Nakul Vishvanath is a 2nd year BA Politics and International Studies student who recently received an offer of an internship with a large British Investment Bank.
Investment Banks are increasingly looking to recruit students from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds to diversify their pool of talent. This presents opportunities for students that may have never considered the city life as a career path. As proven with a background in Politics and International Relations, I was offered a summer internship with a large British Investment Bank and here are my 5 tips on how you can achieve this too:
1) Career Mentor Scheme – First and probably the most important thing when it comes to applying for jobs is the Importance of Networking. Enrolling in the Exeter’s Career Mentor Scheme allows you to leverage the university’s extensive list of professionals who are willing to help you succeed. My career mentor even introduced me to a friend in the sector and was willing to give me a week’s worth of experience, which again helped differentiate myself from other candidates when interviewing.
2) Blog about current affairs- Investment Banks know that you don’t study economics or finance but want to see that you keep up to date with the news. Saying that you regularly read the Economist or that you’ve set Bloomberg as your home page is something recruiters would have heard plenty of times before. MarketMogul.Com offers students the chance to write about the current affairs and when interviewing acts as tangible evidence of your interest.
3) Practice Numerical Online tests – Online tests are the first filter of many job applications and you need to pass the minimum benchmark to proceed in the process. Ensure to practice repeatedly and the Career Zone also offers seminars on how to pass these. Due to the volume of applications I sent out some of the questions even started to repeat themselves, so again don’t be disheartened if you get rejections. Getting an internship is ultimately a law of averages; the more you send out the more chance you’ll get one.
4) Research the company – THOUROUGHLY- If you are lucky enough to get through to a telephone interview or a face to face interview make sure you research the company. Constructing a SWOT analysis of the bank is a great way to get familiar with the company’s competitors, challenges faced and how the future of the bank is panning out. The bank I applied to was undergoing corporate restructuring but again I sold this as a point of attraction and how I could make use of the opportunities that came with change.
5) Be yourself! – As clichéd as it sounds, your personality will have an impact on whether you get hired. Investment Banking is a people business and inevitably involves dealing with clients. Be enthusiastic about the job and company’s cultural values; if these don’t reflect how you work as a person you’re probably going to find investment banks with a better cultural fit.
I’d be happy to answer any questions anyone had about this article or my experience on
Anything you can do to make yourself stand out in today’s competitive graduate recruitment market is a plus. A lot of Exeter students recognise this, which is why we’ve already had 1900 sign-up to do the Exeter Award since the start of the academic year.
“The Exeter Award is a fantastic scheme benefitting both students and employers. Experience gained working towards the Exeter Award will help you to stand out from the crowd, and enhance your own skills & development. As an employer, we benefit from recruiting well-rounded individuals who have boosted their employability because of the Exeter Award.” PwC
“The Exeter Award is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain the hard and soft skills they need to move into graduate employment. It’s about setting themselves apart from the next candidate – having the Exeter Award on their CV demonstrates key skills and competencies that employers look for, such as work experience, teamwork skills and practical interview skills, which will help deliver better interviews for us the employers.” Enterprise Rent-A-Car
“The Exeter Award is a fantastic opportunity for students to enhance their employability skills. The skills which students will learn by working towards this award are highly valuable for all employers. Graduate positions are highly competitive and this award increases the chance of students standing out of the crowd when applying for graduate positions.” Transport for London
If you’re already up and running with the Award, now’s a good to time to plan to complete it before the summer. We run the key sessions right though the summer term to help you achieve this and if you are leaving the University this year it will help you get ahead of the 300,000 other graduates entering the job market. On the other hand, if you are a returning student, why not go for gold and do the Exeter Leaders Award as well?
University of Exeter alumna Sarah Duke writes about her experience of staying in the south west after graduating and working as a solicitor for Michelmores.
Want to be a lawyer? Ambitious? Determined? Surely that means you have to work in London? – think again!
During my time at the University of Exeter, I fell in love with the South West and in fact, I never wanted to leave. As a keen surfer and hiker, I relished the lifestyle in this beautiful part of the world.
However, since my early teenage years I have known that I wanted to be a solicitor, a career choice seemingly completely opposed to continuing with the Westcountry lifestyle I loved. And so, off I went making half-hearted applications for the largest firms which everyone applies to in London – sound familiar?
After various internship opportunities in London I knew something wasn’t quite right and standing on a beach in Western Australia during my gap year I realised what it was. I could think of nothing worse than spending the rest of my life in the middle of the big city of London, surrounded by offices and crowds of people (although of course some people love the vibrancy and buzz that this brings).
Then I met Michelmores and other firms with South West offices at a careers event. After speaking to Michelmores’ trainees at the time − probably almost associates by now, I realised that pursuing my dream combination of top quality work and an outdoors lifestyle really was possible.
After applying to various firms in the Exeter area, I was extremely lucky to be offered a training contract with Michelmores in the Summer of 2012. After two years of commuting into London from the outskirts and spending four hours on a train a day to study my GDL and LPC, I finally walked through the door of the Exeter headquarters on 3 September. Every morning when I wake up and drive my six minute commute down a country lane, I remind myself how lucky I am to be here.
The real dream ticket to working at Michelmores is that along with the outdoors lifestyle you get exposure to amazing work − national clients and big deals. This does mean that sometimes you have to work long hours and may not be able to surf every evening, but then there are always the weekends…
And so I leave you with this thought. You only get one life, so make the most of it. Don’t be pressured into only applying for training contracts at the largest London firms because there really are great opportunities on offer at other firms – and I’m living proof!
Go on, live the dream.
You can read more about being a trainee with Michelmores on their blog.
It is almost inevitable at some stage you will have some sort of interview, whether it be for that first graduate job or possibly a postgraduate course.
This can be in person, by telephone or even Skype, but the basics remain the same. You need to convince the interviewer that you have the motivation and skills they require.
Preparation is an important factor for any interview but you can never fully predict how the interview will be structured and what may be asked. Practise can offer that key insight into the interview process where it all comes together in terms of you communicating effectively verbally and through your general demeanour and body language.
The Career Zone often has employers offering “mock” interviews which provide the opportunity to have a realistic interview scenario with an experienced recruiter. It doesn’t need to be your ideal employer or your dream job to be valuable. You will face a challenging interaction with someone who will explore your motivation and test the evidence of your skills by discussion of your actions and achievements. It is not only what you say but how you come across, so the great benefit of a mock interview is the opportunity to practise and receive detailed feedback on your performance. Feedback is not always an option when you have “real” interviews and of course your graduate future is not dependent on the outcome of the mock interview.
How to find mock interviews in My Career Zone
Login to My Career Zone and click on the Events tab. Enter ‘interviews’ into the search tab to see what upcoming sessions are taking place. These opportunities get filled up quickly so it’s a good idea to book early to avoid disappointment; it could be the experience that gives you the edge in your future career.
Exeter graduate Purva Mestry gives us an insight into working in Social Media.
To most of us Social Media never strikes as a thing to have a career in. We normally look at it for what it is: a place where we can be social. The internet, along with the variety of social and digital platforms available at our disposal, has enabled improved connectivity among people even if they are on different time zones. I had a colleague who met his wife on quora.com, got further acquainted and fell in love via twitter.com, facebook.com and Instagram. I am not exaggerating, this is a true story.
When everyone is out there being socially active, how could brands lose out? Social media has many benefits over traditional advertising media like print, TV etc. for example:
Reach: The reach of anything on the internet is wider than that of any print ad or a TVC. It is possible to pass your message to a million people within seconds through social media. Of course, you need to employ the right keywords and the best-suited platforms for the same.
Measurable: Every platform used online is measurable. This helps you assess the success of your campaigns as well as optimum utilisation of resources. Some platforms like Facebook, Wordpress, etc. have built-in analytical functions whereas platforms like Pinterest, etc. need certain external tools for the same.
Cost effective: As compared to traditional media, social media is very cost effective. There are many platforms that provide services for free and some that provide advertising services at a minimal cost. You can also optimize your expenses by targeting your advertising expenses for online marketing and social media based on accurate geography, demography and many other factors.
Personal: Another unique benefit of social media is that it helps brands connect on a personal level with their consumers. Customer feedback is absorbed faster through social media as compared to traditional marketing methods. Social media has helped personify brands that people can see it as a comrade or a guide.
However, these are the benefits brands have when they use social media for their marketing efforts. What is it like working in social media and why should you be working in the social media industry?
It is the future of advertising and marketing. People have been observed to rely on the internet for everything. Soon, there will come a day when traditional advertising will have become redundant.
It is a fast paced industry. With the reach of anything on the internet and social media being wide, things need to be done faster than they usually would with the traditional media.
You have to be socially active to stay up to date. But who wouldn’t want to do that if you get to work on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, etc.
You don’t always need to be at your workplace. A decent internet connection and a device is good enough to help you working from anywhere in the world.
With everything very nice there comes a drawback. Although, a career social media doesn’t have many. The first being risk mitigation can be a task. Brands can be made or broken within seconds. However, if you are on top of your work, you should be sorted there.
Now, moving on to how to land a job in the social media industry? In India, social media jobs are accessible through the traditional job portals like timesjobs.com, monster.com, etc. But these are not always reliable. To have a better chance at working in a social media agency, I suggest you go to www.afaqs.com and shoot emails to the agencies you find interesting from their agency directory. I also suggest joining digital marketing related groups on Facebook and also using Linkedin as a platform to search for your perfect job. There are many job roles in a digital agency and they can be very confusing to an outsider. Let me list down a few basic job roles and what they mean,
Social media executive: This job role basically involves execution on various social media platforms. Scheduling or posting updates on various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.), maintaining hygiene on your social platforms (deleting or hiding spam), conversing with end users regularly, measuring the success of campaigns, etc. are few important things you can be expected to fulfil as a social media executive.
Client Servicing executive: This job role focuses on maintaining and managing the day-to-day relationships between clients and the execution team. Things like approvals on posts, images, ideas, taking feedback, pitching new ideas to the client and communicating the same to the execution team are the things you can expect out of this job role.
Content writer: This job role involves writing facebook posts, twitter posts, content for websites, blogs and any other social media platform. You can apply for this job role if you can write well and have a strong hold on languages (grammar, etc.)
Media buying executive: This job role involves facilitating advertising on social media platforms. Creating advertising plans, measuring and tracking current advertisements on social media platforms are some of the top things expected from this job.
Graphic designer: This job role involves creation and enabling contests on social media platforms, designing of websites, microsites, etc. Knowledge of a variety of design softwares is necessary to apply for this job.
Image designer: This job requires the incumbent to visualize and design images as per the client requirement. Knowledge of photo creating, photo editing and photography is essential to succeed in this job role.
I have listed the major roles that we can see in agencies. Sometimes, a certain role may have a different name but the job role remains the same.
I hope I am able to provide light on how the growing digital and social media industry works. For additional information on the industry or a particular social media platform or to stay updated with the latest trends in social media you can refer to websites like;
Networking is perhaps more important today than ever before, and the old adage “it’s not what you know but who you know” couldn’t be more relevant.
With roughly 70% of jobs roles going unadvertised, being linked in to a network of people across a wide range of industries is the best way to keep your finger on the pulse in terms of what’s out there.
LinkedIn is currently the foremost online professional networking community with over 75 million worldwide users in over 200 countries. It’s continually growing, with a new member joining approximately every second.
It’s an ideal way to network across different sectors, look for and talk to potential employers but more importantly talk directly to key stakeholders and decision makers in organisations of interest.
It’s a great tool for:
Contacting key people within organisations
Linking to peer groups of like minded individuals
Gaining industry insights via forums
Making introductions and referrals
Accessing industry specific information
Gaining commercial awareness
Getting started with LinkedIn
LinkedIn have produced some fantastic guides to getting started specifically for current UK students. They cover how to create an awesome profile and tips on getting to grips with what recruiters are really looking for. Head over to students.linkedin.com/uk to find out more.
For more advice and help with job hunting with social media take a look at our website and search My Career Zone for our training session Focus on Social Media – an introduction to how Social Media can be used in your career planning.
Are you struggling through a dry January? Or are you trying to lose weight? Give up coffee? Sugar? Chocolate perhaps? Why not make a far less painful New Year’s resolution and aim to complete your Exeter Award in 2015!
What do I have to do?
The Exeter Award is an achievement award designed to give you recognition for the extra-curricular activities that you take part in whilst you’re a student here at Exeter. It’s a fairly easy way to really beef up your CV. You’ll need to attend a few skills sessions and gain some work experience, but there’s a good chance you’ve already taken part in some activities that you can count towards attaining the award, so you might already be halfway there!
The diagram below shows the steps you need to go through to complete the Award. You can see a larger version and find more information on the Exeter Award website.
Register or check your progress
Completing the Exeter Award is managed entirely through My Career Zone, this is where you will register to take part, sign up for events and track your progress. When you login click on the Exeter Award box in the centre of the screen to access your profile.
Work out which skills sessions appeal to you
Your Exeter Award profile provides links to the different activities you can count towards your Exeter Award, including events your College might be running.
Typical events include:
Skills sessions such as:
Once you know which skills sessions or events you would like to attend – book your place via My Career Zone and put it in your diary. When you attend and scan-in this will automatically update on your award profile in My Career Zone: Magic!
Not sure what to do for the work experience element of the Exeter Award? You can count any paid work experience or any voluntary work undertaken since starting at the University. You can see what other students have done by following the links above.
If you have a question about the Exeter Award, someone else has probably asked it too, we have lots of Exeter Award FAQs for you to look at. You can also find out more about the different elements of the Exeter Award on the Exeter Award webpages.
Over 350 students completed their Exeter Award last year – will you be completing yours in 2015?
Previous students of the University can be an incredibly useful resource when it comes to researching possible career paths. They were, after all, in your shoes once and they can impart invaluable insights into that great unknown; what on earth happens after graduation? We have 3 ways you can access alumni to discover what particular industries or jobs are actually like to work in and how to get that all important first foot on the ladder.
We’ve been gathering various alumni profiles and organised them by College on our website. Our alumni write about what they’ve done in their careers to date, give industry insights and their top-tips to current students about employability. This is a growing resource that we aim to make more comprehensive in the coming months, but there are some golden nuggets of advice in there regardless of which discipline you are studying.
Our Career Mentor Scheme is a unique opportunity for you to be matched with an experienced professional to gain one-to-one careers advice, support and guidance into their profession and sector for up to 6-months. Mentors come from all types of industries and are at various stages in their careers. You might meet up with them on occasion or communicate via email or telephone to pick their brains. If you make the most of this opportunity you’ll gain a realistic insight into a profession and develop personal and professional competencies which will set you apart from other students and graduates and you may even gain other networking opportunities from taking part. It will be a great addition to your CV.
Our eXepert Scheme can provide you with the opportunity to contact University of Exeter alumni to gain advice on how to enter your chosen sector, work for a certain company, become self-employed or benefit from possible networking opportunities and contacts. These tend to be a one-off email exchange where you ask specific questions.
We have a large pool of alumni who have offered support to students and graduates. As our alumni are based all over the world (including entrepreneurs) and cover a huge range of sectors we are likely to find someone who can offer you an insight into their professional experience and offer advice to help you make informed career decisions.
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. That has to be my favourite book title. That and Thomas Hardy’s short stories collection “Life’s Little Ironies”. If you have read Hardy then you will appreciate the bitter humour. The title was so good, I couldn’t bring myself the read the book; the book surely couldn’t live up to it.
Erving Goffman was a renowned academic and was one of the first to apply an almost forensic analysis to everyday interactions and this theme was developed in his The Presentation of Life in Everyday Life (1959). The everyday is the important part. We all are aware that we put on a bit of a show for “special” events such as interviews or formal presentations but his take was that we do this all the time to preserve our status and limit damage to our self-esteem. I remember Goffman’s book being deeply serious and at the same time being seriously hilarious. I hope if you decide to read it, so do you.
Shakespeare put it this way:
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…”
Americans have a slightly different way of looking at it. They use the expression:
You can access other help for those tricky presentations in My Career Zone.
Her research shows that body language can affect the levels of the hormones testosterone and cortisol in your body. Testosterone is the one you want to have at a higher level: it makes you feel more powerful. Cortisol is seen as the “stress” hormone. She recommends that before a formal event, for two minutes, you adopt one or two of the power postures. Hands raised, hands on hips, BIG postures.
I tried this out before a particularly nerve wracking session in Newman A. I went to the toilet opposite the Sanctuary, the one that has a constant smell of asparagus. I did a few power postures. I was particularly fond of what I named the “Mussolini”: hands on hips, jaw protruding forward and striding around the room with long, loping steps. Luckily no one came in. It seemed to work and when I arrived for my five minute input to a lecture and it turned out I was doing the whole hour, I somehow survived.
But I have a doubt. What if you fake it and put on a face which is not yours? Do you become a different person? Do you start playing a role which is no longer you or true to your values, to the person you used to be?
If it is true, in my book, that’s a little irony.
Tom McAndrew Careers Consultant at the University of Exeter
Gethyn Williams is an alumni of the University of Exeter with 10 years experience working in the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS). He recently visited the University to take part in a talk about the third/voluntary/non-profit sector, and wrote this blog post about it. You can read more from Gethyn on his blog.
Last month I was delighted (and, after a 15 year mutual restraining order, not entirely unemotional) to return to my old University (Exeter) and talk to a group of undergraduates considering careers in the third/voluntary/non-profit sector.
In 2001 I joined the voluntary sector quite by accident. I had a vague idea about doing something socially useful and assumed that meant something in politics. How naive! I was aware of the possibility of working for charities, but hadn’t thought of them as a ‘sector’ with such variety and viable career routes.
In addition, the part of the sector I’ve worked in most – the bit that glides, arm-in-arm with the state, clumsily across the dance floor of policy and funding (them leading, reluctantly) – has changed hugely since I signed up. And though I welcome the sharpness the years of austerity have added to my VCS game, I don’t particularly envy those starting out now.
So I’m not entirely sure what Exeter thought I could usefully impart to their students. Aside of course from being an up-and-coming ‘rising star’ of the VCS.
For at least ten years now.
But nevertheless I had a go. Also on the panel were the very, very wonderful and talented ladies Debbie Hill, Head of Volunteering at The Children’s Society and the Laura Lewis, Head of Volunteering and Training at Youthnet.
What follows is a brief summary of what I said – and some of the questions and comments came back from The NextGen.
The importance of volunteering in your career development
Hardly a pioneering insight, but nonetheless the premium of volunteering experience as a career asset has never been greater, especially considering how ultra-competitive the open recruitment process now is.
But aside from being tremendous fun, a way to gain experience and try out different roles, volunteering is also a great way to develop your entrepreneurial tekkers.
As a volunteer at the front line, they say, you’ll have a unique take on how well (or not) a particular service or transaction works, and develop strong insights for improvement and innovation. Think you could do it better? Perhaps you’re a budding social entrepreneur.
By way of more traditional volunteering routes, young folks today might also consider:
Making the direct approach. Pick a charity you admire or cause you care about. Most charities will have their own ‘volunteer with us’ info on their websites. Join In – my current employers – specialise in matching potential volunteers with community sports clubs and project. But if you’re not sure where to start try the Doit site.
Don’t be scared of commitment – it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. In recent years charities have got much better at offering variety (of role and tenure) and personalising roles to what an individual wants or is able to give.
Becoming a Trustee of a Charity. This will give you the opportunity to make a direct and vital contribution to the area you live in or a cause you care deeply about, as well (if you’re lucky) as gaining skills and experience in strategic oversight, governance, and networking. Approach charities you know (perhaps with an offer to volunteer first), search Doit or consult groups like Young Charity Trustees for advice and support.
Exploiting your natural advantage as a young person. Plenty of charities have youth voice, ambassadorial or advocacy roles for young people to make a difference in their internal business and/or external affairs. Your ability to engage your peers and communicate well will be key, but the good news is a travel, training and personal development package is usually thrown in. Search for great youth organisations via the NCVYS membership.
Doing it yourself. These days you don’t even need a charity to volunteer, you can cut out the middleman. Enter ‘social action’ – self-directed volunteering targeted at young people looking to make a difference and gain skills as they go. Here’s a site which lists such opportunities. Groups like vinspired will even give you cash to develop and deliver your brilliant idea, solo or with your mates.
Want more? Ask this guy about moving from young ambassador roles to a career in youth empowerment. He’s done it in style (chin beard aside).
“Should I volunteer or intern, what looks better to employers?”
Great question, you. Either is the answer – it doesn’t really matter as long as your reasons for doing it are credible and authentic. Neither option is more worthy, what matters is you can convince future employers that you understand why you did it and what you got out of it.
“What will happen to the VCS in the next few years? Where are there likely to be opportunities?”
You don’t want much, do you?
Getting your first job through open recruitment processes is achievable but tough. We’re only half way through The Cuts and the economic recovery is weak and slow, so whether your charity of choice is funded via the state, trusts like the Big Lottery Fund or public donations, it’s still very much a buyer’s market.
And once you get a foot in the door, job security, career progression and wage stagnation will continue to be real issues for many years. The way to circumnavigate this is to put time into developing yourself, your personal brand and your networks. More on this below.
If you’re looking to work with the most marginalised or vulnerable in society – the kind of people that might slip through the gaps in state provision or suffering most as public services are scaled back – you’re unlikely to walk straight into something paid.
Volunteering to gain experience in the field may be your best option. But if you are determined to find paid work in these areas try looking more at campaigning or junior project roles in larger national charities. A basket of basic digital skills will help you here. Again, more on this below.
Finally, devolution (the transfer of powers and what remains of the public £ from central government to local and sub-regional levels) will hopefully bring more career options outside of London.
Major cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham will have increased freedom to plan their own affairs, which should be good news for their local voluntary sectors in an era where the state can no longer afford to lead everything and meet the expectations of their communities. Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast – now 15 years into their own devolved governments – are also interesting places to check out.
“What more can I do to stand out from the crowd?”
Start developing yourself now. Say yes to as many career-tasting opportunities as you can, collect interesting volunteering experiences, perhaps try to put aside a small career development budget so you can travel to attend useful conferences and seminars. Despite the cringe title, I found Reid Hoffman’s The Start Up of Youa really helpful way to think about all this.
Your personal brand is important. Mine is currently the Voluntary Sector Alchemist. It means I enjoy helping charities leverage more value from their most intangible assets – their goodwill, their volunteers, their relationships. It suits the challenges of the time and what I love doing. I used to be a Voluntary Sector ‘Evangelist’ (a term I stole from jobs in tech industries) and in time I hope to be a Voluntary Sector Jedi, for which you won’t need to see my identification; I am the employee you’re looking for.
Having a personal narrative wasn’t really an issue when I was starting out. Yours doesn’t have to be as formulaic, but you will need a credible way of describing who you are, where you’ve been and why you do what you do that shows off both your passions and your skills. Charities are sensitive to their image and impact; they’re buying you, so authenticity is key.
They’ll expect you to be a digital native. Many charities are upping their game when it comes to their storytelling. It helps them get their message across better in an increasingly competitive and diverse media. A basket of basic creative and digital skills – some photoshop, web build, DSLR ability, film editing, copywriting – will stand you in great stead for entry level project roles where you can capture the difference being made. The good news is you can teach yourself all this via youtube and similar. Start collecting images and film from all the cool stuff you’re doing, and put together your own tumblr or microsite showcasing your brand and your storytelling capabilities. It might just be the new CV.
I’ve really enjoyed my time in the sector so far. In many ways it’s a wonderful world to be in. I may stay, I might move on. I don’t know yet. But what I have learned is you don’t necessarily have to work for a charity to ‘do good’. The boundaries between sectors are becoming more blurred all the time. Think about what you love to do rather than where you might need to be to do it, and you’ll be amazed where you might end up. What you do will define you, not where you work. This short film is a bit old now, but still really hits the spot.