Getting ready for final year – 3 things you can do now towards your career

August 29, 2011

If you’re just about to start your final year and you’d like to get something sorted career-wise by the time you graduate, you might think there isn’t really much you can do at this stage, but there certainly is. You’ll be so busy with academic work once the semester starts it’s easy to let the first semester slide by without thinking about your career after graduation, and yet that’s a key time for job applications. So to make sure you don’t miss out on valuable opportunities, here are three suggestions for things you can do now to get prepared:

  1. Research your career options. If you’re not sure what you want to do and need some help, use the last few weeks of the vacation to do some careers research to try to get a bit more focussed. See our Explore your Options pages of the careers website and download our Self Awareness and I Don’t Know What I Want To Do booklets. If you think you’d find it useful to talk to someone about your plans (even if it’s because you don’t have any yet!) you might want to book a guidance appointment with one of our careers consultants. Get in as quick as possible though, as we sometimes book up a couple of weeks or more in advance, and October is always our busiest month, so we may have more limited availability during that time.
  2. Draw up a list of organisations to target, check their recruitment timetables and apply early! If you already know what sort of job you want, start to identify specific employers to target. You can find out some good lists of employers for different sectors on graduate job sites like, and Then go directly to the employers’ websites and see if you can find out when applications open for their graduate jobs starting in September 2012. Get those dates in your diary. Believe it or not, some 2012 schemes, (e.g. some of the accountancy firms and banks) are already open now for applications and have been for a month or two now. In fact, we’ve heard that Teach First 2012 scheme is almost full for some Humanities subjects, so get in quick if you’re interested in that. In general, our advice is to apply as early as possible when schemes open for applications – recruiters don’t tend to wait for their advertised closing dates before starting to recruit candidates, and it’s often a case of “when it’s full it’s full”. It is worth bearing in mind though that these graduate schemes with large organisations only represent a small percentage of  jobs that graduates go on to do. There are lots of other really interesting and challenging graduate jobs out there. More on alternatives to grad schemes in future blog posts, but why not check out our vacancies on CareersLink to get a flavour of the jobs we’re advertising right now for Manchester graduates.
  3. Take a hard look at your CV. If you don’t yet have a CV, now’s the time to start thinking about putting one together. Take a look at our Writing a Great CV from Scratch guide for advice and tips and to see some examples. Do you have good evidence of the sorts of skills employers tend to look for, e.g. teamwork, communication, organisation and problem solving? If you’ve had a position of responsibility in a student society or sports group or done some volunteering, organised an event or had a part-time or summer job, make sure you include these experiences on your CV and explain how they have enhanced your skills. Do you have any relevant work experience for the areas of work you might be applying for? If not, try to find out how important this is for the jobs and organisations you’re targeting. Sometimes, even a day or two of work shadowing will help (see previous blog post) and you might be able to squeeze something in even in your final year. Otherwise, you might want to consider doing a graduate internship when you finish your degree to boost your employability.

Free wallplanners

August 12, 2011

Wall planners are now in stock for the new academic year. 

We will be distributing copies to University of Manchester Halls of Residence  for the start of semester.

But if you are not in halls or can’t wait til then to start planning your year,  come and collect one from the Careers Resource Centre.

Interested in starting your own business?

August 10, 2011

An exciting opportunity for students and graduates in Manchester in a couple of weeks time.

The Start-up Britain Summer Bus Tour will be visiting Manchester Science Park from 1-4pm on Wednesday 24th August.

For those interested in setting-up their own business or going freelance, this is an ideal opportunity to meet the experts, find a mentor and network with local successful entrepreneurs.

Register your interest at

On board the bus will be the following:

  • Business experts – giving advice on everything from opening bank accounts to trading online, sourcing insurance, managing money, tech set-up and sorting IP
  • Star local entrepreneurs – who will speed mentor small businesses
  •  Local award winners – from Barclays Take One Small Step, Shell Livewire and other small business competitions
  • Media – as we run a session called ‘Meet the Editor’, where small businesses get tips from local editors on how to get into the local press
  • Small business authors – from the local area
  • A travelling small business shop and library – with many great business resources
  • StartUp Local champions – meet those who are helping launch StartUp Britain in local areas
  • Prize give-aways – every day, with a chance to win a Dell laptop
  • Members of the StartUp Britain founding team – ask them questions from about the future of the campaign to how you might get involved

 Plus much more!

Budding student writers – join our blog team and get experience for your CV

August 7, 2011

Love writing?
Looking for an opportunity to boost your CV?
Just started thinking about your career path and like to share your thoughts with others?
Want to tell the world about your personal experiences of job hunting?

Good news!

We are now recruiting for a brand new team of student bloggers to be regular contributors to our undergraduate blog next academic year. We’re on the hunt for current University of Manchester undergrads (any year, any subject) who are budding journalists, creative writers or just want the opportunity to write regularly for fun!

Read the rest of this entry »

Some simple ideas for boosting your CV this summer

August 1, 2011

If you’re not already doing an internship this summer, but you want to make the most of the remaining couple of months (ish) before you come back to uni to do something which will look good on your CV, what sorts of things can you still do?

1. Make the most of your part-time job. If you’re working this summer, ask your boss if you can take on additional responsibility. E.g. If you work in a cafe, perhaps you could offer to help to organise the rota or develop a customer feedback questionnaire to identify the most popular menu items or any service issues. Use your imagination!

What does it demonstrate…? Responsibility, leadership, initative, market research skills.

2. Make the most of a trip abroad. If you’re travelling, write a blog about your experiences or interview some people while you’re there on a current issue on your mobile phone and make it into a short podcast. Even better, do both and add the podcast to your blog.

What does it demonstrate…? Initiative, creativity, writing and social media/multimedia skills.

3. Arrange a day or two of work shadowing. It might be too late to arrange a summer internship or placement, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t try to arrange some work shadowing. Work shadowing is less formal than work experience and involves (as the term implies) observing people doing particular jobs and learning more about what a job entails rather than getting stuck and doing concrete work yourself. Work shadowing opportunities are very rarely advertised – if you’re interested in doing this, the best thing is to contact companies/organisations directly to see if this might be possible. Be polite and ensure you tell them what you’d like to learn/what departments you’d like observe and be as flexible as possible regarding dates. See our ‘Networking’ guide for more details of how to contact organisations directly. And try using LinkedIn too.

What does it demonstrate…? One key thing it demonstrates is a genuine interest in a particular career area. It can also open doors to other things, e.g. internships, paid work, useful contacts etc.

4. Enter a ‘challenge‘. The website includes listings of challenges you can undertake alone or in a team. Some have good prizes, but the main benefit is the experience itself – there’s an opportunity to develop a wide range of skills.

What does it demonstrate…? Demonstrates an interest in the particular career, e.g. a marketing challenge demonstrates interest in a career in marketing. Also many skills, including teamwork (for team challenges), organisation skills, leadership etc, depending on the challenge in question.

5. Do some volunteering. Many organisations recognise that people are busy and don’t have a huge amount of time to spare, so they provide opportunities for short bursts of volunteering (e.g. one day). For example, the green charity BTCV doesn’t even mind if you show up on the day and you can just do a day or more if you like. Browse the volunteering opportunities on the careers website (you need to be logged in to see these) for lots more ideas. You might even find something related to the career area you want to go into or that develops skills you know you will need.

What does it demonstrate…? Carl Gilleard, Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, explains how many graduate recruiters view volunteering: “Volunteering is an excellent way to gain skills and experience that will enhance your applications when applying for graduate or placement positions. Demonstrating a range of experience and the commitment needed to undertake voluntary work around your normal studies will be viewed favourably by many employers.”

6. Get your driving licence. If you haven’t already done this and you have a bit of time and money this summer, it’s worth considering doing an intensive course, offered by many driving schools. A driving licence can be useful for many jobs, either because it is a specific requirement of the job, or because the workplace is difficult to reach by public transport.

What does it demonstrate…? That you can drive… 🙂

7. Take the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence). Slightly confusingly, this is nothing to do with driving a car. It’s an international computer skills certification programme which covers IT security, Microsoft Office and using the internet. You can take this as a self-paced independent course at the University. There is a small cost for this course, but you can start the course at any time and work at your own pace and book yourself in for the modules tests whenever you’re ready. See the University’s ECDL web pages for more information.

What does it demonstrate…?  A level of competence in Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint etc), IT security and communicating using the internet and email. It is easy to put these things on your CV, but this qualification will be evidence that you are a competent user. These basic IT skills are considered important for most jobs. Also demonstrates self-motivation and drive (nobody forced you to do this!) and initiative.

8. If you have a career in mind, do some research about it.  This isn’t necessarily something for your CV, but reading career-related journals will improve your understanding of what is important to employers in your career, your knowledge of current events and how they are affecting the industry, and it is also likely to give you tips about companies that might be worth targeting for jobs later on.  The Careers Service subscribes to a range of career-related journals, often also obtainable in local libraries or online.  Search the Careers Library catalogue for titles and links relevant to your career. Also spend a little time learning the jargon e.g. if you are interested in finance but don’t know much about it this summer is a good time to learn what financial terms mean.

What does it demonstrate…? Commercial awareness and interest in your chosen career.  It will also help you when the time comes to prepare for interviews.

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