19 December 2012 10:25 AM

A quick tour of popular conversion courses...

Are you studying a degree you enjoy but not sure you want to work in that field? Or perhaps you've studied something non-vocational and want a change of direction? A conversion course can help! Postgraduate conversion courses 'top up' your undergraduate degree and allow to you enter certain professions that would otherwise be closed off to you. Some of the most popular conversion courses include:

> Law - It's fairly common for solicitors or barristers to start their professional lives from a non-legal academic background. In fact, many firms say that they take up to half their trainees from non-law backgrounds, and top-class graduates can often get their fees provided for them by their firm. To become a solicitor or barrister, you'll need to take the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law, also known as the Common Professional Examination), and then depending on the path you choose, you'll take the BPTC (Bar professional Training Course) or the LPC (Legal Practice Course). The BPTC is for aspiring barristers and the LPC is for graduates who want to be solicitors. To learn more about where a graduate law career could take you, click here.

> Property - If you want to work in property or surveying you'll need to take a conversion course that's accredited by RICS (the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors). You can study for an accredited masters degree and then apply for jobs, but some firms will take 'non-cognate' graduates (i.e. those without an accredited relevant degree) and train them on the job. This latter route usually means you'll get your qualification paid for by your company, so it's a good option if you can get it! To find out about the different graduate jobs in property that are available, click here.

> Psychology - If you haven't studied an accredited psychology undergraduate degree and you want to become a practicing psychologist, you'll need to take a postgraduate course accredited by the BPS (British Psychological Society). This will allow you to apply for membership of the BPS and apply to higher-level degree programmes such as a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Psychology is a highly competitive field, so give yourself the best chance of success by watching our top interview tips here.

> Teaching - The PGCE (postgraduate certificate of education) is a vocational course that prepares you for life as a teacher. Graduates with a relevant degree can train to teach a specific subject at secondary level, while graduates from all disciplines can apply for primary teacher training. There are some pretty generous bursaries available for graduates who want to teach shortage subjects such as physics and languages, and there are sometimes financial incentives for people the teaching agency are particularly keen to recruit, such as male primary teachers or graduates with a 2.1 or above. To find out more about graduate teaching jobs, click here.

> Medicine - Graduates can apply to study medicine on a fast-track programme lasting four years. Some courses will accept graduates from any discipline, while others will ask that you studied something relevant at degree level, like one of the sciences. Because medicine is such a strongly vocational course, you'll need to complete relevant work experience, preferably in an NHS setting, before you apply. For more information on graduate jobs in healthcare, click here.

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12 December 2012 09:10 AM

Ten Top Tips For Great Graduate Telephone Interviews

Got a phone interview? Well done you!

Getting to the phone interview stage is a bit like getting a first date - this is your chance to really impress the employer and make them want to find out more about you. So, here's ten tips to help you get through this nerve-wracking process...

1. Treat it like a real interview - sit up straight, put on something other than pyjamas. Sounds weird, but it really does come across in your voice!

2. Make sure your phone is charged and that you've got good signal - cutting out halfway through is not a good move. 

3. Think about what you're saying - don't be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the question or clarify it if you don't understand or think you've misheard.

4. Do your research beforehand and make sure you know enough about the company to confidently answer questions about it. Googling annual reports during the phone interview itself is not the way to go!

5. Try to treat it like a friendly yet professional conversation, rather than a grilling. The interviewer is unlikely to be trying to catch you out or make you flustered - they want to hear you at your best. 

6. Have a glass of water handy in case you need it - coughing down the phone is not the way to make a good first impression.

7. If you think it'll help you keep track, make some notes beforehand, but don't read them out like a script - the interviewer will be able to tell.

8. If you get stuck or find yourself mumbling, there's nothing wrong with saying 'Sorry, I'm a little nervous - can we try that question again?' Everyone gets nervous - it's how you handle it that counts.

9. Find a quiet place to take the call where you won't be disturbed - and you don't want your housemates bursting in halfway through, so it's a good idea to let them know in advance.

10.  Be calm! If they didn't like you already, they wouldn't be talking to you, so be confident, professional and focussed.

 

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05 December 2012 10:39 AM

3 reasons why you shouldn't do an MBA - and 3 reasons why you should

Considering a business management career? Then you're probably the type who likes to plan ahead anyway! You may already have heard of an MBA (Masters in Business Administration). The MBA is a postgraduate qualification taken after gaining some workplace experience - usually around five years - and it's often seen as the qualification for senior managers. However, before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. In fact, there are a few very good reasons not to do an MBA...

  1. It's extremely expensive - an MBA at a respected institution costs upwards of £30,000. If you know you'll want to do one in the future, start saving the pennies right now. Yes, you. Back away from the Starbucks counter!

  2. It's a serious commitment. A full-time MBA takes two years and is a nine-to-five affair (plus the obligatory networking events in the evenings). Like any postgraduate course, studying for an MBA won't give you a sense of direction if you don't have any in the first place. And let's face it, business administration is not something you study for the sheer love of the subject - you study it because you want to go places careerwise. If you're in any doubt as to your enthusiasm for a corporate management career, an MBA is unlikely to tip you over the edge into riotous enthusiasm - and it's a very, very costly, stressful and time-consuming mistake to make.

  3. It won't magically make you into an outstanding entrepreneur, a caring manager, or an ethical business leader. Fundamentally, the MBA teaches you how to run a business, not how to generate ideas, show empathy, or have a conscience. Your own personal qualities will play an important part in your career, not just your qualifications.

An MBA is not a course to be embarked on lightly, and it's not for everyone. But, if you're doing it for the right reasons, an MBA can open up new career opportunities, renew your enthusiasm and give you a fantastic skillset that will prepare you for senior management positions. Here's a few very good reasons to do an MBA...

  1. It's recognised all over the world - there aren't many qualifications where you can walk into just about any corporate environment on the planet and say 'Look what I've got here, hire me!' but an MBA is one of them.

  2. If you really love business, you will probably really enjoy yourself, and do well. Like any postgraduate course, genuine passion for your area of interest is a perfectly good reason to study it, providing you can afford to. And the advantage of being a business geek (as opposed to, say, an astronomy geek or a classical architecture geek) is that you stand a good chance of making serious money out of your interest. So good for you!

  3. You'll be in pretty good company. Of the world's top 30 businesses, 15 CEOs have MBAs, and it can't be denied that having an MBA opens some impressive doors. The global network of people with MBAs is a pretty top-notch club to be a part of.

To find out if an MBA is right for you, click here.

 

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