On the hunt:

November 30, 2011

How difficult are you finding it, to find placements and work opportunities in your chosen fields?

I recently read an article on The Independent’s website, about degree choices that are more likely to guarantee you a job afterwards. (The article is available here, for reference) I suppose it’s not really surprising that employers are looking for candidates with a wide range of skills – communication, teamwork, time management, are just a few of the skills that employers want, on top of your academic excellence! I mentioned in my last post on here about how important it is to get noticed: apprenticeships and internships, placements and volunteer work are all great ways of getting yourself out there, getting that necessary, and relevant work experience, and acquiring those coveted skills! That’s not really the point I’m making here, though. How can you apply for these places, these chances, if you don’t know where to find them? It’s not just about looking in the right places though, you should be looking everywhere – don’t leave anything to chance, you might find exactly what you were looking for, in a place you never thought to look.

I found myself, a few placement and summer opportunities through (surprisingly) twitter: I never thought I’d find opportunities there, but it turns out that they advertise a lot of placements and opportunities that way, and that’s exactly how I came across the placement. I’ve also been contacted by a few people also working or studying in a scientific field to denote the interest they had in my personal blog (also available here, if you’re interested!) I use it to ramble on about day-to-day musings, but over the last year or so, I’ve used it more to consolidate my own thoughts and ideas in terms of science, and maths and other areas that interest me, I suppose in an attempt to organise my thoughts! I have also found, through these contacts a number of other blogs that are really quite interesting, and have been lucky enough to be in contact with one of the authors – it’s a great way for me to learn about opportunities I’d never otherwise consider, or even look for.

I think what I’m trying to get across is this: don’t leave anything out. As undergraduate students, we’re constantly on the hunt for something to do to aid our education, or to improve our chances of getting that competitive job at the end of the degree, and it’s not worth letting a chance slide by, because you just didn’t look hard enough.

Heena Panchal – Student Blogger


Can’t find a part-time job? Try volunteering!

November 28, 2011

Since returning to Manchester following my year abroad (which I spent in Saint Petersburg, Russia), I have been constantly applying for jobs to no avail. At first I was optimistic, assuming my work experience from before my year abroad, and the life experience gained by spending 9 months in Russia, would be enough to secure me some kind of job. As the weeks passed, and more and more of my applications went unnoticed, I decided to try and gain some experience for my CV through volunteering.

After a quick Google search along the lines of “volunteering in Manchester”, I found out about a charity called WRVS (Women’s Royal Voluntary Service – but they do take male volunteers too!) which runs coffee shops and tea trolley services in hospitals all around the UK. Thinking this would be great first-hand customer service experience in an interesting environment, I applied online and heard from them within a matter of days. Not only was this a great confidence boost after so much rejection, I also felt good that I would be spending my spare time helping people rather than sitting around lamenting my dream job. I arranged an informal interview with the WRVS branch at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, filled out the full application form and got my two references, and within a couple of weeks I had a volunteer job.

I have now been working at WRVS once a week for almost 2 months, and I can safely say it’s the best job I’ve ever had. My fellow volunteers are all very talkative and friendly, the customers are polite, and I now know how to use a coffee machine, despite hating coffee myself. Though the job is unpaid, it feels great to offer my spare time to a charity that really needs the help, whilst meeting plenty of lovely people in the process. As we are mostly volunteers, the shifts are extremely flexible and are perfect for students. I am still applying for paid jobs as I could do with the money, but I enjoy this job so much I would continue to do it alongside a paid job (and the heaps of work I have to do in fourth year!) – my only regret is not thinking to volunteer sooner!

Though this post has simply been about my story with WRVS, I hope it will inspire other students to put their spare time to use and gain experience for their CV through volunteering, especially if they have been unsuccessful in finding a paid part-time job in the past.

Some useful links on volunteering:






Naomi Powell – Student Blogger

How can I find those hidden jobs (the huge chunk of the iceberg lurking underwater…)?

November 25, 2011

You might have heard the term “creative job hunting” and wondered what exactly that meant. Or maybe you’ve been looking on the big graduate job sites like Milkround, Monster, Prospects, Totaljobs, TARGETjobs etc and just not really found anything for the career sectors you’re interested in. The fact is that these sites are great if you’re interested in graduate jobs with the big companies in finance, accountancy, general management, engineering etc, but if you’re interested in other areas like the creative industries, the media, the public or voluntary sectors, the environmental sector or even marketing, advertising and PR jobs, these sites will only take you so far and you could be left wondering where all the jobs are. The fact is that the majority of jobs are never advertised in the traditional way. In other words, advertised jobs are just the “tip of the iceberg” and there is a huge hidden job market, similar to that big chunk of the iceberg which lurks underwater. People get these “hidden” jobs through:

  • Already working for the company in some capacity (this can include temporary roles and work experience)
  • Contacts and networking (including social and online networking)
  • Headhunters and recruitment agencies
  • Speculative applications

Here are 4 quick tips for tap into the so-called hidden job market: Read the rest of this entry »

‘Tis the Season

November 23, 2011

The end of November and start of December is deadline time for all students. For third years like myself, it can be even more difficult with additional work going into grad scheme deadlines or in my case my masters application as I begin to find references, and write my personal statement. As I write this, I am in John Rylands library taking my head out of my dissertation books. I thought I would be juggling everything in this final year. My biggest worry was that taking this part-time volunteer job on top of university would cause my grades to slip. In fact, they have done the opposite and I have spent some time wondering how this could possibly work….

Read the rest of this entry »

From shark cage diving in South Africa… to serving coffee in Fallowfield.

November 21, 2011

In today’s economy job seeking is getting harder … CareersLink is an amazing resource open to all students at the University of Manchester offering an impossibly wide range of jobs from around the world. I found out about it through a career management module I’m doing this year and have never looked back.

Read the rest of this entry »

Only 39 employability days till Christmas!

November 16, 2011

Time flies when you are having fun!  Soon many of you will be seeing friends and family for the Christmas vacation. 

Someone is bound to ask if you have got a job yet or what your plans are for next year.  AWKWARD!

Which of the following best describes your response?

  •  I’m in my first year – I have plenty of time to worry about that.
  •  I have enough money I don’t need to get a job yet.
  •  There are no jobs.
  •  I’m taking a gap year to go travelling so I don’t need to think about a career.
  • I’m going to leave it till I graduate.
  • I’m concentrating on my degree.
  •  I’ve no idea about career options.

If any of the above describe your response then there are a few things you should be aware of …. 

 I’m In my first year – I have plenty of time to worry about that?
If you don’t start getting work experience or gaining skills through society work, volunteering or part time jobs – you will struggle to get a placement or internship in your second year. Find out more about getting experience.

I have enough money I don’t need to get a job yet.
You may have enough money but if your CV shows no evidence of skills gained through a variety of activities including work – then you will find it harder to find a job when you need one . Apart from anything else you will need an employer reference for many jobs.

There are no jobs!
Convenient isn’t it, no need to fill in all those tiresome applications!  IT’S A MYTH – the press is full of them, convenient statistics that make good stories. The good news is there are loads of jobs, even better- half of the applications for them will be so bad they will get rejected outright.  Make a decent application for a relevant role and your chances are not as bad as you think.

I’m taking a gap year to go travelling so I don’t need to think about a career.
Whenever you take a gap year (before, during or at the end of your course) you need to think ahead or you could end up spending a long time filling in time because you have missed out on opportunities while you were away.  Travelling is great but you are going to have to sell the benefits of your time out on your CV  to a future employer, so do something worthwhile.

I’m going to leave it till I graduate.
Yes some people do put off making decisions till after graduation and it can work out ok, IF you have already made steps to make yourself employable ( had work experience, volunteered etc).  Some employers will have immediate start graduate schemes available – usually advertised at the Summer Fair in June.  To take advantage of this you really need to have considered your career direction in advance!

I’m concentrating on my degree.
It’s great to be committed to your degree programme but there will be other students with a 1st who have had internships, run societies,  and volunteered, so you are competing against them!

I’ve no idea about career options.
That’s ok but it doesn’t stop you getting a part time job, volunteering or getting involved with extracurricular activities.  Once you start getting experience you begin to understand what you like and dislike in different roles and you can evaluate what you would and would not want to do in your next job.  Not everyone decides on a career age 14, sometimes you have to experience something before you know you would like it. 

 So go on do something to make yourself employable!







A career in Journalism, it’s time to get started!

November 14, 2011
A little birdie told me to join Twitter

It is 11th November 2011, so technically I only have one hundred academic days left of university. Wow, what a daunting reality. I can see daylight at the end of the tunnel, it is small dot of light, but it is still visible if you look closely enough. The end is nigh, it is time to start thinking about ‘new beginnings’. Looking into the future can be very scary, but I think the opposite. It’s exciting! New experiences to be had, new people to meet! Do not assume the media’s apathetic view that we are the ‘doomed’ generation, throw off those shackles and be hopeful. Yes, times are hard. The economic downturn is meaning everybody is feeling the pinch, but there are still jobs out there. The world is not about to end. So with that battle cry of optimism, it is now time to think about what you want to do in the future.

So what do I want to do? Well for a long time, I’ve not had a clue, but thanks to the experiences gained with the Mancunion newspaper and Fuse FM radio station, I’ve had a mini breakthrough. Journalism and I seemed destined to meet, like Beckham and Posh. That sounds all too perfect, and it is. The truth is journalism is just something I really like and am determined to pursue. So my quest to become the ultimate wordsmith begins. What next then? I pause, scratch my head and wonder. Well, when an organised friend of mine mentioned the University of Manchester’s career website to be a useful resource, I decided to give it a look, and spotted a ‘Careers in Journalism’ talk coming up. Sign me up!

I wandered along to the Careers Service at Crawford House, not really knowing what to expect. I located the room successfully, entered and sat down quietly. The room was pretty silent with a trace of whispered conversation, this was a stark contrast to what happened post-talk. Louise Sethi (careers consultant) gave a presentation, and I found it to be very informative with lots of resources and tips given out. Representatives from the Mancunion newspaper and Fuse FM also talked about the opportunities available to students. I’ve been involved with both to some extent, but hearing them talk so passionately reinvigorated my excitement. To the present day, I’ve only written articles for the film section of the newspaper, but now I want to branch out and try my hand at music and sport writing too. I’ve already got my first concert to review. Woo! What really impressed me about this event was the chance it gave to like-minded people to connect. It was a hive of activity at the end, people were chin-wagging away or networking in business terms. Whether it be swapping contact details, or inquiring about the Mancunion or Fuse FM. I plucked up the courage and spoke to fellow blogger – Catherine May. She talked about the opportunities involved with Twitter and the power of the blog, and I couldn’t agree more with everything she said. I have my own blog, and because of my nervousness of people reading it, I limited the readership to close friends and family. This seems very irrational now, I mean why was I writing it if I didn’t want anyone to read it apart from the elite few? So with encouragement from Catherine and a change of mind-set, I’ve decided to put myself out there. My blog URL is michaellyons.co by the way, I like to babble on about films. I’ve also got new Twitter friends who are involved in the industry, and I aim to make contact with them. Just to prove the power of online social networks, the reason I got the opportunity to write for the undergraduate careers blog is because Helen Buzdugan (careers consultant) spotted me on Twitter and liked my blog. There you have it folks! Inspiration to you all. If I can do it, so can you.

Michael Lyons – Student Blogger

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