If You Don’t Ask You Don’t Get!

Screenshot 2018-11-24 at 12.29.29.pngAs a student of Politics and International Relations, I know that there are many career paths available once I have graduated. However, like most other students, I really don’t know which one to take!

Through the Employability Points scheme, I gained two weeks experience with a local youth cancer charity (YouCan Youth Cancer Support), which was a real eye-opening experience of the ins and outs of how a charity is run. The great thing about the EP scheme, is that some of the rewards are day-long workshops to give you a snapshot into the industry (See other WE blogs). As much as I enjoyed my time with YouCan, I think this Love Island favourite sums up how I felt! I was panicking that I didn’t have enough experience of different industries. I am also part of a Community Action Group on campus, and I didn’t want to channel all my energy into a career in the charity sector when there were so many different options out there (I’d put all my eggs in one basket)!Screenshot 2018-11-24 at 12.25.18.pngIn my panic about, just the rest of my life, I started to look for more work experience opportunities in different sectors. As I am quite interested in working within parliament, I decided to email every MP in Kent, to see if any of them had any availability in their highly competitive work experience slots. Fortunately enough, (and most likely due to the fab CV the CES helped me to write), I was offered a week at the constituency office of Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, Whitstable and the Villages.

This was such a fantastic experience as I was given a complete insight into the life of an MP, and how many people it takes to help them in their job. I was assigned the role of replying to the constituent emails Rosie was receiving, often on national legislation such as the Environment Bill, the Road Safety Act, and of course Brexit. This saw around 500 emails fly into the inbox on the morning of the ‘Final Brexit Deal’ debate! Screenshot 2018-11-24 at 14.13.14.pngIt was fascinating watching her team of caseworkers keep an eye on the debate and the cabinet resignations, as it is easy to forget that their jobs depend on the Fixed-Term Elections Act. The potential vote of no confidence in Theresa May and the threat of a general election would put their employment in jeopardy. Despite this, as a Labour constituency, they were revelling in the ongoing events, epitomised by putting the ‘Theresa May resignation champagne’ back in the fridge! Screenshot 2018-11-24 at 13.47.19.pngI was also able to attend some of Rosie’s trips around Canterbury, including a visit to the Hepatitis C van outside the Catching Lives homeless centre. Rosie spoke to the charity, who told her that there’s only one van for the whole of England detecting this life-threatening disease. Rosie seemed to care passionately about the issue, and her relationship with one of the Catching Lives volunteers showed just how involved she is with homelessness in Canterbury. She began strategizing fundraising and how she would bring it up in the House of Commons. Watching this reminded me how much I would love to have a career that can impact people’s lives in this way. On Friday I helped greet guests that were attending Rosie’s surgery and found out more about the people she helps.

From my work experience, I can now evidence that I have admin and email skills on my CV, as well as professional office capabilities, and a passion to give up my time to volunteer for a political organisation.

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Moral of the story: I wouldn’t have got this placement (one which has inspired me to pursue a career in parliament) if I hadn’t asked. It can be extremely hard to find work experience, especially as it is often so competitive. But, what have you got to lose by just asking? The worst that can happen is they say no. Best case scenario: they are impressed by your proactive approach, and you get the position. It may seem blase, but..

..if you don’t ask you don’t get.




Work Experience – What’s In It For Me? (Part 2)

Following on from the last post, we continue to look at the experiences of your fellow students on their work placements. It can give you a real insight into an industry and a proper feeling of what a job in that sector can involve. One of the main things to remember is that you don’t to know your exact career path as this is the purpose of work experience! If you hate it, it can be just as beneficial as if you love it. If you get the opportunity, try and give different sectors and type of placements a go – don’t let anything scare you away from work experience! For more help and to talk this through with a trained careers advisor you can make an appointment with the CES here.

Daniel Rozenberg – Mini-Pupillage with Sir Ian Foinette – Maidstone Crown Court

Through the Law School’s Career and Employability advisers, I had secured my first ever Mini-Pupillage. I made my way to the Maidstone Crown Courts from Canterbury, and entered past security into the resolute justice building. I met Mr. Foinette, a Criminal Barrister, in the Barrister Mess Hall. I was immediately immersed into the gritty, sometimes complicated, yet always captivating details of the Crown Courts’ criminal cases. While confidentiality is primordial to the fluid and un-biased functioning of the legal system, especially with sensitive cases, for the day I was privy to excitingly on-hands information: case files, body cam and CCTV footage, witness statements, pleas and police records, etc. Mr. Foinette was very kind and engaging; asking me my opinions and how I felt about certain matters; what any defences could be and what likely outcome there was to so and so case.

We discussed the differences between the theory we learn in Law School as opposed to the pragmatic and reality of court procedure and litigation, which often relies more on experience than knowledge of cases by heart. I learned about strategy for presenting a case to the jury, and picked up various tips, such as ‘Never ask a question in cross-examination that you do not know the answer to’! Finally, we proceeded to the courtrooms, where I saw a jury selection for the beginning of one trial, as well as a sentencing to finish another. Thanks to the University of Kent Work Experience Bursary I had the wonderful opportunity to experience a real day in the life of being a barrister! But what I appreciated the most was the camaraderie I observed between the barristers, no matter if they were defence or prosecution, and the caring, sincere and earnest attitude the judges adopted in presiding over the courts.”

Daniel Rozenberg – Kent Fire and Rescue Station

Throughout my first year at the University of Kent, I was excited to get a head start on my employability, and figure out as soon as possible what I wanted to do with my career after graduating. By attending events, interviews and employability fairs, I accumulated a good amount of Employability Points, and at the end of the year, I was rewarded with the Kent Fire and Rescue Station Road Safety Experience. After travelling to Rochester from Canterbury, where I met other fellow students doing the reward, I proceeded into the station’s very own lecture and movie theatre to watch one of thier videos. The day was followed by a student-led investigation of a reproduced car crash scene, educational games to test our reaction speeds, a comprehensive understanding of the risks of driving under the influence, and the dangers involved with road traffic. We were taught hands-on some basic road safety, and were sworn to never drive and text again.

The most enriching part of the experience was in the afternoon. Two fire investigators presented to us a famous case they dealt with 10 years ago, involving arson and murder. They taught us how they traced the steps of the criminal suspects backwards from the burnt fire scene, and figured out exactly how the fire had started. We learned about how to identify where a fire starts, and how it spreads, as well as how to identify whether the fire started naturally, accidentally or intentionally. Finally we were given fire safety tips, taken through the legal aspect of the case, and then were given the opportunity to ask questions. Thanks to the University of Kent Work Experience Bursary, I had the luck to revise my road and fire safety, as well as learn from a dedicated team some uniquely interesting insights on their job and the dangers it holds, as well its importance.”

Ellie Sullivan – Which? Magazine Legal Team

“I was lucky enough to secure a week of work experience with Which? Magazine’s legal team. I was really excited as it is another route for law graduates – rather than the typical route of gaining a training contract and becoming a solicitor. On my first day everyone was very welcoming and the office had a friendly atmosphere. I was assigned a ‘mentor’  (a consumer legal advisor), who encouraged me to ask questions and explained the relevant Consumer law. I listened in on calls between the advisors and the clients, watched the advisors draft letters on behalf of clients and attended the monthly lawyers meeting.

During my week at Which? Legal I sat with Employment, Wills and Probate, and Consumer legal advisors which vastly improved my knowledge in all of these legal areas. The Which? Legal team work tirelessly to help consumers with everyday – the legal advice given by the team is exceptional, and of great value to the everyday citizen. It was also arranged for me to go to the Mortgages and the Trusted Traders teams – I got to understand how different parts of the business were managed. I also got to attend a Practical Law training session with Thomson Reuters. The legal research skills I learnt in this session will be invaluable, both for the third year of my degree and for any future employment in the legal industry.

At Which? I was given a legal challenge at the start of the week, which I could work on all week. At the end of the week I was to present my findings. This was a useful task, as it allowed me to apply the knowledge I had gained from listening to calls between advisors and clients, and to apply it to my legal scenario. At the end of my work experience placement, my manager gave me a mock interview and CV review. This was insightful as I got to speak to a ‘real’ recruiter about what I could do to improve my CV. The mock interview also helped me practice my interview skills and to think on my feet by providing examples as to where I have shown particular skills.

As my work experience was in Bristol, the University Bursary has helped me fund the work experience. The bursary is a great way to encourage students to take part in work experience. “


To find out about the Kent CES Work and Opportunities bursary click here.

For more information on your rights in an unpaid internship click here.


Top Tips from LinkedIn Live

UKC recently hosted a ‘LinkedIn Live’ student special, with talks from Mark Gaisford (founder of RedSprout Media), Ralph Mayer (global senior customer success manager at LinkedIn),  Becky Simms (CEO of Reflect Digital), Jade Pluck (LinkedIn to Success) and Molly Wright (Molly Moodle Media). The event was extremely interesting, as they all put their own spin on the tips and tricks of LinkedIn, as well as what they would look for in graduates as employers themselves. Although there is a lot of information here, it was a really educational evening with SO much useful advice.


Photo courtesy of https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6498189701323857920

From the experts of LinkedIn themselves, their handy insights into the networking site included:

  1. LinkedIn isn’t old and stuffy anymore, it has some of the highest organically generated interactions of any of the social media’s!
  2. Get the connections going now – they all advised setting your profile up and making those important connections now, even if you haven’t graduated yet. You have nothing to lose by connecting with your peers, relationships you create through Kent Union or people you know at work/from internships – you never know which connection you might utilise in a few years time!
  3. Engage – From the man who works at LinkedIn himself, the top tip is to engage on LinkedIn as the algorithm likes it! You can post updates on your events or experiences, or simply comment and engage on the posts of others.
  4. Office 365 – if you have this software programme already, you can connect it to your LinkedIn to automatically update your CV and add your attributes into the right skill sets.
  5. Follow businesses and people that you are interested in or that inspire you – from this you will get their latest business updates, secrets to their success or an insight into their career. You also have nothing to lose by sweet talking someone in your dream job by adding a personalised message to the connection invite – they will probably be flattered, and you never know where the new connection will lead you!
  6. Use LinkedIn to research any companies/employers that you have an interview with – businesses will often post extra updates or information, and you may have found something that is not on their website, making you stand out from the rest of the candidates.
  7. The Times Test – never post anything that you wouldn’t be proud of if you woke up and found that it was on the front page of the Sunday Times!
  8. Put any societies or sports teams you are a part of on your LinkedIn profile – as a digital CV you can add any and all experience. Employers will want to create a better understanding of your overall character, and you should be proud of extracurricular activities you take part in. Never think something is too small to include!

Becky Simms and Molly Moodle are the queens of digital marketing and media, with some advice about your personal brand on LinkedIn:

  1. Connect to people you know now, as you don’t know where they’ll be the future and you might still want to connect with them
  2. What you say and do now is going to let people know what you want to do in the future
  3. Have a good picture of yourself on LinkedIn – you should be wearing the right attire for the job you want, and should preferably be a head and shoulders shot without other people around you (e.g. it shouldn’t be a picture of you on your night out, even if you do look great!)
  4. Write/talk about what YOU have done; even if it was a group project, they want to see what your contribution was, not the rest of your team
  5. Add a header to your page, as this is a great way to brand who you are (e.g. something from your year abroad, or something you’ve created in a project). You can always brand yourself and create something with free, easy apps such as Canva.
  6. Take a look at your competitors – see what other students have added to their account or header, and see if there are any ideas you can embrace.
  7. Write a great introduction under your photo – think about the keywords that will make you stand out e.g. what you’re looking for and in what industry. Including words such as intern and graduate will help your profile appear in more searches.
  8. Link URLs, videos or blogs relating to any projects you’ve done or online portfolios.
  9. Upload videos explaining who you are and what you would love to be doing. Videos create some of the highest engagements on LinkedIn, and employers like the confident and proactive approach.
  10. Make sure you are linked to your university page, as employers often look through alumni.
  11. Ask someone to leave a recommendation on your profile (e.g. a tutor, employer, or coordinator), meaning employers can hear someone singing your praises rather than waiting to ask for a reference
  12. Add calls to action to posts on LinkedIn as they’ll get more comments, e.g. ‘who’s excited for…?’ ‘Does anyone have any tips for…?’ Generating more comments will mean that more people see the post.
  13. Tag influential people – you never know if they will see and engage in with your post.
  14. Build a story with your post e.g. ‘Look out for…’
  15. Show that you’re human by expressing your personality through gifs and emojis


Tips for graduates:

  1. Pick up the phone, send emails and put yourself out there to ask for work. experience. According to the employers at the event, they love when graduates pick up the phone, as not only does no one do it anymore, but it helps to get to know you and create a personal connection. 
  2. If you can stand out by putting a video with your cv, do it! Letting them see your personality; it also looks quite good if they haven’t asked for it.
  3. Put some of your personality into your CV, as employers are often looking for a culture fit for their company.
  4. Never go over 2 pages on your CV.
  5. Prepare in advance questions you have for an interview, this is your opportunity to give them something more e.g. ask about thier brand values.
  6. Ask for feedback from an interview, e.g. you can always email or LinkedIn message to follow this up.

Since the event I have taken on their tips on my own page:

Work Experience: What’s​ in it for me? – Part 3

“Last November I was fortunate to have an insight into the Bloomberg LP office in London. A friend I made during my study abroad year in Hong Kong worked at the Bloomberg office in Hong Kong, and since she had a business trip at the Bloomberg Office in London, she took me around the breath-taking office. Here I learnt what the company does and how the Bloomberg terminals run.

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During my visit, I was exposed to the Bloomberg terminal which I learnt is a computer software system enabling professionals in the financial service sector to monitor and analyse real time market data and place trades on the electronic platform. This amazed me as this terminal has such power to search trends and patterns of any company on their system which is over thousands.

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I learnt through shadowing my friend that as a sales analyst, providing news, price quotes and messaging latest financial news to their client was their top priority. From this experience, I was amazed by the innovative nature of Bloomberg and now currently looking into their graduate schemes into sales analytics in Asia-Pacific due to my additional languages in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese.

– Michael Yu


Last summer, myself and fellow students were lucky enough to attend a unique experience day with the Civil Service Fast Stream in Central London.We firstly gained the chance to attend a panel-based workshop at the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government (MHCLG). Here, we asked current Fast Streamers about their experiences and also gained the chance to meet Emily Antcliffe, a senior civil servant who is the current Head of the Public Enquiry Response Team.

Following this informative session, we then gained the chance to attend a workshop with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). We learnt about the Clean Air Strategy and were tasked with providing a briefing for a minister in relation to this – a typical requirement for graduates undertaking the Fast Stream programme.

In the afternoon, we attended a guided tour of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which included a talk on working in diplomacy.

Lastly, we gained a tour of the Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMJ) and one last workshop, focused on the Fast Stream programme for statisticians

“This experience was extremely beneficial for myself giving me an insight into what it may look like to work for the civil service. The chance to speak to civil servants themselves who have been through various positions within Whitehall provided me with a first-hand understanding of what its like to work for the government in this exiting career. Definitely now something I would seriously consider applying for myself!”

– Nathan Lee

Just for Kids Law is a not for profit Organisation that deals holistically with cases to do primarily with children. I worked in their legal department of solicitors where they specialise in Community Care Law and Education Law. I predominantly worked with Community Care Law during my week long experience. While I learnt new skills, I was also able to articulate some skills I did not know I had. It was a great experience overall and while it has given me a stronger reason to want to become a Barrister rather than a Solicitor I have gained knowledge which I will carry out throughout academia and practical life.

Day 1: I learnt how to update cases by editing attendance forms as well as codifying e-mails, letters and text messages to a billable form.

Day 2: I practiced further on attendance forms and attended a client meeting. This improved my note-taking skills as well as broadened my understanding of emotional exchange between a client and Interviewer in sensitive cases.

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Day 3: I performed well on evaluation from my supervisor on the attendance forms I made. I was also given the opportunity to open new cases. Moreover I compared and contrasted official draft documents on the ‘Pathway Plan’. Developing my skills on intention to detail. Again my supervisor was happy with my work and used it to edit her response to the official draft to make a better pathway plan for her client.

Day 4: I joined an Advocate at Just for Kids Law to go to the Central Criminal Law to attend a hearing.

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Day 5/final day: I had a mini-leaving party and drew up advice letters to two clients

– Ufnaan Shahjahan

To find out about the Kent CES Work and Opportunities bursary click here.

For more information on your rights in an unpaid internship click here.


5 Things You Didn’t Know About the UKC Careers Service

In case you didn’t know already, the University of Kent has a pretty awesome careers service. As easy as it is to put off thinking about the future, it’s rather helpful that there is a whole department on campus ready to navigate you through it.

when-someone-asks-me-about-my-plans-for-future-itsasurprise-32173716As a student that has been on the other side of their words of wisdom, here are 5* fab things I think you should know:

1. The K-BEW

Putting off work experience because you can’t afford the train tickets? Maybe you need actual work appropriate clothes instead of the pyjamas you’ve been going to lectures in? The careers service offers up to £250 in bursary money to help cover the costs that may prevent you from getting super useful experience that looks great on your CV! You may be legible to claim costs for up to the first 3 weeks of your placement, so find out more here. You can also hear about the expereinces of other students who benefited from the bursary on our blog!

2. Target Connect

Socially awkward and avoiding human interaction at all costs? You can book appointments with the careers advisors online here! You can pick a time slot that suits you with one of the highly trained and knowledgable careers advisors. Whether you’re looking for help with an application, advice about placements, or just to sit and chat about your options, that’s what they’re there for. You can also indicate on your booking form what you would like to talk about, so you and your careers advisor will be starting on the same foot. If you ever have any reservations about an appointment, you can contact one of the student emp reps for any reassurance (find our details here!).

3. They can help you make your CV awesome 

CV writing always comes across as some sort of big deal, and tbh that’s because it is! However, booking a CV check through target connect (see above) couldn’t be simpler. They also have CV superpowers, and will be able to help you find anything and everything that makes you stand out! They can also help you structure and present your skills in a professional way, which is essential to getting the job or placement you are looking for.


4. Emails about talks & workshops 

Always feel like you’re the last one to find out about the really helpful careers talk all your mates went to? You will receive weekly updates once you have logged into Target Connect, and find out about upcoming talks and workshops that could benefit your employability. Events can often include ‘Using LinkedIn’, mock assessment centres, presentation skills, interview skills, and much much more!

5. The staff are really nice & will probably offer you a cup of tea

Yup, the staff at the UKC careers service are really fantastic, and genuinely there to help you. The main point of this blog is that the careers service is one of the best departments on campus, and its there for you to use! We all find it hard to face things that we dont want to do, but it is reassuring to know that the people on the other side are there to help you. (Tea and biscuits not guaranteed but quite likely)



*Ok I lied:

6. Target Connect Has Loads of Great Stuff on It 

Take the time to explore the target connect website, as there are placements, vacancies, events and so much more!


My Psychology​ Placement!

“As part of my Applied Psychology (with Clinical Psychology) degree, I undertook a year’s placement. I decided to do it at St Martins Hospital, working in the Community Mental Health Team for Older People. I had not spent much time around older people before (but I knew I didn’t want a placement with children!) however I was looking forward to the challenges and experiences ahead.

The majority of activities I was involved in were with people with dementia. I helped run a group called Living Together with Dementia, for those with a recent diagnosis. What I enjoyed most about this was just getting to meet a lot of lovely individuals and trying to provide them with support as they go through a difficult time. I found it very interesting to learn about the different types of support people can have after diagnosis, although it is sad to realise it is a postcode lottery as to whether or not you get these services; Kent is good but other areas of the country are not.

I was also fascinated to meet people I would describe as ‘dementia activists’- those who have been given a diagnosis but refuse to let it win, living their life to inspire others, and work relentlessly to remove the stigma there is about dementia. One of my favourite experiences was going to London with one of these individuals, as they were giving a talk at a conference with the Alzheimer’s Society. They spoke on how important it is for people with dementia to have access to strong social support and it made me feel incredibly happy to know I was one such person able to give this!

Since being on my placement, my ideas surrounding dementia have changed a lot; you realise that the stereotypical image shown in the media of someone who is confused and helpless is not real; people with dementia are just normal people! Even when I visited a ward to do drama therapy with people with later stages of dementia, you could sense a palpable change in the atmosphere from sad and bored to happy and energetic, just by playing some music and singing!

The K-Bew bursary will allowed me to have these experiences as it paid for my travel to and from the hospital. I am very grateful to the University for providing this. Such an opportunity means I can learn more about dementia, as well as gain invaluable skills that will help me find a job after my degree.”

– Lucy Jobbins 

To find out about the Kent CES Work and Opportunities bursary click here.


Laboratory experience at Adey Innovation Ltd.

My experience at ADEY Innovation Ltd. was a great one. It was not only an opportunity for me to have a go at what working as a laboratory scientist was but also introduce me to similar working environment for me during my sandwich year. I had the opportunity to shadow at the lab for a week which is suited with other companies at the Kent Science Park located in Sittingbourne. As a science student, this award was a great door for me to experience how working in the outside world was and more specifically in a laboratory. Commitment and Hard work were key skills needed for this award and with the help of the B-Kew Bursary, I was able to commute from London to Sittingbourne for the 5 days I was assigned to shadow at the ADEY lab. With the supervision of the great Lab manager, I enjoyed my time at the lab working from 9am-5pm each day with tasks assigned to me and observation I made in the lab.

I would not say the idea of me working in the ADEY lab at first was not terrifying due to the sudden change of scenery from the University lab to a company lab. In spite of all these questioning about how I would cope, I was surprisingly welcomed with open arms on my first day at the lab which strengthened my hope and eliminated any fears of not being able to fit in into the work space.

Working with other scientists to achieve a common goal in the lab was a real bonus to my experience there. It encouraged me to put myself out more and share my ideas with others. My colleagues were very supportive during my time at the lab and directed me whenever I need guidance with tasks. I chose this award because I was intrigued by the level of experiments which are conducted in the company’s lab to test water whether it is suitable for use in the heating systems. Gladly I was not disappointed by what I witnessed and partook within the short space of time I was at the lab to shadow. I was introduced to safety procedures that needs to be followed during each experiment and taking extra caution with the chemicals used in quantity (precision of measurement) and equipment used. My interaction with other scientists in the laboratory improved my social and interpersonal skills, working within teams to attain a common goal also helped develop my communicational, observational and listening skills. During the water tests, the accuracy and precision of the chemicals and equipment used were majorly important because it affects the outcome of the test hence avoiding any contaminations and unnecessary wasting of the lab materials which I took on board to adhere to in future experiments.

I was fortunate to experience using different apparatus such as ICP machine (for testing amount of metals in the water samples which can be domestic or commercial, Free Chlorine Test kit and Total Chlorine Test kit to test the chloride amount in the water samples, using the computer for data input for analysis and evaluation of the samples and other apparatus such as the dispensette and pipettes. I was able to see some organisms in the pathology and microbiology labs and also experienced how to use a Gallery Plus Colorimetric Analyser in the chemistry lab.

In a nutshell, my overall experience with the ADEY Innovation Ltd was exceptional and beyond my expectation of how the real world of working as a lab scientist looks like. All I can say to other students is to strive hard and use their employability award wisely and choose an award that would benefit them like mine did and utilise the bursary to support themselves. This glimpse of working as a lab shadow at ADEY was surely a plus to my career path and a big Thank you to the University for providing its students with such opportunities across all sectors.

– Kelvin Baffour Ankrah, 2nd year Bioscience Student