How to pursue a passion?


Jonathan Shadel graduated from his Masters in International Relations in 2013 from the University of Exeter. He was interviewed by Julia Paci, Employability and Outreach Manager in the College of Social Sciences and International Relations about his career and his choice to study abroad at Exeter.

Jonathan, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a lifestyle writer and editor in Portland, Oregon, and am the co-founder of a lifestyle magazine called Limbo, which I describe as a “guide for those who wander.” For my day job, I currently work as the travel and tourism editor at MEDIAmerica, a niche publishing company where I oversee feature content and edit a half-dozen print travel guides on the Pacific Northwest. I also contribute on a freelance basis for a number of magazines and periodicals. When not writing or editing, I am often booking my next flight to a foreign destination, geeking out about coffee or planning a weekend hike somewhere in Oregon — gosh this is a gorgeous state!

What made you come to the UK for postgraduate study?

During my undergraduate studies, I spent a semester in Ireland. I spent months backpacking through Europe and North Africa, but I absolutely fell in love with the UK. I knew I had to come back. When I was researching grad school, I started looking at different British universities and what degrees were on offer. I was really impressed with the independent nature of the university system as well as the opportunities to experience a more global perspective on the media, politics and culture.

What do you think are the benefits of getting a British degree if you are an international student?

It’s funny you ask this question. After completing my MA in International Relations from Exeter, I spent an academic year advising American and Canadian students on behalf of British universities. Students asked me this exact question all the time.

I’ll say that an international degree isn’t right for everyone or every discipline, but the benefits can’t be ignored. Firstly, there’s really no better way to prepare yourself for leadership than through international travel — it forces you to be flexible and immerse yourself in a foreign culture, experience different perspectives and make decisions when out of your comfort zone. These are all qualities of a successful leader. Secondly, there’s no better way to learn about yourself and the world than through international education experiences. How can you be well versed on any subject unless you’ve extensively traveled? Thirdly, employers now recognize that they need employees that understand the international implications of conducting business in a global economy. Employees that are sensitive to different cultures, different perspectives and different ways of communicating have a strong edge in the job marketplace.

What do you write about, and what inspires you to write?

Over the last five years, I’ve had the pleasure of writing about a broad variety of topics ranging from technology startups to interior design, but my passion lies in culture writing. Most of my work focuses on issues of culture and identity, travel, design, maker culture and the people behind coffee. Recently, I’ve been exploring ways in which technology is transforming and influencing previously unrelated industries. I have an academic background for narrative nonfiction, so I am also constantly working on personal essays to pitch magazines.

What are your tips for breaking into the media?

This is a highly competitive field, and you have to really be passionate about the work to make it anywhere — the hours are long and the pay is often quite a bit lower than other industries. However, passion and talent isn’t enough. You have to hustle, and keep putting yourself out there.

If you want to pursue work as a writer or editor, you first need to build a portfolio of writing and raise the profile of your byline. How do you do this? Start by pitching regional and niche magazines. Approach editors with a concise and well-researched pitch that’s relevant to their publication. As you begin getting published, start aiming for more national titles. While a good idea can occasionally trump a full portfolio, it’s hard to deny the fact that there is a ladder, and you need to build your folder of clippings before you can get pickier with your assignments.

Also, don’t ignore the really exciting opportunities that exist in content marketing for copywriters and content strategists. Some of my most rewarding content projects have come through freelance work with business and nonprofits. This writing can be in the same areas I mentioned above — for example, I’ve worked with a number of companies in coffee, travel and so on for web copy, social media and blogs. It can be just as rewarding, and the pay is often more consistent for freelancers. 

What advice would you give other students who have a passion they would like to pursue?

If you’re in any creative field, really focus on honing your craft. I think you always have to have a level of dissatisfaction with your work. It’s exciting how much there is to learn. I’m always challenging myself to be better, to take on more ambitious projects and to try something new. Yes, networking is a really important skill. This is a field where you often get jobs based on connections. But you often can’t get those connections without being really good at what you do. There’s no shortcut. You have to put in the hours. It’s hard work, but the satisfaction makes it all worthwhile.

And finally, what were your favourite quirky things about the UK?

I have to say that my favorite thing about the UK would be the traditional pubs as well as the cask ale scene. Some of my favorite memories of Exeter are hopping between pubs with friends as we debated international politics after spending hours working on essays in the library

Job profile: Ecommerce Entrepreneur

Ben Dale

Ben Dale, founder of, talks to us about how he set up his own successful e-commerce business.

Why did you decide to work in the industry and how did it start?

After I finished university I was working as a marketing manager for a large ecommerce website design company called Enigma Interactive. While I enjoyed helping other businesses get into ecommerce, it was something I really wanted to do for myself. I felt I had enough knowledge to start my own online business but I wasn’t sure what product I could sell.

My dad had a small carpet shop in our home town – obviously carpets seemed too large to sell online but rugs seemed well suited. They were not too big to deliver with couriers and not easily damaged.  Selling online would also mean I could offer a much bigger selection of designs and sizes than any physical shop could.

What was the turning point in your career?

When I felt confident I could run it as a full time business. I left my job at Enigma and we converted by dad’s carpet premises into the warehouse and office for Modern Rugs. Since then the business has grown and grown every year.

What was the most important thing you learned in education/university?

I studied for a BA (Hons) in Marketing Management and my dissertation was a study on how to build a successful ecommerce brand looking at examples such as Amazon. At that time (around 2003) the ‘Dot-com bubble’ had already burst. Ecommerce marketing was fresh and exciting; I found it really interesting and knew it was something I wanted get into.

Some people have the misconception that setting up a successful ecommerce business is easy, but building the business to the point it is at today has involved a lot of hard work. We have over 10,000 designs on our website now which has been gradually built up over the last 8 years.

What does the future look like for you?

The next big step is moving to new larger premises which will allow us to employ more people and hold more stock. We’re always looking at new exciting products and new ways to grow the business, for example we should soon be at the stage where we can look into targeted television advertising.

What key skills do you need to get into the industry?

I think you need to be committed 100% to what you are doing; I might even use the word obsessive! Of course you also need to have good general business sense and skills. The ability to take calculated risks is also important.

Finally, there is only so much one person can do, so I think it is important to surround yourself with the right people that are going to work with you towards your goals.

Do you have any motivational words for students aspiring to make it in this very competitive industry?

If you really believe in something but you are not successful the first time, try not to give up. Refine your ideas, work hard, get experience and gain skills in all aspects of business, and try again.


Goodbye, Hello Again and Welcome

It is a strange time of year for us here in the Career Zone.

We have said GOODBYE to our last year’s finalists; the third years, the fourth years and postgrads. Hopefully they will have left with some fond memories, a good degree and a good career ahead of them. We wish them well and urge them to remember that they get three years of help from us after they have graduated. By email, phone, Skype and in person (in Exeter or Penryn) if you return to visit.

We say HELLO AGAIN to our returning students.  A good summer spent refreshing the batteries, ready for the challenge, and enjoyment, of another year. Second years will be making most of all the opportunities that Career Zone offers. The lectures, the workshops, career fairs, one to ones and those evening employer events,  where you may meet your future employer or at least quaff a free drink and munch on a free nibble.  Be aware that the second year goes by much more quickly than the first. Take time to appreciate what is here; the wonderful Forum, the grounds (last September had a late bout of hot weather), your friends and Exeter and Devon. If you are a returning finalist, remember that this year goes the quickest. Blink and you can miss it. Good luck with the exams.

And HELLO to you freshers.

Congratulations, you are at a top university and one with the most satisfied students in the Russell Group. We want you to achieve and to have a good time.

Settle in, make friends and work hard.

Start your career journey with eXfactor and start to think about your plans. Use what is on offer to get to where you want to be.

And the strangest thing about September for us? Every year we say the same thing; goodbye, hello again and welcome.

Getting started in project management

kamKam Sahota, Project Manager at Viking Direct, talks to us about how she got started in project management.

Why did you decide to work in the industry and how did it start?

“When I grow up I want to be a project manager” was never a sentence that came to mind as I was growing up.

I started working a part time job in a call centre when I started college. I worked there for 8 years in various different roles and, whilst none had the title ‘project manager’, they all required the same skill set of a PM – organisation, efficiency, pro-activity, planning and prioritisation.

During my third placement year at university I worked as part of a project team on the implementation of a new system in the call centre. I gained quality experience as a support member of the project team. I also became interested in delivering work that brought improvement and efficiency and to my surprise I became familiar with the ‘language’ of the workplace – something academic qualifications don’t teach you.

So when I finally graduated, I knew what my soft skills were and how I could marry them up with my qualifications and experience to land myself a role that would lead to project management.

What was the most important thing you learned in education/university?

I took two important learnings away with me:

  1. If you don’t know it or don’t understand it, Google it!
  2. A good assignment is delivered within scope, to high quality and on time – oh wait, so is a project!

What was the turning point in your career?

 I studied Business Information Technology at university and after graduation I secured a graduate job with a large corporate technology company, working on a Government account as a Project Management Office (PMO) officer. Within a year of being on the graduate scheme I was promoted to a junior project manager working with a team of senior project and programme managers on multi-million pound projects. This was a huge achievement for me and a great opportunity. I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and applied myself fully to the role making sure I was asking the right questions and investing my time in the learning the details of the role.

I quickly learnt that no two projects are the same and the journey is always a learning curve. Each project has its own challenges and therefore flexibility is vital.

What does a typical day at Viking look like for you?

I’m a morning person and like to be in the office before 8:00 am. My day starts with logging on to my laptop, checking emails and getting/providing progress updates on projects I’m working on.

Throughout the day, I usually split my time between working on core activities relating to project delivery and supporting the project teams. Much of the rest of the day is usually varied depending on current priorities.

I enjoy the diversity of working collaboratively with people across the globe. It is both challenging and rewarding when a plan comes together!

How can applicants make sure they stand out from the crowd?

Build your personal brand. Everyone has a unique skill or talent based on strengths, interests and knowledge; you just have to discover yours and develop it. Showcase your presence and build your reputation through networking, blogging and participating in LinkedIn discussions.

What key skills do you need to get into the industry?

Managing projects means managing people. Being people-oriented and building relationships is a key factor to ensuring projects keep moving and are able to overcome obstacles. Success comes from having good working relationships so it is importable to be approachable.

Certifications aside, planning and organisation skills are essential. The project management world is a very fluid, changing environment so having a slight obsession with some sort of a planner is normal.

Project managers also need strong communication skills, flexibility in approaches, an ability to multitask and to be tenacious enough to get things done.

What is the most challenging thing about being a Project Manager?

There are many challenges that could arise during a project, but here are my top three:

  1. Geographically dispersed teams – having the team located in different offices means there is little opportunity to work face to face which makes it difficult to communicate and build trust. Conferencing tools help to combat these issues but it is still not the same. Getting to know cultural difference and communication styles and is very important.
  2. Limited resource availability – more often than not, projects face challenges with limited human and financial resources. Resources are usually assigned to more than one project which means it is essential to have visibility of other projects and a need for dependencies (on other projects) to be managed.
  3. Scope creep – any form of uncontrolled change to the original objectives, can be disruptive to the project and have an impact on timescales, resource and the project budget. In this situation it is vital to take time to access the change and impact, engage stakeholders and refocus the project.

Other challenges include risk management, ineffective communication and lack of knowledge transfer.

Do you have any motivational words for students aspiring to make it in this very competitive industry?

If you are interested in business, technology and people then this is a great field to be in.

Invest your time in getting to know the industry and get hands on experience in the field. Qualifications will give you the foundation of any role but experience is what will make you stand out from the crowd. Learn from experience and constantly ask yourself what went well and what could you have done better.

Should you work at an agency or in-house?

Seb Atkinson of Selesti
Seb Atkinson of Selesti

If you’re currently looking for a graduate role or an internship, you may have seen that many of are available either at agencies or in-house, particularly in industries like marketing, PR, and web design. Agencies in this industry typically provide services to a number of clients, while working in-house sees you working on projects for your own employer. But which of the two should you look to start your career in? We’ll take a look at the differences below.

Jump in the deep end

In an agency role you’ll need to be able to hit the ground running, working on several client projects as an assistant to one or more executives. As a result, those who begin their careers at agencies often learn new skills rapidly, but the learning curve can be steep!

A main benefit of working at an agency is you’ll learn about and help solve problems for a variety of clients in different industries, giving you a breadth of knowledge that people working in-house are less likely to experience. “Working at an agency means each and every day is varied”, believes Katy Crouch, Search Marketing Executive at Selesti. “It allows me to excel at what I do, applying my skills and expertise to a range of projects.”

This breadth of experience is great personal development for later in your career, showing your adaptability for working with different challenges, as well as exposure to other industries you may want to move in to later through an in-house role.

Agency roles are also ideal for anyone set on a specific discipline, for example PR, online marketing or web development, because you’re more likely to be up to speed with the latest industry developments, whether by being around more experience staff or by visiting industry trade shows and events.


Hone your skills with a single client

While agency roles give you a breadth of knowledge, an in-house role can lead to a more focussed knowledge of one industry. You may carry out similar projects as at an agency, but the main difference is you’ll be working with a single client – your employer!

As a result, chances are you’ll be more deeply involved in projects from the beginning to end, potentially teaching you more than at an agency where you may be working in a team, or pick up a project only after a client has committed to it.

This is the experience that Verity Prentice has found in her in-house role as a PR Assistant at Hallmark Care Homes, where she identifies and pitches newsworthy stories to newspapers. “Every day varies… I am out of the office visiting other care homes almost three times a week, suggesting ideas for content, interviewing residents, team members and covering events.” Verity is able to see a project through from start to finish, which is a great thing to add to her CV.

While you’ll have a more in-depth knowledge of a single industry working in-house, you’re also likely to gain skills in other areas as you move up the ranks, becoming responsible for budgets, HR, or taking ownership of several related projects such as PR, email marketing and social media campaigns. Again, this is great for your personal development.

Different cultures

Another thing to be aware of when choosing between working at an agency or in-house is that the two typically have very different cultures. As you’ll be spending around 40 hours a week at work, it’s important to find a workplace you’re comfortable at.

First up, agencies tend to be smaller companies with younger staff, often with a “work hard, play hard” attitude to work. While you’ll be expected to put in a great deal of effort to please your clients, potentially working longer hours, the office will no doubt be filled with fun equipment like table football, ping pong, Xboxes and if it’s especially trendy, slides instead of stairs.

Meanwhile, in-house roles tend to follow a more traditional work culture – think “business attire” dress code, working in a cubicle rather than an open plan office, and a more rigid hierarchy of managers and pay scales. And while everyone is theoretically working towards the same objectives, there can still be the issue of internal politics, where your department will need to fight for budget against projects from other departments.

On the flipside you’ll likely benefit from a more predictable working day between set hours, which some see as a more balanced lifestyle, as well as more generous perks and benefits associated with working at a larger company, such as better pensions, private medical insurance, and even a company car.

Where should you start?

As you’ll have seen, there are benefits for starting your career both in-house and at an agency. Both are viable places to start your career, and if you find it’s not for you, you’ll still be able to switch later on. Choosing between the two may be a case of knowing whether you have a specific role in mind and want to apply that to a range of clients, or alternatively if you’d prefer to get stuck in to a role wearing different ‘hats’ in a single industry. The decision could also be down to whether you see yourself working your way up the corporate ladder in a big company, or start your career with creatives in a young, innovative company, and whether you prefer a traditional or modern working environment.

Post by Seb Atkinson of Selesti

6 Tips for a Professional Social Media Presence

According to a new study, 90% of employers are using LinkedIn to find possible employees, 66% are using Facebook to research potential candidates, and over half (54%) are searching Twitter. But why the sudden focus on social media? The truth is recruiters believe social media allows them to see if prospective candidates can present themselves professionally, and if they’re a good fit for the company culture.

As the saying goes ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry’, so here are six tips you can use today to make sure you’re ready for the social media examination from your employer:

  1. Don’t post controversial content

Social media is often used as a day-to-day vent for frustrations, but instead of posting negative views; try to keep it light and positive. Although it can be nice to get things off your chest, posting them online makes it available for everyone to see.

  1. Never comment about work online

Once you work for a company, you’ll most likely be entering a non-disclosure agreement to keep certain information private. This may be for the benefit of clients, customers or to keep information hidden from competitors. Whatever the reason it’s best to keep work related information off social media.

  1. Make your profile private

By turning your social media privacy on you can keep your profile hidden from employers, and reduce the risk of them seeing something they don’t like. According to a recent study by SafeShop, 66% of UK residents don’t have their social media privacy on, so if you want to change your settings, check out this guide how to make your Facebook and Twitter more private.

  1. Monitor your photos

When it comes to your reputation, you don’t want to paint the wrong picture, so discretion is advised when selecting the photos you want to share. But it’s not just the photos you post that you need to keep an eye on; any photos your friends may share will also show up on your profile.

  1. Hide inappropriate posts from friends

Friends can often post inappropriate content that we have no control of, but if that content includes you then you may need to hide these posts from the public. This is now possible thanks to Facebook’s new review feature that allows you to review posts once tagged, before they show up on your profile.

  1. Only follow or add friends who you know and trust 

Whilst some would argue it’s unfair, we’re often judged by who we associate with. For this reason and your general safety, it’s important to only accept friend requests from people who you actually know to ensure your reputation remains intact.

Why becoming a first aid volunteer is great for your CV

First-aid-trainingVolunteering activities are great for your CV for a range of reasons, but have you considered volunteering as a first aider? First aid volunteering helps you develop a range of skills that can help improve your job prospects and build your confidence in areas such as leadership, decision making, and handling high pressure situations.

Show you’re ready to take the initiative

First aid volunteering is a great way of showing you’re able to take the initiative to help, furthering your own knowledge and skills, and building confidence.

This is great for your CV and job applications, as businesses like to hire proactive people who are ready and willing to take the initiative, whether it’s helping a co-worker with a task, volunteering for additional responsibilities, over-time work or going the extra mile to help a customer.

It’s also a great way to help show you’re a candidate who’ll become an investment to the company, with the makings to move up the career ladder. As a first aid volunteer you’ve shown an interest in learning a valuable life skill, which you can use to show that you’re the kind of person who proactively sets out to learn new skills to further their career and take on new roles in the workplace.

Learn how to deal with high-pressure situations

using-an-AED-(2)A major part of becoming a first aider is learning how to stay calm in a high pressure situation, such as being the first responder to a road traffic accident or helping someone who is suffering from a heart attack. Situations like this can be extremely stressful, and require the first aider to keep a clear head and make the right decisions.

Learning how to handle these kinds of situations is very useful for your professional development, as you’re likely to encounter situations where you need to make a quick decision based on the facts available to you. For example, you might need to make a snap decision on what project to put on hold while you deal with a customer query, or be able to quickly weigh up options and suggest a solution to a problem during a meeting. First aid volunteers must make decisions like these each time they treat a patient, making it the ideal training ground to learn how to make the right decisions quickly.

Teamwork and leadership skills

Teamwork and leadership skills are both highly sought after in a professional sphere, and again are skills that can be developed through first aid. At the scene of an accident, you could be one of the only people trained in first aid, so it’s important to be able to effectively delegate tasks, such as calling an ambulance, treating someone or retrieving a nearby first aid kit, as well as communicating what you need from people clearly.

As a result, a big part of first aid training is learning how to effectively lead others, working together to help the injured. Volunteering as a first aider gives you a chance to practice, helping you develop these skills.

Show you can handle a position of responsibility

As you become more experience as a first aider through volunteering at various public events or as a community first responder, your confidence will grow as you begin to save lives and help people. Again, this is perfect for your professional development in roles where you’ll be managing your own projects such as client accounts, new products or leading research projects for your organisation.

One of the most important skills you’ll learn as a first aider to show you can take on a position of responsibility is learning to make the right decisions quickly. As a first aider, you’ll need to make snap decisions based on the condition of your patient, teaching you important decision making skills which are transferrable to the office, where you’ll need to make decisions about projects based on the evidence you have.

On top of this, your first aid certificate can actually help you take on a position of responsibility in the workplace, in the form of a first aider for the business. If you have a part time job and you already have a first aid certificate, make sure you tell your manager and get yourself appointed as a first aider when on duty – all businesses need a certain number of first aiders on duty at any time to fulfil their first aid obligation, so they’re likely to be happy to do this. This is another great way to show you’re ready and willing to take on responsibilities at work, and a further example of you having taken the initiative.

Before you get started…

If you’ve done a first aid course in the past, make sure it’s still valid. Due to a recent rule change, you cannot call yourself a first aider any longer if your certificate is out of date, and you’ll need to take another course, along with anyone who is new to first aid. Once you have your up to date certificate, you’re ready to get started.

Seb Atkinson is a first aider and Digital Marketing professional, who writes for the Safety First Aid blog

Employability tips from Exeter Alumni


We asked a group of Exeter alumni for their top-tips on being employable, here’s what they said:

“You would be surprised how many job applications are thrown in the bin because of spelling mistakes and poor grammar. Check, check and check again.”

“Companies will know if you’ve made a generic application and just changed the name of the organisation. Do your research and tell them why you want to work there rather than anywhere else.”

“The average CV gets less than 30 seconds viewing time. You need to get all the right information in the right place on the front of your CV.”

“The rise of social media has changed the way that recruitment works. You need to make sure that your Facebook, your Twitter, anywhere that your name appears online, is what you want an employer to see.”

“To be employable you need to have an enquiring mind. When you are at an interview make sure that you ask the prospective employer some questions!“

“Use your Careers Service. It’s free, they have a wealth of knowledge and advice, and if I’d had some of the services that are available now, I’d have saved myself a good few years.”

“Reliability is key, if you say you’re going to meet someone at 10am or deliver a report by a certain date, do it – people will remember you for the wrong reasons if you don’t.”

“Build up strong relationships with recruitment agencies – there are some out there which specialise in placing graduates in their first roles.”

“Be honest, be yourself.”

“Communicate clearly and concisely – especially in email – it is so easy for your thoughts and feelings to be misconstrued.”

“Develop IT and people skills! These will always be useful.”

“Be nice to everyone you meet. You never know who you may meet again later on.”

“Scrutinise the criteria on any job description and write your personal statement to show that you can evidence meeting the required skills and experience.“

“Be interesting and independent-minded, ready to work with others, but also have your own opinions and vision.”

“Remember you are on interview from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, not just in the formal interview but in the car park too!”

“To me, the biggest surprise for starting a career was how personality-based it is. Coming from university where the focus is on the best grades, it surprised me how many of the development focuses were behavioural. “

“Network, Network, Network!”

“Whatever it is that floats your boat: do it! Put it on your CV and be prepared to talk about it at interview. Otherwise, how will your CV standout from the other 200 I might get?”

“Be passionate about what it is you want to do, know the job that you are going for. If you’re applying for a job in bar then go and drink in that bar, if you want to be a writer and are submitting a play, go and look at the venue or theatre company. Really know what they are doing and how you can fit in and offer something to that.”

“If you’re straight out of university you won’t have had a chance to get years of experience in a particular field, but you can show that you are committed to it by doing a lot of volunteering and by getting good references.”

“Give yourself time to figure out what you really want. Internships and work experience are a great way to see what a routine day in a business is like.”

“Involve yourself in a wide range of experiences and demonstrate your ability to do things well with perseverance, resilience and a smile on your face.”

“Articulate the transferable skills that you have been able to develop both on and off your course.”

“I would say the most useful thing to date has been working hard and networking – you never know when an opportunity is going to come up and the more people that know you and can recommend you, the better.”

“Think clearly, be hungry, be willing to take opportunities that present themselves. Be personable and presentable especially at interviews for unless you are successful at those your career will come to a full stop.”

“Always treat everyone as you would like to be treated. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking to the director of a company or to the person who does the photo-copying, treat them all the same: you never know when your paths might cross in the future and it makes for a more conducive and positive working environment for all.”

Getting started in Law

NeilHudgell'sStaffHullGW0G6335Simon Wilson, Senior Solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors, talks to us about getting started in Law.

What kind of training did you have?

Following my degree (LLB Hons Law) I completed my LPC the following academic year.

When I first set out I wanted to learn about criminal law. That changed to the extent that I never practiced criminal law; I started doing clinical negligence on qualifying and it fascinated me.

My advice is no to specialise too much at university; I thought I wanted to do one area and ended up doing another. I suggest trying to get different work placements, as this will give you an insight into the practicalities of different work types, and more of a feel for the type of law you could specialise in.

How can students and graduates stand out from the crowd?

Do something different; interests such as reading or going to the cinema are ten a penny. Do some community work, get some sports coaching badges, and something that makes you interesting to someone who sees at least 20 CVs a week. Work experience really helps; it shows you’re committed.

There are many applicants for every job so you need to show a real commitment and enthusiasm for the law.

Although, when I’m interviewing candidates the main thing is their personality. Yes, I need to know people have the knowledge, but I also need to know they’ll fit in with my team.

Any work you can do on interview skills and techniques is never wasted.

Do you think there’s a type of person suited to becoming a solicitor? What key skills do they need?

You need common sense as well as intelligence; and they’re really not the same thing! In my field of clinical negligence you need analytical skills and a dogged determination to get the best outcome for your client. Litigation lawyers are usually argumentative by nature.

What’s the most important piece of advice you can give a law student/graduate?

Be certain it’s what you want to do, then be determined to get to where you want. It is hard work and you need drive to succeed; do work experience; offer to do holiday work at no cost – it shows commitment. But the main thing is never give up; you’ll get knockbacks but it’s how you recover from those that really matters.

LinkedIn’s Alumni Tool

linkedinLinkedIn’s Alumni Tool is a hugely powerful resource for researching careers and expanding your network. It allows you to find graduates in specific subjects from Universities across the globe to see who they work for, the types of jobs they do and the skills they have.

You can access the tool at and, providing you have ‘University of Exeter’ listed in your Education, it will default to the 60,000 results for Exeter graduates. These are organised by:

  • the dates the attended university
  • where they currently live
  • who they work for
  • what type of job they do
  • what subject they studied
  • what they are skilled at, and
  • how your are connected to them

Filter these results by clicking on the various categories and they will alter in real-time. Underneath the graph you’ll be able to see links to the profiles of your search results.


So how can you use this information?

  • Supposing you’re studying History and you have no idea what you want to do when you graduate. The Alumni Tool allows you to view the current occupation of 4,126 University of Exeter History graduates – not a bad place to kick-off researching what you can do with a History degree!
  • Maybe you’ve heard that HSBC are an amazing employer – select HSBC from the ‘Where they work’ tab and you’ll see the types of jobs that 122 Exeter alumni are working in at HSBC right now. You could connect with some of them – make a friendly approach and ask them what it’s really like working there or if they have any tips for getting your foot in the door. You’ll also be able to view their profiles and see their skills-set and work history, so you can gather a pretty good idea of what HSBC might be looking for in applicants.
  • Or perhaps you have outstanding Social Media skills and want to see where you can put them to good use. Search for ‘Social Media’ from the skills menu and see the types of jobs and companies where these skills are relevant.

If you haven’t done so already we suggest you create a LinkedIn profile now.

Andy Morgan
Web Marketing Officer at the University of Exeter