‘… But I’ve only worked in a bar, that’s not work experience right?’

July 2, 2012


Any kind of work- whether full- time, part-time, voluntary, vacation, casual or unpaid can count as work experience, boost your CV and help you land a dream job, even if it is completely unrelated to your future career.

So what skills can you gain from working part-time?

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Step Up and Stand Out! Employability Development Fair

April 26, 2012

Wednesday 2nd May, 12pm – 4pm, Alan Turing Building

Sign up here

With over 20% of graduates unemployed, this event will give you the opportunity to find out more about what you can do to make yourselves more employable and to develop those skills required to secure a job once you have finished your studies and help you stand out from the crowd!

Organised by students, (the majority of us are third years) for students, this event will highlight the importance of extra-curricular activities and give you the opportunity to attend presentations, interactive workshops and speak directly to experts who will be able to help and advise you how to develop those all-important skills.

Hear from representatives from the Careers Service, including talks on Volunteering and Internships, as well as hearing from the employers’ perspective along with the chance to speak to volunteering specialists from Manchester City Council and Student Action. The interactive workshops will help you identify the skills you already have and those you need to develop.

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What kind of biscuit are you…?

March 27, 2012

So, you’re in the interview.  You’ve got your smartest outfit on, the interviewers are friendly and, if you’ve done your preparation,  you’ll have dealt with the “are you a team-player” and “ give me an example of a time you…….” type questions without breaking a sweat.  Even being asked about your weaknesses and a time something went wrong holds no fear for you.  Then, completely out of left-field,  “If you were a biscuit, what type would you be?”   Erm…. what?

That’s a real question a student told us they had been asked at interview.  Other examples include asking for your favourite film or comedian or what one item would you take to a desert island with you? Or how many tennis balls would it take to fill this room? The general reaction to being asked this type of question is, what on earth has this got to do with the job you’ve applied for and how do you answer?   Do Hob-Nobs get hired and Custard-Creams get shown the door?  Will the boss only like you if you can bond over your favourite Michael McIntyre quip? How big is a tennis ball anyway?!!

Start by remembering that’s there probably not one “right” answer. Also,  your actual answer is not really what’s being assessed, you are.  The recruiter doesn’t care whether your desert island item is a beach-ball or a canoe. They’re looking broadly at two things, how do you react and how do you arrive at your answer.

How to react – you’ve just been hit with something you couldn’t anticipate. The interviewer knows that whatever you say now is not something that you’ve prepared and practised over and over.  Firstly, don’t panic when, as it inevitably will for a moment, your mind goes blank.  Take a breath, maybe a sip of water.  Say something along the lines of “That’s a really interesting question, let me think for a moment”.  This doesn’t mean minutes of silence while you mull over all the options.  It’s just time to settle the nerves and start to think clearly so you don’t just blurt out the first thing in your head.   You are showing the recruiter that, when faced with something out of the blue, probably in a situation you find stressful,  you can think on your feet and respond calmly and professionally.

Your answer –  Bourbons!! Great, question dealt with. However, you’re only half-way there.  If you blurt something out and don’t give them a reason for your answer, they’re certainly going to ask for it.  The recruiter is looking at your decision-making process and how you deliver your response.   Demonstrate to them that you considered options and alternatives in a logical and thoughtful way,  no matter how strange the topic, and reached a decision or found a solution that you can back up with reasons.  Show them that you can communicate your choice, and how you arrived at it,  in a clear and structured way.  “My favourite biscuit would have to be a Hob-Nob.  They’re not too sweet and they don’t fall apart when you dunk them in your tea.  They’re not too expensive either, which is important on a student budget”

What’s the point? –Yes, they could ask directly about your problem-solving skills, how you cope under pressure or make decisions.  You could just as easily respond with a ‘best-practice’ answer that you’ve polished and perfected to be exactly what you think they want to hear.  By forcing you to respond to an off-the-wall question, they see the real you in action.  You have to demonstrate the skills, not just talk about them. If you can demonstrate the skills in interview, that’s a good indicator that you’d use those skills as an employee.  By answering one seemingly random question,  you can show a potential employer a lot about yourself.

Finally, don’t have nightmares.  These questions are not routinely trotted out at every interview.  Most of you will probably never be asked a question like this.  You don’t need to spend hours making lists of your favourite things in every possible topic.  Prepare for an interview as much as possible (the Careers Service can help with mock interviews if you want some practice) and don’t worry about being asked something crazy.  Should such a question come up,  you’ll now recognised  it for what it is, understand its purpose and how to approach answering it.

For the record – I’d be a Ginger Nut.

Everything you wanted to know about work experience & internships

March 12, 2012

Is it suddenly on your radar that summer isn’t far away? Do you have this vague feeling that your CV is a bit bare and there should be more on it? Then read on.

Aside from your degree, work experience is the number one thing future employers will be looking for on your CV.  A scary thought perhaps, if the best you have so far is a few days from when you were at school. But the good news is that everything you do counts, and there are many ways to get it, including casual vacation work this summer, a professional summer internship, industrial placement, work shadowing or a few weeks informal work experience. They need not be related to your degree. Even part-time work can count toward your work experience, its about what skills these experiences give you and how you talk about them that matters.

The key is to do something now, while there is still time before the end of your degree!

If you haven’t yet seen the work experience section of our website, you will find lots of tips and advice there, with links to where you can find advertised vacancies in CareersLink and other jobsites.

You can also get instant advice online at the National Work Experience Campaign website, which is live until the end of March 2012. 

If you would like to ask your burning questions to a real person face-to-face, then come along to one of our work experience talks taking place on  14th and 21st March. You can also speak to someone in the Careers Service, including our information team whenever we are open (Monday – Friday 9-5), an applications advisor if you need some advice on your CV for an internship, or a Careers Consultant if you want to discuss what kind of careers you could go into, and what kinds of experience would boost your chances.

Still looking for an internship, work experience or a casual summer job?

March 9, 2012

… Then you might like to hear about these talk talking place in the next couple of weeks. Sign up on CareersLink if you are interested!

Finding summer jobs, internships & work experience 14th March 1-2pm

Summer work experience is a great way to earn money, boosts your CV, develops your skills and can help you make new career contacts.

If you haven’t yet found something to do this summer, don’t despair! There are still opportunities out there, and this session will show you where to find them…

Whether you are looking for a professional summer internship, casual vacation job, summer work abroad or a few days work shadowing, you will come away armed with useful advice and tips.

Find out more about this session and register for your place in CareersLink

Work experience & internship Application and Interview Masterclass 21st Mar 1-3pm

If you are applying for internships, placements or work experience, then give yourself the edge with this hands on workshop. The session is designed to show you how to:

  • Understand what employers want
  • Identify what you have to offer (even without previous work experience)
  • Build a great CV
  • Show you are the right person for the job
  • Handle tricky interview questions 

Please bring your existing CV to this session as you will use it as a basis to build from. This will be an interactive workshop and you will have the chance to have a mini mock interview, so be prepared to get involved, it will be fun!

Find out more about this session and register for your place in CareersLink

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.

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Placement and Internship Fair tomorrow 9th Nov at MMU

November 8, 2011

Placement Fair & Career Development Day

Wednesday 9th November – 12.30 pm – 3.30 pm 
John Dalton Building, Oxford Road (opposite BBC)

The Fair is a fantastic opportunity for students seeking placements, internships, projects, vacation work or graduate positions. Come along and network with employers and gain professional advice about the opportunities available. The fair is open to students of all institutions. 

Open to students studying on any year of any course but may be of particular interest to those studying; Business, Marketing, Accounting, Finance, IT, Computing, Law, Media, HR, Advertising and PR.

Exhibiting organisations include; Aldi, All About Careers, Baker Tilly, Bentley Motors, Camelot Group, Cancer Research, Carat Media, CRCC Asia, Depuy International, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Fujitsu, Gazprom Energy, General Motors/Vauxhall, Grant Thornton, IBM, Knowledge Point 360 Group, KYCnet, Lakestar Media, Latitude Group, Lidl, M&S, Quantum Marketing, Rate My Placement, Sandhills East, SES – Student Employment Services, Silverdoor, Spectrum Brands, Tesco, Year in Industry, Blue Chip Marketing.

Find out what it is like to work for a particular company or in a particular sector by attending one of five employer led workshops. You can register for these on the day.

Find out more and pre-register online now at: 

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