Thursday 9th November 2016 – Careers Week
Today we had talks from three graduates of the English and Creative Writing awards at Staffs Uni
- Danielle Booker, manager of local PR company ‘Lyme Communications’
- Sharon Sant – novelist (Romantic fiction under the pen-name ‘Tilly Tennant’, Young Adult fiction as herself)
- Bram Welch – Entertainment Journalist
The speakers brought a wealth of diverse topics to the panel, which in turn generated many helpful questions from the current undergraduates in attendance. Having attended the careers talks this week and last, I can see several important linking themes emerging, which I shall summarise here:
- All speakers stressed the importance of forming good friendship groups at undergraduate level in order to support and encourage you in the key task of getting through your degree!
- Relatedly, there was further emphasis in every presentation regarding the need for networking after graduating. This could mean any of the following: keeping in touch with your fellow graduates, attending events relevant to your areas of employment interest, letting family and friends beyond the Uni know about your skills set/career aspirations, creating a LinkedIn profile, creating a Facebook page for professional use only. Get to know people and get people to know you! Many of the stories we heard at these talks depended upon happy coincidence, and that coincidence was generated by networking.
- A degree doesn’t necessarily mean that you get a job – work on YOU. Become someone that an employer wants to employ: work on your interpersonal skills, your self-confidence, maybe even your manners. Learn to cultivate a good presentation of self. Develop your personality by travelling, possibly even by living and working in other countries (Bram talked very enthusiastically about the TEFL scheme), volunteer – even for things that aren’t directly relevant to what you’d like to do eventually. If you have no particular career path in mind, then pick some work experience and just make yourself do it; if you hate it, you can at least discount that field. If you love it you could be making valuable links for later on. Any work experience will give you life-experience and help you with your personal development.
- Find out about Graduate Schemes – you may not even be interested in the field in which any given scheme is based, however, you can be well-paid and given intensive training in a variety of skills which will stand you in good stead for a range of other careers. This tip was really just from Kerry Ann last week, but it’s such good advice that I had to include it here.
- Managing your existing online profile/s: if a potential employer were to Google you, what would they find…? It’s time to think carefully about what’s out there on the internet and how it will look from a professional context… (Again, this was just from Kerry Ann, but too important to leave out!)
- Start the wheels in motion NOW! This was a common and crucial piece of advice we heard from every speaker. All 6 of these points can be tackled right now, today, yes – even in the 1st semester of your 1st year!
The talks were – obviously – much richer than this list can indicate. We are very grateful to our alumni for returning to pass on their pearls of wisdom and inspire our current undergraduates with a lot of food for thought.