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.

 

10 ways to make the most of your summer as an international student

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

It certainly feels like summer in the UK right now with the longer days and the sun shining. For most of you, classes are over and it feels like you have some time on your hands. How can you make the most of it as an international student? 

1 Relax: You deserve it! After a hard year studying, it’s important to recharge your energy by resting. Catch up on your sleep. Read a book. Binge watch movies. If English is your second language, try and watch / read in English as this is a fantastic (and enjoyable) way to improve your skills. This is especially important if you want to work in the UK after your studies, as employers will expect you to have excellent written and spoken English. 

2 Explore the UK (or at least Devon and Cornwall!): You’ve explored Exeter but now you have some free time. Why not go a little further? The South West has so much to offer. This list from Go South West England has 30+ Awesome Places to Visit in South West England . While you soak up the British scenery, why not learn more about our culture too? Chat to people you encounter – you’ll find most people are very friendly. Even better, invite your UK course mates to accompany you. They can provide a brilliant insight into the typical habits and behaviours of the British including Cockneys, Brummies, Janners and Scousers (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, this list of all the best British regional nicknames will help!).

If you want to work in the UK after your studies, employers will want you to be familiar with UK culture, and be really comfortable interacting with local people. Even if you don’t plan to work in the UK, employers back home or anywhere else in the world will be impressed by your intercultural learning. 

3 Get more out of your part time job. If you are an undergraduate with a part time job, you can work more hours during the summer. These guidelines from International Student Support explain the visa rules. If you are a master’s student, you can work full time from the end of your  final term.  

You may think your part time job isn’t relevant for your future career. Maybe it isn’t right now- but could you make it more relevant? Could you create a learning opportunity for yourself? Mika, a Business Analytics master’s student did exactly this. She had a part-time job as a cashier at Primark, but knew they had a data team. As she was aiming for a data career, she asked her manager if she could shadow the data team for a week. They said yes, and Mika learned so much. She made the most of the experience by starting conversations about possible graduate opportunities. What opportunities could your part time employer offer you? 

4 Find work. The summer is a good time to find work if you would like some. Many hotels, restaurants, and other tourist-dependent businesses employ extra staff on a casual basis. You can find summer jobs on Handshake or other job sites, but often companies simply put notices in their windows and expect people to drop in and ask about jobs. You could create a part-time CV and print off some copies to take to employers. A part-time CV will follow quite a different style and focus to a CV for a graduate role though. Here’s an example of what a part time CV might look like, with a focus on relevant skills. Come and see us if you’d like help with your part time CV. 

Remember that part time work that is completely unrelated to the career area you want to go into after your studies, is useful. This is because employers in the UK love transferable skills, and part time jobs give you lots of them! Don’t work too hard though — you deserve a break after a year of study!

5 Find an internship or other work-based experience: Many international students would love an internship over the summer. The summer break feels like the perfect time to boost your CV while your studies are paused. Finding a summer internship might not be as straightforward as you’d like though, for a couple of reasons: 

  • Internships in the UK are not as plentiful as they are in some other countries. 
  • Many UK internships are advertised and filled well in advance of the summer, often during the autumn term.  
  • UK internships are often competitive with long and complex application processes. 

Don’t give up on the idea of doing an internship, there are still some options! You may still find some internships available – have a look on Handshake or simply search online for “internship” plus the type of internship you’d like- for example “internship banking”.  

At Exeter we run our own internships, our Student Campus Partnerships (internships on campus) and Student Business Partnerships (internships with local businesses). You can search for them on Handshake.   

You could also complete a virtual internship- one of the good things that came out of a global pandemic! Virtual internships are really flexible, can be done from your bedroom (or sunbed) and many large, well known employers are offering them through The Forage. 

6 Learn new skills  The University of Exeter has a premium subscription to LinkedIn Learning and all students can access it for free; just sign in using your University email address and password. Find out more about using LinkedIn learning to learn new skills. There are lots of super courses on LinkedIn that will supercharge your employability, on everything from data analytics to networking.  

FutureLearn partners with top international universities to offer a wide range of online courses. Most courses have an option to access content free for a limited period, and cover topics such as marketing or sustainable fashion.  

7 Explore your career ideas. During term time there’s a lot to think about. The summer is a great time to focus your mind on your career ideas. It’s worth doing this as an international student because jobs and job titles in your home country might not match jobs and job titles in the UK. You can find out more about the kinds of jobs Exeter graduates go into from your degree or find out more about a specific job role using the Prospects website.  

8 Get help from Career Zone. Many university staff are taking a well earned rest over the summer, but Career Zone is still open. You can book appointments, browse our workshops or look through our huge library of digital support.  

9 Have fun. The sun doesn’t always shine in the UK- make the most of this opportunity to enjoy it. After all, you have put a lot of time and effort into your studies at Exeter. You deserve some fun too.  

10 Having fun is so important, it’s also at number 10.  

We hope you enjoyed our list of 10 ways to make the most of your summer as an international student! Which one are you going to do first? 

 

Getting into Communications

Natasha Trendall graduated from the University of Exeter with BA History in 2003. She’s currently Communications and Engagement Manager, EY

Natasha Trendall, Exeter Alum and current Communications and Engagement Manager, EY

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

Since leaving Exeter I’ve built a career in communications. I started in a global PR agency, doing external communications and media relations for a range of financial services clients. I then moved to a large British bank to do employee communications, taking on a number of different internal comms roles over a six year period, before moving to a large global professional services company to do communications & engagement.

Employee communications is less well known than PR and it’s certainly not a job or career I was aware of when I graduated. My job involves engaging employees in the company strategy, helping them to do their jobs well by supporting collaboration, information sharing and best practice and, ultimately, driving business objectives by helping to build a workforce of happy, productive and engaged employees.

“I enjoy translating complex business ideas into clear, concise messages that employees can understand… there is lots of scope for creativity and writing.”

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

I fell into communications rather than choosing it, but I’ve stayed because I enjoy translating complex business ideas into clear, concise messages that employees can understand. I’m interested in being part of the machine that helps make work a better place for employees, and there is lots of scope for creativity and writing.

My job often involves working with the most senior leaders in an organisation (C-suite level), which is a privilege, and also demanding! The work is varied, from writing a message from the CEO to all employees, designing a campaign and running an event, to supporting a culture change programme.

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

Writing, interpreting and organising information, study discipline, reading, editing, proofing and developing relationships with people outside my previous experience.

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

There often aren’t many entry level roles in internal communications, but getting any kind of communications experience will be helpful, whether that’s in Marketing, PR, media relations, brand, events or even HR – these are all related disciplines that work closely with employee communications and require many of the same skills.

Good people skills and emotional intelligence are also vital – you need to be able to develop relationships at all levels of an organisation and have confidence when dealing with very senior people, so any experience that helps you build those influencing skills will be very helpful.

“As current students entering the workforce now you will bring a unique perspective and understanding of your generation to employers of an older generation who need to communicate with people like you.”

As current students entering the workforce now you will bring a unique perspective and understanding of your generation to employers of an older generation who need to communicate with people like you – so leverage that advantage and think about how you like to be communicated with and what you would like your experience at work to be!

What are your plans for the future?     

I’m currently studying part-time for an MSc in Psychology and interested in either pursuing that to become an occupational psychologist or moving into Human Resources – a role where I can be more directly involved in making the workplace better for people. I’m particularly interested in workplace mental health, wellbeing and belonging.

Alumni Profile – Issa Belmond Thullah, Research and Security Analyst, Office of National Security, Sierra Leone

Issa Belmond Thullah, Exeter Alumn and current Research and Security Analyst, Office of National Security, Sierra Leone.

Issa Belmond Thullah graduated from the University of Exeter in MA Applied Security and Strategy, 2020. He’s currently Research and Security Analyst, Office of National Security, Sierra Leone.

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

When I left Exeter, I returned home to work for the Office of National Security which is the main coordinating outfit within the security sector, and advises the President of the country on national security matters. Currently, I am contributing to the wider security sector efforts to prepare for, and respond effectively to, threats and hazards that impact on the peace and safety of communities in Sierra Leone. 

“I choose this career because of my past. Between 1991 and 2002, Sierra Leone suffered a brutal civil war that devastated the country to almost irreparable proportions. I was always striving to make a change in my country that will help to resuscitate the lives of those who were affected by the war and to ensure that such does not repeat itself.”

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

I choose this career because of my past. Between 1991 and 2002, Sierra Leone suffered a brutal civil war that devastated the country to almost irreparable proportions. The war left 50,000 dead and 20,000 mutilated, while three quarters of the population displaced. I witnessed my country crumbled and succumbed to the atrocities of the war. Lodged with this experience, I was always striving to make a change in my country that will help to resuscitate the lives of those who were affected by the war and to ensure that such does not repeat itself. This is why I decided to work in the security sector to help stabilize the country and create the enabling environment for peace and development to thrive. What I enjoyed most about my job is working with diverse people and changing society for the better. 

“The course is exceptional not just because of its rich academic package, but also the noteworthy field trips and experience sharing by practitioners, offered by external speakers.”

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

What I enjoyed most about the MA Applied Security and Strategy programme is the perfect dialogue between theory and practice. The course is exceptional not just because of its rich academic package, but also the noteworthy field trips and experience sharing by practitioners, offered by external speakers. Students are availed the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real life situations and get their career ready. My biggest highlight is the field trips to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London and Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) in Gloucestershire. 

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

The field of security and strategy is dynamic enough to accommodate a variety of skills and competencies. However, those I consider most useful are adaptability and problem solving, leadership and administration, innovation and strong work ethic, critical thinking, communication, organization and time-management, data analysis, project design and management.  

“Use your time at the University to engage as much as you can with materials and people to hone your skills and get your career ready.”

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

Chosen security and strategy is a great choice. Use your time at the University to engage as much as you can with materials and people to hone your skills and get your career ready. The field of security and strategy offers many career opportunities with satisfactory experience. One is assured of employment in the government, think-tanks, defence and intelligence industry, companies engaged in security research and analysis, non-profit organisations etc. There is so much prospect to grow and live your dreams. 

What are your plans for the future?  

In the long run, my goal is to move up the hierarchy of the national security sector architecture and be part of the highest bodies for the consideration and determination of matters of security and development in my country. Also, I intend to pursue an academic career as university professor. 

Introducing Ask An Alum

Ask An Alum

Emily Im is a final year student studying BA English at the University of Exeter. In 2020, she took part in Ask An Alum (previously eXepert) where University of Exeter students and recent graduates connect with University of Exeter alumni to ask questions about their careers.

What is Ask An Alum?

Ask An Alum is an information gathering employability programme connecting students and graduates with Exeter alumni.  AAA facilitates a short-term email exchange allowing students and graduates to ask questions and get advice. There are over 500 alumni available during term-time to contact from various sectors and organisations giving you a range of options.

Why did you apply for Ask An Alum?

During my first year, I was thinking of ways I could learn more about the publishing industry and I found information on Ask An Alum in a Careers newsletter. I didn’t have many contacts and only a little publishing experience at the time, so I thought this was a great opportunity to get advice from a professional.

“I didn’t have many contacts and only a little publishing experience at the time, so I thought this was a great opportunity to get advice from a professional.”

How did you apply?

I submitted an application form detailing my interests and which alumni I wanted to speak to and within a few days, I was connected to the Publishing Director of The Borough Press, which is a literary fiction imprint of HarperFiction. It was super quick and easy!

What kind of alum are available?

If you’re a student, you can access the Ask An Alum database via Handshake and on there, you’ll find people who work for Bloomsbury Publishing, Oxford University Press and Routledge to name a few companies. You can also see what they studied while they were at Exeter. I think it’s useful knowing so many alumni have degrees that aren’t directly related to their current jobs and there are multiple career paths you can go down no matter what you’ve done at university.

If you’re not interested in publishing, there are alum who work in law firms, healthcare companies, higher education, marketing, etc. There are so many different job titles—you can even get in touch with CEOs.

“Within a few days, I was connected to the Publishing Director of The Borough Press, which is a literary fiction imprint of HarperFiction.”

What did you ask your alum?

I had so many questions and luckily, she answered all of them. We talked about her career journey since her time at university, what work experience she did, things that I could do to stand out, her daily tasks, her work-life balance, HarperCollins’ blind recruitment process and much more! There’s a useful list of questions on the Ask An Alum website if you need some inspiration on what to ask.

We started emailing around the end of January and were still in contact when the pandemic hit so I was able to enquire about how the publishing industry was being impacted and what it meant for people seeking internships. I didn’t ask for an internship since that isn’t allowed but she did let me know publishing companies had no remote working opportunities available. Times have changed though!

How do you think Ask An Alum has helped you?

It was great gaining a more personal perspective of the publishing industry and learning about the journey she took to get in. She told me things a quick Google search can’t. It was also reassuring to know she didn’t have much experience when she left university and had multiple roles at different companies before she eventually landed at HarperCollins.

“She told me things a Google search can’t.”

What advice would you give to a student interested in applying to Ask An Alum?

Apply! There’s no pressure. Although it’s a professional connection, it feels like a relaxed conversation. The person you’re emailing wants to help you so don’t be afraid to ask hard questions too.

Would you use the scheme again?

Absolutely! I would still love to work in publishing but I’m also looking into other sectors. There’s an unlimited number of times you can apply, and even after you graduate, you can participate in Ask An Alum for up to three years so I know that when I need some guidance, I can come back to this programme.

Discover how you can get ahead with your career and make powerful connections, learn more about Ask an Alum

My Career as a Freelance Creative Arts Facilitator

Kat Merrick. Exeter Alumn, Freelance Creative Arts Facilitator, and Director at Katerpillar Creatives

Kat Merrick is a Freelance Creative Arts Facilitator, and Director at Katerpillar Creatives  She graduated from the University of Exeter BA Drama, 2008

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

The balance between theory and practical work. Many of the universities that I looked around were keen to stress that they weren’t a drama school and were more concerned with theory, but Exeter allowed the opportunity to put the theory into practice. Being able to physicalise what we had learned was hugely helpful to me, and I felt like the balance between theory and practice was a perfect fit for me.  

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

It’s a strange one to start with, but organisation has been vital for me. I manage my own diary, bookings and invoices, so it’s really important to stay on top of that and ensure I’m giving accurate information to schools that want to book me (I’ve met facilitators who are extremely talented, but have put people off with their lack of organisation and time management – it doesn’t look good). 

“Experience-wise, I’m extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing people and fantastic organisations, and I know how much this has helped me to form my own practice and to figure out what works for me.”

Communication is also vital for my work. When I was in London and contracting to several companies, keeping in touch with all of them was really important, and now that I’m striking out on my own, it’s so important for me to touch base with schools regularly and keep them up to date with plans and arrangements.  

There is a lot of time management involved in my work, and a level of discipline too – as I’m self-employed, often there is no one planning things for me, or breathing down my neck over deadlines. While that’s a lovely way to work, it does mean that I have to make sure I’m holding myself to account and keeping up with the work that I need to do outside of schools. It’s very easy to get lazy when no one is making you do it, so keeping up with the admin side of the job is something that I had to get used to!  

Experience-wise, I’m extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing people and fantastic organisations, and I know how much this has helped me to form my own practice and to figure out what works for me. Every job has taught me something (even if it was ‘that didn’t work at all!’) and I find it really important to pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, even after all these years. Working with other people has taught me a huge amount about different practices, but also about my own – I now have a much better understanding about what works for me, and can use my strengths to make my work the best it can be. 

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

Gain as much experience as you can! I’m all for valuing yourself as an artist, but if you’re brand new to the field and need to make your CV stand out from the crowd, look at the ways that you can add to it, even if that means volunteering or low paid opportunities. I volunteered with a local youth theatre while I was a student at Exeter who were delighted to have me, and spent my university holidays assisting with holiday workshops at my youth theatre at home. Not only did I learn a huge amount through these different jobs, but it meant that my CV stood out.  

“Be prepared to work hard. My line of work isn’t about getting a job and sitting in it for 20 years. It’s a continuous process of making connections, finding work, developing content, delivering sessions, and repeating.”

Following on from that – use your contacts! I was very lucky to have an amazing youth theatre tutor while I was in school, and she was incredibly helpful to me as I went through university and beyond. Whether it was letting me help out with youth projects, answering questions over a coffee, or giving me my first ever youth theatre directing job after university, she was always happy to help. If you are lucky enough to have any useful contacts (a youth theatre tutor, school drama teacher, university lecturer, or anyone whose work interests you) then do use them – keep in touch, ask for help, and take advantage of any opportunities given to you. You’ll build up your skills and your CV!  

Be prepared to work hard. My line of work isn’t about getting a job and sitting in it for 20 years. It’s a continuous process of making connections, finding work, developing content, delivering sessions, and repeating. It’s incredibly rewarding (and does get easier with practice) but you have to be ready to work hard and be responsible for driving yourself.  

“Know your worth. I mentioned volunteering earlier as a means to gain experience, but understand when enough is enough. The arts are notorious for people undervaluing our work.”

Know your worth. I mentioned volunteering earlier as a means to gain experience, but understand when enough is enough. The arts are notorious for people undervaluing our work (“What? You want to be PAID? But I thought you did it for the love of the craft!”) and it’s important to recognise what your skills are worth. Yes, I love my job, but it is a job. This is something that I’ve always found challenging (and I’m having to practice what I preach with my new business) but there’s no shame in putting a price on your skills. If you’re unsure about price points, try to find someone that you can ask for advice. Understand that things won’t always be predictable. As so much of my work is based in schools, my work can fluctuate a lot over the academic year. There are times when I’m snowed under and stressed beyond belief, and there are times when things go quiet and I wonder if I’ll ever work again. Understanding that has been vital for me personally, and after several years, I’m more able to anticipate the quiet patches and prepare for them.  

The last two years have been a huge challenge (thanks Covid) but I’m proud to have made it through. Take care of yourself. The hours can be long, the days can be lonely (I work alone a lot), and when there’s no one telling you to clock off at 5:30pm, it can be very hard to know when to stop. Try to limit the amount you’re taking on in one day, and make sure you’re making time for yourself. Whether it’s seeing friends, exercising, or doing something that makes you smile, schedule in some You Time every day. Lastly, enjoy yourself and have fun! I absolutely love my job, and for all the madness and mayhem that it brings, I wouldn’t change it for the world! 

What are your plans for the future?  

Who knows? Right now my focus is on getting my new business up and running (it’s still early days) and on getting back into schools. Schools and students have had an incredibly tough time over the last couple of years, and being able to bring a bit of sparkle back to the curriculum feels especially rewarding right now. Other than that, I’m still enjoying the novelty of finally being back in schools, and doing the work I love! For now, I’m thinking about the present – the future can worry about itself! 

Your route into Trade Marketing Management

Kate Blackmore, Exeter alumn and Trade Marketing Manager, Wella Company

Kate Blackmore graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA Geography, 2015. She’s currently Trade Marketing Manager, Wella Company

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

After leaving Exeter I wanted to work for an FMCG company. I applied for a few graduate schemes but was unsuccessful, mostly because I struggled with the speed of the Numerical Reasoning Tests! I got a job in sales in Exeter and worked as an Account Manager for just under a year. With that experience I was able to join PepsiCo as a Sales Development Representative (the same job the graduate scheme starts on).

As an SDR my role was to visit 11 stores per day, speak with the manager and try to educate them about the best range to stock and how to display them, plus help merchandise the fixtures to maximise sales. It was a lot of hard work, and a lot of driving, but I loved working with the customers and it was nice to know that a lot of the leadership team at Pepsi had also come into the company through this role. I was promoted within the year to Trade Marketing Executive, based at PepsiCo Head Office.

“I had no experience in Trade Marketing at all, but PepsiCo supported me to learn the ropes. Trade Marketing is essentially the go-between for Marketing and Sales.”

I had no experience in Trade Marketing at all, but the company supported me to learn the ropes. Trade Marketing is essentially the go-between for Marketing and Sales. Brand Marketing create new campaigns and new launches, Trade Marketing work on the pricing, promotions, forecasts and targets, point of sale materials, planograms, sales presentations, briefing meetings and anything else needed to execute the launch, then sales sell it into customers.

After two years in role, I decided I wanted to take some time out to travel. I quit my job and started working for Topdeck Travel as a Trip Leader – essentially my role was to lead group tours around Europe. I would collect a group of up to 48 18-30 year olds in London, and travel with them around Europe, organising all the on-the-ground logistics and giving tours into the history and culture of each country. I did this for one ‘summer season’, then spent the winter backpacking in Latin America. Then Covid hit!

“I was pleased to know I could come back to my career at a higher level than before, and my employability hadn’t been destroyed by my year of travel!”

While travelling, I had lined up my next role in my Trade Marketing career, as a Trade Marketing Manager in the beauty industry. I was pleased to know I could come back to my career at a higher level than before, and my employability hadn’t been destroyed by my year of travel! I started working for Wella Company in their Gain/Grow team, developing plans to gain new customers to the business. After one year I was promoted to my current role, managing the execution of Colour campaigns (our biggest brands).

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

I got into Trade Marketing mostly at the suggestion of the management team at PepsiCo – when the role came up, they recommended me for it and felt it would suit my skill set. I hadn’t even heard of Trade Marketing when I was at university! I love that my work is closely linked to the execution of campaigns and has real tangible results – even just walking past a salon window and seeing POS I created. I also love how cross-functional Trade Marketing is as you really do work with all parts of the business – you work most closely with Sales and Marketing, but I also have to work with Supply Chain to ensure we have the right forecasts, with Finance to build the promotions and EComm to ensure the digital side of the business matches what we put out in person, with Category Management and Consumer Insights to ensure we get the messaging right and so much more!

“I wish I’d known, when I was at Uni, that there are a million different routes your career could take. There are different ways to achieve the same result – the career I have now is the same as if I had got onto the grad schemes.”

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

I think the biggest take-away from my time at Exeter was learning to put yourself out there and try new things.

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

I wish I’d known, when I was at Uni, that there are a million different routes your career could take. There are different ways to achieve the same result – the career I have now is the same as if I had got onto the grad schemes. There are pros and cons of each approach – grad schemes tend to offer additional support and can offer a faster pace of progression, but often at the expense of control over your career and you sometimes have to work stints in jobs you wouldn’t necessarily have chosen. It can be a bit harder (but not impossible) to progress at the same pace off the schemes, but you can absolutely work for the same companies, in the same roles, and you’ll have more choice over which moves you make internally. I was also so scared to take time out to travel, but I would recommend it to anyone!

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2022, Helen Thomas, Senior Executive Producer, BBC Studios

For International Women’s Day 2022 we’re celebrating the career of Helen Thomas, who graduated from the University of Exeter with Physics with Medical Physics, 1982.

Helen is currently Senior Executive Producer for BBC Studios, specialising in science broadcasting, working with Sir David Attenborough, Brian Cox and many more. Find out how her time at Exeter helped shaped her passion for science communication.

Helen Thomas, Senior Executive Producer, BBC Studios and Exeter alumn

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

I joined the BBC as an Audio Assistant after leaving University and worked as a sound engineer in television, film and radio – in studios and on location. It was such varied work: from boom op on dramas such as ‘Casualty’ to fitting radio mics on TV shows from Sunday night favourites such as ‘Antiques Roadshow’. I worked as a Spot Effects Op for documentary films – creating footsteps alongside a myriad of other sound effects on cue. I assisted with the sound recording of music programmes on Radio 2 and 3 and current affairs, drama and poetry programmes on Radio 4.

“I have been responsible for a wide range of science programming for the BBC and International Broadcasters from live series such as ‘Stargazing Live with Brian Cox and Dara Ó Briain’, to hard-hitting, journalistically rigorous films such as BAFTA nominated ‘Extinction: The Facts’ with Sir David Attenborough, and ‘Coronavirus: A Horizon Special’.”

However after a few years of working on the technical side of broadcasting I found I missed Science and decided to change the direction of my career and move into Production. I started as a trainee Assistant Producer in the Science Unit, working on live TV programmes such as ‘Tomorrow’s World’. I then moved into making long-form documentary and science films as a Producer and Director.

After working as a Series Producer (making series of programmes, rather than individual films) I became an Executive Producer in 2010. Since then I have been responsible for a wide range of science programming for the BBC and International Broadcasters from live series such as ‘Stargazing Live with Brian Cox and Dara Ó Briain’, to hard-hitting, journalistically rigorous films such as BAFTA nominated ‘Extinction: The Facts’ with Sir David Attenborough; ‘Greta Thunberg: A Year To Change The World’, and ‘Coronavirus: A Horizon Special’.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have such a stimulating career. I am relentlessly curious about the world and how it works and my job allows me to explore topics as wide ranging as space travel, medicine and climate change.”

I have made expedition series such as ‘Journey to Fire Mountain’ with Kate Humble and competition series such as BBC2’s ‘Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes’ headed by Astronaut Chris Hadfield.

My credits also include emotionally charged medical documentaries such as ‘Your Life in Their Hands’ and ‘Countdown to Life’. At the moment I’m making a programme that hasn’t yet been announced so I’m afraid I can’t mention what it’s about or who it’s being presented by – but it involves shooting in a Virtual Studio set up which has been really exciting as it’s the first time it’s been attempted in this way for a documentary.

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

I’ve always loved music – which is what drew me to the role of a sound engineer. After a few years, however, I began to miss Science and decided that I wanted to combine Broadcasting with Science – and that’s when I became an Assistant Producer in the Science Unit. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a stimulating career. I am relentlessly curious about the world and how it works and my job allows me to explore topics as wide ranging as space travel, medicine and climate change. I enjoy helping to tell people’s stories as well as having the opportunity to meet and work with incredibly interesting, diverse programme contributors.

“I studied alongside people who challenged my views and opinions which was invaluable. I learned how to assimilate new information quickly, how to work as part of a team and how to present written and spoken arguments – which has been useful ever since.”

I work with fantastic, creative teams and make series which I really hope inform and entertain audiences. No two days are the same and the problems I have to solve are endlessly varied. My work is a wonderful creative outlet as I can develop ideas, write scripts, work with on-screen talent and head complex productions on locations and in the studio. I can’t single out one particular aspect as it is this variety which makes it so rewarding.

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

Studying Physics was extremely useful for both Sound Engineering and Science Journalism. The course helped me turn my curiosity into an ability to research thoroughly and it enabled me to hone my analytical skills. I studied alongside people who challenged my views and opinions which was invaluable. I learned how to assimilate new information quickly, how to work as part of a team and how to present written and spoken arguments – which has been useful ever since. I believe gaining a Physics degree enabled me to pursue my career in broadcasting.

“I believe gaining a Physics degree enabled me to pursue my career in broadcasting.”

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

If you are studying for a Science degree consider one of the MSc courses available in the UK in Science Communication. In my experience they are a very good stepping stone towards a career in Science Broadcast Journalism. Follow the Science news stories, discuss with friends, form opinions, but also watch films and television and analyse what works well and what doesn’t and why. Try to gain experience whilst you are studying by joining a relevant society such as a film, TV or radio society. Consider which stories you think are important and you really want to tell – perhaps you can make a short film – perhaps shot on your mobile phone to demonstrate your interest.

What are your plans for the future?

I so enjoy making science-based television programmes that I plan to continue doing that. In a world that has become prey to so much disinformation, I believe there has never been a more important time for us make programmes that are factually accurate, accessible and stimulating.

Alumni Profile – Kristen Fader, Master of Art Conservation Candidate, Queen’s University, Ontario

Kristen Fader, current Master of Art Conservation Candidate specialising in Japanese and Chinese wood block prints, lithographic prints, papyrus, and sustainability in conservation at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada.

Kristen Fader is a current Master of Art Conservation Candidate, at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada. Her specialism is in Japanese and Chinese wood block prints, lithographic prints, papyrus, and sustainability in conservation. She graduated from the University of Exeter with a Masters in Classics and Ancient History in 2020, before returning to her home country.

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

I have recently begun my Masters of Art Conservation with a specialisation in paper and photographic objects. This is the only program in Canada, and I am one of three students accepted into my stream, so it has been such a ride to preparing for the program, being accepted, and finally being here in the thick of it all. To prepare for applying to this program, I volunteered as a conservation assistant at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter while completing a Masters of Classics and Ancient History. I may have never discovered this career path without attending the University of Exeter, so I am so grateful to my time spent in Devon.

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

I choose this career path because I have always loved history. In fact, my undergraduate degree was in Political Science, but I decided to pursue my passion of Ancient History at Exeter. I thought I would go on to do a PhD, but it just wasn’t practical enough for me; fast forward a few months into my M.A. at Exeter and I discovered Art Conservation was something I could do. It combines science (mainly organic chemistry), art history, and practical hands-on art conservation skills. This three-legged stool is something I enjoy most about my career because my expertise is quite multi-disciplinary, something I have always valued throughout my educational path.

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

I really enjoyed how you could narrow in on your own interests. After discovering art conservation, I began to look at how I could tailor my degree to focus a bit more on art history and conservation ethics since I had mostly been focusing on mythology at that point. I was able to look at the ethics of removing layers of cartonnage from Egyptian mummies, and my thesis focused on concepts of originality and authenticity of Roman “copies” of Greek “originals.” The beginning of the year in 2020 was when COVID became very serious in England, and so I had to return to Canada, but I never would have been able to continue my studies if it wasn’t for the amazing support from everyone in the program.

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

Being flexible/resilient and building up a good knowledge base. Art conservation a lot of the time is almost like a riddle. You have to figure out what the object is, what it is made up of, and then figure out how to conserve it from there. Sometimes things works, and sometimes they really don’t. It is in these times that you have to be confident in what you have studied outside of the lab, and also be resilient to go back in and try something else.

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

Do you chemistry classes! Unfortunately I had to take a year to take organic chemistry because I did not have all of my requirements for applying. Chemistry is such a vital component of this field, and it has been so great beginning to see how chemistry can be applied in an art conservation context.

What are your plans for the future?

For my program, I have two internships to complete in the summer after studies each year. My plan is to complete one at the British Museum, or possibly the British Library, next summer. I hope to set up my professional career in either England or Europe, and so having already lived in England, I am very grateful that I now know how to go through that process.

Wribhu Ghosh – My Career in Renewable Energy Engineering

Wribhu Ghosh graduated from the University of Exeter, Camborne School of Mines, Penryn, with an MSc Renewable Energy Engineering, 2020. He’s currently a Data Analyst with Celtic Sea Power. 

Before my MSc I was a mechanical engineer, and had a career in the auto industry in India. I was a regional service manager overseeing the business and operation in seven states, with a team in the excess of four hundred people reporting to me directly or indirectly.

Then I started growing a conscience. I feel the term ‘saving the planet’ is massively arrogant and the fight is actually for saving humanity, and is the biggest threat humanity has ever faced and everyone is obliged to contribute to this fight in whatever capacity possible.

“I started growing a conscience. I feel the term ‘saving the planet’ is massively arrogant and the fight is actually for saving humanity… everyone is obliged to contribute to this fight in whatever capacity possible.”

Wribhu Ghosh, MSc Renewable Energy Engineering, and current Data Analyst with Celtic Sea Power

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

Academia and seeking knowledge and qualification was the first step for me. The course was initially intimidating after coming back to education post a twelve-year hiatus, but the University and the curriculum, the faculty, and the staff were extremely friendly, supportive, and encouraging that I have never felt this inspired in my life. The course is very expensive for someone coming from a weaker economy, but it was absolutely worth it.

The course was full-on and I wanted to invest every ounce of my energy to learn as much. This became my life and I didn’t have time for any distraction, and I enjoyed every second of it.

The thoughtful design of the curriculum, how it was kept open and left to the students to pursue their interest, and how the institution and the faculty provided every kind of support to go into as much detail with it. ‘Uncle Kev’ – as we would call Doctor Kev Hughes – always said, “knowledge is cheap and easily available, but it’s the skills that are worth its weight in gold”. I think that’s the biggest takeaway, and also the biggest difference from the previous education system I am coming from where I struggled to keep my motivation at times.

“The course was initially intimidating after coming back to education post a twelve-year hiatus, but the University and the curriculum, the faculty, and the staff were extremely friendly, supportive, and encouraging that I have never felt this inspired in my life.”

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

In the second term, I took one module called Sustainable Architecture, the main reason for taking it was the module leader Adam, and I just wanted to work with him. His enthusiasm energy and honesty were infectious. I didn’t have any other expectations from that module initially and focussed my attention on the other more engineering focussed modules. But in my previous job designing solutions to make domestic properties energy efficient and cutting their carbon footprint, the knowledge I acquired in that module has proven invaluable.

After my MSc I was employed by ZLC Energy Limited as a Renewable Energy Design Engineer.

My role included

  • Designing and delivering renewable energy solutions including Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Heat Pumps as well as develop skills in Wind, Hydro, and Combined Heat and Power.
  • Developing initial as well as detailed designs, performance calculations, installation specifications, system drawings, and schematics.
  • Project support by developing detailed project planning, procurement of necessary materials and equipment, method statements, and risk analysis.
  • Tracking of jobs, including cost and schedule analysis as well as securing third party approvals like planning, and grid connection
  • Monitoring and evaluation of individual and alternative sustainable technologies specifically all aspects of microgeneration, energy efficiency, off-grid autonomy, water harvesting, and recycling
  • Developing integration solution including control system engineering as well as evaluation and monitoring of product suppliers

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

Keep an open mind, and never get intimidated by anything. There are wonderful people around to help with it, but you must make the first step towards it. Never feel shy to reach out.

“Keep an open mind, and never get intimidated by anything. There are wonderful people around to help with it, but you must make the first step towards it. Never feel shy to reach out.”

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently working as a Data Analyst for Celtic Sea Power, and offshore wind has always captured my imagination. I do have aspirations of teaching young minds and in a few years will probably come back to academia. I also want to do something meaningful for my home country India, whose taxpayer money subsidized my first degree and helped me be where I am today.