Friday, May 31, 2013

Would you ever consider unpaid work experience to further your career?

This week we are skipping the weekly graduate news round up in favour of some interesting data we have gathered through our online poll.

We were quite surprised to find out that 86% of you would take on unpaid work experience if the benefits outweighed being paid.

These results come from our latest online poll. When asked if you would consider unpaid work experience, 45% responded positively, letting us know that work experience potentially is more important to you than being paid. 41% replied more cautiously: ‘Yes, if it was absolutely necessary’, but only 14% answered no, implying that you don’t want to be ‘exploited’.

The majority of graduates and students are willing to sacrifice the chance of paid work in order to get experience that will help them climb the career ladder. This demonstrates how keen they are to make themselves more employable and shows the strength of their work ethic. But the statistics raise some big red flags.

Although there can be benefits to unpaid work experience, which is clearly why so many would consider it, in some cases it may actually be illegal. Employers are not required to pay volunteers, but anyone who counts as a worker is entitled to the national minimum wage.

This is a grey area legally as it is not always easy to establish when someone counts as a worker. But any graduate who undertakes a lengthy unpaid internship where they are effectively doing a job will be in this category.

For those considering going unpaid for the sake of experience the National Council for Work Experience has produced guidelines to help decide whether an unpaid work experience is worthwhile. These guidelines include:

-          Ensure the placement is valuable – does it give insight into a particular industry? Will it give you particular skills or clarify career aspirations?
-          Discuss the possibilities of any future paid work with the employer.
-          Discuss the purpose of the internship and clarify expectations from the start.

For more guidelines and to understand the law on unpaid internships read our full article on unpaid internships and how to decide if they are worth it.

The potential benefits of work experience in the industry you are interested in are significant. It’s no wonder many of you are willing to consider unpaid work placements:

-          An opportunity to build your network and connections with industry professionals. You never know what doors this may open.
-          Learn new skills and put theory into practice.
-          Build your commercial awareness.
-          An opportunity that may lead into a job.

So would you consider unpaid short-term work experience in order to gain these benefits? And if so, how long for?  Two weeks? A month?

If unpaid work experience isn’t for you why not search our site for paid work experience

(The survey was conducted on our social media channels and website. The poll had a total of 114 participants) 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Travel the world and get paid - Meet TEFL

What’s TEFL?
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. With over 1 billion English learners worldwide it’s a growing industry and many graduates are now doing it as a way to get paid and travel at the same time.

Where can I go?
If you have a degree, you can TEFL in most countries – but, of course, there is a higher demand for English teachers in some areas than others. Popular options for those with no previous teaching experience include Thailand, South Korea, China and Spain.

Who’s this handsome fella?
Ryan is a Lancaster University student who spent 10 months teaching English, travelling (and getting paid) in China. He’ll tell you what TEFL is really all about!

So Ryan…What inspired you to TEFL?
I was in my last year at University when the travel bug bit me. But, like lots of students in their final year, my piggy bank wasn’t exactly filled with money. I started to think if only there was a way for me to get paid for my gap year. Then I came across i-to-i!

Why China?
Ever since I was young I’ve been fascinated by Chinese culture and their way of life. Also, the demand for English teachers in China is huge and it was really easy to find a job as soon I’d graduated and done my TEFL course.

How did you actually find your TEFL job?
After I got my TEFL certificate, I applied for several jobs all over China. Before I knew it I had a set of interviews lined up, which took place over Skype. I finally decided to accept a six month job contract in Tianjin, which is a quite a big city just south of Beijing.

What were the Chinese students like?
In China, getting a good education is really, really important! This meant that most of my students were very willing to learn – lots of them even watch English TV or read English books in their free time.

Tell us a funny story about your time in China...
One really hot day, I took a bunch of my students out to the park for a practical English lesson. When we were out there we saw a load of monkeys hanging out and relaxing in the trees. I LOVE monkeys so I tried to climb the tree and pet them…well, the next thing that happened was crazy..the monkeys went totally mad and started chasing me (and my students). There were about 10 of them and they kept trying to grab us as we ran screaming away! Thankfully, we escaped but for the rest of the year the students used to draw pictures of monkeys or write stories about monkeys every chance that they got!

How much do you get paid?
In China, most people earn about $1000 a month. Saying that, China is really cheap compared to England. If you still want to earn more, then head to South Korea or Japan. Lots of my friends did a second year teaching there!

How did your time in China change you?
I think my time in China has made me see the world differently, and I’m much more open-minded since coming back. I’ve done things, seen things and eaten things that I never would have done otherwise! Not to mention, teaching children has also taught me what kind of parent I do - or rather don’t - want to be!

What advice would you give to somebody thinking about TEFL?
I’d say - go for it. Loads of people say to me that they’d love to do what I’ve done... then go out and do it! You’ll have a great time, and because you’re working whilst you’re over there you don’t have to be a millionaire. Hopefully you won’t get chased by any monkeys either!

If you want more information on taking a gap year and other volunteering opportunities why not visit our gap year pages. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Applying for Future Business Leader of the Year

Alasdair Drennan, 2013 finalist of the Future Business Leader of the Year award talks about his experience.

‘Future Business Leader of the Year’… sounds far too impressive… I’ve definitely got no chance. Well, that’s what I thought. In spite of this, you’ve got absolutely no chance at winning unless you apply so one night, on the train from London to Edinburgh, I filled out the application form and sent it off. The questions were reasonably straightforward and were honestly quite interesting. After sending away the application and completing the online tests I put it to the back of my mind, once again I thought, ‘I’ve got no chance’. I study History and I’d been the editor of The Student (the newspaper at Edinburgh University), although I’m really interested in business, I didn’t think my experience was enough to be considered for such a prestigious award. In the coming weeks I was in for a very pleasant surprise.

I was invited to a first round interview at the Mars Petcare Headquarters near Melton Mowbray. The first round consisted of an interview and a case study. The case study was challenging but it was an excellent way to demonstrate to Mars, and myself, that my interest in business translated into skills. It was also a genuinely fun day with plenty of Mars chocolate supplied! As well as interviews, it was a great opportunity to find out more about how Mars operated as a business from its current grads – who were all lovely and incredibly welcoming. On the drive home I received a call to tell me I’d made it through to the final stage – I was over the moon.

The final assessment day, less than a fortnight later, took me back down to Melton and was simultaneously nerve-racking and great fun. The day began delivering my pre-prepared presentation and before taking part in a group exercise and final interview. Once again, it was a great opportunity to demonstrate and develop what I had to offer. Additionally, it was great to meet the other finalists from across the UK. Back at home there was nothing else to do but wait until the awards ceremony in April.

Reuben Ayley, Sir Trevor McDonald and
Alasdair Drennan at the UGOTY Awards
The whole day of the ceremony was a great experience we were first given a tour of the enormous M&M World on Leicester Square (which smells amazing) before heading out to Canary Warf to the champagne reception and lunch. Here we met the finalists from the 11 other awards and loads of other people from Mars who had incredible stories to tell from their very varied careers. The awards were presented by the one and only Sir Trevor McDonald, which was incredibly exciting for my inner news geek. It was a fantastic day which allowed me to meet so many interesting and inspirational people – I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. Although I didn’t win (congratulations Giovanna), the entire experience was incredibly rewarding and I would do it all again at the drop of a hat.

So if you’re reading this thinking the awards aren’t for you, that you don’t have the right experience, or that there will be too much competition, I would say apply anyway. The initial application questions are focused on what you think as opposed to what you’ve done, so you’ve got every chance and it’s such an amazing opportunity that you don’t want to miss. Good luck!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Being a finalist for the Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award, sponsored by EON

Adam Cox, finalist of the Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award talks about his experience

When I first heard about the Undergraduate of the Year Awards it was through a friend and colleague. I didn't know anything about it, or what it included, and so out of interest I did some research into what it was about. After reading a little about the prestige that seemed to surround the award, I felt slightly intimidated at first at the thought of even applying. That said, that week I had been studying up for a business exam and read somewhere that said you should go for whatever it is you desire and that nothing is handed to a person without them first seeking it. So what the hey, I decided to apply.

In my mind, if I could make it just into the top ten finalists then I would feel like I had really accomplished something. It was also seriously attractive to me knowing that there was the possibility of earning a placement year in industry working for EON. The application process wasn't easy. You had to complete an array of eight online tests, including a logical reasoning test and numeracy test. This was all after writing answers to some sector specific questions, which really allowed you to get in depth about the topics and show them that you are really interested in working in the energy sector.

At the time it was a lot to handle, as elections were fast approaching for the Lacrosse committee positions AGM. I was determined to make it on to the committee as I felt it has been a major part of my life in the past two years and also believe I have great ideas to assist in the club’s future. The following few weeks became a juggling act between coursework, the UGOTY application, and maintaining lacrosse training sessions and matches.

I did it! So I turn on my computer to find I’ve got to the next stage of the process, the assessment centre! This is the first assessment centre I have ever done, and so I took this as a learning experience, whilst also hopefully showing EON that I have what it takes to succeed in an industrial placement for them. The assessment centre was dreadfully exciting. My first part was a face-to-face interview with two EON managers. It was a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere as they made you feel very comfortable and relaxed. 

Most of the questions were based around personal experiences and involved little technical knowledge.  The role play aspect of the day was hugely beneficial, with the two interviewers giving helpful advice following the exercise. At the end of the day we pitched individually in groups of four, projects that we believed EON could uptake to improve on current projects and that would follow the current trends of both their company and the market.

If I was to give any advice:
-       Have confidence in yourself and your own abilities, they will see this and respect you for it
-       Be honest about your capabilities and ambitions – admitting you have weaknesses is not a flaw.
-       Being well rested is essential, as it is a long day and lack of sleep may jeopardize your chances.
-       Showing that you are adaptable to different situations and are pliable to difficult working styles works well in your favour
-       Ensure you have done your research on the company you’re applying to as it shows foresight and commitment

It is now the day of the awards ceremony! Everyone is getting ready to make the trip to Canary Wharf to meet Sir Trevor McDonald and participate in the Undergraduate of the Year Award. Luckily for me I knew somebody else travelling to the ceremony for a different award and so we tagged along together. The event began with a champagne reception, preceding on to a three-course lunch which, in my mind was fantastic. Following this Sir Trevor McDonald gave his speech, and what a speech. I mean, I didn’t quite expect the speech to be as current, humorous and yet aspirational as it was.  It was a very tense moment for everyone I think when the winners were announced. This also gave way to probably the most priceless moment of the night; Jake Tudge’s priceless expression at winning. Congratulations to Jake and I look forward to working with him and the other finalists in the following year.

It is worth iterating the fact that although I did not win, I was still offered a placement by EON as this is not unusual for finalists! Before the awards ceremony I had spoken with an employee at EON to find where I would be best suited if I were to be on placement with EON. This was brilliant for me as it really made me feel at ease that I knew what I was applying for and what I would be gaining from the experience! It is after all the effort put in to the application process that it really feels all worth it. I would recommend anyone to apply for the Undergraduate of the Year Award. It alone has boosted my confidence and also given me valuable commercial exposure. This has pushed me to accomplish new things; and I look forward to the role of Vice President for the Lacrosse Committee at University of Nottingham. This also led me to a desire to work with MechSoc, the committee in charge of my course, to which I will be acting as Industrial Liaison for next year.

Friday, May 17, 2013

TARGETjobs News Roundup

Hello, it’s that time of the week again for me to tell you what we’ve been reporting in this past week on all things to do with graduate recruitment.

Let me start with some exciting news. We are giving away two tickets to Beach Break Live. This is the UK’s biggest surf town fiesta taking place on 20 – 24 June in Newquay.

To enter into the prize draw all you need to do is guess how many targets we have hidden in the Beach Break Live image on our Facebook page. All correct answers will be entered into the draw. Why not get all your friends involved to increase your chances of winning?

Next on the agenda…

As training contract deadlines approach we have some other exciting news for all those applying for training contracts  this summer.  In June, we will be hosting two live Q&As with our law expert, Julia. During this time you’ll be able to ask any questions you may have about the application process. For example, are you wondering:

-          What’s a good number of training contract applications to make?
-          Should you mention school achievements? Or should you focus on university experience?

There will be two live Q&As :

-          A video chat on Google hangout on Thursday 6 June at 3.00 pm.
-          The second will be a live Twitter Q&A where you can send your queries to @TjobsLaw using #lawchat and Julia will be there ready to advise.

Find out more info on how to get involved with the Google hangout and Twitter Q&A.

We complete this blog as always with our roundup of graduate jobs deadlines for next week. 

Hope you all have a lovely weekend,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Being a top ten finalist for the Arts and Humanities Undergraduate of the Year Award.

This journey began more than a month before that, when I applied for this Award. I am a second year politics, philosophy and economics student at Manchester University and was looking at the time for a competition that would somehow relate to social sciences.

I have to admit the Undergraduate of the Year was advertised extensively in my online searches, as it is organized by TARGETjobs. The competition is open to many fields of study, from IT and computer science to management. Each field of study has a sponsor, usually the biggest firms with the most potential for attracting future graduates. Also, the usual award for the winner is an internship with the respective sponsor company, or a one-year placement for those with placement years, among other incentives like a free iPad with the award.

When I applied I imagined that the competition would be rough, but only later I would find out how amazingly devoted the other finalists were to their fields of study and future plans for graduation. For the Arts and Humanities Award, the process consisted of a number of tests, numerical and so on, just like for a normal application for an internship, followed by a phone interview if you were successful.

The next stage, where only the 10 finalists would go to was the assessment centre at Barclays in Canary Wharf, London. Of course, by the time of the assessment, the remaining candidates would be the most skilled and the most knowledgeable about the sponsor, Barclays.

If you do decide to apply for this competition, you must keep in mind that you may be a very capable individual, but you must also do extensive research on your sponsor and seriously consider an internship or future job with them. In the actual assessment centre, you will again be tested on your numerical skills, your commercial awareness skills, you might do a role-play exercise where your knowledge of the company is tested, a presentation in a team, but these vary from sponsor to sponsor. It is a combination between what you excel in as an individual, your past achievements and your dedication towards obtaining an internship with the company. It’s not enough, sadly, to be an over-achiever, you must also present commercial awareness.

When I think about the whole experience and the competition, I feel that I have a lot more to learn and to dedicate my free time to. The people I met were from very diverse degree backgrounds, someone was studying english, another was studying war studies and so on, yet they all achieved so much in their two years in university and all presented exceptional commercial awareness. The employees from Barclays were great as well, really friendly and talented individuals, willing to help and give advice at any stage of the programme.

I strongly urge you to be the best at what you do and to test yourself against others in competitions like Undergraduate of the Year. Ultimately this not only looks good on your CV, but it makes you want more, it gives you a chance to talk to the best students out there, the best employers and to build a network of friends and potential co-workers after university. Just writing about this made me think I should stop procrastinating writing articles about why we should try to be the best and just start doing it.

In the end, I want to thank Barclays for all the support and advice, I want to congratulate all the winners and finalists this year, you guys were amazing and also a big shout out to the only other finalist from Manchester University, for the Law Undergraduate Award, Phillip Ebsworth.

If this post has inspired you - why not pre-register for next year's Undergraduate of the Year awards. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

How to climb that executive ladder

Climbing up the executive ladder is never going to be easy, but there are ways that can give you a better chance of achieving your goal.

It's human nature to keep on striving for success, rather than settling for staying in the same position for thirty years. But, some people are not only more ambitious than others, they also do the right things to make sure that their career prospects are enhanced.

Show That You Care About Doing Your Job

Do all the right things at the place that you currently work. Whether that's happily arriving early, or staying in the office till a job is completed, don't plod along and get a job done on a set day if that job can easily be completed a day earlier. Also volunteer to undertake work some of your fellow employees don't seem so keen to do. These are examples that can show a company that you are not just happy to do as much as you need to earn your wages. Also dress appropriately, and pay attention to the fact that a scruffy appearance will not reflect too well on the company.

Show Respect and Be Respected

Keep on good terms with fellow workers and employers, and generally treat people with respect and kindness. Don't be afraid to disagree, but do so in a non-aggressive manner. If you are seen as a person who can get on well with everyone, but without also being a pushover, this makes the task of offering you a better position that much easier. Strength and resolve, combined with good communication skills and a likeable nature, are favourable attributes for anyone to have - especially when looking to advance their careers.

Don't Push Too Hard

Don't be too pushy, and begin to think that you are irreplaceable. Nobody is. If you think that you deserve a promotion, just look at the type of work a promotion would involve, and subtly suggest that some of your other skills include those that would also be useful in a new position. Not all your skills may be known, so don't be shy about sharing this knowledge with employers.

Be Humble and Honest

Be willing to ask for help, and be honest about your abilities and mistakes. Don't try and take on a task that you can't do, because mistakes can cost time and money, and you may undermine your own confidence if you do make mistakes. If you have a reputation for being honest, then you will also be more respected among employees and workers alike. Honesty is another valuable aid to climbing the executive ladder.

Never Stop Learning

Keep learning. If you display a willingness to learn and to improve this will go down well with bosses, and indicate dedication. If you don't seem to show ambition, then it will be hard for anyone to show faith in you when people are considered for promotion. Drive is always going to be a necessary part of job success.

Georgina Stamp has worked in the executive search business for a number of years and has met successful candidates whilst recruiting for various international and local organisations. She currently works for Marble Hill Partners, who help provide interim management.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

TARGETjobs news roundup

Welcome to this week’s graduate recruitment round up, where you can find the latest advice and news posted on our site in one place.

Before I start I want to wish all those revising for their exams good luck! We’re keeping our fingers and toes crossed for you! I would also like to bring to your attention this great article from our friends over at studentbeans : 10 exam stress busting desserts for one 
These are perfectly delicious - I have already tried the Nutella sandwich and am addicted! Next in my sights is the caramel chocolate mug cake.

What will you bake? Let us know in the comments box.

On to serious business… This week we told you:

And, if you are interested in a career in law, you will be happy to hear that there are still places up for grabs at the tenth annual City Law for ethnic minorities’ event. Sign up today before it’s too late.

As always, we conclude this very quick blog today with the latest graduate jobs deadlines closing soon. 

Hope you all have a good weekend,

Friday, May 10, 2013

Internationalising your degree; adding an extra dimension.

Times have changed. Our world is getting smaller and a journey that would've taken almost a week by transatlantic cruise liner not so many years ago can now be referred to as ‘Crossing the pond’ and have the traveller home in time for dinner. It is in this landscape, in a world where we can communicate to a friend or colleague from thousands of miles away with the click of a button, where we as current and future graduates, find ourselves taking our degrees, our skills and our talent out into.

Since beginning university in 2009, I have realised that the whole ‘University Experience’ goes far beyond what we do inside of the classroom. Indeed, what I’ve learned is that your whole experience and what to gain from university not only goes out with the classroom, but can go out with the city, country, or continent you study in. When coming to the end of my first year, I discovered the opportunity to go to America and work at a summer camp. I was 18, had never been further than other countries in Europe and had certainly never travelled independently. Since then I have participated in the Study China programme run by the University of Manchester and have been to the states to not only work in retail and for charities, but have met up with friends I still keep in touch with in my very first summer at camp.

This blog won’t turn into a trip advisor account of my experiences – promise.

Now what I don’t want this blog to be is a travel log of everywhere I’ve been and everything I’ve learned from it, because that’s really not going to have any impact for you. The aim is to share with you not only how easy it is when you have the confidence to, but also how much of a benefit is, to add an international dimension to your time at university.

The opportunity to travel and experience new cultures, new ways of thinking, new languages and ultimately meet new people is becoming more and more available to students for what I believe are two reasons;

1) Agencies now specialise in providing opportunities aimed towards students that are affordable, supported and tailored to provide the best overall experience.

2) The famous long university summers. Now, these aren’t really that new, however, there is now more emphasis than ever on making the most of our summers at university. Summer provides us with countless opportunities; the increased offerings of summer internships for penultimate year and graduating students are testament to employers buying into the value of you making the most of your summer.

The benefits for YOU.

For me, there are four key personal benefits to going abroad and they might be obvious but it’s worth pointing them out;

1.       Having cool stories to tell about your travels can make you seem very interesting to an employer, either at networking stage or at an interview. (Your work in class on financial spreadsheets may be important when it comes to your degree but that summer you spent backpacking around Asia on a shoestring budget is far more interesting, sorry!)

2.       You meet people you would never have met before. We like to throw the term ‘Network’ around a lot with advancements in social media but travelling is one very effective way of building a real network of friends (possibly futures colleagues) around the globe.

3.       You’ll be tested, and that’s a good thing! Without a doubt, when travelling without supervision or support from parents or a large group, things will go wrong! The term ‘Outside your comfort zone.’ Is never more apparent when you realise that the Chinese metro system doesn't run on a Sunday and you have to sell a pair of earphones in the street to pay the taxi fair to the airport, making it on time for your flight with no time to spare. Sounds nuts, but I use it in an interview whenever I can!

4.       Independence!  Internationalising your student experience; whether it’s an academic exchange, a summer programme or simply travelling, will give you the independence to make decisions, to conduct yourself and to live the way you want to live. This may sound strange but being acting independently allows you to think independently; to gather new knowledge about new cultures and people and interpret it. Independence allows you to become the unique person you want to be.

 Now, being interesting, connected, hardened and more independent  are great characteristics to develop and should begin to or have already sold a lot of you internationalising your degree.

What industry wants!

However, I haven’t outlined the main benefit of doing this throughout your time in academia. The world isn’t only getting smaller for us as ‘world citizens’, it’s also getting smaller for organisations. More and more of the employers we are applying to are already or are becoming world players, they are expanding and operating in new cultures, with new languages and with completely different ways of working.

As a result, although not yet a necessity, employers are now looking for students who have an understanding of different cultures, who have immersed and understood other ways of living and interacting and have proven, through either travelling or work experience, that they are willing to learn and develop in a whole new, probably daunting environment.  Only by being in a country can you get a true, real-life, understanding of how the people interact, what etiquette exists, maybe even the language.

Employers aren’t looking for you to have work extensively in these countries or developed business opportunities in emerging markets – YET! By showing and proving you are confident and competent enough to immerse and comfortably identify differences and embrace those, employers will see you as adaptable and that’s only going to become a more desirable attribute.

The Final Word.

Adding an international dimension to your degree not only helps you get a job in what is quickly becoming a world economy but it provides you with additional life skills, the ability to take yourself out with your comfort zone and to adapt in unfamiliar environments. Also, if you've added an international experience to your CV, it really stands out and you’ll no doubt talk about it in an interview or when networking. Yes, there are other ways to become employable; but for me, getting the chance to go abroad is the most fun and exciting way to do it and the opportunities are available more than ever when you’re studying!

Chris Milborrow 
10th May 2013
Thank you for reading - you can find more of my blog posts at
You can connect with me on Facebook and LinkedIn; ‘Chris Milborrow’ or on Twitter; @ChrisMilborrow

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2013 Arts & Humanities Undergraduate of the Year Award

My name is Daisy Reid, I study French and Italian and UCL, and I was a finalist for the 2013 TARGETjobs Arts & Humanities Undergraduate of the Year Award. Here's the (slightly unusual) story of how I got there, and what I've gained from the experience.

Travelling on the Paris Metro last November, I was surprised to receive a phone call from an unknown number. Even more surprised when I found out that it was actually a call on behalf of Barclays Wealth, encouraging me to finish my application for the Arts & Humanities Undergraduate of the Year Award.

Let's rewind a few weeks. I was a month into the first semester of my year abroad in France, researching summer internship schemes and ways to boost my CV for when I graduate next year (I had decided that although two summers spent working as a barmaid was probably acceptable, during the third I should really do something to improve my employability outside the hospitality sphere). 

I initially found out about the award through the TARGETjobs newsletter. Seeing that it was sponsored by Barclays Wealth was the real game-changer for me; I have always hoped that my language degree would not restrict me to translation and teaching, but instead open up opportunities for me in larger global corporations, preferably in the financial sector. In fact, wealth management was an area I had been leaning towards, but with no idea how to get my "foot in the door", so to speak. Surely they want economics and business students, not someone specialising in French and Italian! So an international wealth management company deliberately reaching out to arts and humanities students seemed tailor-made for my situation. However, half way through the application I got cold feet, looking at the multi-talented previous winners and deciding that I was way out of my depth.

Then came the phone call. I was told that my unfinished application showed real potential, and encouraged to complete it and send it off. It was at that point that I decided to stop putting myself down; they had personally made the effort to get in touch with me, so returning the favour was the least I could do.

A few months after submitting my completed application, I was asked to complete a number of aptitude tests. Technically they weren't that difficult (although A Level maths probably helped), but the time pressure made them very challenging. For anyone considering applying next year, I would strongly recommend completing practise tests beforehand. When I didn't hear back for a few weeks, I assumed that I simply hadn't been successful.

However, literally days into the second half of my year abroad (which I spent in Italy), I received an invitation to a phone interview. This forced me to realise that I actually had a real chance at this, and I began to prepare meticulously. Having literally just arrived in Italy, this was far from easy. In between enrolling at the university, finding a place to live (I was staying in a youth hostel for the first week or so) and finding my way around a new country, I was scouring WikiJobs, the Economist, the Financial Times and gathering any scrap of information on Barclays I could find. Somehow I made it through, and after turfing everybody out of my youth hostel dorm and attaching threatening notes to the door in a number of languages banning anyone from disturbing me, I submitted myself to an intense half-hour interrogation by a member of Barclays HR. I can honestly say that preparation for these things is everything, and mine paid off; I was invited to an assessment centre at the Barclays building in Canary Wharf.

So a mere ten days after arriving in Bologna with five months' worth of luggage in tow, I was on a plane back to London wearing a suit and reading a newspaper. It was slightly surreal. The assessment day was one of the most challenging processes I have ever been through. Along with the nine other finalists, I was to complete a role play, case study, group exercise, presentation, another aptitude test and go through a number of rigorous interviews. The day lasted around five hours in total, and although it was unbelievably stressful, I got to meet a number of inspirational people (including the other candidates!) and get a real idea of what it's like to work for Barclays. In addition, this was the recruitment process that all candidates must undergo for internships and graduate schemes, so having already done it once can only help me in the future!

As one of the ten finalists, I was automatically invited to the final awards ceremony, hosted by none other than Sir Trevor McDonald. That was certainly an experience in itself. A champagne reception, string quartet, three-course meal (with wine), endless networking opportunities and the chance to meet the finalists from all the other awards (including engineering, first year, business and many more); it was an incredible day and I felt unbelievably lucky to have been a part of it. Marie absolutely deserved to win and I know that she will be an amazing addition to the Barclays team. As for me, I have come out of this with more than I could ever have imagined. I now have experience at every level of the wealth management recruitment process, a number of valuable contacts, a new talking point to put on my CV and the confidence that my degree can actually take me wherever I want it to. A number of people have already got in contact with me offering new opportunities, and I wasn't even the winner!

If you are wavering between applying for next year's awards or not, I have the answer for you right here. Do it. You quite literally have nothing to lose, and you never know: you could find out a thing or two about yourself.

I would like to thank TARGETjobs and Barclays Wealth for offering me this amazing opportunity, and wish all future candidates the best of luck.

If you would like to get in touch with me about any of my experiences, I would be happy to answer any questions. Just leave a comment below!

Friday, May 3, 2013

TARGETjobs News Roundup

Hello and welcome to this week’s graduate recruitment news roundup. Here we summarise what we have been covering on our site this week. 

You may not know this but every year we run Breakfast News events where we meet with recruiters to discuss the latest graduate recruitment trends, what they want from graduates and so on.  It is where the graduate recruitment ideas of tomorrow begin to take shape.

At last week’s Breakfast News event in London we met to discuss STEM graduates and the real value that science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates bring to organisations. We also dug a little deeper into media reports that would have you believe that there is a shortage of STEM graduates. It turns out that there ARE enough science and engineering graduates out there. Here’s the truth behind the shortage of STEM graduates.

In other news…

If a career in hospitality tickles your fancy, find out what salary you can expect from a graduate job in this industry.

Or if charity work interests you, check out the starting pay you can expect in this sector.

And we have another interview with key advice for law students applying for their training contracts. Sam Lee, graduate recruitment manager at Bond Dickinson, tells us commercial questions on the application form are especially important. 

As always we conclude the news with next week’s graduate job deadlines. Hurry before they go. 

Hope you all enjoy the (hopefully sunny!) bank holiday weekend. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for live updates on all things to do with graduate job hunting.