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.

5 Simple Tips for How to use Social Media in your Job Hunt

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Checking at least one social media platform plays a fundamental part in most of our daily lives. Increasingly, we use social media to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues, engage with events and for receiving news.

In over five years in Higher Education I can count on one hand the number of students I’ve met who do not use any form of social media at all.

Whilst it’s great for consuming media and news, and for keeping in touch with people, the tools available via social media are fantastic for job hunting.

A few quick tips from me are;

1 – Starting with obvious, get on LinkedIn and start networking. The basics of LinkedIn are having a profile that looks great and shows off your professional credentials. Yeah, the jobs board is ok. But being connected to over 400 million members across the world – that’s the real value of LinkedIn.

Having a profile that looks great, but having no connections to notice it means a lot of wasted effort. It’s like having a fantastic CV that you stick on the fridge door at home; you’re the only person who will see it. Use the Alumni Tool and introduce yourself in groups to start building connections and networking.

2 – Have a look at your Twitter account. What does the tweet at the top of your stream say? How about treating that space as prime advertising, and writing a 140 character pitch for a job/internship, and then pinning the tweet. Once you start interacting with employers and recruiters on Twitter, whenever they look at your profile that’s the first thing they’ll see. Trying to sum yourself up in 140 characters is the challenge.

3 – Following employers on Twitter is great. But if you’re like me and you follow a couple of hundred accounts for various interests, it can be difficult to sift through the noise. So how about setting up dedicated Twitter lists to group accounts by interests. Doing this means that you can filter out a feed of employers that you’re following so you see very specific content. Take it one step further and mute the accounts so they don’t feature in your main Twitter stream amongst the personal interests if you have only one account.

4 – If you’re not sure what type of role you’re interested in, particularly in industries that are evolving so quickly that next year’s job roles don’t even exist, try YouTube for some inspiration. A lot of larger employers (for example the BBC) have a dedicated YouTube careers channel featuring interviews with their employees in various roles. This offers a chance to hear in less than 5 minutes an overview of what somebody does in their job. Not every employer can afford to do this, however it’s a good starting point if you’re exploring what your options are.

5 – Lastly, if you get an interview or similar form of interaction with an employer, check out their social media accounts. It’s more likely to be up-to-date with the employers’ latest news fresh from the Press Team, whereas a website might be a few weeks or even months out-of-date. This might be the difference between only knowing what happened 6 months ago, or also being about to talk about the current situation of the business.

As a final point, it could also be worth taking a look at this social profile checker to take a look at your online footprint as well as this really useful !

Jai Shah, Careers Consultant

International Women’s Day Celebration Event TODAY

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Celebrate International Women’s Day with a whole host of events across SOAS University of London and University of London!

Come and hear from inspiring women talking about their workplace successes TODAY at 1pm City, University of London.

This FREE event is taking place at Northampton Suite, City, University of London, Northampton Square campus, EC1V 0HB

To mark International Women’s Day, inspiring women from different industries will be coming together to discuss what success looks like, both in the workplace and wider life. The panel will be discussing and offering insight on the following:

  • What does success look like for different women?
  • How do leading women in industry achieve work-life balance?
  • What can organisations do to better support women and their progression.
  • Practical tips to tackle key issues such as salary negotiation.

The panel includes women in senior roles from across a range of industries. After a period of panel discussion there will be opportunities to talk to our panellists directly during a Q&A and then following up with some nibbles and networking.

  • Sara Fox, Principal, Fox&Co. Consulting
  • Chloe Challender, Deputy Director of Security, House of Parliament and former co-Chair of Workplace Equality Network, Parliagender
  • Sharon Northey, Securities Associate Manager, Accenture
  • Kate White, CEO, National Centre for Circus Arts
  • Emma Thomas, Head of Employment Law, Essex County Council
  • MaameYaa Kwafo-Akoto, Associate, Allen & Overy 
  • Jackie Wilgar, Senior Vice President, Marketing – International, LiveNation

This event is FREE!

Students and staff can sign up to join, by emailing careersevents@city.ac.uk

Alexis Fromageot

What’s on this Week: International Business Week

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Are your sights set on pursuing a business career outside of the UK? Then this week is for you! SOAS Careers takes a look at how to get going with working in international business with a wide range of events throughout the week.

Not keen on business? Don’t worry – come by SL57 and we still offer our full range of services for you!

 

Mon 6 Feb, 5:30 – 6:30pm, B111, Brunei Gallery: A Career in Commercial Real Estate: http://bit.ly/2kysj8R

Wed 8 Feb, 1:30 – 2:30pm, S118, Paul Webley Wing: Mock Assessment Centres: http://bit.ly/2kEtO7G

Thurs 9 Feb, 5:30 – 7pm, G3, College Building: Financial planning and Wealth Management: http://bit.ly/2jTJLmd

Look forward to seeing you there!

Alexis Fromageot

 

 

Want to earn £50pm vlogging while you look for a job?

‘The Great Grad Job Hunt’ is a project created by The Careers Group, University of London, that follows the process of job-hunting for final year students, Master’s students and 2016 graduates.

Through the use of videos, the project documents real life experiences and peer-to-peer examples of searching for a job. As well as including expert advice; job hunters from around the world can access information – tips and tricks from fellow students, graduates, consultants and employers that will help them score their dream career.

The project is looking for enthusiastic people who will be committed to documenting their job-hunting process on video through the following months. With help from our dedicated team, students and graduates will help each other and use expert advice to help them find a job best suited to their needs.

This is a great opportunity for those who wish to help others and contribute their own experiences for students/graduates who are in a similar position. Students and graduates taking part will receive:
          Life skills useful to any career role 
–          £50 a month for submitting at least 2 vlogs a month
–          Extra support from The Careers Group and Careers Consultants

Don’t worry if you haven’t decided what you want to do yet. We want to document this process also and we will help you with your decision making.

Please note that applications for this round close at 11:59pm on 6th February 2017. APPLY NOW!

Email if you have any further questions.

Alexis Fromageot

What’s on this Week: Languages Week

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Are you enjoying SOAS’ incredible and unique language provision? This week at SOAS Careers we investigate how to factor in your language skills into your next steps.

Not sure where to even begin with thinking about what to do next, let along how languages would fit into that? Not to worry – pop by SL57 and we can talk through it all with you.

Mon 23 Jan, 5:30 – 7pm, B111, Brunei Gallery: Networking for Business Success: http://bit.ly/2iULwDP

Weds 25 Jan, 1:30 – 3pm, S118, Paul Webley Wing: Coaching for Civil Service Assessment Centres: http://bit.ly/2k7C1OS

Thurs 26 Jan, 5:30 – 7pm, G3, College Building: Career Options for Students with Language Skills: http://bit.ly/2jgNAET 

Alexis Fromageot

Thinking about getting started with your next steps?

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As we begin to settle in to 2017, now’s as good a time as any to start thinking about how to go about planning your next steps. Whether you’ve got a fully set goal in mind or are still completely open as to what the future holds, the following question and answers are designed to support you as you look to your life beyond SOAS!

I’ve not even started thinking about what I want to do next – can you still help?

Not to worry – we can definitely still help! In fact, this is often when we can best support you. Take a look at our wealth of online resources on MySOAS Student to help get the ball rolling.  The Explore your Future section is a great starting point to get you inspired. Our Careers Consultants can work with you at whatever stage you are in terms of thinking about your future plans and, and you can just call in to the Careers Service in SL57 to take a look at all the books and resources available for you.

Haven’t I missed most of the deadlines by now?

While some of this year’s recruitment deadlines have passed, there are plenty more round the corner. Many graduate recruiters will continue to recruit throughout the year, and often small to mid-sized organisations will only advertise jobs later in the year, as and when roles become available. Take a look at the Career Planning section on MySOAS Student to get a better idea about the time frames for recruitment – from internships and placements through to graduate schemes.

How many applications should I make?

This is completely down to you, though we’d suggest that you do your research and focus your efforts on a limited number of employers rather than spreading your efforts too thinly. Have a read through our advice on how to make standout applications and pop by the Careers Service to get your applications reviewed. We can help you to recognise the most effective approach for you.

How do I book an appointment?

We offer 15 minute Short Guidance appointments every afternoon, Mon-Fri, for any questions you may have about careers, further education, work experience, volunteering etc. We can also take a look over your CV, and would recommend you check our CV checklist on our website first. We have many more materials in the Service about CVs, cover letters and applications.

You can sign up for an appointment on the day only, by either calling us on 020 7898 4115 or coming in person to SL57, Lower Ground Floor, Paul Webeley Wing after we open. These slots are really popular, so we’d suggest signing up as early as you can on your chosen day.

We also have Masters Mondays appointments on a Monday between 12-1pm, and Internship Guidance appointments on a Wednesday between 2-4pm; again these are both bookable on the day.

If you are finding it difficult to book an appointment for any reason, just get in touch and we’ll do our best to make sure you get to talk to someone as soon as possible. Read more about the different types of services we offer.

What’s the quickest way for me to get some help?

Never used the Careers Service before or just not quite sure how it can all fit together to help you? We’re open from 10-5pm Monday to Thursday, 11-4pm on a Friday. A member of the Careers team is more than happy to have an initial informal chat with you, and we’re always available to suggest any key resources that could help you. You can also check out the information we have on hand for you on MySOAS Student.

I just want to focus on finishing my degree for now – can I still come by for help when I graduate?

Yes – you can continue to use our services for as long as you need to once you graduate! We’ll be at your graduation ceremony to give you the most up to date information about how to join our alumni network GradClub, which will allow you to continue booking appointments and getting access to all our resources.

Where are you based? 

We are in the Paul Webeley Wing – on the lower ground floor next to the Weston Student Hub, in room SL57.

Alexis Fromageot

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

Mastering Your Career as a Masters student

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The holiday season is fast approaching bringing lots of opportunities to reconnect with family and friends.  One of the common questions asked when you meet up with people is ‘What are you doing now? After a term of Masters level study at SOAS (or a year and a term if you are a part time student), there will be much to tell!   The follow up question which is then commonly asked is ‘What are you going to next’ At this point do you:

a) Outline your current plans and talk about recent applications

b) Say that you have lots of ideas and stop there

c) Change the subject

d) Steer the conversation around to what they do and try some networking!

If you answered A: Outline your current plans and talk about recent application

If you are writing your CV, filling out application forms or about to start applying, the Making Applications section of MYSOAS has lots of useful hints and tips. This includes our handout on CVs for Masters Students, a useful guide to how to present your current and past experience to your future employer.  After looking at our resources on applications, you can book a short guidance discussion with a Careers Consultant to get feedback on your draft CV or form.

When you receive an invitation to interview, don’t forget that the Careers Service offers practice interviews as well!

If you answered B: Say that you have lots of ideas and stop there

It’s great that you have lots of ideas but how might you take these forward?  If you are finding it challenging to make some choices then have a look at the career decision information in the Careers Service MYSOAS. How much do you know about the sector and roles that you are considering? Check out the ‘Careers by Sector on Moodle’ for detailed information on many career areas. You can also use our Careers Tagged database to explore different types of work.

A discussion with a Careers Consultant may also help you think though your ideas and consider what you can do next to make your ideas a reality!

If you answered C: Change the subject

You may not have wanted to enter into a careers discussion in the midst of a social occasions and there is time and place for everything.  On the other hand, if you find that you continually put to one side thoughts about the ‘next step’ after your course as you don’t know where to start or feel that there would be too much to do to sort things out, then come and talk to a Careers Consultant.  Even taking some small steps about what to do after your course can be valuable.  We are used to working with students and graduates who are very very unsure about future plans!

If you answered D: Steer the conversation around to what they do and try some networking!

The holiday season brings lots of opportunities to network and make useful contacts.  If the thought of networking makes you nervous or just brings to mind, people in suits with lots of business cards then you may be reassured by looking at some hints and tips in the career planning section of MYSOAS.

‘Mastering Your Career’ suggests that everything needs to be organised at all times – we all know life is not like that.  Serendipitous encounters, the job that catches your eye when browsing through a vacancy list and a casual discussion with the person next to you in a lecture (SOAS students have a lot to offer) can all help to life’s rich career tapestry!

May you all enjoy your vacation (it is nearly here!).

Claire Rees, Careers Consultant

Guest Blog: What’s Ambitious Futures all about?

Guest blog from Katie McCallum, who was the Ambitious Futures Graduate Trainee at SOAS for 2015/16.

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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For the past 15 months I’ve been a Graduate Trainee at SOAS with Ambitious Futures (AF), a programme for University leadership and management. “What is this?” I hear you ask. My best attempt at explaining AF is that it’s a programme of work that involves a whole host of different elements: three work placements (where you get your work experience), a Leadership and Management qualification (where you get your knowledge), and learning sets (where you get your buddies and pastoral/professional support). You may think that’s a lot to squeeze into 15 months, and you’d be right, but that’s been one of my favourite things about AF; it’s full on and it’s varied.

Each of these elements has proved valuable in preparing me for the next step in my career, and they all work together to give a really well-rounded set of skills and experiences.

For me there are three main reasons that Ambitious Futures is a worthwhile scheme to be part of, which should definitely encourage you to apply!

  1. Learning sets are huge fun and professionally valuable: Throughout the scheme, every six weeks or so, we met as a small learning set of seven trainees and a facilitator. This time was dedicated to working through any issues or concerns we had in the workplace; we talked about relationships with managers and colleagues, difficult tasks we had been set, work/life balance, and a whole host of other topics. Not only did we learn from each other’s experiences but we also had the benefit of a facilitator who had been in the industry a lot longer than us, and was able to bring a different perspective. Learning sets is where the majority of our friendships were forged, ones which will last beyond the scope of AF.

  2. A second placement at a different University: My second placement at the University of Oxford necessitated a commute between London and Oxford, which was a learning experience in itself. There aren’t many other graduate schemes out there that allow you to spend time working in an entirely different institution; my time at Oxford was a chance for me to get out and see how other Universities function. I had the opportunity to build relationships with new people and adapt to a totally different environment.

  3. Building networks of trainees and colleagues: Throughout the scheme there were countless opportunities to build networks with the other trainees as well as colleagues at a number of different Universities. Whilst ‘networking’ may be a bit of an overused buzzword, it essentially means that I’m leaving this job really well-connected with a number of potential future employers, as well as a group of peers that I can continue to go to for advice, whether professional or personal.

To wrap up, beyond having 15 months of University work experience behind me, Ambitious Futures has given me a professional qualification, experience at two different institutions, and a group of great friends and contacts. If you want the opportunity to develop new skills, make new friends and get to know what working in a University is like, then AF is for you!
For more information and to apply, visit the Ambitious Futures website. But be quick as applications close on Wednesday 21st December.

Katie McCallum, SOAS Ambitious Futures Graduate Trainee (2015/16)