Flora Stewart – Community Wellbeing Champion

Flora Stewart is Community Wellbeing Champion for Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity. In 2016 she graduated from the University of Exeter in BA Sociology and Anthropology.

Flora Stewart, Community Wellbeing Champion for Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity.

Thinking about careers can sometimes feel overwhelming, so this week we’re partnering with our friends in Wellbeing to bring you a range of career-focused sessions on the topics you’ve told us are the most stressful.

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

I graduated from Exeter in 2016, and started working part time at Marks and Spencer’s whilst volunteering with Young Carers, and gaining IT certificates as I wasn’t confident with Excel and wanted to apply for administrative positions.

I then started paid employment at Carers in Bedfordshire in December 2018 as Dementia Services Activity Organiser within which I carried out administrative duties, events and activity organisation, hosted events and activities, facilitated and led therapeutic and social sessions for people living with dementia and their family/friend carers. There was a lot of communication and liaison with other local charities, organisations and services including Age UK, Fire Service, and Memory Assessment Service.

I started a new role in March 2022 as Community Wellbeing Champion, delivering Social Prescribing in Bedford. I work for the charity Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BedsRCC) and am the Social Prescriber for two local surgeries, taking referrals from GPs and other healthcare professionals to help support people in linking them to their local community to help them improve their health and wellbeing. I completed a Foundation Certificate in Psychodynamic Counselling in July 2022. 

“I wanted the opportunity to support people to connect to their community and its projects, groups, services so that they can live as well as possible.”

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

Studying Sociology and Anthropology helped develop my understanding of the wider determinants of health and wellbeing. I wanted the opportunity to support people to connect to their community and its projects, groups, services so that they can live as well as possible. I have seen friends and family been discharged from the more traditional health services and not be given further support other than medication. Social Prescribing acknowledges that other changes can be made in a person’s live to improve their health and I think this holistic approach is logical and the future of healthcare and I wanted to be involved. 

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

Anthropology modules were so eye-opening and helped expand mindsets and question perspectives consistently. I enjoyed most when we were challenged to think differently about our culture in relation to other cultures, particularly when these challenges broke down ideas of Western ‘superiority’ or the idea of Western culture as the norm vs just one of the many cultures.

There were great opportunities for discussion particularly within modules run by Anthropology lecturer named Hannah (Human-Animal Interactions, my dissertation tutor) and Tom (first year core Anthropology modules lecturer). The fieldtrip to Skanda Vale Ashram was brilliant. 

Why did you choose to study at Exeter? 

I made a list of my top 5 options and put a tick against categories such as ‘social life’, ‘course’, ‘location’, ‘entry requirements’ and Exeter came out as having the most positive marks, so I put it as my first choice. I felt confident in the quality of teaching I would receive and the overall experience I would have, partly because of its status and also because of positive reviews on review sites and league tables. The city was somewhere my family had lived before and I knew one or two people who had gone to the University and had a positive experience. 

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

Cultural awareness and sensitivity particularly from Anthropology modules which gave a rich and varied opportunity to look outwardly at cultures different to that which I had grown up within but with plenty of opportunity to reflect inwardly at my own perceptions and viewpoints that I had gathered throughout life so far.

This has been very helpful because I work in a culturally diverse town with service users from many different backgrounds and walks of life. I feel open to listening to everyone as an individual, and make time for reflecting on my own interactions with the situation to make sure I acknowledge what I am aware of and what I need to work on in terms of my learning.

“By getting involved in opportunities such as Grand Challenges and The Exeter Award, I developed my interpersonal skills and this has been really useful for confidence with connecting with colleagues throughout my career so far.”

I feel studying modules including Disability and Society which introduced concepts such as ‘people are not disabled, it is their environment that disables them’ has been an ongoing encouragement to consider different angles when it comes to other people and my own wellbeing. By getting involved in opportunities such as Grand Challenges and The Exeter Award, I developed my interpersonal skills and this has been really useful for confidence with connecting with colleagues throughout my career so far. 

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

Make the most of opportunities for discussion and reflective thought within your modules to make sure you’re challenging your viewpoints, as you will need to be able to be open to new perspectives and ways of seeing the world in any job that is focussed on working with and supporting others.

Attend extra talks and lectures that interest you. If someone has an interesting job, ask them how they got there. Make the most of online learning options to boost your skills and knowledge such as FutureLearn. If you have time, get volunteering – anything and anything that sounds remotely interesting to you can leave you with a wealth of experiences to draw from.

“Learning to balance life and ‘work’/study is so useful for your future and especially in a line of work where you are hearing a lot of people’s struggles and challenges, you must have space outside of work that is for you and keeps you well whilst you are supporting others.”

I recommend all students treating their week like a working week and studying wherever suits you best roughly between 9-5 with a good lunch and coffee break or two. Then make the most of evenings and weekends to socialise and explore the beautiful city and surrounding areas you’re in! You will not regret it. Learning to balance life and ‘work’/study is so useful for your future and especially in a line of work where you are hearing a lot of people’s struggles and challenges, you must have space outside of work that is for you and keeps you well whilst you are supporting others.

Get involved in as many societies as you are interested in – especially in first and second years when you might have more time than final years. This is so you have chance to mix with people outside of your course and accommodation, and try out different interests – as you will want to do this throughout life.  

What are your plans for the future? 

I would like to learn British Sign Language and gain a TEFL qualification so that I can steer my career towards helping others communicate. I would then consider either teaching BSL / TEFL to others or using these skills, combined with my other job experiences, to work in advocacy or accessible counselling. 

Jingyi (Zoe) Jia, Management Consultant and Big Data Analyst at EY

Jingyi (Zoe) Jia, Management Consultant and Big Data Analyst at EY, and Exeter Alumn.

Hello everyone, my name is Jingyi (Zoe) Jia. I graduated from the University of Exeter in MSc Business Analytics this January. Before that, in 2020, I graduated from University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Commerce. I have a lot of stories to share with you as an International student who studied in both Canada and the UK. 

Being an International student means my life full of challenges and joy. As a Beijinger born and raised I am glad to experience different study and work experiences in diversified cultures.

I still remember how excited I was when I got my first job in Canada. It took a long time to find the job. After I wrote my CV, I revised it many times so that it was a good fit for the role. Researching the job description and preparing for the interviews, including mock interviews, were significant parts as well.

“Big Data and Machine Learning will be a major trend in business as all industries are working on digital transformation.”

My first full-time job was a logistics analyst in a packaging company at Vancouver, Canada. During that time, I was in charge of logistics procedures for all the orders. I discovered the extended possibilities of Big Data by using coding tools to predict the cost of logistics. Big Data and Machine Learning will be a major trend in business as all industries are working on digital transformation. Although I did not learn any technology in my Undergraduate, I made a decision to study in Business Analytics at Masters level.  

In January 2021 I joined the University of Exeter to study MSc Business Analytics. At the end of the program, I received and accepted an offer of Management Consultant role in digital transformation at Ernst & Young in February 2022. This position is the first full-time job after graduating from the Master’s program, which is a career transformation for myself.  

“The main duty of my job is designing models for financial clients (such as banks) to fulfil their need of digital transformation in marketing or management.”

My role is highly enjoyable. The main duty of my job is designing models for financial clients (such as banks) to fulfil their need of digital transformation in marketing or management. For example, if the client aims to expand their female market or improve the revenue from the female market, we will design the strategies, road map first and then help them achieve the goal by building prediction models. Through using technical models built by SQL and p

Python, the client can predict the AUM growth, the most relevant triggers that boost the sales, or even the best channel to promote currently.

I learnt about EY through the employer career session held at the University of Exeter, and applied this position through the EY website. The Career Zone provided me a great chance to talk with the HR from EY at the Career Fair. I learnt that EY provides a better work environment for women, something which is really important to me.

For me, working as a business consultant in digital transformation is a new start to improve my professional skills in both coding and consulting. I am so glad I can bring what I learnt from Exeter and keep learning the Business Analytics in the real practice.

“…a good consultant always learns and grows faster with strong logical and critical thinking.”

 I would advise new graduates or current students who plan to start the career with consulting to gain more internship experience in project management or business analyst roles. Consulting is a good sector to start the career since a good consultant always learns and grows faster with strong logical and critical thinking. For students who are interested in business analyst or data analyst, I would suggest them to obtain the coding skills such as SQL, Python and R Studios.  

Last but not the least, a good analyst should clearly know what can be predicted or recommended to the clients through the result shown by data. Unlike programmer or developer, business sense is also one of important parts of the duties for business analyst and data analyst.  

“Career planning is a continuous thing. Every step at University such as choosing your major or applying an internship could affect your career in future.”

 In the short term, I plan to work and keep learning in the same sector – digital transformation consulting. Currently, I am preparing PMP certificate to help myself work better on project management in the workplace. Being a professional consultant for technology needs the ability to work well with technology, but also need the ability to manage and solve the problems well by using these tools.

Career planning is a continuous thing. Every step at University such as choosing your major or applying an internship could affect your career in future. Don’t be panic about what to do, but aim for what you are interested in and aim towards it. 

In the long term, I would see myself to chase the trend of emerging technology and management in different industries. Let’s see where I will be in ten years! 

Top 5 Tips for Interview Success

Oliver Laity is the Careers Information and Systems Manager for the University of Exeter. As an experienced interviewer, and interviewee, he knows a lot about the peaks and pitfalls of interviews.

Oliver Laity, Careers Information and Systems Manager, experienced interviewer, and occasional German speaker.

Knowing that you’ve got a job interview coming up can feel daunting. If you’re lucky you might have a relatively simple recruitment process to deal with; you fill in a form, or email your CV and letter, and then you’re called for interview. But you might have to navigate tests, gamified selection ‘rounds’, assessment centres, and in my case finding your interviewer starts talking to you in German after you mentioned you were studying it at A-Level (thankfully 19 year old me was telling the truth and successfully landed the role).

If you get to the interview stage, well done. Depending on the competitiveness of the role, you can consider yourself to be in the top 5% of applicants, which should give you loads of confidence. Whatever comes next, your application has been a relative success, I want to you remember that.

So, let’s think about what you can control, and the art of the possible.

“If you get to the interview stage, well done. Depending on the competitiveness of the role, you can consider yourself to be in the top 5% of applicants.”

Your task is to do yourself justice in the interview, by portraying your true self, your skills, your achievements, and experiences in the best way you possibly can, which is not always easy.

As someone who’s interviewed hundreds of students and graduates for many different roles, there are a few key elements that I always look for, things that make a candidate stick in my mind (in a positive way). I’m looking for someone who can do the job well, but who also fits into the organisation’s ethos, and has something ‘extra’ to add to the team dynamic.

Whilst there’s no guarantee of success in any interview, here are five ways to ensure that you’re in the best position to succeed and portray the best version of yourself to employers.

One – Prepare yourself

Undertake your company research 

This can be done via Handshake, LinkedIn, or the organisation’s website. If the job advert offers an ‘informal discussion’ about the role, take it, but be prepared to ask sensible questions about the company and the role. Practice values matching; how do the values of the organisation match with your own? Will it make you proud to work there, and support the direction of growth that you’re looking for in your career?

In your company research, find out some killer stats about the organisation, the sector, and the external market within which they operate. If you aren’t directly asked a question about the context within which the company works, you’ll certainly have the opportunity to impress the interviewers by talking knowledgeably about the wider environment and circumstances affecting the company.

“As someone who’s interviewed hundreds of students and graduates for many different roles…I’m looking for someone who can do the job well, but who also fits into the organisation’s ethos, and has something ‘extra’ to add to the team dynamic.”

Fully understand the role

Read the job description and person specification fully. Check your understanding with trusted people around you so that there can be no misunderstandings, and if in doubt, contact the employer and ask for clarification.

Understand what’s likely to be assessed at interview. Not everything in the person specification will be ‘tested’ at interview. Traditionally your qualifications will have already been assessed at the application stage, so don’t expect to be quizzed on them. My tip would be to focus on the skills and experiences required, while demonstrating the personal attributes they’re asking for.

Two – Prepare yourself more

Once you’ve fully researched the role and the company, you need to start working on your answers.

Examples and possible responses

Consider answers for questions you could reliably predict. For example, if your company research uncovers an emphasis on teams, teamwork, team players, and talks about clients “as part of the team” along with a job description that cites similar, and an ‘essential’ related to teamwork in the person specification, then it’s very likely that this will come up at interview. You should think of at least two experience-based responses (commercially based if possible) in case one prepared response doesn’t exactly answer the question posed. Remember STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result/Response and tell the panel what you achieved and what you learned from that experience.

Understand arrangements for the day itself

Make sure you understand the travel plans, dress code, and timings (how long is the interview? If there’s an assessment, how long do you have?). Demonstrating that you’ve planned well and are able to deliver professionally can go a long way to impressing your interviewers and creating a great first impression. If you haven’t been told how long the interview is, or you’re unsure about the dress code etc., ask the employer! No one wants to recruit a person who doesn’t ask questions or check their information is correct.

“If your company research uncovers an emphasis on teams, teamwork, team players, and talks about clients “as part of the team” along with a job description cites similar, and an ‘essential’ related to teamwork in the person specification, then it’s very likely that this will come up at interview.”

Three – Practice

Practice your interview with your friends (and help them with theirs), and with trusted people whose opinions you value. You can also ask your tutor, or other academic if they can listen to your answers. While not everyone will be able to say if you’re doing well, it’ll help you get some of your technique together.

Video interview practice can be very helpful. Within My Career Zone Digital, Interview 360 enables you to create your own practice video interviews based on a number of sectors, or approaches (i.e., strengths based, hypothetical, motivational interview questions and more).

Crucially, if you upload your CV to I360 not only do you get an instant CV review, you also get an interview based on the content of your CV. Because I360 uses AI similar to the kind that employers use, you’ll get feedback that includes criteria such as body language and other non-verbal communication.

Mock interviews

At the Career Zone, we offer a great range of employer mock interviews throughout the year – this may be something you have to factor in, before you get invited to a formal job interview as part of your early career planning. There is genuinely nothing more valuable than getting feedback from an employer working within the sector that you’re interested in. Check Handshake for upcoming mock interview opportunities.

“Within My Career Zone Digital, Interview 360 enables you to create your own practice video interviews based on a number of sectors, or approaches.”

Four – Practice more

It’s time to refine your answers and practice the responses you’ve created to match the job description/person specification. Will these answers score points? Are they STAR? Are they too long/too short? You’ll likely have an hour or less for the whole interview, and the interviewer will typically ask at least ten questions, plus time at the beginning for welcome/instructions, and at the end of questions from you, and follow-up information including when you’re likely to hear if you’ve been successful.

Record yourself, score yourself, identify gaps where you can give more information.

My tip is to create cue-cards, but not write everything down to take into the interview – you need to be very well prepared but not over prepared to the extent where you can’t be yourself or deal with any curveballs professionally. This balance is key.

And finally prepare two to three good, insightful questions that you’d like to ask the organisation. This is another chance to demonstrate several things: Your motivation; the amount of research you’ve done; and your ability to fit into the team.

Five – Be confident, be yourself, smile 😊

So, you’ve researched, prepared and practiced (which is why we do these things again and again!). Following the first four steps above will enable you to be present, to concentrate on making connections and delivering your responses well. Remember, this is about doing yourself justice and showing the best of yourself.

Be genuine – don’t tell them you can speak German if you can’t. Let them see your personality. If it’s appropriate to mention hobbies or personal interests in responses, this can be powerful.

Whether you get this particular job or not, the end goal is to walk out of the interview room (or Zoom chat) with your head held high knowing you did the very best you could.

Now, go get ‘em!

Benjamin Woods, Head of Engineering, 10BE5 Ltd

Benjamin Woods, Head of Engineering for 10BE5. University of Exeter alumn and keen 5k runner.

Benjamin Woods is Head of Engineering  for 10Be5 Ltd He graduated from the University of Exeter with MPhys Physics in 2015.

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

After leaving Exeter in July 2015, I started a PhD at the University of York in Plasma Science and Fusion Energy. This involved some theoretical and computational physics, a lot of maths, and some machine learning. I submitted my thesis in August 2019.

Shortly after that, I began a brief postdoctoral position at the University of Leeds, working with machine learning algorithms.

My position ended in February 2020, and shortly after that I began working for The MathWorks as a Technical Writer, writing documentation for Parallel Computing Toolbox. While working at The MathWorks, I consulted for a legaltech startup, 10BE5 Ltd.

I left The MathWorks in 2021 to work full-time for 10BE5 as a Solution Architect, working in a Python / Node.js / React stack to provide tech solutions for law firms and other customers. 

“writing code is a much more of a creative process than many people think – for me, the creative part is as much of a draw as the technical side”

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

My career path lead me towards machine learning and computer science in the end. I feel that I always had a passion for computer science and data, and so this felt like a natural progression after my PhD. Although I am very much a physicist at heart, I love the design and thought processes that go into making code. From what I can tell, writing code is a much more of a creative process than many people think – for me, the creative part is as much of a draw as the technical side. 

“my year bonded together very well and looked out for each other… if anyone was struggling with lecture content, or finding it tough to revise, most people were happy to chip in and have a chat.”

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

Course wise, I loved the modules that were leaning more toward maths or theoretical physics. I was very much a fan of Analytical and Chaotic Dynamics (PHY2032), and Quantum Many Body Theory (PHYM013). Outside of the course content, for me the community was the best thing – I felt that my year bonded together very well and looked out for each other. For me at least, it seemed like if anyone was struggling with lecture content, or finding it tough to revise, most people were happy to chip in and have a chat. Being able to openly discuss tough parts of the course with other students in the year was an invaluable thing. (And to be honest, it’s quite a rare thing to find that level of support amongst peers in the outside world!) 

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

For me, the course itself really set me up well for my time in academia – even though I didn’t do any plasma physics in my course, I felt like I had a strong enough physics background to apply for a PhD outside of the area I specialized in for my Masters project (which was a bit of a gamble!) 

“Although it’s easy to get frustrated with your critics, don’t hate them. They’re very important. Your research grows stronger and more important with every critic to defeat. However, if you can’t justify the value of your research, you have to accept that they might be right.”

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

Coding: write plenty of code, read plenty of code, and talk with coders. Learning programming languages is like a real language – immersion is the fastest way to fluency. Academia: to succeed, you have to both do good research and sell that research. Although it’s easy to get frustrated with your critics, don’t hate them. They’re very important. Your research grows stronger and more important with every critic to defeat. However, if you can’t justify the value of your research, you have to accept that they might be right. Being stubborn will only get you so far. Many times, researchers have “settled” for simpler problems, and made entire careers out of what they initially thought was a fairly trivial problem… 

“…write plenty of code, read plenty of code, and talk with coders”

What are your plans for the future?  

I’d like to work on some more open source projects. I’d also like to get my 5k time a bit better… 

5 mistakes international students make in cover letters

Claire Guy is Employability and Careers Consultant with the University of Exeter Business School.

Research shows that motivation and enthusiasm might be the most important thing to an employer.

Many international students have never seen a cover letter before. Lots of countries don’t use them, or if they do, they are not an important part of recruitment.

Why write a cover letter?

In the UK, jobs for graduates are competitive. There are many students competing for jobs. Cover letters are a way that you can “stand out”. Cover letters can impress an employer and show your enthusiasm and motivation for the job.

Motivation and enthusiasm are very important to UK employers. Research shows that motivation and enthusiasm might be the most important thing to an employer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From What Do Graduates Want 2022-2023 – Research by Bright Network

What should a cover letter contain?

A cover letter should explain 3 things: 1) why you want this job role 2) why you want to work for this company and 3) a brief explanation of your experience / skills in relation to the role. Remember that your CV explains all your qualifications, skills and experiences. To create a strong CV you must tailor the content to match the qualifications, skills and experiences that the employer has asked for in the job details. If you have tailored your CV correctly, you will have explained how you are a good fit for the job. This leaves your cover letter to explain in detail why you want the job and why you want to work for them.

What if an employer doesn’t ask for a cover letter?

Not all employers ask for cover letters. If they don’t ask for one, you don’t have to send one, but you still could! Remember, the cover letter is your opportunity to stand out and show how enthusiastic and motivated you are for the role and the company.

5 mistakes that international students make in their cover letters

1  Not using the correct format of a UK business letter. Employers are assessing your ability to write a formal letter. It is likely in your job that you will write letters to customers or clients. Employers want to know you can do this in a professional way. Search online for “business letter format UK” and you will find examples how to set out a letter correctly.

2  Writing statements like “I want to work for a well-known, global company with a great reputation”. This may be true, but it is too vague to be meaningful. A company wants to believe you genuinely want to work for them, and not just any company. You can show you genuinely want to work for them by telling them things you know about the company. This means doing a little bit of research. Once you know how to do this, you will be able to do the research required in 5-10 minutes. A) Visit the company website. B) Find something you like about them. Something that makes you say “wow” or “oh!”. Something that makes you feel good about the company. It may be an award they won. Or that they let staff have 3 days per year to volunteer. Or their sustainability strategy. Find something that matters to you. That connects to you in some way. C) Write about what you found in the cover letter, and be very specific. Whatever you write should only be true for this company.

“All students want a job where they can develop skills and grow a career! You need to think much more deeply about why you want this specific job role. Why do you want to do this job? Which of the tasks in the job description do you really like? Why?”

For example: “CMG won the RedField award in 2021 and 2022, for your focus on sustainability in your office supply chain. I did a module on sustainable supply chains which I found fascinating and it really convinced me of the importance of a sustainable approach. I’d love to work for a CMG who is doing such a good job of this”. Much stronger and more impactful than “I like that CMG is interested in sustainability”.

Top Tip: start with the “About us” or “Our values” or “Our History” section of a company website. You may have to scroll to the very bottom of the page to find it.

3  Writing statements like “I want a job role where I can develop my skills and grow my career”. I know you care deeply about your own development. Many employers will care too, but a statement like this will not make you stand out. All students want a job where they can develop skills and grow a career! You need to think much more deeply about why you want this specific job role. Why do you want to do this job? Which of the tasks in the job description do you really like? Why? What is it about being a (insert your preferred job role here) that motivates you?

DON’T write: “I’m thinking about project management because it seems like a good fit for my skills. It sounds like an interesting career. I think it would be a good challenge. I’m keen to get some experience and start on a career path.”

Write this instead: “I want to be a project manager because I find leading people, deadlines and resources really motivating. During university I found creating a work plan with time limits and then tracking my progress against the plan really enjoyable, especially when the plan involved other people. I’ve enjoyed helping clients whilst working in retail, so adding my interest in projects with wanting to please the client appeals to me.”

Top tip: This might take a lot of thinking about to get to your real reason why you are interested in the role. use www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/  to understand more about the job you are applying for. Another way to get a good answer is to keep asking why, like this; I want to be a consultant. WHY? Because I want to have a job which is interesting? WHY? Because I like variety WHY? Because I enjoy doing different things each day WHY? I like meeting different people and solving new problems… and so on.

4  Using overly formal language. Most countries have their own style of Business-English. Many countries use words that are now considered a bit old-fashioned in the UK. Avoid phrases like “your most esteemed company” “I would be honoured to join your respected company”. These phrases may be commonly used in your home country, but in UK culture they feel a bit insincere, and like empty flattery. Instead, find facts about the company that appeal to you. Such as “HGR has 20 million customers across 13 countries. I’m keen to work for a company that provides a quality service which is valued by its customers.”

5  Including information that belongs in your CV. Your CV and cover letter do different things.

CV = how your skills, experiences and qualifications match the job role.

Cover letter = why you want the job and why you want to work for this company plus a BRIEF summary of how you match the role.

Your cover letter should only contain a brief description of skills, experiences or qualifications that match the job role. Why not read our blog 5 mistakes international students make in their UK CVs to improve your CV?

Want more advice about cover letters? Find out what help Career Zone provides with cover letters including workshops, online resources and this handy guide.

My Career in Translation – Wing Sze Hung

Wing Sze Hung Graduated from the University of Exeter in MA International Relations, 2016.

Wing Sze Hung University of Exeter Alumn, and Official Languages Officer for the Fire Services Department, Hong Kong Special Administrative Government.

She’s currently Official Languages Officer for the Fire Services Department, Hong Kong Special Administrative Government.

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

I joined FILA Hong Kong in Feb 2019 as a translator/interpreter for the Irish Design Director, then became an Official Languages Officer of the Hong Kong Government in Sep 2019 and have been working under the Fire Services Department until now.

My main duties include translating articles from Chinese to English and vice versa, vetting Chinese and English materials, and drafting Chinese apothegms/couplets. I also work for the Duty Lawyer Service after office hours to provide interpretation while foreign lawyers offer their legal advice to non-English speaking residents. 

“Although it may sound boring to keep translating/refining articles everyday, I can put my hands on different materials ranging from lighthearted promotional leaflets to professional operational manuals, so much fun indeed!”

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

I did my bachelor degree in translation in Hong Kong and I always enjoy working with languages. I worked for a private translation company before travelling to Exeter. I applied for the post of Official Languages Officer after graduation in Oct 2018.

I got an offer after passing a series of written test, sight translation test and interview. I enjoy the variety of jobs I am exposed to in my current position. Although it may sound boring to keep translating/refining articles everyday, I can put my hands on different materials ranging from lighthearted promotional leaflets to professional operational manuals, so much fun indeed! I also have two supportive supervisors and a team of superb colleagues. 

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

Back when I was doing my bachelor degree, study life was quite relaxing and stress-free. In contrast, doing a MA in International Relations was tough, especially in the first Term, when I found it hard to complete all the weekly readings but I had to do so or else I would not be able to join the class discussions.

That said, I enjoyed having to be so hard working, because it proved I had made a right decision to leave my family, travel such a long way and pay a relative high tuition fee to study abroad. The biggest highlight was that I was “trained” to be more expressive in classes. In Hong Kong the lecturer/professor was the main speaker and students would not even raise questions in class, but in Exeter the lecturer/professor was more like a moderator who facilitated class discussions and raised new insights/challenges to students.

I remember being the only non-European student in Dr. Alex Prichard’s “Power and Institution” (still not a compulsory course back then), he often invited me to share my views in class, which freaked me out because I could not really understand the reading materials and I was afraid that I would say something wrong. I want to thank Alex for probably unknowingly pushing me to be a better self, if he never had encouraged me to speak up, I would just remain silent in class and learn much less than I could.

Another highlight was the learning environment in class and after-class. I heard from my housemate that many of the students in the Business School were Chinese, but in the Politics departments, I was happily the minority and got a chance to submerge in a fully-English learning environment. My proficiency in English, no matter written or oral, has significantly increased, and it is a life-long benefit to my career development. My classmates are all very friendly. 

“The knowledge and theories in International Relations may not be directly related to my career today, but my writing, critical-thinking, communication and inter-personal skills have all advanced from my time in Exeter.”

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

The knowledge and theories in International Relations may not be directly related to my career today, but my writing, critical-thinking, communication and inter-personal skills have all advanced from my time in Exeter. The former two have been particularly useful for my career since my main duties are exactly to write and to improve other’s writing.

Having written a number of essays in Exeter and received constructive comments from my lecturers, I could spot out most of the problems in the articles handed over to us for our vetting, including unclear and illogical writing and bad English usage, then reorganise the ideas and put them back on the right track. As for the latter two, they are essential for me to maintain a close working relationship with my colleagues and communicate my ideas with officers from other divisions. 

“Nearly everyone in the translation field can write well, but not a lot are confident and skilled enough to interpret. It will definitely be a bonus if you can handle consecutive and even simultaneous interpretation.”

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

Strengthen your fundamental language skills, especially oral communication. Nearly everyone in the translation field can write well, but not a lot are confident and skilled enough to interpret. It will definitely be a bonus if you can handle consecutive and even simultaneous interpretation. Be prepared at all times. 

What are your plans for the future?  

I will remain serving the Fire Services Department for a year, then get posted to another Government Department. This appears to be a clear and reliable path for me but I am also trying to look for overseas job opportunities in face of the changing environment in Hong Kong. 

5 mistakes international students make in their UK CVs

Claire Guy is Employability and Careers Consultant with the University of Exeter Business School.

In the UK, employers will tell you exactly what they want from the perfect candidate.

CV writing is much harder than most people think. They are difficult to get right. UK students make lots of mistakes in their CVs. Creating a UK CV can be a challenge for international students, especially if you are used to your country’s CV or resume writing rules.  

We see some common mistakes at the Career Zone in the CVs that international students write. Here’s our top 5: 

1 Adding a photo to your CV 

In the UK we have employment laws which are designed to protect people from discrimination. The laws stop employers from hiring people based on their gender, age, or nationality (as well as other things). Photographs reveal a lot of personal information (like gender, age and nationality) and can lead to discrimination. Research has shown that attractive people have an advantage when applying for jobs. The effects are not usually deliberate – interviewers don’t realise they are influenced by how someone looks. UK employment laws are designed to prevent these effects. This means that UK CVs do NOT include information such as nationality, marriage status, date of birth or age, and definitely not photos. The only reason to add your photo is if you are applying for a modelling or acting role!  

2 Including a “declaration of truth” 

Although common in some other countries, UK CVs do not contain a declaration of truth.  Employers trust that you will only include information which is true, and not write anything which is false.  

3 Spelling and grammar 

I can imagine how hard it is to write a CV in a different language! Correct spelling and grammar is important. UK employers will reject a CV with spelling and grammar mistakes. This is because UK jobs require good English. You will be expected to write reports or communicate with colleagues and clients. A CV with bad spelling and grammar will make an employer question if you can do those things. Bad spelling and grammar show poor attention to detail (an important skill for many jobs). Bad spelling and grammar also imply that you didn’t try very hard to write a good CV and that you don’t really want the job. Use a spell-checker! You can also use CV360 – it will give you feedback on spelling and grammar, as well as other things. 

4 Using the same CV for each job  

In the UK, employers will tell you exactly what they want from the perfect candidate. Job adverts usually contain a list of skills that they want. You must look closely at the job advert, highlight each skill they ask for, and then include them in your CV. This means you must change your CV for EVERY job you apply for. It takes more time but is much more successful than sending the same CV each time. If you want to understand more about how to tailor your CV, book onto one of our regular CV workshops on Handshake.  

5 Missing soft skills 

In many countries, soft skills are not an important part of a CV. You may not have added soft skills to your CV before. Don’t simply add them to a bullet-point list. Instead, think about where you have used that skill. Was it during your studies? An internship? In the family business? Choose the most relevant part of your CV and add it into your description of that activity. For example:” Collaborated in a team of 5, to produce a presentation. Met weekly to plan content. Negotiated responsibility for tasks. Presented to an audience of 30 students and academics, developing strong team-working and communication skills”.  

Top tip: It’s a really good idea to look up the definition of a soft skill – they are much more complicated than you think. Simply search online for the skill you are trying to include in your CV like this “communication skill definition” or “teamwork skill definition”.  Reading a skill definition will also help you think about how to add it to your CV.  

CVs are an important part of your success in finding work in the UK. Let us help you get it right. Find out more about the help available from Career Zone with CVs.  

Josh Brown, Academy Analyst, Arsenal FC

Josh Brown, Exeter alumn and Academy Analyst, Arsenal FC.

Josh Brown graduated with BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics in 2020. He’s currently Academy Analyst for Arsenal FC.*

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

Since leaving Exeter, I completed an MSc in Sports Performance Analysis at the University of Chichester alongside work at Millwall Football Club, before being recruited to join AFC Bournemouth as an Academy Analyst. My job essentially is to support academy footballers across the age groups by providing statistical and video analysis of fixtures and training, and with the full-time pros, helping to acclimatise them in an elite sporting environment by providing pre- and post-match analysis of opposition and fixtures.  

“I always loved sport, and I knew I wanted a job that was dynamic, fast-paced and rewarding – and football analysis matched this up with my academic strengths”

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

I always loved sport, and I knew I wanted a job that was dynamic, fast-paced and rewarding – and football analysis matched this up with my academic strengths, so seemed a natural progression from my undergraduate degree. I love the fact that my work involves such close contact with professional players and coaches – I find myself questioning a lot of what I assumed to be true about football after conversations at work – and as a result, that I can feel myself developing my knowledge of the elite game rapidly. In such a tight-knit environment, relationships with players is fundamental to any success, and I consider myself very fortunate that I’ve worked with brilliant sets of players across both clubs I’ve been at. 

“I find myself questioning a lot of what I assumed to be true about football after conversations at work – and as a result, that I can feel myself developing my knowledge of the elite game rapidly.”

Were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs? 

I was part of Exeter University Men’s Cricket Club for two seasons, playing BUCS fixtures in the summer, and was also Sports Editor at Exeposé for two years. I was also fortunate enough to work for Exeter City FC in a voluntary media capacity, which was fantastic exposure into professional football and I was lucky enough to meet people at the Club who shaped my career ambitions.  

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

I enjoyed that I was able to study such a variety of modules – I studied everything from the Philosophy of the Body and Mind to the Changing Character of Warfare. It allowed me to pursue my own interests, and studying three academic perspectives simultaneously meant I developed an ability to understand topics through a multi-disciplinary approach – something I’ve found invaluable in my professional working life.  

 What did you enjoy most about studying at Exeter? 

The best thing for me about studying at Exeter was that I could get everything I wanted out of the University experience – the academic side was as challenging as I wanted it to be, but I also had the time to pursue my extra-curricular interests such as playing competitive sport. Being able to work in world-leading facilities on Streatham campus was an experience I won’t ever forget. 

“Being able to approach topics from a multi-disciplinary perspective has been essential in my work; being able to examine player development across a spectrum of spheres – from sports science, to coaching, to analysis and education – has given me a really well-rounded platform to for my job.”

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

Being able to approach topics from a multi-disciplinary perspective has been essential in my work; being able to examine player development across a spectrum of spheres – from sports science, to coaching, to analysis and education – has given me a really well-rounded platform to for my job. I also find the analytical process that my experience at Exeter helped develop has been important in helping me place football in the wider social sphere – it was a topic I explored in my dissertation, but find myself constantly referring to in debates about football. 

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

Firstly, get networking – LinkedIn is absolutely vital in accessing others in elite sport, who typically aren’t as publicly available as (for example) big firms in other industries, who likely have graduate schemes or other programmes that provide a pathway into employment. Football can be a very nepotistic industry to work in and without connections it’s almost impossible to get anywhere! Secondly, get writing – football analysis in particular is – for me – about being able to say 100 things about 1 team, not 1 thing about 100 teams. The best way to explore these ideas is longer-form writing, ideally integrating data, video and visuals into articles. I read a lot outside of my working hours, and I know staff at other clubs who have been hired off the back of their self-published work – so it’s the best way of getting noticed. Most of the time, it’s not necessarily about the argument you’re making, but how you make it. 

“Firstly, get networking – LinkedIn is absolutely vital in accessing others in elite sport. Football can be a very nepotistic industry to work in and without connections it’s almost impossible to get anywhere! Secondly, get writing – football analysis in particular is – for me – about being able to say 100 things about 1 team, not 1 thing about 100 teams.”

What are your plans for the future? 

I want to progress into working within an elite first-team environment in the Premier League, or another elite European league.

*At the time of writing this content Josh was working for AFC Bournemouth, but moved to Arsenal FC in September 2022. Congrats on your new job!

Application Form Dos and Don’ts

Applying for jobs usually involves some kind of application form. They might be fairly straightforward and ask you to list all your all your exam grades and previous roles, or they might be a bit more quirky and want you to tell them what kind of biscuit you’d be and why*. What’s going on?

Writing jobs applications can really take the biscuit.
Writing jobs applications can really take the biscuit.

Jenny Woolacott-Scarr, Career Zone Support Officer looks at the dos and don’ts of application forms.

Do…

  • Give clear, concise answers using the STAR technique The R is really important as you need to provide evidence of your successes. I always think of STAR like telling a joke, and R is the killer punchline that everyone’s waiting for, don’t leave it out.
  • Personality counts, so be yourself. They’re employing you, not a robot; show you have a life outside of your studies. It’s unlikely you’ll have a ton of experience, so they’re looking for your raw talent and ability, and life outside your studies shows us who are.
  • Employers love facts and figures. Imagine two students run the same marathon for charity and both include it in their job applications. Student 1 writes “I trained for and ran a marathon.” But Student 2 writes “I trained for and ran the 2022 Bristol Marathon raising over £500 for Cancer Research UK, demonstrating my commitment, resilience and dedication.” It’s the same event, but which one sounds more impressive?

‘Employers love facts and figures.’

  • If there’s a word limit try and write up to it as much as possible, no one wants to interview someone who can’t think of anything to say about themselves or the job.
  • When you talk about your work experience it’s not just what you did, it’s the relevant transferable skills like teamwork, time management and leaderships that employers are interested in. Don’t be subtle, tell them clearly what you can bring to a role and relate the skills you talk about to those in the job description and person specification.
  • Show the company that you’ve researched them, the role and the sector, but go beyond what’s on their website. Employers want you to go the extra mile.
  • Every employer thinks they’re different (and better) than the competition. Evidence you know what sets them apart from the crowd. Dig deep, do they have a new CEO? What are there plans for the company and how can you help them meet their objectives?
  • Answer the question you’re asked – if you try and avoid it they’ll notice. If you’re stuck, think about it from the employer’s point of view, they’ll only ask you a question that’s going to help them decide whether you’re worth interviewing or not. (This is where biscuit style questions come in – how do you react to a question where there’s no right answer? And what thought processes do you go through to get there?)
  • Demonstrate that you really want to work for the company, show your passions and enthusiasm by making your application as good as possible.

‘How do you react to a question where there’s no right answer? And what thought processes do you go through to get there?’

Do and Don’t… I get asked ‘how many job applications should I make?’ We say, do apply for as many as you can, but don’t apply for so many that the quality of your applications suffer, and/or that it impacts on your academic work and/or your own mental and physical wellbeing.

Don’t…

  • Write over the word limit (if there is one). Most jobs will need you to create some kind of reports or documents, and brevity is always appreciated.
  • Poor spelling and grammar could ruin your chances, some employers have a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule.
  • Don’t forget to show your academic successes from Exeter, being at Uni is a huge part of of your life and professional development, and employers want to hear about it.
  • Your voluntary roles might be just as important (or more so) than your paid work, employers don’t care at this stage, they just want you to tell them about your skills and experience.
  • Don’t be shy about ‘selling’ yourself, tell the employer what sets you apart from other candidates.
  • Don’t give generic answers, be specific and keep it relevant. We know it can be hard work applying for jobs and sometimes boring but employers can tell if you’ve copied answers from other application forms.
  • Try not to use the same experience to answer every question – use examples from academic work, work experience (paid or unpaid), Uni societies and sports clubs etc.
  • Don’t undervalue yourself. You’re at a top Russell Group university, that’s already a huge achievement.
  • Don’t get the name of the employer wrong. You might think you’d never do that, but it’s surprisingly common and employers are likely to instantly delete your application.

If you take one piece of advice from me, think about this – what employers know about you is entirely based on what you tell them. So you need to be as clear and direct as possible. Job applications and interviews aren’t a time for subtlety, hinting that maybe perhaps you’d be kind of OK in the job. 

Looking for more info and advice on applications and everything else careers-related? Our ‘Help with…‘ pages are great place to start. And if you need an application form review you can book in via Live Chat on our website, or come in and see us in person in the Forum (Streatham Campus) or the Exchange (Penryn Campus).

*Personally, I’m a milk chocolate digestive; works well in most situations, outside melts easily but retains a robust centre.

Get started with the Career Zone

Chloe Mabberley graduated from University of Exeter in July 2022 with a BA in History, she worked in the Career Zone as a SCP Career Zone Assistant in her final year. We spoke to Chloe about her internship experience and asked what advice she would give students thinking about their careers or considering an internship with the Career Zone and what skills she had learnt to take her into the workplace.

You were recently awarded a First in History. How did you find balancing your studies and an SCP role?

It’s all about time management and learning what to prioritise. Luckily, when you are an SCP or SBP, your employer knows that your studies will take priority sometimes and they are very flexible with shifts and if you need to change or swap shifts with someone. When you have a deadline looming, it’s often quite nice to come to work and think about something else for a few hours. I use planners to help me stay on track of daily and weekly goals, meaning that I never fell behind and could always find time to do university work. Making sure you have a good sleep schedule too. Having a 9am shift twice a week, meant I was up early, and once I had finished work at 1pm I still had lots of time to do essays in the afternoon.

What 3 things would you like to tell students now you have worked in the Career Zone?

“Use the Career Zone website, there is a vast amount of information on there that is incredibly useful. CV advice, Interview help, information about different job sectors, and personality tests to find out what kind of job might suit you if you are feeling lost!”

  1. Use the Career Zone website, there is a vast amount of information on there that is incredibly useful. CV advice, Interview help, information about different job sectors, and personality tests to find out what kind of job might suit you if you are feeling lost!
  2. Make a LinkedIn account early and start connecting with people you know. Make sure your profile is up to scratch and keep it professional. Recruiters often reach out to people directly on LinkedIn, so you never know what opportunities are out there for the taking.
  3. Start early! Trying to figure out what to do after university can be stressful, so the earlier you start gaining experience and looking at your options, the better.

“Start early! Trying to figure out what to do after university can be stressful, so the earlier you start gaining experience and looking at your options, the better.”

What have you learnt about yourself since working in the Career Zone and how has it helped you in your steps towards your future career?

It has helped me to identify my strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. It has taught me that I enjoy working with people and helping others in a role. It has also taught me that I love looking at CVs, applications, and that sort of thing, as I find it really interesting seeing how people sell themselves on paper.  It has given me more experience in customer service, problem solving, attention to detail, communication skills, project management, and many more skills that I can take into the workplace.

I now know that I want a job that involves working in a team and for an employer that values your opinion and input.

What have you enjoyed and gained from the experience as an SCP in the Career Zone?

As someone who has always struggled with not knowing what career path to take, I have really enjoyed helping students who are in a similar situation. When students come to see us in person, looking worried and a bit lost, it makes my day when I see them leave feeling much more confident about their career after I’ve given them lots of resources to look at, or booked them in for an appointment.

When students come to see us in person, looking worried and a bit lost, it makes my day when I see them leave feeling much more confident about their career.”

Have you received any career advice since you have been working at the Career Zone?

Yes, I recently had a CV review with an advisor, and it helped me massively. She showed me how to take my CV to the next level and really impress employers. She also showed me how going into more detail about my degree, achievements, and work experience can demonstrate to employers the skills I have, instead of just simply listing them on my CV. I would definitely recommend having a CV review at the Career Zone.

What advice would you give to students who are writing their CVs or cover letters now?

Use all the resources on the Career Zone website, there is a CV builder that will make your CV for you, an instant reviewer called CV360 that uses AI technology, example CVs, webinar recordings from Career Consultants, and loads more. If you still feel stuck, book in for a review appointment with one of the advisors!

Have you had any other appointments whilst at the Career Zone?

I had a Career Guidance appointment with a Careers Consultant, which was very useful. I had done some research on different sectors I was interested in, but she gave me some more expert knowledge about them and where I could look for opportunities and find out about potential qualifications I would need. I would encourage students to do their own research first before an appointment, as this means you can get much more out of the 30-minute slot and have more of an in-depth discussion with the consultant.

We understand that you are going to take some time out to travel, as you were unable to during the pandemic.  What are your thoughts about what you want to do with your career planning for your return and longer-term?

The plan at the moment is to apply for some graduate roles for the September 2023 intake and see how those applications go. If I’m unsuccessful or don’t find any roles I am interested in applying for then I would like to look for other opportunities in London. I’d like to live there for a few years for the experience, maybe in sectors such as HR or recruitment, but who knows, I’m open to lots of things!   I’d like to end up in a role that enables me to work with people and something that I genuinely enjoy. Seeing the work that Careers Consultants do has sparked an interest in potentially pursuing this line of work or working in a university setting in general.

What would you recommend to any student thinking of taking an internship with the Career Zone?

Apply! It has been great working for the Career Zone during my final year. The internships that the University offers are flexible, well-paid, look good on your CV, and can teach you loads of new skills to bring to the workplace after you finish your studies.

What is the best advice you have been given regarding your employability, career planning?

Do a job that you enjoy! If you’re going to be working for 30 years, you may as well do something you like.

What advice would you give to others who are thinking about their next steps in their career planning?

Start planning early, but if you haven’t don’t let it stress you out too much as it’s not worth it. See rejection as a sign of redirection, sometimes the job just wasn’t meant for you and means you could potentially land the perfect job at your next interview. If you are really struggling or don’t know where to start, contact the Career Zone who will be happy to help you out.

“Start planning early, but if you haven’t don’t let it stress you out too much as it’s not worth it. See rejection as a sign of redirection, sometimes the job just wasn’t meant for you and means you could potentially land the perfect job at your next interview. If you are really struggling or don’t know where to start, contact the Career Zone who will be happy to help you out. “

The Career Zone recruit SCPs in the Spring and sometimes the Autumn term. Find out how you can improve your employability and find SCP internships by visiting the Career Zone or by searching on Handshake.