Alumni Profile – André Luis Martins Filho, Co-Founder and Head of Product at Uello

André Luis Martins Filho studied Bsc Engineering and Management at the University of Exeter on a 1 year exchange program, Graduating in 2016. He is the Co-Founder and Head of Product at Uello

André Luis Martins Filho, University of Exeter alumni, and Co-Founder and Head of Product at Uello

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now? 

As soon as I left Exeter, I came back to Brazil and co-founded Uello, a logistics tech startup. Going straight from the University to founding a startup is not your usual career path, and it has been very demanding. We began as a company of just 2 people sitting in a co-working space, validating the business model. Today we have over 90 employees, 10,000+registered drivers, and have delivered over 2 million packages in Brazil with an innovative business model revolving around the gig economy and technology. When you found a startup, you have to do a little bit of everything from carrying boxes in warehouses and delivering packages to modelling the business plan, planning budgets and building operational processes. Today, I lead the product division of the company and am responsible for identifying, prioritizing and delivering technology and product enhancements.

“When you found a startup, you have to do a little bit of everything from carrying boxes in warehouses and delivering packages to modelling the business plan, planning budgets and building operational processes.”

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I always liked doing things differently than expected. At Exeter, for example, I sought out experiences that I would have never had in Brazil, such as being a part of the Rifle Club. Many of my friends and classmates from University were seeking out careers in banking, corporate or consulting, but I wanted a different experience. What I enjoy most about my work is how much ownership I have. I am a part of every major decision that the company makes and am involved in every step in a way it would take me years to achieve had I followed a more traditional career path. I also like the fact that I can look back and be proud of how much we built from scratch; it is very satisfying and keeps me going even in the hardest times.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

I have always been a very practical person; I prefer to get my hands dirty and actually execute rather than just study. The Engineering and Management course provided me with several opportunities to visit actual companies and see our studies in action and being implemented. My final paper, which I wrote under the tutelage of Prof Voicu Ion Sucala, was a wonderful experience exactly for this reason. I got to work with a metal manufacturing company directly and simulate their processes in different scenarios. It was great to present my results and to know they would be used to generate positive results for a real company. I left wanting to experience that again with more intensity.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

I enjoyed how international my experience in Exeter was. I got to meet people from all over the world, to live among them, and learn a lot from them. It expanded my horizons a lot.

“What I enjoy most about my work is how much ownership I have. I am a part of every major decision that the company makes and am involved in every step in a way it would take me years to achieve had I followed a more traditional career path.”

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

The University of Exeter was one of the most prestigious and recognized universities available within the scholarship programme I was a part of. At the time, though I was studying engineering, I very much wanted to pursue a career in business. The Engineering and Management course seemed like a great fit for what I wanted, and my experience at Exeter and how it has influenced me since underscores how great that choice has been for me.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

In an early stage startup everyone has to be generalist to some extent. There are just not enough people to have specialization. So I think that being able to navigate through most areas of a business whilst not necessarily being a specialist in any was invaluable. Courses like Business, Engineering and Management and others provide the necessary knowledge to become that generalist. For a startup, being tech savvy enough to communicate with and understand software engineers and other people in more technical fields is also critical. The rest is drive, dedication, and hard work.

“For a startup, being tech savvy enough to communicate with and understand software engineers and other people in more technical fields is also critical. The rest is drive, dedication, and hard work.”

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Find a company with a mission and identity to which you connect completely. You are going to be working a lot and facing difficult odds, so there has to be a lot of drive, motivation, and eagerness to make this work. This only happens when there is fit between you and what the company represents. Also, don’t be afraid to take risks, especially in the beginning of your career because it only gets harder to take those risks later.

What are your plans for the future?

I fell in love with the startup and innovation environment. I plan to keep with it, either growing Uello beyond and beyond or helping other companies navigate through their journey.

Pathways to Arts, Culture and Heritage

Georgie Rubega is a current University of Exeter student studying BA Liberal Arts with Study Abroad. In June 2021 she took part in the Pathways to Arts, Culture and Heritage programme.

Tell us about the work you carried out during your Professional Pathways internship. 

Georgie Rubega, BA Liberal Arts with Study Abroad, and Professional Pathways intern.

During my Professional Pathways internship at Powderham Castle my job title was Educational Visit Programmer, and my main role was to work on a project to create a teacher pack for a new school class visit to Powderham. This involved extensive research on both the history of Powderham, including visiting and touring the castle, and the educational programming area of the heritage sector in order to know what to include in the document. I had to make sure that my proposed school visit supported the National Curriculum, had cross-curricular activities, and of course, was inspired by and originated from Powderham Castle’s history. Overall, it allowed me to be creative in the production of the final document and thinking up the activities and use my written communication, IT, and research skills extensively.

How has the Professional Pathways programme helped you in taking the next steps in your career?

The Professional Pathways programme was really useful as it helped me confirm my decision to pursue a career in the Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector. The training days were an amazing introduction to the different areas of the sector, such as educational programming, marketing, commercialisation etc. and really showed me how diverse and interesting the sector is. The internship itself at Powderham Castle also opened my eyes to the reality of working for a heritage organisation and the experience I have gained will certainly boost my CV and help me stand out in the future.

“The Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector is known to be quite hard to get a job in and so any experience you can get will definitely help to boost your CV and make you stand out.”

How do you think this experience will impact on your employability as you enter the job market as a recent graduate?

The Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector is known to be quite hard to get a job in and so any experience you can get will definitely help to boost your CV and make you stand out, and I know having my internship at Powderham Castle to look back on and refer to going forward, will definitely stand me in good stead for my future career! Furthermore, I feel I developed a good relationship with my line manager and so I hope this networking and connection will also help my employability as I now have a contact in the sector who may think of me for roles in the future.

What advice would you give to a student who has to complete an internship remotely?
I would say that maintaining regular contact with your line manager is a must in order to stay motivated and to check you are working as they want you to – during my internship we had a WhatsApp chat which was really useful as it meant I could get replies to my messages quicker than if I was to send an email, and we also did a few Zoom meetings to chat more extensively. There were two other Pathways students also doing the Powderham Castle internship, so we also had a group chat together to discuss how we were getting on with our work and ask each other any questions which also helped to not feel as isolated and more like a team!

Applications for Professional Pathways 2022 are now open and you can find further details on the different Pathway programmes and how to apply. We plan to run the training in-person on our Streatham Campus and internships available will be a mix of workplace-based roles and remote-working positions. The deadline to apply is Tuesday 18 January 2022 at 1:00pm.

 

How to Impress UK Employers as an International Student

Claire Guy is an Employability and Careers Consultant at the University of Exeter.

For many international students, understanding what UK employers are looking for can be difficult. In my experience, many UK students don’t understand it too well either. That’s why UK universities, including the University of Exeter, have qualified, experienced careers practitioners providing a wide range of information, advice and personalised guidance to help you with your future plans. We support you to present yourself in the very best light and really shine in your job applications.

Like many things in life, creating a career plan and implementing it is a much more complicated process than most people realise. The modern world of work is more complicated than it ever has been. The graduate job market is competitive with large numbers of students and graduates applying for opportunities. One of the challenging things about applying for graduate roles is that there are many misunderstandings or myths about what employers are looking for, and often students spend their time and energy on things that employers don’t value that much instead of focusing on what employers are actually interested in.

A ranking of the skills and attributes that employers say students do not have.

So what are UK employers looking for? 

The UK is fairly unique in that most graduate employers are not very interested in your degree subject. There are of course some exceptions, such as employers who look for engineering degrees or those seeking a graduate with a statistics based degree. But on the whole, the biggest proportion of graduate employers will welcome graduates from any subject/discipline.

This means that they are not looking for specific technical knowledge from a university course, but are instead looking for students who can be shaped and trained by the organisation, who have the potential to grow into a role. The way that they judge potential is to assess whether you have the skills that they think are important. You will know what skills each employer is looking for because they will tell you in the role description or job details. Each employer is looking for a slightly different set of skills so it’s very important for you to pay close attention to exactly what they are asking for.

What skills are important in the UK? 

In a recent 2021 report by the Institute of Student Employers, employers ranked the skills that they felt graduates were lacking. The lower the score the more concerned employers are about this skill.

Understanding what skills employers want, the skills they struggle to find in graduates and the specific skills needed in the career / industry or role you are applying for puts you in a great position to impress employers. The next step is where you can really create a brand for yourself as an international student, which will make you stand out.

Highlighting your skills as an International Student

You are a unique breed of student. You’re a risk taker, a pioneer, a brave adventurer and explorer of new worlds. This is wonderful! It’s important to be really clear with employers about the skills you’ve gained as an international student. Here’s a really great list to start you off by Study International 10 Reasons Why Employers Love Graduates Who Have Studied Abroad

Let’s think about the chart above and some of the skills that employers are struggling to find in graduates.

Career management. If leaving your home, family and friends to pursue an education which will lead to gainful employment isn’t good career management, I don’t know what is! You could provide even more evidence of your intentions for a strategic career plan by taking part in the Exeter Award or our Professional Pathways programme.

Commercial awareness. You can find out more about Commercial Awareness from Bright Network. (Top Tip – it is really helpful to search for a definition of any skills that employers are asking for- this will really help you to explain how you have that skill!). Essentially commercial awareness is your understanding of how the industry you are considering works, and how it is affected by what is going on in the world. As an international student, you are in a unique position to talk about an industry from a UK perspective but also from the viewpoint of your home country. You may not know much about it at the moment, but I bet you could call on friends or family members at home to help you find out more. This will allow you to impress employers with your international commercial awareness! We are experts on commercial awareness within Career Zone and can teach you how to improve yours (search for upcoming workshops on Handshake). Our Sector Research pages are also a great starting point.

Resilience

As an international student, you have a lot to cope with- living far from your loved ones, managing your finances, and navigating the visa regulations (don’t forget there is a lot of help available at Exeter from International Student Support). I am convinced you have the resilience of a rubber band (i.e. a lot!).

The reason you get rejected may not be the one you think 

I hope I have convinced you that you have brilliant skills- my final point is one that applies to all students, revealed by the Institute of Student Employers in 2021.

The most common reasons that stop students from getting the jobs that they apply for

This chart shows that it is not a lack of work experience, or your grades that lead to an application being rejected. It’s actually your ability to write an application in the style that UK employers are looking for. Just like learning to write in English, or learning how a UK essay is written, the process of writing a tailored UK job application is a technique. Very few people write in this style naturally. It’s an approach to writing that we can teach you. Once you understand how to do it, your success rate will increase. That’s why we run regular workshops on tailoring your applications (bookable via Handshake) provide online resources and also 1-2-1 appointments where you can get feedback on your application before you submit.

If you want to understand more about what UK employers want, why not get involved in the many opportunities we provide for you to meet them? Come along to a careers fair, employer-led event or form a more personal relationship with a professional through our Career Mentor scheme– these are brilliant ways to really gain understanding of how to impress UK employers as an international graduate.

Employability Monsters – challenge your employability barriers with Lego® Serious Play

Employability Monsters

Kate Foster is Career Consultant (Widening Participation) and Career Coach (Early Career Researchers) at University of Exeter. 

Background to the Employability Monsters Project

Last summer the Career Zone was lucky enough to secure a small research grant from the Centre for Social Mobility. We knew that students from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups often face barriers in developing their employability, and that the current global pandemic may have created even bigger gaps for these students. Research from the social mobility charity – UpReach (July 2019) highlighted the challenges students from less privileged backgrounds face; ‘(they) have more limited access to careers advice at school, are less likely to have completed professional work experience and lack useful social networks.’

With the funding secured we therefore had a fantastic opportunity to research and to focus on particular underrepresented groups of undergraduates – those in receipt of Access to Exeter bursaries, BAME, Disabled, Care Leavers /estranged and mature students. In particular we wanted to find out from these groups:

  • The challenges and barriers they faced with the development of their employability and career plans
  • How the Career Zone could further develop support to better equip these students to overcome these barriers and challenges – and to encourage them to engage with our range of services.

So how did we do it?
We wanted to make the online experience as engaging and creative as possible, so rather than the traditional focus group format we used the Lego Serious Play® methodology. Participants received individual packs of Lego® to enable them to build individual and shared models which represented the challenges they faced, plus the support that would enable them to overcome barriers with their employability.

The use of experiential methodology centred on liminality research (Hawkins & Edwards 2015, 2017). Experiencing liminality in a workshop through “hands on” activities e.g.,/building representations of “monsters” would offer the students the opportunity to explore challenges, barriers, try out new ideas and identities and reflect on their experiences both individually and with others.

In addition to playing with Lego® (!) students also completed questionnaires and polls asking about the range of employability support they had engaged with to date, plus they all had opportunity to receive a Personal Employability Report (managed up our charity partner upReach), to help them identify strengths and potential areas of development.

Yana is 2nd year Law student who took part. “I have found it highly enjoyable to participate in Employability Monsters in my first year of Uni. As a mature student, I have encountered numerous difficulties researching and planning my career. This is where Employability Monsters have come to the rescue and taught me how to embrace the challenge and build on my strengths. How? By taking a very creative approach: Lego bricks! Throughout the project, I have met many wonderful people from across different faculties, with whom we shared our struggles and uncertainties, faced the fear of barriers to workplace and inspired each other to discover different paths to success.”

Example Monster – build a model that represents the barriers and challenges you face in your employability. “The bricks form a wall, these are barriers to my employability. The red transparent brick represents communication difficulties, like seeing things through a lens”.

What did we find out?
Working closely with 32 x 1st and final year UG across all our campuses – Exeter and Cornwall – the following key findings/themes emerged from the students in terms of challenges and the support that would help them with their employability:
– the need to further develop employability and softer skills
– finance was a barrier to securing professional experiences eg. internships
– an increased in depth knowledge of the graduate level recruitment process
– to gain advice from both peers and career mentors who have similar lived experiences
– the lack of knowledge of the support available to help them with their employability and career planning

What next?
As a direct result of the Project I am pleased to say that a web page is about to be launched – Careers Support | Widening participation student support | University of Exeter which details (in one place!) all the help and support available to students from underrepresented groups – (including funding to set up internships through the Access to Internship scheme. The peer mentoring scheme for students receiving the Access to Exeter Bursary has further developed with final and second year Bursary students “mentoring” 1st years.

The Projects not stopping there though – we’re going from strength to strength! The Team has funding to work with the original participants (some who have now Graduated) plus 100 more undergraduate students this year. So if you’d like to join the conversation and make a difference we’d love to hear from you. Find out more about the Project and how to register here. PS – you’ll get a bag of Lego® and a £10 voucher for taking part!

WikiJob’s Guide to Psychometric Tests

WikiJob is a great resource we frequently signpost students and graduates to. In this guest post they break down their top tips for acing all kind of psychometric tests. 

Effective preparation is the key to putting in your best performance, as well as calming your nerves.

If you’re applying for a graduate scheme, work placement or internship, you’ll likely be asked to complete one or more psychometric test as part of the process – but don’t be daunted by this. It’s standard practice, and the right preparation will help you take it confidently in your stride.

What Are Psychometric Tests? 

Psychometric tests are a form of scientific assessment widely used in recruitment. They are designed to give employers an indication of how suitable you are for a role based on your cognitive abilities and/or personality traits. For undergraduate and graduate positions, they’re just one part of a wider hiring process, used alongside interviews and assessment centres. The type of tests you’ll be asked to complete will be dictated by the type of role you’re applying for, but most employers will use a combination of test types:

Aptitude Tests

These are a measure of your natural reasoning capabilities. They not only tell the employer if you have the required aptitude for the job but also give a good indication of how you’re likely to perform in the future. They require no pre-existing knowledge, but rather test you on a range of innate strengths, including:

  • Numerical reasoning – These determine your ability to work with data in a work-based context. You’ll be asked to interpret information presented in tables, charts and graphs.
  • Verbal reasoning – Here you’ll work with written information, applying critical analysis to identify assumptions and inferences, evaluate arguments, and draw evidence-based conclusions.
  • Logical reasoning – These are a measure of your problem-solving skills and generally involve working with shapes, patterns and sequences. They come in various forms including abstract, inductive and diagrammatic reasoning.
  • Spatial reasoning – Another test of your problem-solving ability, here you’ll need to mentally manipulate 2D and 3D objects.
  • Error checking – These test attention to detail by asking you to spot check information to highlight inaccuracies at speed.

Behavioural Tests

Employers use behavioural tests to determine how well your character suits both the role and the organisation and to evaluate how you’re likely to perform in various workplace situations.

The two most common types here are:

  • Personality tests – These usually take the form of a self-report questionnaire and are used to assess your behavioural styles and working preferences. For example, you may be asked to state where you sit on a scale between preferring to work under specific instruction or autonomously.
  • Situational judgement tests – Here you’ll work through various workplace scenarios, selecting what you deem as the most appropriate response.

What’s the Best Way to Prepare for an Aptitude Test?

  • Find Out Who the Test Provider Is. There are a lot of aptitude test publishers out there – you may have heard of names like SHL, Talent Q and Kenexa – each with their own variation of style and format. Knowing who the test provider is will allow you to be specific with your preparation.
  • Familiarise Yourself with the Different Questions Types. Most aptitude tests are multiple-choice, but contain a range of question types. Here, questions may assess your language comprehension, critical thinking or understanding of word relationships. The more familiar you are with each question type (and what it’s asking of you) the quicker you’ll be able to respond. Try taking a verbal reasoning test as an example.

Build on Your Skills

  • Aptitude tests are a measure of natural ability, but that’s not to say you can’t improve on your skills.
  • Extend your vocabulary, read texts with a critical eye, brush up on basic arithmetic – you can even use brain training apps to strengthen your logical thinking. Just like physical exercise, this kind of effort will improve performance.

Take Practice Tests

  • You’ll find plenty of these online. Take them at regular intervals and be sure to monitor your scores. This will boost your confidence as you see your performance improve, and help identify any areas that need more work.
  • Don’t Neglect Your Weaknesses. Avoid the temptation to practice more of what you’re good at, even if it does make preparation more fun. You want to put in a good all-round performance, so make sure you give your weaknesses ample attention too.

Work Against the Clock

  • Aptitude tests are typically timed, with your final score a combination of accuracy and speed.
  • Rather than attempting to complete the assessment in full, the trick is to find your optimum pace. Taking practice tests in timed conditions will help you here.

Be at Your Best on Test Day

  • For full concentration, make sure you’re both mentally and physically prepared.
  • Get a good night’s sleep, eat well, and keep yourself hydrated.

What’s the Best Way to Prepare for a Behavioural Test?

  • Behavioural tests differ from aptitude tests in that there are no right or wrong answers. What the employer is looking for is a true reflection of who you are.
  • You can of course prepare for these tests by looking at organisational values and analysing the person specification. However, honesty is the best approach.
  • Culture fit works both ways and if you try and cheat a behavioural test you may end up working in a role ill-suited to your character.
  • What’s more, your test results may prove inconsistent with how you perform in the rest of the selection process.
  • When taking either a personality or situational judgement test, don’t overthink things – respond instinctively. If the role on offer is indeed the right one for you, your honesty will pay off.

Conclusion

Psychometric tests give employers an objective way of assessing candidate suitability, and they allow you to prove your skills in action. In the graduate job market, there’s often little to differentiate between candidates – your test results are a chance to stand out from the crowd. Following the steps laid out here; effective preparation is the key to putting in your best performance, as well as calming your nerves.

If you’re looking for more help, our own ‘Help with Assessment Centres and Psychometric Testing’ pages are a great place to start. 

My ‘with Employment Experience’ in Spain

Emily Worgan is a Final Year student studying BA History and Ancient History with Employment Experience, at the University of Exeter.

Emily Worgan is a Final Year student studying BA History and Ancient History with Employment Experience, at the University of Exeter. She talked to us about what it was like living and working in Spain, and the unexpectedly powerful impact it had on her life. 

Humanities undergraduates can gain work experience across a wide range of sectors as part of their degree on programmes such as ‘with Employment Experience’ or the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module. If you’re a Humanities student and want to find out more about work placements head to: https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/careers/undergraduatestudents/   

When I had decided to include ‘with employment experience’ in my degree, I hadn’t expected to be where I am now. I had always been keen to live and work abroad at some point in my life, with aspirations to practice my less than mediocre language skills and push myself out of my comfort zone. However, when I attended a placement fair at university in my second year, I had looked at domestic placements, being anxious about actually deciding to apply for a placement abroad. I looked on Handshake, in newsletters, on websites and more. However, after not finding anything which really excited me, I was introduced to the British Council, an organisation which aims to promote the English language and British culture. The British Council has a program which allows people to be placed in other countries as a language assistant, teaching a range of ages and in a variety of locations.

“Due to the pandemic and Brexit, it was hit or miss as to whether I would or even could carry out my placement, yet, in September 2020, I took my first solo flight to Madrid and then travelled on to Soria to start my experience.”

I had originally wanted to apply to France, as I had taken a module of French and wished to develop my language skills further. However, it was required to have a B1 level of French in order to apply, and I had A2. Therefore, I looked to apply to Spain, where it was not a requirement to know the language to a high level. I have never truly studied Spanish, yet wished to really push myself (which, in hindsight, was absolutely mad!).

The application process was fairly simple and the university was a great support when it came to the personal statement and reference. When the pandemic happened, I was convinced that the program would not continue and that I would have to carry out my ultimate year of my degree instead. However, the British Council decided to continue with the program and informed me that I had been successful in my application in June.

Due to the pandemic and Brexit, it was hit or miss as to whether I would or even could carry out my placement, yet, in September 2020, I took my first solo flight to Madrid and then travelled on to Soria to start my experience.

“…don’t be disappointed if you feel scared or homesick when you first arrive – it is normal… Be kind to yourself and recognise that this is just another challenge to overcome!”

The first night was the hardest and I had considered giving up, however I persevered and day-by-day being away from home became easier. I had amazing support from people in Soria that I had met online and my colleagues were incredibly helpful during those first days. The most important thing to remember when you take on an experience like this, is that it is going to be hard at first but it definitely gets easier. So, don’t be disappointed if you feel scared or homesick when you first arrive- it is normal. Once you get past your first few days, you can be proud that you overcame the panic and then look forward to the amazing experience that you will have. Be kind to yourself and recognise that this is just another challenge to overcome!

Now, over a year later, my experience since that night has been the most incredible of my life. I have never felt so independent, confident and proud. It has certainly been hard – I have had problems processing paperwork, finding somewhere to live and not knowing the language is difficult. However, now I know more, especially in terms of the language, and have incredible support from friends and co-workers here. I have met people from France, the US, China, and Ecuador, not to mention those from all over Spain! I have had several opportunities to visit beautiful places such as Segovia, Léon and Zaragoza, and try new foods and truly experience Spanish culture. I have a say ‘yes’ policy in which I push myself to experience more, despite being anxious. This policy has allowed me to have the best time!

“Now, over a year later, my experience since that night has been the most incredible of my life. I have never felt so independent, confident and proud.”

Working in a primary school in a small village has definitely been a positive experience. Teaching these children and communicating with them has allowed me to make decisions on my future career path. We learn from each other, and every day at work feels like I am in class as well. The staff have been so welcoming and supportive, and many are now my friends. To share my culture and experiences with the children and add to their curiosity has made me very happy! I hope to have had a positive impact on these children’s lives by the end of my placement. I can truly say that I look forward to going to work!

“When I return to University, I know that I will carry this experience for the rest of my life and that if I can get through this, then I can be truly proud of myself.”

So, when I think back to when I had applied to do a with employment experience, this outcome was not what I had in mind. I had expected to have either a placement in the UK or France, and living normally, without a pandemic. But now, I have lifelong friends, an international family and an experience that has made me understand the importance of independence. When I return to University, I know that I will carry this experience for the rest of my life and that if I can get through this, then I can be truly proud of myself.

Alumni Profile – Alla Alexeeva, Finance Controller, Chanel

Alla Alexeeva graduated from the University of Exeter with an MSc Accounting and Finance, 2010. She’s currently Finance Controller (Russia & CIS), Chanel 

Alla Alexeeva, University of Exeter alumn, and current Finance Controller (Russia & CIS), Chanel

Where do you currently live and work? 

I live in Russia. I started my career in the beauty industry when I joined L’Oreal as an Intern just after graduation and was promoted to the position of Budget Controller within a couple of months. Now, I am working as a Finance Controller within the biggest business divisions at Chanel Russia & CIS and managing a team of three finance analysts.

Why did you choose to pursue this career?

My current job is very business oriented. It requires a lot of communication skills. My colleagues not only work in Russia, but also in Paris, London and NYC.

And for those less familiar with the term, what is a Finance Controller?

A Finance Controller is a business-oriented role. A person in this position would be responsible for strategic planning and budgeting, reporting, business analysis and finance key performance indicators.

“My advice on becoming more employable would be to never stop believing in yourself… Being confident and hard-working got me to where I am.” 

 Why did you choose to study at the University of Exeter?

I chose to study at the University of Exeter as it was in the Top 10 rankings in the Times and the Guardian when I started to look for the right place to study. The University provided very comfortable accommodation for international students and the city had good infrastructure. I would definitely recommend a Masters at Exeter due to all the new knowledge I gained, the friendly atmosphere, great networking opportunities among alumni, and the wonderful experience of living abroad in a very cosy city with great history and many places to explore.

Why did you choose your particular degree subject?

I chose to study this subject because I enjoyed studying economics in my bachelors degree and the programme suited these skills.

 How did your degree help you prepare for the position you are in now?

The Business School gave me a lot of practice in building strong relationships with people from different countries who spoke other languages. This is a beneficial skill for all young professionals starting their career in any field.

“While studying at University, I attended numbers of career events, which helped me in the future to do my best during the interviews and throughout the application process.”

Please tell us about the application process for your graduate job, and how you prepared and/or managed this?

I started the process when I was writing my dissertation in the library. I initially planned to apply for an internship with L’Oreal UK, but there were no vacancies. So, I sent my CV to L’Oreal Russia. I finished my dissertation in the middle of September in Exeter and joined the L’Oreal office in Moscow starting from 1st of November. The whole of October was dedicated to interviews and assessment days.

Did you use the Career Zone whilst at Exeter? If so, what especially helped?

While studying at University, I attended numbers of career events, which helped me in the future to do my best during the interviews and throughout the application process.

 What aspects of your UK university education worked in your favour during the application process?

It is compulsory to have an in-depth understanding of all international accounting standards while working as a Finance Controller. The knowledge I gained at University was a solid basis to develop my skills in this field.

“Many employers are searching for candidates with previous work experience – even for entry level positions. Therefore, I highly recommend starting internships and part-time jobs as soon as possible to be the first on the list for the best vacancies after graduation.”

What did you do at university that you think gave you a competitive advantage in the job market in your home-country?

I believe that my communication skills are excellent because I spent 2 years in the UK (1 year studying a pre-masters course in London, 1 year doing a Masters in University of Exeter Business School). It also helped me improve my self-confidence and endurance under stress. I also developed fluency in English, a deep knowledge of IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) and a particularly good command of Excel.

What were the biggest obstacles in gaining a graduate job in your home-country?

Many employers are searching for candidates with previous work experience – even for entry level positions. Therefore, I highly recommend starting internships and part-time jobs as soon as possible to be the first on the list for the best vacancies after graduation.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were applying for opportunities?

My advice for students would be to remember that if you are accepted on a course, you become an asset to the University. It is your right to make your University greater by achieving excellent academic results and taking a breath-taking career path.

What is your advice for any international student seeking a career in finance and wanting to follow a similar path to you?

My advice on becoming more employable would be to never stop believing in yourself. If somebody had told me ten years ago that I would hold one of the top positions in Finance at Chanel Russia, I would never believe them. Being confident and hard-working got me to where I am.

Our alumni networks are available to help you socially and professionally now and in the future. You can connect with them whilst you are a student to take advantage of their support when you are back home during holiday season, and of course, reach out to them when you graduate.

 The Alumni Office organise regular virtual employability events, which are a useful resource both for graduates and current students. For a full listing of events, please click here, and to watch historic records, please click here.

Alumni Profile – Fatima Hudoon, Freelance Journalist

Fatima Hudoon, University of Exeter Alumn and Freelance Journalist.

Fatima Hudoon graduated from the University of Exeter in BA Arabic with German and International Relations and Study Abroad (Jordan), 2019. She’s currently a Freelance Journalist.   

Fatima will be one of the speakers on our ‘Working in Journalism – Virtual Alumni Panel Event’ Tuesday, October 19th 2021, 17:30 – 18:45. Find out more and book your place https://app.joinhandshake.co.uk/events/12153

What have you been doing since leaving Uni, and what are you doing now?

A few months after leaving Exeter in 2019, I started working as an Early Career Journalist at The Bristol Cable, a local community-owned media outlet based in my home city. I was employed as part of a pilot scheme called the Early Career Journalism Placement that sought to give a paid work opportunity to upcoming journalists or those who want to give journalism a go. What was meant to be a five-month-long placement turned out to be a year and three-months-long. With no prior journalistic experience, I was trained up by Cable staff and received training from the Centre for Investigative Journalism. I quickly began pitching, researching, interviewing and writing my own stories. From both General and Local elections to the Covid-19 pandemic and co-launching a mental health series, I went on to cover a variety of stories for print and online. My placement ended in February 2021 I have been freelancing full-time ever since. I regularly write for the Bristol Cable as a freelancer and continued building on my freelancing portfolio for other publications, most recently BBC West. Alongside journalism, I also freelance as a social media manager for a local community organisation. I am currently focusing on my professional development undertaking training with the CIJ as a Lyra McKee Bursary recipient in data investigations and Tactical Tech’s Exposing the Invisible Institute.

“There’s always more to learn and that keeps the profession interesting. Most importantly, I get to tell underreported stories and hold institutions to account. It feels right for me.”

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

When I found out about the Bristol Cable EJC Placement, it had the right combination of research, analysis, writing, potential to use my language skills, and getting comprehensive training. These were all factors that were important to me. As I began doing my own reporting I realised journalism has a good range of variety and has plenty of opportunity to scale and mould the path in a way that works for you. Enjoy the job because it’s a challenge. There’s always more to learn and that keeps the profession always interesting. Most importantly, I get to tell underreported stories and hold institutions to account. It feels right for me.

What did you enjoy most about your course at Exeter, and what was the biggest highlight?

By far my Year Abroad in Jordan was my biggest highlight. I saw an exponential improvement in my Arabic, and even had opportunities to volunteer to put it to use and I made lifelong friends. It was also a year that made me realise that I wanted to learn languages as a means to achieve something rather than it being the end. And so after taking a sabbatical from my studies, I took on International Relations in my third year; the best decision I made.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

So far, my language skills have been a huge asset in my reporting. There were several times when I conducted interviews in Somali, German and Arabic. This not only better informed the respective stories but also helped give a voice to people who may otherwise not have their voices heard. Experiment with your writing skills and find your voice. As I start developing my data journalism skills, I realised that knowing a programming language is increasingly becoming a useful skill (though not necessary). I did the Institute of Coding’s Summer School programme for learning Python. If courses like that are still on offer for students I would encourage participation as tech skills are in increasing demand.

“There were several times when I conducted interviews in Somali, German and Arabic. This not only better informed the respective stories but also helped give a voice to people who may otherwise not have their voices heard. Experiment with your writing skills and find your voice.”

What are your plans for the future?

I’m still figuring this out but for now I’ll say it is to work as a foreign correspondent of some sort. Whether that’s in the UK working for a German or Arabic publication or abroad for a British paper. Either way, as long as I can use my languages in my journalistic work – and learn new ones if opportunities offer it – then I’ll be more than satisfied.

What advice would you give to a current student who’d like to get into journalism?

The obvious advice would be to get as much experience writing stories as possible – in whatever form writing, radio, TV. That can be the student newspaper, the local papers and/or setting up your own platform. If you’re going on a Year Abroad, think about what kind stories you could write from there. This will give you a good head start.

Get Paid Work Experience as an SCP or an SBP

Immy Kerr is currently undertaking a placement year with the University of Exeter (SCP) alongside her Liberal Arts degree. 

Immy Kerr, Second Year BA Liberal Arts student, employed on the SCP scheme

All students from all courses can apply for SCP and SBP roles, but at the University of Exeter, Humanities undergraduates can gain work experience across a wide range of sectors as part of their degree on programmes such as ‘with Employment Experience’ or the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module. If you’re a Humanities student and want to find out more about work placements head to: https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/careers/undergraduatestudents/   

My name is Immy, and I’m a Second Year student studying Liberal Arts, taking modules in English, Marketing and Politics. I chose to take the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module this year for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was keen to boost my CV, through both one-to-one tuition in creating a stand-out CV, as well as the valuable experience of the work placement itself. As well as a 40-hour placement, the module also teaches philosophical theories behind work and the workplace, real-life ethical issues, critical thinking, and the value and importance of humanities in a society in which it seems the arts are becoming increasingly redundant. This is not to mention that I am now earning money as part of my degree, which is definitely a perk!

“I am thoroughly enjoying my SCP internship: I am lucky to have a very friendly and supportive team and manager, my shift patterns break up studying very nicely, and the job is well paid.”

It goes without saying that any type of job or placement is particularly difficult to source during a pandemic, and it meant that I had to rethink my strategy when applying. Many big companies do not offer a 40-hour placement scheme, and small companies are struggling during this difficult economic climate, so I turned to county councils and charities since my interests lie in public service and corporate social responsibility. Again, this was not easy due to restrictions in face-to-face working. However after a helpful meeting with the university’s placement advisor Simon Allington, I started applying for University of Exeter internships which I found on Handshake. Here, they are categorised into SCP (Student Campus Partnership) which is an internship within the University, and SBP (Student Business Partnership), which is an internship with a local business, advertised to university students. I applied for an SCP job entitled Administrative Assistant for Access to Internships, which I was delighted to have been offered. I started the job in January and work remotely.

Although the placement specifies a minimum of 40 hours, my SCP job is a part-time 6-month contract (currently 7 hours per week increasing to 15 hours next term). My role is to assist in the administrative workings of a scheme called Access to Internships, a program that financially supports students in securing a UK internship. My tasks include sending confirmation emails to students and employees; transferring information between spreadsheets, vacancy forms and agreement forms; and sourcing information about local businesses amongst other general admin tasks. I am thoroughly enjoying my SCP internship: I am lucky to have a very friendly and supportive team and manager, my shift patterns break up studying very nicely, the job is very well paid, and it is very convenient that I am able to work from my laptop at home (although I am sad to be missing the full office experience!).

“I am learning valuable skills in my placement, such as time management, decision making, communication and IT skills, which will be transferable for any future workplace.”

After graduating, I hope to work in Civil Service, with a particular interest in the Ministry of Justice, or any area of government more broadly. I am learning valuable skills in my placement, such as time management, decision making, communication and IT skills, which will be transferable for any future workplace. My job also bears a link to social responsibility and public service since the goal of the Access to Internships scheme is to create a level playing field in order to create equal opportunities for students of all backgrounds. I would very much recommend the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module to all humanities students; it is a fantastic opportunity to gain extremely worthwhile experience alongside a degree which will most definitely be useful when searching for a job after graduating.

5 Quick and Easy Employability Tips for International Students

If you make the effort to interact in and out of class with a range of people you will really reap the rewards. Imagine applying for graduate roles and being able to talk confidently about your cultural intelligence and diverse perspectives!

Claire Guy is an Employability and Careers Consultant working with postgraduates in the Business School. She is currently developing a range of resources and support specifically for international students.  

As an international student, there’s a lot to think about and lots to do. You’ve been saving, planning, and packing for as long as you can remember and now you’re far from home, adjusting to a new style of teaching, possibly even in a language that isn’t your native tongue. Wow – You deserve a huge round of applause for all you’ve achieved so far.

Perhaps you’re looking forward to things calming down with less on your mind, and the chance to focus on your studies. It might surprise you that we are already asking you to think about your future and to start preparing for a career after your studies. It might feel a little overwhelming! But what if I could give you 5 tips which won’t take a lot of effort, but will make a huge difference for your future success?

“What if you could focus your time on the 20% of possible actions that will give you 80% of the impact for career success?” 

You may have heard of the 80:20 rule, or the Pareto Principle. Developed by an economist in 1895, the rule demonstrates that 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your time and effort. Let’s apply this to your time at Exeter and your future career. What if you could focus your time on the 20% of possible actions that will give you 80% of the impact for career success? Here are 5 simple things you can do that bring huge results!

1 Immerse yourself in cultural learning: Employers worldwide are realising that diverse workforces are great for business. They want to employ people who think differently and approach things from a range of perspectives. Diversity brings a huge range of benefits such as increased innovation, creativity, and happier employees. International students like you naturally bring culturally diverse perspectives but you can add even more impact, when you combine this with combine this with cultural intelligence. Cultural Intelligence is the ability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations. It’s about crossing cultural boundaries and thriving in multiple cultures. Someone who has cultural intelligence is not just an observer of different cultures – they are able to culturally adapt and work together with people across a variety of cultural contexts. This cultural intelligence will impress UK employers, employers in your home country and anywhere else in the world you choose to go! The University of Exeter is a proudly international institution, with staff and students from more than 130 countries giving you endless opportunities to interact with different cultures. We know that this can feel scary and that it can feel more comfortable to make friends with other students from your home country but if you make the effort to interact in and out of class with a range of people you will really reap the rewards. Imagine applying for graduate roles and being able to talk confidently about your cultural intelligence and diverse perspectives! Say yes to as many opportunities to mix with others as possible.

“The University of Exeter is a proudly international institution, with staff and students from more than 130 countries giving you endless opportunities to interact with different cultures.”

2 Develop skills outside of your studies: Whether you plan to work in the UK after your studies, or return home, employers will want to hear about the skills you have developed whilst you were a student at Exeter. In fact, if you plan to remain in the UK to work, it is important for you to know that many UK employers value skills over and above your academic achievements. In fact, growing numbers of graduate employers are removing academic grades from their entry requirements as they have found that skills are a much better predictor of a graduate’s ability to perform well in a job than their academic grade. Employers don’t mind where your skills come from so you have lots of options: pick from volunteeringjoining a societytaking part in a sport, getting a casual / part time job, or doing an internship. If you have limited time available, you might want to be strategic about which skills you need to develop and focus on activities which target those skills. Carrying out a “skills-gap analysis” will help you be strategic- a) study a career profile or search graduate vacancies that interest you and b) make a list of the skills needed. Then c) assess your own skills. Focus on developing the skills that you need for the career(s) / vacancies that interest you, but which aren’t very strong yet! Don’t forget to be mindful of your visa in terms of how many hours a week you can do certain activities. If you are considering taking up volunteering or unpaid work please refer to the International Student Support pages to check what is considered as volunteering or voluntary work.

“Whether you plan to work in the UK after your studies, or return home, employers will want to hear about the skills you have developed whilst you were a student at Exeter.”

3 Be informed: If you plan to stay in the UK after your studies to work, you will need to understand how the job market works in the UK. There are likely to be differences between the UK and how things are done back at home. For example, the graduate recruitment cycle in the UK starts early. This means that jobs which start in June / July or August open for applications in the previous September and close between Nov-Jan. So, if you want a place on a graduate scheme, you will need to be ready to apply almost a whole year before your course finishes. It may be that CVs, application letters, video interviews and other parts of the application process are different from what you may have experienced in your home country. That’s why Career Zone is available for you, with lots of virtual help as well as help in person. We can help teach you all about working in the UK, as well as helping on a practical level. You may find our bespoke programmes, India Career Ready or China Career Ready helpful too.

“If you plan to stay in the UK after your studies to work, you will need to understand how the job market works in the UK. There are likely to be differences between the UK and how things are done back at home.”

4 Build networks: If you follow the advice here so far, you will meet a lot of new people! Keep in touch with them, you never know when you may be able to help them or they may be able to help you. The people you meet now are the ones who are or will be in a position to help you out professionally in the future. You are connected through your shared experiences, which means they are much more likely to want to help you, especially if you have been helpful in the past.  Students often feel that they don’t have much to offer anyone at this early point in their career, yet doing small, helpful things can really have an impact for others. Promoting projects and events that other people are organising or involved in, introducing people to one another, or sharing your experiences can be so useful for your peers. Sharing that you were rejected for a role you really wanted because you didn’t complete an online test within the required 5-day period for example, might help someone else to avoid the same mistake. The more helpful you can be, the more you’ll be seen as a valuable connection. LinkedIn is a brilliant tool to keep in touch with your network.

“Students often feel that they don’t have much to offer anyone at this early point in their career, yet doing small, helpful things can really have an impact for others.”

5 Improve your English: If you follow tips 1-4, your English will already have improved a lot! It’s worth knowing that UK employers expect very good spoken English from international applicants, so if your English still needs some improving, INTO at Exeter offer lots of support.

Read more about the help we offer to International students or listen to our podcast