All entries for September 2012

September 27, 2012

Make your final year count

Natasha Clark

Who better to write our first post heralding the new term and (gasp!) final year, than Natasha Clark - finalist, soon-to-be-graduate and editor of The Boar...

It’s getting to that point where most of us are back at university. All the important things have been done; lie-ins, holidays, watching too much Olympic coverage, and for some of us, jobs and placements.

End of an era

Final year – what a daunting phrase. The end of an era – three years of your life studying the same subject, in the same place, with the same people. Yet by the end of your time at Warwick, you’ve been given incredible opportunities, met lots of new people, done plenty of new things… you’ve heard it all before. You’ve probably done it all already.

It’s time to prepare for what 'Real Life' has to throw at us, luckily we’ve got a year to do it. Soon, essays and reports will be squeezed into our schedules amid interviews, applications and assessment centres, and we'll be sick of answering the question “So what have you got planned for after you graduate?”

Decisions, decisions

Unfortunately, I've come to the realisation that it's incredibly difficult to plan a career in journalism. Do I go for a Masters degree (parting with £9000 in the process), go for an NCTJ short course (a 9-5 intensive three month course to train to be a reporter), or dive straight in to the job market, applying for jobs at newspapers, news agencies, and anywhere else I can think of. The best and worse thing is that there's no right or wrong way to go from here, leaving us at an important crossroad.

Final year also comes with the panic that childhood is over, and this year actually counts for something. Reading week might actually be spent reading this year, as opposed to that cheeky mini-break to Barcelona. Christmas will be a odd mixture of eggnog and presents combined with planning long essays and exam topics (well, in theory). Come Easter we'll be scoffing down eggs in the hope that it gives us enough energy to force our eyelids open while we scramble together 10,000 words on some obscure topic we know nothing about. Quick, to the library.

The clock is ticking...

So how should we get ready for the most important year in our university life, and the last before we have to figure out the real meanings of interest rates and down payments?

• Prepare

It’s time to pay a visit to your trusty internet friend Warwick insite and check out the reading lists for next year. Haul yourself out of bed and start thinking about next year's modules. Go on, give it a try!

Dust off your CV and update it with what you've been doing; if you're stuck, pay a visit to Careers and Skills and find out how to polish those applications. Attend careers fairs and talk to recruiters and graduates working in the field you're considering going into. Consider which topics you might do for your exams before you get around to revision time. Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but this is not the year to leave everything until the last minute. Start thinking about your assignments when you start the module, not the week before your deadline.

• Work hard

So it’s your last year with all your mates, what better excuse to party as much as possible, yes? When it’s also the final year of the degree that’s going to stay on your CV for the rest of your life, think again. Don’t become a social recluse, but do think about giving up the third night out this week in favour of revision for that test tomorrow. With the majority of graduates coming out of university with a 2.1, most employers will only consider applicants with this classification and above. You get out what you put in - if you want a good grade, you'll have to work for it.

Of course, it's more than just university work that you'll need to focus on in order to stand out in final-year. Extra curricular activities are vital to bump up your CV and prove to graduate recruiters you've demonstrated the skills they're looking for. Everyone's got a degree, what differentiates you from the rest of the class of 2013? Consider spending the next few holidays looking for work experience and placements in fields you are interested in, it displays initiative and determination. For most grad recruiters, experience counts. You can research companies online, use any spare time(!) you've got to compile a persuasive covering letter. If you haven't already, join a society or club that interests you and get more involved in activities that could be relevant to your career.

• Enjoy it

Warwick is a fantastic university. I don’t need to tell you that, you’re already here. Take advantage of everything that university life has to offer you. Whether it’s attending an applications session to smarten up your CV, or joining a sports club that you’ve always wanted to try, this is your last chance. Plus, what employers really love to see is that you're a confident, independent and well-rounded person, and by getting involved in as many things as you can and having a great time, you'll develop into the people that will be hired in any discipline. But be sure to savour every last spring stroll around Jepson Gardens and pint at the Duck - in a little under a year’s time, one of them will be your last.

September 25, 2012

Working at Christie's

Katy Richards

Ever wondered what it was like to work for Christie's? Well, you can find out in today's guest post from Warwick grad, Katy Richards. Katy tells us how she worked her way into her current role as Executive Assistant to Christie's CEO...

I applied for the Christie’s internship programme when I was still at Warwick, as I thought the scheme would be a great way to get real hands-on experience. I was right: from my first day, I felt very involved and as I began to prove myself I was given more tasks and projects. It was also my foot in the door.

My tutor at Warwick encouraged me to apply for placements in a selection of departments, to increase my chances of getting an interview. I interviewed with the press office, knowing almost nothing about PR, but they took me on because I was keen, motivated, and my degree proved I can write. Which is key for writing press releases! As my 6 month internship was coming to an end I was offered, and happily took, an internship in marketing. A few months later, the role of Coordinator for the European PR team came up. They already knew me, I knew how the department worked … I interviewed and got the job!

I was in the press office for a year and loved it. I was in charge of all department administration, and provided support to our other press offices in Europe. I most enjoyed preparing for the London evening auctions. Journalists come to those sales, expecting to be looked after, provided with stats after the auction, Christie’s thoughts on the art market etc. The team all stay for the auction, watching it on a TV in the office, whist updating spread sheets with each lot’s final price as the hammer falls. I also ran the press campaigns for a couple of specialist departments, which allowed me to work with our specialists, write a press release for their sales and pitch to journalists.

After a year, I was asked to interview for a temporary position, as personal assistant to the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer. The job was originally a 2-3 month secondment, after which I would return back to press. HR wanted an internal candidate who has existing knowledge and understanding of how Christie’s worked. I hadn’t been thinking of a change, but the opportunity of meeting the CEO was one I couldn’t miss. I interviewed with Steven and he offered me the job. It was a steep learning curve, but I was lucky that as he was new to Christie’s we could learn together! After a couple of months, he asked me to take on the role permanently.

My title is now Executive Assistant and my job involves planning the CEO’s schedule and all his travel, helping him prepare for meetings, events, speeches and anything else I can. I have a line manager and assistant, and together we support the CEO in running the company! I get to travel a little, which is demanding but great fun.

I believe that I got each job I have held at Christie’s because I have always been enthusiastic, a problem-solver, and I remain quite calm under pressure. I do try to network, but I think it’s when you really start to work your way up that that becomes a key tool for ‘opening doors’. To date, it’s been what I know, not who I know. I find Christie’s and the art market fascinating, and working alongside a new CEO allows me to understand and be a part of the changes he is making to help our company grow.

*Katy graduated in 2008 with a degree in History of Art.

September 18, 2012

Attitude: we all have one….

AttitudeAnd it could just make the difference between rejection or job offer. Last year the recruitment consultancy Reed surveyed 1000 employers and found that 96% would hire on attitude over skills. Now don't start thinking you get by on charm alone. Employers still want to recruit capable graduates with a broad skills portfolio, but they're more likely to recruit (or interview) the candidate who displays the right mindset, despite a few gaps in their skills or experience. After all, you can develop skills and gain experience but it's hard to shake a bad attitude.

Six essential qualities

You may have noticed that many job ads are asking for graduates with 'the right attitude' but what does this really mean? Fortunately for job seekers it's not quite as nebulous as it sounds. Employers from the Reed survey identified six traits or 'qualities' they look for in potential applicants: commitment, honesty, trustworthiness, adaptability, accountability and loyalty. Although you may find a few variations on this particular theme, all employers - whether AGR recuiters, SMEs or small start-ups - want the same thing: people they can trust and work with. Moaners need not apply. And check your ego at the door!

Prove it

If you've read anything remotely job or careers related you'll know the burden of proof falls firmly on your shoulders when it comes to applications. It's no good hoping the recruiter will infer meaning, so think about the language you use and the evidence you provide.

  • Have you been involved in a student society or campaign group? Maybe you started volunteering in your first year and are now a project leader? Use your extra curricular experiences to highlight your commitment.
  • Think of ways to demonstrate your adaptability. Have you spent a year abroad or juggled part time work with your degree?
  • Be creative in the way you approach competency based questions. You may have been involved with a project/task that failed. Reflect on your contribution and acknowledge your accountability.
  • Can you evidence a track record of paid employment? A period of continuous or (recurrent) seasonal employment is one way to emphasise loyalty and trustworthiness.
  • Are you able to show a commitment to your own learning and development? Have you taken additional courses to enhance your IT or business skills? Recruiters are impressed by candidates that take responsibility for their personal and professional growth.

There are many ways you can express desirable attributes - they don't have to be employment related. If you are struggling to find examples, why not ask your wider network of friends, family and peers to think of situations where you've demonstrated a mature, 'can do' attitude.

Generation 'Why'?

'Generation Y' applicants attract negative press from some employers, keen to dismiss them as arrogant, selfish and unreliable. Or worse, entitled. I'm not a big fan of lazy stereotyping and just as I refute the notion that today's graduates are all hyper mobile, ultra creative 'digital natives', I have a really big problem with commentators writing off an entire generation as job hopping egotists! But, it's not me you have to convince. Give yourself the best chance by challenging some of those misperceptions head on. Start now by cultivating a winning attitude:

  • Build your resilience. Yes, it's a tough job market but graduates can and do succeed.
  • Adopt a 'why not', rather than a 'why me' approach.
  • Get stuck in and take the initiative. Seize opportunities.
  • Be enthusiastic - in applications, in interviews and the workplace.
  • Accept responsibility for your successes and failures.
  • Don't play the blame game!

Maxine Ward, Head of Graduate Services at Reed, has commented: "My experience of recruiting indviduals in the early stages of their careers strongly supports the argument that graduates with the right mindset go on to have successful careers". Despite the best efforts of futurologists and trend forecasters, it's impossible to accurately predict which jobs - and skills - will be in demand 10 or 15 years from now, but adopt the right attitude at the start of your careeer and success will surely follow.

September 12, 2012

A day in the life of an ad intern

Charles Oben

Charles Oben graduated from Warwick this summer with a 2:1 in French with International Studies. In a previous blog post Charles revealed how impressed employers were with his visual CV and soon after was offered an internship with Adconion Media Group. I recently caught up with Charles to find out how's he getting on...

What does your job involve?

I’m a sales intern within the Global Sales Team for Adconion Media Group, a performance driven online advertising network. Adconion, amongst other things, run online display campaigns (those ads you see parading all over the net) and try to get consumers to interact with them. My job is end to end campaign management for these campaigns; set-up, optimization, reporting, invoicing and post-campaign analysis.

How much training were you given?

Training lasted for the first few weeks and involved a complete introduction into the business; learning about the relationship between ad networks, publishers and clients, understanding all the different roles within the varied stages of campaign management, and learning how to use all of the in house systems. It was a lot to take in initially but an interesting learning process.

What does a typical working day look like?

Cliché as it may sound, no day is exactly the same as it depends on many things like which campaigns are live and if they’re experiencing any problems, or if we have any campaigns to set up and what type. So things change, but I do have some routine duties:

  • Every morning I pull up the pacing report which tells me how all our campaigns are performing and then I send this off with notes to the relevant delivery managers so they can make changes.
  • On Tuesdays and Thursdays the Global Sales Team has its campaign management meeting where we look at all the campaigns that are currently live and decide what steps need to be taken next. In these meetings I give an overview of each campaign’s performance.
  • Recently, I was given five campaigns to manage and so I’m responsible for all the client communications and sending out weekly reports with the latest stats showing the performance.

How much responsbility have you been given?

The training wheels are off and I’d say that I’ve been given quite a bit of responsibility, and I’m gradually getting more all the time. I think to be given your own campaigns to manage only after a few weeks of training is an achievement. Obviously I still have much to learn, but I like that I’ve been given the chance to really get stuck in with the work.

How closely do you work with other graduates and interns?

There are four interns working in sales at the moment, I don’t really work with two of them as they’re in a different department, but one of the interns sits next to me and our responsibilities often overlap.

What is the best part of your job?

The office culture, without a doubt. Working in advertising is fun and that’s certainly the case in Adconion. Everybody is really warm and friendly, there’s music playing throughout the day, people talking and the table tennis table in the breakout area gets used a lot. We had our own Office Olympics not too long ago and amongst other things, there was an arm wrestling competition and chicken limbo contest. People work hard, but they play hard too.

What tips would you give to other students wanting to work in this area?

Be likeable, network, and do a lot of stuff, particularly the last two. During my interview, my degree was only mentioned in passing (as it’s not related to advertising) and I was simply asked if I got a 2:1. My interviewers were far more interested in my work experience, all the extracurricular activities I had done and the fact that my CV proved that I was very proactive.

I also only found out about the internship through networking – one of the people I now sit opposite to is the sister to one of my brother’s friends who I met during the Queen’s jubilee. So I certainly think networking is important!

* Charles also blogs about his experiences as a new grad in the working world.

September 06, 2012

A night in the life of a broadcast journalist

Andrew Bradley

Andrew Bradley, Warwick grad and broadcast journalist, describes his 24-hour sleepover at BBC Television Centre. It's not just students that pull all-nighters...

On the evening of Thursday 3 May 2012 I got off the tube at White City, carrying a suitcase with a blanket, pyjamas and toothbrush. I was going to a sleepover. But not just any sleepover. This was the ultimate political junkie’s sleepover. I was going to work through the night for the BBC’s television coverage of the local and mayoral elections, grab a few hours sleep on a dressing room floor and then power on through Friday.

My role for the following 24 hours was to assist two producers in the Sub Hub. During the run-through they had given me the wise advice to wear comfortable clothes and bring my own food. I could tell from the rehearsal that there was going to be a certain amount of gallows humour in the Sub Hub. When I asked what the “float relief” was on the list of contact details, the reply was, “that’s for when someone keels over with exhaustion.”

Our role was to liaise with the various Outdoor Broadcasts (OBs) up and down the country, from Aberdeen to Southampton via Conway and Carmarthenshire. There were three Sub Hubs, each managing around six OBs and each manned by a producer and assistant. We were in constant contact with the producers and reporters, gathering tips on which way a count was likely to go and determining whether an OB had a story or guest that should be offered to air.

As soon as I arrived on Thursday evening, there was plenty of work to be getting on with: pictures of ballot boxes arriving at Swindon at 10:15; Newsnight down-the-line with Birmingham at 10:38; shots from Bradford for the News Channel just after 11pm. “Vote 2012”, the election night special hosted by David Dimbleby (as great a broadcasting icon as Television Centre itself), was live on BBC One from 11:35pm on Thursday to 4am on Friday.

During this time, we were rarely off the Trilogy system or calling producers’ mobiles – often both at the same time. There was a real buzz back and forth: “The Respect Party’s Salma Yaqoob is here in Bradford but no sign of George Galloway yet… Margaret Beckett in Derby but she’s leaving at midnight… Andrew Mitchell’s in Birmingham but about to go to his local count so let us know if you want an interview quickly!”

As we entered the early hours of the morning and results were declared, one by one the OBs asked permission to derig. The next thing I knew it was 4am and we were off air. But I was absolutely buzzing and wasn’t ready to go to bed yet.

Walking around TVC at 4am was a surreal experience. It was a bit like the scene outside a nightclub after closing. A frontbench opposition MP was leaning on the bins at the Stage Door puffing away at a cigarette, while rather weary-looking presenters waited in line for a taxi home.

By about 5am, mindful of the fact that I would have to report back to the Sub Hub in a few hours, I thought it was time to go and discover the delights of DR21 in the Red Assembly Basement. Who had used this dressing room over the years, I wondered? Morecambe? Wise? Brucie? There may not have been a minibar or a hot tub, but there was an airbed already inflated and a pillow and duvet, both in pristine Ikea wrapping. “Enjoy your stay at Hotel BBC,” said my next door neighbour.

4 hours later, and after a quick shower, I was off in search of breakfast in the Pudsey Room. It took me a while to find it, but when I finally did, I knew I was in the right place. In terms of décor, it was a cross between a crèche and Austin Power’s bachelor pad. By the time I got there, the bacon rolls had all been eaten but there were still one or two Danish pastries.

We were back on air between 12pm-1pm, 2pm-3pm and 5pm-6pm, this time on BBC Two. The day passed just as quickly as night had. There were more results from the mayoral referendums and the Scottish results, one of which was particularly memorable. “A penguin in Edinburgh has beaten the Lib Dem candidate,” we heard, not believing our ears. I wondered if it could be an advertising stunt for Edinburgh Zoo, but it was of course “Professor Pongo”, a man dressed in an animal costume. It could have been a scene out of The Thick of It, if it were not so surreal.

By the time we went off air, we were all ready for a drink and so it was back to the Pudsey Room for wine, beer and nibbles. Ever punctual, the Sub Hub team were the first to the bar. It was the perfect end to a thoroughly enjoyable 24-hour induction into election coverage. I feel very fortunate to have been involved with the last election to come from Television Centre. Roll on the next election night!

Andrew graduated from Warwick in 2009 with a degree in politics and spent a year as President of Warwick SU before moving into journalism. Andrew applied for his current position as freelance broadcast journalist in the BBC's live political programmes talent pool, having spotted an advert on the BBC careers page. The rest, as they say, is history...

*This article first appeared in the BBC's internal staff digest, theNEWSmagazine.

September 2012

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