Get ahead in the graduate job market
While Nottingham is one of the top ten universities most often targeted by Britain's leading employers*, the Careers and Employability Service works to help students stand out in an increasingly competitive graduate job market.
* The Graduate Market in 2011
Work experience with Unitemps
Our in-house employment agency - Unitemps - filled 640 jobs with 55 university departments and 64 external companies in its first six months of operating, with all profit reinvested into increasing the employability of Nottingham students. Find out how English Studies student Annalise Grice (2012) benefited from their support.
What are your highlights from studying at Nottingham?
The University of Nottingham has offered me so many opportunities to develop both academically and personally that it is genuinely hard to highlight any one area! From the content of the degree course; support of lecturers; teaching quality and learning environment of the School of English Studies, to the multiple advantages for professional development offered by the Careers Service such as the Nottingham Advantage Award, I feel that I have gained a thoroughly well-rounded experience that will prepare me for my future career. The work experience I’ve gained through Unitemps has also been invaluable.
What work experience have you managed to obtain and how will this help you in your future career?
I currently work as a Receptionist for Unitemps. I communicate with candidates about jobs that are available, review their CVs and application letters and answer any other questions that they may have. I also speak to both internal and external clients about part-time temporary vacancies and help to advertise these as they arise. Additionally, I deal with general office admin tasks, including designing and writing marketing material.
This position has given me a great opportunity to progress in a future career as I have a more expansive knowledge of the recruitment sector which I might otherwise not have encountered before graduation. I now know the importance of making a great first impression on paper which is often the initial stage of the selection process, and I have gained experience in talking to business clients about the type of candidate they would most like to employ.
How did you get the job and how did you make yourself stand out in the job hunt?
Having worked on various Unitemps assignments since the franchise opened at the University in March 2010, I received good feedback from my past employers and gained a large amount of knowledge about the business. I have also completed the Work Experience module of the Nottingham Advantage Award, which has taught me to show how the skills gained from my past employment and education are relevant to the specific role that I was applying for.
This module highlights the demands of the current workplace (for example which skills are presently most desired by the big employers); makes you actively reflect upon the skills that you are acquiring as you progress through the work experience placement; and encourages you to reflect on how best to promote showcase the skills learnt on your CV.
Being able to review the skills that I have learnt has certainly allowed me to advise other Unitemps candidates about how to best sell their own experiences on their CVs.
What advice would you give students about university and their search for a graduate job?
The best advice I could give would be to get involved with any possible opportunity that you can fit into your timetable! Become active by seeking out advice and information, as there are professionals that are always happy to help and they can often make suggestions that you might never have considered. The University of Nottingham offers so much more than just a respected degree, and work experience and extra practical modules like those offered by the Advange Award will only ever add to your CV.
The careers advisors in the Centre for Careers and Employability are also a great place to go for advice. They have been very willing to answer any questions that I have had about my future career path and the wide range of resources on offer in the Centre have allowed me to easily find out more about a certain company or career. The bookable activities such as employer and industry talks that are frequently arranged throughout term time have been extremely useful in providing me with quality ‘insider’ information.
Love Your Mug
In November 2011, a group of students thought up and organised the 'Love Your Mug' campaign, in an effort to increase students’ awareness of climate change and leave a lasting legacy in the local community. Arabella Day interviewed team member Rebecca Lyons, to find out how the students got on.
Why did you decide to run the Love Your Mug project?
We decided to run the project to raise awareness of climate change, and to engage both fellow students and the wider community to take action. We achieved this through setting up pledge events which encouraged students to make small and sustainable lifestyle changes which could potentially have a global impact. We organised hall competitions and bar activities, and distributed reusable bags in halls to get the ball rolling for student change.
We also submitted our idea in the ‘npower RWE Future Leaders’ Challenge 2011’, which offered the chance for us to win a once in a lifetime trip to the Arctic and guaranteed placement with npower next summer; definitely an added bonus.
What have you learnt by being involved?
This project has taught me the importance of innovative thinking, teamwork, and good planning when it comes to being part of a successful campaign. For our primary target audience, students, we calculated the annual money that could be saved by making small lifestyle changes and related this to student interests-alcohol, food, and social expenses! The potential savings really captured people’s attention.
In order to get the most out of our teams working on the project, we assigned each team member one segment of the campaign that they had main responsibility for organising. Ensuring this structure was effective, and having my own individual jobs within a team of people taught me a lot about time-management and also about self awareness. Skills in time management and group involvement became crucial given the small time frame we had before we had to present our project at the national final.
How do you think these skills will help you stand out in the hunt for a graduate job?
The skills I’ve gained from this will set my CV apart from a standard graduate’s, as it shows involvement in work outside of my course, and also that I have a passion for what I want to do in the future. I would therefore encourage other students to get involved in similar activities through the University’s fantastic Students’ Union. Volunteering, for example, is a great way to meet and work with lots of new people who share your interests, whilst generating transferable skills for any future career which will guarantee to stand out on your CV.
I definitely want to continue with environmental work; the competition has taught me a lot about the negative attitudes and lack of engagement people have with regards to climate change. Alongside my university studies, I also plan to continue with volunteer work and helping out in local schools as I believe it is fundamental to teach future generations about climate change in order to ensure that the current efforts towards sustainable development are continued.
What have fellow students thought of the Love Your Mug campaign?
Our campaign quickly gained a lot of momentum amongst the student community, because we alerted students to the changes which could save them money and showed how this directly related to their interests. Often, they found the statistics quite shocking and, in turn, wanted to make their pledge to change their lifestyle in small ways. We gained a lot of support from the University and the Student’s Union to raise the profile of our campaign week and as we held a wide variety of events, the week was exciting, fun, and lots of people involved.
We hope that our campaign has taught people the importance of local changes towards global action against climate change. We also hope to have left our legacy through the installation of water fountains and individual recycling facilities in halls.
Be an ambassador for your University
While studying for her Law degree, Catherine Kent adds to her CV and earns some extra cash by working as a student ambassador. Currently in her final year, she intends to go on to do a Masters in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, with the aim of becoming a legal consultant to the UN and/or NGOs.
Why did you decide to become a student ambassador?
I became a Student Ambassador in my second year because I wanted to get more involved within the University itself. I also found applying for University myself quite daunting, so wanted to show prospective students everything Nottingham has to offer.
What work have you carried out and what have you particularly enjoyed?
So far I have mainly been involved with UCAS Open Days, which comprise of meeting and greeting visitors in the morning and conducting campus tours in the afternoon. I particularly enjoy talking to prospective students, and their families, about their thoughts and plans for the future and offering guidance where I can.
I have also been involved with the Widening Participation team, who aim to encourage secondary school students from the local area to enter into higher education. Seeing how inspired some of the children get when you explain to them how a degree can open doors and show them the opportunities available makes this work extremely rewarding.
How do you think this work will help you in the future?
Working as a Student Ambassador has developed my inter-personal skills and my ability to think on my feet when things don’t go to plan. I think employers will value qualities such as time management and the ability to convey information clearly and concisely, which are essential to being a Student Ambassador.
My time spent as a Student Ambassador has also been accredited under the Nottingham Advantage Award, which recognizes professional development and enhances employability. This will hopefully make me stand out more within the employment market.
What other extra activities do you do at Nottingham?
I am currently a member of Amnesty International and the riding society, have taken part in the Any Body exercise classes and enjoy going to the Human Rights Film Series. I have also been involved with Golden Futures, a charity that provides loans for Cambodian orphans to attend university, and like going to yoga every now and then!
Fashion your own career
Fifth year medical student Tom Bracewell, successfully manages a demanding degree while running an award winning fashion label - Rise. Such has been his success, that the trainee doctor won the University’s business plan competition - Student Venture Challenge - in 2011.
My business is a clothing brand - Rise - and I will also be debuting a new second brand in the near future. The brand aims to take a snapshot of the thriving independent clothing scene in the UK and present that to the high street in a digestible and retail ready format. We produce our garments in Turkey and Portugal, which allows our product quality to be top notch.
In 2011 you won the Student Venture Challenge, what made you enter the competition?
Taking part in the competition was an opportunity to look critically at my idea and helped me improve the areas of weakness. Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience which I’m sure will improve my chances of success in business.
So, do you plan to have a career in medicine, fashion or both?
After graduating I am still leaving my options open. I will most probably be applying for a foundation year one doctors post in London, but would love to have options on the table to do something else too. If the business had grown to a sufficient point, or an exciting offer from another line of work came through then I would consider all options. I have also not ruled out looking at further education such as a masters, possibly focusing closer on both business and medicine or public health.
Where can people go to get your collection?
People can see the full range of Rise clothing and buy items direct, from www.rise-worldwide.com
Steaming towards business success
Smoking Sensation Ltd was founded by students Alastair Frankl and Harry Stimpson in 2011, introducing a new way to make events and company launches more memorable. The students used the expertise offered by the EnterpriseLab to help make their company a reality.
What does Smoking Sensation Ltd do?
Our uniquely patented product uses dry ice to form a snowy mist. The idea was already established over in America, although business appeared very slow. We saw a gap in the UK market for this product and acted on it, thus bringing it over to the UK. We now offer a service of making smoking cocktails at any event, catering for any number which attracted a large audience.
How have you managed to establish your business?
Back in June 2011 we started trading with our first event, the ‘Ghost the musical’ press night after party. This opened new doors for us after a number of celebrities featured in HELLO magazine using our product.
This led to contracts with the Playboy Club, who asked us to install a custom made smoking bar, and Unilever who wanted a smoking tray to serve magnum mini ice creams in style. We have also done a number of private events for clients all over the UK.
What is next for Smoking Sensation?
We have a number of designs currently going through Research and Development. We hope to launch some of these in 2012, including a new smoking gimmick for making oversized goblets pour over with smoke. Other plans include smoking tiki design glasses, smoking treasure chests and smoking shots.
How has the University helped you with your business?
The EnterpriseLab has provided us with some very useful guidance, as well as access to the expertise of Intellectual Property lawyers, marketing and accountancy professionals. This has helped to guide us in the right direction, from writing contracts to setting up and monitoring our accounts as well as getting our innovative products patented and launched into the market.
To find out more about Smoking Sensations, follow the boys on Twitter @SmokingDrinks