Our student, Ilaria, tells us how the opportunities at UWE Bristol have helped her to make the most of her time of university. She shares how her learning experiences outside of her course have supported her studies, from guest speakers to internships. Read more about Ilaria’s story.
For the last three years, I have studied BA Fashion Communication at UWE Bristol. My primary campus was at the Arnolfini (Part of UWE Bristol’s City Campus), and one of Europe’s leading centers for contemporary arts; hosting guest speakers, art exhibitions, music and film events.
Prior to moving to Bristol, I lived in a small village in the countryside, but studying at the Arnolfini allowed me to become immersed in city life. As a graduate from UWE Bristol, I really enjoyed studying at the Arnolfini due to the central location, the opportunity to collaborate, and the support provided by staff.
The city centre location
The Arnolfini is situated on the picturesque Bristol Harbourside, surrounded by thriving bars and restaurants, it is one of my favourite spots to go to in the city. The campus is accessible by bike, bus or train and within walking distance of the major shopping centre, Cabot Circus.
A real benefit of studying at Arnolfini is being located within walking distance to both arts, historical and cultural landmarks including the city Cathedral, Bristol Hippodrome, MShed Museum and Watershed Cinema. With so much going on around you, it enriches your experience and studies with the range of activities and events.
Support and collaboration
Inside the UWE Bristol campus, students have access to a number of computer suites where IT Staff provide technical support, offer workshops and help to bring your ideas to life. Across the creative campuses, collaboration is encouraged especially when sharing the facilities with Fashion Communication, Graphic Design, Illustration and Fine Art.
I enjoyed being able to work with fellow creatives on internal projects, which has now given me the confidence to approach external individuals and network.
As a graduate
Studying at the City Campus in Arnolfini, I became familiar with the city, surrounding businesses and prospect work opportunities. Since graduating in June 2020, I have worked as an in-house graphic designer and now secured an internship in a Bristol-based creative agency. My confidence to network and collaborate is down to studying at UWE Bristol, in the heart of the city.
by Mamadou, BA(Hons) Politics and International Relations.
Politics and International Relations student Mamadou shares his experience of mentoring and internship, gained through the UWE Equity Programme. Hear how he got to work with the Mayor of Bristol, what he discovered about himself and the opportunities it has opened up for his future career.
Now my three years of studying at UWE Bristol has come to an end, I’m in the same position as many other graduates, wondering what we can be doing during the pandemic to boost our employability, from home.
Leaving education was a scary feeling and to ease the transition into job hunting, I decided to continue to educate myself whilst seeking employment. For me, I wanted to use this time to build and grow myself as an individual by learning new skills.
How to learn new skills after you graduate
During lockdown, I wanted to build my CV and show potential employers what I have been up to whilst the world paused. So, I went online and found several great websites which provide a range of courses and some are even free:
Future Learn – a variety of online courses from Business & Management, Creative Arts & Media, to Psychology & Mental Health
There is such a variety of courses available and something for everyone, I recommend checking these sites out!
I’m currently working my way through a Consumer Behaviour and Psychology course which is topic that has always interested me, I just hadn’t had the chance to learn about it. The opportunity to continue learning and expand my knowledge is really exciting and it also helps to give structure to my days.
More importantly though, doing the course has given me a real sense of achievement and feeling of growth, which has been great during a time where life has a lot of uncertainties.
Reach out and get networking
Something I would advise all students and graduates to do is network. The ability to meet valuable contacts, engage in dialogue and open conversations will really help your journey into a career. And as a graduate living in a digital age, it is easier now more than ever to reach out and contact people across the world.
As a creative, I have found contacting people through Instagram a very successful method. By having conversations with other creatives or companies about their work and their journey, it has really opened up new paths for me. For example, during the pandemic, I have offered my design skillset to a number of local and regional brands to help boost their interactions with customers and remain both relevant and visible in the eyes of their audience.
How to network from home
You may think, but where do I start?
Consider this – is there a company you aspire to work for? Is there an individual or collective that inspires your practice and profession? Well, reach out!
Email – for the best chance getting a response from a company, try and find a specific named email and avoid “info@” addresses.
LinkedIn – find the company, job role and individual you want to directly contact.
Phone – this may seem a bit daunting, but simply picking up the phone and having a conversation with someone will get this networking process out there faster
Instagram – contact the individual who inspires you and show your interest in their work.
Once you have connected with someone, ask them questions. How did they get into this career? What advice do they have for graduates wanting to pursue a career in X? What are the stepping stones, or journey you need to take to get to that point?
Securing the perfect job isn’t easy, but keep searching, learning and networking, and you’ll get there.
And remember, as graduates we will continue to have access to the University career services, including coaching appointments for 3 years after graduating and use of the Career Toolkit and vacancy search for life!
The process of writing an application can be daunting, but it’s all about seeking opportunities which will develop your skillset and enhance your CV. Thinking about jobs is often scary, but it is important to gain experience which sets you apart from future candidates. Remember – you don’t need to know what you are going to be doing in ten years’ time, just arm yourself with experience and skills to widen your opportunities later on.
During my time at UWE Bristol I’ve worked as a Student Ambassador, volunteered for a charity and recently started working as a Student Content Coordinator. For all of these, I’ve had to complete an application to be shortlisted and it got me thinking, what makes a good job application?
I’ve rounded up the top tips which have helped me in the past that I hope will help you with your next application too!
Decide where and what to search for
Since studying at UWE Bristol, I found the UWE Job Shop and Infohub Vacancies valuable tools when trying to find volunteering and work experience opportunities. The site offers a range of vacancies which will enhance your knowledge and employability. I found a volunteering vacancy as a Social Media Coordinator at Sue Ryder, which allowed me to explore an area I had little experience in, but always wanted to try. I discovered that the position held more responsibilities than I had anticipated but led me down more avenues to explore.
But what if you don’t know what to apply for?
Identify your skills to you find the right role for you
If you identify what you enjoy doing and what you are good at, you will discover an umbrella of paths to explore. By researching these key skills, you will find out what job titles surround your interest and abilities – which will create a direction for your job hunt.
Once you’ve found an opportunity try to understand the role
Once you find a role which interests you, ensure you understand what the advert is asking of you. Are there particular skills or qualities the job requires?
Make a list
of what the job requires and make a list of examples of when/how you have done
this. Source key skills you have exercised on your degree, for example, communication,
team work and time management. By doing this you will uncover core transferable
skills which are crucial for all jobs. Never under estimate the experience
and qualities you have, as everything you do holds significant value.
Learn about the company you are applying to
When completing an application, it is important that you show a level of understanding and knowledge of the establishment you are applying to. What do you like about the company?
Showing that you have an interest and an awareness of the company will demonstrate initiative and engagement, which counts for a lot!
Remember, there is no harm in trying and there is nothing to lose when applying to jobs. Even if you don’t get the role, it’s all good experience so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and keep working towards your end goal.
by Sophia, BA(Hons) Marketing Communications, MSc Marketing
More than a degree
Going to university is a big decision and will shape the next three to four years of your life, so it is important to make sure that it is something you want to do. Continuing your education can be very rewarding not only in your professional development but also in your personal one. Many people who have gone to university will tell you that it was the best few years they have experienced and would recommend it to anyone.
Getting a degree is so much more than a piece of paper.
The most common reason why that time is so cherished is because, as well as attaining a degree, it was also the first step into adulthood for them. Moving away from home and living with strangers can sound scary but so many people have matured and have made lifelong friendships that way. This really is a time where you get to learn to become independent and build a future for yourself.
Getting a degree is so much more than a piece of paper, it’s having multiple opportunities to meet new interesting people, to become a part of a society, to learn how to cook, how to manage money and so much more. Whilst you’re working towards your degree, your university can also offer you to do some of that work abroad on an Erasmus programme, which is an amazing opportunity to learn a new language and experience a different culture. There is so much that you can benefit from getting a degree, you just need to take advantage of all the opportunities.
How can a degree help your employment prospects?
After three years of hard work, graduating and receiving that degree can be one of the most rewarding feelings. You feel accomplished and ready to step into the big world. Naturally, the next step is employment, and this is where you’ll realise that staying up late finishing all those assignments and the long hours of revising for exams haven’t gone to waste.
You’ll notice that one of the requirements of many employees is having a degree in a field of study related to the job. By having that you’re already at an advantage. Some would like to see some experience also, and many of you might think that it seems unfair to have experience and a young age if you’ve been in education the entire time, however choosing a sandwich course that entails being on placement for a year can give you that advantage as well as a lot of confidence and valuable experience.
Getting a well-paying job after attaining a degree is a great achievement, however it’s the journey that took you there that you’ll always remember and cherish.
Another way to start off a career is by doing a graduate scheme or programme, which is incredibly common amongst companies. These schemes are specifically designed for students that have graduated from university, they are a great way to start a career as it offers training, high earning potential and even global opportunities. In general, it is known that about 90% of graduates either get employed or go into further education, so there is a high likelihood of job security. Getting a well-paying job after attaining a degree is a great achievement, however it’s the journey that took you there that you’ll always remember and cherish. It’s a life experience that will shape the future you.
by Prisilla, MEng(Hons) Aerospace Engineering and Pilot Studies
The countdown begins. For some of you that might be when you start A-Levels or when you hear the ominous word ‘university’ or when you press submit on your UCAS application. Whatever it may be, going to university is a tough but rewarding decision to make. As someone who is on her fourth year of study (placement year) and has one final of year of Masters left to do, I have seen quite a bit of university life and the degree – the good and the bad times. So even though I am getting eager to leave university, I thought it might be good to tell you about what a degree can do for you through this blog.
A glimpse into your future career
To begin with, your chosen degree is your first glimpse into your future career. Through the lectures, the practicals and workshops, you will begin to know whether you want to continue in the chosen field/industry or if there is something else you enjoy. Most of the lecturers on campus are ex-industry employees, which means they have experienced the industry. So, you can quiz your lecturers about the good and the bad of the industry and maybe even open a chance to network with your future employer (if they have come from a company you are interested in). As you attend lectures and grow on your theoretical knowledge, your degree is helping you to understand the basics and core information. The practicals and workshops really get you stuck-in to the course, showing how theory works in reality. Depending on the module, the course and the coursework, the hands-on experience can vary with projects.
However, a degree is not just all work and no play. Most of the degrees have a dedicated society affiliated to it, which means you can take part in social activities and projects. It does not matter if you are a 1st year or in your final year; all societies love to have the extra help with their projects which means you get to have fun while learning a new skill. As a Student Ambassador, you can represent UWE Bristol at various events, gain extra interpersonal skills and showcase your knowledge – the great thing is you are paid to do it!
Get those career enhancing opportunities
Because you study at UWE Bristol, your entrance to the annual Employers’ fair is guaranteed. This fair, which takes place around October, brings you in direct contact with about 180 employers from all different industries. They bring with them opportunities of placements, graduate schemes and free goody-bags. If you are successful in applying and securing a placement, I would consider that as a great achievement. Going out on placement is a rewarding experience as not only do you put into practice what you have learnt in your lectures, but you get to see how a company interacts with political, social and economic changes. But it is fine if you don’t get a placement, as you can still get a job with what you’ve learnt in your degree, as 96% of UWE Bristol graduates are in work or further study six months after graduating.
If you are willing to take hold of everything UWE Bristol has to offer, you will not notice the time fly by!
The University listens to its students through student rep forums and makes sure their facilities are up to standard. Over the past years, I have seen the Frenchay Campus grow in size due to new buildings for the faculties, which means more spaces to work in, more computers and more classrooms. With the added benefit of being able to download subject specific software and Microsoft Windows onto your personal computers, there really is no worry about not getting your work done on time.
Making connections with industry
Finally, in my personal opinion, it is through your degree that you make some great connections which last a lifetime. You not only meet students from all around the world and from all walks of life but you meet with industry professionals who will give you an insight into the working world and help you make the starting step into the field.
Want to see what a day at my placement looks like? Watch my Instagram takeover below!