Annie Tricks graduated from the University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, with a 1st in BA Drama in 2018. She’s currently working as Campaign Executive at Global, and hosts The Grad Pod
Whilst at University I threw myself into the societies. I always loved learning new skills and meeting new people, and many of the societies at Exeter provided this. In my First Year I remember throwing myself in perhaps a bit too much, but that’s always a good thing as you can work out what you’re truly interested in. One of my big loves were the three Xmedia societies, particularly Xpression, the student radio station. While growing up, radio was always in the background, but in my life Drama had always been in the foreground which is why I chose to study it at university. Nevertheless, the thought of getting involved in radio intrigued me, so I signed up to Xpression at the Freshers Fair.
Joining Xpression was one of the best steps I took during my time at Exeter. Not only was it great to learn how to control a radio desk and make my own radio show, but I also met so many interesting and exciting people from different degrees, who have now become my best friends. In my First Year I mainly worked on Xpression because I found it really enjoyable. I loved music, so got involved in the music team conducting interviews and helping out at various events. However, at the end of First Year I realised that I loved it more than a hobby, and began to consider it becoming my career.
“…there are parallels in terms of creativity and organisation which I learnt from my course. However the biggest contribution towards where I am now from my university life has to be Xpression.”
I knew radio was really hard to get into, and thought I had better start early, so I emailed a lot of local stations asking if I could get some work experience. This was really key in terms of getting to where I am now, as I threw myself into lots of different roles: promoting on the streets for Radio Exe, volunteering at events for the BBC, shadowing shows, writing bulletins, and editing interviews for Phonic FM. I tried to do as much as I could, as well as doing a lot for Xpression itself whilst being on the committee. I was then very fortunate to be given the contact details of a producer at Heart, and after getting in touch with him I landed a four month internship beginning at the start of Third Year.
The internship was extremely useful in terms of gaining experience. Not only did I learn how Global (who own Heart) worked in terms of programming, but I was involved in coming up with show ideas, editing promotional trails that went on air, and event managing when I helped out at their big Christmas Fair. I made many great contacts also, which enabled me to get where I am now; working for Global in Birmingham.
Although I’m not on the programming side yet, I’m very fortunate to be working for such a big radio company, especially straight out of University. I found out I got my job two days before Graduating which was incredible. I currently work as Campaign Executive, which involves helping coordinate various campaigns on air and online e.g. competitions, sponsorships etc.
Despite my job perhaps being far from my degree, there are parallels in terms of creativity and organisation which I learnt from my course. However the biggest contribution towards where I am now from my university life has to be Xpression. The support was amazing, and I would highly recommend anyone to join and throw themselves into such an incredibly encouraging environment.
James Bradbrook is Vacancy Co-ordinator for the Career Zone.
You’ve fired off several applications, smashed the interviews and assessment centres and you’ve had a job offer from Umbrella Corporation. It’s not necessarily your first choice, but it’s not too bad and you haven’t heard back from that marketing job you were hoping to get with Weyland-Yutani.
Umbrella are wanting to hear back from you, so you accept their job offer. After all, you think, you can always pull out if Weyland-Yutani come up trumps, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
What does the law say?
Contracts of employment are just that: contracts! Like all contracts, they signify all parties’ acceptance of mutual rights and obligations and there are penalties for failing to fulfil them.
When an employer makes you an offer, they can only then withdraw it under very particular circumstances. This is why most employers will only make conditional offers, for example, the offer being subject to references. This means that if one of your referees points out that you happen to have been fired from your last job for stealing, the company can withdraw their offer perfectly legally.
If an employer makes an offer and you accept but then the company withdraws it without good reason, you would be able to sue them for breach of contract.
The same applies the other way around. If you accept an offer and then pull out, the company is perfectly entitled to insist that you fulfil the terms of the contract and, if you don’t, they can pursue you through the courts. (It is important to note that accepting an offer verbally has the same legal force as an agreement in writing – the only difference is that the latter is easier to prove.)
“If you accept an offer and then pull out, the company is perfectly entitled to insist that you fulfil the terms of the contract and, if you don’t, they can pursue you through the courts.”
Assuming the company won their action against you, the gains would be minimal because the losses would be limited to the terms of the contract that were violated.
This wouldn’t mean that your losses would be minimal. The damages you’d have to pay for the actual breach of contract itself would be insignificant compared to the risk that you’d have to pay your own legal costs, plus the company’s legal costs as well. That could easily amount to many thousands of pounds, not to mention a large part of your life being swallowed up for months or even years of legal action.
That’s really not the best way to start your new career.
Would they really try to enforce the contract or sue me?
This is difficult to determine – much would depend on the specific circumstances. However, such actions are rare.
Firstly, in terms of forcing you to honour the contract, you’d only be obligated to work out whatever notice period is specified in the contract of employment. With most graduate schemes you’d have barely started the training before you could leave quite legally.
Secondly, it is rarely in an employer’s interest to have a disinterested, unengaged employee working for them.
Thirdly, they will probably believe someone who pulls out of a contract in this way is, at best, unreliable and possibly even dishonest. Most companies don’t want that sort of person working for them.
All-in-all, it’s probably not worth their time and investment to force you to take the job, when you’re going to up and leave in weeks or months.
As for legal action, the direct losses a company could recoup from you would probably be minimal – this would depend on notice periods, training costs, etc. or any other loss the company could demonstrate arose from your breach of contract. By far, the worst scenario for you would be covering their legal costs.
The employer would have to balance the effort in staff time required to pursue an action against the concrete return. They may also wish to avoid long-term damage to their reputation that might arise from pursuing such an action.
But … if the contract is short-term or a further delay in recruitment would harm the company’s business, they might be far more insistent that you honour your commitment. Things would also greatly depend at what point you pulled out – retracting an offer a couple of days after accepting is far less to trigger action than doing so the day before you’re going to start.
In conclusion, the risk of a legal action is probably small, depending on the circumstances. This doesn’t change the fact that a risk remains – you need to think very carefully about your situation before making such a serious decision and consider taking legal advice concerning your specific circumstances.
Other possible consequences
Recruitment costs companies a lot in terms of time and money. They take the process very seriously and don’t make offers to candidates lightly. They expect candidates to act professionally and with integrity. Make no mistake: they are going to be very, very unhappy.
“So what?” you might say.
True, you may not suffer any immediate problems if you decide to pull out. But, you could well burn your bridges with that organisation completely, scuppering any chance of working with them in the future. That might not be an immediate worry, but who knows where you’ll be in five- or ten-years’ time.
The personal circles in some professions are surprisingly small. People have long memories and reputation matters, especially in occupations where honesty and integrity are vitally important, such as law and accountancy. No-one likes the players on reality TV and they don’t like them in professional life either.
“The personal circles in some professions are surprisingly small. People have long memories and reputation matters.”
And, if you’re the sort of person that cares about other people, you might want to think about this. Employers might not be willing or able to take action against you, but they can (and do) complain to us! Take it from me, it’s very uncomfortable to have an employer phone up complaining about the poor conduct of a student.
Employers also take these sorts of things into account when they’re making commercial decisions about what universities they want to work with. If they have a poor experience with an Exeter student, they might well reconsider how much they want to work with us in the future, damaging opportunity for future students.
Last, but not least, there’s the matter of your personal integrity. If you value ethical conduct in the world, from other people and organisations, then you shouldn’t be too free with your own.
So, what’s the right thing to do?
If a company makes you an offer and you’re either not sure or waiting on another offer, tell them you need time to think. You don’t need to tell them exactly why.
Most companies don’t rush their recruitment decisions and they shouldn’t expect you to either. If you feel they’re trying to pressure you into a quick decision, then that tells you something about the culture of their firm and you may need to reconsider whether they’re right for you in the first place.
Only you can decide what sort of time frame is reasonable to you, although you can’t expect a company to hold an offer open indefinitely.
This year, Amy Magee, a final year BSc Psychology student at The University of Exeter has been recognised for her impressive professional endeavours including the launch of her own company, Okulo Marketing and Design Ltd and her work in a range of sectors including television, finance and creative marketing. We spoke to Amy to hear about what she’s been doing and some of her professional highlights such as her design feature in the Art of Luxury magazine, as well as her plans for the future and any top tips for current students.
Where did it all start?
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind these past four years – my initial desire to follow the clinical psychology route transformed into my fascination for consumer behaviour – quite simply I wanted to know why we do the things we do and how to use this in business. Since my first year I began exploring as many different industries as possible. I had my usual part-time supermarket job to keep me ticking over, but had also started to use my love for English to ghost-write blogs on the behalf of companies across the UK. I wrote for anyone from a famous hypnotist to plastic injection moulding companies (it was hard to make this sound interesting) – sometimes over 50 blogs a month which kept me busy alongside my studies!
Top tip: I suppose my top tip for anyone would be that you’ll be surprised how many things you can turn into a mini business. Say you have a knack for writing or you’re a great photographer, start by just asking people around you whether they need anyone to save them time by writing that blog or photographing an upcoming event. Once you have your first little portfolio, get out there and network (use LinkedIn too)!
What have you been up to alongside your degree?
As I was based in the South West for university, an opportunity arose towards the end of First Year for me to join the BBC as a runner for a Duran Duran concert at the Eden Project. From deciphering call sheets, to working with directors in the gallery truck (the truck full of screens behind the scenes) and learning to drive a saloon car (not fun to park), this job taught me to think quickly and to always be the person who uses your spare minute to ask your team if there’s anything that you can do to help. First impressions matter and this job ultimately led to me landing subsequent contracts with the BBC on a show called ‘Let it Shine’ with Gary Barlow and others throughout the year.
Top tip: My top tip would be that various opportunities might come your way but it’s your job from then onwards to make a great first impression and utilise the stepping-stone to progress further.
In second year, I wanted to learn more about the financial world and sought out some work experience in a London investment house called Octopus Investments. A year on, I was looking into financial advisory roles and studying for an R05 financial exam to break into the industry. I later found myself training with an international private wealth firm for two years alongside university, providing personal and business protection for various clients. However, finance ultimately taught me that, as an inherently creative individual, I crave environments that demand artistic and ambitious thinking where no day is the same. In fact, to this day I still have a £20 bet on with my sixth form art teacher who reckoned that I would eventually seek out a creative career despite me sternly sticking with the science route. It turns out he was right, but this is something only my work experience could teach me!
I spent my third year in an industrial marketing placement in Bristol where I had the opportunity to launch creative campaigns, manage their social media and blog platforms, liaise with external partners, and build a cohesive brand image online. I also self-taught a range of graphic design and videography skills – later filming and editing promotional videos for the company and producing their first brochures. These self-taught skills were ultimately the springboard to me later setting up my own business. I registered a company, Okulo Marketing Ltd, built my website and produced my business cards and went out to network. I now work with a range of interesting people including an ex-MI6 and Royal Navy fighter pilot and motivational speaker for whom I produce print media, websites and video showreels. I’ve also had my design for an international private wealth firm featured in the front of The Art of Luxury magazine and distributed to retailers such as Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and House of Fraser, with door drops to Canary Wharf and Mayfair.
Top tip: Students at The University of Exeter will have a range of opportunities in the future, but what I found is that only by exploring all of these opportunities and industries fully do you really learn what you want – a career that draws not only on your skills, but also on your passions and interests is key in my opinion. Eventually, you’re most likely to seek it out anyway!
It was these experiences along with my final year of psychology that really developed my knowledge and interest in consumer behaviour. I studied modules that would gear me towards a greater understanding of how businesses and brands can use knowledge about the consumer brain – including what it pays attention to and what it remembers – to build a memorable brand through advertising and increase product sales. I also learned a lot about how organisational psychology concepts can improve efficiency within the workplace. I have since completed my final year thesis on ways to increase sustainable consumer behaviour – in particular, how the notion of social “trends” can promote pro-environmental meat-reduced diets. The University of Exeter allowed me to apply my knowledge to a field I am interested in and gave me a range of opportunities, including the attainment of the Exeter Employability Award and the Exeter Leader Award, to propel my professional experiences. As my time at Exeter draws to a close, I look towards a creative career in London where I can put these past four years of experience to good use!
I would recommend utilising as many opportunities at the university as possible – make use of the Career Zone and any “refresher” courses (e.g. “refresh your maths skills” for recruitment aptitude tests)
If you have a clear picture of what you want to do – spend a few term summers gaining as much experience as possible. If, like many, you haven’t decided on a career yet, explore as many industries as you can. It will help move you closer to your chosen career!
For students looking to ‘set up shop’; develop your skills and interests and build a mini portfolio! A slick website can make for a good first impression – if you don’t know how to do this, sites like Squarespace are a good alternative! Head to networking events or professional events within your societies and always have your business cards to hand. Finally, do your market research and find out the appropriate rates for someone of your experience so you know where to place yourself in the market.
Carly Turpin, Head of Talent Acquisition at Crowdcube, graduated from the University of Exeter with a Master of Arts, European Languages and Cultures in 2008.
There isn’t one career path for everyone… your career can take a number of twists and turns before finding something you really enjoy and want to excel at, but don’t down play the skills you pick up, and the experiences you go through along the way.
I came to Exeter to study a Masters in European Languages and Cultures as I had my heart set on becoming a journalist, and thought that being a polyglot would help open a few doors. I had just completed a degree in Applied Foreign Languages in France and an internship at the Daily Mail, and a year out spent working in pubs in Andorra and Mallorca. However I quickly realised there was no way I could go back to an unpaid internship at a newspaper as I couldn’t afford to live in London.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore. I’d talked about becoming a journalist since I was 12 years old and now I felt completely disillusioned with the industry having seen it firsthand, as well as unsure about my next move. I’d toyed with applying to the UN in translation roles, or joining an NGO. In the end I moved back home after completing my MA, did a ski season in the Alps and basically took my time deciding my next move. I still hadn’t even considered a career in HR or recruitment at this point.
“There isn’t one career path for everyone… your career can take a number of twists and turns before finding something you really enjoy and want to excel at, but don’t down play the skills you pick up, and the experiences you go through along the way.”
Over the next few years I worked in hospitality, got on a postgraduate scheme working for a small independent property firm in London, taught English to foreign students with TEFL, worked in asset management, worked in a French speaking customer support role for a major toy retailer, got a job as an office manager in the food and beverage industry, and ran a nightclub and pub with my now husband. Running a business without any prior experience was probably the most fun and challenging time of my life. We ended up closing the business after 4 years but as they say ‘one door closes and another opens.’ A recruiter approached me about joining a recruitment firm so I took the leap, and about 6 months in, along came Crowdcube. I instantly bought into their company mission and after placing 13 people into the team there, I took a risk and pitched myself into the business. I’d just turned 30 and things seemed to start clicking into place.
All of the aforementioned experiences enabled me to pick up and hone a host of skills such as communication, process management, basic accounting, human resources management, people management, market research, teaching and training, and develop resilience, work ethic, attention to detail, patience, adaptability, empathy and emotional intelligence among others. I also learnt a lot about myself, how I work best, what I value, and most importantly what I enjoy, which will help steer future career choices. But most importantly I learnt that hard work and the desire to keep learning will keep you moving forward.
So let’s fast forward almost 4 years… I’m the Head of Talent at Crowdcube and I’ve helped the business grow, managed a restructure, set up the whole recruitment and HR function, implemented systems and processes, spearheaded a values revamp, started tracking engagement and diversity and inclusion metrics to be able to create strategies to tackle these areas. I’m currently on maternity leave and still have so much to achieve to help the business continue to grow and be an exceptional place to work.
As I said at the beginning, I don’t believe in a career for life or in one set path and actually all of the experiences I have had to date have enabled me to develop skills that make me good at my job. I still have a lot to learn and who knows if I’ll still be in People Operations in 10 years time. I love what I do but the world of work is changing at such a pace that the real skill is being able to learn, to adapt, to try new things, and being able to competently explain the choices you’ve made, your achievements to date and the skills you’ve developed along your career journey. Don’t be afraid to take a few risks, who knows what doors will open!
Grace Chan graduated in BSc Geography from the University of Exeter, Tremough Campus in 2015. She’s currently an Asset Manager with Low Carbon.
Careers Fairs were something, that looking back, I should’ve participated in from the get-go. In my 3 years at University, I attended a single Careers Fair – one organised by the Geography Student-led Employability Committee, which I was a part of, and therefore needed to be there in any case.
This, however, set the trajectory of my career.
It was sometime in February in my final year, and I dropped in to check if everything was running smoothly. I made a few rounds to see if there were any employers who didn’t already have a crowd around them, so I could have a chat to find out more. I noticed a stand that wasn’t particularly busy, possibly due to the fact that as a renewable energy company, they stuck out amongst the other companies who were predominantly environmental consultancies. I wandered over to chat with them, not expecting anything – I’d always been under the impression that the renewable energy industry was very engineering-based, and not suitable for a Geography student like myself – but came away with a business card and email address to send my CV to after a 15-minute conversation.
The main person I was speaking to turned out to be the then-Operations Director of the company, and I was brought in for an interview straight after I sent across my CV. Following his recommendation, I was offered a job in the Planning Team at CleanEarth – before even graduating! Fast forward 4 years since meeting them at the Careers Fair, and I am now a Project Manager within the company, developing and planning for large-scale wind turbine projects in England, Wales and Scotland, with a number of impressive projects under my belt. I have recently begun the next chapter of my renewable energy journey and am working as an Asset Manager with Low Carbon, managing utility-scale solar PV farms across the UK.
I would definitely advise students to attend any Careers Fairs they are able to, and to attend with an open mind. I had assumptions about the renewable energy industry that were completely proven wrong, just by chatting to the employer there. I never thought it was a suitable industry for myself, yet here I am. Spend a few minutes at each stand to find out more about their company and the industry they are in, you never know when you may have made the wrong assumptions!
I would recommend being generally inquisitive when chatting to employers – a Careers Fair is the best opportunity to find out more about a company, their culture, and what their roles entail on a day-to-day basis. It’s the information that cannot be found on a job description that you want to be finding out. As I knew nothing about the renewable energy industry, my chat helped me gain a much better understanding of the various roles and responsibilities that come into play in developing renewable energy projects. I found out that the skills I had picked up in my degree: data analysis, ArcGIS, environmental policy, to name a few, actually meant that I was well-placed for a role in renewable energy project development and planning.
If you are job hunting in your final year, or looking for a summer internship, I would recommend bringing along copies of your CV to the fairs and researching the employers that would be there. I came across my employer and fell into this industry by sheer chance, but you don’t need to leave it to luck.
Bethan Watson is a BA English student at the University of Exeter, and current Career Zone SCP on the Streatham Campus.
This year marks the third annual student-produced “In the Zone” careers magazine launch. The magazine was a joint project between myself and fellow English student Brittany Willis, with the support and guidance of the team at the Career Zone. Just in time for Graduation, the magazine launches on Monday 29th April; make sure to grab your copy, or visit the Career Zone website where a digital copy of the magazine will be available.
At the Career Zone, we understand there’s a great deal of pressure on you to secure a graduate role. This year, we wanted to focus on anyone who feels intimidated by the more structured, well-publicised and specified job opportunities, or disheartened that there aren’t formal routes into the sectors they’re interested in. We’ve also aimed our magazine at those who aren’t interested in joining the workforce yet, at least through a traditional pathway. You might want to apply for further study, take some time off to plan your next move or travel, or even be interested in starting your own business venture.
We’ve provided comprehensive examples of the resources the Career Zone offers, with feedback from students who’ve used them. For example, My Career Zone Digital is an excellent resource for preparing you for all aspects of the job application process. The Career Zone also provides excellent frameworks to secure your own fully-funded internship, either after Graduation or during your studies. If you have no idea what kind of role would suit you, the Career Zone has you covered with our Professional Pathways scheme, which offers you the opportunity to explore a sector you’re interested in through training and a paid internship. These are only some of the resources available, and if you haven’t heard of them before, they’re worth a look.
“Because we realise formal routes might not be for everyone, we’ve included examples of students who have taken unconventional routes and the advice they have to offer you upon Graduation. This includes students who have travelled, who are now working abroad, who have made informed choices about their Masters degrees, and who are turning their hobbies into business enterprises.”
Because we realise formal routes might not be for everyone, we’ve included examples of students who have taken unconventional routes and the advice they have to offer you upon Graduation. This includes students who have travelled, who are now working abroad, who have made informed choices about their Masters degrees, and who are turning their hobbies into business enterprises.
As editors and contributors, the process of collating “In the Zone” has been an opportunity to both grow and discover for Brittany and I. We are both Streatham-based second year English undergraduates. Brittany is interested in a career in publishing, whereas I am still actively exploring different opportunities, which I discuss within the magazine. I feel that creating this year’s edition of “In the Zone” has allowed us to exercise skills that will be valued in our future careers. Brittany now has first-hand experience of editing and contributing to a formal publication, which will give her a basis to demonstrate her interest in the sector when applying for publishing roles. I have been able to build upon my existing skillset in terms of communication, taking the initiative and managing a project from idea to completion. Overall, we both feel better informed about what we can offer as candidates and now have examples to refer to when asked to demonstrate competencies for specific skills.
“In the Zone” has also been a platform for other students to demonstrate and grow their skills, which was a priority for the Career Zone team. Caitlin Thomas, a second year Classics student and budding fine artist, won a competition that I organised to design the front cover for the magazine, and has inspired the visual theme throughout. Caitlin currently has an active website for her art, and we hope that this opportunity gave her a platform as a talented student artist.
Like most students, Brittany, Caitlin and I are in the process of shaping our own career journeys. With graduation drawing closer, “In the Zone” aims to ensure that students feel they are in a position to make an informed decision about their career choices, without pressure or panic. Within the magazine, Exeter Alumni have kindly offered us their insight and experiences after Graduation. As a result of reading their testimonials, I felt reassured; I was able to stop, think and really consider what I want from life, rather than feeling like I should be applying for a certain role because it seems like the right thing to do. I think that one of the key messages from the magazine is that there is no one right pathway after graduation; it’s a big change but there is something for everyone, and the aim of the Career Zone is to make sure you feel empowered rather than scared to make decisions around that change.
Career Zone believes in Careers Forever; the service is accessible for as long as you need it. However long ago you graduated, and wherever you are in the world, so please make sure to get in touch.
Abbie Banner graduated from the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, with BSc Zoology in 2018. She is currently GBP Campus Sustainability Project Coordinator (Cornwall). Go Green Week is happening on the Streatham Campus 18th – 22nd March.
My role is based in the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the Penryn Campus, and I work with all four institutions on the campus: the University of Exeter, Falmouth University, Falmouth Exeter Plus (shared campus service providers) and the Students’ Union (FXU).
I ensure that each of the organisations can support and contribute to making sustainability the norm on campus – this means something different most days. From data handling for creating a ‘sustainability dashboard’ for the campuses, to researching best practice for handling commercial food waste. Along with assisting with restructuring of our campuses’ sustainability governance, to ensuring practices are in line with the University’s biodiversity policy.
“..being immersed in life by the sea in Cornwall, based on a small, green campus away from the city life I was used to, strengthened my desire to be involved in sustainability within my career.”
The summer before beginning University I switched to a plant-based diet. It was my research through this change that opened my eyes to the damage that humans cause to the environment. My personality type is ‘advocate’ which means that I need to feel I’m making a difference to the world, including through my career, so sustainability is the perfect platform for this. Also, being immersed in life by the sea in Cornwall, based on a small, green campus away from the city life I was used to, strengthened my desire to be involved in sustainability within my career.
I honestly had almost zero extracurricular commitments for the first couple of years at University. It wasn’t until I gained some confidence at the end of my Second Year, when I became more involved and started to gain some relevant experience.
There are so many ways to be involved in sustainability on campus as a student. I dived into the deep end and ran for Environment and Ethics Officer in the Leadership Team of FXU. I was lucky enough to win this student-elected role, which was voluntary and part-time alongside my degree. I also participated in Grand Challenges: Food for Thought as well as the Green Consultants programme.
As Environment and Ethics Officer, I presented two ‘motions’ at FXU’s AGM. Both motions voted to pass, which included to ban all plastic straws on campus, and to halve the number of single-use plastic water bottles on campus.
Through the Green Consultants programme I had the opportunity to work with Fifteen Cornwall, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant at Watergate Bay with a “positive for the planet” ethos. My team completed a waste audit, analysing 3 years of bills to output infographics and suggested implementations. This felt like my first experience of “real life” work, and a year later I am on the other side Green Consultants acting as the client for several on-campus projects.
One piece of advice I would give to anyone wanting to be more sustainable: Make more conscious decisions. We lead habitual lives in which it’s easy to make subconscious unethical and unsustainable choices in our daily lives. I hold my hands up and admit that I am not perfect and believe each to their own personal journey towards a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
Here are some practical conscious decisions you can make as a consumer:
Take your money out of fossil fuels and switch to a renewable energy supplier such as Ecotricity or Bulb
Choose vegetarian and vegan options more often to reduce your carbon and water footprint
Go to vintage, charity shops and clothes swaps for some cool second-hand clothing pieces
Recycle the pesky non-recyclables such as crisp packets, pens and toothpaste tubes at a local Terracycle point
“I believe there is only going to continue to be a rise in the number of jobs within this sector, with more organisations jumping on the green band-wagon.”
I believe there is only going to continue to be a rise in the number of jobs within this sector, with more organisations jumping on the green band-wagon. When my role comes to an end this summer I am eager to go back to the roots of the environmental movement for some time, looking at eco-living, minimalism and incorporating slow-living principles into my lifestyle.
Most importantly for me I am looking forwards to spending time with family and friends as well as some travelling before deciding on my next steps.
Jack Berringer graduated from the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, with BA Politics in 2014. He’s currently a Parliamentary Assistant at the European Parliament, Brussels.
Since graduation I have been working in the European Parliament, first as an intern before being promoted to an assistant. I initially worked for an MEP from the East Midlands region focusing on regional development policy, which interested me after studying on the Penryn campus and seeing how the funding had such a positive impact on the local area. My MEP was then elected to the House of Commons in the 2017 General Election and I moved to another MEP, this time representing the South West, working on environmental policy. It’s a fascinating policy area as it’s so broad and you’re constantly learning new things and seeing the ways in which technology is being used to combat the effects of climate change. Also in the past year I’ve started studying part-time at KU Leuven for a Master’s degree in Economics and will complete my studies there in June 2019.
“For anybody wishing to pursue a career in politics abroad I would simply recommend that you throw your name into the hat and go for it… You have absolutely nothing to lose from sending in an application and, if you are lucky enough to be offered an interview or job, just take it one step at a time.”
For me working in EU affairs was a natural progression having studied politics and written my dissertation on the EU accession process. I had also always harboured the ambition of working abroad, so as soon as I saw the opportunity to move to Brussels I jumped at the chance. The thing I find most enjoyable about my job is being in a truly cosmopolitan work environment. On an average day I will speak to people from perhaps 10 different countries and it’s always interesting to talk about what’s happening in our respective countries and the effects that these events are having. For me it’s also very cool to be able to say that you work on creating EU legislation.
My favourite thing about studying at Exeter was the people I found myself surrounded by, both students and lecturers alike. Being on the Penryn campus and having a smaller group of students added to the experience. I think we bonded massively as a group and the fact that lecturers were able to perhaps give us a bit more face time individually, if required, was also a major benefit.
Looking at the league tables I knew that Exeter was one of the 10 best universities at which to study Politics when I was applying, and that was naturally something I considered. When visited the campus I was really impressed by how modern the teaching facilities and accommodation was and this just reinforced my feeling that I wanted to study there if I got the necessary grades.
“It may sound obvious but write your thesis on an area you would like to work in. It means you may get the opportunity to meet people in the industry and make contacts prior to graduation…”
For anybody wishing to pursue a career in politics abroad I would simply recommend that you throw your name into the hat and go for it, no matter how nervous you might be about the idea of leaving family/friends behind. You have absolutely nothing to lose from sending in an application and, if you are lucky enough to be offered an interview or job, just take it one step at a time. Living in a country forces you out of your comfort zone, no matter how extroverted you are, and when you add to that the fact that you can learn other languages which improves your employability and experience other cultures I really cannot see a downside.
In the future I hope to continue working in the environmental side of business, hopefully using the Master’s degree I am studying for, and move to another country before coming back to the UK.
It may sound obvious but write your thesis on an area you would like to work in. It means you may get the opportunity to meet people in the industry and make contacts prior to graduation and, even if your dissertation does not require meeting with people from industry, it will show your interest to potential employers when looking for a job further down the line.
Benjamin Dale graduated with a BA in French and Spanish in 2015 and currently works as a Researcher for Made in Chelsea at Monkey Kingdom.
Once I graduated from the University of Exeter, I initially started work in the advertising industry. I was keen to work in a creative environment and realised though I may not be the person to come up with the ideas, I may well enjoy being a part of the process to refine and bring these to life. I started at an independent agency named Mother, before moving to a network agency Leo Burnett.
I concluded that in fact it was the production-side of advertising where I felt most engrossed. One of my biggest passions, among music and film, is television. I therefore decided I would try my hand in the world of TV production, marrying my interest and the element of advertising I had enjoyed the most.
“The industry is all about reputation, and therefore working as a team player, always being inquisitive and being a reliable pair of hands is crucial.”
It is commonplace knowledge in the TV industry that no matter your age or previous career experience, you start at the bottom of the ladder as a production runner. This is likewise something which everyone recommends; it provides the opportunity to see how the full production and crew teams operate as entities and gives one the insight into several varying aspects of the industry. It almost acts as a training ground, though admittedly much of the job role can be spent making cups of tea! Just a reality of the industry and the role of being a runner that I had to not only accept, but do so willingly without complaint. It is a position in which it is less about your level of responsibility that matters, but rather your level to take on jobs no matter how big or small and make the best impression possible. And do it all with grace and a smile on your face, looking for where you can add value in other areas beyond simply the job description. The industry is all about reputation, and therefore working as a team player, always being inquisitive and being a reliable pair of hands is crucial. I started as a runner on Gogglebox in February 2018 for a full series of the show. I then worked as a casting researcher for the show over the summer months before taking on the role as researcher on the latest series which ended in December. Currently I am working at a company named Monkey Kingdom for the show Made in Chelsea.
Though a university degree is not essential for gaining experience in the industry, I am thankful for having studied languages. The skills gained have been invaluable to me in both industries I have worked in; from clear communication and presentation skills through to applying my knowledge of the culture and languages themselves in adaptations of advertising campaigns or TV production shoots abroad. I have found myself surprised even in recent months of where my ability to speak a language has massively benefited a team.
“…I am thankful for having studied languages. The skills gained have been invaluable to me in both industries I have worked in; from clear communication and presentation skills through to applying my knowledge of the culture and languages themselves in adaptations of advertising campaigns or TV production shoots abroad.”
In terms of skills necessary to succeed in the industry, I would say an ability to think on your feet – a skill definitely taught in languages – is important. On a regular basis something can go awry on location for a shoot, from cast arriving late and causing delays to a filming schedule, through to equipment not functioning as it should. A good producer will always think quickly and succinctly of a way to make up the time and communicate this to their manager above, or work around malfunctions. Likewise, being inquisitive in other people and showing an interest in their lives is fundamental to success in reality television. Contributors, or cast, of a show will not always readily open up in ways you hope, and therefore it will be a good producer who sets them at ease, briefs them correctly for the filming ahead and draws out nuggets of information which can help inform content of the show.
Each day is incredibly varied in television; I would say it is rare to ever have exactly the same day twice. This is due to the nature of the industry and how each week (or day) you will be working towards the filming of something different to the last. I enjoy this immensely as never typically find myself staring at the clock towards midday wishing the working day would be over! The industry is freelance-based too, meaning once one series is finished filming, you then move onto typically something different. It can feel daunting to not have total stability in a normal company structure with a permanent contract job, however being someone who welcomes change, this brings excitement; again, meaning you never really feel a sense of repetition in what work can bring.
As I have hopefully outlined above, this is an exciting industry offering much variety. One day I hope to move from being a researcher to become a lead series producer, still working in my biggest passion area TV.
It’s Never Too Late… helps final-year Humanities students get that extra level of support during their final year of studies and aims to empower them to feel ready to tackle life after university with help from successful Exeter alumni, and showcasing opportunities including those from the Career Zone. If you have any questions about the campaign please do email
Hannah O’Dowd is Final Year student on the Streatham Campus, studying BA English and Drama with Study Abroad. She talked to us about her experience of being a student with an invisible disability caused by a traumatic brain injury.
When I began university I was excited to continue my studies having completed my IB. I had no experience of cognitive deficits until on my Study Abroad year, when I sustained a traumatic brain injury. My brain could no longer process things the way it used to, and I’ve had to learn how my brain now works.
Before my injury I used to take pride in my independence, confidence, and seemingly endless amounts of energy. These are things which were snatched from me. I now question everything I say and do. I am far more analytical and I question other people’s actions and words, when before I wouldn’t have. I used to try and fit in more things in a day than was ever going to be possible before my injury; now I can only consider trying to do a fraction of the things I used to do. It is very difficult to explain to people why I have to do the things the way I do, this is because my brain injury is an invisible disability.
“I used to try and fit in more things in a day than was ever going to be possible before my injury; now I can only consider trying to do a fraction of the things I used to do. It is very difficult to explain to people why I have to do the things the way I do, this is because my brain injury is an invisible disability.”
One symptom of a brain injury which affects me is decreased verbal fluency. I have word finding difficulties (particularly when I am fatigued). The time taken for me to get frustrated (with myself or others) has also dramatically decreased since the injury. ‘Dropping an issue’ or ‘moving on’/’forgetting about it’ is a response which cannot be done with ease for someone with a brain injury. It’s often embarrassing to experience an angry response to something which I then later reflect to be unfitting for the situation. I have so much self-doubt about the placement of my anger and as a result I often seek confirmation from others to check that my feeling is founded. I used to be a dramatic person, but I was never an ‘angry person’. It’s difficult, but this reaction is because my brain no longer has the ability to process the information fully and quickly; I might misread something and react, and others won’t understand why I have that reaction.
Harsh sounds and lights can be very distressing to someone with a brain injury. But simultaneously trying to read something in dim light will exaggerate fatigue as it works the brain harder. Managing this is difficult and is a challenge every day.
Another common result of a brain injury is for someone not to be able to recognise what is or isn’t socially appropriate. For me, I frequently have ‘no filter’. So the things you think but don’t say, someone with a brain injury might say it. My brain no longer compartmentalises information the way it used to. As a result, I might disclose information which is not obviously relevant to the conversation being had. This can put me (and anyone with a brain injury) in a very vulnerable position; it is something I must monitor as best I can. This filtration that I now must consciously do, is a contributory factor to my fatigue. My energy levels have depleted massively. This is another change which I unfortunately have to get used to. Not only does the brain injury mean that I am far more tired, it also means that I experience pain on a regular basis. I might look like the same person but because of this invisible injury everything is very different. Every brain injury is very different, but all symptoms are exaggerated by fatigue.
“I am very fortunate to have a graduate role lined up for when I finish my undergraduate degree… I am comfortable knowing Accenture have supported me in my return to work over my summer internship and am confident they will continue to do so after I have graduated.”
I am very fortunate to have a graduate role lined up for when I finish my undergraduate degree. Before my injury, I worked for Accenture during my gap year and was meant to undertake a summer internship with the company in the penultimate summer of my degree. Due to my injury, I was unable to undertake the internship in 2016, but the Accenture invited me back to take part in the scheme when I was recovered enough. They were fully aware of my traumatic brain injury; with this in mind they placed me with a client located most conveniently to minimise my fatigue and avoiding the need for me to have extra travel.
When I began my project, I informed my line manager of my brain injury. I did this so that if I struggled with certain scenarios (for example: divided attention exaggerated by fatigue) he would be able to understand why I might find some things more difficult than others. He was very professional and understanding. I also was given the option to work remotely if I needed to and the company has policies in place to ensure I was able to attend necessary medical appointments around my work timetable. Remote working is something the company was very supportive of, for many employees and for varying reasons. At the end of this 8 week internship I was pleased to have been offered a graduate position with the firm. I am comfortable knowing Accenture have supported me in my return to work over my summer internship and am confident they will continue to do so after I have graduated.
While I was in hospital I wrote a blog (initially as part of my speech therapy) and have written a few posts since being back at University. This was something I found to be a good outlet for what I was experiencing. It was a way of me coming to terms with what had happened, and a way of explaining the situation to others.
As I complete my degree I am also creating a show titled ‘Unknown’ about my time in hospital and living with my injuries. I will be taking this show to Edinburgh Fringe in August 2019. I hope it will help the audience to understand the difficulties faced by trauma survivors.