Work experience at a local newspaper office

My work experience with the Kent Messenger group gave me a fantastic insight into the workings of a local newspaper office. My office in Canterbury produced five newspapers, which meant there was a reasonably broad scope of stories. I was surprised to find I was thrown in at the deep end – while I largely had to ask for stories to be given for me, I was allowed – and expected – to get on with them with minimal supervision, unless I specifically asked for help.

My biggest fear was with making phone calls to members of the public, such as victims of theft. Even though I wasn’t asking about particularly sensitive issues, it still felt odd to call up a stranger and take up several minutes of their time, sometimes having to convince them to let me use their full name and age as well.

At the start of the week, I was worried to the point where I would write out my end of the conversation before making the call. By the end of the week, I was much more comfortable, especially when talking to press officers, and would only write down the questions I wanted to ask.

I also learned the value of making sure I knew the full details of a story before calling someone up about it; on one occasion I called a press officer, oblivious to the fact he was also a reporter for the paper, and another time I called a property developer about a planning application that had been approved, only to quickly realise that the application had only been validated, not approved and that all but one of my questions were therefore irrelevant.

By a lucky coincidence, I was, on one occasion, able to use my specialist airshow knowledge, as this is my area of interest. My ability to provide some detailed and useful information for an article on the Herne Bay Airshow was seemingly appreciated by the writer, and, given that it was only my second day at the time, hopefully, showed the rest of the office that I was a competent and valuable addition to their team.

Towards the end of the week, I also received some useful tips on my writing, including not giving too much away in the introduction to encourage readers to read the whole article.

All in all, it was an enjoyable and interesting week in a friendly office, which has taught me a lot about how local newspapers function.

– Adam Landau is a 1st year Journalism student

Have you found some unpaid work experience? You could be entitled to the BKEW bursary – apply today!

 

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Work experience at Marsh & McLennan – the global professional services firm

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My experience at Marsh & McLennan was nothing short of amazing. It was a wonderful learning experience and I got the opportunity to meet new people who I got to learn from and form connections within my short week-long stay there. Given that it was a whole week of working 9 to 5 and that it was based in costly London, the B-Kew Bursary really helped me in being able to attend the work experience as, without it, I wouldn’t have been able to commit to living in London for a week. Given that I have no family in London, I had to organise my own accommodation for the week which proved to be very expensive and the B KEW Bursary is really the only reason I got this amazing experience.

Over the time spent there during my week, I got to work on an Excel Spreadsheet project that my supervisor gave me and that lasted all week. It was meant to give me an insight into the basics of what the risk finance team does every day as well as how to use various useful excel functions that employers are often looking for. I also got to sit down with various members of the team who each explained their work to me. As someone going into Actuarial Science, it gave me an insight into the various fields I could go into as an actuary. I was taught about Risk Finance Optimization, Risk Tolerance, Investments, Reserving, Solvency II, Natural Catastrophe as well as Sales and Pricing. The knowledge gained gave me useful things I will be able to talk about in interviews in the future and in job applications. This is especially important for me since I will be applying for a placement year next year and thus this has really given me a competitive advantage.

I also feel the experience of having to commit to waking up in the morning and working all day from 9-5 was a really important lesson and test as to whether I’m willing to commit to this career path, which I am. Furthermore, I got to strengthen my people skills as I had to hold conversations with different members of the team and be able to maintain those conversations. The highlight for me was getting to speak to the managing director, John Davies, who shared a lot with me with regards to his career, the department as a whole as well as giving me advice, and the challenge was really to use my social skills to make sure I would be memorable and not easy to forget.

All in all, I would definitely recommend for people to make use of this bursary as I am one step closer to my dream job because of it. Attending that placement was a dream that seemed to feather away moment by moment until I came across this bursary. I also would like to applaud and thank the University of Kent for being so considerate and creative with coming up with something like this as money is always a barrier when it comes to the job search and career growth.

– Refilwe Modise 

Have you found some unpaid work experience?
You could be entitled to the BKEW bursary – apply today!

 

Finding a graduate startup job – Risehigh.co

While graduate schemes remain the mecca for some students after university, many exciting jobs can be found in startups and growing businesses. The benefits of such roles are numerous: gain more experience (and do so quicker), work more closely with senior staff, actually see the impact your work has on an organisation.

But where can such opportunities be found and how do you go about landing a startup job? RiseHigh talks you through the process.


FINDING THE JOB

Arguably the most effective way to find a startup job is to identify interesting companies and applying directly to them. Startups appreciate this as minimises their costs and demonstrate your interest in the company. Industry awards, startup press (think Mashable, Startups.co.uk, Techcrunch), and investment sites (from Venture Capital firms to crowdfunding sites) are all great sources of interesting companies.

If you take this approach make sure you write a unique cover letter explaining how you found the company and why it interests you: don’t just copy and paste a generic list of your skills and achievements. Startups want you to show why them not just why you.

Startups do also advertise on standard job sites such as Reed and Guardian Jobs, so it can pay to keep an eye on these two and search specifically for roles which mention ‘startup’.

We would say this, but another great way to find startup jobs in London is RiseHigh. When you apply to our platform we learn a bit more about you then use intelligent matching to hook you up directly with roles and companies we think are a great fit. Very simple, very effective.


APPLICATION PROCESS

As already referenced, one key feature of your application to a startup will be a cover note. This is your chance to explain exactly why you are interested in the company and highlight the key aspects of your skills which match with the role. This must be personalised for each company; a generic cover note sticks out like a sore thumb and will invariably end up with a rejection. If you’re not sufficiently interested to write a unique cover note, it’s probably best to save your time and not apply in the first place.

When writing your CV, ideally make it just one page (or at the very most two). Work on the assumption whoever reads it is short of time and won’t spend more than a minute (and possibly less than half of that) skim reading it. If you had thirty seconds to get across the most important aspects of your skills and experience, what would you say? That’s what should go on your CV. Don’t include every single thing you have ever done – at best it will dilute your strongest facets and at worst it will mean the person reading will gloss over everything. The vast majority of students and graduates put way too much on their CV – be bold, stand out from the crowd, and go for a slick one-pager.

Finally, if you get to interview stage, do your research. This is true of every company you apply to but is particularly pertinent for startups. You should know what the company does inside-out and be fully armed with a number of questions about it. The more you know, the keener you are, the better your chances of getting the job.


Getting a job in a startup is a great way to start your career after university. You get more experience than you would in a traditional graduate scheme, you will likely learn faster, and you may not need quite as much experience to land a coveted role.

Remember to personalise each application, hone in on the key relevant skills you possess, and explain exactly why you want to work for the company in question. Do all this and you’ll be halfway there. Good luck!

RiseHigh is a platform for non-tech roles in startups, with a particular focus on marketing, sales, and operations.

Apply to be part of the community here: https://risehigh.co/

Title: Rejection = failure? Definitely not. Rejection = opportunity to learn? Definitely yes.

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Handling Rejection

Not getting the job for a role you were really hoping for, can be disappointing and discouraging. It is easy to take it personally and to blame yourself for it. But reading too much into a rejection can be counter-productive, particularly in the long-term. If you’ve prepared fully and tried your best, there’s little else you could have done. The reasons why you were not chosen may not have been based solely on your performance. For example, there may have been a very strong internal candidate who was already familiar with the business, or another candidate with slightly more relevant experience. In these instances, the factors which led to their decision are outside of your control.

When facing rejection, it is common to dwell on the negatives, focusing on what you thought went wrong. And it is easy to overlook the positives. But these shouldn’t be ignored. Once you’ve had time to digest the outcome, make a list of the things that went well. For example, if you were invited for an interview, you were already grabbing the attention of employers in a competitive job market. Or maybe you established a good rapport with the interviewers. Although it is good to acknowledge your mistakes, don’t ignore the positives.

Instead of perceiving rejection as a negative, try to turn this on its head, and view each application and interview as a learning experience. Reflect on your experience, and use this to develop your interview/application technique. Try to gain feedback after an interview, although it is sometimes hard to take criticism, this will be constructive, so be open-minded and make the relevant improvements in order to self-develop. If you felt under-prepared for your last interview, ensure you give yourself sufficient time to research the company and the role, practicing any competency based questions that may be asked, and even doing a few mock-interviews prior to the day. Being proactive to improve upon your technique will put you in good stead for future interviews and build your confidence.

It is important to not be too disheartened, and continue to learn and develop, particularly if you are not in current employment. Continue to keep your skills sharpened and gain work experience, whether that is through a training course, volunteering or extra-curricular activities. This will also provide you with a focus outside of your job hunt, and add further experience to your CV!

Once you have reflected and if necessary, improved upon your last interview or application, start each new job opportunity with a fresh perspective and positive attitude. Remember, every company and hiring manager is different, and they will have a different idea of the ‘ideal candidate.’ So perceive rejection as a learning curve, and the step towards success.

If you need any support for your next interview or application, the Careers and Employability Service are here to help! We offer bookable appointments, during which we will be able to help you with your CV, Cover Letter. We are also more than happy to look over your application, and if you do secure an interview, we can prepare a mock-interview to help you practice.

Contact us at careerhelp@kent.ac.uk for more information.

For more resources, visit https://www.kent.ac.uk/ces/.

 

The value of networking with industry professionals (Finance; Trading; Cryptocurrencies)

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With more high achieving and qualified graduates entering the job market after finishing their University degrees, the Finance sector is becoming an industry with a stiff competition. Students with more experience and employability skills will always be ahead of those that don’t. My goal was to gather as much relevant work experience as possible in order to increase my chances of landing a successful job at the end of my studies; so when the chance to attend the London Forex Show showed up, I knew that it was my chance to learn and network. It was an opportunity to increase my existing knowledge and skills in trading, but more importantly, a chance to network with existing firms in the industry.

The event revolved around a large auditorium with around fifteen different firms showcasing their products and services. This gave me a brilliant opportunity to chat and get to know many employees from these firms, and express my interest in gaining experience with them. From the day I came away with three different contacts from companies who were interested in talking further about internships and experience at their firm, including the London based firm Bitstocks, who specialises in Cryptocurrency trading. Those companies receive hundreds of applications, and thus it would have been extremely difficult to get the contact details of people in charge, have I not attended the event.

The day was also broken up with around twenty different talks on Forex and Crypto trading. Being able to have a competent understanding the area that you are interested in is incredibly helpful, particularly during interviews. I gained an extremely useful knowledge from industry experts such as Alpesh Patel, a very successful hedge fund manager, as well as other highly regarded traders.

One of the most positive aspects of this experience was the motivation this event has sparked in me, which made me even more determined towards my studies and meeting my long-term goals. The BKEW, apart from networking with professionals from the industry, made me realise that in order to be hired by one of the companies at the event, I need to put my head down and achieve the best possible grades during my studies.

Overall, the BKEW gave me a brilliant opportunity to increase my awareness about the industry, to network and most importantly to get a better insight into the industry as well as people who will be very likely be interviewing me one day!

– Joshua Green is a 1st year Economics with Econometrics student 

Have you found some unpaid work experience? You could be entitled to the BKEW bursary – apply today!

Inns of Court and the world of Barristers.


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As an international student who had little knowledge regarding the culture or purpose of the various Inns of Court, the opportunity to attend the mixed dinner at Gray’s Inn was an invaluable experience. It was an excellent opportunity to network with barristers who are both experienced in the profession or currently undertaking the BPTC. By speaking to various members of Gray’s Inn, I was granted a new perspective of what my future career at the bar will entail and how to best approach the daunting task of obtaining a pupillage.

I also had the opportunity to hear a guest lecture from the esteemed Neil Block QC who discussed his area of practice, clinical negligence. It was quite fortuitous not only in that I had the ability to learn more about the area of law I wish to practice, but also that I got a chance to speak with Neil Block after his talk regarding a moot on medical negligence which was taking place the following day.

Furthermore, it was quite entertaining to learn about some of the unique customs that occur at Gray’s Inn – such as, following Neil’s lecture, the junior member of the inn seated directly across the room from the speaker, must stand on the table and give a speech which he wrote in response to what the speaker has said. I would highly recommend any student who is considering undertaking a career at the bar or is in the process of joining an Inn, to attend a mixed dinner to get acquainted with your future fellows and the unique culture of the place.

– Keegan Adsett-Bowrin is a 3rd year Law student

Have you found some unpaid work experience? You could be entitled to the BKEW bursary – apply today!

 

London Stock Exchange and meeting the big sharks.

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From my recollection, I cannot categorically say that I have had a better day in my life. The day began with a trip to the London Stock Exchange. Unfortunately, it was the policy in there to abstain from taking pictures, due to the sensitive nature of the activities and information that is open and on a constant display. Yet, that did not make the experience less satisfying or nourishing. We were led into the boardroom, we were given a tour of the building, at least for the places we were permitted to enter, and we engaged in a productive discussion on how the LSE operates, the challenges it faces as a Stock Exchange, and the diversity of its workforce. I was fascinated by the opportunity to have had the discussion in the boardroom; something I never thought I could have dreamt of.

The day got even better with the lunch we had. A surprise guest came in to meet and converse with us at the restaurant. He was a big-time management consultant, running his own consultancy and handling business in developing countries. His narration of how he got into the business, different employers he’s worked for, and the route to career progression without committing career suicide was particularly insightful. As an individual who is hoping to run his own business, and also wishes to gain employment in the meantime, I had a particular appreciation for his advice.

Subsequently, it was from this point onwards that I began my ascent into the crescendo of the day. A mock interview had been set up for myself, which I had to prepare for, as a Management Consultant for the Professional Services firm, Accenture. It was 10 minutes away from the restaurant and I found my way to the location – with the help of Jayne Instone – to regain composure and to wait on my interviewers. As I rightly predicted, it was another great experience. I was grilled for 35 minutes, I also asked questions for 15 minutes and it became more of a conversation than an interview in the end. I was also interviewed by a member of HR; of which I never knew was a thing. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the pressure. I felt that I demonstrated listening and communication skills during the fast-paced interview as well.

And finally, it was time to meet with the man himself: Sheyi Nicholas Lisk-Carew. He invited us as his guests into his private club, The Ned! It was definitely a daunting and intimidating period for me. I had never been surrounded by the character of people that I saw that day. It got even better when he narrated his life and career progression to us asked us ours and gave specific feedback to us as well. I mean, he really cared to make sure we do not sit back and let our ambitions die. As he memorably said: just do it! I made sure to keep contact with him and I especially appreciate Nithin Bopanna for this opportunity.

I would have never gotten the backing of Kent Law School, the B-Kew Bursary Scheme (that took care of our transport and feeding expenses) and some of the reputable individuals I met on that day; if I had not met Nithin.

So, there it is folks. Networking is a gem and I saw its worth on the 23rd of March.

– Chukwuka Harrison Okoye is a 3rd year Law student

Have you found some unpaid work experience? You could be entitled to the BKEW bursary – apply today!