Monday, February 27, 2012

From bedroom to boardroom in 80 days

Owen Burek, the founder of the student money site explains how he turned down graduate jobs for the thrill of running a social enterprise.

So you’ve graduated from university. What next? For many students the dream is landing a nicely paid job in the city with a high profile graduate employer. And for most, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s a great start for your career, providing security and first-hand experience in an industry you’ve worked your rear-end off to be in. After 20-odd years of education, it’s what you deserve.

I’ve been kindly invited to talk about another way – the way I chose to take. This involves the scary (foolish?) decision of going it alone in the big, bad world of business. Now before I start, I must emphasise that foregoing a full-time, well paid job is not for everyone, and it shouldn’t be. However if this alternative route I’ll briefly describe excites you, even just a smidgen, then there is no better time to take it. Think about the freedom of choice you have as a graduate. How many real responsibilities do you have right now? Well, that’s why lots of grads choose to take a gap year – because they can!

So why not instead take this exciting year out to try taking an idea into something real, a business which may not even earn you money but will be the vehicle which teaches you so much about virtually every aspect of the business world, and much about yourself. Take this opportunity to figure out what you’re good at and what you really want to do with the rest of your career. It can be well worth holding off jumping into the graduate job market. For me, as a 2010 graduate with a first class degree from the University of Manchester, I took the summer months to try and start a proper business running out of an office. Two years on and I have no intention of ever entering the job market. I’m having way too much fun!

The fun began in 2007, my first year at uni, when I started a website called Save the Student! The name came easy. There was so much to learn about life and living away from home, and no more so than this crazy thing called personal finance. With some experience in website design, I went ahead and starting sharing my experiences (well, mistakes) with other students on the internet. It wasn’t too long before I started engaging with many other students through the site which pushed me on. The money didn’t come until a year later when I was opened up to the world of advertising as companies saw an opportunity to reach my student readership. My first advertiser was 

The kind of stuff I was writing about was the kind of really, really useful stuff that every student should know, but many don’t. I blame the school system. The ongoing and unfortunate symptom is thousands of vulnerable (slightly naive) students heading off to uni every year making the same mistakes and getting burnt by landlords, banks etc. With the tuition fees on the rise for 2012 entrants, unfortunately many students really do need saving!

This philosophy has been absolutely key to the (unexpected) growth of Save the Student. In turn, this has offered me a unique opportunity to develop a successful business within the student market once I left university myself. There is nothing more rewarding than creating something which not only pays for your living but helps others. That’s what I along with my fantastic team do every day.

5 Lessons to Share
There are so many factors which lead to where I am now, but none of them would have mattered if I had not made the life choice to just try starting a business after graduating. Having said that, I would offer a few nuggets of advice:
Keep learning – Graduating is not the end of education. I’m always reading books and keeping up with the latest news to equip me with the knowledge I need to keep moving forward. It can also save you a whole pile of money. I taught myself basic programming and graphic design as a teenager which has enabled me to build the websites myself.
Perseverance – It’s not an easy ride by any means, but just remember that, if nothing else, you are gaining so much experience which will be invaluable for any career path you eventually take. You become the best reference on your CV!
People & Networking – Firstly, it really does help to have a supportive team who have varied skill-sets. Secondly, make as many contacts as you can because it’s people who get you where you want to be.
Discipline – This is probably the most important point on this list. You won’t have anyone telling you what to do (one of the perks!) but that means you need the drive yourself to get up every morning and work hard all day. It helps to have a place to go and work outside of your bedroom!

If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it – You really have to love what you do, otherwise what’s the point?

I could go on for a lot longer, but I’m going to leave it there. Hopefully it’s given you some insight into the ‘alternative’ career route and has stimulated you to think about what you want to do for yourself.

See for more. If you have any questions or want to get in touch, feel free to send me an email at owen[@] and if you have Twitter, make sure you’re following @savethestudent

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at 

Friday, February 24, 2012

TARGETjobs news roundup

Good afternoon, this is the TARGETjobs news roundup, coming to you live from TJ HQ. Today we have the roundup of everything that has happened on the graduate jobs front in the last 168 hours.

Unlike most weeks there is no sector clearly dominating the news this week. However, there are interesting developments in the legal, IT, accountancy, insurance, property, construction and consultancy sectors. If you’ve been thinking of getting a job in these areas – or even if you haven’t – this could be the place for you.

If these sectors aren’t quite you then don’t worry, we still have a couple of things that might just be what you need.

  • Kicking off our new series ‘Top 10 skills’ we are telling you all about teamwork. This is one of the most popular skills and competencies graduate recruiters look for, so follow this guide and find out exactly how to demonstrate yours.
  • Finally we are running you through the roundup of all this week’s graduate vacancy deadlines. If you don’t have the time to scour job ads then this is the place for you. Just remember to keep your cool and fill in every application to the best of your ability. Check out the latest jobs here.
To get graduate careers news as it happens, check out the TARGETjobs news feed. Alternatively, check out the roundup this time next week!

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobsinternships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What are you going to do when you finish university?

Read Nichola's journey from starting out at university, her views and how she is looking for her graduate job, there is a great tip right at the end of the post.

I heard it again today, that unsettling question that keeps popping up “so what are you going to do when you finish university?” It’s unsettling because when I think back to almost three years ago when I started university, I had an answer to that question. My answer was “I don’t know yet but I’ll know in three years when I graduate” after all that’s how it works, right?

One of the reasons I came to university was because I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career aged 18. I didn’t want to get a job in my small hometown of Penrith, Cumbria and end up doing it for the rest of my life. I realise now I was painting myself an unrealistic and drastic picture of what reality might have looked like had I chosen not to go to university, but at the time this is what I thought.

The next step was to choose a degree subject and place to study. I’ve always been interested in fashion but it soon became apparent that without an Art or Design A-level there was next to no chance of getting onto a reputable fashion course.
This left me with little clue as to what I wanted to do. Careers advisors and teachers steered me in the direction of Psychology assuring me a lot of different industries consider it a valuable degree. After some individual research it looked like a subject that would interest me so I went for it, I started at Northumbria University in September 2009.

Before starting my degree I was under the impression that once you graduate, employment would be a breeze and fatter-than-average pay cheques would be guaranteed as a result. I was either given the wrong impression or a lot has changed in last three years.

In this day and age, life is lived in the fast-forward. Graduates are more often being advised against taking gap years. Employees used to look fondly upon a graduate who had been on a gap year – they had a high level of education, they had life experience both at home and living in another culture, they had got the travelling ‘bug’ out of their system and might even have some interesting stories to tell on their lunch break as a result – now competition for graduate jobs in fierce, employment prospects are much more uncertain and it seems the pressure is on to get on the career ladder immediately.

My inbox is inundated with e-mails with subject titles reading along the lines of ‘Want to get on a graduate scheme this year? Apply NOW!’ and ‘Make your gap year count, earn while you learn’. I’m starting to feel the pressure but finding the time to apply for graduate jobs isn’t an easy juggling act to balance along with final year deadlines and dissertations.

So where to start? I’d suggest writing out your interests and options as a starting point. Do you want to go travelling? If so, do you want tie it in with some ‘learning’ experience? Or just take a break for reality for a while, if your anything like me I’m sure you’ll feel you’ve earned it! Maybe you’re eager to start earning, if this is the case use your university’s careers services and graduates careers websites as much as possible. A one-to-one meeting with a careers advisor really helped me to see how my investing some more time and effort in my personal interests of writing and fashion could lead to a career.

If you’re like me, maybe your degree subject doesn’t lend itself perfectly to your dream career. This doesn’t mean you have to settle for doing a job you don’t want, it just means you have to work that bit harder to get it. In attempt to get a bit more experience with writing I have started my own blog and write feature articles the fashion section of my University’s online newspaper, and because its something I enjoy doing, I find the time to do it.

So don’t panic if you don’t know exactly what you want do just yet. As long as you try to do something you enjoy, I think that’s the most important thing…

Follow Nichola on Twitter: @NikiForNow

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Read Joe's second post and find out what is troubling him this week:  

Hi Guys it’s me again and it would seem that I may have lost my Zen.

Why you ask? Glad you did. The reason for my increased blood pressure [aside from my daily battle on the first capital connect trains] is the fact that things are taking off at a Usain Bolt like speed.

For a start up company, this may not seem like a problem. It may appear as if I am tooting my own horn, but rest assured that even though I am happy with the progress, the main issue is that as a start up, there is simply not enough man power. We have brilliant ideas but not enough staff to implement them all in a timely fashion and not enough money to pay for the extra hands.

Currently, the studentmoneysaver, is manned by three pairs of arms [excluding myself]. We have one editor/social media manager, one head of strategy and one guy who is a bit of a wunderkind when it comes to video marketing. Whilst they are all geniuses in their own right, the fact remains that often things get missed as none of the staff are yet to have mastered the art of freezing time or cloning oneself – disappointing really.

There is only one insta-solution to this conundrum and it is…drum roll please…INTERNS.  They pop in for a couple of weeks, lend a hand and then pop right back out again. This is only a short-term resolution but it is the best one we’ve got because interns will work in exchange for that priceless remuneration that is ‘experience’. However, in keeping with that pesky thing known as ‘employment legislation’ there is a thin line betwixt interning and thinly veiled slavery. With this in mind, we have to keep shelling out the big bucks to fund the extra hands but as a start up, this means that we have to forgo making any actual profit [for now that is]

So therein lies my current dilemma: do I REALLY stretch my pennies and exchange my daily meals for another full time intern or do I urge my current staff to master the ancient arts? Something tells me that they MAY struggle with the latter.

Now where IS my next intern…?

If you want to intern with StudentMoneySaver as an online sub editor apply here.
Follow studentmoneysaver on Twitter @studentmoneysvr 

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at 

Friday, February 17, 2012

TARGETjobs news roundup

It’s show time once again with the roundup of this week’s graduate jobs news. TARGETjobs news is one of the best ways to get the edge over the competition, with advice on where the jobs are, the newest tricks employers are using, and sector developments to keep you up to date.

This week the news is lead by a pair of interesting developments in the engineering sector. These events could have implications for how your graduate job hunt shapes up and the smart money will always keep them in mind.

However, it wasn’t all about the engineering sector. IT and property developments also had significant results for graduates. For example:

  • In the property sector we announced that GVA have acquired RGA consulting. This move by the large graduate employer will give them even more experience in the leisure industry, as well developing their geographical base into Scotland.
  • We also broke the news that IT tutors are expressing concern that UCAS points are being used to differentiate between candidates in recruitment. Their suggestion was that this would lead to a lack of social mobility in the IT sector, while employers defended themselves by pointing out that 2.1s from some universities are harder to get than firsts from others.
It was also a big week for graduate careers news and advice in general. Check this out:

To get graduate careers news as it happens, check out the TARGETjobs news feed. Alternatively, check out the roundup this time next week!

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobsinternships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Journey into marketing

Read Jos' journey into how she is trying to carve herself a career in marketing.

Marketing came my way much by accident. Whilst still at school, after a year and a half in a dismal sales assistant position, I hungered for more of a challenge. I ended up securing a role as the Marketing Coordinator for a local Chiropractic business, which involved leading the marketing strategy through various approaches. As time went on, I developed a real passion for the work involved and started to take on more responsibility, even being bold enough, young as I was, to speak out and make changes to the procedure in place.

That job fell into my lap, and it was fortuitous that I was both competent enough to fulfil the role and very much enjoyed it too. However, a typical position for graduates to find themselves in - particularly in today’s competitive job market - is that of being fixated on the idea of your perfect role and knowing that you would be able to excel in it, but being held back by extreme levels of competition from many others like you. Marketing is a hugely popular career for a lot of graduates, and I sometimes wonder whether I might have an easier time in my job hunt if I chased something else.

In spite of this, it is an inescapable fact that I derive the most satisfaction from projects and endeavours that I am enthusiastic about. The interest I developed for marketing in that first job role enabled me to go the extra mile and really deliver, which very much fed into the gratification that the role bestowed on me. So whenever I have felt disheartened at the slow progress of my job hunt, it has been helpful to dwell on the fact that I will most enjoy working in a job I am passionate about, and that it will likely be all the more satisfying if I have to work a bit to get there.

Admittedly, however, it is very easy to quickly become dejected whilst embarking on the graduate job search. For me, realising that I was up against all the graduates who had studied marketing at degree level was an alarming notion. Pair that with my desire to enter the fiercely competitive agency side of marketing, and I’ve often felt like I’m undertaking an extremely daunting and perhaps futile challenge. Outside of graduate schemes run by agencies, the chances of being taken on in an entry level role with little to no agency experience are slim, so at first I focused on chasing short placements in agencies. However, there’s only so far that an overdraft can take you, and so following two of these (unpaid) placements at great agencies, I found myself taking on a role as a Marketing Project Manager for a company whose sector I knew all too well – graduate recruitment. But I missed the agency environment terribly. Whilst I was developing some vital skills and my business acumen, as well as picking up on some nifty tricks like digital marketing, I was conscious that I was not as well placed to keep up with my industry of interest – sitting on Twitter all day stalking agencies and their awe-inspiring campaigns was not really an option. So I decided to make some industry-related work for myself, albeit in my limited free time, by turning to the blogosphere.

I used my blog as a platform for me to spout about all the campaigns I’d read about. Even if no one was reading it (there is an unbelievable number of students, grads and professionals doing the exact same thing) I was enjoying writing it. During my three month stint in my project manager role the blog really did help to keep me motivated to apply to graduate schemes, internships and job roles. It confirmed to me that I really was passionate about the industry, and also meant that I had something concrete by which to demonstrate this passion in interviews. At one interview I attended, the agency Director told me that I had stood out from a lot of the other applicants because of a QR code that I had put on my CV linking to my blog, an extra touch that they had not seen in any other applicants.

Another important lesson I learnt from writing my blog was to stop thinking of every career-relevant activity I engaged in as being an asset to my CV, and to start thinking about them as an asset to myself. To dissect how each work placement I had carried out had helped to make me a better marketer in my own eyes, rather than in the eyes of the employer. A simple alteration to this frame of mind has made me a lot more confident in both my applications and interviews, as it allows me to recognise job descriptions as matching the skills and knowledge I now know I possess, rather than the opposite process of reading a job description and trying to make connections to my own personality and skill set.

Would I have an easier time pursuing a career in a less competitive field? Maybe. But being a graduate is a very empowering stage to be at; teetering on the edge of our careers, we have so many opportunities available to us. It is important to keep in mind that a typical graduate’s journey to the perfect career destination is more often than not a troubled pursuit, particularly in the current economic climate, and we now have to work harder than ever to prove ourselves. But my feeling is, if we don’t want to work hard to get into our sector of interest, are we really all that bothered about actually getting a job in it? However you choose to go about connecting with your industry, even if it doesn’t directly land you a job, at least you will be safe in the knowledge that you are competent, passionate and dedicated enough to excel once you do make it.

Find Jos on Twitter @JosCanavan

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gap Year - My trip to Yuanyang rice terraces

Read Lizz's third blog as she talks about her current gap year experience.

I am currently taking a year out before starting full-time work and thinking about post-graduate studies. Thanks to the Chinese Govt Scholarship I have one year to study Mandarin in a University - Yunnan University of Finance & Economics with all expenses paid, including monthly allowances. The only thing I had to pay for was my flight ticket. 

Having grown accustomed to the Chinese way of life, going on short-breaks is the norm, especially when there is a public holiday. This prompted the moderately organised trip to the Yuanyang Rice Terraces with other foreign friends from all over the world (Ecuador, Turkey, France, Latvia, Yemen and Cambodia):

So off we set at night eight foreign friends from all over the world where a situation of studying at the same university conveniently brings us all together. (We are all doing either language study or an exchange program or masters).

Thirty minutes taxi ride and 50yuan later we arrived at Kunming South Bus Station with snacks in hand. We take our beds on the sleeper bus, yeah… heard correct – A SLEEPER BUS! No chairs, just comfortable mattress (truly comfy, soft in all the right places). But the journey was something of a hangover-esque disaster. If I said I slept 50winks, I would be a vicious liar. It was more like 10winks interrupted on and off. I know – I mentioned the comfy mattress, but it was the fact that I was at the top bunk at the very back of the bus. It was like sleeping on stilts – I felt every single movement of the bus, even when it drove over a stone; every movement! Both my head and shoulders felt it repeatedly against the window as I tried to get comfy several times. Which never happened! «Insert sad face» Seven hours later we arrived at Xinjie, which requires another 40 mins to get to our destination, where we can get a guest house to sleep at.

On our way to the rice terraces, we saw some beautiful views of the terraces and the sun slowly coming up against the back drop of the fog and mist that presented itself at the valleys below the rice terraces, it looked like a scene from a fantasy novel. We saw some photographers taking the perfect opportunity to capture this beautiful serene moment, the kind that you only dream about and close your eyes to get a better definition of it.

Luckily for us, we had the HD view with our eyes open, though in an incredibly crammed mini-van that sat 8 people with huge backpacks and involuntary exercises taking place, such as butt clenching and stomach sucking in techniques.

We tried to hurry our driver along, unfortunately since road safety and courtesy is not the highest on the list of priorities for him, he managed to bruise the van and break a side window of another mini-van. We didn’t get involved; we just took more pictures.

We paid a student discount entrance fee to get into the tourist spots of the town, it cost 30Yuan each for us. Since it is now a world heritage wetland, it would be incredibly hard for them not to charge, so they did and we paid.

After much back and forth looking for a suitable guesthouse to stay at, we settled on Jacky’s Guesthouse. Jacky is a local and it is a fairly new guesthouse, he speaks English well, knows the area well, speaks a bit of French as he travelled with a French Photographer. It was truly a great place to stay at, so unexpected amongst the buffalos, the mess from all animals. (No I don’t receive commission for my advertisement services).

On this same day after having what can only be called a continental breakfast at Sunny’s Guesthouse not too far from Jacky’s guesthouse. It was a good breakfast, tea, coffee, crepes, eggs, French toast, etc. We trekked to the local Hani people market. The journey was fun, we took pictures, laughed, sang some songs, but after a while when hunger attacks your stomach and the strength in your muscles, the trek felt harder, longer and “are we there yet?” thoughts came as often as the need to tweet. An hour and a half later or so, we got to the market, looked, browsed, amazement in some people’s eyes of so many foreigners in their mini town. We ate to our hearts content! «Smiles all round» However a drunken local took a liking to one of our friends, it was an unrequited bromance.

We went to another location to see the sunset against the rice terraces. Watching the sunset slowly was nothing short of beautiful, you saw the rays of the sun pierce through the mist and whatever fog was left. The sun reflected its yellow wonders on the flooded rice terrace valleys below and looked like the sky was admiring itself.

Quick fast forward to end of day – another 30-40mins journey in a crammed mini-van (this was a consistent feature anytime we were in a mini-van). Ate some dinner, drank Bijiu whilst eating, then shower, chat-chat-chat, bed (electric blankets – was soooooooooooo warm). My room overlooked the rice terraces, needless to say, my dreams were amaaazing!!! «Stupid Grin»

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at 

Friday, February 10, 2012

TARGETjobs news roundup

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls welcome to the main event; the TARGETjobs news roundup. Here we’ll run you through the highs and lows, what’s hot and what’s not this week in the world of graduate recruitment. So sit back, relax, and lend me your eyes.

For the second week running the construction sector has been dominating the news, with a number of important developments for anyone who wants to move in this direction. Check out last week’s news to find out about the other significant developments in the sector.

But don’t, for a second, imagine that the news this week was only about the built environment. In fact there were developments in law, IT and accountancy.
But for those not interested in a career in accountancy, construction, engineering, IT or law, we also put together some general advice for your viewing pleasure.
  • We introduced an ugly new monster that has been popping up on the graduate recruitment radar; ‘inductive reasoning tests’. These tests are designed to test reasoning ability, and prepared graduates will get to grips with them before the big interview.
  • Finally we're giving you a Valentines-themed rundown of all things deadline next week. If you’re looking for the graduate job you will love this is the place. Check out the latest jobs here.
To get graduate careers news as it happens, check out the TARGETjobs news feed. Alternatively, check out the roundup this time next week!

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobsinternships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Starting my own business

Get to know Joe Levi, founder of as he takes you through his challenges on setting up his own business.

Hi Guys,
My name is Joe Levi and I’m the founder of
I’m going to be writing this blog to tell you a bit about why I decided to start this company and how the journey is going. Starting my own company [instead of going the down the traditional route and getting a city job] is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. I’d say the most annoying part about it is the fact that you have to meet up with friends from Uni who all work at * insert big shot city firm name here * and earn tens of thousands of ££££. I really want to be happy for their newfound success and most of the time I am, but sometimes there is a secret envy when I see their flashy cars.
The ONLY thing that keeps me going is the fact that I most definitely believe in my idea and I know one day I’ll be able to answer the ‘where do you work’ question with a significant amount of pride as I respond with a haughty ‘my own company, Student money saver – didn’t you see us on the news last night?’ [fingers crossed eh?]

Ok, a quick background:
The idea for Student Money Saver began when I started Manchester University in 2007. I quickly realized that being financially independent for the first time at university was incredibly intimidating. For the first time I had to live on a shoe string budget, manage my bills and pay my rent. Being the tech savvy lad that I am, I did a quick Google search, and after finding nothing that helped me as adequately as I would have liked, I started up SMS and bob’s your uncle.

I didn’t exactly have a big budget so the movement started off with a group of like minded folk who helped me get the website going. Evidently, I am no Bill Gates at the mo but things are finally taking off, which serves to reassure me that my idea is indeed valuable to somebody.

TBH, I think I always knew I would end up doing something entrepreneurial, considering the fact that the second I discovered eBay, I didn’t spend my time glued to a computer screen ferociously bidding, but rather setting up my own eBay store [it’s obviously in my bones.]

I won’t bore you with my history but I will tell you this, if you have an idea that you genuinely believe in [and maybe someone else believes in also], then never give up. It will get difficult, your work hours may not be the orthodox 9-5 but there is NOTHING like seeing results and knowing that your determination paid off.
Look out for my next post with updates on how things are going, we’ll see if I’m still sounding as zen next week.
Happy Saving!

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobs, internships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at 

Friday, February 3, 2012

TARGETjobs news roundup


We’re back! This week we run you through the who’s, the how’s, and the why’s of this week’s graduate job news; the news that matters to you.

Leading developments this week was coverage of the property and construction sectors; with a pair of interesting stories for anyone interested in pursuing a career in the built environment. 

There were also events in other sectors though, with finance and law both joining in the fun.
But in a week dominated by bold statements, there was still a lot going on in general graduate employment news.
  • For example, we compared two different sets of survey results to see whether there was a clash of opinions between employers and would-be employees. Employers were not satisfied with the standard of applicants, but the majority of graduates believe they are suitable for the graduate jobs they are looking for.
  • News in from PwC – one of the most popular graduate recruiters – underlined this trend, suggesting that their applications were up by 33%, with increased interest from women and younger undergraduates.
  • BP also announced an increased graduate intake. The 50% expansion means that the oil and gas company will be recruiting up to 250 graduates this year, in addition to 130 interns and sandwich year placement students.
  • But if that’s shaken your faith a little, don’t panic. We put together our own antidote. Follow these six little pointers for increased work experience confidence. Enjoy!
  • Finally, we rounded off the week with a graduate jobs deadline roundhouse. With an esoteric mix of interesting jobs, there are some in there that you might not even have thought of before. Check out the latest jobs here.
This post was written by Ross Wittenham, TARGETjobs Editorial Assistant. 

To get graduate careers news as it happens, check out the TARGETjobs news feed. Alternatively, check out the roundup this time next week!

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of graduate jobsinternships and placements. Independent reviews on top graduate employers and career planning tools and expert guidance. Become a TARGETjobs blogger by getting in touch with me at

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Finding the dream job

Read this very insightful blog by Galina and help her get her dream job :)

My name is Galina and I am a graduate. Just like hundreds of thousands of other young people, I am currently trying to find a job in my industry of choice, which happens to be Advertising. So far, I have not been successful but I have learned a lot in the process and I would like to share my experience with you. In addition, I would like to ask you for your help. Please visit this page on Facebook – The Graduate – and click on Like. The last paragraph of this blog post gives more details as to why.

A few days ago, I watched a video on YouTube in which a girl was claiming that universities/colleges are “a scam.” She also argued that since having a degree does not automatically secure a job for you, there is little point in spending all that time and money on obtaining one. I couldn't disagree more!

I worked very hard during the four years of my classics BA and graduated from one of the best universities in the world. I developed a range of highly transferable skills such as conducting a thorough research, time-management, analytical thinking and collaboration. All of these skills are valued by employers, regardless of the industry in which they operate. You might say that these are skills that are uniformly found among graduates and, thus, an inadequate criterion for differentiation. I say, it's great that we all have them because we all need them in order to find a job before we even start thinking about applying these skills in a professional context! Any recruitment manager will be able to tell if an applicant has properly researched the position and organisation to which he or she is applying. They will also be able to judge if this applicant is right for the role by the content of the CV and cover letter in front of them. The degree itself occupies a single line. The rest should be carefully targeted towards the particular position.

I don't pretend to be an expert. I have not yet managed to get my Dream Job. But I have learned from my mistakes. Last year I applied to WPP, The Engine Group, JWT, DDB, Ogilvy and several others. I wasn't invited to a single interview. Looking back, I realise that the reason was not that I am not the right candidate. It's simply that I failed to apply the skills I mention above. I approached the application processes completely unprepared. It is true, I attended several presentations, I knew the characteristics of a role as an Account Executive (the positions to which I was applying) and I had watched some of the campaigns produced by these agencies. But that was about it. I did not research the industry, ignored the nature of the job and focused on showcasing my creativity and unorthodox thinking. No wonder my applications did not come across professional and engaging.

This time around, I see each application form and each brief as a business project and it is beginning to pay off! An advertising agency that rejected me straight away last year, has put me through to their second stage this year. I believe this is due to my more in-depth research of their organisation and the use of that information in my application form. What's more, I thought about how I would fit in and made that very clear in my cover letter. Each organisation prides itself on something specific. Find it, consider whether it applies to you and, if it does, tell them how! This shows commitment and enthusiasm, not the fact that you were the captain of the football team at uni. A representative of a management consultancy firm who was visiting my university to talk about his job and throw some light over the application process, told me that they get so many applicants who say they have been presidents of football teams that they were wondering whether there were enough players left to make up the numbers! The point he was making is that in order to 'stand out', we don't have to fill our CV with 'keywords'. We simply need to demonstrate thoughtfulness in how we connect our skills to the job for which we're applying. In my case, I have used the fact that I have lived in three different countries and worked in Hospitality (haven't we all?), software start-up, museum and a direct marketing company as an illustration for my adaptability in an application to a company which emphasises the importance of diversity.

If I had to draw a conclusion and give you a single piece of advice that would be: have a Just Do It attitude. Application forms don't write themselves and recycled cover letters are painfully obvious. Take the time to do it well and it will pay off eventually. Let's face it, not all of us will get our Dream Job straight after uni. I might have to wait yet another year, or two, before I make it through all stages of an application to an advertising agency. I know that this is what I want and I am giving it my best shot. It might take a while but it will be totally worth it when it finally happens. Meanwhile, I might have to get another job – something that will bring me a bit closer to my goal. It might not be what I want to do but I've simply got to do it. Just like weekly essays in uni.

I'll write another blog post in a few weeks when I know how my applications have gone. So far, I know I've done my best and that I have put 100% effort into each letter, each form and each task. Even if I am not offered a position, the fact that I tried has given me enough. For example, I was invited to write this guest blog because I created a Facebook page called The Graduate as part of an application to an advertising agency. In order to complete this task successfully, I have to generate as many Like's as it is humanly possible. I figure, a few thousand. I decided to try to do something that would be of value to others, too. The page is supposed to function as a hub for people to share their experiences, tips and stories about finding their Dream Job. The 353 likes I've got so far tell me I might have to start this particular application process again next year. Unless, of course, you decide to help me out! Please, visit The Graduate, click on the Like button and help me get a bit closer to my Dream Job!

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