Category Archives: Careers Team

Start of Your Placement Journey!

Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to read my first Careers+Placements Blog post.

I’m Reece, and I am a 3rd year BSc Business and International Relations student, where I am currently studying in Helsinki for the first semester of my placement, and Madrid for the second semester.

When I first started at Aston, I was really looking forward to the placement year, and what it would hold for me. When 2nd year came around, it was quite easy to see that me, and everybody in the same boat, would need to put a lot of effort into securing a good placement.

This is why I will just give my thoughts on some hints and tips for all 2nd year students at Aston:

  • Utilise all of the help – There is so much going on around campus to help you secure a great placement: take advantage of all of the services that the Careers+Placements office offer e.g. going through your CV with you, providing mock interviews, help with assessment centres. All of this will help you when you apply for jobs/study placements, as you will be able to stand out, and offer more than other students from universities all over the UK. It is important to remember that there are thousands of students looking for a placement, so anything that can give you an advantage over them could be pivotal.
  • Work on your CV and Cover Letter – I repeat do NOT have one cover letter for all of your applications. Tailor your CV and cover letter for each position you apply for. You might think this is a waste of time, but 10 well written CVs and cover letters will bring you more success than 50 badly written ones. It is highly beneficial if you work on them both in the summer, as this could be vital in you being able to apply early on.
  • Take the Role/Placement AND Location into consideration – You might have your heart set on a specific industry, but I would definitely encourage you to think about the location, as this is just as important. I have really enjoyed Finland so far, so I would say to anyone thinking of doing a placement abroad, to grab the chance with both hands, as this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and you should take full advantage of the all links and contacts that Aston has. Before you know it, you will be graduating, so you may as well have some great memories to take with you into your working life.

Thanks for reading, I will be posting again soon!

Maybe choose somewhere warmer than Finland!

Maybe choose somewhere warmer than Finland!

Getting into Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Manager - Andy Lockley

Digital Marketing Manager – Andy Lockley

Andy Lockley, Digital Marketing Manager at Cloggs and Aston Business & Management Graduate of the class of 2010, outlines the key things you need to know if you’re looking to pursue a career in Online Marketing.

Digital Marketing is one of the fastest moving industries you can work in. In most cases, by the time a textbook has been written it’s obsolete as soon as it rolls off the printing press. If your passion resides in Digital, here are 5 handy tips to make sure you get your foot in the door;

  • Learn the lingo – Digital Marketers speak a different language to traditional Marketers, and if you’re looking to impress your interviewer, knowing the definition of a few key terms and acronyms can put you head and shoulders above the competition. Know your PPC from your SEO and your CPC from your CPA and it automatically puts you head and shoulders above the competition.
  • Find a mentor in the industry – Do you have a friend or relative that already works in Digital? If so pick their brains about what’s keeping them awake at night and the new trends that are really exciting. If there’s nobody in your immediate proximity, look into professional mentorship schemes, like the one offered by Aston. Even a couple of hours with someone in the industry can be gold dust for someone trying to secure their first role.
  • Have examples of websites you like and why – ASOS junkie, Amazon Devotee? Make a list of the sites you visit on a regular basis and what you like about them, is it personalisation, how crisp and clean the site is, how the products are presented? Turning your mind to what makes a website good really helps you get into the mind-set of an Ecommerce marketer.
  • Excel at Excel – In spite of how quickly the Digital Marketing industry moves, a lot of the bare bones analysis is still done in Excel. Getting yourself on a basic Excel course can give you a real head start. Make sure you know these basic formulas and tools to get your career off to a flyer.
  • Vlookup: A rule of life in Marketing is that data’s never in the format that you want it to be in, so the ability to join 2 or more Excel sheets together allows you to do some really clever analysis.
  • Pivot Tables: The faster you can dissect data, the faster you can make decisions; the easiest way to compute massive amounts of data is a Pivot table. Though intimidating at first, they’re a gateway to fast, detailed analysis.
  • Conditional Formatting: Despite sounding basic, Green = good, red = bad is still the fundamental principle that most business dashboards run on. Learn how to automate the process and save yourself loads of time.
  • Show enthusiasm for the industry – If you’ve done some research and have a visible passion for the business, many managers will take you on despite your lack of experience. There are loads of ways you can bolster your learning and understanding of the business before you’ve even started working in the industry;
  • Google Ad words Certification: There are very few online businesses out there that don’t rely on Paid Google Clicks for at least some part of their online traffic, by knowing the basics, you jump to the front of the queue and save them hours of training.
  • Google Analytics Certification: For many small businesses, Google Analytics is their go to tool for website performance analysis. Knowing your way around and having the ability to build some basic dashboards will help get you in the analytical mind-set of a Digital Marketer.
  • Got a passion? Blog about it: One of the biggest shifts in Marketing over the past 5 years has been the rise of Content Marketing. I always set my new graduate hires a content task to assess their writing ability, if there’s something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, why not start a blog and link to it on your CV? Recruiters are always looking for a bit of ‘colour’ when they’re flipping through CVs, and a well written, thoroughly researched blog is a great sign that someone will flourish in their role. It also gets you thinking like a marketer in terms of optimising titles and meta tags for search terms, looking at promotion through social channels and thinking about how you get other sites and blogs to link to your content.

Digital can be an intimidating industry to understand and break into, and I hope these steps provide some building blocks for how to jump start your career in Digital.

Your first career step as a graduate is unlikely to be your last (and other career insights for students)

next step the future pic

“…You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Steve Jobs

The above quote comes from a speech Steve Jobs delivered a few years’ ago to an audience of new graduates.  The speech got me thinking about when I was nearing the end of my own time at university, when I used to utter the words “I don’t know what I want to do for a career.” It’s taken me to now to see how the above quote applies to my own situation, and how I’ve gone from “not knowing” to a place where all my previous work experiences have led me to this point in my career, to work I enjoy and which I hope plays to my strengths.

Whilst I may have the benefit of hindsight for my own situation, the students I work with may not yet.  Many are still at the “I don’t know what I want to do for a career” stage.  When we were at school we knew what was coming next, the years were laid out in front of us.  Primary school, secondary school, lessons, coursework, exams and then for many, university.

When you get to university, once settled in, the familiar routine can kick in again.  Lectures, seminars, coursework, exams, tutorials, socializing.  Repeat.  Whilst all this is going on, some students get work experience, they work over the summer, or complete a placement year, but still may come back disheartened as the experience hasn’t cemented in their mind exactly what they want to be doing within their career.  Some may not have enjoyed the experience at all, and few may even consider it time wasted.

The end of university can seem daunting for many students.  You may only see an expanse of time and space which was once occupied by progressing to 2nd year, placement year or final year.  Having worked with students and graduates for the last 15 years, there have only been a handful of times that I have met students who knew definitely what they wanted to do for the rest of their working lives.  I can also think of only three people I know who are now following career paths linked to what they have always wanted to do since university.  One is a doctor and the other two are engineers.  And the doctor is now considering a career change.

If you can relate to any of the above, you are nearing graduation (or even if you are in your first year), and are not sure yet of your next career steps then read on.  The following insights may be worth considering and holding on to as you navigate your way into the workplace to start “connecting the dots”.  These come to you as a result of my own career experiences, and the vast mix of people I have been in contact with through my own professional life as a careers consultant and as a recruiter:

1. You may not know what you want to do within your career…and that’s ok

For many students about to graduate, your experience of the workplace may understandably be limited.  As with many things in life, it isn’t always possible to know what you want until you try it.  That same logic can also apply to finding a career that you want to pursue.  However if you can, try to gain some experiences whilst at university.  A placement or summer internship could give you a head start in “trying” what’s out there, and building workplace skills at the same time.  Gaining experience in your spare time can also help do the same.

2. Your first career step is unlikely to be your last

This is also closely linked to the notion that there is no longer a “job for life”.  I once read a piece on the internet that suggested people can have up to 7 career changes in their life.  I’m not sure how true this is, but career changes or moves today are not uncommon.  The workplace is changing.  Advancements in technology and the global market are just two factors that influence how companies work and hire people.  People work on a contract basis, people work more flexibly, and companies are changing how their employees work together.  Job titles exist today which may not have done so five years’ ago.  You could find yourself in a future job which doesn’t yet exist.

All of this is happening before you even consider that you are changing too.  Your priorities and career motivations at 21 may be very different to when you are 35.  With experience, you also learn more about yourself, what you like, don’t like, strengths and so on.  An increase in self-awareness can mean changes in your career too.

“Job titles exist today which may not have done so five years’ ago.  You could find yourself in a future job which doesn’t yet exist.”

3. Any work experience is good work experience

When working with students I hear many of them say that the experiences they have of the workplace whilst at university are not relevant for when applying for a “grad job.” Many employers want to see evidence of how you have developed yourself.  A placement year is only one way that you can achieve this.  Part-time work and volunteering count, as they are still giving you the chance to experience the “workplace”, and develop yourself as well.

Working with customers, facing difficult situations, event organising, planning, negotiating, and working collaboratively with others towards a common goal are skills that employers value, and these also say a lot about you. So do start appreciating the experiences you are having, what you have learnt, and how this can contribute to your future workplace.  Employers will start seeing you as valuable too.

4. If you are not accepted onto a “graduate scheme” it is not the end of the world

It’s a fact that there are not enough graduate development schemes for every graduate in the UK.  As many graduate schemes are offered by larger, and in many cases, well known employers, they are easier to come by.  Most companies in the UK are smaller, and the fact that you may never have heard of them, doesn’t mean they cannot offer great job roles for keen and eager graduates.  These opportunities require a little more perseverance to find them, but could be well worth considering as part of your career planning strategy.

5. There is no point in comparing yourself to your course mates/flat mates/other university colleagues etc.

One or more of your friends finds a grad job before you do.  Your flat mate has an assessment centre coming up and you don’t.  It can be very easy to start comparing yourself and wondering what you are doing wrong as the job offers are not coming your way.  This can make you feel worse, and more so if you are not even sure what you want to do after university.  Try to keep in mind that we are all on different paths.  No two careers are the same, there is often no “one route” into a specific career, and in the meantime any experiences you have will be helping to develop and shape you as an individual.  If we all followed the same career journey, that really wouldn’t be very interesting for future employers to read or hear about.

6. Don’t expect to find your dream career/job straight after finishing university

This is closely linked with number 2 in the list.  Sometimes it can take a while to find what you want to do within your career.  Hence why your first career step out of university is unlikely to be your last.  If you are learning and developing then you are growing as an individual, and this can help you to carve out your future career path.

7. Proactivity, positivity and patience can really make a difference

Whatever stage you have reached in terms of your job search and career planning, mindset plays a big part.  If you’ve applied for a job and you are awaiting the outcome, instead of constantly scrolling through job websites, try to remain proactive by mixing up your approach to career/job searching.  Look for guest lectures, events organized through the professional institution associated with your degree subject.  This can bring you into contact with a range of professionals within your area of interest.  Research smaller companies and make contact to explore their work and opportunities. Getting out there and talking to people can really make a difference.

 

thumbs up

May be you work part-time for a company right now but what you are doing doesn’t really appeal in terms of a career choice. You are bored and frustrated.  May be another department carries out work of potential interest?  May be there are projects that you could volunteer yourself for?  Positive steps like this could help put you out of your comfort zone, expose you to new areas of work, and can help build your achievements, and may be discover a career you may not have been aware of.  May be you know someone who works in a career field of interest.  Make contact, ask questions, and enquire whether you can visit the company to find out more.  Finding meaningful work can take time.

8. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself…and keep going

It can be very easy for students to pile the pressure on themselves when it comes to their career, and sometimes they think they should know by the end of university what they should be pursuing for a career.  If this describes you, then try and remove the pressure from yourself.  You may be unlikely to wake up one day and you know all of a sudden what you want to do.

For many, building a career usually takes place gradually step by step, and in some cases by trial and error.  Through gaining new experiences, knowledge, creating and taking opportunities, and all the while adding to your valuable skills and attributes, this will hopefully lead you to a meaningful career that is right for you.

As the coming weeks roll by and you are nearing the end of your time at university, keep these eight points in mind.  They will hopefully provide some perspective and a bit of reassurance when you are planning your first career step out of university.

By Sarah Warburton, Aston University Careers Consultant

 

 

8 Tips For Being A Successful Applicant And Securing A Psychology Placement Interview

Welcome back. Hope everyone has survived the bleak January blues. Trust me I know… the feeling of starting your day in pitch darkness and ending it in pitch darkness alongside the pleasantries of the English weather. This is by far the most depressing feeling that one should never endure.. but alas spring is nearly here. So, enough faffing about and lets crack on shall we?

Hope you are all doing well, especially with the exam season coming to an end, I bet some of you are making the most of these weeks to have a breather and prepare for the second term! Literally I can still recall sitting in one of my exams during second year half way through an essay feeling like my arm was going to fall off because I was writing too fast! Thought I’d take short break and…

reaction celebs jimmy fallon fallontonight tonight show

Now I know that the super duper highly organised students (and that doesn’t include me)  have most likely accepted and secured their placement offer by now.. however for those who haven’t… do not worry, for atlas help has arrived! In the form of a…. blog post! 🙂

Lol okok I’m just going to cut to the chase, I thought I’d dish out some simple yet helpful tips that can often be overlooked. I’m sure you lot will benefit from this in the long run especially when it comes down to your very own applications and interviews!

1)  You should aim to start early and keep yourself organised. Make it a weekly routine to check the Aston placements website for newly added placements.

2)  Make sure your CV is up-to-date and has been thoroughly checked over for any grammatical errors. This also applies for your cover letter. If you need support with this, it is highly recommended that you try the Aston Royal Literary Fellow service.

3)  Show your passion through interests and your dedication through experiences. An employer loves to see candidates who have a variety of experiences in different work settings.

4)  As a candidate during the interview process, you need to demonstrate a professional and confident outlook. Take pride in your achievements and don’t be afraid to talk about them even if they aren’t relevant to the placement.

5)  Be yourself! The placement employers won’t expect you to know it all. Remain calm at all times and don’t let your nerves get the better of you. When giving responses do not rush to answer, take time if you need to think of a well thought answer.

6)  Throughout the interview, remain positive, that is the key! If you ever feel at any point during the interview that you’ve given a poor response or ruined your chances, then simply “Keep Calm And Carry On”. Most interviewees experience this feeling but later it turns out that the interview went better than expected!

7)  Keep your options open, apply for as many placements as possible. The more interviews the better. Not only will this be good for your experience and confidence, but it will also show you how competent you are. Once you feel that you have enough options in the bag, start to deduce your placement offers by making comparisons taking different factors into consideration such as travel distance, job specifications, perks etc.

8)  DISCLAMIER: Please make sure you thoroughly read the job specification for the placement you are applying for. Often students miss out on the crucial details which make a huge difference in what they actually do during their placement year. For example, in terms of responsibilities and experiences, this is a significant difference between Assertive Outreach and Community Mental Health. Try researching each role carefully and try finding past placement students who have worked in either role to see their perspective on it!

Hope that helps!

Let me know what you guys think makes an interview successful in the comments section below!

Until next time!

Welcome to the working world of psychology in the NHS

Hi everyone, welcome to my first post of the month! My name is Ali and as an Aston placement year student I haven’t really had the opportunity to introduce myself, I think now is the chance! I’m originally from Worcester (home to the famous Worcestershire sauce!).

For those who don’t know me, I study BSc Psychology at Aston and will be going into my fourth and final year studies come October 2016. So.. what am I doing in my placement year? Since the start of early September 2015, I officially became an honorary assistant psychologist! Now for those who don’t know, an Honorary is the unpaid equivalent of an Assistant psychologist who on the other hand, may bear extra responsibilities and most of all…gets paid! However when one looks at the benefits and experiences that an honorary assistant post has to offer, the dilemma of working for free doesn’t sound that bad after all! Now you might be asking yourself.. what are exactly these responsibilities?  

  1. As an honorary assistant, you will have plenty of opportunities to observe assessments and/or therapeutic work with service users reporting psychological difficulties.
  2. To be able to develop and practice skills in psychological assessments and interpretation, making good use of formulations and honing your listening ability.
  3. To support clinicians in everyday tasks such as analysing service user notes to find specific information or divulging into past histories searching for life events that could have been potential triggers contributing to mental health disorder.
  4. To be able to observe multidisciplinary discussions about a service users diagnosis, treatment, risk assessment and care plan issues whilst having opportunities to interact with other professionals.

Now what I mentioned above is just the tip of the ice berg, as there is always something new to encounter and things to pick up as an honorary assistant. The service users that you come across each portray their own unique diagnoses alongside the relevant therapies given. As I progress through my placement year, every month my post will cover certain aspects of my honorary assistant post and the key highlights of my experiences.  Mind you, it’s quite interesting to listen to our experiences as the leap from University life (theoretical) to a fixed routine working life (practical hands on) can be quite difficult at first to adjust to.

I’m guessing you are eager to ask me right now, what is the work placement world like? It’s actually what you would expect, working your socks off 9am till 5pm 4 days a week. It’s really not that bad when compared to working a full 5 days a week! I guess that’s the benefits of being a psychology placement student.  Up till now the most I’ve really struggled with is commuting. As I live in Worcester, a standard train journey to Birmingham can take up to an hour and this is not including the walking distance between the station and the placement location. Therefore in order to be punctual and on time, I’ve often found myself waking up much earlier (6am wakies) than friends in similar psychology placements, only because I’m geographically situated further away from Birmingham than they are. However for me that’s no excuse for being late! Unfortunately the down side for me is that because of other commitments i.e. part time work and extra curricular activities, I often find myself either jogging or running around most of the time!

Overall, I’ve found myself  having a very compact and structured day in which I would find myself waking up early and sleeping late. Even till now I’m still trying to find ways to balance my activities and sleep routine, as I feel I don’t have enough time to get most of my tasks done. To address this issue, I’ve came up with a time management plan in which I prioritise my workload effectively. This allows me to get the most important tasks completed for the week, leaving the weekend free to have a break in the evenings after my part time job in the mornings! I think the only thing that I’m constantly worried about is falling asleep in the train especially in the mornings! The feeling of waking up in the train realising that you’ve completely missed your station and have to spend hours getting back isn’t a pleasant one!

cat train whatever lazy idgaf

I hope you’ve found my introduction post useful,  I’m certain it will provide an insight that will be useful for anyone with an interest in a clinical psych placement like this or something similar. Please stay tuned for my second post, see you all!