Pathways to International Trade

Federico Aulizio
Federico Aulizio

Federico Aulizio is a current BSc Politics and International Relations with Study Abroad student. Last Summer Vacation he took part in Exeter’s Pathways to International Trade programme; bringing together talented students and SMEs, alongside training from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).

What is Pathways to International Trade?

The programme consisted of two parts; the first one was a week of training where professional trade advisors from UKTI came to Exeter and taught us a range of topics, including digital marketing and its influence on the present day, and the importance of cultural understanding when entering an international market.  The second part was an internship where we applied what we learned in the training to the tasks given to us by our assigned clients.

Why did you get involved?

I’m currently a student in International Relations and I wanted an insight on the PR and business side of things. It hasn’t helped specifically for my initial career idea, but it has certainly helped me expand my possible careers plans; as a student, I can’t be closed to ideas or be smallminded. This internship showed me and my fellow interns that expanding our insight can be scary since you may not be completely familiar with the topic or tasks, but at the end of the day it’s worth it.

How did you find the selection process?

Different (in a great way)! There is nothing that gives more relief to a student than realising that your face-to-face interview for the internship ends up being a series of collective activities with people that are there for the same reason as you. Other than being an engaging and thought-provoking exercise, it was an entertaining activity where you would meet your future intern mates and have a taste of the friendly atmosphere you were about to enter.

What did you think of the training?

Having finished my First Year a couple days before the training began, the last thing I wanted was to sit in a room for hours and listening to people lecture me on marketing and trading. But that was the complete opposite of what happened. Yes, there was some sitting involved, but the organisation, mechanics and interactive part of each day made it feel less like a lecture hall. The speakers were very knowledgeable with real life experience and made me feel more equipped for the workforce.

How was your internship? What did you do, and what did you take away from it?

I feel absolutely confident this internship went well. The program itself is closely linked, if not operated, by UKTI which is a quite influential and important branch of the UK government. Therefore, having done an internship with them is great for my CV.

My tasks consisted of finding my client’s competitors for that specific market in a specific country and compared them to my client. I researched the trade laws in the countries assigned and examined them to see if they could impact my client’s products in anyway. Finally, I researched the best possible way for my client to advertise their product using social media and/or hard advertising.

A word for future candidates for this scheme?

Well, my memory would say to do it for the free Domino’s at the end of the training! But my conscious however, would say to do it for your future. It may not be what you want to do in the years to come, but it is certainly a big step in expanding your horizon. It can open doors that you thought would remain closed for a long time, if not forever. It doesn’t cost you anything to try. If you see it doesn’t fit you, you leave with your mouth stuffed with pizza and your pockets filled with a great experience and memories.

Applications for the 2017 Pathways to International Trade programme open January 2017.

Loved my Degree, Love my Job

Simon Brooker is Head of Loans at giffgaff money. He graduated from Exeter with a BA in History and Politics. He talked to us about how his time at Exeter has influenced his career.

How was your university experience at Exeter?

The university experience was fantastic, both from a social and academic perspective. Being part of a campus-based university in a small city meant that you got to know a range of people, some of whom became great friends.

Simon Brooker
Simon Brooker

What did you study at university and what impact did it have on your career path?

I studied a BA Combined Honours degree in History and Politics, which of course is a natural precursor to any career in financial services! During my time at university, I didn’t really know where my career would lead, but I’ve found that my degree gave me the ability to digest and critique information and structure rational arguments based on that information so it has served me very well.

How did your experience at Exeter shape your career and you as a person?

It definitely made me a more confident person, with greater belief in my own abilities. It also shaped my way of thinking as well as presenting structured points of view.

Did you take part in any extracurricular activities or societies whilst at university? If so, did you learn any valuable skills from them?

I played rugby for the three years with University of Exeter Rugby Club, so I gained all the teamwork and comradery experience that university sports clubs help develop.

“Believe in your own abilities and keep your mind open to new and sometimes scary but exciting opportunities.”

Did you undertake any work experience before starting your career? If so, what was it and has it benefitted you in your career?

Nothing notable apart from the usual work to earn money while studying. What was more beneficial was that I worked while travelling, so arriving in different countries and finding work opened me up to a number of contrasting experiences. Going through the 2008 financial crisis was certainly challenging but I managed to develop the skills and ability needed to move forward in my career.

How did you get into your current role?

After travelling and living in Australia I got a job with Legal & General Bank in my home city of Cardiff, this was my first introduction to financial services. From then I’ve worked in a range of roles, primarily in the lending and insurance industry, in both operational and development roles. Recently I have focussed in start-up enterprises, looking at ways to broaden the depth of lending to individuals and businesses as well as supporting the growth of brands into financial services.

“I’ve found that my degree gave me the ability to digest and critique information and structure rational arguments.”

What are your main responsibilities?

Product pricing, credit risk, managing third-party relationships, and compliance, along with the common day-to-day operations of working in an office.

What is the most challenging part of your current role?

Dealing with multiple challenges of building a brand, day-to-day trading and developing long-term strategies. There can be conflicts between these goals at times and balancing them can give rise to several challenges, both big and small.

What advice would you give current Exeter students, whether it be career advice or life advice?

Don’t get too stressed about your career when you’re at university. It’s easy to get caught up in the stories of friends and acquaintances getting fantastic jobs and careers; invariably you will find your own way. Believe in your own abilities and keep your mind open to new and sometimes scary but exciting opportunities.

What was the best part about being at Exeter university?

The community feel to the university, knowing lots of people around campus, developing life-long friendships, going to Timepiece after a good rugby win, and the Lemmy on a Saturday night!

Entrepreneurial Skills in the Workplace and Beyond

When we talk about skills like creative planning, sustainability, project management and corporate social responsibility it’s easy to think that these skills are only needed if you’re starting your own business. However, evidence has proven that this isn’t the case and that more and more market-leading businesses are employing graduates that can demonstrate these skills in the workplace; we call this ‘intrapreneurship’. Tom Crosswell, Enterprise GBP tells us more.

Think Try Do
Think Try Do

The Think, Try, Do programme is there to help you develop these essential skills. Through workshops, guest speakers, panel discussions and more, the programme helps guide you through our three stages: Think – what are these skills and how do we put them into practice within the workplace and outside of it? Try – One to one meetings with advisors to help you develop a start-up idea and competitions that allow you to try out the skills developed in the previous stage. Do – meet other budding entrepreneurs, bespoke in-house business support and access to funding to fuel your start up. Think, Try, Do sessions also count towards your Exeter Award so you really do get the most out of every session. You can find out more about Think, Try, Do and book yourself onto a session by visiting our microsite at

This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week, thousands of events and competitions will be run across over one hundred countries, the sheer scale of the week really goes to show just how important these skills are to universities and businesses. Think, Try, Do will be running numerous sessions, workshops and a panel discussion throughout the week and there’s something on offer for everyone.

Ever thought about starting your own website? Join us on Tuesday and Wednesday evening when we will be hosting Dan Wiseman of Webwise media, an expert in web design and e-commerce. Want to hear about how entrepreneurial skills have impacted our alumni in their start-up journeys or their work with businesses? Come along to our panel discussion with speakers including General Manager of Deliveroo, Jeremey Rawlinson, Venture Capitalist Richard Blakesley plus more to be confirmed. The talk will be followed by a Q&A and the opportunity to network. You can check out the full list of events by clicking here.

The week culminates with the second Exeter Start-up Weekend and Global Battle. Over 54 hours you have the chance to pitch and work on your start-up idea alongside technologists, entrepreneurs, designers, developers and other experts to work on providing real solutions to the world’s problems. There are a wealth of prizes on offer and expert help at hand to make sure that you can make the most of this exciting opportunity. Interested? Click on the here to find out more and book your place.

Start Your Career with Sprint

Last year, the Career Zone was pleased to launch Sprint – personal and professional development programme for women. The course is aimed at supporting women to achieve their aims and aspirations, develop confidence and networks. To find out more about the programme we asked two previous participants to share their experiences with us.

Alexandra (3rd Year Flexible Combined Honours with Study Abroad) 

Alexandra McLeod
Alexandra McLeod

‘I found the Sprint course to be completely different to any area of academic study or society event I have participated in at university. It didn’t feel like a lesson or lecture but more of a group discussion on issues we were interested in. I did not contribute that much at first but soon became the most confident member of my group and thoroughly enjoyed the presentation that we did to a friendly panel that were not there to judge us, but were genuinely interested in our career aspirations.

One of my favourite activities was when we had to talk for 2 minutes on an ‘unimportant’ or ‘boring’ subject. Some people went with the weather, I chose the Kardashians. The group had to then become disinterested within 30 seconds and completely ignore you after 1 minute, whilst you kept talking – it’s a lot harder than it sounds! This provided me with a new skill in learning to keep to a concise topic, as well as knowing when to change the subject, especially in interview situations.

I learnt so many new skills such as breathing exercises and relaxation techniques before an exam or interview. It was also liberating to talk freely about things that you were passionate about, or in contrast things that really annoyed you, without being judged as it was accepted that everyone has different opinions.

It was such a friendly and positive atmosphere and I believe is the type of session we should be doing at a much younger age in order to develop confidence.’

“A small change of perspective has made a great impact on my future. I hope other young women benefit from the same opportunity to participate in this life-changing program.”

Catherine (4th Year BA International Relations, Chinese & TESOL) 

Catherine Arnold
Catherine Arnold

‘I participated in the Sprint program in my fourth year of studying International Relations, Chinese and TESOL at the University of Exeter.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I signed up to the Sprint programme, but thought it might enhance my employability in an increasingly competitive world of work. The Sprint programme went far beyond that, allowing me to develop personally as well as professionally. Sprint taught me to live my life with confidence and assertiveness, having pride in my achievements and striving for the full extent of my potential.  

I will continue to take the confidence and skills I have gained from Sprint forwards into my Masters study of Water Science, Policy and Management at the University of Oxford, and also in my personal life. A small change of perspective has made a great impact on my future. I hope other young women benefit from the same opportunity to participate in this life-changing program.’

You can find out more about Sprint, including how to apply via our webpage. If you have any questions, please ask the team a question via My Career Zone.

National Insurance Numbers Explained

Shamus Lee, Career Zone staff and current Exeter student
Shamus Lee, Career Zone staff and current Exeter student

Hello, I’m Shamus Lee, International Student UK Employment Adviser in the Career Zone. I’m also a current BSc Economics student at Exeter. 

If you’re a non-home student who wants to work in the United Kingdom (UK), you may have heard the term ‘National Insurance’.

So, what is National Insurance? Everyone who wants to work in the UK will need a National Insurance (NI) number to pay social security contributions. This NI contribution will qualify the contributor to state benefits and pension. So yes – you will need one if you intend to work part-time, do an internship or get a graduate role in the UK. However, you will only start paying contributions if you earn more than £155 a week. For more information on NI numbers, visit:

Who needs one? Everyone (home, EEA, international residents) who work in the UK will need a NI number to pay the contribution. If you’re born in the UK, you will automatically receive one. If you’re not born in the UK, then you would need to apply for one.

Is the application for a NI free, and how do I get one? Application for NI number is FREE: You do not need to pay to get a NI number. Follow the instructions on our website to apply for your NI number.

Can I work without one? Yes, you can, but many employers will request it at later stage. You can start employment without one, but it’s always better to have it ready. This number follows through your life, so even if you come back to work in the UK 10 years later, you will still use the same number.

What happens during the telephone interview? Don’t worry; it just involves some basic questions relating to yourself and your visa. At the end of the call, you’ll get a reference number – write it down!

What happens after the telephone interview? You should receive a package in your mailbox within two weeks. Fill in the documents and return to the address shown. After that, you may (or may not) be asked to drop by either of the Job Centres in Taunton or Plymouth to have your Visa or passport verified, and after that you’ll receive your NI number in your mailbox.

How long does the application take? The entire process from the phone call to receiving a NI number can take up to six weeks.

Still need help? Drop by the Career Zone, or one of the Hubs to speak to any of our friendly staff, and we’ll be more than happy to guide you through the process.