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…

IMG_4323

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.

Presentation or death?

microphone“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” (attributed to Jerry Seinfeld)

Most of us dread public speaking of any sort and yet it is something we can’t avoid as often we’re required to make presentations to our peers or even to a prospective employer. How can we overcome the fear? Well, as with most things in life, practice makes perfect: the more you do it the better you’ll become. Therefore avoiding it is not helpful as sooner or later you’ll have to do it. Conquer your fear now! Start now taking the steps that are going to lead you to become a confident public speaker. Take small steps like asking a question during a lecture. Take inspiration from the people around you who you consider good speakers: what do they do? Can they give you any tips? Public speaking is a performance, you don’t actually need to be yourself when delivering a speech, you can emulate somebody you admire.

Be prepared

Become familiar with what you want to say. This sounds quite obvious but it’s the main point. The more you are confident about what you’re going to say, the better you’ll do. Even if the nerves take over your brain or your body, if you know what you’re talking about you’ll go on automatic mode and deliver. Prepare your script in advance and practice. Practice in front of a mirror or with a friend. Look out for voice tone and little mannerisms that will get in the way of your message. Many years ago, when I was a trainee teacher, my supervisor videoed one of my first classes and I couldn’t believe how much I run in front of the room, from one corner to the other while speaking. You would think my students were watching a tennis match, their heads turning left and right very quickly to follow my movements! If you have the chance to video or record yourself while practicing, do it. Yes, it is very embarrassing but also very useful.

Visualize

I find particularly useful to be in the place where I’m going to speak the day before or at least sometime before the presentation. I go to the exact place where I’m supposed to be delivering my speech and visualize what will happen. I mean visualize my surroundings and delivery, not my audience in any state of undress as it is so often suggested. In my visualization, the audience is always interested in what I have to say and yes, they’re fully dressed. I also make myself familiar with the “machinery”- where are the lights, how to turn on the equipment and make it work, etc.  If this is not possible, I try to at least be at the venue a few minutes before to take everything in and to actually see the audience coming in, making eye contact, smiling, maybe chatting if appropriate so that they are not strangers when I start speaking. Most audiences are friendly; they want you to succeed so try to connect.

Be human

Let’s assume your audience can read. It’s not particularly interesting for them hear you read slides, they can do that themselves. If you put all the information in your slides and read from them; then what’s the point of your presentation? You might as well just print out the information and disseminate it. Your audience wants to see the human.  A good presentation is about you being there delivering a script. Don’t let the slides replace you.

 Have three “take away” ideas

The average adult attention span is 5 minutes! What three main ideas do you want your audience to retain? People are more likely to remember information that come in threes so don’t overbear them- if possible trim your script down to the three main ideas you want them to retain and work around that.

Repeat yourself

Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you’ve just told them (see what I did there? Three things!). This helps the audience to remember the most important points of your message. Think of the most memorable speeches in history like Martin Luther King’s – he repeats the word “freedom” twenty times, the word “dream” eleven times and “I have a dream…” eight times in a period of only a few minutes. Repetition helps to retain the message.

Have a contingency plan

There will always be things out of your control that can go wrong. Think them through beforehand so that you’re prepared. Do you have a backup of your presentation? Perhaps you can email yourself a copy. What can you do if you can’t use your slides due to a technical issue? Can you have backup handouts? Make sure to have a plan B.

If you need support, there are resources available to you at The University. You can find workshops and online resources on My Learning Essentials. Recently they advertised two workshops that sounded really useful: “Speaking out in groups” and “Group work: play to your strengths”. They also have a few short courses online about presentations: “Present like a pro: the art of delivery”, “Present like a pro: visual victory” and “Start to finish: present like a pro”. Keep an eye on what is advertised on My Learning Essentials.

The Careers Service has a Presentation Skills Starting point guide.

Keep in mind though that no amount of reading can replace experience in a practical matter as this. You can’t learn how to swim without getting in the water. So dip your toes first, start today to take little steps towards conquering your fear.

February News and Updates for Masters students

The work of the Careers Service is designed and delivered to give you control over your career (= job + life). None of us can ever have 100% control but through self-awareness and other skills of career management, you become more able to adapt and overcome adversities that are out of your immediate control, and able to seek guidance for support and advice for dealing with things both in and out of your control.

snowdrops

With this in mind, I’ll be re-running some of the Careers Essentials workshops in February, for anyone who missed them last time around. You can find out more on our Postgraduate Events page:

Careers Essentials for Postgraduates

http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/postgraduates/events/

It’s not too late for a PhD

Currently jobs.ac.uk is advertising 884 global opportunities and find a PhD has over 11 000

Don’t forget to check out our online resources if your just starting think about further study: http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/study/

Getting ready for making applications?

Not sure where to start?Why not here?  http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/postgraduates/masters/masters-apply/

Broaden your search

Look out for jobs with employers you’ve never heard of, whether large or small. After the autumn rush, the majority of jobs are for smaller or less well-known employers. Note: “Smaller employer” does not mean “smaller job”. Just imagine getting in on the early days of a company who could be the next “Google” or “Red Bull”.

Build and maintain your support network

Our recent research indicates that graduate who move quickly and smoothly into good graduate jobs tend to share career and employability tips and advice amongst their friends and social contacts, not just with employers or academics. Everyone’s heard of the high profile graduate programmes advertised in the autumn. Your contacts could be the way you hear about less well-known jobs or postgraduate programmes (particularly PhDs) available later in your final year.

Last but not least…

Find out how to ask for references: https://manunicareersblog.com/2016/03/07/how-to-ask-for-letters-of-references/

January News and Updates for PGRs

A big welcome to all the new PGR students who’ve just arrived at the University of Manchester!

Spring is in the air. It’s true. Leaving work in the evening, I’ve detected a glimmer of sunlight lingering in the western sky.  More significantly, snowdrops, that well known harbinger of British Spring, have appeared in our garden (we live 200 m higher than Manchester, so I come into work to get warm).

Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was an early English poet in North America (unusual for being a published poet at a time when, according to her contemporary, Edward Hopkins, Governor of Connecticut (my home state for anyone interested) writing and reading should be left for men, “whose minds are stronger”).  Amongst her literary legacy, a particular quote of Mrs Bradstreet’s seems apt as we perch on the threshold of Spring 2017:

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

Anne Bradstreet, Meditations Divine and Moral

The work of the Careers Service is designed and delivered to give you control over your career (= job + life).  None of us can ever have 100% control but through self-awareness and other skills of career management, you become more able to adapt and overcome adversities that are out of your immediate control, and able to seek guidance for support and advice for dealing with things both in and out of your control.

snowdrops

With this in mind, I’ll be re-running some of the Careers Essentials workshops in February, for anyone who missed them last time around. You can find out more on our Postgraduate Events page:

Careers Essentials for Postgraduates

http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/postgraduates/events/

For new PhD students – don’t miss:

10 and a bit things you should know about the Careers Service: https://manunicareersblog.com/2016/09/14/10-and-a-bit-things-phds-should-know-about-the-careers-service/

Would building better relationships help you adapt and be resilient?

Read this guest blog post on by Sue Colbeck to find out more about the skills of relationship building with colleagues: https://manunicareersblog.com/2015/03/20/relationships-are-they-a-skill/

Getting ready for making applications?

Not sure where to start? A first port of call is the Applications and Interviews section of the Careers Service website – find out what you do know, what you don’t know, review your application and interview strengths and weaknesses – then take action before that crucial deadline. http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/applicationsinterviews/

International students –

Don’t forget about the 12 month visa extension for PhDs.  Find out about this and more on our International pages: http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/international/

Applying for the NHS Scientist Training Programme, 2017

2017 STP – opened 16th January, closes Monday 13th February at 5pm

conical flasksThe NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) is open for applications! Thousands of scientists and engineers of all disciplines work for the NHS, and the STP is how they recruit most of their Clinical Science trainees each year.

Many Manchester students and postgrads apply to the STP, so we update this blog post each year to help you navigate the process.  We will also update this post over the next few months when there is new information to share with you.

N.B. Some of the resources mentioned in this post may only be accessible by University of Manchester students. If you are not a Manchester student, have a chat with your own Careers Service about the support available to you.


UPDATE (Added 7/2/2017)
Scotland operate their own recruitment programme for Clincial Scientist Trainees and you can find details on the NHS Education for Scotland website. They tend to advertise their vacancies after England and Wales, and I spotted today that they have started advertising for Medical Physics trainees. They have 9-10 vacancies in the Grampian region and the closing date is the 1st March. Bookmark this page if you are interested in training north of the border!


UPDATE (Added 3/2/2017)
I have updated a short slide presentation with some extra tips on tackling the application form and online tests. If you are a University of Manchester Biological Sciences student, you should have been emailed the link already by your School. If you are a University of Manchester graduate, contact the Careers Information team to obtain access. If neither of these apply, contact your own uni careers service ‘cos they may have their own special help too!


Tips for applying 

You have until 5pm on Monday 13th February at the latest to submit your online application and (for anyone who isn’t an in-service applicant) until 5pm on Wednesday 15th February to complete two online tests – but get in as soon as possible as applications are reviewed as they come in.

The National School of Healthcare Science website has so much information for applicants it can be overwhelming – however, if you want the best chance of getting into these super-competitive posts, you’ll hoover it all up and use the advice in your application. A good place to start is by reading the STP Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants 2017.

The list of specialisms by location will be updated throughout the application window, and includes a new specialism for this year, Andrology. The list was updated 6 times last year, so check back regularly for additional vacancies (as of 27 Feb, there were 255 posts across 24 specialisms). You’ll have to inspect each specialism individually, but as it’s better to focus on a specific specialism in your application, it does make sense. (Applying for lots of different specialisms just to train in a specific location has never been recommended, never mind the fact it’d be tricky to tailor your application for multiple specialisms given the word count for each section!).

stp-vacancy-table-27-feb

We were told last year that only 3 candidates are interviewed per post, so the competition is red hot.  You’ll therefore need some great answers to the essay questions, so set aside some time to do your research, think about your experience and craft your answers – you need to do yourself justice here.

Online application form

The online application form is near on identical to last year, so if you applied last year, you know what to expect. Frustratingly, there is still no easy way to preview all the questions before you start to fill it out – so we’ve had a sneaky peek for you.

Top Tip
As you go through the online form for the first time, you can’t advance on to the next page without completing the mandatory sections. However, you can review and change most of the answers once you get to the end – just don’t press “Submit” until you have filled it all in and checked it!

There are lots of mandatory sections, and once you fill in some answers, other mandatory questions may appear.  Be prepared to answer A LOT of questions about eligibility, fitness to practise etc before you even get to the bit where you fill in your education!  You also need to supply the details of three referees, one of whom must be your most recent education supervisor (or line manager, if you have graduated and are in work).

When your application form is read by the people who will shortlist candidates for interview, they will not be able to see the choices that candidates have made. Hence, if you choose two different specialisms your application will go to both short listing panels, who will not know if you have ranked that specialism as first or second choice. They also will not see any candidate names – it is done completely blind.

Essay questions

The form asks the same four questions as last year and, again, you are allowed a maximum of 250 words per answer. An implicit test here is whether you can write accurately AND concisely.

1.      Your knowledge, motivation and commitment to the Training Programme

In less than 250 words, please state why you have applied for the Healthcare Scientist Training Programme. Give details of your motivation, suitability and future career development or aspirations. Describe what actions you have undertaken to increase your knowledge, experience and understanding of healthcare science and the training programme for your chosen specialism(s).

2.      YOUR COMMITMENT TO HEALTHCARE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

In less than 250 words, please describe your commitment, interest and enjoyment of scientific practice and technology. Please provide examples of how you seek to develop, improve and adopt innovative processes in your work or studies.

3.      VALUES AND BEHAVIOURS

The NHS Constitution* values and behaviours are paramount to the delivery of healthcare services.  In less than 250 words please describe how within your own experience you would display these qualities.

(*Have you read it yet? You can find it here)

4.      TEAM WORKING AND LEADERSHIP

In less than 250 words describe occasions where you have worked as part of a team and outline the skills you used to benefit the outputs of that team. Also, please describe a situation or situations when you have taken the opportunity to lead others and identify how you managed any challenges that arose.

There’s help on completing application forms on our website, including a useful hand-out. We definitely recommend taking the Context-Action-Result approach to structure your answers, to help keep them concise. Always take time to proof read your answers before you submit them (a good tip is to read them backwards to spot typos). University of Manchester students and recent graduates can get assistance from the Applications Advice service in the Atrium in University Place and also look out for Appointments in your School.

Online tests

After you submitted your online application, you have two tests to complete before the deadline, and you have to get through each of these for your application to get considered.

The tests are numerical reasoning and logical reasoning, and you can practise here. We guess they’re using logical reasoning tests to find people who are good at spotting patterns and trends (useful for diagnostics) as well as deductive logic. These tests can be very challenging if you’re not familiar with them, so do take time to practice, especially as only one attempt is permitted per email address!  Previous applicants tell us that with practice you can learn how to answer the logical reasoning questions accurately, so it is worth working your way through example tests.

What is the next one in the sequence?

What is the next one in the sequence?

You might also want to check out the psychometric test info on our website, including practice test materials. We have a new resource this year, Graduates First, which provides worked solutions for the answers you get wrong in its tests. I’d definitely suggest using a proper calculator when completing the numerical reasoning test and not the one on your ‘phone.

You’ll be able to do the STP tests at any time until the closing date but don’t leave it until the last minute: what would you do if you suddenly lost your internet connection or the site crashed with the weight of all the last minute tests being taken.

If you have a disability or a condition like dyslexia, you can request extra time to complete these tests. You’ll need to send evidence to support your request  at least 3 working days before the aptitude tests deadline date i.e. the 11th February!  If you fail to notify the team before the deadline date, you may not be granted the extra time you need.

Being optimistic …

If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets invited to interview, you might want to check out the interview dates for your specialism and keep the date free – looks like there’s no flexibility, so move heaven and earth to get there if you get invited.

Good luck – we are rooting for you!

Paid work experience opportunities for PhDs in January – invigilation

 

University of Manchester Examination Invigilation opportunity for PhD students

Semester 1 2017 exams – Monday 16th January 2017 – Friday 27th January 2017

 Completed application forms received by: 12noon Monday 19th December 2016

Notification of shortlisting: Tuesday 20th December 2016

Interview: Wednesday 4th January 2017

Training: Monday 9thth January 2017  

 http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/DocuInfo.aspx?DocID=23189

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.

reindeer

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!

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

img_0578

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!

December news and updates for Masters students

December is the month of optimism.  Although the solstice on December 21st may be the shortest day of the year, it’s the gateway to better things – from then on, days only get longer and brighter (notice I didn’t say ‘sunnier’).

This has nothing to do with careers, but as a bit of fun, you can participate in the winter solstice in Orkney, an archipelago of islands off the far north coast of Scotland. Every year, local photographer Charles Tait, in partnership with Historic Scotland runs a web cam in Maeshowe, a prehistoric chambered cairn on Orkney’s West Mainland.  For a few days each midwinter, the sun shines directly through the cairn’s entrance passage, illuminating the cairn’s interior.

Whilst we’re on the topic, mid-winter is also a good time shed some light on your career options… file0001176305134

Essential Career Actions for December

Give yourself a pat on the back, take some time to wind down and celebrate (maybe with a trip to the Christmas markets?) as you’ve made it through the first semester of your Masters! The upcoming winter break is a good time to reflect on the past few months – take a look at what you’ve achieved and what’s gone well, and maybe what hasn’t gone quite to plan and how to change that in the new year.

The winter break is also the prime time to be thinking about your future, whatever stage you’re at. Whether you’re applying for graduate schemes, wondering what other jobs might be out there, or thinking of further study, we’ve got a graduate recruitment timetable that’ll give you the low down on essential actions to take this year, and when to take them.

View our essential actions 

Vacancy alert!

If you haven’t started looking for job opportunities (graduate scheme or otherwise) for after you finish your course, December is a very good time to start:

Careers Link – our very own ‘job shop’ for University of Manchester students

Targeted job searches and vacancy source by career area in the Careers Service Which Career? Section

Passport Career – for those looking for a career anywhere in the world.  Passport also runs helpful webinars on working internationally.

Knowing where to look for jobs is fine, but…“Help! I’m a Masters student – and I’m not sure what I want to do next.” 

If you don’t know what you want to do next, be reassured you are not alone.

This article by our Postgraduate Careers Manager, Elizabeth, is a fantastic place to get started with easy things you can reflect on to help you decide what direction your career could take after graduation:

It’s never too early to start preparing for interviews

If you missed the Career Essentials: Successful Interviews for Postgrads, you can find the slides here. If you prefer the face-to-face approach, a little elf has just produced some teaching space, so keep an eye out for more Careers Essentials sessions in early 2017.

Our ‘Interviews’ pages contain information, advice, practice materials and videos.

Some excellent general preparation advice.

…and advice for more specific types of interviews

god Jul!    glædelig jul!    Gleðileg jól!    hyvää joulua!

5 popular employer selection tests for students, and strategies for handling them!

Written by Amanda Conway, Careers Consultant

The keys of successYou open the email, it’s from the employer and (yes!) you’ve been invited for interview. But wait, you have to sit a test first? Is it time to panic, or are there any top tips for acing these tests and fast-tracking yourself onto the “selected” pile? We think so.

  1.  The “does your brain melt when the clock is ticking?” test

AKA: The verbal, numerical or logical reasoning tests

Still a firm favourite and used by over 70% of the major graduate employers, these tests explore how well you can reason with either written, numerical or diagrammatical data.

Our tips:

  • Don’t underestimate the impact that familiarity can have on your result. Whilst these tests are generally good at predicting future performance, they don’t account for you simply not being prepared to sit a test. Take a practice test and feel more comfortable with what follows.
  • Watch out if your basic maths is a bit rusty! Check out the free video tutorials on the basics of numeracy from percentages and ratios to exchange rates and beyond. Think “Year 11 type stuff”… nothing more.

Watch out for: The clock will be ticking, but don’t worry too much. Although you need to work quickly, you don’t usually have to finish all the questions to go through.

Best places to practice: Without a doubt, the Graduates First site is our number one go-to recommendation – you get over 20 different practice reasoning tests to try for free, video tutorials for numeracy and better-still, you can even find out what the right answers were and where you went wrong, too.

  1. The “how soon could we let you loose on our clients and customers?” test

AKA: The Situational Judgement Test

Relatively new, and yet increasingly popular, these tests are a “Do you know much about what this job really involves” test where you have to decide on your most (and least) preferred ways to respond in a series of scenarios.

Our tips:

  • Find out more about the job you are applying for – the skills sought and the qualities required. Job profiles on the organisation’s website or on prospects.ac.uk will help.
  • If you need a steer, perhaps think about the importance of customer focus, client care, professionalism, effective communication or taking action.
  • Doing nothing in a situation is often not a good strategy!
  • Take a look at the employer’s website and explore the values or behaviours they aspire to- this could give you a few more clues about what is important to them.

Watch out for: Think carefully over your least preferred option – it’s not just about selecting the most appropriate one. It’s also about being able to recognise how not to behave.

Best places to practice:  Beyond Graduates First, we would also recommend taking a look at Assessment Day.

  1. The “will others want to sit next to you?” test

AKA: The personality questionnaire

Only joking, of course they will. (Why wouldn’t they?) For many jobs and roles, organisations seek a diverse workforce who approach problems differently and bring in alternative perspectives. However, joking aside, for some roles employers find it useful to consider whether your typical approaches are appropriate for their jobs. For example, would you really want to see someone who is not particularly “rule conscious” serving in your police force or someone who doesn’t come across very confidently with new people in your lead sales role? Some jobs just utilise particular strengths more than others.

Our tips:

-Try to answer honestly and consistently – it’s about your future fit and happiness in a role after all.

– Have a go at some of the online questionnaires now, as they could give you a steer on jobs that may be a good fit for you.

– Try not to worry too much about these assessments. Firms often look more at extreme behaviours that would not be a good fit rather than only looking for the narrow profile of an ideal candidate. They will tend to use other indicators from your application or performance to inform their selection too.

Watch out for: Impression management scales are present in many tests to uncover whether you are trying to impress the employer. For example, have you really “always got on with everyone?”

Best places to practice: Graduates First has a personality assessment questionnaire that you can try out. Jobmi.com is also a great site for getting a sense of some of your strengths. 

  1. The “I am no longer a test, I am now a fun computer game” test

AKA: Pymetrics or Games-Based Assessments

New for this year, and being used by a few of the big names, these tests involve either short online rapid-response games like memorising number sequences, sharing winnings (or not), and responding to images, or playing longer interactive games. It’s not always easy to be sure what these tests are getting at but scoring could reflect how you approach problems, whether you plan ahead, your determination in the face of setbacks and your ability to stay focused. Testers stress the value of collecting data from these real-life in-game scenarios, as opposed to relying on how you say you would behave!

Our tips:

– Are you clear on the rules before you begin? Maybe worth reading one more time before you click start?

– Have you made sure you won’t be distracted mid-game? Are all your notifications switched off, is your battery fully charged on your device and have you been to the loo? (This may be one time you don’t want anyone tweeting you the latest “Fail” video or a shot of rabbit on a scooter)

Watch out for: Don’t try too hard to second guess what these games are looking for – different firms will have their own individual requirements from each game. You may choose to focus on making the most profit, for example, to show your commercial flair, when a game may actually be looking for your trust in others.

Best places to practice: www.pymetrics.com or www.arcticshores.com

  1. The “bet you wish you had kept that grammar text book” test!

AKA: Blended verbal reasoning test

The final test in our big five line-up is a new test for 2016, the Blended Verbal Reasoning Test, being used by a few financial services firms this year. Picture a blend of traditional verbal reasoning questions combined with ones about grammar, spelling, punctuation, choosing writing styles for different audiences and communication techniques.

Our tips:

  • Get the basics right and practise your verbal reasoning test taking, then take it up a notch by revisiting some of your old work on Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation. Just googling “Key stage 2 / 3 English Literacy” can help you to access sites like BBC Bitesize http://www.bbc.co.uk/education, and IXL https://uk.ixl.com/
  • To help with professional versus informal communication styles you could compare the style of annual reports or executive summaries with the way organisations present themselves on social media or in the PR section of their websites. Comparing the written styles of the broadsheet newspapers to the tabloids is another strategy.

Watch out for: Although this one is a real newbie, with the stress employers are placing on accuracy and professionalism, this test could really take off.

Best places to practice: CAPP have kindly put some sample questions online at: http://practice.cappassessments.com/Vrt/VrtPage.html

Ready to click go?

So our run-down is complete and now it’s up to you. Get practising, pound the pages of Graduates First and other free practice testing sites and then go show them what you are made of!

www.manchester.ac.uk/careers/psychometric

%d bloggers like this: