Insight From Your Fellow Student: Working at the Civil Service

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Ranya Alakraa, BSc Development Studies & Economics (graduated 2016) explores her journey from SOAS to the Civil Service Fast Stream. 

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It was the end of the summer after our 2nd year at uni, our third and final year was in sight, until this point I had never thought about my career. My friend called me and informed me grad scheme applications were opening soon. We dialled in a few other friends and in the middle of this four-way conversation the panic set in. What were we doing with our futures?

We all met the very next day in SOAS to figure out our life-plans; we climbed up to the Career’s Office and collected every possible leaflet or brochure on grad schemes, jobs, internships, CV and cover letter writing. By the end of this we were all a little overwhelmed.

We went back to the JCR and started sifting through all these papers, circling and highlighting things which appealed to us. Another friend spotted us and came over; he saw the air of panic surrounding me and asked me a really good question that I myself had never properly thought about. He said where do you see yourself in the future, what is the ideal job you would be doing? So I thought about it for a few minutes, and I said I would be working in policy somewhere in the government, with a focus on economic development. So he told me he had been doing the Summer Diversity Internship for the Civil Service, and that I should consider applying for the Fast Stream…and so I did!

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A few months later, in December of my final year, I had a job offer as an Economist in the Civil Service Fast Stream, and it was all thanks to that fateful day when we all sat in the SOAS JCR! It was a rigorous application process, but doing it so early on in the year meant that I already had a job offer before the New Year and I could focus fully on revision and those final essays in the Spring term.

A few lessons I learnt from my own experience, I probably should have started thinking about jobs and my career earlier on. Doing internships and getting work experience throughout your undergraduate degree is very useful. Doing research on what is out there is even more important, I hadn’t even heard about the Fast Stream until my friend told me about it! And finally, I definitely did not make enough use of the SOAS Career’s Service which probably could have told me about all the opportunities out there and would have helped me with things like job applications.

Nevertheless, I am now working as an Assistant Economist in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. As part of the Fast Stream I get to rotate after a year to another department, it’s a great opportunity to see how government works from the inside, and how Economics is so crucial to every step of the policy process. I love my job and I can see a really clear future for myself here, but there are plenty of schemes other than the Economics one as part of the Fast Stream, read more about them here!

Ranya Alakraa

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.

What’s on this Week: Career Planning Week

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This week at SOAS Careers we take a look at how to go about planning you next steps! Come and hear practical, real-life advice and examples about getting your journey started, with great advice from a wide range of people.

Don’t worry if you’re not even at the point of planning – pop by SL57 and we can talk through where to even begin.

Mon 16 Jan, 5:30 – 7pm, B111, Brunei Gallery: Lead Yourself – Developing your Strengths with Teach First: http://bit.ly/2jPFFM6

Wed 18 Jan, 1:30 – 3pm, S118, Paul Webley Wing: Simplifying Global Recruitment through Tier 5 Visas: http://bit.ly/2jo0mlF

Thurs 19 Jan, 5:30 – 7pm, G3, Main Building: Commercial Awareness with PwC: http://bit.ly/2iCP4Jl

 

See you there!

Alexis Fromageot

How to get in to Humanitarian Aid and Organisations

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A sobering record was set by the United Nations humanitarian appeal launched in early December. $22.2 billion, the largest sum ever, is needed in 2017 for 93 million people affected by natural disasters and conflict in 33 countries. The Global Humanitarian Overview 2017 provides a more detailed, sobering insight into funding trends and the significant increase in needs over more than a decade.  This is one sector where the growth in demand does not signal a buoyant economy and satisfied shareholders.

If you are considering a career with Humanitarian organisations, how can you research this area and what can you do? Work in this sector is diverse ranging from education to governance and human rights to healthcare. Where do your interests lie?  What you would actually do within humanitarian organisations is equally varied as are the routes into the sector.  There are many different skills and knowledge sets needed so thinking about where your strengths and work interests and practical considerations such as location and the type of working lifestyle that you want can also be a useful starting point.

The size and structure of organisations involved in some way with the humanitarian sector vary considerably from Governmental organisations such as DFID (the UK’s Department for International Development), International organisations which include the UN and its agencies and NGOs (Non Governmental Organisations) and charities.  If your interest is in research in a broader context, then academic institutions and ‘think tanks’ such as the Chatham House (known more formally as the Royal Institute International Affairs) work on international and development topics.

Whilst working as a project manager or specialist practitioner in the field may be the first type of work which springs to mind if you are just starting to explore options; there are other possibilities. Humanitarian organisations, like many others, have infrastructure needs such as finance and logistics. Generating income through fundraising  (across a spectrum from individuals to corporate and grant making organisations), educating and informing audiences through communications and media and working in policy and research are all roles that can  in varied ways to enabling charities, non governmental organisations and others deliver.

You can find lots of information on the different roles and employers within the International Development section of Occupational sectors on MySOAS Student. Also in this section are links to a large number of job vacancy sites such as BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development) and Eldis. Looking at current job vacancies even if these are targeted at more experienced staff can give you a great insight into the nature of opportunities. LinkedIn can be an additional useful resource in this respect, not only because you can begin to network with those working in the sector but because you can follow organisations (could be useful for vacancy posts), look at the backgrounds of people working for them and also join interest groups to further your knowledge and contacts.

Being able to articulate an informed interest in the sector will be crucial to securing opportunities. Volunteering and internships can enable you to build an insight into this multifaceted area. Think carefully about the contribution which you want to make and where your talents, knowledge and skills might best be used. Your overriding driver may be because you want to make a difference – passion and enthusiasm is important but refining your thoughts about the part you can play is important.

How do you want change your world?

Claire Rees, Careers Consultant

What’s on this Week: Assessment Centres & Selection Methods Week

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This week at SOAS Careers is all about Assessment Centres and selection methods!

Come along to our whole host of events designed to support you as you navigate your way through your upcoming assessment centres, as well as our one-to-one appointments every afternoon. Don’t miss out!

Mon 14 Nov 5.30 – 6.30pm, B111: Applications & Interviews with PwC: http://bit.ly/2fRszO6

Wed 16 Nov 1.30 – 3pm, S118: Succeeding at the Fast Stream Assessment Centre: http://bit.ly/2eWXlps

Wed 16 Nov 6 – 9pm, Venue TBC: Serving the World: Working for the United Nations: http://bit.ly/2g6RGA3

Thurs 17 Nov 12.30 – 1.30pm, SL57: What I Wish I’d Known with Samir Farrag: http://bit.ly/2ewXkdt

Thurs 17 Nov 5.30 – 7pm, KLT: Problem Solving with Teach First: http://bit.ly/2fykzAq

Look forward to seeing you there!

Alexis Fromageot

3 days left to enter #changeyourworld & have tea with the UN!

It’s been awesome to read about all the projects you’ve been involved in for the #changeyourworld photo competition! Get inspired by taking a look at some of the incredible photos we’ve had so far.

Taken in the Nkomazi region of South Africa, this one is with a non-profit called Imagine Scholar:

Here’s one one taken during an ongoing community development workshops in Cambodia called The CAM Projects:

Taken in Bangladesh, this picture is in a Shelter House as part of an immersion program:

To be in with a chance of winning this unique opportunity to have tea with the Chief of Outreach at the UN after his talk at SOAS, you just need to upload a photo of a time that you have changed someone else’s world, in the past year. This could be during a great internship, volunteering or work placement that you’ve been involved in, or anything else that has led to you changing another’s world.

To enter, upload your photo with a brief explanation, to our Facebook or Twitter page and tag it with #changeyourworld, or else email it directly to us at careers@soas.ac.uk.

All entries must be in by Friday 4th November and the winner will be announced in our Wednesday newsletter the following week. The winner will be decided by a panel of judges from SOAS, and all runner up images will be displayed at the UN talk.

To register for the talk click here, and to enter the competition just upload your photo with #changeyourworld.

Alexis Fromageot

Something for the Weekend: Public Sector Week

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It’s been fantastic hear that Public Sector week has shown you what life working in this sector is really like.

Here’s an easy read for the weekend to wrap up the week! If you’ve ever had to repeat what you’re career dreams are, you’ll definitely relate to this list of 9 Things People With Unusual Career Goals Are Tired of Hearing.

Enjoy your weekend, and see you next week for Media Week!

Alexis Fromageot

Public Sector and LGBT equality: Recognition for 30+ employers in Stonewall’s Top 100

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Over 30 Public Sector employers have been recognised as great places to work for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) equality, in the Top 100 of Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index (WEI) 2016. The WEI is a powerful benchmarking tool used by employers to assess their achievements and progress on LGBT equality in the workplace.

The index is formed from a submission from the employer on their policies and practices, plus feedback directly from staff on their experiences of the working culture:

  • Are lesbian, gay and bi people comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation at work?
  • Are there visible lesbian, gay, bi and trans role models in the organisation?
  • Are lesbian, gay, bi and trans employees supported by managers and senior managers?
  • Are staff confident reporting homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in the workplace

Whilst not making it into the Top 100 this year, many more are listed as Diversity Champions in Stonewall’s ‘Starting Out Guide’ – the definitive guide to LGBT-inclusive employers.

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Ask employers including the Civil Service and HM Treasury about their policies and culture in person at the Public Sector Fair at SOAS on Thursday 27th October!

Check out the full lists of Stonewall’s Top 100 and the Diversity Champions here.

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The Public Sector includes a huge variety of roles and opportunities. Here, we run through some examples of LGBT-inclusive employers and possible routes of entry for graduates.

Civil service Departments and Agencies:

The Home Office receives high accolade as a Star Performer in 2016, having been ranked in Stonewall’s Top 10 three times in the past five years. The Department for International Development (DFID), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Ministry of Justice feature as Diversity Champions. The Civil Service Fast Stream is a highly rated graduate scheme (currently 18th in the Guardian Top 300 graduate employers) in which staff work across a variety of departments. Also see individual department websites and civil service jobs for opportunities.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) comes in at 36 in the Top 100. ONS offers graduate analytical positions, including Economic Researchers which they are currently recruiting* for 14 positions.

Local Government

In London, Tower Hamlets and Islington are feature in the Top 100 as do, more widely, Birmingham City and Newcastle City Councils. Eight other London Boroughs are featured as Diversity Champions, including Hackney, Newham and Sutton. Opportunities for graduates include the National Graduate Development Program, a graduate scheme run by the Local Government Association in which different councils participate. Also see local websites.

Local Councils, an organisation which represents the 32 London Boroughs and the City of London, also features as a Diversity Champion. London Councils offers opportunities including in policy and research roles.

Devolved Governments and Offices

Wales is strongly represented with The National Assembly for Wales comes in at an impressive 3rd in the Top 100, with The Welsh Government ranked 17th. Opportunities include via the Civil Service Fast Stream, and see their websites.

Scotland’s Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service features at 25th, and offers opportunities including Solicitor Traineeships for law graduates.

Policing and Defence

Six Police Forces and the National Crime Agency are featured in the Top 100, plus many more on the Diversity Champions list, including London’s Metropolitan Police. Originating in the Met Police, there is now a national Policing Graduate Scheme Police:Now.

International Security Intelligence Service MI6 ranks at 36th. Opportunities include language specialists and intelligence officers. MI5 features as the top employer in the Top 100, and offers three different graduate programmes.

NHS Trusts and Emergency Services

These also featured strongly in the Top 100. See local sites for opportunities.

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* Live at time of writing

Alice Moon, Careers Consultant

What’s on this Week: Public Sector Week

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This week at SOAS Careers is all about working in the Public Sector!

Come along to our whole host of events designed to support you and your career in the public sector, as well as our one-to-one appointments every afternoon. Don’t miss out!

Mon 24 Oct 5.30 – 7pm, B111: SOAS Alumni: What the Civil Service Fast Stream is really like: http://bit.ly/2dCf5mh

Wed 26 Oct 1.30 – 3pm, S118: JET and Daiwa Presentation: http://bit.ly/2eZwHhM

Thurs 27 Oct 1 – 4pm, Cloisters, Senate House North Block: Public Sector Fair: http://bit.ly/2eJYO0M

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Alexis Fromageot

 

Guest Blog: Student Volunteering Week 2016: Celebration Event at City Hall

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

Monday afternoon, representatives from the charity, government and business sectors gathered at London’s City Hall to celebrate Student Volunteering Week.Veronica Wadley, Senior Mayoral Advisor for Volunteering opened the event. She spoke about the importance of student volunteering to the mayor’s vision for London, particularly in light of London’s status as European Volunteering Capital 2016.

Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, stressed the importance of volunteering to employment in later life, telling us that “social action is linked with enhanced employability skills. You’re 3 times more likely to get a job interview if you volunteer.”

Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society

Joy Carter, Chair of Guild HE and Vice Chancellor of the University of Winchester, said that it’s crucial for colleges and universities to invest in student volunteering to make it accessible to every student alongside their studies. She shared examples from her own university where students are encouraged at every opportunity to get out into the local community and give something back.

Jess Tinkler from the University of Southampton receives her certificate from Sara Fernandez

The event brought together all 10 students longlisted for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award. Richard Brooks, VP Union Development for NUS, Sara Fernandez, Executive Director of Student Hubs, and Joe Crook, Student Volunteering Network, shared the longlist and shortlist’s accomplishments with our audience. It was Liam Rodgers of Sheffield Hallam University who was announced as the winner, recognising his outstanding commitment to social action demonstrated by Liam through Upscribe, a creative writing project he founded for homeless people and other marginalised groups.

The other four shortlisted students — Jo, Kathleen, Samuel and Zoe — were also recognised for dedicating their time to causes they care about…

  • Jo Devall from the University of Plymouth is a Volunteer Lifeboat Crewman for the RNLI in Plymouth, and former President of UPSU SAINTS Kickboxing Club.
  • Kathleen Crymble from South Lanarkshire College established the Back to School Bank in East Kilbride in summer 2015.
  • Samuel Wong from Royal Holloway is a Cabinet Office Volunteer Advisor, Project Leader for numerous volunteering projects, and is involved with the local Police Independent Advisory Group and Young Community Leaders Network.
  • Zoe Webber from Goldsmiths University is the President of RE:mind mental health society, and is dedicated to volunteering to help students to improve their mental health.

The longlist with Richard Brooks (NUS), Sara Fernandez (Student Hubs) and Rob Wilson (Minister for Civil Society)

Well done to all of our award finalists, as well as our longlisted candidates. It was wonderful to see them all come together at last, and the mutual admiration among them was clear. In a heartwarming twist, Liam pledged a third of his £1,000 prize money to Kathleen’s Back to School Bank project, saying that reading about it almost brought him to tears.

You can hear an interview with Liam as part of BBC Radio 1’s #1MillionHours campaignhere.

Award winner Liam Rodgers

Yesterday was just the start, however. Over 250 Student Volunteering Week events are taking place this week, involving over 14,000 students from 125 colleges and universities around the country. You can read all about the events on our What’s On page.

Be sure to keep up with what’s happening around the country on Twitter andFacebook. Let us know what you’re up to using #SVW2016 and share your motivations for volunteering using #IVolunteerBecause.

Happy Student Volunteering Week 2016!

The Student Volunteering Week Team

The national SVW team from Student Hubs & NUS coordinate SVW activities for the nationwide campaign, 22-28 Feb 2016

 

Guest blog: Great with Disability Article 2015

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

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www.greatwithdisability.com is a really useful resource for students with disabilities and long-term health conditions including, but not limited to, dyslexia, autism, depression, cancer or hearing loss, offering a step-by-step guide on how to navigate graduate recruitment processes. Topics include essentials such as being open about your disability, requesting adjustments or support, explaining gaps in the CV or a lack of work experience to name but a few.

To help you consider your future career path www.greatwithdisability.com features detailed profiles of top employers who are employers of choice for disabled applicants. You can read about the support they offer during both the recruitment process and in the workplace. There’s also the opportunity to read case studies of disabled employees enjoying successful careers and providing you with a genuine insight into what it would be like to work for the organisation.

To date there are over 30 companies listed on the site including EY, Barclays, Allen & Overy, EDF energy, the Civil Service and Teach First to name but a few. For a full list of everyone we work with, please visit http://www.greatwithdisability.com. You can also check out the current opportunities on offer ranging from open days, vacation schemes and training contracts at law firms to internship and graduate opportunities at banks. You can also apply for graduate programmes at companies like Enterprise Rent-A-Car, GlaxoSmithKline and Transport for London.

Our regularly updated ‘news articles’ section features articles written by a wide range of contributors including recent graduates, employers and recruitment professionals. And our Events section advertises upcoming careers events that you may wish to attend.

Becoming a member of the GWD community enables you to:

 Access your personal toolkit

 Read insightful PDF resources

 Comment on your favourite articles

 Create your own library of resources

 Receive early notification of opportunities

So if you consider yourself to have a disability or a long-term health condition and are ambitious about your future, join the GWD community at www.greatwithdisability.com/login.

Guest blog by Hannah Birkett from Great With Disability