The ‘High Fliers Research’ reports that the number of graduate jobs on offer in 2015 is expected to hit a ten-year-high. The research suggests that the biggest increase in job opportunities are likely to be in the accounting, banking, retail, professional services firms, the Armed Forces and the public sector. Additionally, the research also indicates that pay for fresh graduates is set to increase for the second year running, reaching a median of £30,000.
SOAS students can take advantage of the increased opportunities by ensuring that they are fully prepared to participate in the labour market. According to High Fliers research, “Graduate recruiters warn that in a highly competitive job market, new graduates who have not had any work experience are increasingly unlikely to be offered a good graduate job.”
The good news is that a large number of those surveyed said they were providing more than 13,000 paid work experience places in 2015 for university students and recent graduates via internships, vacation work or course-based placements of between 6 and 12 months.
Students should also be aware that there are many more paid and unpaid opportunities outside the 100 top employers survey by High Fliers Research. Students are encouraged to consider Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), local and national charities, volunteering organisations and social enterprises where they are various opportunities to develop the skills and competencies needed to be successful in the labour market and their careers.
At SOAS for example, student can take advantage of the SOAS internship opportunities in partnership with a variety of UK and International businesses, charities and social enterprises. These organisations are offering SOAS students and graduates the opportunity to gain invaluable, paid work experience
For further information, please contact our Internships Coordinator on firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 020 7898 4115.
The second session in the Careers Service’s ‘What I wish I had known as a Student’ featuring SOAS Alumni took place on Thursday 23rd January. We were delighted to welcome Sir Harold (Hooky) Walker to share his experiences of 35 years in the Diplomatic Service. During this time, he served as ambassador between 1979 and 1991, successively to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, and Iraq in addition to home postings which included Head of Personnel. Whilst not a SOAS graduate, he completed two short language courses here (in Arabic and Amharic) and has established a valued relationship with the School over many years.
The very interesting talk, illustrated with anecdotes and examples from his career gave students a fascinating insight into the varied nature of work in the Diplomatic Service. Politics, policy, trade and administration combine to create a broad set of responsibilities. The immediacy that social media brings has added increased pressure and demands a rapid response to requests for information and recommendations. When asked what had been the most satisfying parts of his career, Sir Harold highlighted his time in Ethiopia where the focus on aid and saving lives in a country facing critical food shortages, was extremely rewarding.
Within the Diplomatic Service there are opportunities to become a specialist as illustrated by Sir Harold’s career with his focus on the Middle East but also to develop more broadly based experience through work in many different parts of the world. Whatever the location, entry to this career demands an overriding interest in international affairs. In addition, Sir Harold, encouraged students and graduates who wanted to enhance their chances of getting into this work to:
- show that they had worked helping others in some way at home or internationally
- widen their horizons through travel
- develop their language skills
- step outside the world that they already know
This advice struck a chord with one of the students who said afterwards that the ‘importance of doing something constructive with free time’ was one of the things that she has learnt from the session. Full information on the qualities and academic background (no specific degree subject required) required for the ‘Diplomatic Fast Stream, the UK Civil Service’s talent management programme can found at (www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-generalist-fast-stream/fast-stream-diplomatic-service).
Make the most of your time at university and seize the opportunities to develop language skills were the two ‘what I had wished I had known’ reflections from Sir Harold which concluded his talk and question and answer session.
Many thanks indeed to Sir Harold, for his time and contribution which was very well received by students, ‘Very informative’, ‘highly enjoyable’ and ‘very useful’ being just some of their comments.
On Tuesday 20th January the SOAS Careers Service launched a new initiative – What I wish I had Known as a Student with SOAS Alumni.
These lunchtime sessions which run between 1:30pm and 2:30pm every Tuesday and Thursday during term time have been designed to give alumni the opportunity to share their experiences of the workplace and to pass on their hints and tips to current students.
The small group sessions give up to six students the opportunity to hear from alumni from many different sectors.
Our first session kicked off with Adam Edwards, a SOAS Development Studies Graduate from 2004. After graduating from SOAS Adam followed a career in temporary contracts on Government projects and has been working in this sector for the last decade. This presented its own set of challenges and is not the career path he expected when he joined SOAS. The opportunities as well as the pitfalls can be traced back to the decisions Adam made as an undergraduate, and this is something that Adam discussed in detail during the session.
The event went down a storm with the students that attended with some really positive comments:
“Excellent presentation. Keep it up.”
“Small enough to get some personal info.”
Before Adam left he gave us his top tips for current SOAS students:
- Check out if there are any professional bodies or associations for the sector that you are interested in working in and join them – you generally get free or reduced rates while you are a student.
- If you’ve not got one, get a LinkedIn account.
- Be flexible.
- If you have language skills, keep using the language whenever you can.
- Don’t just apply for your dream job, be more pragmatic and give yourself a few more options.
- Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) structure to explain your extra-curricular activities to potential employers. For more information about how to use the STAR structure, check out the Careers Moodle page.
So what’s Adam doing now and what are his next steps? Adam is in the process of setting up as a consultant in Geographic Information Systems and starts a PhD at Birkbeck in September. He’s also looking to achieve the Prince 2 qualification in project management.
We wish Adam the best of luck for his future ventures and look forward to seeing him at SOAS again soon!
Did you miss out on meeting Adam? Well never fear, we will be running these alumni sessions every Tuesday and Thursday during term time. For more information about these events and to book, visit our events page.
Wouldn’t it be great to know what skills employers will be looking for in the future? As social media and technologies develop, so will the skills required to do these jobs be in greater demand. When thinking about your career, start thinking about what you may be required to know in the future and start developing those skills NOW.
The inforgraphic below from Top Ten Online Colleges shows which capabilities will be most valued by 2020. For more information see: http://www.inc.com/graham-winfrey/the-most-important-work-skills-in-2020.html