All entries for Friday 08 May 2015
May 08, 2015
I was asked to write a blog about the difficulties (or not) in finding a job after the Masters course at WMG. I am Mattia, and I commenced study at WMG on the MSc in Supply Chain and Logistics Management (SCLM) after more than 5 years of work experience in the financial and banking industry in London and in Italy (my own country).
I decided to change my career because I did not fully enjoy what I was doing in the banking sector, and I thought (before starting the masters), and I now strongly believe that Supply Chain Management and working for a manufacturing company is what I would like to do in my future career.
Coming from the “professional” world, as opposed to being a new graduate, probably helped me in understanding the mechanisms and the factors that can improve the chances of getting a job. Here are my 'suggestions'. Before though, I would like to stress the fact that everyone has different backgrounds and skills and probably different approaches to this, but I hope that my experience can help in having a different point of view on this matter.
I believe that there are four elements that contribute to successful job hunting.
1) Know yourself and what you are looking for: Easy to say but more difficult to do. It took me 5 years to understand what I like and do not like in a job/industry, and 3 different positions and companies. Nevertheless, my suggestion is to try to explore during the masters what you are good at and what you enjoy e.g. do you enjoy more of the ‘strategic/planning’ bit of a task, or more the ‘analytical calculations’ of it? It is likely that what you liked during the masters might also be what you like in your job. Try to focus on positions/jobs that reflect your attitudes and liking. For example, during my career in banking, I was a consultant doing regulatory issues/project management activities on one side (more of a ‘soft skill’ job), but also I was involved in risk model building and assessment (more of an ‘analytical’ job). This allowed me to understand that I much prefer analytical roles, thus my research for a new job has focused on the latter.
2) Have a CV ready at the highest standards: This is very important, as it is the starting point of your application process
(see point 3). Due to the fact that I came from a professional job, I already had a CV which I believed was a good one. Nevertheless, I decided to attend some of the 'Student Careers & Skills' services seminars, in particular how to build a CV and a Cover Letter, and some one-to-one sessions to assess the quality of my CV. This was very useful and allowed me to modify my CV to be in line with the UK market expectations.
3) Start early and be proactive: I started to look for a job in October when the Masters commenced. This is because the majority of the best/largest companies begin to select graduates from November/December, for positions starting in September the following year (a few weeks after the end of the Masters course). I see three benefits in starting early: (i) you have not fully started with your project, thus you can dedicate time to job hunting; (ii) more jobs are available, thus more choice and probably less competition; and (iii) you start to get a grip on the kind of selection process that UK companies employ - which can be very different to what you are used to in your home Country (this is certainly true for Italy) - such as CV screening, competency questions, on-line tests (numerical, psychometric, verbal reasoning, etc.), phone/video interviews, and - most importantly - the final assessment centre. Because this is a very intense and challenging process, the more you ‘practice’, the better you become. I started in October to send out around 20/25 applications: some did not pass the first stage (CV screening); some passed few stages, and only few ended up with an assessment centre (2 to be precise). The point I want to make is that, the more you apply, the better chances to get into the final stages and thus securing a job very early in the academic year.
4) Seek help from the WMG and Warwick support functions if needed: I have already mentioned the 'Student Careers & Skills', but inside WMG there are other source of information and support available. WMG actively look out for job opportunities for their graduates and email out about opportunities that you can apply for. They also organise employers to come and present to students at WMG about their company and job opportunities. Plus we’ve had Alumni visit WMG and tell us about their work experience since WMG.
In conclusion, you would wonder if this approach paid off. The answer is yes. I was lucky enough to secure a job as supply chain management graduate for a large UK manufacturer/retailer before Christmas, starting in September (just after the end of the Masters course). This provided me with the tranquillity to focus on the academic side of my Warwick experience. It was not easy though. In November/December I had nearly 10 jobs application process opened, and I had to do all the tests, phone interviews, and assessment centres which required a good amount of preparation. This, on top of the Masters work, proved to be very challenging, but I believe it was worth the effort. I have some colleagues that also started early and they secured jobs months before the end of the Masters. I would say that the key elements of my job hunting was seeking help and support from the University but, most importantly, being proactive and not expecting that jobs will come to me without putting in the required effort.