#MondayMotivation: Virtually Assessed

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It started with video interviews and has progressed onward and upward from there. Technology is making huge inroads into the graduate recruitment process and it’s not going to go away. On the contrary, more and more major firms are using increasingly sophisticated digital process to decide who will be hired.

First, for those who are a little hazy about what’s involved, some definitions. The three key processes impacting on traditional selection methods are:

Virtual reality: computer simulation of 3D images or environments that allows human
interaction when wearing specialist equipment such as a headset
Augmented reality: using technology to superimpose a computer-generated image on a
user’s view of the real world, providing a more complex experience
Gamification: applying elements of game playing (e.g. rules, scores, competition) to another activity i.e. recruitment exercises.

Still none the wiser? Here are some examples:

  • Banking group Lloyds tests candidates ability to move virtual objects in immersive virtual situations, using calibrated headsets and gloves
  • KPMG takes the traditional in tray or e tray exercise one step further by using a Virtual Office Exercise – practice questions available on line should you want to try this out for yourself
  • Deloitte uses photographs instead of written questions to gauge reaction to specific
    situations; other organisations use videos in the same way
  • EY requires candidates to participate in a mobile game
  • Unilever’s digital job interview comes complete with commercial case study
  • HSBC is using job simulators in selection exercises to see how candidates perform in typical workplace scenarios.

Get the picture?

Currently these techniques are used alongside more established approaches, such as group discussions and psychometric tests, but who know whether this will prevail? Given that the use of video interviews has risen by over 40% in the last few years, hang on to your hats where these new developments are concerned.

As always there’s no substitute for doing your own research into individual recruitment practices, and these will give you a great starting point to exploring gamification and the broader graduate job hunt. Some of the key takeaways are:

  • VR scenarios are often workplace based, but some take candidates to weird and wonderful locations and environments – snowy peaks and ancient temples being just two examples
  • Companies are increasingly using these digital tools to assess behaviours and strengths rather than skills and competencies
  • You might encounter VR, AR and gaming any stage of the application process, not just at selection centres
  • Technology has enabled greater customisation of selection methods for specific firms and jobs.

And finally, here are our top 3 tips for success:

  1. Get confident with technology. Do a bit of basic gaming for instance if you are unfamiliar with this
  2. Do practice tests and exercises at home (or wherever) in privacy and peace before tacking the real thing
  3. Take advantage of any technical help available from the recruiting organisation.

The future is now. Make sure you’re part of it.

Gill Sharp, Careers Consultant

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It’s Not Too Late: Making The Most Of Your Summer

So you’ve got nothing sorted for the summer and think time has run out? Think again.

The next couple of months could be valuable, nay crucial, in terms of your career plans. Yes, reading, revision, assignments might rear their ugly heads at some point and maybe you have temp work lined up? Perhaps you’re heading off to Ibiza, Malia and all points south? But there’s more, much more, that you could – and should – be doing…

Bog-standard short-term employment beckons? Use it to boost your business awareness and professional credibility. A CV containing something along the lines of “At Waitbury’s supermarket, I learned how the business marketed itself and its products and undercut the competition by doing x, y and z” trumps one that says merely “Customer service assistant, Waitbury’s”. And if you have a day or two off, you may be able to take advantage of the suggestions below…

Nothing on the horizon? A gap in your schedule? Paid internships and actual jobs in your field of interest could be up for grabs even at this late stage. Try the formal route via websites recommended on My SOAS Student and take a look at JobOnline. Or make an informal approach to a local firm: often they need some timely help with specific projects.

If that draws a blank, volunteering won’t boost your bank balance but will enhance your CV and increase your feel-good factor, without necessarily making massive inroads into other activities – a couple of hours a week are all often that’s required. Take a look here for inspiration and check with individual organisations.

No luck or no time? How about a spot of work shadowing? You can arrange this via personal contacts. If that proves impossible, try a smidgeon of informational interviewing: the noble – and worthwhile – art of finding someone in a career that attracts you and asking them a series of targeted, shrewd and perceptive questions to increase your knowledge and employability.

As for Spain, Greece and their continental cousins, enjoy. You deserve your downtime. But don’t neglect the wider careers picture. You know it makes sense!

Gill Sharp, Careers Consultant

 

Careers as Depicted by Drag Queens

Accountant

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You actually know how to use Excel. Your pay check reflects this.

 

Teacher

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You are always marking. Always. You get hyper defensive when people bring up summer holidays.

 

Counsellor

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You have a calm and collected demeanour until alone, then you scream into pillows.

 

Events Manager

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Everybody thinks life is one big party but you spend most of your time shouting at your Blackberry. Who even has a Blackberry anymore?

 

Lawyer

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You are successful. You work 19 hours a day. You are dead inside.

 

Curator

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You go to the best parties. You do the work of 8 people for the pay of half a person.

 

Interpreter 

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You rarely actually know what people are saying – you are /that/ good at making things up.

 

Journalist

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You are nosy.

 

Politician

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You are morally ambivalent and proud. 

 

Human Resources Officer

You are always making the best of a bad situation.

 

Chef

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Your Instagram is full of gorgeous looking food. You primarily eat microwave meals when not working.

 

Administration

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You hear your name said 458 times a day. If you take a long weekend the office burns down.

 

Banker

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People might think you’re evil but your pay check makes you cry tears of joy.

 

Fitness Instructor

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Your Instagram feed is full of pictures of Greek yoghurt. Any passion or joy you experienced from exercise has gone.

 

Librarian

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You had to do a postgraduate degree but people only ever want to know the Wifi password.

 

Folk Musician

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People don’t believe this is your actual job.

 

Flight Attendant

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You’ve seen the inside of hotels in all 7 continents.

 

Academic

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You have your own office. You sleep in it. You are 30.You have so much debt.

 

Management

You used to love people. Now you are emotionally deadened.

James Hallett, Volunteering Advisor

How To: Creative Careers

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Creative careers. A neat catch-all but what does it mean? Your blogger’s definition (you may have another) would be a job cluster that includes making, creating, performing – and supporting same as maybe a director, a technician, an administrator. Everything from music to mime, design to dance, rock to writing, stand-up to stage management. At times this may even spill over into areas such as media and heritage. Which gives you a lot of possibilities, so how do you get started?

As a student it’s imperative to put your head above the parapet and get noticed. Say what? Involvement in student drama, selling artwork on a stall, doing gigs in small (not to say obscure) venues, entering competitions, taking extra courses… you see where I’m going with this. All of which means spending time while not necessarily earning money. But although activities like these many not necessarily swell your bank balance, they lend credibility to your CV, and help you to get up and networking with those who could offer you paid work in the future. And networking is an essential here, not an optional extra.

After university? A step into the unknown in most cases. Your first decision: will your creativity support you or must you support your creativity? A.k.a. can you earn enough as a creative to live “comfortably” (whatever that means to you) or do you need a day job to fund your artistic leanings?

Of course, there’s always the traditional waiting at tables while starving in a garret. Great if that’s your choice, less alluring if it’s forced on you by fate. If you need a regular role, even on a temporary basis, you could either:

a) scrabble for a foothold in the sector where you want to forge a career –for instance many staff that you see in a theatre, from box office to bar, will be “resting” actors and stage crew.

or

b) get qualifications / training in an area that will give you flexibility to be creative as and when work or commissions come up.

Some examples

> Lew: playwright and director, works in a bookshop part-time

> Alice: actor, language graduate, freelance translator

> Mike: writer, London guide

> Roly: would-be film-maker, tutors A level students

> Ellie: stage manager and supply teacher.

And if you don’t want to live with uncertainty and need a steady wage and a defined job? Again you have options:

  • Put the creativity on the back burner, maybe as a lucrative use of your spare time,(Rose, fine artist, and full-time events manager for upmarket pub chain) or perhaps as something to return to once when you have made your millions ( Jatinder, musician turned banker; Nina, sculptor and qualified solicitor) or
  • Take 9- 5 employment in a creative field as, for instance, an arts administrator or community arts officer.

Where to look for any or all of these opportunities? Try our own dear
https://jobonline.thecareersgroup.co.uk/careersgroup/student/Vacancies.aspx

not to mention
http://www.artsjobs.org.uk/
http://www.artshub.co.uk/jobs/

You have choices. Make them and take them.

Gill Sharp, Senior Careers Consultant

#MondayMotivation: Getting Creative With Your Career

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Embrace your creativity this week and swing by the Careers Zone to explore how you can get started with a life in the creative sector. Come and hear from SOAS-based Why Comics? this Thursday at 2pm in SL62 and hear their first-hand tales of a career in the creative industries.

Hear from Emily Oliver about Why Comics, her career path and how she got into a creative industry, alongside any tips for students wanting to follow the same path!

Emily has a track record of launching and scaling high impact social and creative initiatives – aiming to shape our critical systems more equitably, deepen public discourse, and creatively spark critical awareness. Her experience ranges from launching peoplefund.it (which become the UK’s largest crowdfunding platform, Crowdfunder), to establishing the arts service for the London Borough of Newham. She has worked at the Arts Council of England, in socially engaged media, and is currently the Managing Director of PositiveNegatives – an enterprise incubated at SOAS.

Come and get involved with all the other inspiring talks happening this week too. All our events take place in the Careers Seminar Room (SL62, Paul Webley Wing):

Tue 30 Jan, 12 – 1pm: Top Tips: Interviews & Assessment Centres: BOOK NOW

Thu 1 Feb, 12 – 1pm: Top Tips: Using Social Media to Get a Job: BOOK NOW

Alexis Fromageot

Insight From Your Fellow Student: Life in the Creative Industries

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Ifeanyi Awachie, MA Global
Creative & Cultural Industries (2016-17) offers an honest insight into her journey in the creative industries so far. 

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Ifeanyi at AFRICA SALON 2016 at Yale

Hey! I’m Ifeanyi. I’m a Nigerian-American writer and arts curator. I did my Master’s in Global Creative and Cultural Industries at SOAS in the 2016-2017 academic year, and I’m currently working in the creative industries in London as well as on my own creative platform.

The thing about choosing a creative career path is – there is no path. You have to mould your education, jobs, and experiences into the creative life you want to live. Try doing that while being a working-class, black immigrant – it can be really hard to find examples of people with your experiences and perspective doing the work you want to do.

That said, my experience trying to find creative work and launch my own platform in London has been challenging, enlightening, but ultimately positive. A big part of the reason I came to SOAS was to develop my business, AFRICA SALON, a global events company curating contemporary arts festivals at the intersection of academia and the creative industries. I started the platform in the States and came to SOAS to study African arts and culture more deeply. I chose my course for its practicality – for one of our modules, students can do an internship in the creative industries for credit. I used that credit to work on my company. One of the projects I assigned myself was to host one of my festivals at SOAS. I curated an event called ourselves + others: african feminist re-CREATIONS at SOAS, which took place on November 25. We had a full house, the speakers and performers made our audience swoon, and so many people told me
that the space I created is needed in London. The festival was a kind of taste test for the
potential of my business, and the results were promising.

While planning the festival, I learned about the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, a work visa that allows international graduates to stay in London and start businesses. It sounded perfect for me – I want to launch AFRICA SALON in London, and of course, keep living in this fabulous, hectic city. After a two-round application process that included pitching my business to a SOAS Enterprise panel, I was endorsed for the visa.

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Ifeanyi and Kenyan creative duo 2ManySiblings

Though I would be starting a company, I needed a way to support myself. I’d practically been applying for creative jobs since the moment I got to London, but no one seemed to be biting. I learned that roles at the organisations I wanted to be part of were extremely competitive, and I started to get discouraged. Then one night, I was at a party, talking to a Nigerian guy about my interests, and he suggested that I get in touch with his former boss, the director of TAFETA, an African art gallery. I visited the gallery, and the director and I hit it off. I started spending more time there, going to exhibition openings, even proposing a collaboration between TAFETA and AFRICA SALON. Though that project didn’t pan out, the director eventually offered me a job. I was pumped. I was passionate about the talent of the artists the gallery represented and excited to work for an organisation where I felt represented as a Nigerian and an African arts enthusiast.

Like many creative jobs, the gallery role was a great fit, but wasn’t going to pay me a lot. As a young, broke creative, you need to find creative ways to make money; I am constantly doing research to do just that. That’s how I learned about the SOAS Santander Scheme. If, as SOAS student, you find a great position, Santander will put in a certain amount of funding that your employer then has to match to bring your pay up to living wage. With the Santander funding, the gallery was able to offer me a paid internship as Trainee Gallery Manager.

My position at the gallery was to be short-term, so I kept a lookout for jobs. One listing I found made me stop in my tracks. It sounded perfect for me. It more or less outlined the work I did through AFRICA SALON and at the gallery, and sounded like exactly the type of experience I’d like to have next. But I was sure I wasn’t going to get it. It was at a big arts institution, and I’d been burned by those all year. I put a lot of work into the cover letter, but I knew I needed to do something extra to make myself stand out. I scanned my mental list of people I knew in London and reached out to a friend that I thought might have a connection to the institution. She did. I met her contact for coffee. That conversation gave me a better sense of the organisation, and while the person I met had no power in the hiring process, I could tell I had made a positive impression on her, and I crossed my fingers that that would count for something.

I got the job. I now work as Assistant Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. It’s early days, but the role feels like one in which I can make valuable contributions, and the environment feels closely suited to my interests. Next year, I’ll be working full-time at the ICA while developing AFRICA SALON. It feels really good to look back on how things have come together, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to relax. I’m always looking for ways to improve my work, elevate my brand, and stay on top of my various projects and responsibilities. I hope my experience gives you some ideas, but remember – no one can really tell you how to be the creative you want to be. In my opinion, all we can do is seek out those personal connections, be scrappy and resourceful, and keep hustling.

Ifeanyi Awachie

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk.

Insight From Your Fellow Student: Wok’ing Across Britain with FUN:) Healthy Chinese Cuisine Ambassadors

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Eliot Gee, MA Anthropology of Food (graduating 2017) discusses their time interning at Ming-Ai (London) Institute. 

A few months ago, I wouldn’t have expected to find myself standing in front of a dozen British teenagers at 9am on a Tuesday, explaining how to make sure a wok is hot enough to add oil (“Not olive oil; we want just enough neutral cooking oil to keep your protein from sticking”)… but now, it’s another day on the job!

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The FUN:) Project visits schools across the U.K., inviting students to participate in quick, easy, and healthy cooking workshops. Since joining this summer, I’ve found that the work nicely complements my MA dissertation; my research interviews examined how Chinese food is perceived by migrants (specifically, how social and physical wellbeing are linked to food and generational memory), while classroom visits through FUN:) have shown me the day-to-day reality of Chinese food from the perspective of British schoolchildren.

Although South Asian food has been incorporated into the mainstream British taste at both high and low levels of cuisine, knowledge about Chinese food remains surprisingly limited beyond the performative fields of  Chinatown and TV cook shows. Likewise, students’ understanding of Chinese immigrants’ culture and history is limited; most don’t know there was any “relationship” between Britain and Hong Kong. Therefore, it’s been inspiring to see how projects like FUN:) help challenge the negative takeaway association surrounding Chinese food. Offering students the knowledge, taste, and skills to feel comfortable cooking simple Chinese dishes at home is a first step towards broadening their horizons and encouraging more meaningful discussion about the diversity of Chinese cuisine and culture. For example, during our presentation we ask students to guess why Cantonese food might be over-represented in the U.K.

Last year, FUN:) conducted 70 student demonstrations, visiting schools across London and as far away as Wales, Manchester, and Colchester. Cooking in so many kitchens with all different students is always fun (let’s be honest, there are plenty of puns thrown around. The name is supposed to reflect the Chinese word for rice)! Some students have never used a wok before, so even a simple stir-fry is an entirely new experience for them. At recent trip to a special needs school, I helped a boy who was too nervous to initially approach the hot wok… but by the end of an hour, he had cooked a brilliant kungpao chicken to bring home to his family. Compared to my prior experiences teaching language and history in Asian schools, I’ve found it very rewarding to see how hands-on activity can ground even the most “difficult” students and give them something to be proud of. This is in no small part due to the encouragement of their teachers, who are unfailingly friendly and generous with their time, and tea!

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We also stay busy hosting free Teacher Training Workshops that encourage teachers to become “cuisine ambassadors” on our behalf, with the bonus opportunity of a cooking skills competition. FUN:)’s sponsor, the sauce brand Lee Kum Kee, invites the winning trio of teachers to Hong Kong and China, where they learn more about the food culture and exchange techniques at a culinary school. I can testify that this year they ate to their hearts’ content, since I had to edit all of the video footage upon their return!

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Despite its wide reach, the project is very small, which means there is always a range of work to be done. Currently there are only two of us at the FUN:) office! Kelly, the project coordinator and a SOAS graduate, has been with the project for over a year and does a terrific job setting up demonstrations & workshops, and developing lesson plans (among a couple hundred other tasks). Much of my time has been devoted to updating our photo, video, and presentation material. I filmed, edited, and am currently uploading and writing descriptions for a series of cooking skills videos, available on our newly formed YouTube page for students and teachers. We are also rebooting our web presence– website, Instagram, Facebook– to best connect with interested would-be cooks.

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FUN:) operates as part of Ming-Ai (London) Institute, located in North London. A perk of joining FUN:) is that Ming-Ai offers connections to many segments of the British-Chinese community, hosting events at our building that include calligraphy, talks, and language courses. Other projects include spreading knowledge about British-Chinese Armed Forces Heritage, and a MA Program in Chinese Cultural Heritage Management (through Middlesex University). It’s probably no surprise that many people who work here have passed through the SOAS China Institute at one point or another.

Despite being a relatively small organization, Ming-Ai has worked with high-profile groups and celebrities. FUN:) has connections with famous chefs Ken Hom, Ching-He Huang, and Andrew Wong, among others. Recently we helped with the Hong Kong Intangible Culture Festival, hosting Michelin-star dim sum chefs from Hong Kong at the Crowne Plaza to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, and are initiating an upcoming series of talks, cooking and paper-making workshops as part of a cultural exhibition next month at China Exchange (tucked away in the center of Chinatown).

For anybody interested in British-Chinese food culture, or building connections between the Chinese community and British schools, I strongly encourage looking into Ming-Ai’s opportunities. Both FUN:) and the British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage Project are eager to have students join in either part-time or volunteer capacities. Head here for all the details!

Eliot Gee

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk.