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.

SOAS Careers is bringing Volunteering to the limelight & making sure that this year’s Microplacements are better than ever!

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SOAS Careers is excited to announce that two awesome new graduate interns have recently joined the team. Staying until this summer’s Graduation, each intern has taken on specific projects to help transform students’ experience of Careers at SOAS.

Recent Anthropology graduate Emma Frampton has been amping up volunteering provision for SOAS students and recent grads. Having been awed by the great volunteering activity that’s already taking place on campus, Emma’s working on bringing together a real community of students and alumni who are changing the world. She’s particularly enjoyed the chance to liaise between students and professional and academic staff.

Having graduated with a degree in African Language & Culture with Swahili, Rupert Wilkinson has been taking a look at internship provision at SOAS. He’s actively been involved in some of the unique programmes on offer for SOAS students, including Microplacments – a careers education programme for second year Undergraduates from a range of departments, culminating in a two week placement. Rupert’s also taken a look at the Careers events run at SOAS, and how to optimise these for students.

Careers provision at SOAS has massively benefited from the great work both Emma and Rupert have put in so far. Having recent grads in the team has offered an extra depth, as the interns are so much more aware of the immediate issues that are of obvious concern to the student body. The pair have excelled at talking to students, graduates, employers and SOAS staff alike and will no doubt continue to have a real impact on Careers at SOAS.

Emma and Rupert can be found in the brand new Careers Learning Zone in SL62, Paul Webley Wing – and are on hand for any Careers questions you may have.

Alexis Fromageot

Insight from Your Fellow Student: Mastering Your Career

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Zipporah Gene,MSc Development Studies (graduating 2017) shares a candid account of how she landed her new role as a charity account manager.
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We’ve all been there. The deadlines, the assignments, the minefield that is university life.
How in God’s name are we expected to pass exams, study course materials, and plot our future careers?
Unlike my undergraduate years, studying for a full time MA has really amped up the pressure. Three years of naive bliss and procrastination, has given way to a mindless panic-stricken year long dash to the finish line. I’ve woken up in sweats at night wondering what on earth I’ll be doing a year from now. The pressure can be crippling.
Because let’s face it, if you’re studying for your MA, chances are you want more. You’re not satisfied with minimum wage, or a job that may or may not provide career progression. You want it all. It’s that kind of mindset that ultimately means you’ve set everything up with the belief that you only have one year to get everything right.
I won’t even begin to pretend that I’ve got the whole work-life balance schtick in order, but I’ve definitely been given a helping hand, courtesy of the SOAS Careers Team.
Frustrated that I wasn’t getting replies from employers, I booked myself into a CV workshop.
Thank God I did.
After months of self-doubt, anxiety and self-flagellation, I had a eureka moment – the CV that I was sending out needed a lot of work.
It’s easy to get tunnel vision, when your Saturday nights are stuck up in the oxygen deprived heights of Floor A, surviving on a diet of gluten-free energy bars and vegan wraps, so I’ve forgiven myself and chalked it all up to experience. But in hindsight, it is comical how much I tortured myself, when all I should have done was ask for help.
My initial interview was booked on the day (be sure to book early in the morning) but I also popped back in numerous times to get feedback on my CV. After several re-writes, a lot hand-holding and talks on streamlining my job hunting strategy, I’m proud to say that I have a job. Scratch that. I have a career.
SOAS careers has helped me land an internship, which led to a job, which is now the role I can foresee doing for may years to come. No matter how qualified you are of how proficient in your field you think you are, we all need allies and I’m glad I found mine.
They’re a thankless bunch down in SL57 but they know what they’re talking about. So talk to them.
Seeing as how it’s Master’s week, I say, ‘become the master of your career’.
Be sure to follow SOAS Careers on Twitter and Facebook, so you don’t miss out on any internships, vacancies and all things careers related.
Zipporah Gene
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.

Something for the Weekend: Internships Week

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Been inspired by all of this week’s chat about internships? Hopefully you’re one step closer to getting your dream internship.

Take a look at Malia Obama’s experience of interning with HBO’s Girls and get even more inspired to take on the best internship of your life this summer!

Don’t worry if thinking about internships is one step ahead of you. Come by SL57 and we can talk about how to even start thinking about the future – from further study, travelling, internships to longer term work.

Alexis Fromageot

 

 

 

 

 

How to Bag Yourself Your Dream Internship

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How can I find the best internship for me?

Finding internships is a largely proactive process, and SOAS Careers is on hand to offer support and resources to help your search.

  • Take a look at SOAS exclusive internships, as well as a whole range of resources on the SOAS Careers Moodle. The vacancies are really regularly updated, but don’t be limited to these in your search. The resource lists have hundreds of vacancies on their jobs boards.
  • JobOnline has thousands of vacancies including internships every week. You can set yourself up alerts to receive emails when relevant vacancies are posted.
  • Graduate Gateway advertises internships for University of London students
  • If you are having trouble getting an internship at your ideal company, let them know that you may be eligible for a SOAS exclusive Santander Grant.
  • Think about your networks whether they be professional, academic or even personal, you never know who may have contacts that can help you in finding an internship.

If you’re looking to get a placement in a very competitive sector you may have to approach employers directly. This is known as making a speculative application and involves approaching an organisation about the possibility of working for them. Please look at our website for advice on making speculative applications or you can also contact the Careers Service for more advice.

Why intern? 

  • Develop personal, vocational and  transferable skills
  • Build your self-confidence.
  • Enhance your employability by gaining valuable relevant work experience
  • Build your network by making contacts in your chosen field.
  • Gain knowledge through practical experience in your chosen field
  • Apply the theory you have learned on your course to a real-life practical context
  • Potential to build a long term career
  • Earn as you learn!

How do I prepare?

We know how tough it is out there, and SOAS Careers is here to make sure you are as prepared as you can be. We can help you with CV checks, help on how to write a cover letter and applications, practise interviews and long careers discussion. We offer students 15 minute appointments Monday to Friday which you can book on the day only by calling (0207 898 4115) or coming by SL57.

Good luck and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Alexis Fromageot

What’s on this Week: Internships Week

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Keen to bag yourself an internship? This week SOAS Careers delves in to everything to do with internships – whether you’re keen to intern alongside your studies or hold off until the holidays. Not sure how an internship fits in to your longer-term plans? Don’t worry – come by SL57 and we can take a look at it with you.

 

Here’s what’s on for Internships week:

Mon 27 Feb, 5:30 – 7pm, B111, Brunei Gallery, Working for DISCO: http://bit.ly/2mCi82D

Wed 1 March, 1 – 2pm, S118, Paul Webley Wing, Securing Internship Opportunities: The Facts: http://bit.ly/2lMcUE7

See you there!

Alexis Fromageot

 

Graduated? Fancy interning with SOAS Careers?

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SOAS Careers is looking for a recent SOAS graduate to act as a graduate intern for the rest of the academic year (till the end of July).

Your role would be to work with the Events and Internships team to support activity in sourcing interesting employers to come onto campus or for our students do do internships  – for more information, take a look at the Job Description.

If you are interested, please complete this Google form and send us a copy of your CV to careers@soas.ac.uk by midday on Monday 13 February.

Interviews will be held on Thursday 16 February.  

We look forward to hearing from you!

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

Guest Blog: Working in Media

Guest blog from Christopher Cooper, Freelance Writer, Illustrator and Magazine Editor

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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If you’re looking for a straightforward career path, working in the media may not be the life for you. Ask anyone working in film, TV, digital, or print media how they got to where they are, and the chances are each will have a different story to tell.

Regardless of which branch of the media they work in, many will have started in similar junior roles, largely involving the provision of coffee to far more important people – my first job was as a runner in a TV production company, and that’s pretty much what I did. And lick stamps.

How you move upwards and onwards is largely down to your willingness to be flexible, to push yourself forward when opportunity presents itself, and to forge decent relationships with good people who will help you down the line. Most of all you need to be lucky enough to ask the right person for the right job at the right time. Your career prospects really are largely down to that old careers chestnut: networking (and good timing!)

And if there’s something you really want to do, even if no-one is paying you to do it, keep on doing it. There’s a lot to be said for sheer bloody-mindedness and dogged determination.

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Don’t forget SOAS Careers are running events this week on Creative JobSearch and Working in Broadcast Media. If you would like to find out more about working in media, be sure to sign up via MySOAS Student.

Christopher Cooper, Freelance Writer, Illustrator and Magazine Editor

What’s on this Week: Media Week

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Interested in a career in media? Then this week at SOAS Careers is designed for you!

Come along to our wide range of events which will help you work out how to get your dream media job, and make sure to get booked in to a one-to-one appointment for further support.

Mon 31 Oct, 5.30 – 7pm, B111, Working for Reuters: http://bit.ly/2eLR9B1

Tues 1 Nov, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Careers Service SL57, What I Wish I’d Known: Camellia Elerman: http://bit.ly/2fmodBw

Wed 2 Nov, 1.30 – 3pm, S118, Creative Job Hunting: http://bit.ly/2eTwJE3

Thurs 3 Nov, 5.30 – 7pm, G3, Working in Broadcast Media: http://bit.ly/2dUJe57

See you soon!

Alexis Fromageot