Collaborate, Communicate and Conserve

Todd Burlington is a current Physics student at the University of Exeter. He talked to us about his internship at the Met Office, collaborative projects and #TechnoRhino

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Todd and #TechnoRhino in the Career Zone

With the help of the Career Zone I spent this summer on an internship at the Met Office’s Informatics Lab. I took advantage of the Access 2 Internships (A2I) scheme offered by the Career Zone. This scheme helped me with travel costs, which allowed me to easily get to work, and in addition to this the application reviews, interview practice and career planning no doubt helped a lot in securing my internship.

‘The Informatics Lab employs scientists, designers and technologists, all of which leads to a very interesting working environment where collaboration is at the very heart, blurring the lines between technology, design, and science.’

The Informatics Lab is a new and very different team. The lab has eight full-time staff and operates as a rapid prototyping R&D centre. The idea behind the lab is to quickly trial new technologies for the Met Office, and produce prototypes of how they could be used. To achieve this, the lab has everything it needs in-house. It employs scientists, designers and technologists, all of which leads to a very interesting working environment where collaboration is at the very heart. These are the people blurring the lines between technology, design, and science.

You’ve probably seen some rhino sculptures around Exeter; they’re part of Paignton Zoo’s Great Big Rhinos Project. This involves placing rhinos around the South West in a mass public art event. IMG_1210

#TechnoRhino was developed as a collaboration between the Met Office Informatics Lab and Paignton Zoo. The collaboration was born out of the idea that the lines between technology and design are becoming increasingly blurred. With this in mind, what could the Met Office achieve if presented with a rhino? The Met Office is one of the biggest technology companies in the South West, and what goes on here far outstrips just predicting the weather for the TV. This surprised me when I arrived: the scope of their work is much larger than I ever thought.

It makes sense that the Informatics Lab would be the right people to push the edge of what is possible in a public art event. The way they thought they would do this is by using LEDs. My involvement in this project extended from the very start to finish, developing the software to power the LEDs as well as constructing the hardware required to operate them, all in addition to organising visit days with external organisations for #TechnoRhino’s tour. I then oversaw these days, interacting with the public in places such as the RAMM and Exeter Library.

Visiting these different locations allows #TechnoRhino to showcase the Great Big Rhino Project. Hopefully, due to how different the Met Office’s rhino is to what has been produced before, a lot of interest would be generated for the Great Big Rhinos Project. The project aims to raise awareness of the endangered species of the Javan and Sumatran rhinos, of which there are only 60 left in the wild. With this in mind, any way to generate interest is very welcome.

‘The Access to Internship (A2I) scheme is a wonderful opportunity which you should wholeheartedly take advantage of.’

Not only was this a cool project to work on, but it was for a very important cause. Hopefully, whilst #TechnoRhino has been on tour, a more people have gotten interested and donated to an excellent cause.

Working here has fundamentally changed my outlook on my future career plans. It has made me more eager than ever to dive into the world of work, but it has also changed my outlook on where I see myself ending up. I now expect more from my future career than I did before. I cannot see myself working somewhere with a ‘traditional’ working culture – I just loved the freedom and learning that came from a place like the Informatics Lab.

Luckily, our University has enabled me to really benefit from the experiences that come from working at such a world leading organisation. The Access to Internship (A2I) scheme is a wonderful opportunity which you should wholeheartedly take advantage of.

Getting a Part-Time Job

Having a part-time while you study doesn’t just help pay the rent; it can really boost your professional skills, and make your CV stand out to graduate recruiters. Finding a job in Exeter can feel daunting, but Jen Hardwick, Student Employment Co-ordinator tells us how it’s done.

What’s out there?

Everything really! We’ve advertised jobs from working on a mushroom farm in Exeter to stewarding opportunities with BBC’s ‘Flog It’. The opportunities are varied, local and paid. Some of the jobs we advertise only employ you for one day, some exist only during Term time, and others expect you to commit a few hours each week all year round. However, the University recommends not working more than 15 hours a week, and you may have to be more flexible than you thought about your shift pattern.

Study to be a barrister, work as a barista (sorry)
Study to be a barrister, work as a barista (sorry)

What should I go for?

Most of the jobs we advertise are retail and catering positions in the city centre. During the Autumn Term many shops are recruiting for part-time staff for the busy Christmas period. This means they want you to stay and work throughout December and January. These jobs are ideal for International students* and anyone staying near Exeter during vacation periods.

*If you’re planning on working here for the first time and are not from the UK you will probably need a National Insurance number

Term-time jobs on campus are the most popular positions, so expect these to be very competitive: An easy way to search for these is to type ‘University of Exeter’ as a keyword to MyCareerZone and select the ‘casual term time work’ option in the ‘type of work’ category. These roles include working in the Ram, Marketplace or in various departments at the University, but can also include Brand Ambassador roles which can give you great experience in sales and networking.

If you already have a skill or business StudentTraders can connect you to local employers in the community, and can give your free stall at our annual craft fair to sell your products, boost your entrepreneurial skills, and earn income. Working in the community as tutor, childminder or gardener shows the ability to build positive relationships and are usually minimal hours but well paid.

How do I find these jobs?

We have a team who source local part-time work, and we also receive requests from employers on campus and in the local area to promote their opportunities. Each day we add these new jobs to MyCareerZone. For this reason alone, it’s the best place to start your search.

Other great places to find work include our Casual Jobs and Internships Fair, we run one in October, and one in February. These events enable employers from the local area to come onto campus and advertise their roles face to face with students. All these employers are looking for students to work for them either immediately over the vacation periods or are recruiting for bank staff.

Can you help me find a job, or help with my job application?

Absolutely. If you’d like some support please come and ask for a ‘Job Search’ appointment in the Career Zone. We’ll spend 15 minutes helping you to find the most relevant opportunities for your situation, and we can check your CV too.

We hope this helps

Check out our tips on finding part time work and don’t forget that we’re here to help. Email or book a Job Search appointment if you have any questions.

Making an Instant Impact

Danielle and colleague Rishi
Danielle and colleague Rishi

My name’s Danielle and I’m a Third Year Business Economics with Spanish student at Exeter. I’m currently in Madrid for my Erasmus year, but this summer I joined Instant Impact a graduate recruitment agency specialising in placing graduate talent into Start-ups and Scale-ups, as a Resourcer.

Who are ‘Instant Impact’ and what made me approach them?

Instant Impact stood out to me as a company, and in particular a graduate recruitment agency, because of its focus on fast-growth Start-ups, Scale-ups & SMEs. They’re dedicated to showing graduates that there’s more out there than the corporate grad schemes, and this really fitted in with my own entrepreneurial aspirations.

Since coming to university, I became quite involved in small businesses and projects that I believed would make a real difference to the student community. I’m still in the process of making Exeter receipt free which will hopefully come into play during the 2016/17 academic year – watch this space.

‘I’ve always been very entrepreneurial; as a child I would charge my sister interest on loans and even make her pay for hand-me-downs to the dismay of my Mum!’

I’ve always been very entrepreneurial; as a child I would charge my sister interest on loans and even make her pay for hand-me-downs to the dismay of my Mum! However, now that I’ve realised it’s best not to exploit family, I’ve co-founded a technology company alongside my studies with a couple of friends from Exeter.

The technology company I set up was taking a pause over the summer so the team could decide the direction we wanted to take it. I decided to branch out and investigate internships in other SMEs. I came across Instant Impact and was attracted by the companies they work with; the likes of Deliveroo, GoodLord and ProperCorn, who are all pushing the boundaries of the latest tech and challenging how consumers interact with traditional organisations. I signed up online and Ted (my now colleague) rang me up whilst on the Uni surf trip in France. I was mid wetsuit putting-on (not an ideal situation when talking to your potential employer), but within a week I had returned home, packed my bags and moved to London to work at Instant Impact as a summer Resourcer.

What does a day in the role of Resourcer look like?

I was immediately made to feel a part of the team, training took a couple of days and from the beginning I was given responsibility. Straight away I had vacancies to source candidates for and the opportunity to interview them myself. Previously I’d worked for an IT reseller; I loved my time there but the position was largely based on hard sales like cold calling. Here I have the opportunity to build more of a relationship and rapport with the graduates I speak to; I can relate to them and it’s genuinely great fun matching them to positions.

‘On a day to day basis the role is varied. One day I might be on a promotional trip to Graduation Week at universities around the country, or I could be having a chat on the phone with someone I immediately want to place in “the coolest start-up”, knowing they’d be just perfect for it.’

On a day to day basis the role is varied. One day I might be on a promotional trip to Graduation Week at universities around the country, or I could be having a chat on the phone with someone I immediately want to place in “the coolest start-up”, knowing they’d be just perfect for it. I loved my time at Instant Impact; they have iBeers every Friday afternoon to go through everyone’s highlights of the week and we even went to a dance class one evening as an office social. It’s this kind of start-up culture that makes work so enjoyable.

What’s coming next?

I’m in Madrid for my Erasmus year so I’m getting stuck in to studies and life in the sun. I’ll be back in Exeter for my final year in 2017, so who knows what the future holds.

Your Big Career Adventure

RowannaSmith
Rowanna Smith

Hello, I’m Rowanna Smith, and I’m a Careers Consultant based on the Streatham Campus. I was really keen to be given this opportunity to welcome you all to what I hope will be an exciting time of exploration, adventure and personal development.

For those of you who are commencing your degree, starting your first year is likely to be all about ‘change’, some of which will be great fun, but at times may also feel a bit unsettling.  For returning students, you too may be living with new groups of people, or coming back from a year abroad and feeling ‘new’ again.  Establishing yourself within communities of friends from your course, clubs, sports and societies are a key part of making Exeter your home, so do try to build time into your busy schedules to enjoy fun activities and feel connected.

The graduate career journey is full of milestones and crossroads and there are definitely easier and more effective routes you can take.

In light of the amount of learning and development you’ll be encountering, from deepening your academic knowledge, to learning that you really can’t live on chips and curry sauce every night, I hope that you make time this year to progress your career adventure.

The graduate career journey is full of milestones and crossroads and there are definitely easier and more effective routes you can take, rather than walking round in circles or setting up camp in the same spot for three years.  It’s all about making informed choices, which usually starts with asking really good questions.  This is where the skills and expertise of Careers Consultants, Information Officers and wider careers staff are able to provide you with valuable support.

We work with first year, penultimate and final year students, as well as postgraduate students. So if you’re keen to find part-time work on or off campus, or would like to bounce some ideas around that you’re unsure about, we’re happy to chat things through – you really don’t need to have it all figured out before coming in.  For those of you who are already clear about your career choices, then you may want to discuss the best routes to reach your destination.  Some of you may also have struggled to gain work experience, or had work experience that has completely changed your mind about things – it’s all up for discussion and we can figure out the next steps together.

Your career starts here; you’re already on the road – what we would like to do is walk with you a while.

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You can plan to travel on your journey as much or as little as you wish, but let’s make it an active choice and decide to get moving.

As with all adventures, they can be fun and you’ll learn a great deal, but they also require energy and commitment.  You can plan to travel on your journey as much or as little as you wish, but let’s make it an active choice and decide to get moving.

Your personality, future occupations that you can ‘see yourself’ doing, your level of ambition and ways in which you’re motivated and engage with work, including the academic subject you have chosen to study, have already been influenced by many factors in your life.  Your world-view and how you see yourself within it will continue to be supported and challenged during your time here at University and beyond.

So come and explore more about yourself and declutter your thoughts about work and the future.  Come and find out about the types of occupations that may be of interest to you; investigate the different ways you can gain commercial awareness and relevant work experience.  Come and have a chat about how you can begin to identify companies or sectors that may provide a congruent and rewarding environment that suits your individual interests and values.  Whatever you need to follow your own path, we are here to help.

Some useful tips for your career survival kit include:

  • Log in to My Career Zone and add or amend preferences suitable for what you need
  • Visit the Career Zone and have a chat at Reception about what might be relevant to you, or simply browse through some of the range of careers information we have available
  • Consider signing up for some career workshops or employer events to learn more, as advertised on My Career Zone
  • Make an appointment to speak with a Careers Consultant to discuss and progress your plans by booking through Reception in the Career Zone.

Your career starts here; you’re already on the road – what we would like to do is walk with you a while.

Start-Up Your Career

Amy Wood graduated from Exeter in 2013 with a BA in French and Italian. She’s currently a Client Strategist at digital advertising agency Captify – voted Number 1 UK Start-up 2014 – in their New York office. Amy talked to us about her time at Exeter, what it’s like to work in a fast-growing start-up, and how to stand out in the graduate job market. 

Amy Wood, Client Strategist at Captify
Amy Wood, Client Strategist at Captify

Why did you choose Exeter?

Exeter has a reputation as a good university, which was why it made it onto my initial application. It’d been rising through the league tables for a while based on high student satisfaction, and was well-known for having a strong languages department; however, all the universities I applied for had similar reputations. It wasn’t until I came to an open day that I decided Exeter was the place for me. All the current students I met were raving about how great the university was, and it didn’t hurt either that it was a sunny day and the campus looked gorgeous.

“At start-ups, every move you make matters, even if you’re intern; they’re looking for individuals who’ll take the initiative and be creative from the word go.”

What did you enjoy most about your course?

By far the best part was having the opportunity to study abroad. I worked as a teaching assistant in Liguria, Italy. The year was such an amazing experience, as I not only improved my language skills, but I learnt many invaluable life lessons. My year abroad helped prepare me for the working world by forcing me to take initiative and be independent. I would recommend anyone attending university to study abroad if they can, even if they’re not studying languages.

How much of a factor was your degree in helping you get your break in the start-up world?

Exeter’s excellent reputation was definitely influential in helping me start my career. The transferable skills I got from my year abroad were also instrumental. I work in advertising, so the actual content of my languages degree wasn’t strictly speaking relevant. However, the fact that I had a degree from Exeter definitely gave me an edge.

What’s a typical day like at Captify?

I’m responsible for making sure campaigns rebook and increasing the revenue generated, which means my time is split between working with other departments internally to ensure that processes are as efficient as they can be, and communicating with our clients at advertising agencies. Relationships are key to my role; both internally and externally. Building strong relationships with clients will help generate extra revenue, whereas strong internal relationships will ensure efficient running of campaigns.

There’s a great culture of collaboration at Captify; everyone’s opinion is considered, regardless of seniority, and everyone’s welcome to share their ideas with senior management. The Captify team is very close, and loyalty is key. Everyone’s passionate about the company and wants to see it continue on an upward trajectory.

“To be a part of something like this from the very start gives me a great sense of achievement, as all my decisions are directly influencing the direction the company is heading in.”

Tell us a bit about your New York adventure so far.

I’ve been working over here for three months now, and even though Captify now has over 120 employees, it’s almost like working at a new start-up. We’re a team of 6 and I’m heading-up my department here. At times this can be scary, but for the most part it’s incredibly rewarding. We’ve already built some strong relationships with big advertisers such as BMW and Volkswagen, and we’re growing at a rapid rate. To be a part of something like this from the very start gives me a great sense of achievement, as all my decisions are directly influencing the direction the company is heading in. I’m learning so much about the market every day, and also have the benefit of living in the best city in the world.

What’s your one tip for grads looking to get noticed by start-ups?

At start-ups, every move you make matters, even if you’re intern. This means that they’re looking for individuals who’ll take the initiative and be creative from the word go. The best tip is to do your research before the interview. Make sure you know as much about the company as possible; from news articles and awards, to the ins and outs of their industry as a whole. Take the time to know what you’re going in for, and have questions ready about the company that show you’ve been doing your research. And above all, be confident in yourself.

BrighterBox helps ambitious graduates kick-start their careers at exciting start-ups like Captify

Jade Green, Blogger and Eco Entrepreneur

My name’s Jade, and I’m a blogger and clothing line founder at jadegreenvegan.com I studied at Exeter for four years as part of the KPMG School Leaver Programme, and shortly after graduating in 2015 with a first class degree in Accounting, I left my job at KPMG to launch my own clothing line and pursue a career in blogging full time. 

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Jade Green

I’m so grateful for the experience I gained whilst studying at Exeter and working at KPMG, as having a sound knowledge of business and especially accounting has proved immeasurably helpful as a small business owner. Thanks to my degree, I’ve been able to create my own accounting systems, I know how to budget/forecast and I even have the joy of being able to calculate my own taxes! Whilst my accounting degree has undoubtedly provided a great foundation for my career, I knew I didn’t want to follow a ‘traditional’ accounting route after university, as I have always been a very creative person and wanted to pursue a career where I felt I was making a positive change in the world.

“Pour your energy into something you’re truly passionate about, even if it’s not the safest or easiest option.”

Working on my blog throughout University meant that by the time I graduated, I had created a platform for myself that allowed me to turn my passion into my career. So, with little to no knowledge of what it entailed to set up an online clothing store or to blog full time, I dove head first into building my business. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

My blog’s aim is to promote compassionate and sustainable living. I share vegan recipes, healthy living tips, and interviews with influencers in the health/vegan community. My clothing line, an extension of my blog, is comprised of slogan t-shirts, jumpers and hoodies that also aim to promote compassion and kindness. It is really important to me that I support the incredible animal charities around the world, so for each item I sell, I donate £1 to an animal charity. I sell my clothing both online and at various festivals throughout the UK; and since starting my line in December 2015, have been able to donate just under £200 to two animal charities.

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Since embarking on this adventure, I have learnt more than I ever could have imagined about: marketing, designing, web developing, photography, branding, and even accounting (after four years of living and breathing accounting I thought there couldn’t possibly be any more to learn – how wrong was I?!) Whilst leaving the security of my job was incredibly terrifying, not to mention running my own business has been undeniably challenging and stressful at times, I absolutely love what I do and have a clear vision of what I want to achieve which makes it all worth it.

So, my message to anyone reading this would be to pour your energy into something you’re truly passionate about, even if it’s not the safest or easiest option. Life is too short to spend all day every day doing something that you don’t really love.

If you have any questions about what it’s like to start your own business, I would be happy to help so please feel free to contact me at jadegreenvegan@gmail.com

You can also find me at:

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Life as an Actor – Agents and Auditions

It’s never too late… helps final-year Humanities students get advice from successful Exeter alumni, and showcases opportunities from the Careers Zone Actor Des Yankson graduated from Exeter with a degree in Drama in 1999. Des has appeared in many TV shows including Still Open All Hours (BBC), Cucumber (Channel 4) and Hollyoaks (Channel 4).  

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Des at work in BBC One’s ‘Still Open All Hours’

When I left Exeter I had no real idea what lay in store for me. I wanted to act, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. Fortunately, I secured an agent early on; they’re invaluable in helping you get work. They often have lots of contacts in the industry and get to hear of jobs through various means not available to actors.

However, securing an agent is tough, you need to either be recommended by somebody they know (and they respect, like a client or good friend) or you need to be in something that they’ve heard favourable reviews about or seen for themselves. You can get into a play for profit-share or head somewhere like the Edinburgh Festival (in August) or create your own projects that you can show to the agent (a showreel of your work). You should NEVER have to pay your agent upfront; they take a percentage from the work they secure for you. Not all agents take unsolicited CVs, so pick wisely. They’re always on the lookout for the ‘next big thing’ and that could be you. After you manage to get an agent, you may think it’ll be all plain sailing and that you’ll be at the Oscars within the year. But often, it takes a lot more work than that.

“Nothing beats telling your mum that you’re going to be on her favourite soap!”

You need a good relationship with your agent; after all, they’re working on your behalf and they’ll do a better job if they know you well. They’ll contact you when they have work, so days when you’re not working will be spent looking for work, or working as a temp. Temping is very flexible for actors and it tends to pay well enough to cover all bills. The downside is that you work often during the very times that most auditions are. Acting is a craft; you need to work at it and get better. As you progress, you’ll get better and better jobs which are higher and higher profile. This means that you need to be prepared for long periods of unemployment (from acting) and that when an opportunity arises you can focus on it completely. Acting is not a ‘part-time’ profession, but unless you’re rich you’ll need some form of part-time work. You need to pay for subscriptions, photos, travel to auditions as well as workshops and seminars.

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Opportunities are there for the taking. If you get a good audition, you need to grab it. Be punctual, learn the lines and be ready to do it more than once. And go in there with the belief that the job is already yours, it helps control the nerves. The majority of your acting life will be taken up with auditions. Personally I like them as you get a chance to play with new material and to meet new people. But lots of people think they’re nerve-racking and hate them. However, they’re a necessary part of the job, just be open to anything that’s said. After all, the casting directors want to finish their job by saying ‘I’ve found the actor we’re looking for’. But in the most part, they’re good fun, if you can relax. After all, if you can’t handle the pressure, then maybe acting isn’t the profession for you.

When you have work, it’s great because you’re in an industry that you love, working with people who are the very best at what they do, and you can often do things that people in other jobs can’t. It’s very exciting to work at your passion and also to be able to affect people with what you do. Nothing beats the rush from getting that all important job on TV, or when you meet someone really famous and then get to work with them, or telling your mum that you’re going to be on her favourite soap!

Start planing for your future and visit It’s never too late…

Show Your Pride – Being Out at Work

Luke Ounsworth is an Exeter graduate currently working as an Analyst in Accenture’s Digital practice. He joined the firm in February 2016 and is project managing a large, connected buildings project.

While I’m still very much a newbie, I did spend some time prior to this role working for a large, multinational NGO so I feel I’m in a good place to offer a bit of advice around the topic of this blog – what it’s like to be ‘out’ in a high profile, high performance role.

Luke Ounsworth, Exeter graduate and Digital Analyst at Accenture
Luke Ounsworth, Exeter graduate and Digital Analyst at Accenture

I’ll confess, I’ve never been involved in any sort of LGBTQ society before and never have I written publicly about my experiences of being a gay man. That’s not because coming out to friends, family and co-workers was easy for me so I didn’t need the support of an LGBTQ group – coming out was, in fact, one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done in my life.

Rather, it was because I didn’t start to feel truly comfortable in my own skin until I left university and began working. As such, now that I am happy in my sexuality – something made possible by working for supportive, inclusive companies such as Accenture – I couldn’t resist putting pen to paper for my alma mater to talk about my experiences of being out in the workplace.

“I made a conscious decision when I joined Accenture that I would be open about my sexuality. I can honestly say that this decision to be my true self is the best I’ve ever made in a professional capacity.”

The best piece of advice I could give to LGBTQ students and recent graduates is to be yourself. I know that sounds horribly cringey. You’ve no doubt heard it a million times in a million different contexts but one of the most important lessons I have learned since joining the world of work is to make sure you stay true to who you are.

My first role after university was with a large, multinational NGO. I still remember how excited I was to join. This excitement was tempered though by my nerves that I would be judged by my new colleagues because of my sexuality. That sounds ridiculous, I know, especially when I was out to all my friends and family. However, the office culture was fairly ‘blokey’ and I was desperate to prove that I was ‘one of the lads’ in order to get on and do well. As such, I made the mistake of either lying about my sexual orientation or simply avoiding any office discussion on partners or dating.

“The decision to be myself has already allowed me to forge very strong relationships with my colleagues. These relationships have enabled me to better perform my day job because I earn more respect from those around me when they can see that I am being genuine, honest and authentic.”

Ironically but unsurprisingly, this behaviour actually held me back. Though my colleagues and I got on very well, many took my shyness as a sign that I was disengaged and introverted (the complete opposite of who I am!) so didn’t feel comfortable broaching personal conversations with me. Over time, this led to me becoming ostracised from certain groups and, even worse, meant that I received some negative feedback when it came to performance review time.

As a result, I made a conscious decision when I joined Accenture that I would be open about my sexuality. I can honestly say that this decision to be my true self is the best I’ve ever made in a professional capacity. As an employer, Accenture is one of the most supportive firms when it comes to LGBTQ staff. (You’ll notice this the second you enter the building from the hundreds of rainbow-coloured lanyards which employees wear to show solidarity and uniting together to form LGBT Allies!)

This decision to be myself has already allowed me to forge very strong relationships with my colleagues – both gay and straight. These relationships have, in turn, enabled me to better perform my day job because I earn more respect from those around me when they can see that I am being genuine, honest and authentic.

I appreciate that this advice – be yourself – is tired, overused and sometimes patronising. However, for those of you reading this who might not yet feel comfortable in your own skin, take it from me that no one in a professional environment will judge you because of your sexuality. You won’t be held back because of who you choose to date. Rather, you’ll go further in your career when you show your colours (rainbow or not!) and remain true to yourself.

Accenture LGBT Careers information

Exeter Pride 2016 is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ communities and diversity within Exeter and the surrounding regions. 

Stonewall’s ‘Starting Out’ Careers Guide

Engineering a Brighter Future

Harry Chaplin
Harry Chaplin

Harry Chaplin graduated from Exeter in 2015 with a MEng Civil and Environmental Engineering. He’s currently a Project Manager at SEED Madagascar, working to bring clean, safe water to rural communities.

It all began in 2011, the summer before I started at Exeter, when I spent 4 weeks volunteering on a conservation programme in a rural village in southeast Madagascar. I was working with a charity called SEED Madagascar (formerly Azafady UK), scouring the biodiversity-rich rainforests for weird, wonderful and most importantly, rare flora and fauna found nowhere else on the planet. For me, that fleeting time spent in the Malagasy bush – learning the culture, meeting the incredible people and appreciating life for what it is – changed everything. Camp life was basic relative to the norms and luxuries we take for granted, as we had neither running water nor electricity. I was pretty content with the well water we were washing in until one night of heavy rain half-filled my bucket and I then realised what potential was being wasted every time it rained.

Making changes to the village school to collect rainwater
Making changes to the village school to collect rainwater

Once back home I got obsessively interested in how to improve the water supply, eventually writing a feasibility study on the subject in my Second Year. I continued pursuing ideas and designed the system and background project for a rainwater harvesting scheme based on the school roof in the village for my Third Year dissertation. After a two-month research trip between Third and Fourth Year, I presented to a board of trustees of a UK based donor charity and they agreed to fund the project.

“Embracing all the opportunities that have come my way has allowed me to do something I love and value.”

The project is a year-long pilot scheme aimed at providing the 143 primary school children with clean drinking water whilst demonstrating to the community a simple, affordable and replicable technique of clean drinking water provision. The system has been kept as simple as possible to reduce the risk of failure of small parts and the need for lots of skilled maintenance, but the challenging aspect is making it sustainable within the community. As Project Manager the learning curve over the last 5 months has been, and still is, very steep. The skills I’m learning in all areas of the job, be it people management or project development, budget supervision or working in a foreign country with a vastly different but amazing culture, is incredible experience for my professional development and I’m loving it!

Working with the community partners
Working with the community partners

The fascinating people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve shared and bush parties I’ve danced during my times out here with SEED have set me up brilliantly for a career in this sector. During a lot of my time at Exeter I hadn’t the faintest idea of where I wanted to be in 5 years’ time, but embracing all the opportunities that have come my way has allowed me to do something I love and value. If you want to find out more about how you can get involved or more about the project, visit www.madagascar.co.uk

There’s No Success Like Failure

Careers Consultant, Tom McAndrew on putting things in perspective.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill

We're all made from stars
We’re all made from stars

We see many students around this time of year hitting the last stages of the graduate recruitment cycle. Some are ecstatic that they’ve been made an offer. Others are less so; after getting over the obstacles in their path, they’ve fallen at the final hurdle.

To nearly get there and not succeed hurts.

And it hurts quite a lot because you tried and tried and you didn’t get there. We encourage and console and urge them on but it still hurts. We tell them stories about students we’ve seen in similar positions who were finally successful, but we don’t think they believe us.

Remember to get all the help you need from Career Zone if you’re not being as successful as you would wish. Help with an application form, a mock interview, or a talk through assessment centres really can make all the difference.

You may also want to try the mindful approach.

When you go home tonight, open your bedroom window. Put your head out (please note I said open it first). Look up and see that sky strewn with countless stars. The benign indifference of the universe. If the moon is up, have a look. Marvel that Humankind has landed on it; in what was basically a tin can with less processing capacity than the laptop you’re probably viewing this on.

Big universe, little you.

“We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Oscar Wilde