Funding for a vacation project

October 28, 2008

If you want to do something worthwhile in your vacation but don’t think you can afford to do it, help may be at hand. Each year Shell offer a Personal Development Award, and this year there are 60 awards of £500 available to non final year students. Shell suggest you could use the money for:

  • Planning an expedition
  • Learning a new language
  • Volunteering on a community project
  • Getting involved in a not-for-profit programme
  • But as long as you write a good application, I’m sure there is flexibility.

    Apply online at: Shell personal development award.


    What is work experience?

    October 24, 2008

    Don’t worry, this isn’t the start of a debate! It’s merely a post to give you an idea of some types of work or events that may count as work experience and enable to you to develop and gain skills which will be relevant when applying for graduate jobs etc.

    ‘Work experience’ might be something that you associate with the two weeks you spent at secondary school on work experience in a shop, office or somewhere more exotic – but it doesn’t just have to mean that! What I mean by ‘work experience’ is an activity which has helped you to gain experience of work and potentially helped you to develop skills which will be useful in your future job or career. This can mean any of the following (and perhaps isn’t limited to just this list of things that I can think of!):

    • An industrial placement (of up to 12 months) – which you complete as part of your course;
    • A summer internship – which may or may not be related to your course but gives you an opportunity to experience a particular job sector;
    • A short vacation internship – something that perhaps is only during Easter or Christmas vacation (and so quite short) and gives you experience of a particular job sector. Short vacation internships are especially seen in Law;
    • Volunteering – any voluntary work will help you to develop transferable skills relevant to the world of work;
    • Work shadowing – a short period spent observing someone in a particular job role to get an understanding of what their work involves;
    • A part-time job – any part-time, temporary or casual work will count as work experience;
    • Summer work overseas – e.g. working on a camp in America during the summer. It may not be linked to the work you want to do in the future but some of the skills you gain will no doubt transfer to future jobs.

    As you can see, this is not an exhaustive list but hopefully gives you an idea of some of the things that can be seen as work experience. We’ll be posting more about some of these types of work experience over the coming months so keep your eyes peeled!

    Doubts about your course?

    October 21, 2008

    Having doubts about your course can be a lonely feeling. If this applies to you check first if there’s a particular reason. If things have been going well maybe it’s a temporary blip? But if it’s more than this, it’s best not to keep your concerns to yourself or make rash decisions that you may later regret. If you don’t want to approach your course tutor you could talk to an academic in confidence, who’s removed from the situation, at the Academic Advisory Service – their number is 0161 275 3033, or call into University Place, got to the 1st floor and make an appointment at the Student Advice and Information Hub.

    You could also benefit from talking through your options with a Careers Consultant. A full length careers appointment may be best for this – tel 0161 275 2829 or call into the Careers Resource Centre in Crawford House on Booth Street East. If you call in you can pick up a helpful leaflet all about changing or leaving your course. If you need to see someone quickly, don’t forget our same-day Quick Query service, where you can get a 15-minute appointment with a careers consultant – quite short but useful if you have one issue that you need to discuss urgently. The Prospects website also has some excellent information which covers both changing your course and also leaving university.

    If your worries about your course are making you unsettled and unhappy don’t forget the Counselling service is here to help – information about how to access the service is at

    Generally speaking it’s best to seek help and advice early on. If you do decide you’ve taken a wrong turn, exploring your options with those who can help will give you a much better chance to get onto the right track.

    Careers Fairs – why bother?

    October 20, 2008

    As you may be aware there are a number of Fairs coming up this semester, the next 2 are the Science, Engineering and Technology Fair and the Finance, Business and Management Fair, both fairs offer placements and graduate opportunities. So why should YOU go?

    We get asked these questions all the time:

    1 Will someone give me a job at the fair?
    2 What’s the point in going?
    3 What should I wear?
    4 How should I prepare?

    1 It’s not usual for employers to interview actually at the fair, BUT it is a great opportunity to make a good impression. If an employer likes you they may take your CV or your details and they may take an interest in the progress of your application to the company.

    2 So if they are not giving away jobs at the fair – what’s the point of going?

    • If you are looking for work experience and haven’t seen an opportunity advertised – you can ask if there are any other opportunities.
    • If you don’t know what a particular company or job is about – you can ask.
    • If you REALLY want to work for a particular company – have a chat to them, find out how to maximise your chances at application and at interview.

    3 What should you wear – well really it’s up to you! Consider this…
    Why are you attending the fair – do want to make a good impression or are you just going for a casual look around? Think about the industry you are interested in – how do they dress?

    4 The fairs can be pretty busy and if you are not prepared you may get put off by the crowds. Look at the list of exhibitors on our website, find out what they have to offer. Decide who you want to talk to and make your list of questions.

    You can take a CV with you – think about the roles you are interested in and if necessary create different CVs tailored for these. There is nothing more annoying than receiving CVs for finance jobs that bang on about your love of the media industry!

    Watch out for the Kaleidoscope fair in spring – for public and voluntary sector jobs.

    Enterprise competition – win up to £1000!

    October 20, 2008

    Calling all enterprising students! You could win up to £1,000 if one of your ideas is successful in winning one of three awards in the Manchester Enterprise Centre’s “Venture Out” competition.

    The competition is run every year, however this year it’s a bit different as there are now three categories of awards. There’s the Green Award for the best idea that will help improve the environment plus a Social Enterprise Award for the best idea that will improve the lives of individuals and communities, and there is the Business Innovation Award for the best ideas with commercial potential.

    Winners in each category win £1,000 with runners-up winning £500 and £250 – you can enter in teams as well as individually. The Manchester Enterprise Centre’s website has loads of information plus the competition entry form.

    The closing date is Monday 24th November.

    All About Work Experience Part I: 5 reasons why you need work experience!

    October 15, 2008
    Internship student (by Walmink, Flickr)

    Internship student (Walmink,

    The job market is definitely going to get tougher in the coming months and years, and with 1/4 million new graduates in the UK every year, you’ll need to make sure you stand out! Getting as much work experience as you can while you have time is one way of making sure you’re ahead of the game. Here are 5 reasons why it’s a good thing…

    1. Employers recruit graduates who’ve done placements with them. For example, HSBC fills up to 80% of the places on their graduate programmes with students who have done internships with them. So if you haven’t done an internship, when you apply for graduate jobs you might be fishing from a smaller pool of places than you think. On the other hand, if you do get an internship and you make a positive impression, you could land a permanent job when you graduate, should you want it.
    2. Many employers value work experience as much or more than qualifications. For example, the consultancy firm Mott McDonald doesn’t require graduates to have a 2:1 or specific A Level grades, but they do stress that work experience is a key factor in their selection process. A quality placement, some volunteering and a part-time job will lead to a good CV and applications and give you something to talk about at interviews.
    3. Work experience can help you figure out what you do (and don’t!) want to do. A job or organisation can sound great on paper, but until you are actually there doing it (or working with people who do it) it can be hard to tell whether it would be really right for you. Work experience is a great opportunity to “try something out”. Many students have their career ambitions confirmed while on work experience, but some find a particular job wasn’t what they thought, and at least they have a chance to change their plans before committing to a graduate job.
    4. Work experience develops the commercial awareness and other skills that employers look for. One of the top characteristics recruiters seek is commercial awareness – the knowledge of how a business operates, competition within the sector, current trends, etc. Something it’s hard to get from the library. Getting practical work experience can help you build invaluable business knowledge, as well as developing other key skills that employers rate highly, such as communication, teamwork and organisation skills. In a recent survey of graduates recruiters (AGR, summer 2008) over 80% of employers described completing an internship or industrial placement as “very effective” in building so-called soft skills – far more effective than any other way to develop these skills.
    5. You might even get paid…! Some internships and placements pay reasonably well, but for some sectors (like the media, for example), you’ll definitely need to be prepared to get unpaid work experience to get your foot in the door. Volunteering with charities and community organisations can also give you invaluable experience and is another way you can develop the skills employers look for. We’ll write more on volunteering in another post!

    Find out more about work experience, how to get it and search job vacancies.

    Next week in the All About Work Experience series: “Different types of work experience”.


    October 13, 2008

    Networking can be a really good way to find out about vacancies, work experience opportunities, job roles and so on. It’s something everyone can do and can be as simple as telling people you know that you’re interested in a particular career area and on the hunt for information, sources of vacancies etc. Once you’ve done this you’ve immediately upped your chances of finding info that could help you on your way.

    Work experience in sectors like the creative industries often comes about through word of mouth and can lead to a proper job. A recent graduate has just landed a job in the music business, which is an extremely competitive area. How? Well it all started when his mum, who works in a school, chatted to a colleague over lunch about her son’s interest. The colleague mentioned that his girlfriend’s friend worked in the industry and might be able to help. This led to a short spell of work experience, which led to new contacts, one of whom recommended the graduate for a vacancy with another company, which he applied for, got and is now enjoying… quite a trail… and it all started with a simple lunchtime conversation.

    Making a point of going to conferences, talks and events is a productive way to meet potentially helpful contacts. Most people are happy to share their knowledge. But be warned, don’t ask for a job as this could make them feel uncomfortable. It’s better to ask how they think you could find work experience, learn about an industry, find vacancies etc. If you want to learn more about networking have a read of our Networking handout.

    %d bloggers like this: