Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why societies can help you get a graduate job in business

Although Laura has already left us she left us with this great blog on similiarities between societies and business and how being an exec for one could land you a job in business,

In my quest to land a graduate job, I’ve been trying quite hard to develop my commercial awareness. A few weeks ago I started thinking about what I learnt about business at university, and it struck me that taking part in a society can teach you a lot.
Most students take part in societies to make friends or develop a skill, but if you’re on the exec, running a society can be a lot like running a business. 

Firstly, it’s important to remember that every society and every business has a basic aim. For societies, this is to get people together with similar interests. For businesses, this is to provide a service or sell a product. Everyone in the society works towards this aim in the hope that more people will join and you’ll have more fun, or that you’ll make more money. 
This means that on a very simple level, societies and businesses have the same jobs to be done. For example, most business and societies needs someone who:
  • is in charge (company director = society president)
  • manages the money (chief financial officer = society treasurer)
  • tells people about you (marketing manager = publicity officer)
  • looks after everyone (HR manager = social sec)
This also means that every business or society has a target audience and must be able to cater to the needs of this target audience in order to be successful. A target audience would be the business’ customers or the society’s members. Businesses and societies are built around these people and without them they won’t work. Before you start a new society you usually need at least 30 members in order to prove that there is a demand for it and that the money the students’ union invests in the society won’t go to waste. Likewise, without market research and proof that there is a demand for a product, entrepreneurs will be unlikely to find investors for their business because there is no proof the product will make any money.

When it is finally up and running, all businesses and societies rely on hard work and efficiency of each of their departments or exec members. So if one part of the business or society doesn’t pull its weight, it’s likely that the rest will suffer. For example, you could have a great idea for a product but if your CFO doesn’t manage your finances well, you could end up spending too much money on the raw materials and not have enough left to produce it. Similarly, you could plan a fantastic society event but if your publicity officer doesn’t let people know about it, no-one will go to it.
As you can see, societies are simplified versions of businesses, and if you’ve ever wondered why graduate recruiters are so keen on people who’ve run them, that’s probably one of the reasons why.

Friday, October 26, 2012

TARGETjobs news roundup

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the TARGETjobs news roundup. We are nearly halfway through the autumn term now, and Halloween is less than a week away. That means that right now is the best time to get applications in for graduate schemes and work experience placements. Don’t put it off! Many graduate recruiters say they get their best applications at this point in the year.

This week it’s property and the built environment that is dominating the graduate recruitment news. It’s a pretty competitive industry to get into, so any additional info you can gather could give you the edge on competition. This week we have an announcement about BNP Paribas, and a neat little tip on hidden recruitment markets:
But of course, not everyone wants to work in property, and we also have news and advice for the legal, civil engineering, IT, consumer goods and investment management sectors:
And of course, there’s the usual mixed bag of news:
To get graduate careers news as it happens, check out the news feed. Alternatively, check out the round-up this time next week!

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of
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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step

Winner of the Low Carbon Undergraduate of the Year award, Declan Bryans gives his advice on how to tackle a work placement.

Not even a year has passed since I entered the Undergraduate of the Year 2012 but reflecting back on it puts into perspective just how much someone can achieve in such a short period of time.  Back then my summer was set to be another uneventful period of time, biggest plan on the cards was to go out with friends and relax while waiting for the next year of university to begin.

It turns out my summer was very different than originally planned. 13th of April, my 21st birthday, was the day that my summer plans had changed. It was on that day I was announced as the winner of my award category, low carbon technologies.  All of a sudden I was talking about working for EDF Energy and told I would be going down to the Olympic games for a VIP day. Both were things I never even dreamt of achieving.

In this post I hope to give some sound advice for those who are going on placement for the first time and need to move away from home. The first challenges I came across was accommodation and finances. As soon as you have your start date, I would advise that you start looking for affordable accommodation. It is likely that the company you will be working for will know of some good places so it’s worthwhile asking. Once this is sourced, it is a good idea to get to know the person you are renting a room or flat from. This serves to fulfil two purposes: firstly it settles their mind as to what type of person you are, a lot of property owners out there have made massive investments and it is always a relief to know that the stranger living in their house won’t turn out to be a psychopath and destroy their hard work. Secondly, it also means they might be able to help you out a bit. This could range from them helping you with transport arrangements to and from work, or allowing a payment to come late: it removes a lot of stress from you.

Once that is all settled, the next big thing is the work placement itself. Chances are you’ll be there for 8 to 12 weeks; a lot of companies may see this like an extended interview and could lead to a future career with them. This doesn’t mean, however, that they expect you to know everything about their field; they know you are there to learn so you should adopt a questioning attitude. It will show that you are eager to learn and willing to improve. From this, it could leave a positive impression on your employer and, down the road, it may lead to a job offer.

My time with EDF has allowed me to develop exponentially, on my CV and personally. I have learnt so much from them and have managed to become more open minded to all the different sectors and aspects required in the energy sector. Unfortunately, I can’t talk on much of what I did during my placement.

The second part of my award prize was a VIP day at the London Olympics and it did not fail to impress. I watched the Olympics on the TV almost every day but that does not compare to the experience of actually being there. The sheer size and atmosphere was outstanding and I am glad that I can say I was a part of it all. The day started early with a tour of the London Eye before a very fancy lunch. However, the main event came in the afternoon when we attended the Basketball matches. Even although Great Britain weren’t doing particularly well in this front we managed to time it well enough to see them get their only victory against China and an excellent display of skill from Nigeria and France.  

To me this has been a massively successful summer that has potentially shaped my future career. This journey has only begun for me and I plan to build upon these successes and push my boundaries even further. I will finish my blog with one final piece of advice, none of this would have happened had I not took the 5 minutes to fill in the application form back in December. It is the smallest of actions that can make the biggest of changes and from the quote above, it starts with one small step to make a legendary journey. Take that step and remember that limits and boundaries are only there to be broken.

Win tickets to Skyfall

The new Bond film has got brilliant reviews!

Soon you could be winging your way to the cinema aisles to see the latest 007 flick – the one with the classy director, brilliant cinemaphotography, stellar cast and a natty scene whereby the world’s favourite secret agent uses a huge mechanical digger to tear a hole in a speeding train and then actually leap into one of its rail carriages (and avoid paying the fare, naturally). Oh, and the film stars creepy Javier Bardem as the chief villain – a lisping liquidator of NATO operatives worldwide.

But enough of this potted review. All you have to do for a chance to experience the film itself on us, is answer this one simple question:

Daniel Craig’s swimming trunks made their debut in his first outing as Ian Fleming’s spy in Casino Royale. They’re back in Skyfall – but what colour are they?

Answer on Twitter using #TJ007, please by 31 October or on our Facebook wall 

And if anyone fancies being hired by the real secret service, visit our editorial overview of MI6  or apply to be an intelligence officer with MI5. All degree subjects welcome! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Undergraduate of the year awards: the application process

Robin, 2012 Law Undergraduate of the Year, unveils his final two tips for making it to the top

Step Four: The Interview (Sometime during March – April 2013)
If you make it to the interview – congratulations! You’ve been short-listed to the final 12 candidates. At this point, it’s all about how you present yourself in person. Interview techniques will come into the fore, but beware also the ‘trial by sausage roll’ (the informal part of the day which takes place over drinks and a buffet). Don’t forget, the interview starts the moment you walk through the doors of the firm and ends the moment you leave the building. The firm doesn’t just want to know if you’d be a competent employee; they would quite like to get to know you as a person too.

My top tip: if you have a buffet lunch, be sure to position yourself near a table. Trying to introduce yourself to a partner with a drink in one hand and a plate of the mushroom vol-au-vents, salad and olive canap├ęs is not a good look. At least at a table you can put your drink down and have one free hand when the time comes.

Step Five: The Awards ceremony (19 April, 2013)
If you’re short-listed to the final ten candidates then you will be invited to a gala dinner held at Canary Wharf along with over a hundred other people involved in the other Undergraduate Awards. It’s a great day and if you win you’ll be presented with the award by a senior partner and this year the Rt. Hon Michael Portillo. At this stage there’s really nothing you can do since the decision has already been made as to whose won – just sit back and enjoy the food and drinks!

My top tip: remember that you’ve done exceptionally well to be shortlisted for the award. There’s much more to life than winning. Whatever happens – give yourself a pat on the back and make the most of what you’ve learnt from the experience.

Friday, October 19, 2012

TARGETjobs news roundup

Hello, good afternoon, and welcome to the TARGETjobs news roundup. We have all the news and advice that matters from the world of graduate recruitment. First things first though, we want something from you: if you’ve got some spare time on your hands you should take part in the trendence Graduate Barometer 2013 survey. The results will form part of the Guardian UK 300 – a vital resource for many graduate job seekers – and the more people take part, the more valid the results are.

But enough about that: On with the news! This week it was the financial sectors that made the biggest splash. Accountancy firm Grant Thornton has announced positive results, Financial Services Authority has revealed its new banking legislation, and a new programme has been launched to get people involved in financial services:
Once again it has been a busy week for marketing job hunters, and would-be consultants will find something to interest them too:
And of course there is still more for those of you who are not interested in those sectors:
  • The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) has announced that it is campaigning to persuade its members to stop discriminating against candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds. It has been argued that some selection criteria can discriminate against disadvantaged groups.
  • We have a tasty selection of jobs with deadlines closing all next week. There are jobs in retail, logistics, social networking, finance and engineering available, so if this is where your heart lies, get your application sorted now.
  • And finally, if you are putting online applications together, then make sure you watch the word count. This is a useful guide for those who follow different rules for different situations – tweeters and essayists included.
To get graduate careers news as it happens, check out the news feed. Alternatively, check out the round-up this time next week!

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of 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

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Undergraduate of the year awards: the application process

2012's Law Undergraduate of the year winner, Robin Morris talks us through the application process and sheds some tips. (part one) 

This second blog entry is aimed at outlining in more detail the application process for the Law Undergraduate of the Year Award 2013. Where possible, I’ll also give you some tips on how to approach each stage.

Step One: Full registration (From 1 October, 2012)
Full registration for the award is now open! At this point you should be researching the firm and be considering beginning research for the three application questions. Complete all the required fields with information about your name, date of birth etc.

Step Two: The Application Questions (Before 31 January, 2013)
This is the first real stage of the application process. You will be faced with three questions – chosen particularly by the judges at Mayer Brown – which will require three answers of around 500 words each. Be clear and concise in your writing and provide reasons and facts to back up any reasoning. The questions may relate to the impact of a particular piece of legislation on the legal market; the reason why you feel you should be named Law Undergraduate of the Year; or be open-ended about asking what challenges may be facing law firms today.

My two top tips: take the time to research your answers to all three questions well. If you can cite statistics from reports or well-known cases in a particular market this helps to demonstrate your knowledge and your readiness to engage with subject-matter of the questions. Even if you don’t know what you’re talking about at least make a decent effort to pretend that you do!

My second tip is to allow enough time to answer the questions. You shouldn’t be finishing the answers a couple of hours before the deadline. Write them, leave them, come back to them and review them. Do make sure that spelling and grammar are correct!

Step Three: The psychometric tests (Before 31 January, 2013)
The psychometric tests are aimed at providing the judges with an insight into your natural linguistic, numeric and situational reasoning skills. They take the form of three or four multiple choice tests which require the candidate to choose either one answer or to list a series of answers according to importance. You will also have a set time in which to complete the tests.

My top tip: don’t try to second guess the psychometric tests. They have been designed specifically to spot people who are being dishonest. Several books claim to be able to teach people how to answer psychometric tests. Whether this works or not, I don’t know, but I really don’t think it’s worth the bother. Be honest and take your time.

Next week Robin will be giving us two more vital tips. If you are interested about the awards and think you have what it takes take a look here. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Find your passion, be confident and take a chance

2012's winner of the First Year of the Year Award, Roberta Kovacs tells us what the real reason for applying for these awards is, and how it is not just something to write on a piece of paper. 

After receiving an e-mail from my department regarding some sort of "Economics undergraduate of the year" competition, I decided to take a brief skim through what the whole thing was about. Scrolling through the list of 12 awards that were open for application, the one that was most relevant to me was the "First Year of the Year Award". 

A short insight I would like to share. I think that the key to me being successful was that I did not make a big fuss out of the competition. One of the things I have noticed with fellow classmates and people in general, that I do not approve of, is this whole idea of "enhancing ones CV". Doing things that improve your skills and help you develop professionally and personally is imperative - but it has to be for yourself and not for how other people will perceive you. In other words, the drive should come from an inner passion to be better and not from being able to write on a piece of paper "I developed these skills". 

Of course, when you do things that enhance your skills it will automatically reflect on your resume - but the primary motive should never be how your CV looks. The most impressive and brilliant people I have met and work with are never concerned about their CV - but they always have an unbelievable amount of passion to improve and do something that they enjoy.

So that is probably the biggest advice - develop your skills for yourself. This will help you build not only your skills and personality, but it will also give you confidence in what you can or can not do. As I mentioned earlier, I was not too bothered about the competition - in that I was not overly stressed out. I took it very lightly, because I was confident in my skills and what I do. I knew that I will try my best to get through or win, but if there was someone who was better suited to win then it would happen whether I stressed about it or not. So relax, find your passion, work on yourself, be confident and take a chance. And most importantly - enjoy yourself. :)

If you decide to apply...Good luck with your application! :)

Roberta Kovacs 

Friday, October 12, 2012

TARGETjobs news roundup

There have been ups and downs across the graduate recruitment world this week. Overall the graduate jobs market is ‘better than feared’ as announcements from a number of big graduate recruiters indicating that the situation could improve over the course of the next year.

This week it’s the media sector that’s really making waves. This is my section, and it’s the first time it’s been at the top of this list, so I’m pretty chuffed. The reason for this is that there has been a big change of power at Pearson. This may also affect graduate careers at Penguin and the Financial Times. In a strange coincidence, our summer intern Alex was interested in the FT. See his blog about what to expect on newspaper work experience.
Not everyone wants to work in the media – I’m not sure why not, coz it’s brilliant! However, I suppose the world does need engineers and such, so for all of you there’s all of this:
If you’re not interested in those sectors, there’s still plenty more news for you to cast your eye over:
To get graduate careers news as it happens, check out the news feed. Alternatively, check out the round-up this time next week!

TARGETjobs offers the largest choice of 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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How I became the 'Law Undergraduate of the year 2012'

As promised Robin Morris, this year's winner of the Law Undergraduate of the year is back with his third and final tip for applying to the 2013 awards

What are they looking for (part two)

3) Don’t be afraid to be a little unorthodox

It comes as no surprise that the already competitive market for positions at law firms has worsened because of the economic crisis. According to the Law Society’s most recent Annual Statistical Report the number of training contracts offered by law firms fell by 18% in 2011. As the perturbing level of competition for training contracts intensifies, so too does the rush for the elusive vacation placement and dwindling work experience opportunities.

My advice? Be unorthodox in your approach towards your studies (within reason) and more importantly, towards gaining those extra-curricular experiences. Since an increasingly large amount of candidates continue to apply to law firms via the ‘official’ application route there is almost a need to adopt unconventional methods. My position as a reporter for the International Law Association (ILA) at their bi-annual conference in Sofia recently arose after contacting the chairperson of one of the ILA’s working committees. I emailed the chairperson expressing my interest in the work of the committee along with a copy of my CV. Two months later I was working in Belgium for the committee, and 8 months after that I was working for the ILA in Sofia - all because I sent one email expressing my interest and offering my time.

I’m not advocating anything particularly radical here. Hand-delivering or emailing a CV and covering letter to a partner at a law firm directly can sometimes open more doors than you would expect. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? They reject your offer or politely inform you that it would not be possible to undertake a period of work experience outside the official vacation scheme placement. Never mind – dust yourself off, raise your head high and approach the next law firm or legal organisation! Having confidence in yourself and the self-assurance in what you have to offer is all it takes. Displaying personal initiative can sometimes bring big rewards.

So there you have it: work hard, make the most of the opportunities given and adopt some unconventional methods. As mentioned at the outset, this may not be the winning combination the judges are looking for - I cannot guarantee that this is how you will win. But I hope that as you read this it will make you pause to consider your own situation if not for the sake of the award then for the sake of applying for a vacation scheme or training contract.

Ask yourself: could you be the Law Undergraduate of the Year 2013?