The Rantings of Career Professional: Why GradEX?

By jp4,

Written by Claire Bashford

If you’d allow me to offer you one piece of advice it would be to show up! Show up for yourself by being your own advocate, show up and give it your all, show up even if it scares you and show up being unapologetically your wonderful, unique self!

If opportunities arise where you can do all these things, be there with bells on! For those finishing your studies you might be dreaming of cutting loose, exhaling, and reaching the finish line, but don’t rush off without taking your place at GradEX.

GradEX is your chance to bask in the moment, celebrate and showcase your achievements and see where the connections you can make through this experience can take you. If Graduation is your time on the podium, and your time at university is the race; then GradEX is that moment after you’ve crossed the line, you’re punching the air, the cameras go off and all the possibilities of your achievement are ahead of you.

You can take part in GradEX online, and select schools take part ONLINE and IN-PERSON. Both offer you the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and graduate employers.

GradEX has truly been a game-changer for many students, with outstanding graduate job offers and work experience opportunities. But for all involved, it’s the chance to grow your professional network by making connections and articulate the skills and knowledge that you’ve gained throughout your time at university which is a crucial skill in itself.

The online portal, which is viewed worldwide and is shared with all university contacts, remains open throughout summer to maximise the window of opportunity. The on-campus festivities which include showcases, prizes, celebration events and prize giving’s are a real uplifting moment for all involved; be that students, staff, guests, employers, or family. We really are proud to see how far our students come, proud of the work they’ve produced, their achievements and the experiences they’ve had; but most of all, we are immensely proud of the fact that they grasped the opportunity and honoured their journey by showing up!

To find out more information about GradEX23 and how to take part visit, the online GradEX23 portal opens on 2nd May and closes 30th May for student submissions. In person GradEX23 begins week commencing 5th June.

GET in TOUCH ANYTIME: Staffordshire University (

International Women’s Day

By Gemma McCann,

Written by Carolina Salinas (Head of Student and Graduate Employability, Career Connect, Staffordshire University)

Time to celebrate!

Happy International Women’s Day, celebrating the incredible achievements and contributions of women around the world. From the trailblazers who have broken through glass ceilings to the everyday women who have made a difference in their communities, this day is about recognising and honouring the hard work of all women.

An opportunity for all of us -women and men- to celebrate how far we have come collectively in the equality struggle. We’ve seen a rise in women’s rights and a shift in gender norms that allow women to pursue their dreams and aspirations.

It fills my heart the normality with which my twin nieces are exposed to women in professions traditionally ‘reserved’ for men – the police, bus and taxi drivers, astronauts and in sports, like our Lionesses.

However, there is still much work to be done. Women still face inequality and discrimination in many parts of the world. Women are still underrepresented in decision-making positions and in the workplace. They are still denied basic rights and opportunities that men have.

Role models:

In my experience role models are important, even if they are not enough, we need more policy, a louder voice and to continue to support each other in all spheres. Role models don’t have to be famous, perfect or put on a pedestal. The best role models are regular women, being their authentic selves every day, and standing for what they believe in.

Think of the amazing women you have around you, my grandma, Margarita, is one of my role models. She will be 103 in July, sweet but tenacious and always grounded and calm. She opened the first ever Cinema in her small village in Spain, in the 50s, with a little help from my grandad. They cleared a big garage and converted it into a cinema to entertain the village people with new colours, images and dreams. Against all predictions, the cinema became a success, so she opened a Bar next to it, again, with a little help from my grandad, so people in the cinema could get a snack and a cerveza in the break. Margarita hopefully influenced other women in her village to work, take action and explore their ideas. The best lessons I learnt from her are to treasure family, dream big, work hard and not care about what others think. I am still working on that last one!

Dreaming big even if you are scared:

This brings me into women’s careers and journeys. Like many in the Employability field, I am passionate about supporting others to grow and achieve their potential regardless of background. But most importantly I have a deep conviction that everything is possible with the right support.

I graduated from Law in University Autonoma in Madrid, years ago, I was a commuter student and lived at home, following the Spanish tradition. I wanted to be independent and come to the UK to work and improve my English (still polishing that one!). I was fortunate to get a European grant for a year placement in Reading, and let me tell you, I was scared, I didn’t know Reading, I didn’t know anyone, but I did it anyway.

This international placement, as scary and challenging as it was, it would go to shape the rest of my life. I found friends, my partner, a profession, and a country I love. But most important, it helped me to grow, to learn and to do things even if it felt scary, even if I felt different. It helped me to appreciate the importance of equality and inclusion, through policy and collective commitment, a concept that is less developed in other countries.

Seeking help:

I think this is critical. No matter what your dreams are and what obstacles you are facing, you have the power to change your life and, by doing so, you’ll change the world. But can’t do it alone.

So get a Mentor! Sorry to be boring and predictable here, but it works, formal or informal, someone you trust, who inspires you. Mentoring has been shown to be one of the most effective tools in helping women achieve professional and personal success. Mentoring can provide invaluable advice and help women break through the glass ceiling and reach their goals. I found that mentors can provide emotional support and guidance too, help with setting career goals, building confidence, and overcoming any gender-based discrimination. Mentors can also provide advice on work life balance.

I got an amazing mentor and coach few years ago, Fernanda, she offered me a different perspective and some principles and tools which I am still using today, the essence of which I will share with you. Basically you can chose thoughts that keep you stuck or thoughts that move you forward. You choose.

To close, just to say that most important thing for women is to show up in everything we do, bringing our whole selves to the table. We don’t need to be like men to succeed, we can be ourselves.

That includes your unique female set of gifts, your personality, your sense of humour and most importantly, your heart.

To speak to one of our Career Advisors get in touch:


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LinkedIn: @CareersAtStaffs

Twitter: @CareersAtStaffs

12 Steps to Career Success & Placement and Work-Related Learning Week

By Gemma McCann,

Written by Siobhan Hammond

12 Steps to Career Success

What is it?

The 12 Steps to Success programme will provide you with an opportunity to attend face-to-face and digital workshops covering key employability themes to enhance your career confidence and readiness. The programme will be led by our experienced career experts who will provide an overview, along with individualised support on the employability skills that are required by all industries.

When is it?

13th February – 1st May 2023

Why should you do it?

This is an amazing opportunity to boost your employability, gaining knowledge about every point in the process of job searching and progressing in your career. By following the ’12 Steps’ you will gain valuable knowledge about how to create the perfect CV and application, interview tips and preparation, networking and entrepreneurship. Whatever your situation, you can benefit from this course, so sign up now!

Ready to sign up?

The 12 Steps to Career Success brochure will have links to each session both in-person and online.

Scan the QR code or log in to the Career Connect Portal for more information.

Placement and Work-Related Learning Week

What is it?

As of February 2023, the Career Connect team will be launching a Placement and Work-Related Learning activity week for all Staffordshire University students. This will include all students from UK and International Partner Institutions.

The aim of the programme is to provide inclusive workshops to enhance the benefits of gaining work experience as part of any degree. Each workshop will be delivered by members of Career Connect, School Placement teams and the SU Global team, with the aim of encouraging students to search, find and apply for placement opportunities.

Students will be able to access a wide range of information to support them throughout their entire placement journey by signing up to the workshops listed below.

For students who have been unable to access the initial Placement and Work-Related Learning week, follow-up sessions and recapping sessions will be conducted over the 5 weeks after the activity week. Students will also have the opportunity to book an appointment with one of our career’s advisors following each session for more individualised support.

When is it?

13th – 17th February


Introduction to Placements: 

Monday 13th February | 11am- 2pm | LW032 Ashley

Finding Placements:

Tuesday 14th February | 11am- 2pm | LT012 Ashley

Placement Drop In Clinic:

Wednesday 15th February | 11am- 2pm | T101 Beacon

Interview Preparation:

Thursday 16th February | 11am- 2pm | R101 Science Centre

Employer Talks:

Friday 17th February | 11am- 2pm | Catalyst Learning Market

Why should you do it?

Having prior experience in an industry gives you the edge against competitors when applying for a job.

Placements are vital in assisting you with work-based experience, and can help you to navigate the different settings that you enjoy working in.

This is not only voluntary, there are also paid placements on offer where you can earn while you learn.

Develop your skills and gain the edge with placements on your CV, and networking opportunities with industry professionals.

Ready to sign up?

Scan the QR code or log in to the Career Connect Portal for more information.

Your New Career Connect Portal

By Gemma McCann,

Written by Gemma McCann – Level 5 Psychology and Criminology.

Career Connect Portal – Recommendations From a Student:

The new Career Connect Portal is great at bringing all of your career needs into an easy-to-use place. It is a simple to navigate system, which is very user-friendly to students, and it is exciting to explore.


Features including CV 360 and Interview 360 make it simple to access career needs on the go, which provides an effective way for students to enhance their employability.

Book an Appointment:

Booking appointments with the Career Connect team has never been simpler! You can choose whichever days/times suit you best, and then in the notes section you can describe the purpose of the appointment e.g., ‘CV Review’; this allows the career advisor to prepare for the appointment.

Search for Resources:

You can also use the search bar to find resources such as cover letter guidance. There is such a variety of information available on the portal… So go and explore!


Seek JOBS JOBS JOBS… Many students are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis at the moment, we are all starting to feel the pinch! This is why one of the most important features of the NEW Career Connect Portal is to search for and find job/placement/internship opportunities. With new opportunities being uploaded daily, and new employers joining constantly, the opportunities are endless!

How to Access the Career Connect Portal:

Visit or scan the QR code below, to sign up and get started.


REGISTER before the end of January 2023 and you could get the chance to win one of 4 £25 Amazon Vouchers. Good luck!

To speak to one of our Career Coaches get in touch:


Twitter: @CareersAtStaffs

Instagram: @CareersAtStaffs

Facebook: Staffordshire University​ Career & Personal Development

LinkedIn: @CareersAtStaffs

Welcome To ALL NEW And RETURNING Students!

By Gemma McCann,

Written by Gemma McCann

What is welcome week?

Welcome week is a fun time for students to get to know the university. Students can familiarise themselves with fellow students, university staff, supportive teams and the buildings and what they offer. Get to know your Student Union:

Welcome week will be filled with lots of fun activities, and you will be able to find out about what societies and clubs are available around campus. Come and meet the Career Connect Team and have a go on Spin to Win.

Feeling nervous? 

If you are more of an introvert, then the thought of lots of people can be daunting. Don’t worry, you can join in with as much, or a little of the welcome week as you like; you can also interact with as many people as you like. This means that you can take full control and do whatever you feel most comfortable with. 

What do I need to bring? 

Yourself. You don’t need to worry about carrying lots of things around with you. Welcome week is a really calm and chilled so you can just take a stroll around the activities that are available. Similarly with the welcome talks, as long as you are present, you will get all of the information that you need. 

If you do need to bring anything for any of the events happening through welcome week, you will be told before hand. 

Top Tips for settling in:

  • Familiarise yourself with the campus and where to access everything you will need e.g. library, student union shops, student union and where to get food etc. 
  • Get to know some people, if you are staying at campus then you could get to know the people in and around your accommodation, if you don’t live near then you can get to know some people on your course – you may find some that live near you. Join your social groups. 
  • Have fun! Spend the first couple of weeks calm and finding your feet at university and focus on settling into university life. 
  • If you have any worries or concerns, make sure you speak to someone, whether it be peers, parents, or staff – don’t suffer in silence. 
  • Ask questions, if there is anything that you are unsure of then make sure to ask plenty of questions. 

Thinking about your finances?  Watch out for the Part Time Fair on October 5th in the LRV.  

Looking for a placement or Graduate Role get Connected Futures in your calendar, Starts on Monday 31st October. 



Twitter: @CareersAtStaffs 

Instagram: @CareersAtStaffs 

Facebook: Staffordshire University​ Career & Personal Development 

LinkedIn: @CareersAtStaffs 


By Gemma McCann,

Written by Gemma McCann.

ConGRADulations to all of our students experiencing their graduation ceremonies. On behalf of the Career Connect staff, I would like to wish you all the best of luck with your future endeavors. #ProudToBeStaffs

Did you know?

Here at Career Connect we want to do our best to support you in your educational and career pathways to achieving your goals. This is why we offer you a promise of LIFETIME SUPPORT! That’s right… For all Staffordshire University graduates, if you ever need career advice, you can contact us or pop in and see us.

Next steps

Well done to those of you who have already secured jobs following your graduation… now is the time to relax!

To those of you who haven’t yet secured a job, there is no need to worry, you have plenty of time! However, if you are feeling anxious about it, or you don’t know where to start, then come and speak to one of our Career Advisors, or to a member of our Graduate Outcomes team, and they will help to get you on the right path.

Enjoy, Relax, and Rejuvenate

We all know how stressful university can be at times, and that is why it is so important for you to celebrate all that you have achieved throughout your time here. Soak in the glory of graduation, relax in the hot sun, and get yourself prepared for whatever your next steps are.

We love to hear about our student’s success stories, so please keep us updated on your upcoming adventures!

Well done… and congratulations!

To speak to one of our Career Coaches get in touch:


Twitter: @CareersAtStaffs

Instagram: @CareersAtStaffs

Facebook: Staffordshire University​ Career & Personal Development

LinkedIn: @CareersAtStaffs

Interview Advice… Top Tips!

By Gemma McCann,

Written by Gemma McCann

Interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience for a lot of people, so to try and take some of the stress and pressure away let’s have a look at some ways to prepare for an interview.

How to prepare for an interview:

Read the job role thoroughly to ensure you know what you are applying for. You can then re-read your cv so that your information is fresh in your mind. Once you are all set, try thinking about some questions that they may ask you.

Research the company – it is always good to get an idea of the kind of company you are looking to work for, so have a look through the website to get to know them a bit better (this might also give you some inspiration for any questions that you may want to ask them in the interview).

S.T.A.R – The interviewer may ask questions about your portfolio, previous experiences, or give you hypothetical case studies or scenarios. It can be extremely useful for you to answer these questions using the S.T.A.R technique:

S – Situation – set the stage for the anecdote and provide context

T – Task – provide information on what your role was in the situation

A – Action – tell the interviewer how you as an individual dealt with the situation or tackled the challenge

R – Response – what was the outcome of your actions

Remember to always check the date and time for your interview, along with what you need to wear, and anything you need to take.

What next?

At the end of the interview, you should be given a rough time frame for when to expect a response, however if you haven’t heard anything and it has been a few weeks, you can always contact the company for an update.

If you think of any more questions or there is any information that you need to know after the interview is over, you can contact the company.

For any further support or guidance, please feel free to contact Career Connect, who can offer you a mock interview, or can be there to support you through the process and answer any questions that you might have.

To speak to one of our Career Coaches get in touch:


Twitter: @CareersAtStaffs

Instagram: @CareersAtStaffs

Facebook: Staffordshire University​ Career & Personal Development

LinkedIn: @CareersAtStaffs

How Do I Become An Accountant?

By Gemma McCann,

Written by Tom Bilby, from The Accountancy Partnership

So, you think you might want to pursue a career as an accountant – but you’re not sure where to start? Keep reading as we explore what qualifications you’ll need and take you through a few other important things to consider if you want to become an accountant, including:

• What area you’d like to specialise in

• Graduate programmes and apprenticeships

• Other forms of work experience

Do you need qualifications to become an accountant?

A university degree in accounting will, naturally, stand you in great stead but it’s by no means compulsory. In fact, you can have a degree in another subject – or no degree at all – and still build a super successful career as a qualified accountant.

While a university degree is not a mandatory requirement for a career in accounting, there are other qualifications you’ll need to achieve in order to progress through the industry.

An Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification is the minimum typically required of prospective accountants. To progress to chartered accountancy, you’ll also need to complete the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Association of Chartered Accountants (ACA) and/or (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) CIMA qualifications too. Accountancy does love an acronym, starting with its qualifications!

Other sought-after accounting qualifications you can pursue are the Association of International Accountants (AIA) professional qualification, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) chartered accountant status (ICAEW).

Good employers will take you on as a junior accountant with an AAT qualification, and then support you with training and study leave if you do decide to pursue additional learning.

Think about what area you’d like to specialise in

When embarking on a career in accounting, you might be wondering about areas that you could specialise in. This isn’t something you need to be sure about as soon as you leave education, and your specialism may very well change as your career evolves. However, it helps to have an idea of what direction you’d like to start off in, or what options might at least be available.

The typical path into the industry is down the financial accounting route, which includes tax and business finances. There are other areas too, such as forensic accounting, audit and business recovery and insolvency.

As time goes on, you’ll need to figure out whether you want to work in the private or public sector, such as for local government, a charity, or a business. There are other variations too, such as working ‘in practice’ for an accounting firm, or for a business in their finance department.

Research graduate programmes and apprenticeships

For those who do choose to study for a university degree, there is the option of graduate schemes or graduate roles. These initiatives are designed to enable people to obtain important qualifications, such as the ones outlined above, recognising that you might be able to ‘skip’ some modules already covered by your degree.

For those who don’t go down the university route, apprenticeships are a great alternative. There are a whole host of programmes run by leading professional bodies, such as the ICAEW and ACCA, that enable people to achieve the necessary qualifications even if they didn’t attend university

Consider other forms of work experience

Graduate programmes and apprenticeships aren’t the only options available to you, and there’s often a great deal of competition to get into these kinds of schemes. Another great way to gain invaluable experience and get your foot in the door is to request a work placement or internship.

Going down this route still means you get to shadow practising accountants and absorb relevant hard and soft skills. They’ll be an invaluable addition to your CV when it comes to landing a full-time position.

Contact local accounting firms and express your interest in a work placement or voluntary work directly, or take a look on jobs boards and professional platforms such as LinkedIn to find open vacancies.

You might also look at other routes into the industry, such as starting in a different discipline like bookkeeping, before moving to accountancy.

Now you know what you need to do to become an accountant, all that’s left to do is go out there and kickstart your career. Good luck!

Article written by The Accountancy Partnership ( – Providing online accountancy services nationwide for a low, fixed monthly fee.

To speak to one of our Career Coaches get in touch:


Twitter: @CareersAtStaffs

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LinkedIn: @CareersAtStaffs

How To Increase Your Employability

By Gemma McCann,

Written by Gemma McCann.

What is employability?

Put simply, employability is all about how employable you are. So to increase your employability, you need to begin thinking like an employer… What do they look for in a prospective employee?

Employability includes:

  • Transferable Skills
  • Technical Skills
  • Subject Knowledge
  • Work experience
  • Additional knowledge
  • Professionalism

Transferable Skills – These are the general skills that you can pick up from a variety of areas such as education and employment. Transferable skills can include:

  • Active Listener
  • Communication
  • Team Work
  • Time Management
  • Organisation
  • Critical Thinking

Technical Skills – These can include skills developed through your particular field. Technical Skills can include:

  • IT-based programming skills knowledge.
  • In-depth knowledge of your chosen subject and particular specific knowledge needed (this can be found through specific modules)

Subject Knowledge – You will learn a lot about your chosen field throughout your course; however, there is so much more you can learn by doing some independent research.

Work Experience – This is always a good area to work on as it can be so simple to find. Work experience can be developed through paid jobs, voluntary work, placements, and internships.

Additional Knowledge – This can be anything extra that you have gained that you believe to be relevant and useful e.g. dbs, first aid, driving license.

Professionalism – It is important to remember to stay professional in everything that you do for an employer; from your cv, to your presentation at interview level.

Remember: For any support or guidance regarding careers, contact us using the below information, or pop in and see us on campus!

To speak to one of our Career Coaches get in touch:


Twitter: @CareersAtStaffs

Instagram: @CareersAtStaffs

Facebook: Staffordshire University​ Career & Personal Development

LinkedIn: @CareersAtStaffs

Placements – What You Need To Know.

By Gemma McCann,

Written by Gemma McCann.

Is a placement right for you?

The answer is yes! Whether you are looking to do a full placement year, a placement as an optional module, or you are just looking to fill up some of your spare time in the summer; a placement is the perfect option.

Why are placements important?

Placements improve your employability. It’s great for employers to see that you have a degree and knowledge in a specific subject area, however, experience is an essential tool. Experience is important to employers because they can see that you have an understanding of the subject area and they can see that you know how to apply it. Why is this important? Because it increases your chances of success when applying for jobs. Placements are also an important opportunity for you because it gives you insight into what that job entails. You might find that you do a placement and don’t enjoy that particular job role, you then know that you can look for another role that will be more suited to you.

What type of placement should you look for?

There is no right or wrong answer here. As you begin to look through placement opportunities you will become alert to the type of placements that suit you. It is ideal to get a placement that relates in some way to; 1) the type of job or subject area that you are interested in, and/or 2) the employers/companies that you are interested in.

Where should I be looking for placement opportunities?

Some useful websites can be:

  • My Career (Accessible through the Staffordshire University website).
  • Rate My Placement.
  • Prospects
  • Total Jobs
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Milkround
  • Gradcracker
  • Google (Search ‘Placements UK’ etc)

If you have a specific employer in mind then you can always look on the careers section of their website to see if they have any placement/internship/volunteering opportunities. You can also email companies directly with information on what you are looking for, to see if there is anything that they can offer you.

What should you do after securing a placement?

  • Keep your personal tutor informed, particularly if it is a placement directly for your course.
  • Keep a diary or an information sheet about what you did and learned throughout your placement (you might want to refer back to this for your future cv or in job interviews).
  • If you have looked to the Career Connect Hub for any guidance or advice then you can let them know about your achievement (We love to hear about our students’ successes!).

If you are struggling to find an appropriate placement or you are unsure of the application process, you can talk to your personal tutors/lecturers or you can book an appointment with, or pop down to the Career Connect Hub for any guidance and support.

To speak to one of our Career Coaches get in touch:


Twitter: @CareersAtStaffs

Instagram: @CareersAtStaffs

Facebook: Staffordshire University​ Career & Personal Development

LinkedIn: @CareersAtStaffs