17 January 2013 10:26 AM

Dos and Don'ts for getting on with your parents during uni holidays...

So, the Christmas holidays are over, and If you're anything like most graduates these days, you'll have spent them at the Hotel of Mum and Dad. For many this will have been your first trip back home since they dropped you off at the beginning of freshers' week.

The first visit home can be a bit of a shock to the system for both parents and students - suddenly you're swept from your newfound independence back into a world of folded towels and having to phone home if you're out past 10pm, while your parents are confronted with an adult version of their darling child, who's no longer willing to account for their every move and may have picked up new and different views on life. Cue a few fraught weeks of arguing over milk, cleaning rotas and whose turn it is in the shower - think life in halls but with added parent-child angst. So, if you've had a few clashes with the family, here's a few things to bear in mind for future trips back home - or for when you have to move back in after graduating!

Do:
> Be gracious - remember that it's your parents' house, after all! Offer to cook a meal, wash up, entertain Grandma or walk the dog.

> Prepare yourself for a different atmosphere from the one you remember - you may feel very different since moving away, but chances are your parents won't have caught up with this yet. Patience will go a long way!

> Spend time catching up with friends from your hometown - share tips on how to survive! Plus, some time away from your family will make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone.

> Acknowledge how your parents and younger siblings are feeling, and be prepared to compromise on the small stuff. If your dad gets annoyed about people leaving dirty dishes unwashed overnight, is it really going to kill you to do it his way for a few weeks?

> Use the holidays to do a bit of graduate career research

Don't:
> Allow yourself to be pushed into a 'child' role again - although this might make your parents feel more comfortable in the short term, it's not conducive to a positive long term adult relationship with them.

> Revert to teenage sulking if conflict arises - you'll just sabotage your chance to show your parents that you're a mature, reasonable adult.

> Assume that because you've been to university for a few months and have taken a couple of debating classes, you are now in a position to be dismissive of your parents' religion, life choices, political affiliations or stance on the EU. Constructive discussion, yes. Hectoring, no!

> Get stroppy with them when they offer unsolicited advice. Of course, this is easier said than done - you may have the type of parent who wants to help you find your feet by asking 'helpful' questions like "Have you tried searching for a graduate job on the internet yet?" Grin, bear it and remember that in a matter of weeks you'll be back to the wonderful world of parties, cheap vodka and a diet of super noodles - so enjoy that home cooking while it lasts!

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21 November 2012 09:34 AM

Five things you should know about graduate jobs in accounting

Interested in a graduate job in accounting? Accountancy isn’t just about number-crunching – you also need to be able to see the big picture when it comes to the future direction of a business. You will help companies of all sizes, from one-person businesses to multinational corporations and charities, manage their finances and comply with legislation. But what is a graduate career in accounting really like? Read on to find out the top five things you need to know before you start filling in that application form…

1. You will probably spend quite a lot of time away from home if you go into an audit role, especially if you work for one of the Big 4 accounting firms (KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young). There’s lots of driving and nights away from home at client sites, so you’ll need to develop a certain fondness for hotels, motorway service stations and fast food. If the thought of this brings you out in a cold sweat, the good news is that tax roles tend to be much more office-based.

2. There are three main paths that a graduate accountancy trainee might take after finishing university. Perhaps the best-known route is to train within an accountancy firm (such as the Big 4 or a smaller firm), providing a consultancy-based service to clients. However, you can also train within the finance department of a public sector organisation or a commercial business. Which brings us to…

3. Qualifications! One of the best reasons to get a graduate job in accounting is the training on offer, as it will stand you in good stead for the rest of your working life. And best of all, it’s usually funded by the company. You might also get paid time off to study. The qualification you study for will depend on the organisation you’re training with and the area you want to work in. If you’ve working with an accountancy firm, you’ll probably study the ACA or the ACCA – the former probably has the edge in terms of prestige, but the latter is often said to have more international recognition. If you’re studying within a business to become a management accountant, you’ll take the CIMA exams. Public sector accountancy trainees will study for CIPFA (in case it’s eluded you thus far, accountancy is a profession littered with confusing acronyms – so brush up!)


4. Entry to the profession is fairly stringent – you’ll usually need at least a 2.1 for the bigger firms. However, there are lots of routes, including those aimed at school leavers, so a degree isn’t a prerequisite. A good tip for aspiring accountants at all stages of their education is to get as much work experience as you can, whether it’s in a high-street firm or on a vacation placement with one of the Big 4. All relevant experience is good experience when it comes to getting your first accountancy job.



5. One of the most valuable things you’ll learn as an accountant working with clients is how to relate to different people and businesses – it’s a great way to make contacts across a wide range of areas. Plus, it’s interesting! If you enjoy finding out how things work and thrive on variety, you’ll probably enjoy working with external clients. One client might give you a plush, peaceful working area with a comfy chair and coffee on tap, while a small business might be tight for desk space and have you working in a meeting room or even in a warehouse. Even if you’re in-house, you’ll still be expected to be adaptable and flexible, as you may still need to visit different business sites.

So there you have it! If you're keen to find out more about graduate jobs in accounting and financial services, click here.

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26 September 2012 11:39 AM

How about a job at...the Civil Service Fast Stream?

The Civil Service Fast Stream is a unique graduate scheme that's designed to catapult the very best graduates into top-level roles across the UK. Sound good? Read on!

The Fast Stream allows you to gain a huge range of experience in a very short time. Fast Streamers undertake a variety of placements, move between projects and try out areas of work to build up a portfolio of experience that's hard to beat. Find out more about government and public sector careers here.

Starting salaries usually range between around £25, 000 and £27,000 and you'll be expected to be flexible - you need to follow the job wherever it takes you across the UK!

Click here to find out more!


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19 September 2012 08:50 AM

Spotlight on: HR Graduate Jobs

HR has shed its paper-pushing image in the last few years and is seen as an increasingly attractive destination for graduates from all degree disciplines. If you're commercially aware and also a real people person - tactful, empathetic, confident and a great communicator - who wants to use these skills in business, this could be the industry for you.

Watch a real HR professional talking about the best and worst bits of his job here.

HR departments have historically had a bit of a bad rep as the boring, 'computer says no' zone in the company - so part of your role as a modern HR professional is to change this image! HR strategy these days is very much about retaining and developing staff, not just making sure they follow the rules arbitrarily. Your understanding of employment law needs to be top-notch, too, so HR can be a good choice for law graduates who've decided that life as a solicitor or barrister isn't for them, but still want to use what they've learned in a business context.

With many companies recognising the advantages of flexible working, part of any modern HR role is to help the company and staff maintain a work-life balance that's mutually beneficial to everyone. To do this requires tact, diplomacy, empathy, assertiveness and negotiation skills. Remember that you will often be dealing with people who are in difficult or emotionally-charged situations - illness, bullying and work stress don't tend to leave people in the most calm frame of mind.

As well as the day-to-day liaison between staff and employers, HR professionals also have a big role to play in the strategic direction of the company. At a senior level, HR teams will advise on employing the right balance of staff in terms of skills and experience, advise on and help to implement training and development programmes across the company, consult with recruitment agencies, give input on pay scales, ensure compliance with current employment and working practise legislation, and lead company strategy on equality and diversity. Whew!

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10 September 2012 09:48 AM

Top Tips For Developing The Skills You Need For A Graduate Job

  • Network, network, network! Family, friends, contacts you meet by chance – it all counts!

  • Go to university careers fairs and employer presentations – not only can you pick up lots of helpful info on the industries you’re keen on, you will also have the chance to make a lasting impression with recruiters.


A final tip - believe in your own abilities and focus on presenting yourself as confident...but not arrogant. No one wants to spend all day working with someone who's full of themselves!

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10 September 2012 09:28 AM

Four Vital Skills for Landing your First Job

Graduate employers aren’t just interested in hiring candidates with the right qualifications – they’re also keen to meet people with the right skills for their company. The top skills graduate recruiters want are:

1. Commercial awareness - this is about knowing how a business works, how it’s positioned in the marketplace and how it relates to the wide economy.
    
2. Communication skills – this vital ability covers putting your point across effectively, public speaking, listening to people, writing well, and tailoring your message to your audience.

3. Motivation – are you someone who can pick themselves up again after a setback? Can you keep persevering when the going gets tough?


4. Confidence – can you be assertive without being arrogant? Can you master business lingo and meet company directors without sounding nervous? 


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06 September 2012 09:09 AM

Guest post: Cybersecurity Sector Seen as Secure Employer for Graduates

 

With the continuing instability of many key UK employment sectors, a sure thing is hard to find. However, cybersecurity has been heralded as an extremely secure career option for graduates with the right skills to offer.

Thanks to the rising demand for online security services and the relative scarcity of qualified candidates, the genuine difficulty faced by many job hunting graduates of ‘too much competition, too few openings’ doesn't apply in this dynamic employment sector. Both private sector and government institutions need the services of hundreds more experts in the near future to combat the rising tide of cyber-related attacks, as well as the more mundane annoyances of low-tech spammers that plague today’s internet.

While the majority of the cybersecurity industry creates tech support jobs that deal with the daily countering of these low-tech nuisances, at the other end of the scale experts are needed to fend off more sophisticated cyber-attacks. These can take the form of defrauding attacks designed to steal or misappropriate capital, or in more deadly instances they can target critical digital infrastructure that can cripple power grids or banking systems with impunity.

Cyber-related attacks are a global threat with a cost to the British Government that not even the most well-informed experts can agree on, but it certainly runs into billions of pounds every year. While the demand for cybersecurity is there, the supply doesn’t measure up to it. Edwin Kanerva, Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton, recently said: “It’s tough going out there. Every company is looking for the same thing. There’s just not enough of them. The gene pool is small.”

Given the job security and relatively high salary that a cybersecurity expert can expect to enjoy, the number of new graduates who are entering the field remains disproportionally low. Perhaps the most obvious reason for this 'small gene pool' of employable graduates in this field is the fact that students who study computer science are being lured away by the bright lights of computer engineering or software development.

The most exciting tech companies, who have Silicon Valley headquarters and a large presence in the UK, are proving to be too much of an attraction to eager young graduates with computer science degrees. The large salaries and inherent coolness of innovative tech companies means that careers with Google, Microsoft and Oracle are highly sought after, drawing computer studies graduates away from online security firms and government departments. These tech giants are also increasingly reaching out to pluck potential candidates from the graduate pool to employ them in Java jobs, as the programming language has come under fire recently for its supposed security issues.

While software development jobs with this kind of employer may be an attractive option, graduates with computer related qualifications should certainly consider the variety of excellent employers looking for cybersecurity experts. The generous salaries, job security and relatively lower levels of competition make it an excellent employment sector.

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/umdnews/5257657315/


22 August 2012 10:58 AM

Postgraduate Study: The No-Nonsense Facts

Thinking about postgraduate study? Read this first! There are pros and cons to the postgrad route, and lots of potential traps for the unwary, so make sure you're informed.

The good...

  1. A postgraduate qualification can help you get into your chosen profession - for example, if you want to be a lawyer or accountant, you'll have to suck it up and do the necessary exams. Fortunately, you'll often be funded through these by your employer if you can secure a job with them first, so make sure you explore this option.

  2. If you get to the end of your course and decide you actually want to do something else, a postgraduate degree or conversion course can give you the qualifications needed to make the switch - think law, teaching, psychology or medicine.

  3. If you've got 1st class grades across the board and your whole world revolves around 14th century stained glass, cellular biology or solar physics, you might be one of those people who is cut out for a career in academic research. If you're one of those people for whom the world of academia fits like a glove and you can't imagine being happy working as anything other than a mildy eccentric professor, go for it! 

The bad...

  1. Not knowing what you want to do is NOT a good reason to do a postgraduate course. You'll end up in a pile of extra debt, and it'll be hard to explain to a potential employer why you chose to do the course if you didn't have a good rationale behind it at the time. You'd be much better off finding a job and saving up some money, or doing some voluntary work and building up skills and confidence.

  2. Postgraduate life is not like undergraduate life, so if you're thinking of doing another course just to prolong the student experience, think again. Being a postgraduate student is much more like having a job - more lone working and less socialising! It can be really rewarding, but it's definitely not the same experience.

  3. Postgraduate study costs a lot of money upfront as there are no undergraduate-style student loans available. In fact, there is very little funding to go around. To be in with a chance of getting funded, you'll need to be an exceptional student. It often makes better sense to either try and get a job in the field that will fund your studies, or save up some money and study for a postgraduate qualification part-time while you work.

  4. Sadly, many universities and education providers will try to convince you that their postgraduate courses are the best thing since sliced bread without giving you realistic facts about the tangible benefits of the course or the effect on your employment chances. Remember that they are primarily after your money! There are often far more postgraduate students taking a course at any one time than there are jobs available, but it's not in the course provider's interests to tell you that so they are likely to minimise it. If a postgraduate course promises the earth yet demands suspiciously low entry grades, it pays to do your research and go in with your eyes open.


In summary, there are three good reasons to do a postgrad course:

  1. If you absolutely adore your subject AND you have loads of research ideas, fantastic grades, glowing references from lecturers and the patience to write endless funding applications, by all means don't be put off. If you want to be a university lecturer, this is the necessary route, so go for it!

  2. You've known for ages that you want to be a clinical psychologist/solicitor/maths teacher and while you have good work experience and knowledge of the field, you have to do the course to get into the job you want to do. Generally speaking, if you are this organised at 21, you're unlikely to rush into anything blindly anyway. We trust you :)

  3. You have secured a job in a field you want to work in, and the employer is prepared to fund your course OR you have secured a job that means you can afford to fund a part-time postgraduate course alongside it.

No ifs, no buts. There are really no other good reasons to do a postgraduate course, let alone put yourself in debt in order to do so. We know it sounds harsh, but it's for your own good...

If you can't decide, why not take some time out? Remember that you can always go back to a postgraduate course in a few years' time, with more money saved up, some work experience and a better idea of what you REALLY want to get out of the experience.

To find out more about careers in academia, click here. To find out about choosing a career and assessing your options, click here.
 


22 August 2012 10:21 AM

5 Things You Need to Know About Engineering Graduate Jobs

Engineering can get a bit of a bad rep, unfortunately, which is a shame because it has the potential to be one of the most satisfying and stable careers out there. Read on to find out five things every aspiring engineer must know:

  1. It's not just for the guys! Watch this film to find out what women who work in engineering have to say - the general consensus seems to be that not only is it not nearly as 'blokey' as you might think, it's also easier to get noticed for being good at your job when you're the only woman on the team!
  2. There are plenty of jobs in engineering companies for non-engineers - think Sales and Marketing, Project Management, HR, Logistics. A graduate scheme at an engineering company can be a great way to get transferable business skill that will translate to a wide range of careers.
  3. It can offer some of the most flexible hours of any professional job - many companies offer perks like flexitime, and some even give you every Friday afternoon off - yes, really! 
  4. Some engineering graduate schemes will consider candidates with a 2.2 - so this industry can be a good choice if you've not quite hit the grade you hoped for.
  5. Engineering can offer the option of lots of international travel if that's something that takes your fancy - definitely worth bearing in mind, we say!

For more information on careers in engineering, click here.

Or click on the image below...

 


15 August 2012 12:27 PM

3 things graduates need to know about consulting

For many graduates, consulting has a glamourous ring to it – the idea of walking into a different organisation every fortnight and helping to smooth out their business issues. However, it’s notorious for being a highly demanding career path – have you got what it takes?

1.    Commitment

Consulting is not a profession for graduates who aren’t 100% committed to their career – it involves frequent travel and long hours, with often only a day week spent in your base office. If the idea of becoming closely acquainted with a variety of hotel facilities across the UK doesn’t faze you, then a graduate job in consulting might suit you.


2.    Diplomacy and tact
Consultants are often brought in to help organisations that are having difficulties, so an ability to empathise, be tactful and work collaboratively to solve problems is a valuable skill. 


3.    Organisational skills

You’re not going to be based in the same place all the time, so your ability to get (and keep) yourself organized needs to be top-notch.

Still think you’ve got what it takes? Find out more about careers in consulting by clicking here.


Or click on the image below...

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