Putting pen to paper: a career in writing

Emily Poole graduated with BA History in 2015, from the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus. She’s currently working for workplace interior design company Interaction

Emily Poole, BA History graduate and copywriter

Hear the word “copywriting” and it may conjure up ideas of patenting products (Dragon’s Den style). Yet it’s actually another word for professional writing – and a great outlet for graduates that want to make a living out of a love for the written word.

Most copywriters these days will fall under the umbrella of marketing, and are therefore usually called digital copywriters – that means writing any copy (words) you see online; whether that be on websites, emails, blogs, news articles, social media etc. (the list is pretty endless). Digital copywriters will often work closely with other members of a team, including web developers, brand managers and graphic designers.

“I wouldn’t be in my current role if I didn’t have previous writing or marketing experience. Fortunately, soon after graduating, I was employed as a copywriter at a marketing agency… Although I wasn’t writing about anything that interested me… I became familiar with writing a lot of blogs and web pages in a short space of time, and also started managing the social media accounts for a number of clients.”

Writing for the web these days often goes hand in hand with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Essentially, this means creating content around a set of keywords that will be searched on google. For example, say you wanted a pair of black jeans and typed “black jeans” into Google, the companies that appear first will be those that have successfully written SEO-optimised content. It’s really fun to see the effect that your writing can have on a customer – and learning how to track and analyse this.

How would I know?

Well, I’m a digital copyrighter, and have been since I graduated three years ago. After studying essay-based subjects at A-Level and falling in love with the Penryn Campus, I chose to study a BA in History with The University of Exeter. I wouldn’t have done this without a love for writing – which certainly came in handy when writing my dissertation! Wanting to write for a living, after graduating, I searched for content-based roles.

Fast forward to today and I’m currently working at a workplace interior design company called Interaction, based in Bath. My role is varied to say the least! I could also be called the Social Media Manager, Blog Editor, PR Manager, Web Assistant, Email Builder, Photoshoot Co-coordinator and more. No day is the same, but I still get to spend most of my time writing, which is what I’ve always wanted. Most importantly though, because I work for a creative and fun company, I get to conjure up the odd pun; which is a massive passion of mine!

A step in the right direction

I wouldn’t be in my current role if I didn’t have previous writing or marketing experience. Fortunately, soon after graduating, I was employed as a copywriter at a marketing agency in Weston-Super-Mare. Although I wasn’t writing about anything that interested me (generally windows, doors and conservatories), I learned a lot; I became familiar with writing a lot of blogs and web pages in a short space of time, and also started managing the social media accounts for a number of clients. Importantly, I became used to an office setting; working a 9-5 job is odd after the amount of free time you get at University, but I soon got used to it.

“The main factors that have enabled me to get where I am today are passion, experience and skill. I’ve always been passionate about creating content, which tends to shine through on my CV and during interviews.”

After a little less than a year, I applied for a maternity-cover role at Clarks HQ in Street (the shoe people!) I got the Content Executive role and learned so much in the process! I would create the content for emails that were sent out to hundreds of thousands of people. Not only was it amazing to work for such a well-known brand, but it proved to me how important even the smallest bits of text can be. I also got used to working in a larger marketing team (hint: being able to collaborate with people is a big learning curve, but so worth it).

Although my maternity contract was extended, I chose to move on. Clarks was great, but I wanted to work for a more creative company – and hence my applying for my current role at Interaction.

 A little bit of advice

The main factors that have enabled me to get where I am today are passion, experience and skill. I’ve always been passionate about creating content, which tends to shine through on my CV and during interviews.

I’ve been lucky to work my way up to a role I really love, for an amazing company – but this was only possible by getting my foot in the door writing for other companies (even if that quite literally meant writing about doors). Although I wasn’t passionate about my first job after Uni, it gave me experience of the marketing sector. So even if you’re thinking twice about applying for a job, I’d say go for it. Even if it’s only to add a year’s worth of experience to your CV, that could prove to be invaluable at a later date.

Personally, I think there are few traits that are vital if you want to be a professional writer (and a good one!) These include: immaculate spelling and grammar, the ability to create content quickly whilst maintaining quality, a creative flair, a genuine love for the written word, a willingness to learn new things (e.g. SEO), and the ability to work equally well alone or as part of a team.

If you’re wondering where to start after Uni (I know it can seem daunting), keep an eye out for copywriting, editing, publishing, or marketing internships and jobs. Although they may be unpaid or not paid very well, the experience will probably make them worthwhile, even if you only stay in them for a few months. Whilst applying for jobs, also spend time (and effort) getting your own work published online – this could be in the form of your own blog or portfolio, or on a site that publishes content for free.

As long as you’re passionate about writing, you’re halfway there! Good luck!

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!

You’re leaving so soon?!

Tom McAndrew is a Careers Consultant based on the Streatham Campus.

Go and change the world

Those in their final year are leaving us. In this Summer Term, final exams, bits of course work to deliver maybe and that’s it.

Ouch. So soon?

Congratulations to those who got their dream graduate role. You worked hard and deserve it. Well done.

Possibly you made those who haven’t got their dream job feel very, very envious. They are the ones who hurtled towards Career Zone throughout the year in search of solace and advice. A few reassuring words; your time will come, you will get there, keep on trying, you will get there.

You have all been in an education system where there is a definite path. Career paths after graduation are less direct. A minority follow a linear path. A graduate job after leaving and then a meteoric rise. Easy. The majority of us follow a much more haphazard path. Up and down, off at tangents, sideways steps.  One step forward, two steps back for some. The journey is the reward as Taoists say.

As Robert Louis Stevenson said: “Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.”

And you are all blessed, you are all the lucky ones. You are young, you’re bright, and the future beckons. Who knows where your journey will lead?

As Floella Benjamin used to tell our graduands; go and change the world.

If you’re struggling then the Career Zone is here to help and support you for three years after you graduate. Talking through ideas, helping formulate plans, help with your applications, your interviews. In person, by telephone, by email and by SKYPE. You may not need us but we are there for you if you do.

You’re leaving.

Bon voyage.

Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas Vacation

Applying for graduate schemes, internships or postgraduate study over the Christmas Vacation, need to get your coursework done, AND want a break too?  Is that even possible? Jenny Woolacott-Scarr, Career Zone Information Officer, has some advice.

Get your priorities straight

Of course sorting your career is really important, but it’s not as important as your academic work. If you’re pushed for time focus on acing your coursework and revising for your January exams; a good degree will last you a lifetime.

You won’t miss out on your dream job because you went to the cinema with your friends from home.

You won’t miss out on your dream job because you went to the cinema with your friends from home.

Quality over quantity

One of the questions I get asked most is ‘how many jobs/internships/postgraduate courses should I be applying to?’ We say you should apply to as many as you can, but crucially without letting the quality of your applications drop, or at the expense of your academic work, or getting enough sleep and rest.

It’s called a Vacation for a reason

You are allowed to have a break. You won’t miss out on your dream job because you went to the cinema with your friends from home. You won’t fail your degree because you had a Boxing Day snooze on the sofa. Promise.

When does the Career Zone Close?

The last day we’re open is Friday 23 December, then we open again on Tuesday 3 January. Apart from those dates we’re here to help you via email, Skype, phone, through My Career Zone, or in person if you’re still in Exeter.

However you spend your Vacation make time to enjoy your break, and we look forward to seeing you again in January.

Happy Holidays

The Career Zone Team x

How to pursue a passion?


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

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

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

What made you come to the UK for postgraduate study?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your tips for breaking into the media?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job profile: Ecommerce Entrepreneur

Ben Dale

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

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

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

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

What was the turning point in your career?

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

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

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

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

What does the future look like for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Goodbye, Hello Again and Welcome

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

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

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

And HELLO to you freshers.

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

Settle in, make friends and work hard.

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

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

Getting started in project management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I took two important learnings away with me:

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

What was the turning point in your career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why becoming a first aid volunteer is great for your CV

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

Show you’re ready to take the initiative

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

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

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

Learn how to deal with high-pressure situations

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

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

Teamwork and leadership skills

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

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

Show you can handle a position of responsibility

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

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

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

Before you get started…

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

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

Employability tips from Exeter Alumni


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Be honest, be yourself.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Network, Network, Network!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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