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By John Piprani

Continuing my quest to find out what my Archaeology friends and colleagues are doing after graduating from Manchester I tracked down two of them working in the commercial unit: Archaeology Wales. I first met Irene Garcia Rovira within a research context as we were both working on our PhDs at the same time. In contrast, I met Stephanie-Adele McCulloch in the pub! Irene has been key for a number of Manchester students getting their first role within commercial archaeology and so it is no coincidence that Steph now works at the same unit as Irene: Steph’s story first.

Stephanie-Adele McCulloch

What are you doing now?

I graduated in 2016 with a BA (hons) Archaeology and was awarded a 2.1. I am currently a Field Archaeologist at Archaeology Wales.

What is the best bit about your job?

I have had the good fortune to work on a few different projects, ranging from watching briefs and evaluations, to large scale excavations. The joy of seeing a job from beginning to end and piecing together its story is something I find fascinating. Something I really enjoy is the connection you feel with the past when you uncover an archaeological find. You are literally the first person to touch something which another person discarded, dropped or even created hundreds or thousands of years before you…pretty surreal when you think about it.

What is the worst aspect!

It’s a bit of a double edged sword for me this. It can be one of the best but also one of the worst aspects, not knowing where in the country you will be from one month to the next. This makes it a little bit harder to see your loved ones.

How well did UoM prepare you for your current role?

I feel that our archaeology department is one of the better ones for preparing you for a career in fieldwork, but only so much can be taught in the classroom. Most units are pretty well equipped with training and ensuring new trainees find their feet in the field. The theoretical aspects certainly helped during my interpretive process, but again this is something that is always developing as you come across more archaeology.

What was the most valuable aspect of your education to you?

This is impossible for me to answer with one thing. All the aspects of my education fitted together pretty well for me, in relation to where I wanted to go with my degree. However, I did develop a particular interest in conservation and material culture studies and this is something that I would love to pursue in the future.

What is the most important advice you would give to a younger you wanting to work in archaeology?

Probably the first piece of advice would be to drink less ale during your undergrad…but then again that is part of the training to be an archaeologist. Secondly, make the most of any extra-curricular activities that are on offer to you within the department. This is invaluable whatever path you choose to take! You meet new people and gain new friendships, and it opens up more doors within archaeology which is really important within this career. My last piece of advice would be to pick something you are really keen on for your dissertation; this will help tremendously during the writing process. Archaeology is not for the faint hearted so make sure you find your passion, and overall, enjoy it. A piece of advice I lived by was “It’s only a short while for a long while so keep at it”.

Irene Garcia Rovira

What are you doing now?

I spent the last undergraduate year as an exchange student at UoM and then did my MA and PHD in Archaeology graduating in 2012. I am currently a Project Manager at Archaeology Wales.

What is the best bit about your job?

PMs are responsible for projects from the moment they are assigned to it’s archival. Therefore, the job involves carrying out many different tasks such as working out the project design, liaising with clients, curators and the onsite team, reporting and overseeing post-excavation programmes. While it can get a little stressful at times, I do enjoy seeing the trajectory of projects from the first time that they are formulated. At times, I am responsible for the definition of a project design. I love this side of my role as it gives me the opportunity to do some research into the area to be developed and to figure out the best approach (e.g. field evaluation, geophysics, watching brief) to assess its archaeological resource.

What is the worst aspect!

The work load that PMs have can fluctuate quite rapidly. At times, everything flows at the right time, but some other times, the work load gets intensified by deadlines. This can trigger high levels of stress. This is not necessarily a bad thing as deadlines often give you an incentive to complete tasks, but I would not recommend it for people who find it difficult to handle changing situations.

How well did UoM prepare you for your current role?

When I was at the University, my career goal didn’t include becoming a PM. At the time I wanted to become a lecturer as I really enjoy seeing how students gradually become professionals. Changing life circumstances made me pursue a different goal within a commercial unit. Interestingly, I first found it difficult think about how my skillset could be applied commercially, but gradually I grasped how several things learnt at the university were of great value. My interest in teaching was translated into developing a trainee programme at the company; my written skills allowed me to produce reports of different size and nature, and explain complex sites and situations; my experience in the field was obviously of great value to (we are all archaeologists after all… I have never truly understood this obsession of creating a bridge between research and commercial archaeology).

What was the most valuable aspect of your education to you?

When I came to England for the first time I was not necessarily the most competent student. At Manchester I found a real challenge (bear in mind I couldn’t understand much English back them) which helped me focus. The staff at Manchester always had a lot of time to help me overcome all the obstacles I encountered. They truly inspired me.

What is the most important advice you would give to a younger you wanting to work in archaeology?

When I told my grandmother that I wanted to be an archaeologist she told me that I would find it almost impossible to find work. This was the case right from the outset with a terrible financial crisis in Spain and more generally in Europe. Although the situation is different now, being where one wants to be can still be an arduous task. I would advise my younger self to persevere and to take every opportunity offered to learn more about the profession.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By Nia Watkin-Jones

Are you panicking about your next career move? Whatever situation you may be in – don’t panic, take a breath, we are here to help!

Many international students aspire to gain work experience or get a job in the UK following graduation. Whilst this is legally possible, it’s not always easy to organise, especially when you only have a few months left on your Tier 4 visa.

There are a number of ways you may stay on to work in the UK and the full list can be seen here: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/work-visas

However, two of the most common work visas our students apply for following graduation are the Tier 2 (General) Visa and the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) Visa.

Many of our international undergraduate students also decide to stay on to study at The University of Manchester at Postgraduate level. Please see the following pages if this is of interest to you: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/masters/

Tier 2 (General) Visa

Also known as the Employer Sponsored visa, this is for candidates from outside the EEA & Switzerland who have been offered a skilled job within the UK. You can switch from your Tier 4 study visa to a Tier 2 General visa whilst in the UK. There are a number of criteria you will need to meet in order to apply for this visa and the full guidelines can be found on the Home Office website: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/work-visas

First and foremost, you will need to secure a graduate-level role. The employer who is offering you the role must be on the ‘Sponsor Register’. Your role will also need to be of a particular skill level and wage. For full details on this, please see the Careers Service’s webpages

At this time of the year, many of the well-known graduate scheme within the large organisations are now full as they normally recruit in October and November for a start date of the following year. These organisations in industries such as Banking & Finance, Management Consultancy, Accountancy, IT and Engineering are generally positive about sponsoring international students on Tier 2 visas. If you are reading this blog and you have 1-2 years left of your degree, make a note of these early deadlines! Further information can be found here:

If you are searching for a graduate-level role now, you may have to be more creative and flexible in your approach. Remember – Tier 2 visas require a minimum salary of £20,800 for the role or the ‘new entrant’ salary given in the Codes of Practice for NVQ level 6, whichever salary is higher. Check the Codes of Practice guidelines for the minimum salary requirement for your chosen career. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-j-codes-of-practice-for-skilled-work

There are also some websites where you can search for Tier 2 roles, these include: Grad Vault; Student Circus; CV Library; Glassdoor (search tier 2); LinkedIn and don’t forget the free vacancies database exclusively for University of Manchester students  ‘Careerslink’, which advertises 1000s of vacancies!

For information on how to search for graduate roles or internships, see our webpages:

Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) Visa

This is a good option for students who may only want to work in the UK for 1 year. The advantages of gaining work experience in the UK using this Visa are that the salary does not have to be as high as the Tier 2 (General Visa), where the average starting salary is around £30,000. Also, the employer does not need to be on the sponsor register, as you will be sponsored by a government-authorized Tier 5 sponsor. There are other criteria for this visa, as set out here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-n-authorised-exchange-schemes

There are 70 schemes/sponsors in total, including: (Access Tier 5 scheme), GTI (Tier 5 Intern Program) and BUNAC (Intern in Britain). For Access Tier 5 for example, it’s essential for students to find their own graduate internship/role first before applying to Access Tier 5. Please also check the following schemes for opportunities: Step (Provides placements and internships for students and recent graduates across the UK), Graduate Talent Pool (Internships offered are based primarily in England)

Finally, international students may find it easier to find a graduate internship or work at this time of the year through a more speculative approach. See our jobsearch guide

Finally …

We are always here to help and if you do need to make an appointment to meet with the international Careers Consultant please give us a ring to book.

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By John Piprani

What are you doing now?

I work for the Civil Service, presently in a finance role in the Ministry of Justice. I am coming to the end of the 2nd year of the Civil Service Fast Stream, specifically the Project Delivery stream. Post-graduation and prior to joining the Civil Service I worked in a variety of Curatorial and Collections Care roles in the Middle East department of the British Museum.

What is the best bit about your job?

The variety of work, somewhere in government someone is doing what you’re interested in. It is also the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people in the UK.

What is the worst aspect!

The timescales involved in government projects, many of the projects that government is delivering are very challenging, either behaviourally or technically, with long life spans meaning you rarely get to see the immediate impact of the work you’re doing.

What did you do at UoM? (Archaeology? Museology? Degree? Masters? PhD?)

I studied Ancient History and Archaeology at Undergrad, Archaeology at Masters, and then a PhD all in a row. My PhD was a Collaborative Doctoral Award split between UoM and the British Museum.

How long since you graduated?

I graduated (from my PhD) in 2013.

How well did UoM prepare you for your current role?

Very well, the critical skills involved in a university education of any kind are very useful in the Civil Service where the impact of advice and decisions can have huge consequences. From archaeology in particular the transferrable skills it develops as it straddles both the humanities and sciences have been very useful, so being able to apply critical reasoning, statistically analyse datasets, and understand how cultures work offers a skill set that few other disciplines offer so completely.

What was the most valuable aspect of your education to you?

I couldn’t settle on one, but the two most valuable aspects to me are the sense of perspective that Archaeology offers, of other cultures and ways of living that are fundamentally different to our own and the great depth of the human past. The second aspect is an understanding of the importance of material culture to human society.

What is the most important advice you would give to a younger you wanting to work in archaeology?

A younger me wanting to work in archaeology? I think be more realistic as to the state of higher education in the UK because as this article demonstrates, you’re more likely to die of cancer than to get a permanent academic job in Archaeology: https://pia-journal.co.uk/articles/10.5334/pia.513/

Undergraduate and Postgraduate studies offer a huge range of opportunities, but should not be viewed solely as a route to work as an academic. So I think my advice would be do the PhD, after-all I enjoyed it, but think about what aspects of it you enjoy most and find out how you can do that.

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by Stephen Gordon* *completed PhD in 2013 and has held numerous postdoctoral positions and student support roles; worked as an Advisor in the University of Manchester Careers Service since 2016

Writing covering letters for academic positions can be a tricky business. The structure and format of such documents are quite different from the template used for non-academic job applications. The content of such letters is often determined by what type of position you are applying for – teaching roles will naturally require a demonstration of a different set of skills than jobs aimed solely at research. Even the term ‘covering letter’ is somewhat imprecise, and does not cover the wide variety of ways in which employers want you to present your data. Most university job sites will demand a separate document to be uploaded alongside an academic CV (or at least a text box where you can copy and paste your statement); others, however, will require you to answer a series of questions based directly on the essential job criteria, with the option (not always guaranteed) of uploading an additional justification letter. With this in mind, it is not feasible to simply create a template document and substitute the name of the university and job title every time a new position comes along. Each covering letter must be tailored to a specific job. There are, however, certain rules that apply to all types of application.

Length

One of the biggest differences between academic and non-academic covering letters is the length of the statement. Whether uploaded directly or copy/pasted into a text box, a two-page document is the target length to aim for. Anything longer and you run the risk of alienating the recruitment panel. If the online application consists of a series of set questions, the length of your answers should reflect the relative importance of the criterion. As a general rule the questions are often listed in a hierarchy of importance. The first question may ask you to ‘demonstrate research expertise in an area that complement and enhance the department’s research strategy’, which would require two or three substantial paragraphs to truly make your case. By contrast, one of the later questions may ask you to ‘demonstrate your ability to prioritise workloads in order to meet deadlines’; here, a single (relevant!) example is probably sufficient. Just like an exam, remember to answer the question and not simply go off on an unrelated tangent.

Content

Academic job adverts can contain a daunting number of criteria in the person specification. Trying to address everything within two pages can seem like a thankless task. While some of the points can be answered in the CV and other parts of the application form (e.g. most forms give ample space in the ‘previous work experience section’ to discuss the relevant skills you’ve accrued in the past), the covering letter/personal statement ideally needs to include the following items:

  1. Research interests and expertise: Give a brief overview of your research experiences, areas of interest, and details of any outputs, such as publications, current projects, and intentions for future projects and grant capture (i.e. show the recruitment panel that you are working through a definitive plan of action and have a potential to be REF-able)
  2. Teaching Background: As well demonstrating your experiences of delivering seminars and lectures (and, perhaps, curricula design), provide evidence of any pastoral responsibilities you may have had – e.g. mentoring, careers advice – through which you can highlight your commitment to improving the student experience. A choice quote or two from the National Student Survey feedback would not go amiss here.
  3. Why you will be a good fit for the department? For fixed-term lecturing positions (e.g. maternity cover), look through the course list and make explicit connections between the content of the modules you’ll be leading and your own research and teaching expertise. Highlighting the potential for collaboration with departmental colleagues is a requisite for long term roles. More widely, does the school possess resources that are integral to your overall research strategy? Is there a particularly relevant archive, heritage institution, or industrial partner located in the vicinity of the university? If so, provide details.
  4. Additional Skills and Expertise: Ideally, the final section should be reserved for demonstrating some of the more amorphous skills listed on the job description, including public engagement experiences, conference or seminar organisation, working in teams (e.g. acting as research assistant for your PhD supervisor), and membership of relevant professional organisations. In some respects the final section should be a ‘mopping up’ exercise to address any significant information gaps.
Formatting

In my experience of being shortlisted for interviews, academic covering letters/statements can eschew the formatting used in non-academic applications, especially if the data is going to be copied into a text box. That is, you don’t need to include the sender’s or recipient’s address, nor the date of composition. For letters uploaded as a two-page document, there is the option of keeping the salutation (‘Dear Sir/Madam’) and the sign off and signature (‘yours faithfully, Stephen’), but bear in mind that such formalities reduce the available space. Other formatting tricks include expanding the margins of the Word document from ‘normal’ to ‘narrow’, playing with the line spacing (e.g. use 6pt rather that 10pt between the lines), and using a smaller font. By this I don’t mean using font size 10 (best stick with size 11 or 12) but choosing, say, Times New Roman or Calibri over Arial or Verdana. The ultimate aim, of course, is to maximise the amount of information that appears on the page whilst ensuring the document is as professional-looking as possible.

These, then, have just been a few small tips to help you along. At the end of this day it’s about finding the right balance between content, format, and structure.

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Congratulations on completing your degree! You can continue to use the Careers Service for 2 years, including CareersLink which advertises job vacancies.

Your University login will be turned off in a few weeks and your CareersLink student account will be automatically converted into a graduate account. This happens on different dates for different courses but is likely to be at around the end of June. Any data and alerts you have created in your student account will automatically be transferred.

While you still have your student account

  1. Change your preferred contact email in MyManchester to a non-University email address.
  2. Carry on using the ‘Current student’ log in.

You will not get an alert to notify you that you have been moved to an alumni account. You will know this has happened when the ‘current student’ log in stops working.

To access your graduate CareersLink account

  1. If you no longer have access to your student email and have not changed your contact email on MyManchester you will need to tell us your new contact address. Email the support team on careerslink@manchester.ac.uk quoting your student username or ID number and telling us which email address you want to use.
  2. Reset your password the first time you use the alumni account. Your username remains the same (8 digit combination of letters and numbers used for all University IT systems.)
  3. If you do not receive your password reset email (check your spam folder) or have any other problems email careerslink@manchester.ac.uk
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By Beth Ryan –  Manchester Graduate Talent – Careers Assistant

Interviews can be stressful, there’s often a lot of stake and it’s the only chance you get to make a good impression. I more than anyone can tell you how difficult it can be to shake interview anxiety, answer questions well and not leave the interview room feeling like an idiot (or a sobbing mess). It can be really hard to overcome nervousness, but with resilience it can be done! Drawing on my experience, I’ve compiled my top tips for overcoming interview nerves to help you secure that coveted internship or graduate job:

Prepare and plan

  • Find out as much about the role and company as you can – read the job description thoroughly and gain a good understanding of the skills the employer is looking for. If you aren’t sure what the role involves contact the recruitment team and they will give you an insight. Remember to also research the company and find out what their values are and where they fit commercially.
  • Typical interview questions – create a list of commonly asked questions and write out a few bullet points with how you’d answer them in the interview, you’d be surprised how many come up.
  • Prepare situational examples using the STAR method – many employers ask situational interview questions such as: tell me about a time (you worked in a team/showed communication skills/used your initiative). The skills they ask about are likely to be in the job description, so prepare an examples using ‘Situation-Task-Action-Result’ and you won’t feel so put on the spot in the interview.

Book an interview advice appointment

  • The Careers Service provides two types of interview advice appointment: interview preparation and interview simulation. Talking to a careers consultant can really help relieve your worries and point you to useful resources. More information about interview appointments and how to book can be found here.

Be organised

  • Being organised for the interview day can take away some of the last minute stress, leaving you free to focus on the interview itself rather than getting worked up about little things.
  • Choose your interview outfit the day before and make sure it is ironed and ready to wear.
  • Do a recce ahead of time to see the building and room where the interview will take place and plan your route so you know exactly how to get there. If you’re driving think ahead about where you will park and take traffic into account by giving yourself extra time.
  • Bring a succinct set of notes along with you in a professional folder, including a copy of your CV, the job description, a page of bullet points about the company or role and four questions you’d like to ask at the end.

When you arrive:

  • I tend to get a feeling of impending doom in the count down to an interview. It can really help to put headphones in and listen to something which calms you down and gets you focused before you enter the building. The Counselling Service have a great selection of short audio downloads to help you relax and control your breathing which I recommend, you can find them here.
  • If you’re early refresh your memory using the notes you’ve brought with you, think about the key skills the employer is looking for and reread the STAR examples you prepared.
  • A friend of mine told me she does a ‘superhero power pose’ for thirty seconds before she meets the interviewer to help her feel confident, I don’t know how practical this is but it’s worth a shot!

 When they invite you in:

  • A lot of interviewers appreciate it if you tell them you’re nervous at the start of the interview and can be very understanding. Nerves are completely natural and mean you care, so it is sometimes better to let them know at the beginning rather than try to hide it.
  • Remember an interview is a two-way process, they want to meet you and there is a reason you passed the application process. Interviewers rarely want to catch you out and they want you to do your best, so try not to think of them as a scary person.
  • It’s all about the personality! They can teach you a lot of the tasks the job involves, but they can’t teach a positive attitude, sense of humour or strong work ethic. A lot of interviewers are looking for how well you will fit into their team, so remember personality can be just as important as experience.

Answering questions:

  • Try your best to structure your answers and keep everything you say relevant to the question. I sometimes forget the question so will write down key words as they ask to keep myself on track.
  • Pace yourself – if you find yourself stumbling over words, it’s likely your anxiety has taken over. Nervousness can cause you to speed up your mannerisms and your speech and it can also prompt you to speak before you consider the question properly. So slow down and don’t be afraid of the pause.
  • If you’re stumped by a difficult question taking a few sips of water can give you a few seconds to think. If this fails, a lot of interviewers prefer you to spend ten or fifteen seconds thinking.
  • If needed you can utilise the printed notes you brought along to help jog your memory, even briefly scanning your CV can help you think of a good example or situation to use as an example.
  • If you genuinely don’t know what to say or if you go completely blank, it is perfectly okay to ask the interviewer to come back to the question at the end. Usually by then something in your brain has jogged and you can answer without a worry.

After the interview:

  • Even if it doesn’t go well reward yourself with a treat anyway (I always got mint chocolate ice cream)! We all know practice makes perfect and although it can be really difficult to overcome interview anxiety it honestly gets easier the more experience you have. The important thing is you try your best.
  • When the employer contacts you about the outcome ask them for constructive feedback. As hard as it can be to hear everything you did wrong, it can be helpful for your next interview.
  • It is okay to feel upset if you aren’t successful, but try not to beat yourself up about it. Resilience is the most important thing when it comes to job hunting and if you keep trying you will eventually secure a job you love!
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Commercial field archaeology

This blog post is one in a series examining what colleagues and friends who graduated from the University of Manchester Archaeology Department are doing with their careers. Rob Howarth graduated in 2017 and is notable because he achieved his degree, and then gained a commercial position, in spite of having Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Irlen Syndrome. Stephanie Duensing completed her PhD in 2015 and now works in Oxford. Both work in commercial units and these are their stories.

Rob’s Story

What are you doing now?

I am working as a full time professional commercial archaeologist for the Centre for Applied Archaeology at the University of Salford.

What is the best bit about your job?

Everything. It makes me feel like I am adding to our overall knowledge of our past, it allows me to tell the stories of those who lived before us. This might sound a little corny, but it is true!

What is the worst aspect!

I work via an agency which takes some getting used to. You need to be clear about the terms & conditions of your work & pay.

What did you do at UoM? (Archaeology? Museology? Degree? Masters? PhD?)

Single Honours Archaeology degree

How well did UoM prepare you for your current role?/ What was the most valuable aspect of your education to you?

In the commercial world of archaeology, the UoM course did not prepare me as much as I would have liked due to the high involvement of theoretical and philosophical aspects of the course. However, I will say, the wealth of information regarding past research and excavations that I have been taught has come in handy. One example has come from the in depth teaching regarding the use and identification of flint tools as well as the process by which they were made.

What is the most important advice you would give to a younger you wanting to work in archaeology?

Due to my multiple learning difficulties the single most important advice I can give is, is to always reach out and ask for help when things seem impossible to overcome. Befriend other students from the years above, speak to your student adviser, use the Disability Advisory and Support Service, stack the deck in your favour and not against yourself.

Stephanie’s story

What are you doing now?

I am a Project Officer and Operations Supervisor at John Moore Heritage Services in Oxford.

What is the best bit about your job?

I get to work daily on practical applications of archaeological excavation and heritage management. I get paid to learn and expand what would otherwise be a fairly limited research area of expertise that you tend to develop in University

What is the worst aspect!

Lack of research and publication time, public engagement is limited, but we are working on it!

What did you do at UoM? (Archaeology? Museology? Degree? Masters? PhD?)

MA and PhD in Archaeology between 2009-2015.

How well did UoM prepare you for your current role?

The project management skills I learned whilst doing my PhD have been essential elements to my success. Having to be self-guided and self-driven in my research outside of any other University-run or affiliated research required me to develop a great deal of time and project management skills which may not have been otherwise gained.

What was the most valuable aspect of your education to you?

Success in completing my PhD when faced with the constant struggle to produce a final project despite funding constraints, limited access to resources and a multitude of other research challenges meant that I was infinitely better prepared for the reality of working in a financially competitive industry which is massively undervalued and constantly faced with funding/budget cuts.

What is the most important advice you would give to a younger you wanting to work in archaeology?

Success is more about your dedication and tenacity to something you are passionate about than about recognition of some inherent brilliance. The smartest and cleverest among us may never achieve anything because they cannot accept that imperfection might be found in their work. You must be robust and resilient in your ability to take criticism, improve, and keep going. Again, and again, and again. Archaeology is not a career for the faint-hearted looking for stability and comfort, regardless of whether you are pursuing it in the academic or the commercial sector, but it does offer a lifetime of learning and engagement for which you will never lose interest. For the few who can make the cut, it is without a doubt the best job in the world.

 

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Not all jobs are advertised. Even if they are you might not see them. Sometimes an organisation may be at the point of thinking they need a hand, but have not thought about advertising. This is where a speculative approach can come in handy.  If you know what type of work you want to do then you can start thinking about who to approach.

It’s more likely to work in the private sector and smaller organisations. Public sector & big corporate are more likely to have official recruitment channels that must be used.

Use the resources around you and think laterally!

Today’s example comes to you from a magazine supplement that landed in my in-tray. The Museum Services directory.

First assumption here: You are interested in heritage in some capacity.

This directory lists organisations that work with museums & heritage sites in just about every way you can imagine. Architects, conservators for just about any object you can name, curatorial assistants, legal services, engineers, web designers, recruitment consultants, planning consultants, education & learning consultants…. well you get the gist.

Many journals & professional body magazines & websites will have a services or directory section.  Organisations in that profession or who offer service to that industry may choose to be listed – it’s a great ready made resource

So what?

  1. Each company has a little advert with a website  and contact details.
  2. Look on their website – what do they do & where are they based. Do they interest you?
  3. Do they actually have any vacancies listed?
  4. Make contact!
How should I contact them and what do I say?

There are a number of options but before you pick up the phone or start typing be clear about:

  1. How you found out about them.
  2. Why they interest you.
  3. What sort of job role you are looking for. Are you looking for work shadowing, paid short term experience or a job after graduation?
  4. When you are available for a chat/interview/to start work.

Making contact

  • Often key staff members are listed on company websites why not check out the LinkedIn profiles of those you are interested in. (Make sure your profile is up to date and tailored first before trying to connect to them.)
  • You could choose to make contact via LinkedIn messaging but it can be a little blunt, so you will need to write a carefully crafted message.
  • It might be best to ring initially. Emails are quite easy to ignore.
    • You can just ring the listed number and get through to a switchboard or  in a small company it could be an administrator. Have your story ready who are you why are you ringing and what do you want?
    • You could ask for a specific person, what will you do if they are not in? Will you leave a message?
  • Is your CV ready? They may ask you to send something over asap to check you out.  So have a tailored CV ready and be prepared to write a cover letter expressing again what you have told them verbally and including anything they have asked you for.
    • Your interest in their company
    • The type of opportunity you are looking for
    • The skills you have to offer
    • Availability dates
Will it work?

It’s not always going to work, but if the job you want isn’t advertised can you really afford to wait around on the off chance?  Make your own luck (ps it’s not really luck if you made it happen is it :))

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Congratulations you have nearly finished your degree. Did you know you can continue to use the Careers Service for 2 years after you finish? This  includes CareersLink which advertises job vacancies and our appointment & information services.

Your University login will be turned off soon after you finish.  At that point we need to convert your CareersLink student account to an alumni account. The conversion happens on different dates for different courses but is likely to be around the end of June (or end of December  for Masters students).  Any data and alerts that you have created in your student account will automatically be transferred.

While you still have a student CareersLink account

  1. Change your preferred contact email in MyManchester to a non-University address.
  2. Carry on using ‘Current student’ log in

You will not get an alert to notify you that you have been switched to an alumni account. You will know this has happened when the ‘current student’ login stops working.

To access your graduate CareersLink account

  1. If you no longer have access to your student email and have not changed your contact email on MyManchester you will need to tell us your new contact email address. Email the support team on careerslink@manchester.ac.uk explaining which address you want to use and quoting either your ID number or username.
  2. Reset your password the first time you use the alumni account. Your username remains the same (8 digit combination of letters and numbers used for all University IT systems).
  3. If you do not receive the password reset email (check your spam folder) or have any other problems email careerslink@manchester.ac.uk.

Don’t forget we do telephone & Skype appointments and applications advice via email for those of you who have moved away.

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by Emma Hammond

What do you do now?
I graduated from the University of Manchester in 2016 with a BSc (Hons) in Management. I am currently an Account Manager working at HeadBox. In general, an Account Manager is someone who is responsible for the management of sales and relationships with particular customers. In relation to HeadBox, I maintain look after existing relationships with a client or group of clients, so that they will continue using the HeadBox for all their business events.

I have Key Account clients who I help with every event enquiry they have throughout the year. I need to understand the type of events they do and how I can find the right space specific for their needs. I then research potential venues that fit those briefs and create event proposals for the corporate customer. HeadBox is the UK’s only SAAS (software as a service) enabled marketplace for creative meeting, off-site and event spaces. We are a technology start up, so SAAS basically means we are on online marketplace or shop, think Air BNB but for event spaces. HeadBox allows you to instantly search, book and pay for a venue online, which was a ground-breaking concept for the events industry. Our main clients are corporate bookers who are searching for event spaces, meeting rooms or adhoc spaces for their company events. Some of our biggest clients include Sky, Pret and UBS. The website started in London but then set its sights on other cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol and Manchester. As an Account Manager for HeadBox, I am also responsible for hitting monthly sales targets and providing outstanding customer service to our most important clients. My day to day comes down to looking at incoming enquiries from emails, phone calls and via the HeadBox platform from people who are looking to book one of our 5,000 spaces.

What are you working on at the moment?
At this time of year, I am mainly dealing with big summer party briefs for our key corporate clients as well as smaller more urgent private dining briefs, meeting room hires and workshop events. This shows the variation in the workload as an Account Manager, every day is different, so you are never bored. Although summer parties haven’t even begun, big corporate companies are already thinking about their Christmas party, so I am constantly working on briefs for my Key Account clients as well as other corporate companies. On top of regular briefs and venue sourcing, a big part of my role at the moment involves developing relationships with our corporate customers and growing their accounts in terms of bookings.

So how did you get to this point in your career?
Before starting at HeadBox I knew I wanted to work closely with people in the customer service sphere. My first job was behind the bar at my local rugby club which was where I first learnt how to be polite and helpful to customers as well as how to negotiate with the more difficult ones. During my time at the University of Manchester I took part in an Internship at an Oil Company which was my first real experience into the corporate world, and although it was not the industry for me I got to experience lots of different roles within a business which helped me make my final decision to enter the Account Management field.

I then applied for lots of different Sales and Account Management roles to help build up my practice and confidence and eventually landed an interview with HeadBox. It’s always a good idea to speak to the careers advisor at University before you graduate, as they will have some great advice on how to write the perfect CV, covering letter and interview advice and this really helped me in the job searching process.

What are the highs & lows?
Before HeadBox, I would say that my least favourite role was bar work. Although it was lots of fun and I got to meet some great people it could be unsociable at times due to the hours I was contracted. I was also working on a zero-hour contract which meant I could often be sent home without being paid. Personally, I saw no future prospects in this role so I knew I needed to get out of that line of work as soon as I graduated.

The job search can be very disheartening when you’re sending out application after application. In the process of trying to find my dream job I had many late nights sending out applications and would often only get a reply from a very small percentage. However, perseverance is key because when I finally got the call for an interview it’s definitely a high point, especially if it was for a job I really wanted.

In regard to an Account Manager role at HeadBox, the highs are getting to talk to lots of different people every day, building relationships with them as well as getting to check out cool places and venues on a daily basis. It’s also very rewarding helping them find the perfect venue for their event as they’re always very grateful. The lows however, would be that it can be a stressful job at times as things are constantly changing. It’s gutting when you lose a big deal especially if it’s because of something that is out of your hands. How smoothly the process runs is not always within my control but will directly reflect my work load and my monthly targets. However, this also makes the job more challenging and pushes me to work hard at all times which is probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of the role.

What training or experience are essential to get in?
Most account management roles want at least one-year experience in a sales, customer service or an account management role prior to your application. However, I found when applying for a start-up job, there was also a huge emphasis on a candidate’s personality, potential and enthusiasm. They want someone who is energetic, resilient and organised – with the ability to provide outstanding customer service. If you prove you’re a fast learner and can work off your own initiative and importantly, have proven examples of this, then you will have a definite edge.

Having a degree is not necessarily a must to land an account management job but would make you stand out from the sea of CVs that your company would have received. There is also no specific graduate training as it’s more of an emphasis on your experience and personality. To be a successful Account Manager there are a few attributes which are very important for the role. Being a good communicator is essential for a role that is heavily customer focused. You should be customer and relationship oriented because essentially this is what will help you close the deals and ensure you are providing your client with the best possible experience. It is also handy to be confident in negotiating, although more often than not you will learn this on the job but if you can go into an Account Manager position interview and show examples of previous negotiation skills or even just the confidence to do so, you’ll definitely go far. Don’t forget your first job is all about learning and a start-up is a great place to learn a lot fast all you need is a can-do attitude and the initiative to do things yourself.

How have you found opportunities in this field?
There are heaps of opportunities working as an Account Manager, especially in the events industry. I have found myself surrounded by a group of other recent graduates who all share the same enthusiasm for making their way up the career ladder. In the field we are working in we also get the added benefit of being invited to exciting events and take part in fun FAM trips to lots of cool and exciting venues across London. From pop-up restaurants, experiential bars and fancy hotels, the events industry is great for exciting things to do after hours.

I would say that another benefit of working as an Account Manager within a start-up is that you are really thrown in at the deep end which is challenging but also a very rewarding opportunity. You get to learn on the job, in a fast-paced environment and use your own initiative. It’s also great to be able to work on a commission scheme so that the money you make is directly reflected by the work you put in. There is also a big opportunity for progression as well as the everyday excitement of working in an advancing tech company.

What advice would you give someone considering a similar career?
My advice for any graduate who wants to pursue a career as an Account Manager is to make sure you show your initiative and enthusiasm in every interview you go to, as well as demonstrating a competitive drive to succeed at all times. I also think it’s important to make sure you’re passionate about the company you are looking to work for.

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