Why apply to do an internship?

Whether you are in your first or final year of your degree, it is never too early or too late to start thinking about your future career. But what if you are not sure where you would like your degree to take you? Or maybe you have an idea, but you would like to gain experience in the sector, before committing to a job. An internship is the ideal opportunity to combat both. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why an internship is the perfect choice for the unsure student or graduate…

  1. You’ll find out whether the job is right for you
    Completing an internship is a great opportunity to ‘test drive’ a potential career without fully committing to a permanent job. An internship allows you to affirm or discount a certain job or career sector, helping you to narrow down your options.
  2. You’ll develop your skills and add experience to your CV
    Either way, if you decide the role is or isn’t for you, you have gained valuable experience and you have developed key transferrable skills. Employers looking to hire a graduate won’t expect you to have huge amounts of industry-specific knowledge, but they are on the lookout for certain key soft skills – like being a team-player, good communicator, leader, and problem-solver.
  1. Increase your professional network
    An internship gives you the opportunity to increase your contacts, expand your professional branding, and if you have performed well, strong references for a future employer.
  2. You’ll discover the type of work environment which is best for you
    Would you prefer to work within a large company or an SME, working as part of a team or alone, and whether you like being allowed more independence over your work or are more comfortable working closely with your manager. Finding out which work culture is better suited to you can help when deciding the type of career you would like to go into.
  3. You may find your future employer
    Undertaking an internship can open many doors to your future employment. Particularly if you are a graduate doing an internship scheme, these opportunities may lead to a permanent role – so take every opportunity you can!

The best and worst questions to ask in an interview!

‘And lastly, do you have any questions you would like to ask us?’  The final question which usually rounds off an interview. Although this may not seem a prevalent question to prepare for, having at least one or two questions to ask a prospective employer demonstrates enthusiasm for the role, and the company.
To help you when preparing for your next interview take a look at these top questions to ask, and those to avoid, which will help you become a memorable candidate!

Top best:

What can I expect from you in terms of development and support?
This type of questions demonstrates to an employer that you are keen to learn and develop professionally within the company.

You mentioned that you implemented X last year, how would this affect my role within the company?
Listening to the interviewer and asking questions that relate to the company show you are engaged and interested.

How would you describe the company culture and management style?
Asking questions about the company culture will give you an insight into what it is like to work for this particular business.

From my research, I noticed that you do a lot of X, how would this affect my job role?
Doing some research into the company prior to interview will demonstrate your knowledge of the industry of that company, and that you have actively thought about the interview, thus making a good impression.

What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
This type of question shows you are interested not only in the business and its future, but also the interviewer’s perspective.

Top worst:

How quickly could I be considered for a promotion?
Keep focused on the job at hand, rather than jumping ahead.

How many days holiday do I get?
This question is not necessary to address at the interview stage, and it may have already been included in the job description already.

Can I arrive early or leave late, as long as I get my work done?
Asking for flexibility in your working pattern before being offered the job may come across as a lack of commitment to the job.

How did I do?
You shouldn’t ask about your performance during the interview, if you would like any interview comments, this can be requested after the interview in the form of interview feedback.

The worst question of all is not asking a question!
Failing to ask any questions tells the employer that you are not fully engaged with the role or company, and may appear as a lack of enthusiasm for the job.

HM Treasury: Mock written exercise – government & policy

Wednesday 1 March: KS16, 2-4pm
HM Treasury: Mock written exercise – government & policy

Are you applying to jobs in the public sector, government and policy? If so, you may have a written exercise as part of your assessment centre. The Careers and Employability Service will cover how you can prepare and tackle the exercise on the day. You’ll have an opportunity to do a written exercise yourself, and we’ll discuss how they are marked. Please bring your own laptop with you on the day so that you can write your mock written exercise. If possible, ensure it is fully charged as there may not be access to plug sockets for everyone.

What to do with my degree in Politics and IR?

What can I do with my Politics and IR degree?!

If you are undecided about where you would like your degree to take you, it may be worth spending some time to really explore your career options. As a non-vocational course, a degree in Politics and International Relations provides a broad range of careers you could go into. This varies from teaching, Public Affairs and Lobbying, Journalism, social and political researcher to working with a non-governmental organisation (and many more!).

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

A degree in Politics and IR gives you many useful transferable skills including:

  • the ability to research, source and examine information thoroughly;
  • the capacity to critically analyse evidence and construct coherent arguments;
  • excellent written and oratory skills;
  • intellectual independence and autonomy;
  • team working skills;
  • a flexible and open-minded approach to work.

Useful links
To find out more about the different careers your degree could take you into, try the following sites:

Prospects
https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/politics-and-international-relations

Careers and Employability Service
https://www.kent.ac.uk/ces/student/degree/politicsandir/

If you are unsure about your career path, or you would like advice, the Careers and Employability Service offer careers guidance interviews. Full details or to book an appointment, can be found here: https://www.kent.ac.uk/ces/contact/index.html 

Covering letter: useful tips and hints

Writing a covering letter may seem like a difficult and challenging task when applying for a job, however, it is one of the most important aspects when initially applying. You typically only get 30 seconds to grab the attention of an employer through your application, so you want to make a positive impact from the first page. A covering letter allows you to highlight your key skills in your CV, personalising your application and demonstrating why you are the ideal candidate for the role. Take a look at a few useful tips for creating a successful letter below, and some links for further information.

  • Keep your covering letter clear and concise, in an easy to read format. Your covering letter shouldn’t be longer than an A4 page, you want to grab the employer’s attention in the first few lines, as you would with your CV
  • Relate your skills to those in the job description, making sure you tailor the covering letter for each application. Explain why you are applying for this particular role, at this specific company
  • Check and double check your covering letter and CV for grammatical errors prior to submitting. Employers may be put off if your application consists of lots of grammar mistakes, especially if the role requires attention to detail!
  • Where possible, address your covering letter to a named individual, rather than using sir/madam
  • Research the company you are applying to, and include information about them in your covering letter, detailing what attracts you to work for them. This will demonstrate that you have taken the time to research their work, and you are enthusiastic to work for them, rather than just sending a generic letter.

If you need further advice, or you would like a staff member to look over your covering letter, the Careers and Employability Service Drop Ins (daily, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 2pm – 4pm in the Careers Building) are a great place to start, where qualified employability and careers advisers are on hand with support and advice.

Useful sites for further information:

https://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/cv/coveringletters.htm

http://www.jobs.ac.uk/careers-advice/cv-templates/577/top-ten-tips-for-writing-cover-letters

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/cvs-and-cover-letters/cover-letters

Find your career mentor on KEW-NET!

Are you interested in a particular career path, such as Public Affairs, Campaigning, Lobbying, but you are unsure how to get relevant experience in the sector? Or would you like to know what the necessary steps are to take, in order to achieve your career goal?

KEW-NET is an online mentoring service, set up by the Careers and Employability Service. This online mentoring network allows you to connect with students and graduates who are ready to share their experience and knowledge. From discussing job applications, CV’s, to finding work placement and internship opportunities, KEW-NET is a fantastic tool to network and receive career support from a mentor.

How does it work? KEW-NET is simple to set up, taking less than 10 minutes! All you need to do is register here: https://secure2.aluminati.net/kent.aluminate.net/ and once approved, you can log in and create your personal profile. TIP! If you already have a LinkedIN account, you can merge this with your KEW-NET profile to save time.

You can then search for relevant mentors using the filter system. You can search by graduation year, subject, services they offer or even ‘key words’ such as NGO’s or security. When you click on a mentor you can view their profile which details their experience, career, what they can offer and how many mentors they can take on. You can also see if they have previously mentored a student, and you can contact the student first to see what their experience was like, if you wish. If you find someone you think could be a suitable match, either message them first or send them a mentoring request. KEW-NET has it’s own message facility, so you can contact them directly through your account.

So why use it? KEW-NET is a valuable tool to network, making new business connections with people in the industry. Not only can you receive guidance and support, work/internship opportunities may arise through your mentors – so you never know where it may lead!

If you have experience in a particular area you can even sign up to be a mentor yourself!

With over 89 connections in Politics and IR already on KEW-NET, make sure you sign up and get networking!

Want to brush up on your networking skills?
Come along to the ‘Networking Know-How: Introduction to productive networking and business relationships’ workshop – Wednesday 26th October from 4pm – 5.30pm in Darwin Peter Brown room.

You can then put your skills to the test at the:

‘University Networking and Mentoring event: Find your perfect match!’ where you can network with alumni and find a potential mentor! – Wedesnday 26th October from 6pm – 8pm in Woolf Lecture Theatre.

Exam preparation top tips!

With the exam period looming many of you will be gearing up for late night revision sessions, and strong coffee to get you through. To help aid your revision we’ve come up with a few key tips:

  • Allow yourself enough time to revise – make sure you plan your revision in advance, maybe by creating a study timetable, rather than trying to cram in everything you have learnt over the past few months into one evening! This will ensure that you’ll be less stressed and that you can give sufficient time to revise for each exam.
  • Organize your study space – have everything you need to study effectively (stationary, notes, books). Get rid of all distractions and make sure that you are in your optimum study environment, whether that be in your room, the library, in a group, in silence or with music.
  • Take regular breaks – studies have shown that for long-term retention of knowledge regular breaks do help!
  • Use flow charts and diagrams to help visualise your work – Getting your ideas down in a brief format will help you to recall key points during the exam.
  • Practice old exams – by doing so you can familiarise yourself with the format of the exam and the length of time you’ll have to complete it.

Information used from Top Universities

How to identify your key skills: job applications and interviews

When applying for jobs and attending interviews it is crucial that you can articulate your key skills effectively to your prospective employer. Employers are keen to know what you can bring to their company and skills you have attained from prior work experience. Before submitting an application, or attending an interview it is good practice to identify and communicate your skill strengths.

Here are some simple steps to doing this:

Step 1: Make a list of your past jobs and previous work experience (including volunteer work, training, and internships).

Step 2: Write down the tasks associated with each job and activity which you were responsible for.

Step 3: Now ask yourself, what did you learn by doing those tasks? What transferable skills have you gained? These skills range from; IT skills, presentation skills, communicational skills, research skills and foreign languages, to characteristics such as leadership, organisation and reliability.

This should now give you a range of skills that you can offer to an employer. This is very useful when you are applying for several jobs, as you will be able to compare the person specification with your job skills list and choose the relevant items.

Source used: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/careers-advice/jobseeking-tips/1303/step-by-step-identifying-your-job-skills-and-unique-selling-points 

The Benefits of Attending a Mock Assessment Centre

Assessment Centres: do you know what to expect? The Employability Points team discuss what Assessment Centres are and how you can prepare for one with the Employability Points Scheme.

Graduate employers are increasingly coming to the conclusion that individual interviews are insufficient in determining the suitability of candidates for a prospective job. Their solution is (the often dreaded) assessment centres, which is considered to be the fairest and most accurate method of selecting candidates.

Assessment centres often include a range of group activities, presentations, individual interviews and psychometric testing.

If you have never attended an Assessment Centre before, it can be difficult to know what to expect, and even if you have attended one in the past, it can be even more difficult to know whether you have done well, unless you receive a job offer.

From the moment they arrive at an Assessment Centre, a candidate must show themselves in their best light. They are under constant scrutiny and recruiters are looking for the demonstration of a range of specific skills.

In order to ensure University of Kent students are fully prepared for this method of graduate recruitment, we have arrange mock assessment centres with two top graduate recruiters as EP rewards!

Our first sponsoring company is Enterprise Rent-a-Car, who have a multi-award winning graduate scheme. EP students will be put through their paces and even if this is not a sector where you plan to start a career, this will give you experience which can be applied to any real assessment centre scenario.

Our second sponsoring company is Santander Universities, who will be running a session in collaboration with the EP team. A maximum of 10 students will be put through their paces with 1-1 interviews, challenging group tasks and presentations. Again, you don’t need to be interested in retail banking to significantly benefit from this session! All students will receive comprehensive written feedback.

All the mock assessment centres will cost 75 points and students can redeem their points to apply in late March 2016.

With that in mind, make sure you have at least 75 points by 21st March 2016 to benefit from these fantastic opportunities.

Take a look at the 2014/15 Santander Mock Assessment Centre by clicking here.

How to pro-actively job hunt

If you are finding that trawling the job pages is having little success, it may be time to re-think your job hunting strategy. By pro-actively job searching you can develop your professional network and increase your chances of employment. So, how do you job hunt effectively?

  1. Identify companies you would like to work for: make a list of 30 – 40 companies that you would be interested in working for. Use LinkedIn, ‘top employer lists’ such as The Times and The Guardian for ideas.
  2. Research them: once you have a range of companies you are interested in, start looking into their company history, current activities, work ethos etc. Start your search on their website, but also look at their social media pages, blogs, LinkedIn pages for information. Researching will allow you to get a clearer perspective on a certain company and may help you decide if it is the right place for you.
  3. Network: Once you have researched, it is now time to build your connections. Contacting former and current employees is a great way to network and build professional relationships. Try contacting people through LinkedIn and ask them what it is like to work there and the work they are involved in. You could also see if the company are running any open events that you could attend. This would be another great way to meet current employees and build rapport.
  4. Once you have established connections within the company, ask them what is the best way to be introduced to a Hiring Manager, or explain that you are interested in working for the company and that you would like to know how to find out about any current opportunities. If you are able to make contact with a Hiring Manager ensure you have your 30 second elevator pitch ready and an up to date CV!

For information on creative job hunting visit: https://www.kent.ac.uk/ces/student/creativejobhunt.html?tab=methods-of-approach