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!

November News and Updates for PGRs

“In November, the smell of food is different. It is an orange smell. A squash and pumpkin smell. It tastes like cinnamon and can fill up a house in the morning, can pull everyone from bed in a fog. Food is better in November than any other time of the year.”  Cynthia Rylant

And what better food than food for thought? This month we’ve got career opportunities with Researchers in Schools and the Civil Service Fast Stream (but that’s not all, don’t forget to investigate CareersLink if you are interested in what might be on offer outside academia). You can also find out why a new online resource dealing with financial news is good for you (yes, you, too, over in the back on the left studying Victorian drama and you over on the right studying composite materials for aerospace applications…). And more…read on!

Researchers in Schools – a teacher training programme for people with PhDs

Researchers in Schools will be holding an information webinar in December.  Find out more about signing up by checking @ManPGCareers during the week of November 28th

Researchers in Schools offers PhDs a unique, fully salaried route into teaching tailored to their abilities, knowledge and experience. Through a bespoke programme blending classroom teaching and research opportunities, you’ll develop the skills to become a highly-effective classroom teacher, helping support pupils, regardless of background, to excel and progress to higher education.

  • Pursue a three-year training and professional development programme placing you directly into a school to develop your teaching practice on the job.
  • Gain Qualified Teacher Status through a structured programme of observation and classroom teaching.
  • Undertake our Research Leader in Education Award, a professional qualification recognising excellence in research practice within schools.
  • Access bespoke training, supporting you to develop strong leadership skills and work towards the programme’s mission.
  • Receive one day per week off-timetable to pursue the programme’s wider aims: Deliver subject- and education-focused research and high-impact interventions in schools to boost attainment and promote university access.

Benefits include:

  • A highly competitive salary and benefits package with salary uplift for maths and physics teachers
  • Dedicated time off-timetable to pursue the Researchers in Schools aims and maintain a research profile
  • Minimum 11 weeks’ paid holiday

For more information and to apply, visit

Next application deadline 8th January 2017

Last chance to apply for the Civil Service Fast Stream – applications are closing on the 30th of November

You can find useful background information to help you apply on the Careers Service website, too.

 Read this even if you think you don’t need to!

(Commercial awareness made easy)

Commercial awareness is essential to every job, whether you are an academic, a teacher, working for a charity – and working for the Civil Service. (It’s also useful for being an engaged citizen).  Keeping up to date with financial and related news can feel overwhelming, especially for those who have little to no interest in business news.

Until now.

Finimize is a financial news service with a twist – it aims to help readers learn from the news. Items are presented under 3 headings:

  1. What’s going on here?
  2. What does this mean?
  3. Why should I care?

In their own words:

“Finimize is financial news for everyday people. We strive to demystify finance by making financial news easy to understand, succinct and relevant to our readers. By enhancing their financial literacy, we give our readers the ability to make more informed decisions when it comes to their own money.”

Sign up is free.

Do you know Which Career?

It’s surprising the number of PhDs that I meet who’ve never visited the Careers Service website (or know that we have one!).  Which is a shame, because there is a lot of useful stuff on it.

This month I want to highlight our Which Career? section.    For those who are unsure, open minded or absolutely mystified as to possible careers post-PhD, these pages give you the opportunity to explore different career areas from the comfort of your own desk/bed/bean bag chair/wherever.

What does a management consultant actually do?  (My top question from PhD students).

Can I use my language skills in a career outside of academia?

What about careers in libraries and archives?

Where can I put my social stats skills to work?

…and much much more.

Do you want to work in or out of the lab? Things you need to know with a bio/life science degree – FAQs

Scientists working in a chemical lab.Just because you have a biological or life science related degree doesn’t mean you want to spend the rest of your life in a lab. Most people by mid degree have an idea how they feel about labs, love ’em hate ’em these are some options.

In this blog post we will look at:

  1. Getting work in a lab
  2. Love science, but hate labs? Including medical communications
  3. Job options out of the lab: For people who love data
  4. Job options out of the lab: For people who want to work with people
  5. Job options out of the lab: For people who would love to be a medic – including where that’s not an option

Getting work in a lab

What sort of lab jobs are available?

  • Look out for graduate roles, especially with the large pharmaceutical companies. However, don’t be restricted by that – many lab jobs won’t be called “graduate schemes”.
  • Technician roles are often entry-level positions. You’d need to be good at the practical aspects of lab work and will most likely be required to maintain the lab environment – good if you like organising and can work well with others.
  • You could be working in areas such as research, product development or quality assurance.

How can I find out about labs who might recruit grads?

Can I get a part-time lab job?

  • Part-time lab jobs while you are studying are rare, but it’s always worth looking!
  • You can sometimes find short term positions in labs (for summer vacations) through scientific recruitment companies (e.g. SRG) but you would usually need to have a reasonable amount of experience.
  • Think about making speculative applications for routine testing roles in industrial labs over the summer eg quality control labs in food, brewing, or other bioscience based industries.
  • Most students build their experience through summer placements and industrial experience placement years, plus, of course, a final year lab project.

Who would I write to for work experience?

  • If you have a contact name, ideally try the head of the lab; otherwise human resources (HR).

What experience do I need for my CV?

  • You need the practical lab skills you have developed during your degree and evidence of applying them.
  • Ability to work in a team and problem solving are also often needed, as is accuracy.
  • If you have non-lab experience this can be a way of demonstrating a commitment to customer service.
  • Apply for summer lab placements, details of funding can be found on the SBS intranet

Love science, but hate labs?

Can I use my science outside a lab?

  • Yes, yes, yes! There are many employers who will value your scientific knowledge, plus even more employers that are actively looking to employ scientists for their problem solving abilities and data handling skills.

What sort of things do people do?

  • Science communication (public engagement)
  • medical communication
  • clinical trials management
  • patent attorney
  • regulatory affairs
  • health informatics

How do I build my experience for this sort of job?

  • To build your experience you can volunteer, get a part-time job or take on a leadership role in a society or community group you belong to.
  • For more structured experience look to gain a summer placement and / or a placement year. As an undergraduate microbiologist I worked in Tesco each summer. This meant that when I went for a placement year interview with AstraZeneca I could explain why I enjoyed working for a large company and the benefits it gave me, plus how I worked under pressure!

How can I find out about job opportunities

Medical communications

Do you need a PhD?

  • For traditional (technical) medical writing roles, a PhD is often needed – experience of reading and writing journal papers is helpful.
  • For less technical roles with medical communications companies, ie closer to marketing than writing journal papers, undergrad opportunities are starting to emerge – see later.

What do medical writers do?

Where do they work?

  • Medical communications agencies, third sector, freelance, and pharmaceuticals

What sort of work experience do you need?

  • Writing, communication/engagement roles, commercial awareness.
  • A few companies are starting to offer traineeships and internships.

Where are jobs advertised?

Job options out of the lab: For people who love data

What sort of jobs could I do?

  • Health informatics within the NHS, medical communications companies (lots in the North West) or Pharmaceuticals.
  • Data Coordinator for clinical trials in a contract research organisation or Pharmaceutical / Biotech company.

What experience is valued?

  • The experience of handling data sets. The larger the data set the more impressive. Get this experience from lab projects.

How can I show I have the right experience?

  • Showcase the data you’ve analysed – this could be by providing examples on your CV or by adding a ‘project’ to your LinkedIn profile 
  • If the data has been used for a report or publication even better!

Who are the employers?

  • NHS
  • Medical Communications companies,
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Biotechnology companies
  • Contract Research Companies

Where to find jobs?

Job options out of the lab: For people who want to work with people

What sort of jobs could I do?

Jobs with a scientific link, eg. carried out in a science based organisation:

  • Clinical trials
  • regulatory affairs
  • medical writing
  • editorial work
  • science communication
  • science curator
  • medical sales
  • business development
  • management
  • teaching

Jobs outside science:

  • Any job such as business development, sales or management which is open to “any degree discipline” – which includes science! Think outside your scientific discipline and the benefits of bringing your scientific approach to problem solving, along with your people skills, for a wide range or roles.

What experience is valued?

  • Experience that demonstrates your ability to persuade, negotiate, empathise, motivate and work with others.
  • This could come from a part-time job in a shop, or from a placement year in the sector you’re interested in.

How can I show I have the right experience?

  • In your written application and interview talk about what YOU did to make things work.
  • Consider when you’ve solved problems or adapted a way of doing things based on others’ feedback (lab classes could be a good source of material here!).

Who are the employers?

  • Look out for the general management schemes of the larger Pharma, also the NHS general management scheme.
  • Alternatively you may wish to look for business development roles in a Biotech or Medical Communications company.
  • If you’re looking to be really hands on then take a look at science communication vacancies on the blog or museum vacancies
  • For jobs outside science – almost any employer!

Job options out of the lab: For people who would love to be a medic – including where that’s not an option

A second degree in medicine (or dentistry, nursing or even veterinary science) is a challenge but one which some of our graduates do take up each year.

But what if that’s not an option, or you’re looking for something a bit different? What sort of jobs could I do?

  • There are a number of allied healthcare professional roles, which as the NHS changes are increasingly part of the clinical care team. Download our guide.
  • NHS workforce planning anticipate an increased need for Physicians Associates. In this role you support the clinical team by taking patient histories and supporting frontline clinical staff. Career development is available by switching between clinical areas as there is no formal opportunity for promotion.

What experience is valued?

  • Experience of working (paid or unpaid) in a caring role, such as: healthcare assistant in a care home or hospital; volunteering with a disabled youth group or working under pressure such as in a busy bar or shop.
  • Short shadowing or work placements in a clinical setting (hospital or GP) can also help to demonstrate understanding of the work load and will help you to understand if this sort of work is for you.

How can I show I have the right experience?

  • By including on your application form the experience you have and talking openly about what you learnt about yourself, what it was like working in a clinical setting and why the experience was interesting to you (assuming it was!)

Who are the employers?

  • The NHS remain the main employer but there are also options in the private sector.

So, is that all?

No – you can do so many things from a life or bio science degree.

Like all science students, you have the best of all worlds:

  • jobs using your science directly
  • jobs where your scientific background would be useful though you no longer work in a lab
  • and all those jobs where being able to think like a scientist and use an evidence-based approach would be useful  – which covers most jobs you could think of!


Careers Support for Humanities PhDs

If you are a veteran Humanities PhD student, you probably know that the SALC Graduate School and the Careers Service have joined forces to make it even easier for all Humanities PGRs to access career support. If you are new, now you know!

I  hold drop-in guidance appointments in my office in Ellen Wilkinson C1.5 (some of you might have already noticed the door and/or me bedecking it and the walls with useful careers stuff). If the door is open, do stop in and say hello (if the door is closed, I will be having an appointment with someone. Or not there.).

If you aren’t normally in the Ellen Wilkinson Building, please note I am in C1.5, not 1.5o – which does exist, but in another part of the building and for a wholly different purpose!

You can book appointments from the Careers Service website:

office door 2What is careers guidance (and why might it be useful)?

That phrase is made up of two words with interesting histories.

Our modern ‘career’ derives from the French carrière –’ a racecourse for horses’, later meaning ‘a path, a course that one follows’ before finally acquiring its modern sense of ‘a person’s course or progress through life’.

‘Guidance’ can trace its roots back to an Old French guier – ‘to guide, lead, conduct’. The OED defines a guide as:

“One who leads or shows the way, esp. to a traveller in a strange country; spec. one who is hired to conduct a traveller or tourist … and to point out objects of interest.”

We are often a strange country to ourselves. When I ran a workshop with a group of second year PhD students, in response to my questions none – apparently – had any achievements, skills, knowledge or experience. As University of Manchester PhD students from all over the world, I know and you know, that’s simply not true. There are two things going on there – often we don’t know our own achievements very well because we haven’t stopped to reflect on them, and, sadly, we are too often conditioned to minimise our achievements rather than be able to speak about them confidently. We don’t benefit from the experiences of others, and they don’t benefit from yours. Everyone loses.

In a guidance appointment I won’t tell you what to do (or not to do), but I will conduct you on a tour of yourself and point out objects of interest and curiosity in your life. My aim is to help you assert as much control over your career as possible – a ‘progress through life abounding with remarkable incidents’ (OED sense 5a. – doesn’t that sound quite appealing?) rather being feeling like you’re being dragged on a wild gallop by an errant horse.

As ever, I look forward to meeting and working with you during the coming year!

Popular career options for UoM students. Your questions answered

back-to-schoolIn Semester 1 it all kicks off: The search for internships, graduate schemes and your future career direction.  Each year we get some interesting and quirky career options that students want to pursue (running an airline, circus performer…) but we also get some familiar favourites.

So here are the things you need to know about the most frequently asked about career areas.

file00013111606305 Top Tips for Getting into International Development

10 things you need to know about starting a career in Human Resources

10 things you need to know about starting a career as a Solicitor or Barrister

So you want to work in the media? Top 3 tips

Interested in investment banking seven tips on getting in.

10 Things You Need to Know about Law Careers with a non-Law Degree

5 things you need to know about starting a career in marketing

Interested in Management Consulting? Seven tips on getting in

So you’re considering teaching? 5 Top tips on what you need to know 

Graduate entry into medicine top 5 tips

Want to know more, or find out about different careers no problem, check out our website.

Some simple steps to calm the final year flusters.

I am certain that a lot of graduates will agree with me when I say that the final year of your degree is full of blood sweat and tears (metaphorically speaking that is). It is the year that you pull your socks up, knuckle down and really give it your all so that when June comes around and you put on your graduation gown you are filled with pride. But, as if final years didn’t have enough to stress about with their degree, there is a certain ominous 7 word sentence which plagues the mind of a lot of students. That is…

thelma     What am I going to do next?

*Runs away quickly*

Fear not final years, these 7 words don’t have to fill you with fear and stress. There are tons of things you can be doing to address this question early on in the year so that when June comes around you have some positive thought-out options, rather than a dark abyss of uncertainty.

The first thing to note is that just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’s unlikely that you will wake up one day with your career path planned out. If you don’t know what you want to do then it’s a good idea to take some steps early on which may lead you in the right direction.

  • Instead of focussing on the things that you don’t know, try writing a list of things that you like and dislike. It might be as simple as ‘I like engaging with people’, ‘I don’t like working in a lab’, ‘I like the Friday feeling’. Narrowing down your tastes can drastically help your job search. If you like the idea of the Friday feeling then perhaps a 9-5 job may suit you more than one where you will have to work weekends.
  • Another good move is to start reflecting on yourself and thinking about what skills you have. If you are not an international student this may seems a bit weird to you as it goes against all British customs to actually praise yourself about an attribute you have (?!). But starting to think about yourself in a positive way can help you work out what sort of sectors may suit you and where your talents may be able to flourish. If self-reflection seems too alien to you then ask your family and friends as they may be able to give you an insight into what you’re good at (a far more British way of dealing with it).
  • Network, network, network. Whenever you’re faced with an opportunity to talk to a professional then go for it. You never know, if you decide in April that banking is the career for you, you’ll be grateful that you charmed Jane from Barclays at the Big Careers Fair back in October. Speaking to people is absolutely the best way to find out information about a specific sector and may even lead you onto some work experience if you’re lucky.

Alternatively, if you don’t like the idea of reflecting on yourself quite yet why not try doing a bit of volunteering or getting a part time job? Exposing yourself to new environments may be just the push you need to help you explore different paths for the future. Remember though that you will have a lot of work on at uni, so don’t burn yourself out by working part time too much!

You see, there really is no need to tremble at the knees when your relatives bombard you with questions about the future during your trip home for Christmas. The world really is your oyster, so get cracking on breaking open the shell and getting on track to finding an absolute pearl of a job.

By Cecily Rooney



Interested in Management Consulting? Seven tips on getting in

Image converted using ifftoanyManagement consultants are specialists who help organisations maximise their growth or improve business performance. They are called in to deal with difficult challenges the organisation is having difficulty solving themselves, or where they want a new approach. This makes management consultancy an interesting career for those who love problem solving, innovation and varied challenges. It has a mystique which attracts many graduates, which makes it a very competitive career to get into. Here are our tips for beating the odds.

  1. Do your homework

Understanding as much as you can about the industry can help you be seen as focused, well informed about the work, and make a better impression on applications and in interviews. A great place to start your research is the Management Consulting careers page on our website.

  1. Consider what specialism/s you’re interested in

‘Management Consulting’ is a broad term covering many areas of specialism, for example strategy, technology, human resources, economics. So become familiar with the different types and try to work out which area/s you find most appealing.

  1. Make contacts

Meet people working in consulting to help you gain knowledge, and find out about opportunities. Check out the events listed in CareersLink for opportunities to meet and talk to these firms.  For example, on 13th Oct (5-7pm) there’s Meet The Professionals: Finance and Consulting – where you can meet employers and alumni. The Big Careers Fair (Day 1, 18th Oct) typically attracts a number of consulting firms, and this year firms including Accenture, Deloitte, Mercer, Capco and PwC will be there.

You can apply to be matched with a mentor working in management consulting,  which can be a great way to gain inside knowledge and advice. Read about the Manchester Gold mentoring scheme for more details.

You can also use the LinkedIn alumni search as a great tool to find where previous Manchester graduates now work – useful for finding potential contacts in niche firms you can’t meet on campus. Get some great LinkedIn tips on our website about how to use it effectively, and how to make new contacts.

  1. Get relevant work experience

Consulting related experience will really help you stand out and reassure potential employers you have the right stuff. If you’re in your first year, check if any firms offer ‘Spring Internships’ or ‘Spring Insights’ which help you gain some understanding of the industry. In your second year, you should be applying for summer internships. Check the advice on the internships section of our website.

You can also join the Consulting Society, a group of like-minded fellow students who organise events for students interested in a career in consulting.

Another great way to experience working in project teams is to join Enactus, a student led organisation which uses the entrepreneurial skills of students to make positive change in communities.

  1. Consider: Is it for me?

Management Consultancy can seem appealing but it’s not all glamorous – it’s really hard work. Someone once told me that in management consulting, at times you could strike lucky and for your new project be jetting off to Madrid, but equally you could find yourself working out of a portacabin along the M4 Motorway. You go where the client is, and you have to roll up your sleeves and get on with it. Hours can be very long – you’re there to deliver results and approaching project deadlines the pressure can be intense. You are likely to travel a lot and live out of a suitcase for periods of time, so consider if that suits you and the lifestyle you want. In addition, there are the academic grades – most employers will want a minimum of a 2:1 and excellent UCAS points. 

  1. Get interested in business

Management Consultants are by nature business problem solvers. You don’t have to study a business related degree, though exposure to business concepts can be helpful. A good tip is to start following business news stories and become curious about what’s happening in different industries. If a business is underperforming, what might be causing this? What has happened in the wider industry or region which might have impacted on this? What ways out of this situation can people see?

  1. Apply early

Management Consulting internships and graduate schemes open for applications early, sometimes even in late summer before the start of the academic year. Sometimes jobs are advertised in spring, but these are rarer so plan to make applications in autumn and allow time – they take a lot of effort and only a great application will make the grade. There’s lots of applications advice on the website to get you started.

10 Things You Need to Know about Law Careers with a non-Law Degree

  1. UOM_CAREERS_LOCK_UPS_LAWYERIt All Starts in Final Year of your Degree
    Start your research as soon as possible into Semester  1 of Final Year. A legal career is open to ALL degree disciplines, and employers are positively encouraging a broader range. Don’t be put off thinking you need a law degree. You usually still need the 2:1, but there are exceptions so come and discuss these with the Careers Team at The Atrium.
  2. Ask yourself: ‘Why be a lawyer?’
    Be honest with yourself and be able to answer these questions very early on:
    – Why, specifically, do I want to be a solicitor or Barrister? What, exactly, attracts me to this career?
    – What sort of work am I drawn to, and why? What clients? Why, specifically?

    If you can answer these 2 points, please read on to point 3. If not, then stop right here. Have a really long think about what attracts you to a career in law, and whether you might want to explore other options alongside law options. There is no rush and it is important you make a decision that is right for you. Come and have a chat with a Careers Consultant to chew over your thoughts.

  3. Be aware of the Timetable to Qualification
    Generally speaking, you will need to do a further 2 years of study. First comes the GDL, which is essentially a qualifying Law degree over one year. After that comes the LPC which is the professional course, or the BPTC for Barristers. After this, comes the 2 years ‘on the job’ training, commonly known as a Training Contract (or period of recognised training).
    A word about cost – there are no student loans available for either the GDL, BPTC or LPC so funding is either privately funded, or sponsorship through the firm you have a Training Contract with.

    Time-wise it looks a bit like this: 

    Semester 1 of final year onwards: 
    – Research Law firms; attend any Open days with law firms/ organisations. Meet firms on Campus
    – Start making applications for work experiences over the Christmas, Spring and Summer vacations (known as Vacation Schemes/Placements)
    – Start researching Training Contracts and note all the deadlines for Applications
    By July 31 after graduation, you will have:
    – submitted all your Training Contract applications and
    – be ready for interviews from September
    September after graduation:  start the GDL and hopefully have a Training Contract in place  There are many variables on this and it need not look so rigid, depending on your thoughts on Question 2 above.

  4. Meet Employers
    Start looking around for all the employers who are on Campus from September/October onwards. Make the effort to go and see them, even if you don’t fancy working for them – they are very useful sources of info and a good chance to get some networking practice in.
    Attend employability sessions that will give top tips on how to write a CV or application form. All visitors and events can be found listed on Careerslink and look out for (and read!) School emails detailing employer events. The Law Fair held here in Manchester every November and any Open Days at individual law firms are a must-do.
  1. Work Experience
    Start planning some work experience for the vacation time over Christmas, Spring and Summer vacations in your Final year. These are often referred to as Vacation Placements and run for 1-2 weeks. Many employers use these as a gateway to find their Trainee Solicitors, so if you treat the applications as a serious pre-Training Contract step, it will serve you well. Your Careers Team run CV and applications advice appointments throughout the Semester– so book an appointment to discuss any aspect of your applications.
  1. Non-Legal Work Experience counts
    Really, it does. When you consider that lawyers have clients, and those clients tend to be in retail, hospitality, finance, marketing, insurance, sales etc, then if you have had jobs in any of these sectors, it gives you a commercial outlook, an understanding of selling stuff to people who want to buy it, whether that’s beer, coffee, insurance or shoes.
  1. ‘2 years in advance’ rule for Training Contract Applications
    For historical reasons, applications are made for Training Contracts usually 2 years in advance of the start date. This means that for non-law degree undergraduates, applications are submitted before July 31 in the vacation following graduation. Start your research early and combine with Vacation Schemes at the same time. A useful Guide to start you off is the Training Contract and Pupillage Handbook – free copies at the Careers Service at the Atrium.
  1. Set aside time for applications – they take ages
    You need to factor in a lot of time in your schedule for application forms. Seriously, they will take you much longer than you expect and need considerable thinking time before you even start typing. There are numerous support teams in place to help you learn how to apply, including Careers Service Starting Point Guides, Applications Advice appointments and Careerslink will signpost you to additional workshops.
  2. Deadlines R Us
    Deadlines dictate the pace in law applications, and can be as early as mid-October of your Final year, so do act fast if you want to look at larger firms, and some smaller. Remember to start with the application deadlines in your diary and work backwards. A good timeline guide can be found at
  1. Don’t Panic
    If you miss deadlines, then move on and either resolve to re-apply next year, or turn your attention to other ways of gaining work experience. Keep it positive.

Want to find out more?

Download our Law careers for non-law students guide

Interested in Investment Banking? Seven tips on getting in

Roll of moneyInvestment banks help organisations, individuals and governments to raise capital, often by investing in the financial markets or selling shares. They also provide other services to organisations, for example performing large mergers and acquisitions. Investment banking is a very popular area with graduates looking for a challenging career and high financial rewards, however combined with that there is a great deal of competition for places

  1. Do your homework. Understanding as much as you can about the industry can help you be seen as focused, well informed about the work, and make a better impression on applications and in interviews. A great place to start your research is the Finance careers section on our website. You can also join societies like MUTIS (Manchester University Trading and Investment Society), who a group of like-minded fellow students who organise events and training for students interested in a career in investment banking.
  2. Make contacts. Meet people working in investment banking to help you gain knowledge, and find out about opportunities. Check out the events listed in CareersLink for opportunities to meet and talk to these firms. For example, on 13th Oct (5-7pm) there’s Meet The Professionals: Finance and Consulting – where you can meet employers and alumni. The Big Careers Fair (Day 1, 18th Oct 2016) typically attracts a number of banks and other finance firms, for example Barclays, BNY Mellon, HSBC, Maven, and JLL.
    You can apply to be matched with a mentor working in investment banking, which can be a great way to gain inside knowledge and advice. Read about the Manchester Gold mentoring scheme for more details. You can also use the LinkedIn alumni search as a great tool to find where previous Manchester graduates now work – useful for finding potential contacts in niche firms you can’t meet on campus. Get some great LinkedIn tips on our website about how to use it effectively, and how to make new contacts.
  3. Be clear on the area that interests you most, and why. There are what can seem a bewildering array of roles in investment banking, and employers will expect you to understand what area interests you and why. Following the tips above will help you to do this, as the guides often point out what qualities are required for each role, and the kind of person it might suit. For example, someone who is more introverted, methodical, very good at analysis and understanding detail might be more suited to working in compliance more than trading. A great guide to help you with this is the Unofficial Guide to banking.
  4. Academic grades are very important. Most investment banks will look for a minimum 2:1 degree and approximately 320 UCAS points. If you can demonstrate that you can achieve this, you are highly unlikely to be successful. Banks receive huge numbers of applications, and can afford to select only those that meet their very high standards. Be aware that your first year grades will also be important – if you’re applying for an internship in your second year, these will be used as evidence of the grade you could achieve in your final degree result.
  5. Get work experience as early as possible. Gaining investment banking related experience is very important and will really help you get your foot in the door when competing for graduate positions. If you’re in your first year, some firms offer ‘Spring Internships’ or ‘Spring Insights’ which help you gain some understanding of the industry. In your second year, you should be applying for summer internships. Check the advice on the internships section of our website.
  6. Get interested in finance and how it works. You don’t have to study finance to work in investment banking, but gaining some knowledge of how finance works is important. You could start with following finance and investments news on the BBC website and other media, before working up the Financial Times. Websites like Investopedia have some useful guides to help you understand the terminology used in finance and banking.
  7. Apply early. Investment Banks open for applications early, and some will close before the end of October. Make your applications as early as you can and allow time – they take a lot of effort and only a great application will make the grade. There’s lots of applications advice on the website to get you started.


10 things you need to know about starting a career in Human Resources

  1. iStock_000013296501Small Network of peopleWhat is HR?
    Human Resources (HR) is the name given to the area of a company,
    whether a team or individual, who has responsibility for recruiting new employees and managing work / employment conditions of current employees on behalf of that organisation. They are also responsible for ensuring an organisation’s staff (their human resources) are being used effectively to meet the objectives of the company.
  2. What does in involve?
    HR professionals are involved in a range of areas, these include recruitment and selection of new employees, induction and ongoing training, reward and remuneration (paying salaries, pensions, rewarding exceptional performance, bonuses) creating policy and procedures to ensure employment laws are complied with,  managing performance and dealing with disciplinary and grievance issues, employment terminations and redundancies.  
    In some organisations HR will be involved in negotiations with Trade Unions over issues related to working conditions and pay.
    Careers in HR can be very varied depending on the sector and organisation, the size of the team and whether HR staff are generalists or specialists (see question 3)  In some organisations there may be certain functions that the company chooses to outsource e.g. payroll may be handled by an external company or specialist trainers brought in, therefore HR staff would not be responsible for these activities.
  3. What jobs are there in HR for a graduate?
    It’s common for graduates to start in a more generalist role or on a graduate scheme with rotating placements. This allows exposure to a wide range of the HR functions carried out within the organisation.  This is particularly useful in allowing new HR staff to explore if there are certain areas/functions of HR they feel drawn to or prefer to work in.  This can help with making later career decisions as to whether or not to remain in a generalist role or to pursue opportunities to specialise in a particular area.  There is opportunity for career progression whether generalist or specialist.It’s important to consider that, as HR functions can vary from company to company, choosing to specialise may mean limiting the choice of possible employers to organisations who have those specialist roles.The most common job title is HR Assistant but, again due to the variety of duties which a HR professional may cover and whether certain functions are carried out within the business or outsourced, the actual content of jobs with this title may vary.  You may also wish to look at HR Trainee, HR Officer, and HR Coordinator but make sure to explore what the role responsibilities and required skills/experience are. Not all jobs with these titles will be suitable first HR roles for a graduate. Specialist roles will have titles that reflect this such as Payroll Officer, Pensions Co-coordinator  etc.
  4. Do I need a specific qualification?
    For most entry-level roles in HR an undergraduate degree will be a requirement (and obviously a degree will be essential to gain entry to a graduate scheme) While a degree in HR may be an advantage, Business Studies, Psychology, Sociology and Law are degree subjects that are regularly accepted as being relevant and many roles are open to graduates from a much wider range of disciplines.If your first degree is not in HR, postgraduate qualifications in Human Resource Management are available.  While these are not essential to gain entry to the role they are increasingly essential in order to progress your career.  Some graduates choose to take a postgrad qualification in HR directly after completion of their first degree (especially if they feel their first degree is not strongly relevant).  Others prefer to obtain their first HR role and then consider undertaking additional qualifications at a later date. One possible advantage of taking the qualification whilst working is that employers may sometimes help with the costs.  Willingness to undertake study for a professional HR qualification while working is a requirement for some roles.For working in the UK any HR qualification should be accredited by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
  5. Main routes into HR
    Graduate schemes Many ask for a 2:1 – HR is increasingly popular and competitive as a career option.  They provide a structured approach to learning about HR functions and are a good opportunity to learn more about HR if your degree is not directly relevant.  Prior HR work experience is not always essential, emphasis is on transferable skills and potential to be good at HR.  They will be strongly interested in your motivation and reasons for applying. There may be a permanent job at the end of the scheme.
    Graduate job – This is not a structured programme like a graduate scheme but a specific role to be filled. You would have responsibility from day one and it may require more HR relevant work experience and be less open to such a broad range of degrees, therefore it’s important to stress transferable skills. Not all companies offer graduate schemes so this may be best way into the sector/organisation of interest. On the job training and development is usually included, your employer may pay for CIPD qualifications.
    Direct VacancyA specific role to be filled, open to but not solely targeted at graduates and open to non-graduates with relevant experience.  Likely to require prior HR relevant work experience.  Sometimes (but not always) more likely to require already having a CIPD accredited qualification or be working towards them.In addition to the roles mentioned above, HR Administrator is often an accessible role to get a good foot in the door to learn about HR on the job and build a career path. It’s a good route into organisations that don’t target graduates.
  6. What key skills are needed?
    Transferable skills such as teamwork and excellent communication (written, verbal and including listening!) will be needed. The ability to work with personal / sensitive information and maintain confidentially at all times is essential. You may support staff who are dealing with difficult issues that could be work, personal or health related.  It’s vital you can display empathy and give staff the support or solutions they need but do so in a professional manner that adheres to all relevant laws and policies.You will often need to explain complicated information related to policy and procedures to people who aren’t experts in that topic.  As you’ll be working with personal and payroll information, accuracy, attention to detail and the ability to hit deadlines are essential.
  7. Advantages of a career in HR
    Variety of workload and wide range of duties/responsibilities (especially for a generalist)
    – Opportunity to use a wide range of own skills and strengths.  If you find there’s an area you like better than others i.e. training, can choose to specialise in that area or, within reason, look for HR jobs that contain lots of opportunities to undertake that kind of work.
    – Conversely, if there’s a function you don’t enjoy you may be able to seek out HR roles that don’t have responsibility for that work i.e. where payroll is outsourced or training delivered by a specialist.
    – Opportunity to impact at a personal level by helping an individual  and also all the way up to organisational level by contributing to HR strategy.HR is present in some form wherever people are employed so there is a wide choice of sector, size and type of employer. You can, within reason,  look for HR roles that more strongly meet your preferences.
  8. Challenges of a Career in HR
    There can be lots of administration and paperwork, especially when getting started in the role e.g. taking notes at meetings, drawing up adverts, contracts etc., it’s not all hiring and firing! However, seeing the creation of these documents and what goes into them is a great learning experience to help understand how and why things are done a certain way.
    It can be emotionally draining, as may be dealing with people who are going through particularly challenging personal circumstances, you will need to develop the resilience to deal with professionally and not let it impact on you too much personally.  This is likely to be highly confidential so you won’t be able to discuss it outside of role.   HR is the ‘face’ of many actions of the organisation, even though they may not be responsible for making those decisions they have to enact them. If people are unhappy with these actions  their dissatisfaction will often be directed at HR and you will need to understand this isn’t personal and learn to manage these situations.
  9. Is it for me?
    It’s important to understand what HR does in order to explain your motivation for wanting to pursue it as a career. ‘I want to work with people’ is a common but not very accurate reason that is given.  As an HR professional you may work with the other people in your team but you won’t necessarily work with the people you’re providing an HR service to.  They are likely to be in other departments and even work in other sites or countries. You may only interact with them when they need some specific HR support from you.If you’re more interested in how people and organisations work, how people contribute to a company’s objectives and how you can contribute to creating an effective working environment it’s more likely that HR could be of interest to you.
    While you may not be working with the people your providing an HR service to it’s important to remember that as a HR professional everything you do has an impact on them.  This can be at an organisational level with the implementation of policies and procedures or at an individual level when helping with a specific issue or query. When you impact on an individual’s job you impact on their life.  A seemingly minor mistake in a salary calculation may mean that person can’t pay rent that month, a change to working conditions may cause stress or impact on work/life balance.  This is why accuracy and attention to detail are so important. It’s important to be prepared to take on this responsibility and understand that small actions may have a big impact on a person, their health and family life.
  10. HR and Recruitment Consultancy what’s the difference?
    HR and recruitment consultancy are not the same thing although there are obvious overlaps.
    HR covers the whole range of the employment period for a job starting to it ending and everything required to manage staff while they’re employed.
    Recruitment consultancy focuses on helping organisations to advertise and fill specific vacancies.  Recruitment consultancy often contains a sales driven element and generally requires consultants to not just recruit people but also contact organisations and convince them use the consultancy in order to fill their vacancies.  Consultants usually have targets as to how many new business clients they need to bring in over a period of time.In terms of relevance to HR, Recruitment Consultancy can be good for learning about recruitment methods and procedures but not the wider role of an HR professional.



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