Intern insight: Marketing for “Glasgow’s Leading Attractions”

Final year English Literature student Julianne Smith has been working as a Marketing and Development intern 


Since July, I’ve been interning at Glasgow’s Leading Attractions. It is a part-time role of approximately 10 hours a week which I can work flexibly. I’m currently in my fourth year studying English Literature. I started applying for internships after my third year exams and I was surprised and relieved that there were still lots being advertised by The Internship Hub around May/ June. I was short-listed and invited for interview about half way through June and I was delighted when I got the call to say I’d been successful.

City Sightseeing Tour

Glasgow’s Leading Attractions is a collection of 18 of the best attractions in the city from Glasgow Science Centre to The Willow Tea Rooms to Sea Life at Loch Lomond. They offer themed itineraries; information for getting around; high quality attractions; and vouchers for days out.

I was more excited than nervous to start as the people who interviewed me were lovely and made me feel so at ease. My induction to the role consisted of a City Sightseeing tour around Glasgow to learn as much as possible about the city in a short space of time and then lunch in The Willow Tea Rooms to meet with my supervisor and discuss my duties. Generally, my role is focused on brand awareness which can be broken down into conducting surveys; starting and writing the Glasgow’s Leading Attractions blog; carrying out case studies of other cities to see what lessons we can learn; and working with city partners.

It is difficult to describe an average day because my role is so varied. The first few weeks consisted mostly of visiting each attraction to learn as much as I could about what they offer and what they do; meet key contacts; get material for the blog; and chat to visitors. One amazing aspect of this was that I got to try out everything our attractions had to offer myself! I’ve been zooming along the Clyde in a speed boat; skiing at Snow Factor at Intu Braehead; and done all kinds of tours from Tennent’s Brewery to Celtic Park to Hampden.

Ready to ski!Most of the work I do is home based and I report to Development Meetings once a month. One of the first things I did was carry out a brand survey at the attractions I visited to gauge customer awareness and expectation. Approaching visitors and asking them to complete the surveys was sometimes a little daunting but I think the main thing I learned was just to be as friendly as possible. I have also been involved with creating content such as posters for each attraction and themed maps and condensed information about the attractions to tie in with partner’s websites and projects.

 

Something exciting I coordinated last month was a tour of our attractions for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships’ mascot Bonnie the Seal. I liaised with Glasgow 2018 and all the individual attractions to arrange a 2-day schedule of visits. It involved a lot of planning and communication but it all went extremely well: our visitors were delighted to meet Bonnie and we got lots of excellent social media content. It was also generally just fun hanging around with a seal mascot!

Sealfie

So far, I’ve been most surprised at how much Glasgow’s attractions have to offer that I have never known about (even though I’ve lived here all my life). Not only do they offer amazing days out, they are often involved in community projects such as GalGael at The Tall Ship providing learning activities like ship-building skills to those who have suffered worklessness, depression or addiction or Football Memories League at The Scottish Football Museum (Hampden) supporting people living with dementia.

I’m really enjoying my internship so far and feel like I’ve utilised and developed a lot of skills from communication to time-management to content creation. It has provided me with a whole host of situations and experiences I can draw on in future.

I’d completely recommend applying for internships with The Internship Hub. They make the application process very clear and support you through the duration. I’m also proof that you aren’t only restricted to degree-specific roles – your skills can be transferred and used in a whole host of different internships.

Hampden Park


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Be SMART and make the most of your internship

goal setting

You’ve managed to secure an internship, work experience or volunteering opportunity congratulations! While you’re figuring out what you might wear on your first day and where the good spots for lunch are, take some time to consider what you want to get out of this experience and set yourself some SMART goals.

BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND

In the bestselling book, the 7 habits of highly effective people, Stephen Covey stated “Begin with the end in mind”.

Visualising what you want to achieve in the end, can help you to take steps in the right direction and get the most out of your internship experience.

So what exactly do you want to achieve by the end of your internship?  What are your aims?

  • Do you want to learn how to develop a marketing plan?
  • Gain some experience interacting with customers?
  • Improve your confidence with public speaking
  • Apply theory from your course to the workplace? or
  • Develop your network in the industry?

Your aims can be personal, work-related or a combination of the two but make sure they are realistic.

BE SMART

Setting SMART goals can help you to consider the practical steps you can take to achieve your aims. It is a process which can help you to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound goals;

SMART-goals (1)

image credit: Dungdm93, shared under creative commons 

Specific – be clear about what you want to achieve, define your goal as much as you can – think of the who, what where, when and why.

Measurable – how will you know when you’ve achieved this? Is it quantifiable in some way?

Achievable – remember this must fit with the responsibilities of your internship and the time you have available. Discussing your goals in collaboration with your internship supervisor can help to ensure they are achievable.

Relevant – What is the aim behind this goal and will the steps you’ve identified achieve it? how does it fit in with the rest of your goals? Your long term plans? The internship aims?

Time-bound – Set a deadline for your goal, when will it be complete? Depending on the length of your internship project, you may wish to set short term and longer term goals.

You can write your aims in advance but constructing and discussing your SMART goals with your internship supervisor in week 1 can ensure that they are in line with their expectations and realistically achievable. Try to write down at least three SMART goals.

 

REVIEW

You may find it useful to keep a diary, journal or blog to record your progress. This can help you when it comes time to reviewing your goals and articulating what you’ve achieved in your CV, application and at interview.

Throughout your internship, set some time to review your SMART goals. Are you on track? Do you need to adjust anything? Is it still realistically achievable? This can help you to stay on track to ensure you are going to make the most of the experience.

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Intern insight: A week in the life of an EAS Social Programme Intern

Third year French and Spanish student Amy Shimmin is currently interning on-campus with the English for Academic Study department. 


EAS1Since May, I’ve been one of nine Social Programme Interns for the University’s English for Academic Study department. Along with permanent staff, we run the social programme for students, giving them the opportunity to learn about local culture and practise their English skills. Around 800 students undertake pre-sessional English courses to meet requirements for academic programmes, which most students continue to the next academic year. Summer is the busiest time of year, and each week of the internship has been different. Here’s an insight to one week:

Monday – Induction day

It’s the last intake of the year, and we have a beautiful day for it! There are multiple events throughout the day to make arrival as smooth as possible – registering at university, delivering campus tours, and advising to other services when necessary. Responsibilities are split through the intern team: my tasks included guiding students across campus, making sure students were in the right place, some admin tasks, and taking campus tours.  It can be a daunting day, with lots of information to take in. At least the weather was nice, for once…

Tuesday and Thursday – Chat club

Each lunchtime we run an informal English chat club – this allows students the chance to meet classmates, practise speaking English, and to learn about others’ backgrounds and cultures. This week I worked Tuesday and Thursday, which were busier than usual – probably due to the new intake of students. Three or four interns run chat club each day, and we make tea and coffee, facilitate chat between students, and make the environment friendly and welcoming.

Thursday – Film night

We often have some evening events, and this week we had two (more on the second in a moment.) Film night was an idea I suggested, and for this event, I was the ‘trip leader’. This means I had a little bit more responsibility for the event. Luckily, this was a fairly smooth-running evening – students arrived, we watched The King’s Speech together, and then went home. I’ll later write a report detailing the event, and any suggestions for the future.

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Friday – Pot luck

To celebrate the end of the first week, we met at Murano Street Village for a ‘pot luck’ dinner. If you’ve not heard of this before, it’s basically a dinner where each person brings a dish, and then everybody shares the food! I made a dish from my hometown, and we ended up with a wide range of dishes – Chinese meat, Italian pastries, and of course, haggis. The main responsibilities here were to make sure the event ran well, that students were engaged, and to eat food. Not a bad night at the office…

Saturday – Linlithgow Palace and the Kelpies

Each Saturday, the programme co-ordinates at least one trip to a site of cultural relevance. This week students could choose between Loch Lomond or Linlithgow Palace. As staff, we attend each trip to ensure the itinerary runs as planned, to coordinate the transport and any booked events during the trip, and to deal with any problems should they arise. We arrived at Linlithgow Palace for a tour of the site, where students learned a little about Scottish history, too. There was time after to explore the town – we even saw a wedding! – and then we headed to the Kelpies on the way back home. While the trips are a great chance to unwind after an intense week in class, they also encourage the students to use their English skills further, to learn about local culture and history, and to explore the country.

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My internship only lasts four more weeks, which is the only downside! It’s definitely been a highlight of my summer, as it’s been a great way to earn money, develop new and old skills, and visit some wonderful places. It’d be easy to say the best part is the tea and biscuits, but it’s great to see the students develop their confidence and skills throughout the programme.  It’s been a valuable insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ in a busy university department, as well as events planning and organisation, and teaching English as a second language.


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Intern Insight: A crash course on feasibility testing with OBASHI

IH Intern and recent MSci Computing Science graduate Tom Wallis is currently interning with OBASHI Technology


“OBASHI — the company I’ve spent my summer with as a software engineer doing feasibility testing — are currently working out the different technologies they’ll require for a new product. Today, the CTO put a diagram on the office wall, with a myriad of different technologies which they’ll need to find new recruits to develop with.

The list came as a surprise: not because there was anything unknown on the list, but because there wasn’t. As a part of the feasibility testing effort at OBASHI this summer, I have had to learn and test every one of the technologies they are considering — and that list was both large and familiar.

Feasibility testing is the process of working out what we can and can’t accomplish. In different industries, this might take different forms: some industries have to focus on what’s possible within certain legal bounds; others might explore financially viable avenues; my work at OBASHI focuses on what’s technologically possible. As a result, I’ve been required to learn about the entirety of the architecture of the product they’re building, and understand how every different technology can work in concert with others to make the best possible whole.

tom Wallis

Developing that understanding requires first knowing what the nuances of the product’s different components are. The website technologies, network architectures, programming languages, communication systems, databases and more are all elements which must be chosen based on which technologies in each category pair well with others. Each category has its own nuances and complications; performing feasibility testing at OBASHI means developing an understanding of this entire collection of technologies, and how they relate.

While the work has proven complex, it is also incredibly rewarding. Every day, the team produce tests for an exciting new technology, and see how far it can be pushed until it finally breaks — pushed in performance, pushed in its relationship with other technologies already tested, and pushed in its capabilities as a web server, database, etcetera. The scope of the work means I rely on knowledge from all sorts of computing science courses, and the practical work helps to understand how the different courses tie together, both in theory and in the real world.

Software development internships often involve building a component of a component of a large product. At OBASHI, the internship has involved constructing and testing many small components of an emerging product. Our ability to research those components, and for that research to have a material influence on the final product, is incredibly rewarding; I’m enjoying my last few weeks, in what has become a crash course on feasibility testing.”


Tom is one of two interns that OBASHI hired via the Internship Hub this year. Here is what CEO Fergus Cloughley had to say about the experience:

“This experience has been of great benefit to OBASHI Technology Ltd. It has brought highly capable and motivated individuals into the work place with fresh thinking and added new perspectives to our project.

They have been keen to learn then latest technologies and push themselves to the limit. The enthusiasm to learn from both interns has been fantastic.”


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Develop your global mindset

GlobalMindsetshutterstock_92798929

International employers consistently tell us that they value graduates who have global awareness, particularly those who can demonstrate that they took the initiative to study or work overseas as part of their degree. The reason for this is clear – graduates who have studied or worked abroad tend to be culturally aware, able to work in multicultural teams and to move around the world as part of their career.

Gaining international experience while studying can significantly enhance your employability while also being a fantastic, life-changing experience. It’s not simply the experience that is of value, it’s the impact that it has on developing your “global mindset”. This quality is defined as the ability to adjust to different environments and cultures internationally.

As an influential report stated back in 2008,

Graduates who have international experience are highly employable because they have demonstrated that they have drive, resilience and inter-cultural sensitivities, as well as language skills.”  (Global Horizons & the Role of Employers, 2008).

The same report noted differing employer perceptions of “mobile and non-mobile graduates”. “Mobile” graduates with international experience scored more highly in each of following:

  • planning, co-ordinating & organising
  • problem-solving ability
  • analytical competences
  • assertiveness, decisiveness & persistence
  • getting personally involved
  • taking the initiative
  • adaptability
  • professional knowledge of other countries
  • ability to work with people from different cultural backgrounds
  • knowledge/understanding of international business
  • foreign language proficiency

The good news is that there are many opportunities to gain the experiences that can help you to develop your global mindset while studying at the University of Glasgow. You will find these on the Go Abroad webpages.

You can also access many international opportunities provided by external agencies.  Make sure that you are signed up for international vacancy alerts on our online vacancy system. Also, remember to check relevant employer web-sites and to attend Careers Fairs and Employer Presentations on campus to find out about international opportunities.

Developing a global mindset is a journey that will enable you to develop your adaptability and resilience. Ultimately it will help you to stand out when applying for graduate jobs. Start your journey today!

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Intern Insights: Lewis writes his way to a new career

 

IH Intern and recent graduate, Lewis Barrack is halfway through his internship with Glasgow-based copywriting agency, Copylab.


I’ve just finished my 4th full week of my internship at Copylab in Glasgow, and so far, the experience has been excellent.

Coming in on the first week was a mixture of nerves and excitement; I was moving into an unknown environment, but really looking forward to meeting new people, testing my abilities, and gaining useful experience that can help me going forward.

Any nerves I had quickly dissipated within the first day, as everyone made me feel really welcome and part of the team, and even being so kind as to treat me to a Paesano’s lunch.

But now onto the actual work- Copylab is “the world’s leading investment writing and communications agency”, specialising in fund reporting and market commentary for major asset management firms throughout the world, as well as helping those firms’ creative communications.

With that in mind, the work I’ve been doing since starting the internship has been quite varied, as each client has different requirements. This has allowed me to work on different tasks every day and really improve my overall skillset.

So far, under the guidance of my mentor, I’ve worked on a project to create a white paper for the company, which has entailed creating a survey and contacting market research companies to help with distributing the survey. I’ve written two blogs: a research blog for a client and a blog about my economics degree. I’ve been given training in editing fund reports, and in the last week, I’ve been involved in market commentary – helping to write monthly and quarterly reports for several asset management clients. Finally, I’ve been helping a client simplify the language of its investment product documentation.

Feedback so far for all these tasks has been positive, which has really benefited my work confidence, and my writing and editing skills are already improving. In addition, my understanding of finance and investing, and how best to write about these topics, is developing with each new task I’m given. I’ve also used the theoretical knowledge gained during my degree to complete the work at hand, in fact some of the knowledge has been essential to getting through the first month.

Although it’s been a great experience so far, it has been a bit of a culture shock getting used to the routine of 9-5 every day. When your earliest lecture is usually 10, it takes time to adjust to being in the office by 9 every morning, ready to be productive. But luckily, working in an office with great people around you, who are always willing to help you out, and where you look forward to going into the office every morning, has made this adjustment easy.

So, anyone thinking about applying for an internship, I would highly recommend it. Getting experience in a field that you’re interested in is invaluable and can really help you stand out when applying for jobs after graduation. Or you might be lucky enough to get offered a full-time position once your internship is over.


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Intern Insight: Nathan introduces Brett Nicholls Associates to the digital age

IH intern, Nathan Stilwell is spending his summer as a Marketing & Digital Content Intern with Brett Nicholls Associates. 


Nathan Stilwell

I’m close to half way through my internship with Brett Nicholls Associates and it’s going great. They are a brilliant and small family accounting company that specialises in the Third Sector. Launching their social media has been fun but difficult. All my previous work experience has been aimed at students and academics, a demographic that does cross over much with charity and small business owners. While it is not easy to drive people to Like, Share and Retweet chartered accountants, their work with charities and social enterprises is a brilliant thing to publicise online and we should be breaking over 100 followers each on Facebook and Twitter by the end of the week.

The daily working life has been a good experience too. After four years of study I am more than happy to get away from lectures and seminars and enter the 9 to 5 world. The workspace is a small office and it’s a tiny but lovely team. One of the great parts of the job is getting out and grabbing content from BNA’s clients; I had no idea about the amount of community and social work that is done in Glasgow. Charities like Bridging the Gap do incredible community work to tackle sectarianism and help asylum seekers and you never hear about it in the West-End bubble. I’m searching for new ways to publicise their work on social media and I will be recommending many of them back to the QMU’s C&C committee and the SRC’s RAG committee.

Overall its has so far been a great working experience. I’m glad I have the chance to experience working life like this. It has helped me learn new skills and point me closer to the direction I want to follow for my career. I would thoroughly recommend BNA and would also greatly encourage students to look towards Glasgow’s third sector.


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Selling your international experience to employers

Use-Your-International-Experience-to-Your-Advantage

If you are an international student studying in Glasgow or a home student who has studied abroad, you will be able to reflect on how gaining an international experience has enabled you to develop in a range of ways. There are so many ways in which gaining this experience is enriching for those who do it.

When we ask returning students to reflect on how the experience changed them, we find that students sometimes find it hard to articulate this to potential employers – either in their home country or elsewhere.

Global employers value the experience and qualities that graduates with international experiences can bring to the workplace. They tell us that these graduates tend to be more culturally diverse, better prepared for global employment and able to demonstrate a wider range of personal qualities then those without this experience.

In addition to cultural awareness and language skills, qualities that you can demonstrate as a result of your international experience may include maturity, resilience, the ability to solve problems and to operate outside your comfort zone, determination & persistence, confidence and adaptability.

In other words, your international perspective can provide some very rich sources of evidence of your employability! You will be able to reflect on the fact you opted to study abroad, the situations you found yourself in and the situations you sought out.

Before expressing this experience in the context of a job application, consider what you learnt:

  • About yourself
  • About other people
  • About the UK / your home country

Hopefully you will find this is a helpful way to build your evidence of how your international experience makes you stand out.

And remember, you can always speak to one of our Careers Managers about this by booking an appointment through Glasgow Careers.

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Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity is a wide ranging subject and only some of it, but a good bit of it, comes under the nine protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

To me, diversity is about inclusion and about making everyone feel strongly valued. It is also about benefiting from a group mind which is informed by the widest possible mix of viewpoints, backgrounds and experience. I’ll get on to that topic again later.

Equalities legislation has come a long way since I first got involved in the disability world in the late 1980s. A number of equalities strands have come together in joined up legislation and protection and despite the barriers, diversity as a whole is progressing.

It is great too that by using some reasonably objective measures, it is possible to see who at least some of the best graduate recruiters are across all nine protected characteristics and at every level of recruitment and retention of staff. See for example the Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers List.

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How do you find an inclusive employer? There are various kite marks and schemes which all have a value such as the RICS Inclusive Employer kite mark and the “disability confident” symbol which recently replaced the two ticks symbol and which moves employers through three levels of commitment to benefiting from the skills and experience offered by disabled people.  But beyond these, there is ongoing cultural change. As students and graduates you will often find that employers welcome diversity both in relation to protected characteristics and other equality matters such as  social class which lie beyond the legislation.

A couple of weeks ago, the Careers Managers took some time trying out a peer group reflective practice approach to problem solving.

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In a group of about ten, two of us presented real world issues we were grappling with and then defined the ideal solutions we’d like. It was then over to the group for 30 minutes to talk the issues out while the presenter listened without interrupting and took any notes.  Each of the presenters really benefited from the diversity and creativity in the group and was free to accept or reject anything that was suggested. An optimum way forward emerged from the group working as a collective resource.

It was a really productive time and it underlined for me some of the reasons why employers who embrace diversity and encourage it through recruitment are more productive and successful. There is a real transformative power which comes from a diverse group of thinkers, planners or service providers all collaborating together.

Please go to our website to find advice and sources of in-depth information on employers committed to diversity as well as your rights as a candidate and as an employee.

And don’t forget to check out live vacancies on Glasgow Careers.

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Ten pieces of advice for aspiring journalists from the editor of Press Gazette

This excellent, vocationally focussed advice comes from The Press Gazette’s publication “How to be a journalist 2016/17”. It contains lots of super useful industry advice.

clark kent

1.Practice, practice, practice. I was lucky enough to be able to get high marks in most academic exams through last-minute cramming.

That won’t work in journalism, it is a craft and requires practice to perfect.

Writing a good news story intro is like hitting a good tennis serve, the only way you are going to get it right is by trying and failing a number of times.

Get all the experience you can, particularly on student publications. And be patient. News writing is a precise discipline which is very different from the academic style.

2. Shorthand. It’s the skill that sets the serious journalist apart from the enthusiastic amateur. Like news writing it will only come with a lot of practise so as soon as you have decided to do journalism training buy a shorthand textbook (Teeline) and start learning it. A shorthand speed of 100 words per minute is essential for any general news reporter job because without it you can’t cover court (where tape recorders are banned).

3. Unless you have a bloody good memory you are going to need a voice recorder and a telephone mic. While you are getting your shorthand speed up use an in-ear telephone mic (about £10 on Amazon) to tape phone interviews.

You will also need your smartphone or dictaphone to record face to face interviews. Even when you have 100 words per minute shorthand you will need to record longer interviews as people speak a lot faster than that.

4. Become a geek. There is a debate about whether traditional skills such as shorthand are as important as new skills such as computer coding. It’s not either or, get them all. If you can learn the basics of HTML (the code behind web pages) and other computer languages such as Python you will dramatically improve your employability.

5. Create your own blog and experiment with embedding widgets and other digital whistles and bells. Get on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and any other social media platform you can think of. Social media is all the rage in journalism nowadays.

6. The same goes for data. Data journalism is another buzz phrase in the industry. It basically involves taking large dull-looking groups of numbers and finding stories in them. Again, if you can learn some data skills you are going to put yourself ahead of much of the competition. At its most basic it could just be getting a list of election results, putting them into a spreadhseet and then using a programme such as Datawrapper to create a pretty graph which you cut and paste into your website. Believe it or not, becoming a whizz with Excel is one of the most useful skills you can have as a journalist.

7. Enjoy yourself. Journalism is not the best paid job in the world. People do it because it is fun and maybe because they also want to make a difference. There is a great tradition in this country of controlled anarchy in newsrooms. Keep it up.

8. Oh, and about the money. Journalism can be low paid considering the high level of skills and training which it requires. Starting salaries are typically around £18,000. Even a senior reporter on a local paper might be on £20-25,000. The sky’s the limit earnings-wise for star journalists and the profession can also be a grounding for a more lucrative career in PR, corporate communications, TV presenting or something else entirely. Money may not matter to you so much now, but it may in ten years time. So it is worth considering that typically even teachers and police officers nowadays earn more that journalists (and they probably have better pensions). That said, they probably don’t have nearly as much fun.

9. When it comes to getting your first job treat your covering letter and CV with as much care as a front page story. If you write a covering letter which grabs the reader’s attention, which shows (but doesn’t tell) how you are the most enthusiastic and best suited person for the job you will get an interview. Most people write dull, formulaic covering letters full of stock phrases such as “I have a passion for yada yada”, “I am honest and hard working”, “I’m a good team player”. These go straight in the bin. Show you can write with flair and originality.

10. Remember with stories, finding a job, getting on a course and many other asects of journalism every no gets you closer to a yes.You have to fail in this game in order to succeed.

Don’t get disheartened because everyone has been there.

If you want to talk about your journalism ideas feel free to come and talk to a Careers Manager.

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Intern insight: Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team (GUEST)

The IH has been supporting GUEST to recruit paid student interns for a number of years now. This year’s GUEST Coordinators Callum, Lucy and Kate were from a range of year groups across the Colleges of Arts and Social Sciences.


Working for the Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team (GUEST) is the best job you could wish for as a student alongside your studies! It is part-time with very flexible hours and most of the work is done on campus. As well as being a student, you become a staff member at the university, and get to work alongside like-minded people on something that you are really passionate about.

As coordinators, we worked closely with the Internship Hub for the recruitment process of promoters. Coordinating a team of eight promoters meant that we independently managed our own budget, ran and facilitated team training and meetings and learnt how to supervise and support the work of others.

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We have worked on a wide range of projects and campaigns aimed at improving environmental practice across campus and further afield and providing a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable space for the student and local community. As one of our main roles is to influence the University’s policies around sustainability, we worked closely with other governing bodies of the University, such as the Carbon Management Committee, the University Court and the Environmental Sustainability Partnership Board, and were also regularly in contact with local governments and NGOs.

Knowing you are influencing and changing the University’s environmental practice is something really rewarding. Being part of a student-led team and having the ability to see the impact of your work at University is also really exciting. Being a small team also meant that we were all able to contribute our ideas and to really develop our skills in-depth through experiences that we were able to run and conduct ourselves, whether it be coordinating a team, managing a budget, facilitating meetings or writing reports and recommendations for the University governing bodies. Everything we learnt through this internship will be extremely valuable for future career prospects as all these skills are transferable and can be practiced in any workplace or context.


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“Commercial awareness” – What is it and how do you show you have it?

Worried about demonstrating “commercial awareness” at an interview?

Most employers want to know that you have “commercial awareness”. Whether you are looking to work for a multinational or a small business, a charity or in the arts, potential employers will all expect you to demonstrate this.

Students are often anxious that if they don’t read the Financial Times FT_Web_App_on_iPad-_Home_Screen_(5814585356).jpgevery day they won’t be able to demonstrate this. In fact, commercial awareness means many things to different people but usually refers to an interest in business generally and in the wider environment that a specific business operates in .

The good news if that you will almost certainly already have it, at least to some degree.

Your experience of part-time jobs can be a great source of commercial awareness. You may be able to use retail or hospitality experience to show that you understand the importance of effective stock management, reducing wastage, “selling-up” etc. Understanding that this contributes to the profitability of any business demonstrates your commercial awareness.

Every employer wants to know that you understand their business and sector. They are looking for a real understanding of what they do, who their key competitors are, future trends in their industry  etc. Doing your homework on this prior to an interview is another measure of your commercial awareness.

So what should you research prior to an interview?

The following are just a few ideas:images.png

  • press releases from the employer
  • LinkedIn and social media pages
  • industry news in the (reputable) business media
  • websites of key competitors in the sector

What might I be asked on this at interview?

Questions could include the following:

  • What do you know about our products / services?
  • Who are our main competitors and what differentiates them from us?
  • What makes a business successful?
  • Describe a company you think is doing well and explain why you think this is so.
  • Tell me about a recent news item on the economy or about a specific business that interested you. What interested you about this?
  • What is the current Bank of England base rate?
  • What is the FTSE 100? Did the FTSE go up or down yesterday?

These questions are looking for evidence of your curiosity about business generally, your awareness of why businesses succeed (or fail) and your motivation to work for that employer.

Finally back to the F.T.

It IS important to have a good general awareness of what’s going on in the global economy so getting into good habits such as regularly looking at reputable business news websites will certainly help you to develop your commercial awareness without it seeming like a last-minute panic prior to an interview!

For more advice on getting ready for interviews, don’t forget our website is full of hints, tips, example questions and lots more.

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What can we learn from Mhairi Black MP?

Mhairi Black has become one of the most talked about and inspirational MPs of our time. She was 20 when she made her Maiden Speech which by the end of the day had 11m online views and was trending in Nigeria. She continues to capture hearts and minds for her no-nonsense criticism of Westminster.

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Who is Mhairi Black MP?

Whilst studying in her final year undergraduate at the University of Glasgow, Mhairi became a Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire South in the 2015. Her landslide victory over Douglas Alexander, Shadow Foreign Secretary, sounded the collapse of popularity for the Labour party in Scotland.

She graduated with a first class MA in Politics and Public Policy in 2015 before entering the House of Commons.  She entered Westminster as the ‘Baby of The House’: a title she quickly outshone after her legendary Maiden Speech in July 2015 which amassed millions of views online and public acclaim.

Mhairi continues to inspire with her blistering Commons opposition speeches calling for change.  She has challenged housing policies, LGBT issues and champions the rights of those living in poverty.

She continues to prove that age, gender and sexuality should not define your career or present barriers.  In her own words – “people can see past political spin and aesthetic things like your age and your gender – they recognise that I can’t help that – so it’s about what I am saying, what I am standing for.”

What can we learn from Mhairi? – Two key messages.

Tip 1: Research leads to confidence.  

mhairiquote1One of the key messages that Mhairi wants students to receive is the importance of research as a foundation for confidence. As a frequent public speaker, Mhairi takes the same approach to presenting no matter whether it’s to pals or parliament. She likes to know what she’s talking about and she believes that’s the key to confidence. If she’s read everything she can find on a certain topic, committed it to memory, gone over the details time and time again – she’ll feel able to stand up and say what she needs to say.

It’s a technique many interviewers will also advise – know as much as you can about the company who wants to meet you. Come prepared with an idea of their strategy, their aims, their structure.

Tip 2: Know what you want to get out of your career.

Fullscreen capture 14032017 162846As an MP who openly criticises ‘career politicians’, asking Mhairi what’s next for her in her career is an interesting question. But she’s honest. She wants to keep making her constituents happy and as long as she’s doing that – she says she’s satisfied. She feels she isn’t in politics for the sake of it but because she feel she needs to be there – and again that’s something we should all reflect on.

Are you applying for a grad job for the sake of it? To make up application numbers? To keep your parents happy? Or do you really believe you can make a difference in that role, in that company, in that industry. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, or planning out your career in advance. But it’s always good too, to reflect on what your values are, what satisfies you and who you can serve with your talents.

What can I do now?

Research Leads to Confidence:

The Network is a great way to get inspiration on where a degree from Glasgow can lead you but it also links you to alumni so you can find out the hot topics affecting an industry.  You can ask them about current issues they are facing in their role, useful resources you can access for the latest sector developments or what can make you stand out. Click here to join The Network now. 

Know What You Want to Get Out of Your Career:

If you’re unsure about what’s next for you, why not book an appointment with one of our Careers Managers? Click here to book now. 

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Future jobs are here!

The doom mongers amongst us spread fear that all our cAAEAAQAAAAAAAAl8AAAAJGZiN2FhMmEzLTZmMzktNDU2My1iN2Q5LTA5NjdkNmU5OTRiNgurrent jobs are going to disappear as the march of technology and whisper it, ROBOTS TAKE OVER. A more realistic way to look at the future is to work out for ourselves what jobs humans can do that computers can’t.

The show must go on

Robots cannot (yet?) mimic our human dramas and dilemnas. So, film and other kinds of media as well as live drama and stage productions of many sorts will thrive as a more healthy, active and ageing population have more time on its hands. So if drama or any other kind of production is your thing, then the future is yours.

Although travel agents aren’t in such demand due to the internet, we will need space tourist operators! Did you see that they’ll be sending some tourists round the moon in a few years? What about space pilots and space clinicians hel
ping us adjust to the ‘out of this world’ atmosphere. The demand for miners has declined but space exploration means we will need asteroid miners. All you geologists and earth scientists, it seems the sky is not the limit after all!

On yer bike?

Sport, whether for leisure, fitness or competition, is in, and looks like it’s here to stay. More and more of us are engaging in sport in its broadest sense and jobs that go with this trend are wide: coaches and teachers, personal trainers, professional sports men and women; physiotherapists, sports psychologists, nutritionists……there are bound to be some not yet invented.

And unlike robots, we humans, we care!

We are living longer because we are healthier – images.jpgbelieve it or not. We will need more carers of one type or another including occupational  therapists, genetic counsellors, ‘elderly well-being consultants’. Although we are all glued to our tablets and phones, we still ‘need to talk’ sometime: counsellors, advisers and therapists of many existing and new (we haven’t thought of them yet) persuasions will be in heavy usage.

Medicate

Health is already a huge part of our lives as we live longer and better. Doctors of all specialisms and specialist paramedics such as dieticians who combine a specialist knowledge and expertise base with a ‘therapeutic’ skill will be in demand. Myotherapy and other therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy etc., who will use sophisticated technologies in their jobs are likely to be in demand to treat a population which not only has a wide age range but requires a more personalised brand of treatment. Nurses, of a general and specialist nature are increasingly in demand now and in the future will be even more so. We are facing a critical shortage of nurses today. ‘End of life’ care is already proving to be a headache for health planners. This will only intensify as the elderly population grows.

Engineer

Future engineers are already here. Exobiologists, Astrobiology-Field-Lab.jpgalso known as astrobiologists deal with the search for extra-terrestrial life and the effects of extra-terrestrial surroundings on living organisms which no longer exist only in Sci-fi films. Biomedical engineers develop innovative biologics, materials, processes, implants, and devices. These innovations are used to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases, to rehabilitate patients, and to improve health. Biomechanical engineers look at how engineering can be applied to the human body. Understanding the mechanics of how we walk and run, sit and stand, and bend and flex is used to design products that feel comfortable, provide safety, and enhance human performance. The search for sustainable forms of energy demands nuclear engineers – fusion is coming – and others such as shale gas engineers, controversial or not. We will need engineers no matter what. Computers will take over the task driven parts of engineering for now. It will be sometime – perhaps never – before they can emulate human capacity for creativity in our quest for health and energy solutions.

The point is. We should not fear the future. The future is here.

And to see what roles are currently been advertised you can check Glasgow Careers.

 

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“Where do you see yourself in 5 years”

images.jpgIt seems to be a stock question that interviewers keep using. That doesn’t make it any easier to answer so how do you answer “where do you see yourself in 5 years”  in an interview?

This can feel like a bit of a trick question, because you don’t want to say “not in this job,” or “in your job,” or something like “at a bigger better opportunity elsewhere.” However you don’t want to say that to a recruitment manager.

Why do interviewers ask this question? 

Basically, the translation is, ‘do you care about our work?’. They aren’t expecting you to accurately predict your future.

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The good news is you can be honest while still telling them what they really want to know. Hiring someone is an investment and interviewers believe that someone genuinely interested in the organisation’s work will be the better hire.

So, what he/she really wants to know is whether this particular job and company is part of your career path or whether you’ll be jumping ship in a year once you land your “real” dream job. They also want to see that you have ambition, drive and initiative.

So how should you answer?

If the position you’re interviewing for is on the path to your goals, share that, plus give some specifics. For example, if you’re interviewing for an account position in an advertising firm and you know your goal is to become an account supervisor, say that.

Then add specifics about the sort of clients you hope to work with, which will help your answer sound genuine, and again show why this particular company will be a good fit.

Another example, you might say:

“Well I’m really excited by this position at [insert company name] because in 5 years, I’d like to be seen as someone with deep expertise in the [insert] sector and I know that’s something I’ll have an opportunity to do here.

I’m also really excited to take on more managerial responsibilities and potentially even take the lead on some projects.”

What if it isn’t my dream job?

If the position isn’t necessarily a one-way ticket to your aspirations, the best approach is to be genuine, but to follow your answer up by connecting the dots between the specific duties in this role and your future goals.

It’s OK to say that you’re not quite sure what the future holds but that you see this experience playing an important role in helping you make that decision or that you’re excited about the communications skills you’ll gain.

Remember there is lots of interview advice on our website and you can book an appointment to speak one of our Careers Managers about your interview.

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Three months off during the summer? I hope you’re going to get an internship!

Are you in your penultimate year or perhaps earlier?

Have you been hit with questions like this from a “well-meaning” friend or relative?

There’s no doubt it can be extremely useful to get an internship. Lots of major graduate recruiters use summer internships as a two to three month interview, and more and more interns are being offered jobs which start after graduation. This can ease your stress levels in final year! If this appeals to you then our Internship Hub is obviously the first place to look, but there are other sources of great summer opportunities.

That said, sometimes those “helpful” interventions from family and friends can be anything but uplifting and encouraging – especially if they mention a friend or relative who had that internship with IBM, is coasting to a 2.1 in Theoretical Physics, and has accepted a lucrative offer with IBM in Software Engineering! They’re probably called Kevin!

However, what if you’re not yet sure what you want to do, and you don’t know what internship to apply for? Now, no Careers Manager isn’t going to encourage you to exploring ideas and try to become a bit for focussed career-wise, certainly not me. That said, here are a few things that you might be able to the nay-sayers, or even Kevin himself!

I have a part-time job which also gives me summer work, and I don’t want to give this up

Graduate recruiters keep telling me that one of the biggest mistakes applicants make is underestimating what they’ve done. If you work in a bar and work well with your team members, deal effectively with some challenging customers and work quickly and accurately, then graduate recruiters want to hear your stories on you applications and at interview. If you work in a shop and are efficient and accurate at stock taking and give good customer service, then again, employers want to hear about instances when you’ve shown these abilities.

I’m going on a field trip with my course in the summer.

So you’re going on a Geography field trip to Majorca, or an Earth Science field trip to Mull (not much difference!). You’ll be able to explain how you researched into local human geographical issues or geologically mapped an area and devised its geological history. You’ll be able to show how you collected and analysed data, drew conclusions and presented these. You might be able to show how you got the best out of your team-mates and encouraged them.

I’m going to Africa to help teach English in the summer.

Employers will be impressed with your organisational and planning skills when you tell them how you planned lessons and delivered them. They’ll be interested in your creativity when you adapted your materials as you learned more about your students. They’ll be keen to hear how you learned about different cultures and showed respect for them. They’ll also want to know more about what motivated you to do this and how you overcame any challenges, such as funding or logistics.

I’ve got a research opportunity in my school.

You might just love Physics and have arranged to do some research over the summer in a particular area of interest. Employers will be interested to hear how you organised your time, negotiated with your supervisor about the work you did and planned this effectively. They’ll want to know what your research achieved, and how you reported and presented this.

I have caring responsibilities at home and can’t commit to an internship.

Employers understand that some people’s personal circumstances make it very difficult to commit to an internship. They’ll want to know how you managed to find time to study. They’ll want to hear about your caring tasks, and how maintained your motivation and morale to achieve academically. They’ll be impressed with how you managed to pursue your extracurricular interests to any extent.

So, an internship is a great thing, but there are lots of other ways to convince an employer that you have what it takes to be a successful employee. Go for it!

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‘Hygge’ your career

hygge

Maybe it’s the number of bestselling books, magazine articles and radio programmes on the subject, or maybe it’s the sheer absence of it in our house at present (our boiler’s kaput)…for whatever reason, ‘hygge’ has been on my mind recently.

In fact, hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is so in vogue that it was short-listed for the Oxford Dictionary word of the year 2016. The blogger Anna Lea West has offered “cosiness of the soul”as an English definition.

Originating in Scandinavia, and embraced by the Danes in particular, this phenomenon is thought to give some clue as to why Denmark occupied the top spot in the UN World Happiness Report in 2016 and why other Scandinavian countries consistently do so. While the rest of the world looks towards the secrets of Scandinavian living to improve their interiors, culinary habits and general quality of life, advertisers bombard us with warming images of candles, fairy lights, log-burning stoves and luxury throws. Meanwhile, I’m left wondering if there’s anything we can learn from hygge from a career perspective?

Close up of lit tea light candles on wooden table

Work is where we spend a big chunk of our adult life, so experiencing this ‘cosiness of the soul’ in our workplace will hugely influence our happiness. Many factors influence career satisfaction – the role, the organisational culture, how much we get on with our colleagues, but work that matches our personality, strengths, motivations and interests is likely to keep us focused and reasonably contented. Richard Nelson Bolles author of the best-selling career manual in history ‘What colour is Your Parachute?’ says ‘The key to a happy and fulfilling future is knowing yourself. This self-knowledge is the most important component of finding the right career’

Personality tests can help us find out more about our temperament and how this relates to our career choice.

Good self-knowledge also helps us to be an effective team player – something valued by employers. Effective team working requires team members to co-operate, listen to each other, communicate clearly, share knowledge and be supportive of other members. To find out more about your team working preferences, check out Belbin’s Team Roles and see which you identify with.

teamwork

Hygge often happens when you’re amongst people you can be honest with, where you don’t have to pretend to be anything other than who you are. Interestingly, graduate recruiters are increasingly moving towards ‘strengths-based’ interviews, rather than ‘competence based’ interviews – with a focus on what candidates ENJOY doing rather than what they CAN DO. Strength questions are designed to identify your motivation and values. With strength questions the interviewer wants to know who you are – the authentic you.

Having a workplace or study space where you feel comfortable and at home will increase your productivity. Whilst most of us have very little control over our working environment, making small changes can make a big difference to how we feel about our work space. Meik Wiking, author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute , says ‘Hygge definitely manifests itself in the offices in Copenhagen. In our offices we have sofas and comfy chairs, art on the walls; it’s rare to have an office that’s sterile and white’. A typical Scandinavian working environment ditches strip lighting in favour of natural light and is filled with plants, soft cushions and the sweet aroma of artisan coffee.

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Let’s embrace hygge in our careers and see if we can push Scotland up the rankings in the World Happiness Report 2017!

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Help, I’m not getting any interviews!

job-applicationThe first thing to remember if you are not getting any interviews (yet) is to learn from this and not see a rejection as a personal failing in any way. Remember that the job market is very competitive and in reality no one gets every job that they apply for!

The worst thing that you can do is to get stuck in a negative mindset. This could involve telling yourself that there is no point in continuing to apply for jobs, there is nothing that you can do to affect the outcome and you should avoid any more potential opportunities for failure. All successful people get turned down at some point but they learn from this and focus on improving the next time. Resilience is about bouncing back from rejection and not giving up.

Rather than thinking negatively, you could instead ask yourself what you can do differently and how you can do this. Try to develop a “growth mindset”. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University has written extensively on how to do this. This approach will help you to realise that your own potential is not limited and that you have the ability to change things if you remain focussed and positive.

So, if you are not getting interviews yet, all is not lost! Ask for feedback from the employer if you can. Also, come and talk to us in the Careers Service about your job seeking and applications strategy. Keep a sense of perspective, there will be more opportunities. Build your network and relationships as many graduates find opportunities by being proactive rather than reactively applying for advertised jobs.

While a job rejection might seem like the end of the world, it’s really an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the application process. Have a look at the information on interview technique on our website

Writing good applications and performing at interviews are life skills. Like all skills they can be honed and improved through practice to increase your chances of succeeding the next time.

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International Development Career Tips from UofG Alumna Erin Kilborn

Erin Kilborn (UofG MBChB 2008 graduate) has recently returned to Glasgow from a six-month mission with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the Central African Republic, a country undergoing civil war.

Working in this environment has presented huge personal and professional challenges for Erin including dealing with victims of extreme trauma.

She is currently taking time out to work in ER in Glasgow and kindly agreed to speak to UofG students about what it takes to work in international development and in some of the most challenging areas in the world.

In the video below we ask Erin what tips she would give students to get into this competitive sector, what skills she’s used from her time at the University and what she’s enjoyed most about her career so far. You can also ask Erin more questions yourself, by connecting with her on The Network.

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5 questions to ask to end the interview on a great note

It’s the end of the interview and after nearly an hour of pouring your heart (and work experience) out to a potential employer, the hiring manager asks if you have any last questions before finishing.

It’s meant to be a formality, of course—a way to end the conversation but it’s also an opportunity, to make one final impression and give your interviewer something to remember you by.

It’s especially noteworthy when you do manage to pull that off, since so many other candidates, having already asked many questions throughout the session, mindlessly shrug off this little last thing at the end.

So, the next time you’re struggling for something to say in those awkward few moments before the door closes with you on the other side, maybe these questions will help.

I’ve come up with five thoughtful and interesting questions to pose during your next interview. Not only will you get some good insights, but you’ll be more memorable as well.

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1. Which experience prepared you the most for your job? and why?

What this says about you: You’ll learn quickly. Rather than starting from scratch, you’ll be actively focusing on applying what you’ve learnt to your new role.

What this tells you: From the hiring manager’s answer, you should get a better sense of the office environment and how your future team operates.

Let’s say they respond, “I spent three years working for a small start-up—that experience has come in handy, because even though this company is much bigger, we’ve got that start-up, ‘ethos.’”
Well, that very plainly tells you this company values autonomy, humility, and initiative.

2.I know one of your company values is [value here]. How does that show itself in the workplace?values

What this says about you: You want to work somewhere with integrity and you understand the difference between intentions and actions. Also, you did your research!

What this tells you: If the hiring manager can’t give you a good answer, that’s a clue the organisation is, well, talking the talk without walking the walk.

Here’s what a good answer might look like:
“Yes, one of our core values is openness and openness definitely influences much of how we do things. Every Friday, our entire team gets together for a meeting where anyone can ask anything they’d like. I can’t remember a single time our CEOs have rejected a question.

3. What makes this office special?

What this says about you: You’re not just looking for any job. You care about finding the right fit.

What this tells you: Whether or not this company would be good for you, day in and day out.

Maybe the hiring manager says, “We’re all huge sports fans. Each month, the entire company attends a local game.” If you’d rather clean your bathroom than sit through a football/ rugby game this probably isn’t the company for you

4. Why are you excited about hiring a new person in this role?

What this says about you: You care about your boss’ goals and how your work will drive the organisation forward.

What this tells you: Whether the hiring manager’s vision of the job aligns with yours as well as what he or she prioritises.

For example, you might be excited about this project analyst position because you want to identify and solve inefficiencies. But the hiring manager says he’s looking forward to having someone be a liaison between multiple departments.

5. What’s the typical leadership style here?styles

What this says about you: You’re looking for a productive, mutually beneficial relationship between you and your supervisor.

What this tells you: Whether or not your working style will match with your (maybe) boss.

To give you an idea, perhaps you’re a big fan of regular feedback and would rather have too much direction than too little. If the hiring manager says, “We spend a lot of time getting new employees up to speed and making sure they have all the tools necessary to be successful,” you’re probably going to get along swimmingly. However, if she says, “We believe people do their best when they’re working independently and don’t have someone constantly looking over their shoulder,” then you might want to reconsider.

With these tips and using our great careers website you are bound to make a great impression and be on the way to a fab job. Good luck!

 

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