Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Be gracious

When I was finishing my GCSEs at school great emphasis was placed upon work experience and its benefits when looking for a job. Not having a choice in the matter, my classmates and I all organised work experience placements as best we could, in industries that we thought might interest us.

I was fortunate enough to have a friend whose father worked as a commissioning editor at a London publishing house. The arrangements were made and I began my first ‘job’ in London. I loved everything about it. I was young enough for the commute to be vaguely exciting; the office was lively; and there were books everywhere! The editor I was shadowing had manuscripts that were several inches thick and held together by thick rubber bands piled two feet deep in his office, burying the two-seater sofa almost completely. And these, he told me in a mock-exasperated tone, were just from agents and addressed personally to him. The ‘slush pile’ – unsolicited manuscripts sent to the publishing house in the hope of being published – was far bigger.

I don’t remember too many of my tasks there, as it’s nearly six years ago now, but I do remember reading through several manuscripts in the slush pile. This exercise stuck with me, purely because of what was in there – there was a submission from an ex-marine commando describing, in sickeningly graphic detail, an ambush on a Hummer convoy in Afghanistan. There was one from a woman who had compiled a guide to life using advice from the late 1800s and early 1900s. One particular tip has stuck with me, and that is, ‘One must always make sure that one’s top hat is well polished before leaving the house.’ My reader report ran along the lines of ‘No, no, please, God, no.’ It wasn’t published. There was another from a Russian journalist who believed her government was trying to kill her, and was desperately trying to get her story published. She only gave her mobile number to be contacted on for ‘security purposes’. Convinced I had found a controversial and potentially best-selling manuscript, I rushed in to my editor, who read through the cover letter while listening to my explanation, then looked at me with a smile and said, ‘So you think we should risk the polonium here, do you?’ That one didn’t get published either.

Before I left, however, I asked to have a chat with my editor about the publishing sector in general. We sat down and discussed various things, but the single piece of advice which has stayed with me since then was, ‘Be gracious.’ I spent a long time thinking about it – largely trying to work out what gracious meant – and how to apply it. The synonyms include ‘kindly’, ‘courteous’, and, according to the OED, it is slightly archaic: it can be linked to the medieval notion of chivalry without too much effort.

The further I have gone through education since that conversation, the more I have realised its wisdom. Since having been involved with my university’s student newspaper, especially, I have seen how this advice applies very well to management and job-seeking. For example, I have conducted interviews for positions with candidates who were positively abrasive and who were unsuccessful in their candidacy purely as a result of their attitude. Similarly, as an editor, I have found that it is far easier to secure my team’s enthusiasm and loyalty by treating them kindly and courteously, as opposed to shouting at them and threatening them, so much so that I have never had to resort to the latter two options. I’m not saying that I treat everyone graciously – far from it, though I try my best. It is an ideal that I choose to strive towards. This might not be the right mindset for everyone, or every job, but it has worked for me so far.

There was a commencement speech video that went viral late last year entitled This is water, delivered by David Foster Wallace to the graduating cohort of Kenyon College. It goes slightly beyond ‘be gracious’, but speaks of the importance of how we choose to think. Worth a watch:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to make your applications stand out using your experience, by Alice Marriott

Cardiff University student Alice Marriott writes for TARGETjobs on how to make your experience make your skills stand out in applications

When reading career advice we are consistently told to maintain professionalism by setting personal social networks to private and avoiding colloquial email addresses and user names. But when it comes to the media industry, I found there was a large grey area between showing personality and charisma, without putting employers off. How do you sound different from others but manage to show off the skills that you know they are looking for?

For example, this summer I have been filling out endless applications to PR agencies and print media companies. Sending off the CVs hasn’t been too taxing because it is essentially listing the skills you have already gained. Even interviews can be a good way to show personality because you get to meet the employer or company representative face to face. However, writing the cover letter is the hard part. Through the cover letter, companies will be able to tell if you are right for the job unlike your CV where you may just look good on paper. But how do you stand out?

So many times I have found myself writing ‘good communicator’ or ‘proficient at Microsoft Office’, but what does that actually tell them? How many other people in the world will also have these skills and what sets them apart? This is when I realised that it isn’t even all about the skills. It is an essential requirement to have skills such as communication, commercial awareness and teamwork. But it is how you gained these skills that will make you sound different from everybody else. 

For example, I recently applied for a work taster at Buzz Magazine (fingers crossed!). It literally took me ages to consider what to put in the cover letter. Having done various other applications, I found myself repeating the same lines and trying to get them to fit the job description. Two hours later… I realised that this was completely the wrong approach. So thinking of a fresh way to attempt the letter, I bullet-pointed all of my skills. Then I thought back right through all of my experiences of working and as an intern, and thought of specific examples of how the work actually helped me to gain these skills. People may write ‘good communicator’ but what proof do they actually have to back that up?

I found this to be one way of showing personality and individuality, while maintaining talk about the job itself. Although this may sound obvious, I have also always struggled with what to put in the ‘interests’ section of applications. After all, they are asking for your interests and you don’t want to lie, but will writing ‘I like to shop’ cut it? Again, I bullet pointed all the things I like doing in a kind of brainstorm-style list. Looking back over it, I realised only half were suitable to put on an application. Nothing too alarming, but even ‘attending parties’ sounded completely inappropriate for an employer to read. Just like before, I thought of the things that I learned from my interests and how they were relevant to the job. For example, reading wouldn’t sound great if you were applying to a building firm, but reading classic literature such as Charles Dickens Great Expectations could look great on an application for a publishing post because it shows genuine interest in the topic area. For myself, I discussed my gap year and how I had to be really committed and determined to save my weekend wages for two years in order to go to Kenya. Also, while I was there, I experienced a completely different culture and way of living that has given me a different perspective.  

Showing personality in job applications is a tricky area, but hopefully from my experience I have shown that even just in the ‘interests’ section of an application or in a small paragraph of a cover letter, you can tell employers about your social life, providing it is relevant to the job.

Need more tips on how to make your applications stand out  - read the 'Graduates guide to job applications" 

Friday, July 26, 2013

TARGETjobs News roundup

Hello, this is Harriet (the TARGETjobs intern who is yet to write you a blog) filling in for Jackie to bring you up to date on all our brand new site content from the past week.

We had a root around different graduate schemes in retail to reveal how much you could make, with whom, and in which areas of work. The retail sector is more willing than many to provide this information so do make the most of it. 

If retail’s not your thing, you might be interested in a great resource we discovered from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. CIPD’s HR Profession Map tells you all you need to know for embarking on a career in HR

And for any career, you’ll probably find it’s necessary to ‘manage ambiguity’. 
‘Eh?’ I hear you ask. Fortunately, we also ran an article explaining how to develop and sell this important skill to employers. Find out how to show you’re able to handle risk and perform well in uncertain circumstances

Up now for a little longer than a week, but still as helpful as ever, is our advice on how to get the IT job you want. Just having a computer science degree isn’t quite going to cut it. 

Remember: next week is an important one for all you aspiring solicitors as 31 July marks the closing date for graduate training contracts with law firms. These aren’t the only vacancies time is running short for though – make sure you don’t miss out on the graduate jobs closing next week

And before I go, time for your One Pound Challenge update. Recent Loughborough graduate Alan has been continuing his efforts to turn a £1 investment into a graduate salary in a year. He’s made it to £2503.47 already… looking good! You can follow his progress here

Have a great weekend!

(posted from Laura’s account due to issues with mine)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Week Three interning with Rolls-Royce

Winner of the Female Undergraduate of the Year, Ella continues her weekly summary of what she has been up to whilst interning at Rolls-Royce
This week I have been hard at work trying to re-configure and streamline some internal processes. This includes creating contract maps of aftermarket services that my team are managing, as well as looking at the objectives I will need to cover over my next few weeks at Rolls-Royce. To be honest, I’m a bit stunned that my third week is already over – it won’t be long until I go to China in August for a 2 – 3 week business trip as part of my prize!
On Tuesday I was lucky enough to be afforded a privileged insight into the Trent XWB Pre-Production shop in Aero Repair and Overhaul (AR&O). Andy Knox, Head of Pre-Production  - Operations, working on the XWB engine, gave me a great tour and there were a couple of things that, as a non-mechanical engineer, really struck me. First is the sheer enormity of a modern plane engine. The Trent XWB is particularly large, but even in my experiences of flying, I have never stopped to really look at how massive the engines are on a plane. In my family, we have a tendency to measure the size of things by whether my exceedingly tall twin brother, Joe, can fit inside them. I can safely tell you that there is plenty of space inside a Trent XWB for many Joes! 
I was also struck by the complexity of an engine and the steps that go into the production and assembly of parts in order to create a working engine. Of course I already knew that an engine is very, very complicated but I think it takes being able to have a close look at all the pipes and parts in order to really appreciate the intricacy of every piece.  It’s also interesting, and reassuring, to hear how much is done when things don’t quite function as they are supposed to. The pre-production process struck me as highly reactive, constantly evolving to fit needs, and it’s really interesting to compare how things are being done on this new-build engine compared to engines in the past.
I’ve also been spending some time sitting in on meetings with my manager, Larissa, to see how she is planning and managing a visit for the end of the week from one of our Greater China customers. It’s a task that is a lot more Customer-Management focussed, whereas up until now I have been getting a much broader overview of the whole Civil Large Engines division, the products we deal with and the technical management side. I’m starting to feel a lot more settled in the team too – luckily there’s been a lot less of the initial embarrassing hiccups of inadvertently stealing someone’s chair and sending emails to the wrong people! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The One Pound Challenge by Alan Radbourne

Hello! I’m Alan and this summer I graduated from Loughborough University having studied Geography and Sport Science. Like most finalists I was really unsure what I was going to do with myself after graduation, entering the big wide world is a daunting thing.

Until one day I had an idea… the One Pound Challenge.

The One Pound Challenge is an exciting project that aims to raise financial awareness, instill hope and inspire audacious generosity through the development of a business over one year just from an initial £1 investment. On the 1st June 2013 (just two days after my last exam) I began with £1 in my hand and a year ahead of me to see what can be achieved.

Despite having never studied business or finances before, the idea comes from my simple desire to manage my student finances well by exploring and trying money-making and saving ideas, this developing into a keen passion for small entrepreneurial businesses.

The aim of the One Pound Challenge is primarily to discover what can be achieved in one year with just a £1 investment. Additionally, the project will aim to provide inspiration for people to become good with their money, encouragement for people to step out and not be afraid of failure, especially if looking into going into business, and equipping people with practical and honest financial advice from my experiences.

So far the challenge is going well. I have turned my £1 investment into a little over £2500 within seven weeks, learning a lot about business (and myself!) along the way. During the first seven weeks, hard work and putting myself out there has been key. I have worked as a washer up, car washer, and cleaner all the way through to a light bulb changer, decorator and even flat-pack furniture builder. It is amazing how many low-investment, well-paid jobs are available if you are willing to just put your self out there and get on with things people do not want to do themselves… especially in areas with lots of student houses!

 (Picture above the One pound challenge first investment)

I hope the originality of the challenge will captivate your imagination, that the story will inspire you to take a bold step upon graduation or in the next stage of your life, and that the practical advice I provide will encourage you to manage your finances well.

If you would like to find out more about the One Pound Challenge you can find information at:
Follow on twitter: @Pound_Challenge
Like the facebook page: OnePoundChallenge
Or follow my blog found at:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to gain a placement by Alexa-Jane Moore

Second year student at Worcester University, Alexa-Jane Moore writes her thoughts on how to gain a placement. 

The graduate job market is tougher than ever and the process of gaining your first job can be nerve racking and laborious. A starting point to this process can be gaining a placement in your second year. 75% of graduate jobs are awarded to students on summer or year long placements. I have gained such a placement and here are my top tips to get through the very long application process!

Refine your job search: you have to think; what do I really want to do? Don’t just apply to every job you see. I would apply to ten jobs maximum. This way you can really spend time tailoring your covering letter and CV.

Visit the careers department: At Worcester Uni. First Point has just opened in the Pierson Centre. This is an excellent place to visit to get advice on how to create a C.V. and possible local opportunities.

Create a ’punchy’ C.V.- I would keep your C.V. to a maximum of two pages. Recruiters are extremely busy and may receive a thousand applications per position. You really need to focus on the skills that the company are looking for and really highlight these. I tend to explain my experiences using the STAR method. Situation, Task, Approach and Result.

Practice psychological reasoning tests: so you have passed the initial application and now it is time for the tests! These tests could include: a personality test, numerical reasoning test, verbal reasoning test, diagrammatic test and situational judgement test. All of these tests are used to make sure you have the right skill level for the company. I practised these tests on and I found lots of books in the careers department.

Research potential questions: so you are now onto the telephone interview. If you have got to this stage, firstly well done! When I reached this stage, I used career websites to research potential questions, that could be asked, and I prepared answers to the dreaded competency questions.

Relax : when I reached the assessment centre, I just thought how well I had done to get this stage. I found out from the recruitment agency that eleven of us had been chosen from one thousand applications. For this particular assessment centre the aim was to see how you worked as part of a team. My main piece of advice would be to talk! If you do not say anything, how can the assessors assess you? However, this does not mean talk over people! Ask others what they think and if someone says something good, acknowledge it.

Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself- I found this really difficult. The final interview was extremely nerve racking. My advice would be to have some answers prepared to questions like, “Why do you want to work for us?” This means you will not be put on the spot. I would also advice trying to guide the interview so you can talk about all the achievements you have. If you don’t, then how will they know how you can bring certain skills to their team.

I have gained a placement to be an Assistant Merchandiser at George. I have found all of this advice extremely helpful. Out of the ten jobs I applied to, I was invited to eight assessment centres. I would say, be persistent and don’t give up. If you don’t get the position, review the feedback and try to improve. Otherwise, maybe that job wasn’t the right job for you!

Thank you Alexa.

For more information on how to ace a graduate interview or tackle assessment centres visit TARGETjobs. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

TARGETjobs weekly news roundup

Hello, hope you are all enjoying the lovely weather. If you are taking a break from the sunshine then you’ve come to the right place to catch up on all the career advice we have been writing this week. But don’t worry  – it’s going to be a quick round up today so you can rush off back outdoors to top up your tan.

Let me start by asking you – have you ever had to fake it? From time to time you may not be feeling your usual confident self. Worry not! We are here to tell you how to fake it in crucial situations like interviews

Talking of interviews – have you ever had to do a video interview? Video interviewing is slowly making its way into the recruitment process for some employers.  To make sure you ace these interviews, read our pointers. 

-          How graduate recruiters use video interviews 
-          And expert performance tips for Skype and video interviews to really kick things up a notch

We also went a little female-focused this week as we found out that female STEM - that is, science, technology, engineering and maths - graduates are shunning city careers. Find out what they are doing instead. 

And we refreshed a slightly older piece of career advice, which is still very relevant today. How can women turn their internship into a job and into a promotion? We were privileged to have Dr Sue Black, a senior research associate at UCL, amongst many things, talk at one of our events this year. Find out what she suggests you should be doing to ensure you progress in your career.

For those following Alan on his one pound challenge, his grand total this week is £1,760.04. See how a recent graduate from Loughborough University plans to turn a £1 investment into a graduate salary in one year.

Lastly, they are going, going, gone! Check out which graduate jobs are closing next week

That’s all from me, hope you all enjoy your weekend... (ALERT: incoming motherly advice) stay cool, drink lots of water and apply that sun tan lotion J

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Week Two: Interning with Rolls-Royce

Ella Rose is back with her blog discussing what she has been up to her in second week of interning at Rolls Royce, part of her prize for winning the Female Undergraduate of the Year award.

Once again, I'm pleased to say that I survived this week! The early mornings are starting to feel normal, the many acronyms at Rolls-Royce have become second nature and I'm getting through around one thousand cups of tea a day. If you'd told me at this point last year that I'd find engines so interesting I would have not believed you!

It's been a little less hectic than last week (famous last words) and I think that comes down to how much I'm learning. That certainly wouldn't be the case without the help of my whole team, especially my brilliant manager Larissa who consistently goes above and beyond to help me when I feel out of my depth. In the last few days I've been drafting invoices and analysing engine data, which relies on me having some in-depth knowledge of the customers, policies and pricing methods of Customer Business, so I've needed a fair bit of help from lots of different people. I'm also managing my own time and projects, so it's both exciting and daunting to have so much responsibility over my work.

Want to keep reading - find Ella's blog here:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ella Rose- Week One interning with Rolls-Royce

Ella Rose, winner of the Female Undergraduate of the Year award sponsored by Rolls-Royce, blogs about what she has been up to in her first week of her internship (part of the prize for winning the blog).

So, not only did I survive my first week as an intern in Customer Management at Rolls-Royce, but it flew by so quickly that I’m already feeling like the whole ten weeks will be over before they’ve started!

On Sunday afternoon, I moved into the University of Derby Halls, and it’s a bit like being back in my first year of university except that people are a little more grown up and less messy! Starting the week at Rolls-Royce was a bit nerve-wracking, but I already feel like I am settling in and starting to understand  how the business and customer-facing roles work in Civil Large Engines.

I did, however, feel somewhat thrown in the deep end when, after only having been in my office for three days, I was invited to a Chinese culture dinner. The team that I am involved with works within Customer Business for the Greater China airline customers of Rolls-Royce, so the idea was that I would get to experience a bit of genuine Chinese culture, have some proper Chinese food and do a bit of networking. ...want to read more? Find her blog here:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hints and Tips on how to succeed as a student journalist

Our intern Craig is back with his second blog 

The Editorial: Part 2
Hello again. Following on from my last blog post, in which I talked about some of the more obscure opportunities available within student journalism, here are the promised hints and tips about how to succeed as a student hack. I am currently an editorial intern with TARGETjobs, and the editor of The Saint, St Andrews’ independent student newspaper. If you have any questions about what is mentioned below, or maybe something which isn’t, feel free to contact me at
Journalism: Many famous names and faces started their careers on their student rags, and all look back on those times as among the best in their lives. Student journalism can be quite a harsh arena, but the time-worn adage of ‘you get out what you put in’ is seldom truer than in this case. You work hard and play harder. As is true of most societies, the friends you make can last a lifetime, and are bound to be useful contacts throughout your professional career.
You must be proactive to make the most of your time with a student newspaper. It is not enough to simply turn up at commissioning meetings and take an article or two to write when they are offered by the section editor. You should go into your section meetings with ideas, with interesting angles on a recent event, with scoops (as often as you can!!). This kind of enthusiasm will not go unnoticed, and will hopefully ease the way for your progression within the ranks of the paper. Not only that, but it will prepare you for the realities of journalism, where sub-editors compete for their by-lines at section meetings.
To find these ideas and scoops, follow all the local media outlets on Facebook and Twitter, and buy copies of the local papers when they come out. Check the university website for their (often daily) press releases and start building a network of contacts throughout the university – try and work out which friends study which subject or are in which society or team, or which officials sit on which panels and boards – you never know when it will be advantageous to you to have a name on the inside.
A large contact book/list is something which, as you progress in the industry, becomes increasingly of interest to employers, some of whom may ask about it specifically. A fantastic way to supplement this list is via the Gorkana Group, which sends out daily emails with details of promotions and new appointments within the industry by publication. Very quickly you can build up a list of the editors and writers at many of the dailies and trade magazines, which you can then follow on Twitter and, if the occasion calls for it, contact with regard to a story. Visit to sign up for these emails. Gorkana asks for your professional information in return; it is perfectly fine to supply them with your LinkedIn profile if you have one.
There are also national stories which can have a bearing upon your university. A fantastic way to keep abreast of these stories is Google Alerts: if a story breaks that meets certain criteria you have established (ie keywords such as St Andrews or Wills and Kate) then Google will send you a notification informing you, allowing you to be as on-the-ball as possible. These are just a few of the tools available to you – familiarise yourself with as many as possible and find out which ones work for you.

Socialise! Student journalists, who largely hail from Arts subjects like history, English or languages, are sociable animals who require frequent doses of the aqua vitae in order to survive. Go along to socials, introduce yourself, and start making friends. Some teams can be a bit cliquey, but perseverance will pay off.
Finally, be ambitious. Try and rise as far through the ranks as you can – the more responsibility you gain, the more appealing you will be to potential employers, so get stuck in and do whatever you can. Pull the all-day crash article writing sessions that end at 1.00am. Be that journalist on the end of the phone who just won’t go away (but be sure to stay on the right side of the law!) There is the potential for anyone at a student newspaper to make a name for themselves that they can carry forward into their professional career. You need determination, perseverance, and a good deal of nerve, but I have seen it happen – be that person – what buried secrets will you bring to light in the public interest?
If you have any questions about what is mentioned above, or maybe something which isn’t, feel free to contact me at

Today’s journalism law tip: Court reporting: If you are reporting on a court case, there are several legal pot-holes you must avoid. Firstly, it is best to be present in the court for the trial. This way you can take notes for yourself about what is said and what happens. You can then publish a story using the quotes you have taken down (as long as you are happy that they are verbatim). This is important because it is illegal to use second-hand quotes (unless they are from official court press releases) in your articles, in case the quote is inaccurate and you are perpetuating a fallacy. Secondly, be 110% certain when you are citing charges brought against someone in court. It is best to go to the horse’s mouth for the wording of the charge – the CPS, who will provide the official wording of charges upon request. If you accidentally get a charge wrong, then the defendant has an open-and-shut case for libel, which could lead to legal action brought against your newspaper, so be careful!

[Disclaimer: This is intended as advice only; do not use it as an accurate set of instructions for court reporting. For more information check your local courthouse website and a journalism law textbook or website.]

Friday, July 12, 2013

TARGETjobs News roundup

Hello all, it’s finally Friday. This can only mean one thing; it’s time to update you with a brief summary of the latest news and career advice we wrote on our site this week.
But before we get started I want to draw your attention to Alan Radbourne, a 2013 Loughborough University graduate who has embarked on a year challenge: My OnePound Challenge. The aim of this challenge is to see how much can be made in a year with an initial £1 initial investment.

All profits made are reinvested and used to build a chain of small start ups. This has caught our eyes so much that we are going to be following him on his journey and every week update you on his profits and recent projects. Want to get up to speed? Check out his videos or follow on Twitter @Pound_Challenge or Facebook: One Pound Challenge
Back to business as usual:
This week we revealed which graduate careers are hotspots for jobs growth. If you are graduating in a few years or even this year, it’s worth checking these industries out, see if they are of interest and match your experience or skills accordingly. 
In sector-specific news, we told you:
·         Which retail graduate employers accept graduates with a 2.2
·         Why your computer science degree won’t get you an IT job – beware there is more you need to do to be employable. 
·         And in law we spent five minutes with Fiona Medlock, graduate recruitment manager at Mills & Reeve. She advises you on how to turn a good training contract application into an excellent one. She also has some encouraging words including:
“I read application forms from students who don’t have a 2.1 degree and 300 UCAS points – but they have to shine somewhere on the rest of the form if they are expecting a 2.2” 
Speaking of helpful advice, if you are thinking of applying to the 2014 Undergraduate of the Year awards, make sure you have a read the 2013s winner and finalists blogs. They provide insightful tips on how best to apply and get yourselves prepared.  The Undergraduate of the Year awards give you a chance to win internships in a sector of your choice, to add something impressive to your CV and to network with recruiters. They’re well worth checking out – even if we do say so ourselves.
If you want to learn even more about what it’s like after you win an Undergraduate of the Year award, follow Ella’s blog. Ella is the winner of the Female Undergraduate of the Year award and every week she writes a blog on what she is learning and doing on her internship with Rolls-Royce (part of her prize for winning) 
As always, I leave you with the latest graduate job deadlines closing soon. It’s now or never... so get applying! 

Hope you all have a lovely weekend and slap on the sunscreen; it’s meant to be a scorcher! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I've graduated: what next?

Our intern Hollie has just graduated - congratulations! So what next? She is here to tell you. 
I graduated last week: robes were worn, champagne was drunk, tears were shed and scrolls were tossed ceremoniously in the air. I have to admit that I’m probably more proud of myself for not falling over on stage than for actually getting a degree, but unfortunately I’ve been advised against putting that under ‘achievements’ on my CV. Oh well.

Now that I have to reluctantly relinquish all ties to studenthood I’m back to giving some serious thought to what to do with, well, the rest of my life. The question I used to be bombarded with (‘so what are you going to do when you graduate?’) has now grotesquely mutated into an equally frightening apparition: ‘what are you doing now you’ve graduated?’

I’ve always envied people who’ve known what they want to do from the start, who’ve gone out and got the relevant experience they need and maybe even done internships with the company that they want to work with when they’re older. Alas life’s not always like that, and like me, most people leave uni without a clue about what they want to do. Personally I have enough trouble deciding what to eat for breakfast every day, let alone what I want to do for a living after I’ve finished my internship here.

My degree was in English literature and mathematics so at the moment I’m not faced with the most glaringly obvious career path. As you’ll have gathered from my last post, I don’t want to get involved with finance, and I’ve discovered that I potentially have the option to go into law, IT, management, retail, media, marketing, teaching – not to mention all the kinds of jobs out there that I probably haven’t even heard of. When there’s so much choice available it’s difficult to know where to start.

Some people have said to me that a job’s a job – getting up and doing a 9-5 slog to pay the bills is part of life and you just have to deal with it. But you know what? I’m a Chandler Bing and it’s going to take the Monica Geller of jobs for me to settle down.

To translate for the non-Friends watchers of you out there: I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe and if I’m not overly sold on something I won’t be able to stick with it. However I do know that if I am enjoying something I’ll be completely invested and will put my best efforts in. So I want a job that I know I’m going to enjoy, that will give me challenges that I want to face and that won’t leave me longing for the minute hand on the clock to tick just a little bit faster.

My editor here at TARGETjobs gave me some pretty good advice the other day: she told me to make a list of any jobs or work experience I’ve ever done before and then pick out what exactly I liked about each one. So far I have the following:

1)       Various waitressing jobs: dealing with people, making eye contact with Gerard Butler while working at the VIP suite at Murrayfield, and being paid cash in hand so I didn’t have to look at my bank balance.
2)       Volunteering with children in Morocco: doing something worthwhile that was helping other people while getting a kick-ass tan at the same time.
3)       My summer job cleaning out student houses: the incentive to get the job done quicker so I could leave earlier and the intrigue of never knowing what I’d find lurking under a bed.
4)       Transport surveyor: getting to wear a high-vis jacket, being outside in the fresh air and working in a different location every shift.
5)       Operating the checkouts at Tesco: chatting to customers and trying to guess what they were having for tea that night based on what was in their trolley.
6)       Writing for a student magazine and the Glasgow Journal newspaper: having a deadline to work to and being able to see my efforts as a finished product.
7)       Student ambassador: talking to potential undergraduates, promoting something I genuinely wanted to promote and getting to charge things to the uni expense account.
8)       Working on the lamb stall at a farmers market: nothing.

After writing that, although I’ve done some pretty diverse things, I can spot some recurring trends: I like variety, I like working with people and I like to have a goal to work towards. It’s a start. My next step is to spend the next few weeks doing as much career research as I can, find out what working in different sectors entails and look for roles that involve the qualities I just discovered I want. I’ll let you know how I’m doing in my next post…

If you too need help deciding what to do - try out our Careers Report. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

A day at GTI Media - the brand behind TARGETjobs

Loughborough student Lauren Leftley spent a day work shadowing with us this Spring. And here she is now letting you know what she learnt. 

With the help of my university I was fortunate enough to gain a place to spend the day work shadowing at GTI Media, where I experienced particular roles of an editorial manager. GTI Media is a company which deals with the TARGETjobs publications and website, both of which I’m sure most of you are familiar with. The purpose of the day was to help me decide whether a career in publishing would be suitable to me. I also wanted to find out first-hand what it would be like working in a professional working environment.

So, what tasks of an editorial role did I experience?  One of the first tasks of the day was to re-evaluate particular sections of the website. I and two fellow students were given different sections of the website to analyse. Whilst looking at the website we were looking out for what is appealing to students and what didn’t work so well. We were the perfect people for the job being the target audience ourselves. Once this was completed, we were asked to give feedback. This was a done via a group discussion of our findings from the notes that we made whilst looking through the website. Our ideas were listened to and discuss.

The next task was to create a blog piece based on a certain aspect of university life. This put our English studies skills to the test, where we had to create pieces which were written in a suitable manner to appeal to students whilst creating it under time restraints. After completion the blog pieces were looked over by our supervisor of the day and we were provided with positive feedback.

After lunch we started to look at a different aspect of the company; the design of the publications. This put our visual creativeness to the test and was very enjoyable, appealing to my art background.      

So, that’s what we did throughout the day, but how did this help us? The day helped to reveal further insight into what an editor’s role involves but also in a broader sense helped us to understand how the publishing sector works. The information and advice that I received from GTI employees was extremely helpful in helping me to decide whether this is the career for me and what routes there are in order to get into this career.

Due to the day at GTI Media I feel further informed about what a career in publishing entails, this experience was invaluable in helping me decide my future career path and I feel the experience allowed me to find out much more information in comparison to doing my own research through other means.

                                                                                                                        -Lauren Leftley 

Friday, July 5, 2013

TARGETjobs News Roundup

Hello and welcome to the weekly news roundup. The one and only place to find all the latest news and career advice published on our main site in the past week.

Let’s start by going back in time. This week we reported on what were 2012 graduates up to six months after leaving university. This helps you to identify the degree subject that makes you most employable,  the average time it takes to get a job after you graduate and other interesting bits of information. 

Let’s not forget this month is full of training contract deadlines. Our law sector expert Julia, has written a handy article listing all the law firms with upcoming deadlines.

Going industry specific now, we let you know what you can do to boost your CV if you don’t get a construction, surveying or civil engineering work placement 

Are you expecting or do you have a 2.2? Fear not! We have a list of employers in construction, civil engineering and quantity surveying employers that accept 2.2s

Talking of salaries, if you are interested in working in the travel industry, we also let you know the pay in that career sector 

As always, we conclude the roundup with the graduate jobsdeadlines coming up next week. 

Hope you enjoy the weekend and it is sunny where you are. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My love-hate relationship with law

I'm one of the interns at TARGETjobs and I'm also halfway through a law degree. This week I'm giving you my insights into the law experience so far and the importance of perseverance!

I've found that telling people that I study law tends to elicit one of two responses: either ‘Oh wow, how exciting!’ or ‘But why would you do that to yourself?’

I've been back and forth between the two sides myself. A lot. There were many, many times in my first year that I doubted whether I was cut out for law and I actually considered leaving and reapplying for a different course once or twice. However, now I'm at the end of my second year, I think that a law degree is like an annoying song you hear on the radio for the first time and vow you’ll never like – it grows on you.

Law school really throws you in at the deep end from your first week and if you’re anything like me, you spend the first year pretending you know what’s going on and pining for the familiarity of a school classroom. I'm so glad I didn't quit though. In your second year you know what you need to do and you have much more of a sense of direction (you also learn how to balance your social life and work). A year ago I would have avoided talking about the legal profession wherever possible; OK, it still scares me but now it’s hard to get me to shut up about a legal reform or case (which I find exciting regardless of everyone around me falling asleep).

It’s a lot of work but now I love my degree so much that I've extended it to four years and I'm looking forward to getting some more legal work experience before leaving uni. Of course there are still times when I can’t bear to trawl through another endless judgement or even look at my statute book, but they've become far less frequent.

Law students, persevere until you can give an extremely long and convincing answer (backed up with cases and legislation, naturally) to the question ‘Why would you do that to yourself?’ It’s definitely worth it.

- Laura