Kent Alumni: Startup Stories @unikentalumni

About you: Monifa Walters-Thompson graduated from Kent in 2013 with a  first class degree in Law. She spoke to BrighterBox, a graduate recruitment platform working with high growth startups, about her time at Kent and how it was the perfect springboard for kick-starting her career.

What were your first impressions of Kent?

I was apprehensive before arriving at Kent in 2010, but from my first day, and the Keynes College Pub crawl, I was hooked. That’s when I met my first friends at university, some of whom even studied law, like I did and those relationships continue today.

Law must have been an intensive course. What did you enjoy most about it?

I really enjoyed course work and had the freedom in third year to do two dissertations. The tutors were supportive and of course, the opportunity of working in the Kent Law Clinic was invaluable.

How much of a factor was your time at Kent in your career?

A huge factor. I am a barrister now, so without my education at Kent I’d be nowhere. I got a 1:1 in my degree, giving me that springboard as a BME student trying to get to the bar.  I don’t know if I would have achieved as much anywhere else.

You have also had experience working at an innovative background-checking startup called Onfido – what was that like? What was the best thing you did there?

Onfido was a big start up (3 countries, 100-120 employees). Everyone was kind and friendly and I had a lot of opportunities to take on different work. The best thing I did on a personal development level was travelling to the US and working with the team out there; helping to set up compliance in that office; and assisting Onfido in inter-country office communications. I had the chance to do and see so many new things during that time because I was given that opportunity. For Onfido, I think the best thing I did was honing in on communication between the customer success team to ensure everyone knew how to access information they needed to perform the role effectively. I worked with other team members to create a knowledge base of foreign documents which I hope is still in use today (!)

Sounds like a varied role! Can you tell us a bit about what you’re doing right now?

I’m now a self employed barrister working in family law. It’s pretty busy, lots of reading and taking on board new information. Each day is definitely a challenge!

As someone with a range of experience, what advice would you give to a graduate looking to get into the startup world?

Just make applications and be ready to start from the bottom and work your way up. Use what you know and what you’re interested in to take you that step further and make yourself stand out. Creating a niche for yourself is really how to progress in a startup so always look for opportunities.

BrighterBox helps ambitious graduates kick-start their careers at exciting start-ups like Onfido.


Graduate and Internship Opportunities!

On Friday the 29th September 2017 between – 11 am and 3pm there will be Civil Service Fast Streamers (and Kent Alumni) on UKC campus Plaza – giving out information and answering question on graduate scheme and internships details of which are below.  This would be great opportunity for Final Year Students, Penultimate year Students to get information about careers in civil service.

Fast Stream 

The Fast Stream is an accelerated career path to leadership with supported development. We are a graduate employer that is consistently ranked in the top five of The Times Top 100.  Join us if you’re interested in:

  • Responsibility and permanent employment contracts from the start.
  • Intellectually challenging work.
  • Excellent training and long-term prospects.
  • An opportunity to make a difference.
  • Good work-life balance.
  • Playing a crucial part in major national events.

There are 15 separate Fast Streams – covering every aspect of the Civil Service including Digital, Commercial, Finance, HR, Generalist and Diplomatic. No matter your degree or interest there is a Stream that will interest you! Applications are open now!

Summer Diversity Internship Programme 

The Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP), is a paid two month internship in the Civil Service, aimed to give people from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to see what a career in the Civil Service is like. It puts talented undergraduates and graduates on a work placement in a government department.  Are you eligible?

If you receive a positive appraisal during the 2018 SDIP internship, and then apply for Fast Stream 2019, you’ll be fast-tracked past the initial online selection stages.  This gives you an excellent chance of Fast Stream success.

Back to life. Back to reality.

It’s nearly the start of a brand new term. The ‘what am I going to do with all this time’ summer is over. What did you do with yours: earnt money, did some work experience, eat.sleep.rave.repeat?

Whatever you did we are thrilled to have you back at Kent. While you’ve been away we in the Careers and Employability Service have been preparing all sorts of exciting things for you. Our hope is that they will take the stress out of finding jobs and work experience, applying for grad roles or continuing your studies. We offer everything from quick CV checks and job finding workshops, to mock interviews and assessment centres. Pop along to any one of our free sessions during the term to collect employability points.

And for those of you arriving for the first time this September – WELCOME! It’s good to have you with us. Really embrace all the great stuff university has to offer. Be enriched with subject knowledge and practical skills through your course; develop courage and resilience as you navigate university life, some of you away from home for the first time; realise your strengths and weaknesses; get better at planning your time (or faster at typing!). All these skills add up to one super employable graduate.

Once you’ve settled in to your halls/houses you’ve got your timetable and you’re in a good rhythm, why not come and see us?

The Careers and Employability Service is open:

Mondays: 10.30am-5.00pm

Tuesdays-Fridays 9:00am-5:00pm

We’re located between Keynes College and the large D-shaped bus stop. You can pop in for a 5 minute chat or book a 45 minute appointment with one of our advisers. There are computers to use and helpful resources to take away. All this info and more can be found on our website: We look forward to seeing you soon!


Top Tips for video interviews – Video killed the face to face interview

Video interviews are becoming a popular choice with graduate recruiters such as Aldi, Bird and Bird, Skanska and FDM. According to a recent AGR Survey 42% of employers have used video interviews. You can find out more here.

So what exactly is a video interview?

This blog will focus on one-way video interviews where an employer is using online video software to interview. The interview questions will be pre-recorded and the interviewee will be given a set amount of time to answer each question. At no point during these type of interviews are you talking to a live person. The interviewee will be given a log in for the software and will usually be given the option to complete a practice question before the assessed questions begin. The instructions on how to complete the interview will be clear. A typical amount of time given is 30 seconds to read the question and 2 minutes to respond but this will vary from employer to employer. The time will countdown on the screen for each question.


The good thing about a video interview is that the candidate can complete the interview in their own time and at a place convenient to them. The only thing needed is a computer and a webcam and some video interview software will also work on a mobile phone.  This cuts out travel time and costs. Video interviews also cut time and costs for recruiters and mean that they can replay anything that interests them. As video interviews are timed all candidates get a fair and unbiased experience.

Top tips

  1. Understand the mission and values of the organisation. Research the company and the sector just as you would for a face to face interview.
  2. Complete the practice question at the beginning of the interview. This will help you understand what the time given to answer the question feels like. Practice watching and timing yourself answering questions before the interview by recording yourself on your mobile phone. Maintaining good eye contact is key so practicing before the interview will help you with this.
  3. Complete your video interview at least a couple of days in advance of the deadline incase technology fails you
  4. Make sure your background is professional and that you are dressed smartly. The employer can still see you when they play the video back so dress the way you would for a face to face interview!
  5. If you have time left on the clock at the end of a question do act naturally- do not pretend the camera has frozen!
  6. Make sure that you complete your interview somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed. Tell your housemates beforehand and put a sign on your door.

If you have a video interview coming up and you would like more advice and support please do come and visit us during a drop in session in the Careers and Employability Service building.

You better work work work work work!

It’s summertime! Time to relax, spend some time with friends, laze about in the sun, right? Unfortunately, wrong. Sure there’s time to do some of that, but the summer vacation is the perfect time to find some work , not only to earn a bit of money for the coming academic year, but also to gain some work experience!

Does your CV have a skills gap? 

Is there something missing from your experience that would be really useful in the future? Which skills do job descriptions ask for, and can you provide all of them? Think about what you want to gain, and look for work experience that will tick that box.


Volunteering is a fantastic way to gain experience and skills. You won’t get paid, but you’ll be supporting a charity as well as making new friends and learning new skills. Charity shop work can help you develop customer service skills, time management, creativity (think about window displays and merchandising of stock) and organisational skills. Going abroad to help build a school or dig a well will give you cultural awareness, resilience, time management and team working skills. Employers love seeing volunteering on CV – it shows that someone is interested in the world they live in and is keen on giving back.

Some ideas:

Summer camps and language schools

Thinking of going into teaching? Want to gain some leadership skills? Summer camps and language schools could offer you these skills. Look online for local opportunities, and look around on campus – language schools take place across the summer at Canterbury campus, so find out who they are and where they are, and get applying.

Some ideas:

Talk to your friends and family

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!” So many jobs are filled by people already known to a company, or someone who works there. Ask around, and see what’s on offer. You could find your dream job!

What your hobbies and interests tell employers about you

When you’re putting together your graduate CV, your hobbies and interests section may seem fairly insignificant, right? Think again.

What you write about in this section can tell a prospective employer a lot more about you than you might think. Often, hobbies and interests suggest a lot about your personality, qualities, what you can offer an employer and what you might be like in the workplace.

The hobbies and interests section of your CV is even more important if you don’t have a lot of work experience (which is not uncommon for graduates). This is because employers are more likely to use it to build a better picture of you and your skills.

As a result, it’s important that you use your hobbies to showcase who you are and what attributes you have. Generally speaking, here’s what employers think about your hobbies and interests.



It’s not uncommon for graduates to spend a few months or a gap year travelling, either before or after university. But what do employers think of grads who travel?

The good news is that most employers like to see a well-travelled graduate. This is because travelling usually helps you to develop key skills and character traits that are transferable to the workplace. These include independence, being adaptable and great communication skills.

If you have been travelling, it’s definitely worth talking about it concisely on your CV and mentioning the skills and qualities that it has helped you to develop. Globe-trotting grads tend to be perceived as open-minded, curious and resilient which are all great things to bring into a workplace.


Playing sport shows employers that you have some fantastic qualities that may include being:

  • Driven
  • Competitive
  • Motivated
  • A team player (depending on the sport)
  • Dedicated
  • Passionate

So many job roles and companies value these qualities so you would be silly not to mention your sporting achievements on your CV.


Charity Work/Volunteering

From helping to build schools in Africa to walking dogs at your local animal shelter, many graduates have gotten involved in volunteering opportunities. Obviously volunteering is a fantastic thing for communities but it can also help your job application stand out.

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Top 5 Benefits of Starting Your Career at a Smaller Company

Over the past few years there’s been a noticeable shift in the type of jobs that graduates apply for after leaving university – over 50% now say they would like to work for a startup or SME (small and medium-sized enterprise). Working for a smaller company can be a great way to kick-start your career; startups and SMEs can offer first jobbers opportunities that simply wouldn’t be available at a corporate. Here at TalentPool, we’ve rounded up the top 5 benefits of working for a smaller company to help you decide whether it’s the right decision for you.

The ability to have a true impact on the business

You can really see the impact and value of the work you’re doing when you work for a smaller company. This is both exciting and incredibly rewarding. The fast-paced life of a smaller company means that things are changing all the time, and your ideas and hard work definitely won’t go unnoticed.

The opportunity to develop a wide range of skills

Working as part of a small team usually means that you’ll be involved in several different functions within the company where you’ll pick up a whole new set of skills as you’ll really be expected to get stuck in and contribute. You’ll receive a huge education about how a business truly operates, which is harder to grasp when working in a single department of a larger company.

The chance to work closely with entrepreneurs

Particularly at a startup, you’ll most likely be sitting across or even right next to the founders of the business. This gives you a unique opportunity to soak up all their knowledge and experience. This kind of exposure is especially valuable if you think you might like to start your own business one day.

The high levels of responsibility you’ll be given

From the word go, you’ll be given levels of responsibility which you simply wouldn’t have at a corporate. Working in a small team means that there’ll probably be nobody else in the company with the same skill set as you or doing the same thing as you. With little time for micromanaging, you’ll really be expected to take your own initiative!

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