30 October 2012 02:37 PM

Application time: Internships and work experience

Graduate employers are looking for more than just a good degree, and at this time of year it's coming up to internship application time, with most schemes closing around Christmas or January. To be successful in the graduate job market you need to demonstrate that that as well as academic ability you have employability skills which will enable you to be an effective employee from day one. Work experience will enhance your practical workplace skills, while testing out a few different working cultures will help you to decide where you fit in.

  • Part-time jobs or vacation work - any work experience, however irrelevent you think it is, can used to demonstrate valuable skills on your CV.
  • Traditional internships - these are paid, structured placements, often taken over the summer. Many industries offer placements, with law internships, marketing internships and investment banking internships being some of the most popular. They offer you a real taste of life at a large company.

  • Work placement - some degrees, particularly those with a vocational element such as engineering, offer a year-long placement as part of the course.
  • Voluntary work and gap years - Whether you're working with kids in Peru or helping serve tea at the old peoples' home down the road, volunteering is great work experience. Not only does it help you build up workplace skills, it also shows that you're capable of taking the initiative, and that you've a nice person!
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26 October 2012 10:18 AM

10 tips for getting a publishing job without doing a publishing internship

Most humanities graduates have, at one time or another, considered a career in publishing. If you're one of them, no doubt you've imagined a glamourous 'Devil Wears Prada' magazine career involving a terrifying boss, free Dior handbags and trips to Paris Fashion Week.

But what is it really like? Click here to find out more, or read on...

As it happens, before I joined CareerPlayer I was a magazine journalist - so here's a list of the things I wish I'd known before I turned up starry-eyed on my first day at an international publishing house:

1. Beware unpaid work - there is another way! It's important to get your foot in the door, but if you don't value your work, no one else will either, so don't work for free if you can possibly help it. Unpaid work experience may be the norm, but it's only worth doing for a couple of weeks to get a feel for the industry. There are entry-level jobs out there, so instead of doing endless unpaid work, do a few bits of short term in-house work experience and focus instead on building up your portfolio of skills in a specialist area. Lots of people can say 'I like to write' or 'I'm good at designing' but what editors wants to see pop up in their inbox is someone who can create a highly-specialised feature for their target audience, with minimal input and editing from the production team. Got a special interest in music, triathalons or computer games? Know the industry inside out? Great! Start a blog, build contacts with suppliers and key people in the industry, then call up publishers and ask if they're interested in having you write a freelance article or design a graphic for them. Point out your specialism, the contacts you can bring in, the expertise you can offer. Direct them to your blog so they can see a sample of your specialist knowledge and abilities. Repeat as necessary with publishers large and small.

2. Publishing is not like it's portrayed in the movies. It involves a lot of hard work, yes, but it's also not nearly as cut-throat and backstabbing as Hollywood would have you believe. People tend not to take themselves too seriously and are often about as casually dressed as you can be without actually wearing pyjamas as daywear.

3. Publishing is a team sport. Most publishing houses have a small core team assigned to each magazine. Larger magazines will have various hangers-on like section editors, editor's PA, art assistants, editorial assistants...the list goes on! At minimum, this will have an editor (who oversees the editorial direction of the magazine), an art editor (who oversees the creative direction of the magazines, but is subordinate to the editor - which leads to the odd, erm, 'creative difference') and a production editor, who is the hapless dogsbody entrusted with keeping the peace, making sure everything is where it's supposed to be, proofreading every page, sourcing images, arguing with the printers, writing all the regular content and building relationships within the industry. Guess what my job was?

4. Essentially, magazine production is a process-driven industry. You need to be creative, yes; but while a certain degree of artistic scattiness is acceptable on the design side of the fence, editorial teams need to be on top of everything at all times. If you enjoy lists, order and ticking things off, it's a good area to work in. You need to be fairly calm, organised and focussed as you'll be working to some truly horrendous deadlines from time to time - ten days to turn around a 70-page magazine, anyone?

5. No one likes a diva. Make friends the moment you arrive with the hermit-like individuals (usually men in baseball caps) who inhabit the print room. They are in charge of final page setup and creating proofs, as well as essential bits and bobs like business cards. Get them on your side ASAP. Ditto for the receptionists and PAs (who are the people responsible for keeping the entire organisation together, often a rather thankless task) and the classified ad sales teams (who are the ones actually making money for your magazine!)

6. You do get quite a lot of freebies. Depending on the magazine you work on, you may end up with more clothes, makeup, hair products, books, cupcakes, computer games or mountain bikes than you know what to do with. In my magazine offices, we had whole cupboards full of free stuff that were occasionally flung open for everyone, from the cleaners to the MD, to take their pick. You can also pick up a few perks like free hairdressing appointments, photoshoots and trips to fashion events.

7. You won't be retiring at 30. Magazine work is NOT well paid, to put it mildly. You will find that 90% of people who work on magazines do quite a lot of freelance work in their spare time. So be prepared! Build contacts in the industry and you'll always have a bit of extra work coming in.

8. InDesign rules all. If you haven't heard of this software yet, you will! It's one of the most commonly used publishing packages and it's a bonus for an editor if they don't have to teach you how it works from scratch. Get hold of a free trial version and learn the basics. It will really make you stand out.

9. The future of magazines is definitely digital. Make sure you take every opportunity to get to grips with social media, SEO, blogs and websites. Knowing how to use a basic website content management system won't hurt, either.

10. Finally, some words of wisdom from an industry veteran I worked with. 'Always proofread everything three times - once for sense, once for structure and once for luck.' 

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17 October 2012 02:58 PM

Guest Post: Christmas Comes Early for Job Seekers


With only two pay days to go until Christmas, the season to be jolly seems to start earlier and earlier each year. The race for Christmas recruitment is now on, so if you're a graduate or a student and you haven’t considered a Christmas job before, maybe now is the time.
 Restaurants and clubs are already taking bookings for the all-important period, with many reporting 50% occupancy. Supermarkets have set up their Christmas aisles and shops are making space for Christmas gifts, with Twitter reports of the first sightings of festive sparkle in Tesco on the 29th August!

You may say Christmas isn’t truly here until that Coca Cola advert comes on, but the rest of Britain seems to have a head start. There are planty of temporary jobs suited to graduates and students at Christmas, and fortunately they aren’t limited to dressing up as Santa Claus and his elves. The Christmas recruitment drive is a trend widely reported across the UK, with large retailers announcing large numbers of newly-created jobs. Job growth is already up from this time last year, with Christmas set to increase further job opportunities. And it's not just the retail sector that gets merry at this time of year -  IT recruitment is also reporting a significant growth of 11% in September, including roles such as management, human resources and computing. Even if you’re looking for a 'proper' job, don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea of a temporary Christmas role, as these opportunities may be a way to get your foot in the door of a major organisation.

Businesses including Amazon and Sainsbury's have reported a number of new vacancies (2,000 and 15,000 respectively). Managers within these companies have been quick to add that many of the jobs can become permanent, and they look to the temporary employees when looking to fulfil permanent roles. Catherine McDermott, director of operations at Amazon.co.uk, says: “On our busiest shopping day last Christmas, we saw customers order a total of three million items during one 24-hour period at a rate of 35 items every second. We are a growing company - and when we have permanent positions to fill, it’s the top performing temporary employees that we look to.” Sainsbury's customer service and colleague director, Gwyn Burr, adds: “People can develop their career with us and progress relatively rapidly, to run a team, a department or a store. In fact, many of the colleagues who started with us at Christmas are now in charge of large teams and budgets, helping to drive sales and deliver great service.” David Cameron commented: "This is great news - not only for those individuals who will find work, but for the UK economy. This shows that the UK has the infrastructure and talent to continue to attract major investments from leading companies such as Amazon."

A temparay or part-time job can be a good way to get your foot in the door and earn some much-needed cash - and not just at Christmas. In these economically tough times, many businesses are offering more temporary and part-time jobs. One concern for potential employees can be how this affects their pay long-term, and how to organise their finances. With the rise of the 'portfolio career', many recent graduates, especially, have a finger in several pies when it comes to employment! Many sites offer a salary checker which can be a useful tool to help guide whether a combination of part-time roles or moving between contracts may be worth considering.


10 October 2012 10:06 AM

Looking for graduate teacher training? Try Teach First

Nearly 50% of children claiming free school meals fail to gain any GCSEs above grade D. Just 16% will make it to university, compared with 96% of private school leavers. If you believe that a child's success shouldn't be restricted by their family's social status, Teach First might be for you.

Teach First is a pretty unique entity in the graduate recruitment world. In a nutshell, graduates are placed in a two-year teaching role in some of the most challenging schools in the UK. You can even apply to certain graduate schemes, such as the PwC graduate scheme or the Accenture graduate scheme, and defer your entry - so you get the chance to spend two years making a real difference to childrens' lives before moving on to a corporate role.

The role of a Teach First teacher is to inspire kids from tricky educational and social backgrounds, as well as developing vital business skills like diplomacy, assertiveness and a sense of humour! Watch a secondary school teacher talk about why there's never a dull moment in his job.

This role certainly isn't for everyone - teaching is hard work at the best of times, and when your students have challenging behavioural and social issues as well, it's even trickier. But if you're resilient and up for the challenge, you could change people's lives. Seriously. 



You’ll need a minimum of a 2.1 degree, and more importantly you'll need to be smart, determined, a great communicator. You'll need to be tough - the kids you'll be working with will be challenging; but you'll also need to have empathy as many of them won't have had the best start in life.

Teach First is all about becoming a leader and achieving success – both for yourself and for others. It’s an intensive two years starting with the Summer Institute and continuing onto the Leadership Development Programme combines working, qualifying and training as a teacher with leadership development training, coaching and mentoring, and a range of networking and internship opportunities.

Sound good? Click here to find out more. 
Or watch more videos about careers in teaching here.

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03 October 2012 04:43 PM

Spotlight on: Graduate Marketing Jobs

What exactly is marketing? The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines it as 'the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.' But what does that actually mean in day-to-day terms? Find out here...

Essentially, marketing covers all the actvities involved in promoting and selling a product or service - such as market research, pricing, packaging, advertising, sales and distribution. Every product you can think of - from toothpaste to charities to government services - will have been through this process at some stage or another!

Qualities required include confidence and resilience, strong communication and negotiation skills, numeracy, analytical ability, commercial awareness, eagerness to take responsibility and a competitive streak.

Marketing executives are involved in developing marketing campaigns to promote a product, service or idea. The role includes planning, advertising, public relations, organising events, product development, distribution, sponsorship and research. The job is pretty varied - you might be writing press releases, working with PR agencies, meeting and greeting at an industry event, or implementing a social media strategy.

Hear the inside scoop on succeeding in the industry from a top marketing director here.

Find out more about marketing careers at The Chartered Institute of Marketing.


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