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

Getting started with LinkedIn

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.


linkedinLinkedIn 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 to find out more.

linked-in-vidFor 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.

Top 10 tips for finding a graduate job

toptenMartin Flynn is the Talent Acquisition Manager for South Wales & South West England Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Looking for a graduate position doesn’t have to be a full time job if you plan your search carefully. Here are ten tips to boost your graduate job search.

1. Target the right companies

Take some time to work out what kind of job you want. Are you looking for a start-up or an established company with a clear career path? What business environment do you prefer? Business-like or casual?

2. Make the most of your network

Start with friends and family, perhaps they have contacts in the industry that you want to work in. You should overcome any nerves about attending networking events, as they could be a great way to find out about upcoming roles.

3. Get in touch with your career service

Martin Flynn, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Career services are a goldmine of support. Start by booking a consultation or attending a workshop to help you work out what you want to do, what type of companies you should apply to and how to craft those important application documents.

4. Look for hidden vacancies

Don’t just rely on job boards. If there is a company that you are interested in working for, research them thoroughly and send a speculative application saying what you can offer and why you want to work for them. You never know.

5. Traditional methods

Pick up the newspaper, check trade magazines, look in graduate guides. Plenty of great employers still use these traditional methods to advertise their graduate schemes.

6. Use social media

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are used by most employers to advertise jobs. Interact with them to make a connection before you’ve even applied.

7. University alumni service

Alumni who are currently working in your industry could really help you progress. Use social media – particularly Linkedin – or your university to get in touch and request some help.

8. Create a personal brand

Don’t just use social media as a way to find a job, use it to help employers find you. This means getting started with your personal brand straight away – don’t leave it till the last year of university. It tells prospective employers who you are and what you could bring to them.

9. Download some useful apps

Use your phone or tablet to download apps that will help you keep up with the job searching process. There are apps that can help with everything from finding that perfect role to putting together your application or practicing your interview technique.

10. Stay motivated

Persistence is very important when it comes to looking for a job, so if you get a rejection stay motivated and try not to despair, it happens to everyone at some point. Dust yourself off and try again!

Plan B

viewduckpondThe final year is not an easy time, aware that two or three amazing years have passed since your arrival at Exeter and by June it will all be over. Many of the previous transitions of the past have been straightforward moves through education where you have had success. Suddenly, you are facing a new situation of finding your graduate future in a job or  further study.

Graduates in 2014/15, are faced with a much more complex array of choices which may not be recognised by their immediate family. A degree from Exeter is highly valued but not an “access all areas” pass to the job market. Many apply to large organisations with established recruitment patterns, the holy grail of the graduate training program. These can be great but even at top universities, it is a minority of graduates joining large recruiters immediately after graduation.

So there are many other ways of securing your graduate future and if you are applying now, spare a thought for Plan B. Many jobs are with smaller  organisations who recruit  on a more ad-hoc basis where vacancies appear later on job bulletins such as Prospects and our own My Career Zone. Many  jobs  in areas such as media, not for profit, and environment are more hidden away and need a variety of strategies to access, such as research, networking, relevant experience  and  active job seeking.

Mark Armitage, Careers Consultant
Mark Armitage, Careers Consultant

This can involve using our information resources, opportunities such as mentoring  and our “eXepert” program. Use LinkedIn as another networking tool and build contacts and intelligence about the job you aspire to. This process can help cement your choices and motivation and make you more credible to employers.  We also offer paid internships through our Graduate Business Partnership. You may also be considering relevant postgraduate study and training. This action can be supported by us, group sessions, CV reviews and careers appointments, so please use ours services while you are still at Exeter.

Mark Armitage
Careers Consultant

Feeling Lucky, Punk?

Dirty Harry
Dirty Harry

I am sitting in a pub near the university, sipping on a pint, waiting for a friend. Judging by the perfect storm lashing against the oversized fanlight, I feel he may be some time. He may have delayed his cycle ride or interrupted it, seeking shelter. I do what most people seem to do on these occasions; I pick up my smart phone from the sticky table top, check the internet connection and start to browse.

By a haphazard, circuitous route I find myself on the Guardian film website. There is an article here on the top ten film misquotes. Did Darth Vader really say “Luke, I am your father…. ”?  Did Bogart really say “Play it again, Sam.”? Apparently not.  In the top three, is the Dirty Harry quote from the gritty early 70s film of the same name. The quote people remember is “Do you feel lucky, punk? Go ahead, make my day.”

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember an article about luck and try and find this.

There it is on the Daily Mail website. The Guardian first, then the Daily Mail; we careers adviser like to be impartial and unbiased. There’s a Professor Wiseman  who has researched luck and written a book called “The Luck Factor”.

It is about serendipity.

What five syllable word better describes by it melodious rise and fall its meaning; happy accident?  His argument goes that you make your own luck and having a relaxed, outgoing attitude can influence your life for the positive.

Wiseman did an experiment, the article says. He asked people to fill out a questionnaire which gave an idea of how lucky people thought they were. He then asked the same people to read a newspaper and tell him how many photographs were inside. He had secretly placed a message halfway through the newspaper that read ‘Stop counting — there are 43 photographs in this newspaper’. “It was staring everyone in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people spotted it,” says Wiseman. So, it would seem, you do make your own luck.

This can also apply to your career. One careers theory is called “Planned Happenstance”. Krumboltz argues that some planning, an open mind and following what you enjoy, and has meaning for you, is the best way to a happy career, a happy life.  A happy, go lucky one………

My reverie is interrupted by the arrival of my friend and as he begins that slow, dripping, protracted unravelling of his cycle paraphernalia, peculiar, it seems, only to the British cyclist. I tartly remind him that his lateness means that that it is his round. I soon relent however and join the long, wide queue at the bar. After all, I have been lucky. His tardiness has given me an idea for a blog and a structure.

But what about you? Are you feeling lucky?

Are you feeling lucky, punk?

Go ahead.

Make your day.

Tom McAndrew
Careers Consultant at the University of Exeter 

Phone interviews: how do Exeter students handle them?

Being interviewed is a big part of application process for almost any graduate level job. But we’ve heard from some students that big employers are relying on phone interviews more than ever. How is a phone interview different from the usual suited-and-booted face-to-face affair, and what can you to do prepare?

Imogen, a second year English student, found that every internship she’s applied for has involved a phone interview. The interview stage might be daunting, but Imogen reckons she much prefers phone interviews over face-to-face. It’s easier to refer to notes and she can be in relaxed and comfortable surroundings when the phone rings.

Of course, there’s a risk of being too casual on the phone, so regardless of whether you’re wearing a suit or pyjamas, you should always remember to keep the tone polite and professional. It will help if you’re relaxed – but don’t talk to the interviewer on the other end of the phone the same way you would your best friend!

When it comes to preparing for a phone interview, Eleanor, a third year Geography student, agrees with Imogen about notes. Before her interview, she jotted down the key competencies the company was looking for on some revision cards. But, she says, “too many notes can distract you and you’ll just get confused!”

The trick then, is to make sure you really know your stuff about a company – and the sector they work in – before getting to the interview, so you can answer questions confidently and won’t be left rummaging through your notes at the last minute.

Before her interview with a logistics company, Imogen read a report about the logistics industry, and did a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the company (attending a Project Planning session could help you find out more about tools like SWOT analysis – and it counts to your Leaders Award).

Preparing and practising for a phone interview can also help you get your nerves under control – but there are some things beyond your control.

Things to watch out for in a phone interview include a busy or incommunicative interviewer; companies may use interviewers from external recruitment agencies who could have a checklist of standard questions to ask, or your interviewer may be pressed for time. There’s not much you can do in a situation like this – but from Imogen’s experience this is a time to sell yourself against the odds, by remaining calm, remembering your research and staying resilient.

We’ve even heard that some employers – including technology and grocery companies – are taking a high-tech approach to phone interviews – replacing them with recorded video interviews, where candidates speak into their webcam and their responses are recorded to be watched by an interviewer later.

Ellie’s advice for interviews like these is to stay friendly – remember to make eye contact with the camera, be as relaxed as you can, and try to smile! The interviewer will want to see your enthusiasm and knowledge, so do your best to make sure these shine through, even if you’re nervous.

How did Imogen deal with the nerves? “To keep myself calm I tried to look at it as if this was me interviewing the company. I wanted to see if I was a good fit with that role and that business.”

That’s good advice, regardless of how you’re being interviewed.

Sincere thanks to Imogen and Eleanor for their input.

 Josh Smith is the Career Zone’s Information and Systems Assistant.

Have you had any phone or video interviews? What did you think of them? Let us know in the comments below.


Prepare for the Fair

Careers fairs allow you to meet a range of employers and learn what they’re looking for in their future employees. At Exeter we run five across our campuses in the autumn term, offering part time and casual work, international opportunities and graduate vacancies. Our fairs are open to all students and this year exhibitors include L’Oreal, M&C Saatchi and the Bank of England. Even if you don’t know what you want to do, fairs can be the first step to finding out, so you definitely need to get these dates in your diary.

Here are our top tips for getting the most out of a careers fair…

  • Careers FairWho takes your fancy?
    Check what fairs are coming up by visiting our website. You can then see who is attending by viewing the exhibitor list or by reading the fair booklet (available online).  Make a ‘wish list’ of companies and focus on them.
  • Preparation is key…
    You’ll stand out if you can demonstrate an understanding of an organisation, so familiarise yourself with what they offer before the day. Prepare questions in advance and tailor them – don’t ask questions you could find easily elsewhere.
  • …But be flexible
    Don’t panic if you want to approach a company that is not on your list! Look at their fair brochure entry or ask staff on our Career Zone stand for a breakdown of what they do. If you have a smart-phone, Google them.
  • Build your confidence
    Approaching complete strangers can be daunting. So when you arrive, don’t rush to your favourite organisation. Instead, network with others first, to increase your confidence.
  • Brand you
    Recruiters meet hundreds of students, so consider yourself a brand and determine your USP (Unique Selling Point). Impress them and they may ask for your CV. Take up-to-date copies with you but have it checked by Career Zone staff first. However, don’t be offended if they don’t take your CV and simply direct you to their website.
  • It’s not about the money, money, money…
    Don’t get hung up on the salary and benefits. Employers take a dim view of applicants who are only interested in what an organisation can do for them.
  • Fashion statement
    Dress appropriately! You’re not expected to be suited and booted (unless you want to be), but don’t rock up wearing an expletives-covered t-shirt. You’ll get noticed but for all the wrong reasons!
  • Professional to the core
    Be professional, positive, polite and courteous. Oh, and please don’t just help yourself to the freebies, however tempting it might be.
  • Follow up
    Feel free to ask a recruiter for their business card – you might want to ask further questions or reference them in your application. Take a notebook to jot down important facts. Your head will be swimming with information by the end, trust me!

Still got questions? Then why not head to one of the ‘Preparing for the Careers Fair’ sessions the Careers team are running this term. You can book your place by visiting My Career Zone.

Good luck!

Natalie Horlock,
Employer Liaison Officer (Graduate Recruitment),
University of Exeter