be a function of your manager’s standing with
your department’s VP. At Google, I realised how a seemingly large and intractable problem could be decomposed into small, independent and manageable chunks to be solved one at a time. While rarely revelatory, these skills can only really be learnt by doing, and if you’ve acquired them as an intern, then you can really hit the ground running after graduation.

While I don’t consider myself an extrovert by any means, meeting new, interesting people is certainly a hobby of mine. I’ve found internships to be an excellent way of expanding my social horizons outside an immediate peer group. I’ve been lucky enough to intern with people from a diverse set of backgrounds, and can now count students and alumni of Stanford, Princeton, Harvard, Cambridge, Imperial, MIT and many more universities of note as my friends, plus I’ve had the chance to work with people with all sorts of amazing interests, such as those who compete in ballroom dancing, Sudoku and Rubik’s Cube speed-solving world championships (those are not the same person). If the phase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds any merit, then growing your ‘network’ as early as possible in your career should see a very good return on investment in the future.

But let’s not forget, the internship programmes of most companies are designed to be fun, and since they’re aimed at students, tend to involve plenty of opportunities for travelling, partying and other pastimes favoured among our generation. Morgan Stanley put on regular drinks events for us in Canary Wharf, as well as the promise of a month of expenses-paid training in New York should we accept offers to become full-time employees. I was actually taken for interviews in NYC by Palantir off the back of a small phone interview and them seeing that I’d interned at Google. Speaking of Google, since I was based in the Munich office, travel was inherent in those internships too; I visited their Zurich, Dublin and Prague offices and had my weekends (plus seven days holiday) free to roam around Europe as I wished. Of course, there are lots of other (free) perks to working at Google, from having delicious food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) every day, on-site massages, off-site events (including three days in an Austrian ski resort with my team, including e-mountain biking and white-water rafting), cool offices, awesome co-workers and the fact that the code I wrote is being used to help serve web-pages and services to millions, if not billions of people.


E-mountain biking in the Alps with my team Google.


I now have a graduate role as a Software Engineer at Google (starting in December), and while I passed my interviews, according to my recruiter, what really convinced their hiring committee to extend me an offer was the work I did on my internships there. Without an internship, perhaps my interviews alone wouldn’t have passed muster with no feedback from my peers to support them. Internships really are a competitive advantage!

Lastly, I want to point out that while applying for (and undertaking) internships at big companies may seem really quite daunting, there is absolutely nothing to lose (except perhaps time) from having a go; I have been rejected from more internships and jobs than I’ve been successful, and there’s really nothing to fear from the pain of rejection.

If you have any questions for Todd, you can contact him on Twitter, @Todd__Davies.

Join our Facebook group to stay up-to-date with summer internship opportunities.

Considering postgraduate study? Dates for your diary

Are you thinking about furthering your studies with a postgraduate degree? You may be considering further study to develop your subject expertise, demonstrate intellectual independence or to acquire a qualification to help you on your way to your dream job – but it can be difficult to know where to start.rgb_uom_careers_lock_ups_the_academic-01

Whether you’re an undergraduate student thinking about what you want to do next, a master’s student considering carrying on to complete a Doctorate or you’re even thinking of returning to education after working for a few years, now is the time to start planning ahead for next September. You may be just starting to consider options, or you may know exactly what you want to study at – we have a few dates for your diary that may help you to make up your mind.

At The Careers Service, we organise the Postgraduate Study Fair in mid-November each year, which is attended by many different universities and institutions all with postgraduate opportunities. But you may also have heard about The University of Manchester’s postgraduate taught and research open days, which are also held in November, featuring opportunities at our university. While there is no harm in going along to all three, it can be quite time consuming. So I’ve written this blog post to give an overview of each and help you decide which one is right for you.

The Postgraduate Study Fair, Wednesday 16 November 2016 


Our very own Postgraduate Study Fair is your chance to plan your next steps by meeting with representatives from over 90 institutions, all offering courses and further training for September 2017. This is ideal if you’re not sure where you want to study!

Open to students and graduates from any university, institutions from throughout the UK and overseas will be represented, offering hundreds of postgraduate course places. You will also have the opportunity to speak to advisory bodies such as,, US-UK Fulbright Commission and many more.

The fair provides the perfect opportunity for you to make personal contact with a range of institutions and get a feel for the courses or universities that would suit you – without needing to visit each one individually. You can register your interest in a particular university, or attend a talk to receive expert advice on topics such as funding, teacher training, and what postgraduate study is really like.

More information, including a full list of exhibitors is available on the website.

To book your place: register online

We also have a Facebook event which you can join to stay up-to-date with what’s planned for the day.


If you are considering postgraduate study at The University of Manchester and you have already identified some courses or areas of study that interest you, then our two upcoming postgraduate open days, both on University campus, may be for you.

Postgraduate Research Programmes Open Day, Wednesday 2 November 2016

A postgraduate research degree allows you to demonstrate intellectual independence in a particular area at doctoral level, and to contribute to the University’s thriving research culture. Some programmes may involve a taught element, or specific training in research skills; others may focus on interdisciplinary research, or involve a research partnership with another institution or external organisation. Whatever your subject of interest, this Open Day will give you an insight into the broad range of postgraduate research opportunities we have.

You will also have the opportunity to speak to a variety of staff about the many aspects of postgraduate research study and meet some of our current research students. While a master’s degree is often required for entry onto a PhD programme, it may be possible for you to progress directly with an undergraduate degree – come along to learn more about the vast range of courses we have to offer and to find out what your options are.

To book your place: register online.

A full open day programme is available on the website.

Postgraduate Taught Programmes Open Day, Wednesday 23 November 2016

The Postgraduate Taught Programmes Open Day is your opportunity to learn more about the vast range of master’s-level courses that the University has to offer, and how you can continue to make use of the skills you’ve developed during your undergraduate degree.

You will get a flavour of what life as a postgraduate taught student at The University of Manchester is really like. As well as the chance to speak to a variety of staff about the many aspects of postgraduate study, you’ll also be able to meet representatives from some of our key student services, tour our campus, learning facilities and accommodation and meet some of our current master’s students.

In the afternoon, our academic Schools will lead sessions relating to your subject area, where both admissions and teaching staff will be available to answer your queries about the course(s) that you’re interested in. Further information about our postgraduate research programmes can be found on the University website.

To book your place: register online.

A full open day programme is available on the website.

If you have any questions about either of our Open Days, contact the Postgraduate Team at


Of course, The Careers Service will be represented at all three of these events. We’ll be on hand to discuss how we can support you in securing the top jobs in industry and academia. Hope this has helped clear up what’s what with postgraduate study events, and don’t forget you can always drop in to the Atrium or get in touch with us if you have any questions.

So you’re not going to the Big Careers Fair?

Next week (18 and 19 October), we’re hosting the Big Careers Fair at Manchester Central Convention Centre. Maybe you know this already – you might have seen our shiny big banners around campus, spotted a poster, or one of your lecturers has mentioned that it’s a good idea to go. Maybe, though, you think that none of this is for you – you’re too busy, or you’ve never been to a careers fair before and don’t know what to do. You maybig-careers-fairs-web-carousel know exactly where you want to go in the future, so see the fair as a waste of time. Maybe you think that employers are all on the look-out for specific people and that you don’t fit the bill.

As much as you may think that it’s not for you, let me give you a few reasons why there will be something for you at the Big Careers Fair.

Employers are interested in who you are, not what you studied

Employers want to hire the right person, not the CV. Maybe you think that studying an arts degree makes you ineligible for finance, or you can’t get that dream job in digital marketing because you’re about to graduate from psychology, but many graduate jobs and placements are open to students from any discipline. Employers will often focus on your own individual qualities and strengths, outside of what you’ve learnt in your degree.

Day One of the fair has loads of opportunities from marketing, HR, finance, business and more, so there really is something for everyone one. Day Two is focused on roles in engineering, technology and science, so the technical-based roles will be looking for students and graduates from certain backgrounds. Before you attend, download The Manchester Careers Fair app (available on iOS and Android by searching the App Store or Google Play) to see a full list of the employers attending, the roles that they are offering, and generally get an idea of what’s there for you.

Spend as much or as little time as you like

The fair is open from 10.30am – 4pm each day; although by no means do you have to be there for all of it! The fair is designed for you to take it at your own pace. Spend a good chunk of your day at the fair and attend some of the talks, or just pop in and speak to one or two employers that you’ve researched in advance. Again, download the app for the schedule of talks and list of employers – or visit the website.

All the gear, or no idea – you will get something out of it

Taylor Swift once said, ‘I try to prepare for everything beyond the extent of preparation’ and who could disagree with her? If you know exactly what you want to get out of the fair, and who to speak to, then turning up with a load of research under your belt and a stack of copies of your hot-off-the-press CV will stand you in good stead.

If you don’t quite know what you’re after, and you’re a bit tentative about knowing what to do and who to speak to, you can still prepare by having a look at who’s attending and what kinds of roles and opportunities are on offer. We’ll also have an ‘information point’ with Careers Service staff to help you get started.

Check out the employer list on the app – you might see something that you’re interested in, and come up with a question or two you’d like to ask on the day. Ultimately, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Who doesn’t like a bit of window shopping?

One of the best things about a careers fair is being to walk around and just take in all of the different companies on display – it’s a bit like window shopping, really. Just like there’s no pressure to buy anything, there’s no pressure to commit to deciding on the spot exactly what you’d want to do in the future! You can simply take a look around, and see if anything takes your fancy. You never know, something you thought would be a terrible fit for you actually suits you surprisingly well.

There are opportunities for everyone

To really hammer the point home, the one single thing that makes it a good idea to come along to next week’s Big Careers Fair is that there are opportunities open to everyone. No matter whether you’re a current student or a graduate, studying anything from accounting to zoology – with graduate jobs, internships and placement opportunities and a range of talks across the day, there’ll be something for you.

Still not sure?

If you’re still undecided, why not join the Facebook event for each day of the fair to see what we have planned and make an informed decision? If you’d like to attend, you can sign up in advance using the Eventbrite links or show up on the day. The choice is yours – hope to see you then!

Day 1 – 18 October – opportunities in management, business, marketing, finance, HR and much more.

Facebook event

Sign up on Eventbrite

Day 2 – 19 October  – opportunities in science, technology and engineering.

Facebook event

Sign up on Eventbrite

Make the most of your master’s with the MGP

By current Careers Service MGP Toby Manley, who will soon be leaving us for Japan. 

So, you’re coming to the end of your master’s degree, your thesis is a mere binding away from being submitted and you have overcome what initially seemed like an insurmountable mountain of postgraduate work. But what comes next?

Well, after a celebratory drink (or drinks), if you’re still looking to be challenged in new and exciting ways and want the opportunity to apply the skills you developed throughout your master’s, then look no further than MGP. The Manchester Graduate Programme was the path I chose after completing my MA and it has been one of the best decisions of my life. A decision that has secured me my dream job with a major company in Tokyo, Japan.

My MA experience

Before regaling you with why MGP is such a strong next step for master’s graduates, I’ll tell you a little about my academic background. I studied an MA in Intercultural Communication at The University of Manchester, my primary motivations being a love of exploring different cultures and a long-standing desire to work in Japan one day. But also, being conscious of my future, I felt it provided a more universal set of knowledge and skills that would be useful in our ever-globalising world.


Toby (centre), a proud MA Intercultural Communication graduate

In spite of my initial prudence, during my MA I directed little attention to what I would do once I graduated. I attended the odd careers fair, volunteered a little, and even managed to locate the mythical Atrium for a careers consultation. But looking back, I never engaged with these activities with any specific future goal in mind, but just to feel like I was doing something about my future. It was not until I staggered out of my departmental office, free from the burden of my dissertation and in desperate need of sleep that I realised I had no idea what comes next. Fortunately, en route to Starbucks for a celebratory cup of mud, I caught sight of a banner advertising MGP.

Why MGP?

I researched the Manchester Graduate Programme and immediately decided to apply. Many of the roles available are only a year long, and there is a diverse range of opportunities in organisations across Manchester; I saw MGP as an opportunity to apply and build on the skills I’d developed during my MA. It seemed the ideal way to confirm whether I wanted to further my studies with a PhD or pursue a career outside of academia. Moreover, still firmly set on making it to Japan, I realised I needed more business experience if I was ever going to secure a long-term position out there.

The application

The application process for most MGP roles is straightforward: stage one is to submit a CV and covering letter tailored to suit the role you are applying for; stage two is an interview. Most importantly, everyone who applies can get feedback at each stage, which is invaluable if you’re not successful first time round – like I wasn’t. I initially applied for a position in Marketing, but fell down because I paid little attention to the job description when writing my covering letter. In the feedback for this role, I was pulled up for failing to explain how my experiences were relevant to the ‘required skills’ section of the job description. When I came to create a CV and covering letter for my current role, Project Administrator within the UoM Careers Service, I stayed ahead of the game, emphasising how my skills and experiences were relevant. The extra time I invested in tailoring my application paid off and I was invited for an interview.

The interview had two stages: a face-to-face interview with a panel of two, followed by a proofreading and data analysis test. Interviews have always been my favourite part of any application. Donning a handsome suit like a knight readying for a joust and then talking about myself for an hour is my idea of a good time. I spent two days preparing using the example questions resource on the Careers Service website so I felt confident on the day. The interview itself went well; I took my time, making all the points I had prepared, and managed to form a rapport with the panel. However, I fell foul of the post-interview tests, failing to complete the proofreading component and only just managing to get through the data analysis. I left the office feeling dejected, kicking myself for my poor proofreading performance. When I received a call two days later offering me the job I think my first words were “oh my god, really?”. It just goes to show that, even if you’re not that confident about interviews, appearing enthusiastic and smiling really can make all the difference.

And since then?

If I were to sum up my experience of being a Project Administrator in three words, they would be: stimulating, diverse and rewarding. Since day one I’ve been challenged with opportunities that have enabled me to have a genuine impact on the University and its students. I’ve managed my own marketing project, written blog posts and even organised University-wide events, all on top of the day-to-day responsibility of managing the University’s vacancy advertising system, CareersLink.

When I first started, I didn’t feel prepared to transition from the world of academia to the world of business. But ultimately, using the skills I gained from my MA in a business context has given me confidence and experiences that I will draw on throughout the rest of my working life. Indeed, thanks to the opportunities I have taken up since my MA, I was able to secure a spot on a two-year graduate programme in one of Japan’s biggest companies. Ultimately, being able to talk about my valuable MGP experiences made me stand out as a candidate for the role, and the expert advice and support from The Careers Service enabled me to articulate them convincingly. MGP really can make your dreams come true. It’s a fairy careers mother.


Toby enjoying Japan – before he makes to move to work over there

Do the thing that scares you!

By former Careers Service employee Bryony Spencer – who has recently made the move to the Big City. 

Something I learned during my time at university is that you should always say “yes” to the things that scare you. Typically, these are the things that teach you more about yourself – what you enjoy, what you’re capable of, what drives you, and what you want to do more of in the future. For me this meant studying abroad in Sweden for six months, but examples could also include skydiving, bungee jumping or para-sailing – or even applying for a job that requires you to move to London.

london-1-For those of you who’ve come to The University of Manchester from London or elsewhere down south, this might not seem like a big deal. But for a proud Northern girl who’s lived her whole life in Manchester (aside from my aforementioned study abroad period in Sweden, from which I knew I would come home after six months), a permanent move to the capital for a new job seemed a very big deal.
Here’s why:

  1. London is expensive. A friend of mine from Windsor marvelled when he could get five pints for a tenner in Manchester, where before a £10 note would buy him two drinks back home. The rent per month for a double room (yes, just a room) in London’s Underground Zone 2 would get me a semi-detached three-bedroom house near Manchester. And commuting will cost me twice as much in London as in Manchester.
  1. I didn’t know anyone in London and had no idea where to live or how to go about finding somewhere to live. Which areas were more expensive than others, and which areas were less desirable to live in? How did Oyster cards work, and would an Underground travel card let me on the buses too?
  1. I was going to be a five-hour drive (or two-and-a-bit hour train ride) away from my family and all my friends. Although I’d been further away in Sweden, I knew that in six months I’d be back home. My twelve-month graduate scheme in London would lead to a permanent job with the company, meaning that, aside from the odd trip home every now and then, I would be away from my loved ones for a long, long time.
  1. It’s widely held that Southern folk aren’t as nice as us Northerners. This is something I swiftly found to be in true in my first week as a London resident, when a lady opted to tell me where to go with two short, sharp words rather than opt for the traditional “excuse me” when I got in her way on crowded Oxford Street.

So, why make the move then? Well, my enthusiasm for the job I was applying for won out over my concerns about living in London. Let’s not forget this was a job I had applied to and been rejected from just one year before. This graduate scheme would set me up for the marketing career I hoped to have, allowing me to work on truly impactful campaigns while exposing me to exciting clients and valuable contacts for my future. There was no way I could let this opportunity pass me by!

London 3My first few weeks as a London resident have already contained their fair share of challenges. I moved in to be greeted by a flat caked in dust and grime, uncleaned since the previous residents left, and so had to stock up on cleaning products and give the place several goings-over before I could get settled. I navigated two tubes and a bus to get to IKEA to fully kit out my room. I’ve faced the hustle and bustle (and commuter rage) of Oxford Street, sourced a local gym that won’t break the bank, and survived scorching 31 degree heat, the likes of which the North has never seen.

Tonnes of new experience racked up, and I’ve still yet to start my graduate scheme – but I know however tough it gets, I’ll be pleased and proud to be doing something I enjoy and taking great steps for my future. I’m confident that I’ll overcome those challenges just as successfully as I overcame the limescale-riddled kitchen sink of my flat.

Plus, London’s not all bad. Yes it’s busy and yes it’s pricey – but a visit to the British Museum, a sunny stroll through Hyde Park, a taste of Camden’s markets and my upcoming graduate scheme are all experiences I wouldn’t have had access to if I had stayed home in Manchester.

What have you learnt this summer?

It’s the middle of summer – your last day at university, school or college feels like a long time ago and yet you’ve still got a month to go. Not bad, eh?

We know that you’ll be busy over the summer, whether you’re doing some voluntary work, working a temporary job to get some cash in your pocket or even spending some time travelling and experiencing new cultures. But how many of you have stopped to think about what you’re actually gaining from your summer experiences?

Sabrina Tan

Sabrina Tan: Project Support Intern at the University enjoys a team outing at Chester Zoo.

Come September, there will be so much going on that you might start to forget some of the valuable things you learnt over the summer. So why not take a minute to reflect on what you’ve done so far, and what you want to achieve with the rest of your time away from university? You’ll thank yourself for it when it comes to applying for jobs, internships or placements.

When considering your achievements, it’s useful to ask yourself a few questions and note down the answers. We asked our current batch of students taking part in a Summer Experience Internship (SEI) a few questions to help them reflect on their experience. You can use these questions to put your own experiences into words, too.

What is the biggest achievement of your summer work so far?

Madeleine: Being able to talk on the spot, talking in front of people, and using my design skills (which I don’t get to use in my social sciences degree) have all been achievements.

Lucy: So far I would say being able to produce and conduct a full research process. This has given me confidence before going in to my final year and completing my dissertation.

Harry: My biggest achievement is learning the editing software needed to create promotional videos from scratch and managing to complete some videos in the eight weeks given.

Victoria: I was in charge of a department’s social media pages. Seeing the number of page likes going up on a daily basis and seeing people comment that they like my blog were big achievements.


 What is the strangest thing you’ve done, or what has surprised you the most?

Lucy: Having full control of a project and total responsibility was a surprise (but a nice one).

Madeleine: Getting used to the 9-5 routine was probably the most difficult thing – it makes you realise how luxurious student life really is!

Anthea: It’s surprising how much the work you do contributes to the work of the whole team. You’re not left to make tea all the time or to do odd jobs but given meaningful tasks that make your work seem worthwhile.

Anna: I did a presentation to the whole team and really enjoyed it. I was quite nervous, so I was surprised that it went so well!


 What have you learnt so far this summer? This could be new or improved skills, greater confidence, or just learning what you enjoy doing most.

Adele: I’m learning so much about the voluntary sector. It’s been really interesting to learn more about the ‘behind the scenes’ parts of charities, including how to use the organisation’s database, which is incredibly useful. This list is definitely limited – I know that I’ve still got a lot more to learn in my role!

Catherine: I’ve learnt how to network, how to be assertive in managerial roles, and how to engage effectively with people from all walks of life.

Madeleine: My internship is helping me figure out what I want to do when I graduate. I’m gaining more skills, and figuring out what’s important to me.

Anthea: I’ve learnt how to organise time better and prioritise different tasks as well as becoming more independent in completing objectives. I’ve also become more confident in my own abilities.

Annie: My internship gives me a chance to be creative again, which has boosted my confidence about my creative skills in general (it’s easy to forget about that kind of thing when you do a science degree). I feel more confident in my presentation skills which I’m really happy about as this is a skill I’m definitely going to need in my career.

Harry: My communication skills have improved (ie emailing loads of different people, understanding how to have a professional phone call, taking part in meetings). I’ve also learnt how to be adaptable and change my style for each video I made for a variety of services.

Anna: I have learnt how to network when contacting external companies, how to manage my time efficiently and prioritise tasks, and developed resilience when I have had knock backs.

Other skills that our SEIs say that they have developed are presentation skills, independence, and communication and analytical skills.

So I’d encourage you to take 15 minutes out of your busy summer schedule and ask yourself similar questions about your summer, no matter what you’ve been doing! When it comes to putting this experience down in words on your CV, it will be incredibly useful to remember exactly what skills you developed. If the answers our SEIs gave don’t inspire you, read up on employability skills and see if any apply to you. And don’t forget – even if your summer experience doesn’t feel particularly relevant to your future plans, you ARE gaining transferable skills.

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