Starting a Career in International Politics

Jack Berringer graduated from the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, with BA Politics in 2014. He’s currently a Parliamentary Assistant at the European Parliament, Brussels. 

Jack Berringer – Exeter graduate and current Parliamentary Assistant at the European Parliament, Brussels.

Since graduation I have been working in the European Parliament, first as an intern before being promoted to an assistant. I initially worked for an MEP from the East Midlands region focusing on regional development policy, which interested me after studying on the Penryn campus and seeing how the funding had such a positive impact on the local area. My MEP was then elected to the House of Commons in the 2017 General Election and I moved to another MEP, this time representing the South West, working on environmental policy. It’s a fascinating policy area as it’s so broad and you’re constantly learning new things and seeing the ways in which technology is being used to combat the effects of climate change. Also in the past year I’ve started studying part-time at KU Leuven for a Master’s degree in Economics and will complete my studies there in June 2019.

“For anybody wishing to pursue a career in politics abroad I would simply recommend that you throw your name into the hat and go for it… You have absolutely nothing to lose from sending in an application and, if you are lucky enough to be offered an interview or job, just take it one step at a time.”

For me working in EU affairs was a natural progression having studied politics and written my dissertation on the EU accession process. I had also always harboured the ambition of working abroad, so as soon as I saw the opportunity to move to Brussels I jumped at the chance. The thing I find most enjoyable about my job is being in a truly cosmopolitan work environment. On an average day I will speak to people from perhaps 10 different countries and it’s always interesting to talk about what’s happening in our respective countries and the effects that these events are having. For me it’s also very cool to be able to say that you work on creating EU legislation.

My favourite thing about studying at Exeter was the people I found myself surrounded by, both students and lecturers alike. Being on the Penryn campus and having a smaller group of students added to the experience. I think we bonded massively as a group and the fact that lecturers were able to perhaps give us a bit more face time individually, if required, was also a major benefit.

Looking at the league tables I knew that Exeter was one of the 10 best universities at which to study Politics when I was applying, and that was naturally something I considered. When visited the campus I was really impressed by how modern the teaching facilities and accommodation was and this just reinforced my feeling that I wanted to study there if I got the necessary grades.

“It may sound obvious but write your thesis on an area you would like to work in. It means you may get the opportunity to meet people in the industry and make contacts prior to graduation…”

For anybody wishing to pursue a career in politics abroad I would simply recommend that you throw your name into the hat and go for it, no matter how nervous you might be about the idea of leaving family/friends behind. You have absolutely nothing to lose from sending in an application and, if you are lucky enough to be offered an interview or job, just take it one step at a time. Living in a country forces you out of your comfort zone, no matter how extroverted you are, and when you add to that the fact that you can learn other languages which improves your employability and experience other cultures I really cannot see a downside.

In the future I hope to continue working in the environmental side of business, hopefully using the Master’s degree I am studying for, and move to another country before coming back to the UK.

It may sound obvious but write your thesis on an area you would like to work in. It means you may get the opportunity to meet people in the industry and make contacts prior to graduation and, even if your dissertation does not require meeting with people from industry, it will show your interest to potential employers when looking for a job further down the line.

Enter… Pathways!

Sarah Hunt – Exeter student, Pathways participant, writer of Sk8er Boi.

Sarah Hunt is a Liberal Arts student based on the Streatham Campus. 

Jumping straight into the job market can seem pretty scary, right?

Before last year, I had this vague idea that marketing might be my career of choice, but I couldn’t say for sure. I had a few bits of work experience, but I wasn’t studying for a marketing degree, so most of the theory went straight over my head. Not only was I worried that I wouldn’t have a strong grad scheme application, but I was also concerned that, in a workplace, I’d be doing a whole lot more sinking than swimming. Basically, I needed some metaphorical armbands, and I needed them quick.

Enter… Pathways!

Summer is the opportunity to break free from university, to go out and live our best lives. That’s why a three-month summer internship can seem daunting; you go straight from exams into an even more testing environment.

Pathways is different. You don’t have to give up your whole summer, and in return for spending two weeks in a structured scheme, you get peace of mind that you’ve gained a fabulous lilo of information and experience to keep you afloat during application season and in jobs. It means you can chill when you’re bobbing around the pool just two weeks later.

“Pathways is different… in return for spending two weeks in a structured scheme, you get peace of mind that you’ve gained a fabulous lilo of information and experience to keep you afloat during application season.”

So, what is Pathways?

Pathways is a careers scheme run by the University of Exeter. It’s designed to take in those who are interested in a career in a certain discipline, and boost their knowledge, training and inspiration.

Week one is an intense learning week. You participate in talks from professionals, training sessions, Q&As and a project that’s presented in front of industry professionals. It covers loads of ground in your discipline – for instance, in Pathways to Marketing, we covered sports marketing, PR, agencies, digital, data, business-to-business and heritage, to name just a few. All in one week. There was no hanging around, let me tell you that.

Week two is totally different. You are sent off into the wide world to try out what you’ve learned at a business related to your area of interest within your discipline. Here, you do a one-week internship, getting to know the ropes, meet the people and prove to yourself that you’ve got what it takes for a career in this industry. It’s the perfect taster; short, intense and varied, because those supervising you are always keen to get you as involved as possible. For me, I went to HoneyBe Creative – a small marketing company in Exeter, where I increased the number of employees by half! I learned loads in just one week, and was able to ask my questions and improve my performance while I was there.

What did I get out of it?

SO MUCH, is the short answer.

The longer answer is that, because it comes from the Uni, Pathways is structured to give you the best start you could possibly get in your career of choice. Whereas other internships might expect me to basically already be a pro, I needed only passion to get onto the Pathways scheme, and came out of it with increased knowledge, confidence to apply to grad schemes, and a load more passion that resulted from the fab experiences I’d had.

But y’all want concrete facts, don’t you? OK. Here’s what I’ve gained from it:

  • I now know terminology that will get me through applications.
  • I can discuss important marketing debates that affect companies, like GDPR.
  • I know how to approach a marketing project and what makes it run smoothly.
  • I can pinpoint the specialist area of marketing I want to go into.
  • I know exactly how to improve my copywriting, thanks to my internship.
  • I’ve boosted my confidence in a workplace environment.
  • I’ve got two new things to put on my CV (the scheme, plus the internship).
  • I have new friends who I can ask for advice as we head towards the same career goals.

And that’s all from one intense, two-week course.

“Pathways is realistic, informative and gives you the breadth of information that even a whole summer stuck in one office couldn’t give you.”

I’d recommend Pathways, 100%. But who should do it?

I used to love those personality finder games in kids’ magazines. The ones that were like ‘Which 2000s pop diva are you?’ Avril Lavigne, but that’s not my point.

My point is that there isn’t one type of person who needs to do Pathways. There’s more than one route to get there (just like getting to Avril Lavigne). So, Pathways is for you if:

  • You’re someone who has a vague idea of what career path you want to take. Why? Pathways will give you the knowledge that you need to make a more informed decision.
  • You’re looking for an internship that’s going to be intense, supportive and really teach you things. Why? Pathways guarantees you an internship and guides the internship providers to making your week there beneficial to your career progression. So, basically, no more tea-making.
  • You want to boost your CV to prep you for grad scheme applications. Why? Pathways gives you two solid items to put on your CV, and a huge number of experiences to draw on for those pesky ‘Talk about a time when…’ interview questions.

Those are just three examples, but Pathways is open to anyone at Exeter (and Penryn), and I truly believe that it can benefit anyone and everyone towards making good career choices in the future.

Basically, I think you should apply. And they didn’t even ask me to say that.

There’s a wide variety of Pathway disciplines and talks from people who are specialists in those areas. If you’re not into marketing, there’s everything from politics to culture and heritage, and loads more.

Pathways is realistic, informative and gives you the breadth of information that even a whole summer stuck in one office couldn’t give you. For me, the most important part was that it gave me confidence to know that this is the right career path for me. For others, it may be the experience that helps them turn around and go in a different direction. Ultimately, Pathways is out to help you achieve the best for your future. It definitely did for me.

 

The details…

Applications open until 24 February 2019 Shortlisted students will then be invited to an assessment centre where the final selection of candidates to go forward to the training internship stage will be decided.  Assessment Centres will take place towards the end of March before the end of term.

Employer led training will be from 17-20 June 2019

Paid internship from 24-28 June 2019

Pathways are available in a number of flavours this year… ‘Arts, Culture and Heritage’, ‘Charity and Development’, ‘Digital Innovation’, ‘International Trade’, ‘Marketing’, ‘Politics and Government’, and ‘Sport and Health’.

Passion, Ability and Confidence – a Career in Law

Andrea Hounto graduated from the University of Exeter, Tremough Campus, with BA (Hons) History and Politics in 2016. She’s currently a Stagiaire at the European Court of Justice, Luxembourg. 

Andrea Hounto, Exeter (Tremough Campus) Graduate and current Stagiaire at the European Court of Justice, Luxembourg

After graduating from Exeter, I went on to do the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL, also known as the law conversion course). I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from the law school (BPP), which covered the majority of my course fee. I then obtained a place on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and decided to do an integrated Master of Laws (LL.M). Upon successful completion of the BPTC, I’ll be getting called to Bar of England and Wales. I’m currently undertaking a six-month internship at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, as the lucky recipient of the Hon. Sir Peter Bristow Scholarship. I was given this opportunity by my Inn of Court, who is funding me to be here. It is an amazing opportunity to develop both my legal experience and use my French language skills.

When I return to the UK, I’ll be seeking to obtain pupillage in a London-based chambers, which is the final step to qualifying as a barrister. Ultimately, I am planning to become a human rights barrister and then qualify as a judge.

“I chose this career because I’m passionate about speaking up for those who are unable to speak for themselves; for the rights of all who are destitute. I want to be an advocate for the vulnerable and marginalised, those who are often overlooked by our legal system.”

I chose this career because I’m passionate about speaking up for those who are unable to speak for themselves; for the rights of all who are destitute. I want to be an advocate for the vulnerable and marginalised, those who are often overlooked by our legal system. What I enjoy most about my work is knowing that I am using my skills to impact lives in a positive way and bring hope to those who may have lost it.

My degree put me in good stead for career at the Bar in that it developed my critical and lateral-thinking skills. I particularly enjoyed writing my third-year dissertation titled: ‘Is Margaret Thatcher the Ultimate Feminist Heroine?’, which explored the significance of Margaret Thatcher’s election as prime minister. Due to the largely polarized opinions of Thatcher, I was required to extract objective facts from tendentious material; a skill which will be invaluable at the Bar. Academics aside, being president of the African and Caribbean Society during my second year significantly boosted my confidence with regards to public speaking. Similarly, being BME Officer on the Liberation Committee in my third year gave me insight into what it means to advocate on behalf of a group of people and represent their interests.

“..being president of the African and Caribbean Society significantly boosted my confidence with regards to public speaking. Similarly, being BME Officer on the Liberation Committee gave me insight into what it means to advocate on behalf of a group of people and represent their interests.”

I would advise all current students who wish to pursue a career in law, regardless of whether they want to be a barrister or a solicitor, to start their research early. Try to find out what the difference between a barrister and a solicitor is as early as possible, and then work towards building your experience in that field. Don’t worry too much about specialisms, just try to get whatever legal experience you can get your hands on. The more experience you have, the easier it will be for you to ascertain which areas of law you like and which areas you don’t like. I would also recommend applying for as many scholarships as possible to fund your legal studies (GDL, LPC, BPTC, LL.M etc.). Lastly, I would say: don’t let the statistics scare you. Yes, law is competitive. Yes, you will face rejection and bumps in the road. Yes, getting into a top firm or chambers is extremely difficult. However, as long as you are prepared to work hard to achieve your goals, there is no reason why you can’t do it. Be confident in your abilities!

“Yes, law is competitive. Yes, you will face rejection and bumps in the road. Yes, getting into a top firm or chambers is extremely difficult. However, as long as you are prepared to work hard to achieve your goals, there is no reason why you can’t do it. Be confident in your abilities!”

Volunteering is key at the beginning as you will be very inexperienced. As you build experience, you can look for paralegal roles or legal internships which will benefit you greatly when it comes to applying for pupillage (barristers) or Training Contracts (solicitors).

Make Your Experience Work

Jess Franks graduated from the University of Exeter in 2018 with a BSc in Business Economics WIE. She’s currently working in Client Relationship for BlackRock. Jess talked to us about making her time at Exeter work for her. 

Jess Franks, Client Relationship for BlackRock, and Exeter Graduate

Morgan Stanley stood out at the Careers and Placement Fair because of its culture; opening my eyes to the opportunities in Investment Banking outside of the ‘front office’ trading roles. Having expressed an interest in the Operations division, the team set up a trial insight week for me and another Exeter student. I was fast-tracked, and secured a Placement Scheme prior to coming back to University in my Second Year.

At Morgan Stanley I was awarded ‘Campus Ambassador of the Year’ for my commitment towards promoting the organisation at Exeter. In support of the company’s core value of ‘Giving Back’ I volunteered for a day at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and ran my first half marathon for the charity, raising over £800. This helped me realise that I wanted to be part of an organisation which was both intellectually stimulating, but also gave back to society.

“The Career Zone’s services – ranging from Employer Events, Panel Sessions and the Mentor Scheme has undoubtedly helped guide me to a destination… I’m very thankful to all the team for helping make my career aspirations a reality.”

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my year at Morgan Stanley, I knew I wanted to work in a sector which combined the client-facing experiences I had at PwC with the finance knowledge I’d gained. I took part in the Career Mentor Scheme where my mentor encouraged me to look into Asset Management. I realised that I preferred the ‘buy side’ work which is built on developing long-term client relationships, rather than the ‘sell side’ which is focused more on short-term work.

I successfully applied to BlackRock’s summer internship programme in the Client Relationship Management division – spanning from departments dealing with Central Banks to Charities. I enjoyed being in the Asset Management division where I observed fund managers who were managing portfolios and actively taking investment decisions.

After the internship I was offered a graduate role at BlackRock in the same Client Relationship department – a role I find very exciting. I get to work closely with insurance companies yet also follow what’s going on in the rest of the global economy at a macro scale, and the value of constantly innovating fits with my ethos of continuous improvement and development.

The Career Zone’s services – ranging from Employer Events, Panel Sessions and the Mentor Scheme has undoubtedly helped guide me to a destination I’m thoroughly looking forward to entering. I’m going to be able to contribute to an expanding business, work with impressive clients and give back to society. An induction of two weeks in New York with BlackRock is a dream come true and I’m very thankful to all the team at the Career Zone for helping make my career aspirations a reality.

Create Your Own Career

Natasha Azar graduated from Exeter with an MA in Creative Writing in 2014. She’s currently Senior Manager of University Relations at Osage University Partners. She talked to us about the often surprising benefits of being flexible in your career path.

Natasha Azar, Exeter alumn and Senior Manager of University Relations at Osage University Partners

Osage University Partners is a venture capital firm that invests in university spinouts. Before coming to Osage, I worked as a contractor for Siemens, a position which made me an attractive candidate for my role as a University Relations Manager. At Siemens I was a Communications Specialist under the Communications & Government Affairs group. I supported one of the R&D offices in New Jersey, from a communications and internal marketing perspective.

The best part of my job is that every day is different. I might be at a university or conference, designing marketing materials for an event, editing a podcast episode we just recorded, blogging the highlights of a recent webinar we held, or developing a new program to test on our universities. The startup landscape is always changing, so it’s the nature of the industry as well.

“You shouldn’t feel cornered in your current job… nor restricted by the degree you chose to study. If you come across a job you really want, go after it regardless.  There really is no harm in trying.”

The biggest challenge I face is that my role is so unique and traditionally not found at a venture capital firm.  While there’s no clear career trajectory for someone like me, I think the experience I have has set me up for a plethora of options after this.  I could stay in finance, work for a university, or even keep with a relationship management role in a different sector such as government or politics. The lesson I learned is to be open-minded and assume I could qualify for a position I truly am interested in, even if it means venturing into a new industry.

I moved back to the US after finishing my MA at Exeter in 2014. At first, I was juggling my time between applying for jobs and freelance blogging. I wanted to move out on my own, but it isn’t news to anyone that it’s tough to make a living as a freelance writer. I instead focused my application efforts on positions that would involve some aspect of writing. At first I only applied for full-time permanent positions directly on websites of companies where I wanted to work, but found nobody was biting.  I chose a different tactic and met with a few different creative headhunting agencies.  These recruiters place individuals in contract positions which can be part-time or full-time, short-term or long-term. Contract jobs are much easier to attain with high profile companies as there is little to no risk to the company.  It’s a great way to gain experience at one or several recognizable companies – plus the placement process is usually expedient.  I used this method for 3 contract positions before falling into my current role, which is full-time with benefits.

When I decided to pursue a Master of Art’s in Creative Writing at the University of Exeter, I didn’t believe the degree would be applicable to any career outside of writing – whether it be journalism, screenwriting, or novel writing. But when I was interviewing for the Communications Specialist role at Siemens – a position that would require ample interviewing of scientists and article writing about technologies being developed at our research & development centre – my future boss pointed out my degree specifically during my interview.  After I was hired, she said it gave me leverage over the other candidates as I would be able to provide a ‘unique voice’ and creative angle to the articles I would be required to write.

I found it hard to believe my Creative Writing degree could be useful in writing articles describing science and government contracts, but the experience taught me I had a very close-minded approach when it came to applying for jobs. I would read a job description and assume I wasn’t qualified for it.  By now, I’ve heard many stories from friends who have transitioned into different industries and roles just by catering their resume to the job they’re going after and writing a stellar cover letter.  You shouldn’t feel cornered in your current job market if you want to get out of it, nor restricted by the degree you chose to study. If you come across a job you really want, go after it regardless.  There really is no harm in trying.

Start your Career in the Civil Service

Latika Chhabra is currently working for the Civil Service on the HMRC Tax Professional Graduate Scheme. She graduated in 2018 with a BA in Politics and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Exeter, Streatham Campus. 

Latika Chhabra – Exeter alumn, currently working for the Civil Service on the HMRC Tax Professional Graduate Scheme

Having studied Politics and Middle Eastern Studies during my time at University I’ve always been interested in working in policy. I heard about the Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship Programme when some Exeter alumni, who joined the Civil Service through the fast stream graduate programme, visited a University Careers Fair. I managed to secure a place on the programme for the summer after my Second Year at University, and was placed with the Behaviour Insights and Research Team in HM Revenue and Customs.

“My line manager and colleagues were extremely supportive and had arranged a variety of projects for me, allowing me to get a rounded experience of working for the team and I lead a project on the relationship between HMRC and Generation Z.”

Whilst this was a daunting internship, as the idea of working with the tax office was alien to me, the breadth of the tasks and projects helped me understand the type of work I would like to pursue after completing my degree. The internship also made me more aware of my strengths and weaknesses in the work environment. My line manager and colleagues were extremely supportive and had arranged a variety of projects for me, allowing me to get a rounded experience of working for the team and I lead a project on the relationship between HMRC and Generation Z, which was extremely rewarding. The planning and structure of the internship programme ensured that I was given the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution and I have enjoyed working in a team to produce the desired quality of work in a timely fashion.

I was able to carry forward the teamwork, organisational, and leadership skills into my role as President of Politics Society on campus. I believe myself to have benefited from the programme and will seek to further develop these skills after graduation.

The overall experience of working in a large team in a reputable organisation helped me explore my future career opinions. Interning at HMRC has given me greater confidence in my work capabilities, and increased my motivation to pursue a career in the Civil Service.

I would recommend the Summer Diversity Internship Programme to anyone who is interested in exploring a career with the Civil Service. There is a range of networking events that allow us to gain a better understanding of the different roles available in government, further allowing us to gain a better understanding of our future career prospects.

One Step at a Time

Rowanna Smith is a Careers Consultant based on the Streatham Campus. 

Rowanna Smith, Careers Consultant

TIME – it’s a funny thing. I bet if you look back at your study here at Exeter it’ll feel like it’s flown by, but remembering your first few days arriving on campus it probably feels like a lifetime ago!

Keeping perspective is therefore quite tricky when the goal posts keep moving – completing your first Autumn Term had once seemed like a fantastic challenge, getting a particular grade may have been a goal, now ‘what are you going to do after graduation?’ seems to be the only focus.

So at this particular crossroads, it’s really good to pause – TAKE TIME. Be proud of what you’ve achieved; the friends you’ve made, the fun you’ve had, the struggles you’ve overcome, all that you’ve learned.

A few moments of reflection can really help you to be aware of where you are, and create a new horizon. Making use of the range of services available through the Career Zone after graduation can help you to clarify your next journey and support you to reach your next goal.

Some of you may be feeling completely lost about what you want to do, and seeing friends advancing with clear plans while you may be heading home can feel quite isolating.  Fast Forward provides a full list of careers-related services available to everyone long after graduation.  You can book onto our career webinars if there is anything you want to catch up on, as well as gain support from finding work, to helping you to work out what you want to do next.  You can book 1:1 Careers Appointments to discuss your circumstances over Skype, Phone or face to face – a chat with a Careers Consultant can certainly help you stay connected and keep you on track.

*tick tock tick tock*

If you’ve planned to take some time out, perhaps travelling for a season, we can still support you via Skype, no matter the TIME ZONE, and even help you to find graduate opportunities abroad, or make plans for your return.

For those of you that may be anxious that your ideal plans haven’t yet come to fruition; be assured that we are still available to support you. I’m a firm believer in the word ‘yet’.  If you feel you’ve failed, change your perspective… you just haven’t reached your goal yet!  You can still have applications and CVs reviewed via Skype with the Career Zone, and talk to a Careers Consultant about targeting different employers or different types of work if your goals have changed.  You are still eligible to make use of The eXepert scheme which can put you in contact with University alumni to get advice on how to enter a chosen sector, occupation or company; extending your professional network.  So stay resilient, and remember that a detour to reach the summit can sometimes offer the best views!  You still have PLENTY OF TIME!

Finally, if you’re keen to prepare for your new job and want to do some personal development before you start, then making good use of My Career Zone Digital offers some excellent online training.  There is also support on creating your LinkedIn profile, and developing your professional networks.

So no matter quite where you are on your career journey, we have a range of opportunities available. Let us help you reach your destination, ONE STEP AT A TIME!

Chicken ‘n’ Blue Chip

Think your part-time job doesn’t relate to your wider career plan? Think again. As Emily Quartly (final year, BSc Economics and Finance) found out, it’s all about transferable skills. 

Emily Quartly

Being a student is tough enough with baked beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner, let alone trying to fund yourself through the nights out and long days on campus and extortionate student housing.

For me, I’ve always worked with the mentality that earning my own money is the best way to guarantee funding for what I want to do. I’ve worked in Nando’s since I was 16 and kept up the part-time job throughout school and University. Nando’s is a great company to work for, the hours were flexible, and everyone I met was hard working and continued to contribute to the growth and success of the restaurant. I never really thought about what Nando’s had given me beyond a payslip and a good Christmas party until I started working in a more corporate environment.

“I was chatting to a senior manager about my progress and he continually highlighted the fact that I was very approachable…He wasn’t surprised by my history in restaurant waitressing and even said that it’s those kinds of student jobs that give you the best skills.”

Being an intern you’re told the biggest thing to work on is networking. Networking is another term in my head for a good chat and interactions with each other, which is actually the basis of my waitress job. Interacting with customers, colleagues, managers, and trainees was all key to my student job, especially when it came to handling complaints and general challenges and changes seen in restaurant life.

On my last day of my internship with an investment bank I was chatting to a senior manager about my progress and he continually highlighted the fact that I was very approachable and easy to talk to and get along with. Bearing in mind I had spent the best part of 10 hours a day with the team for 5 weeks, it’s so valuable to be recognised as a team member even as an intern.

He wasn’t surprised by my history in restaurant waitressing and even said that it’s those kinds of student jobs that give you the best skills and my transferable skills necessary to progress other areas of career interest.

“If you’re thinking of taking a job while studying I would highly recommend; it may prove much more valuable to your skill set in the future than you ever thought.”

I couldn’t agree with him more now! After nearly 4 years I left a great restaurant and joined the Career Zone team, which although a very different job, still gives me networking opportunities and the chance to write pieces like this for other students.

I really enjoy working and having some time in the week for something that is special to me and a completely separate focus to my university studies. It teaches you loads of time management, organisation, confidence and integrity as you’re faced with new situations at every turn.

If you’re thinking of taking a job while studying I would highly recommend; it may prove much more valuable to your skill set in the future than you ever thought. As for me, I’ll be starting a graduate role at BNP Paribas in September.

Find your part-time job here…

Top Resources from My Career Zone Digital for Graduates

Marie Johns graduated in BA Philosophy and Sociology from Exeter in 2017. She’s currently the Survey Project Officer (GBP) here at the University. 

Marie Johns, Survey Project Officer (GBP) and Exeter alumn

During my final year at Exeter, I was pleased to discover that the Career Zone is available to graduates for three years after graduation. I’ve certainly been taking advantage ever since!

In particular, online resources from new platform My Career Zone Digital have been extremely useful in helping me to understand what I want from a job, make successful applications, and ultimately secure employment. Since starting my job, I have enjoyed browsing the resources available for graduates who have entered the workplace. Below, I have compiled a list of my favourite resources from My Career Zone Digital, for graduates at any stage of their career journey.

The Elevator Pitch Builder is a great tool to get you used to talking about yourself by teaching you how to create an effective professional summary. Not only does this help you to develop self-awareness of your strengths and ambitions, but it will help you to talk confidently about yourself in applications and interviews.

The Employer Advice section of My Career Zone Digital contains a number of useful videos covering a range of topics. I found the Job Hunting videos well worth watching. As a recent graduate, I was new to job-hunting and the world of full-time work. It was therefore interesting to hear experienced employers talk informally about which attributes they look for in a new employee and think about how I could demonstrate these to make a good impression.

I found the Interview Simulator to be a really useful tool for interview preparation as it includes many examples of questions you might be asked, grouped into categories. The fact that it allows you to record yourself giving answers enables self-evaluation and improvement and also helps you to build confidence in answering a variety of questions. I also like that there is a way of testing yourself and rehearsing a real interview by having a mock interview which you can either take without knowing the questions beforehand, or create yourself.

My Career Zone Digital

The IT Skills Courses are a great way to brush up on those Microsoft Office skills you haven’t used since GSCE! You can set the course to fit your preferred level of ability (beginner or intermediate) and you have the choice to either actively participate in the tutorials, or to simply watch videos of someone else performing the tasks. My current role involves a lot of work on Excel, which I’d not used extensively before, and I found this course was the ideal way to increase my confidence for the tasks required of me.

The Career Skills Section is great for those, like me, who are in work. There are lots of resources available under sub-headings such as Balancing Work and Life, Being More Productive and Improving Workplace Skills which I have often drawn upon to help me adjust to everyday workplace challenges. It is great to know that these resources are available to me as my career progresses over the next three years.

My Career Zone Digital is there to support you whatever you’re doing now or hope to be doing in the future. There is also a new weekly newsletter you can sign up to which means you can keep up-to-date with new content that’s added.

I fully recommend that you take advantage of these resources just as I have. Good luck!

James Priday – From Undergrad to CEO

James Priday graduated from the University of Exeter in 2011, and is currently the MD at Prydis Wealth and CEO of P1 Investment Management

James Priday, MD at Prydis Wealth, and CEO of P1 Investment Management

After graduating with a First in BA Accounting and Finance, I was invited by the University to stay on for a year to complete a Masters in the same subject and to teach undergraduate accountancy. This meant I could not only get a free Masters degree, but I would also be paid to teach at a University – fantastic at 21 years old! This was an opportunity I therefore enthusiastically took up. However, I had to give up a position in the Corporate Finance team at EY which I had already been offered. This was a decision that I didn’t take lightly but is one I now know was very much the right thing for me to do. At that point I didn’t know if I wanted a career at a big firm, or if I wanted to find my own path; either within smaller companies or my own business. Either way, both degrees would set me up very well for the future.

“I genuinely believe that the base knowledge, skills, and contacts I made at Exeter were the springboard to all of the things I have gone on to do.”

While at University I had also set up my own business developing fitness products. I did this with the help of the University’s Innovation Centre (now Think, Try, Do). The skills I learnt through that process have proved invaluable.

I have to admit; I didn’t have the usual University life. The social side didn’t interest me much, and I was more focused on getting ahead in life. That was far more important to me at that stage. Because of this, I was also completing professional qualifications alongside my degree, and before I had finished at Uni, I was qualified as an investment manager with the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI), and as a financial adviser with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

When I came to finishing the Masters, it had become clear to me that I needed to have full control over my future, and therefore a career at a big firm was not for me. I had a conversation with my father and brother that would change the course of my life.

My brother had just come out of PWC as a Chartered Tax Adviser and started working with my father, who had a small accountancy and financial advisory business. We as a family took the decision that my brother would take over the accountancy firm, and I would take over the financial advisory side, allowing my father to step back from the day-to-day business operations, and enable us to inject some fresh energy and ideas into the business.

We quickly rebranded the firm, and set-up a law firm to complement our accountancy and financial advisory activities. This was only possible because the rules changed in 2012, allowing non-lawyers to own a law firm. During this time I also obtained regulatory permission for the financial advisory business to manage investments. These two developments allowed us to serve clients internally across a number of areas, which was, and I believe still is, something unique in the UK. The new group is called Prydis.

Since 2012, we have grown the business six-fold, with 75 staff and four offices. I have also moved our investment management activities into a separate company, P1 Investment Management. P1 serves not only our clients, but also the clients of other financial advisory firms. Additionally, I have developed a consumer-facing online investment platform, Strawberry Invest, and a new financial advisory offering, Financial Solutions.

Life has turned complicated, but exciting and rewarding. I genuinely believe that the base knowledge, skills, and contacts I made at Exeter University were the springboard to all of the things I have gone on to do.