You said, we did…student and graduate stories

Earlier this year we ran an online student survey to find out what you want to see from your Careers and Employability Service. With the start of the new academic year fast approaching, we want to share some of the changes we have made based on your feedback to improve our service to Manchester Met students and graduates!

You said - grad stories

So that we can share more stories from students and graduates with you, we have relaunched this blog and a new Facebook page where we regularly post videos and content enabling you to learn from the experiences of others. Take a look at the blogs within the graduate and student stories categories to see how other students and graduates have found work, developed their skills and worked out what they want to do next.

Keep up to date with our latest blog content, jobs and news by liking our Facebook page.

We are always on the lookout for new stories and case studies, if you would like to help other students and graduates by sharing yours please get in touch!

 

Checklist your way to a dream creative job

Looking to land a job in the creative industries? Founder of professional creative community The Dots, Pip Jamieson shares her top tips for boosting your experience and portfolio ready to stand out from the crowd in the creative job market. 

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The scary thing about our industry is that while there are more creative jobs than ever before the competition is fierce. Since I started The Dots, incredibly talented juniors are always asking me for tips on how to get that all-important foot in the door.

To be honest, there is no single thing that will land you that dream job. But after compiling tips from creative directors, artists, agencies, recruiters, and industry bodies, I now firmly believe there is a combination of steps you can take, a secret sauce in a way, that if you take can guarantee you are league’s ahead of others vying for the same job.

GET PREPARED!

If you’re a student in your final year, or a recent graduate looking for that elusive ‘first job’, before you even start sending out applications it’s best to get all your ducks in a row.

Make sure you allocate enough time to work on your portfolio, cover letter, website, profile on The Dots, and identity, as this is a massive project in itself, but I guarantee it will set you up for life.

Work on Personal Projects

This quote has really stuck with me, “If your portfolio reflects nothing personal, then it might as well be someone else’s”. All the Creative Directors we’ve worked with have been massive fans of portfolios that include self-initiated personal projects. In the end, these Directors review hundreds of portfolios, and if they only include responses to university briefs, they start looking a bit samey. Including personal projects in your portfolio will not only help your portfolio stand out, but will show that you’re a self-starter who’s passionate about design. Below are some top tips on how to get the ball rolling on personal projects:

  • Create a Personal Identity: Let’s face it, your own brand is the most valuable brand you’ll ever work on and one of the only projects you’ll have complete creative license over.
  • Do an Internship: Internships are an amazing opportunity to get real-world experience, build up your portfolio of work and make contacts that can last a lifetime. If you are at university, ask if they have an internship programme. If they don’t, lobby for one! Also, more and more job boards have internship roles appearing. Obviously I’d recommend The Dots but hey, I’m biased. There are loads more out there, just Google “Internships” and take your pick. As long as they’re paid and well structured, internships are an amazing opportunity to get real-world experience and build up portfolio of work.
  • Enter Competitions: Competition pieces are a step above student work. If you don’t win at least you have some great content for your portfolio. If you do win, it’s an amazing way to get your work and name out there. Fantastic competitions include D&AD New Blood and Young Cannes Lions & Design Council Ones To Watch. But there are loads more, just check The Dots for updates.
  • Ask a senior creative for a Brief: Contacting a senior creative who inspires you and asking them for a brief is not only an amazing way to challenge yourself creatively, but if they like your response they may even offer you a job.
  • Help out a Friend or Family Member: Friends and family always need creative services, be it designing their wedding or party invites, an identity for their business, a new website, some copywriting, social marketing tips, etc. You’ll not only get fresh content for your portfolio and resume, but also win major brownie points in the process.
  • Collaborate: Find a group of friends you love working with and start collaborating. Come up with your own passion project — be it an exhibition, a zine, a pop-up store, a product range, an installation, hosting a creative event — whatever goes really. It’s a great way to show potential employers that you are self-starting, with a true passion for creativity.

You can find lots more information and tips for getting into the creative industries in our careers guides here. As a Manchester Met student or graduate you can also access specialist one-yo-one support from our Careers and Employability Consultant linked to Manchester School of Art, call 0161 247 3483 to book an appointment.

Why volunteer? Give a little, gain a lot

After graduating from Manchester Met in 2015, Politics graduate Magda Romaniuk volunteered as a Research Assistant in Grenada for the summer. She has recently worked as a Student and Employer Engagement Intern for Careers and Employability as part of the Manchester Met Graduate Internship Scheme. Here, she talks about her experience, the skills gained from volunteering and why students should take advantage of volunteering opportunities.

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I first started to think about volunteering abroad after attending the ‘Soon is Now’ employability event held by the Faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Science where alumni shared their career stories.

After doing my research, I very quickly decided that volunteering abroad was for me. Considering my love for traveling and animals, I chose to volunteer as a Research Assistant with Ocean Spirits Inc. in the Caribbean to work on a conservation project to protect endangered leatherback sea turtles in Grenada.

From day one, my experience was remarkable. On our very first day, we encountered a leatherback sea turtle nesting on the Levera Beach, where we were able to gain hands on experience performing carapace (shell) measurements, egg counts and nest relocation.

As a Research Assistant, I took part in variety of tasks, including leatherback sea turtle monitoring, research and community outreach programmes. My work in the communities included school turtle watching field trips, educational sessions with children at local schools, as well as participating with communities in the Climate Walk and Ocean’s Day Walk. Together with other volunteers, we had a chance to nurture children’s genuine interest and encourage these future stewards of Grenada to act responsibly with regards to the environment. It was a very rewarding experience being able to educate communities and raise awareness of environmental issues.

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The cultural differences between the Caribbean and Western cultures made this experience an education for me too. I had the opportunity to visit local factories and plantations, and I tried local cuisine including the national dish called Oil Down (pronounced ile dung).

I worked within a group of volunteers from different countries and I have made friends for life. A few months after returning from Grenada, I was lucky to fly to the Netherlands for a reunion. This summer I am looking forward to hosting a fellow volunteer in Manchester.

Taking part in volunteering abroad has also been a great way to develop new skills and knowledge, as well as boosting my CV. In a competitive job market, prospective employers want to see what makes you different from all the other candidates, and I believe volunteering is a great way of standing out from the crowd. In my own experience, this has been proven, when I secured the role of a Student & Employer Engagement Intern at Manchester Met, I received following feedback from one of the members of the interview panel:

“When shortlisting candidates for our Student and Employer Engagement Intern position, we were looking for someone who had work and life experience outside of their studies. Magda’s volunteering experience overseas really made us notice her application as it demonstrated her independence and range of transferable skills. During the interview process, Magda used her volunteering experience throughout questioning as evidence of her ability to meet our criteria. Volunteering is a great way of gaining valuable experience which can make candidates stand out when applying for jobs even if it isn’t directly relevant to the role.”

I count myself lucky that I encountered the closest thing we have to the last living dinosaur, and to know that I was able to be of some help to protect the endangered leatherback sea turtle is a fantastic feeling that has stayed with me. Moreover, through this volunteering experience I have gained more benefits that I would have ever imagined. Developing new skills and knowledge, exploring a different country, as well as making new friends seems like a lot to gain in exchange for contributing your free time.

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My advice to you

People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some it offers the chance to give something back to the community, make a difference to other people’s lives or to the environment. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge.

Whatever your interest and motivation and whether you are thinking of volunteering in the UK or abroad, there will be a volunteering opportunity right for you. I advise everyone to try volunteering, as you will give a little but gain a lot!

 

If you are considering volunteering in the UK or overseas we can help! Come along to our daily drop-in, 1pm – 4pm in the Employability Hub, Business School Building for initial advice, check out our guide to working abroad or find volunteering opportunities through the Students’ Union

How I got my graduate job…Millie’s story

Mille Vardheim has recently completed a Digital Media & Marketing course at Manchester Met. She chats to us about her next steps including her upcoming Graduate Digital Executive role at Reason Digital in Manchester and the important role networking played in securing her graduate job.

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Why did you decide to apply for this role?

One of my tutors hosted a couple of workshops outside of University. People from different companies were invited to be our mentors for the evening and introduced us to work techniques used in the digital industry they were from. This was really helpful as we learnt about how the industry works, and also about the companies in attendance. I basically got to know Reason Digital through these workshops. I first and foremost applied for the role mainly because I really admire Reason Digital and the work they do, and I wanted to be part of their team! I think it’s really important to not just consider the job role itself but also the ethos of the company. Secondly, the job seemed very flexible and it provided the opportunity to try different job roles within the company, which is always great when you’re first starting out with your career.

Where was the role advertised and what was the application/interview process?

The role was originally advertised on the company’s site. However, I actually found out about the role through Manchester Talent Day, a large digital careers fair, where I spoke to different companies. The application process varies depending on the company you are applying for. I had to send over a CV and cover letter, then I had to hand over a portfolio of work and finally, I was called for an interview.

What experience/employability skills did you gain whilst at University to help you to secure a graduate role?

Some of my units at university were really practical and we actually got to work on live projects from real companies. In my final year for example, we got given a mentor and a project that we had to work on as a team. This taught us so much about both client and team work. Working in teams on so many projects has been a very valuable experience.

In our final year, our course also encouraged us to reflect on our past experiences and achievements by writing a reflective essay, and this was a really helpful step before applying for graduate roles, because I had already considered my strengths and weaknesses.

For our final year project we were encouraged to find a sponsor and create a product for them, working on a brief set by the organisation. This allowed me to gain some valuable project management and client experience and I think these skills in particular helped to make my CV stand out. To begin with, it felt like all of the skills developed didn’t tie up but eventually in my final year everything came together and made sense and I now realise that my degree has given me solid experience and skills in a variety of fields.

Looking back, what advice would you give to students to better prepare themselves for their graduate job search?

Get involved as early as possible with University activities! I didn’t get involved until my second year, when I applied as a reporter for MMU Futures but it looked great on my CV and helped me so much when I did apply for a graduate role. The University has so much to offer, but you really need to be proactive to make the most out of your time. What REALLY helped me was going to career fairs, events and workshops, hosted by the University on and off campus. Not only will you learn about the kind of jobs that are out there, but it’s also a great way to network. Finally, do some research around what jobs you want to apply for, as some jobs might require you to present a portfolio of previous work.

Did you use Careers & Employability in your graduate job search and how did it help you?

I used Careers and Employability a lot, especially when it came to workshops. It was really useful in order for me to improve my CV, learn where to find jobs and how to write good cover letters. You think you might know all of these things already but once you actually go to the workshops you realise how much you don’t know and you can get feedback from people who have a lot more experience than you.

If you have recently graduated and you are still searching unsure what you are going to do next, we can help you to find work, explore the options available to you and get expert advice www.mmu.ac.uk/careers/graduates

Nathan wins regional award for work with Jobs4Students

MA Library and Information Management student Nathan Shipstone has won a regional Student Employee of the Year Award (SEOTY), recognising all of the work he has done through Jobs4Students. Part of the UK’s largest student awards, the Job Shop/Student Temp Excellence Award celebrates a student who has worked in a role on campus. Nathan talks to us about his experience of working through Jobs4Students and explains why other students should get involved.  

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How do you feel about being nominated for a SEOTY Award?

I feel very proud that my work and contributions to the University have been recognised through the nomination of a SEOTY Award. It has made an already fulfilling role into an achievement that I can show to future employers.

Tell us about the role(s) you have been involved with through Jobs4Students

I am fortunate enough to have been involved with several different Jobs4Students roles in my time studying at Manchester Met – as diverse as data entry and events management, to room auditing and welcoming new students during Induction Week. My current role, which led me to be nominated for a SEOTY Award, has involved working closely alongside academics and other staff at the Centre for Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (CIKE) in the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care. I provide CIKE with general office assistance, alongside updating social media and blog pages, and have also been tasked with constructing databases of important health and social care contacts for the department. The CIKE team are friendly, enthusiastic, and a real pleasure to work with.

How do you feel working through Jobs4Students had helped you to develop your skills and work experience? 

Every single Jobs4Students role I have had has involved developing some form of transferable skill that will be beneficial in my future career. This could be as simple as building inter-personal skills when meeting and greeting new students, to developing personal time management, to even learning how to use sophisticated office software programmes. Employers want graduates with broad and distinct skill sets, and Jobs4Students provides the means to equip students with both.

Would you encourage other Manchester Met students to work through Jobs4Students?

I would absolutely encourage each and every student at Manchester Met to get involved with Jobs4Students. Not only will it provide you with some much needed extra money during your studies, but it will also equip you with so many important transferable skills that future employers will be on the lookout for. Jobs4Students is also a fantastic opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes at the University, to work with and contribute towards other departments that you would otherwise have little contact with, and to make great friends and contacts along the way!

Jobs4Students offers Manchester Met students paid, temporary on-campus job opportunities throughout the University and in a range of roles. Find out more about the Jobs4Students, the roles available and how to register at www.mmu.ac.uk/jobs4students

My experience as a Manchester Met Intern…Halima Satheya

Computing graduate Halima secured a role at Manchester Met as an Intern for Registry Services, giving her the opportunity to use the skills and knowledge used during her degree to work on web and design projects across the University. Halima tells us more about the application process and gives her advice for other students thinking of applying for the scheme.

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Why did you decide to apply for an internship role at Manchester Met?
I decided to apply for the internship at Manchester Met as I thought it was a good chance for me to gain experience as I didn’t gain much work experience during my degree. My internship also related to my course, therefore I knew it would help me to secure a role in my degree field in the near future.

Where was the role advertised and what was the application/interview process?
The role was advertised on the main Manchester Met jobs website. I had to submit an application online and state how I met each requirement in the job specification in order to be shortlisted. Once my application was submitted I received an email inviting me for an interview. I attended my interview and then received a phone call the following day to inform me that I had secured the positon.

What kind of work experience and employability skills in your opinion have helped you to secure an internship at Manchester Met?
The main reason I believe I secured an internship at Manchester Met was because I am a computing graduate and my internship related to web development. I had the skills and experience from my degree in order to complete the daily tasks of the role. The fact I had achieved a first class honours degree also proved to the panel that I am capable of the role due to my experience. In the interview, I was able to use my degree work and skills as evidence to answer the panel’s questions successfully.

What advice would you give to final year students who are thinking to apply for internships at Manchester Met?
I would definitely recommend that you look into the different internships available at Manchester Met. There is a wide range of internships available both related to your degree or even something very different to develop new skills and gain experience in the working world.

Looking back, what advice would you give to our final year students to better prepare themselves for the interview process?
I would recommend that you do your research and make sure you understand what the company/department do including information such as recent achievements and news. Also, prepare yourself a list of interview questions. By preparing a set of questions that you could possibly be asked, you will be more organised.

If you are graduating in 2016 you can apply now for paid internships at Manchester Met! Check out the roles available here. More vacancies will be added over the coming weeks. 

My experience as a Manchester Met Intern…Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook has spent her time as a Manchester Met Intern working as a Marketing and Promotions Officer for the Futures Skills Award. We chatted to Lauren about the skills and experience she has developed during her internship and she gives her advice for anyone thinking of applying for the scheme.

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Why did you decide to apply for an internship role at Manchester Met?
While I have always known that I want to work in Higher Education, I wasn’t sure exactly what role I wanted to work in after I graduated so I sought the advice of a Careers Consultant at Manchester Met. After learning about the wide variety of opportunities that an internship has to offer, I decided that it would be really beneficial to work within a university to make sure that a career in Higher Education was right for me.

Where was the role advertised and what was the application/interview process?
The role was advertised on mmu.ac.uk/jobs. After learning about these opportunities from a Careers Consultant earlier in the year, from the start of June I ensured that I regularly checked this page for upcoming internships. For my interview, I had to give a presentation on how I planned to increase awareness of the Futures Skills Award. This was a five minute presentation in front of the Manchester Met Futures Manager and the Pro-Vice Chancellor for students and was a great way for me to voice my ideas.

What were the key responsibilities during your internship?
As the Marketing and Promotions Officer for the Futures Skills Award, I have a wide number of responsibilities which vary from day-to-day. I manage our social media accounts to ensure that our content is current and informs students of our upcoming events. I also list our events on My Career Hub to try and reach as many students as possible. I run competitions to promote the Award and to encourage students to engage with us. Another big part of my role is to co-ordinate our team of Student Ambassadors to promote the Award to current students whilst liaising with our student film makers, graphic designers and bloggers to create new materials and resources to promote the award scheme. The list keeps going on!

What advice would you give to final year students who are thinking to apply for internships at Manchester Met?
I’d say to go for it! The internships are so varied that there is honestly something for everyone and they act as a perfect interim job whilst you find your feet in the graduate job market. Manchester Met is a brilliant place to work as there are plenty of opportunities for you to develop your own skillset, shadow colleagues and discover your talents.

Looking back, what advice would you give to our final year students to better prepare themselves for the interview process?
University is about so much more than just your degree. You really need to make yourself stand out from the person stood next to you and to keep a list of everything you have been involved in. If you do this, it will be much easier for you to fill in application forms and answer questions in an interview as you’ll already have a list of examples where you’ve demonstrated certain key skills to draw from. There are so many free opportunities for you to get involved in so it’s definitely worth taking some time out to try something new, volunteer and get some work experience as you never know where it could lead to!

If you are graduating in 2016 you can apply now for paid internships at Manchester Met! Check out the roles available here. More vacancies will be added over the coming weeks. 

Graduating? We’re here to help you succeed

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After you graduate we can help you to find work, explore your options and get expert advice.

If you are still unsure about your next steps, here are 5 ways we can help you…

  1. Get information and advice online at any time including feedback on your CV and applications through Ask Careers a Question.
  2. Search for graduate jobs, internships and work experience in Manchester and beyond through My Career Hub.
  3. Attend our free Graduate to Work course exclusively for new graduates to help you secure employment and be successful in the workplace. The next course is taking place 7 – 8 July, please get in touch to find out more and book your place.
  4. Gain crucial work experience with a paid internship at Manchester Met, applications are open from 20 June for roles throughout the University!
  5. Practise for upcoming interviews and psychometric tests using our online software and get feedback on your performance.

Find out more about any of the above at www.mmu.ac.uk/careers/graduates or get in touch with us here.

How I got onto my postgraduate course…Mike’s story

We had a chat with Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy final year student Mike Lawton about his upcoming School Direct course through Liverpool John Moores University. Mike explains why he decided to take this route into teaching, how his experience working with Camp America has been instrumental in securing this course and gives his tips for making the most of University.

 

 

If you are considering further study as a next step after graduation, you can access a range of support from Careers and Employability to help you with your next steps including one-to-one advice appointments. Find out more on our website.

How I got my graduate job…Louise’s story

After completing a placement with Calvin Klein, Fashion Buying and Merchandising student Louise McHale has secured a graduate role as an Assistant Merchandiser with the company. Here, Louise talks to us about the importance of placements and work experience when applying for graduate-level positions.

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Why did you decide to apply for this role?

I had interned at the European Headquarters for Calvin Klein whilst on my placement year. It was there that I made key contacts, and so was lucky enough to be contacted by the European merchandising team in January 2016. They asked me if I would like to join the team once again, this time in a permanent graduate job role.

Where was the role advertised and what was the application/interview process?

The role was not advertised, I was extremely lucky to be the first and only person to be offered the job. I fully attribute this to the fact I interned with them for nine months.

Looking back, what advice would you give to our new students to better prepare themselves for their graduate job search?

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to choose to do a placement year. I would not be in the position I am today if I did not intern at Calvin Klein, and gain the valuable experience I did. Interning is probably the longest job interview in your life, but totally worth it!

What advice would you give to other final year students who are starting to plan their next steps for after graduation

I would say that if you haven’t had the opportunity to do a placement year, then finding some work experience is really helpful for then finding a graduate job role. A few of my friends have been doing this, and they have said it gives you the opportunity to see if you would like to work in the area you have chosen, or if there is something else which is a better fit for you.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

In 5 years time I hope to be Merchandising Manager of a segment of Calvin Klein’s business. Possibly still in Europe, however I would also love to have the opportunity to take care of the Asia market as well.

If you are a final year student considering further study or still searching for your first graduate job, you can access a range of events and support from Careers and Employability to help you with your next steps! Attend Focus on Your Future Week (6 – 10 June) to develop your skills and explore the options available to you after graduation or check out our website for further information about what we can offer.