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Your Employability Guide

Chris Jenks, Vice Chancellor, Brunel University.

Coming to university represents a huge investment in money as well as time and you’re likely to be to thinking about the kind of job you might get when you graduate – your ‘employability’. The Brunel view of employability is much broader than securing a job when you graduate. It stems from our mission and has been central to our work since we were founded. It’s about helping you to realise your potential, develop as an individual and make a positive contribution to society. Helping you to prepare for the future is something for which Brunel University is known. We pioneered work experience in our degree programmes and we’re continuing this in the opportunities we offer our students as part of their university experience which we encourage you to make the most of while you are here.


Promise Phillips is president of the Union of Brunel Students and a great advocate of the opportunities the Union has to offer for developing well rounded, capable, employable graduates.

I studied a three year financial computing degree at Brunel which didn’t include a placement. However, I knew that students who went on placements had a better chance of employment after University because they had that year of work experience. I got involved in club and society leadership here at Brunel to boost my employability skills. I set targets each year and reviewed them at the end of the year. If I could go back in time, one of the things I would change is my degree. I would change it to a 4 year course that would allow me to go out on placement because going out on placement makes you more employable and re-focuses your career decisions; it helps you mature as a person.

Welcome to your future

Going to University provides students with the opportunity to make an investment in their future. We also hope you will enjoy a fantastic experience as part of your studies. Why not enhance that experience from the start and get thinking about how you can get involved and use your experiences to work out what you want from life and ultimately, define your future dream career. Starting early on, from the word ‘go’, will help you to understand more about yourself, what you want and which career path you will want to follow. The graduate job market is a competitive place, there’s no two ways about it. However, you can get yourself one step ahead of everyone else by thinking about your future and making the most of the fantastic opportunities around you. At Brunel, we like to call it making yourself more employable. Finding ways to develop your skills, personal attributes and enhance your knowledge – all of which will help contribute towards your employability. Your academic School at Brunel will offer various employability initiatives, so why not ensure you find out about these and get involved. There’s no definitive blueprint of employer requirements for every job out there, but when you come to the end of your degree and join

the other c.300,000 graduates, you want to make sure you can stand out from the crowd. In a recent survey, 82% of businesses revealed that employability skills were the single most important consideration when recruiting graduates and that work experience plays a key role in the development of these skills.* At Brunel, you’re in good hands. We strive to be the best and have a multi-award winning Placement and Careers Centre. •

Rate My Placement award 2012 and 2010 for ‘Best University Placement/Careers Service’

Rate My Placement award 2011 for ‘University with a forward thinking attitude to work-based learning’ 2011

Matrix Excellence award – quality standard for information advice and guidance services.

When it comes to careers, it’s never too early to start planning and we’re keen to get you started. So why not give this guide a read and share it with your parents, family and friends to find out more about how you can make yourself more employable. *2011 CBI/EDI Education and Skills Survey.


Sohail Mohammed is a BSc Business and Management (Marketing) Graduate 2012.

I have found the PCC to be very proactive in engaging students through my studies at Brunel University. The placement officers are supportive and always ready to help. I would not hesitate to recommend students to make the most of the PCC and utilise the services they offer.


Richard Purnell works in the Communications Team at Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

The students from Brunel who have taken up work placements with Breakthrough Breast Cancer have had a hard-working attitude, a willingness to learn and positively contribute to our Communications team. We always view our student interns as valued members of the team and encourage them to bring new ideas and energy to our work and the Brunel students certainly do this. We have found the Brunel students can be relied upon to take on projects and deliver high-quality results. We are delighted with how the relationship with Brunel is working and hope it can long continue.

First Steps

So what can I do to make myself more employable? It really is never too soon to start thinking about the future and understanding yourself.

Where should I start? A key part when thinking about your future and your options is to ensure that you know and understand yourself, which will help you to make successful decisions for both your career and academic studies. A key part of knowing yourself is understanding:

What next? You then might want to think about the skills employers look for and how you might develop them. We recently held a series of focus groups with employers, who recruit our students and graduates (through sandwich placements, internships and graduate jobs) to find out which six skills they rated as their most important for students to have: 1. Communication – oral 2. Drive/energy

• The skills and qualities you have to offer

3. Communication – written

• The activities that absorb your interests, enthuse and fulfil you

4. Willingness to learn

• What energises you and helps you to take in information, make decisions and tackle the things life throws at you • How other people see you and what you have to offer others To help focus your interests and your potential career path, we recommend spending some time with a Careers Consultant thinking about: • What am I really interested in? • What skills do I enjoy using? • What kind of organisation do I want to work for? A large corporate? A small company? A charity? The public sector? • What career options are related specifically to my career? • What do graduates, who have studied my course, do?

5. Commitment 6. Motivation You may also want to think about developing your skills in more depth: • People skills: leadership, team‑working, inter-personal skills. • Self-reliance skills: self-awareness, resourcefulness, networking ability. • General skills: initiative, problem‑solving, commitment, flexibility, attention to detail. • Specialist skills: IT, technical or business skills. Throughout the rest of the guide we give you more details and ideas about the way in which you could develop yourself.


George Coats is a BA Theatre Student who had a placement at the BBC.

Sophia Swidzinska is the Talent Officer (LDN & SE) for Teach First and attended Brunel’s Recruitment Fair.

I work with the PCC as an Employability Representative in organising and helping run events which promote employability for students at Brunel. My main job last year was conducting and co-ordinating several interviews with Graduates of the School of Arts within Brunel who had gone on to be very successful in their own fields of expertise. I recently completed a 4 week work experience placement with the BBC. I was directly involved with the creation of a comedy show, working in areas such as: sound, lighting, editing, running and camera operation. This fantastic opportunity was something I thought I would have to wait for a very long time to receive, however, it was afforded me during the first long term holiday after my first year of university. I would recommend that anyone who wants a head start in their careers takes the very short trip up to the PCC and see what work experience placements might be available to you, I had an amazing time working with the BBC, and will hopefully be returning there very soon.


My colleague and I had a brilliant day and met lots of high calibre students, finalists and graduates – some who had heard of us, some who hadn’t and some who actively sought us out! It was a great day. I look forward to the next Brunel Graduate Recruitment Fair!

Working while you study

Gaining work experience which is paid while you are at University is another way to build your employability skills. The PCC has a Job Shop which advertises part-time, vacation work and internships to Brunel students. Whether it is general part-time work on campus and in the local area, or more specific course related opportunities you are looking for, the PCC Job Shop advertises roles in business, IT, finance, media, creative industries and many more. From September 2011 up to the end of July 2012 we paid in excess of £750,000 in wages to around 3,000 students doing part time work around the Brunel campus. The roles available on campus vary from the popular Student Ambassador scheme to administration, customer service, IT support and everything in between. Roles on campus often offer flexible working hours or are event based, enabling you to find working solutions that enhance your experience at Brunel.

Other forms of paid part-time work, such as a job you may have had whilst you were at school or college, are just as important to help you reflect on the invaluable skills you have developed and continue to do so, through this type of work.

Benefits of finding part-time work • Develop skills and experience that enhance your CV. • Ease financial pressures of attending university. • Flexible working options that fit around your academic timetable. • Gain insight into different working environments. • Experience the recruitment process and build confidence in making applications. • Improve your future employability prospects.


Richard Clapton, a BSc (Hons) Information Systems & Computing student, had a placement with Lloyds Banking Group.

I was sure from the first moment that a placement option was offered that it is what I wanted to do; to put into practice the skills I had learnt in my first 2 years through real life situations and understand the extra complexities involved, which you don’t always gather through theory alone. The Placement and Careers Centre were instrumental in helping me get my placement, from advertising vacancies, looking through my C.V and suggesting improvements, to helping me with interview techniques, the support was always there when needed and helped me to become a strong candidate.


Gareth Williams, CEO, Interoute

We have been recruiting from Brunel for the last 3 years. We have over 10 Brunel students currently on placement at Interoute. Why? 2 reasons. The students have made a significant contribution to the company and the service that the Placement & Careers Centre offers is excellent.

Sandwich placements

There are real benefits to doing a sandwich placement as part of your degree, not least because you’ll have a chance to enjoy a year out of University gaining invaluable experience for the future. Not only will it help you to stand out from the crowd and develop your skills, but your experience will help you define what you really want (or perhaps don’t want) to do as a career.

• Our research shows that Brunel students who have done a placement are twice as likely to get a 1st class degree compared with those who have not.

Some encouraging things to think about…

• The average starting salary for graduates who complete a placement during their Brunel degree is significantly higher than for those who do not. The class of 2011 graduates saw a difference of just under £5,000 per annum – which meant their average starting salary was £22,663!

• You will gain first hand experience in the real world of work and learn skills that will be immediately transferable for your future career. • Sandwich placements normally take the form of a one-year block (a thick sandwich) or for the School of Social Sciences, two six-month periods (a thin sandwich).

• A work placement will help you to decide what you want to do when you graduate. This is your chance to find out the kind of things that you might prefer to do in the future.

• Almost 80% of employed 2011 placement degree graduates had graduate jobs, which were classed in the top three graduate job categories.

• You may even be offered a job by your work placement employer after graduation; it’s not uncommon. • You may be paid during your sandwich placement; a great way to earn some money! • Many of the placements are paid with salaries ranging from £14,000 to £20,000. This is particularly true of Business, Engineering and Design and Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics placements. Social Sciences, Health and Social Care placements are often unpaid, due to the fact they are hosted by organisations in the not for profit and charity sectors. However, expenses are usually given and it may be possible to receive a placement bursary.


Emma studied for an MA in English at Brunel and is now taking a PhD English and Creative Writing

I believe that my volunteering over the past year or so helped me to develop the skills needed to get the Communications job I now do at Brunel. After I finished my first degree, I applied to be a Special Needs Teaching Assistant, and I got the job because of my experience of working with children and young people as a volunteer classroom assistant in a secondary school, and through a Community Outreach programme teaching creative writing, and running an after school club. Volunteering is a great idea for so many reasons – it’s a good way to meet new people, to learn new skills, it looks great on your CV and on applications, and you get to feel good about yourself too!


Eric Mtungwaz is the Recruitment Manager at City Year London and a Brunel Graduate (Sport Sciences)

“We’re delighted to be association with Brunel and work closely with the Placement and Careers Centre team. The graduates on our programme have demonstrated excellence in their commitment to addressing the social division – caused by educational disadvantage – by being outstanding ambassadors and role models for children, young people and communities in need. We’ve also been impressed by their commitment to continual learning and challenging themselves as young leaders.”

Volunteering in the community

Volunteering your time with a local community organisation is another way you can develop the skills that will attract an employer. Remember that your CV and experience is your passport to success. Volunteering is a good way to add some skills and experience to your CV and learn more about yourself. Brunel Volunteers can help you find opportunities to become involved. They already have lots of volunteering opportunities to choose from but may also be able to help you with a tailor-made project if there is something specific you would like to do. The skills you learn through volunteering can illustrate your commitment to a task, your time management skills or how you work with different kinds of people. Volunteering can also give you the opportunity to try out a particular career direction, or just try something different. Remember that more and more companies are themselves becoming involved in their local communities. Many encourage the involvement

of employees in their own schemes as part of their corporate social responsibility. Companies are keen that new employees fit in with this way of working so here’s your chance to shine.

Benefits of volunteering • You learn new skills, which are transferable and will be valued by graduate recruiters. • You get to meet a wide range of people. • You get to try out new things, which will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. • It looks great on your CV – you can choose activities relevant to your area of study or chosen career. • It is fun and free! For more information on how to get involved, visit


Patrick Diai is a BEng (Hons) Electronic & Electrical Engineering Graduate (2012).

I first became aware of Brunel’s Placement and Careers Centre in my first year, when I was offered a vital CV update service. By my second year, they were always available to assist and look over job applications for the placements I had applied to. I do owe some credit to the team as I managed to secure a placement with the world’s largest car-maker General Motors, where I worked for 13 months as an engineer. I feel the PCC makes a lot of effort proactively and through email to reach out to students, encouraging and persuading them to think about their career after university.


Karly-Rai Rogers is currently a PhD research student in the Biosciences department

I decided to do a work placement to put the skills I’d learnt during my study into practice. I joined BJS Biotechnologies who had designed a piece of lab equipment (a PCR thermal cycler) that is different to all others on the market and they employed me to oversee the biological side. More than six years after starting my undergraduate degree, I’m still at Brunel and now studying for my PhD. I am sponsored by the company where I undertook my work placement, BJS Biotechnologies and I am very happy. Being at Brunel has developed me as a scientist and a person.

Opportunities in the Brunel community

Student Ambassadors Both the Marketing and Widening Participation departments recruit students to become ambassadors to represent both Brunel and Higher Education in general to a range of audiences, through a number of different activities throughout the year.

Widening Participation Mentoring Programme

There is a wealth of opportunities available at Brunel for students to get involved in. It’s important to remember, that developing these skills isn’t all just about being able to get a job, they will also help you succeed academically too.

The Widening Participation department provides professional mentoring programmes to help you identify your career goals, extend your network to include relevant professionals in your target sector, develop vital interpersonal skills and get an insider’s view of a sector, industry or profession.

Halls of Residences Student Mentors

From September 2012 new students will receive a Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR), which will enable you to record your extra-curricular activities. Many employers will be interested in reading your HEAR as part of their recruitment process.

The University recruits Student Mentors to work in our Halls of Residences. The Student Mentors provide support and advice to new resident students and help promote a sense of community within the University and help them settle in to their new surroundings.

Enhancing your existing skills and developing new ones will make a significant contribution to achieving the best possible degree grade and provide further examples of your personal development required by graduate recruiters.

Academic Skills Service (ASK)

Union of Brunel Students (UBS) The opportunities are plentiful, including: working in their nightlife venues, becoming a School or Course representative, becoming involved with clubs and societies as well as their student media outlets.

The Library’s ASK service specialises in teaching students the skills needed to learn independently and thrive academically. The ASK team contributes to lectures, provides workshops on study skills as well as individual support. All of these opportunities will help you to understand your options and yourself sooner; which in turn will help you to make career related decisions more successfully. Find out more by taking a look at our Skills Section on our website: http://


Rachel Walker is an LLB (Hons) Law graduate (2012).

As a law student I used the PCC regularly. I found the PCC especially useful when applying for my placement; I was helped with my CV, covering letters, and application form and was aided in collating ideas and examples for my interview. My placement has benefited me greatly as it prepared me for my final year studies and has stood me in great stead for employment after university. I sought assistance from the PCC regarding my future career goals and how to achieve them. I was helped with covering letters, CV and interview preparation and now work at Pannone LLP. I thoroughly enjoy my job and believe the skills I am acquiring with benefit me greatly when completing my training contract. The PCC have been extremely helpful, the advice and service I received was fantastic and I do not think I would have landed such great jobs without their help.


Hephzibah Kwakye-Saka is a BSc (Hons) Communication and Media Studies student and completed a Media Relations internship at Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

I have always wanted to know if I could have a future in PR and this placement gives you a realistic view of what the future will be like in this career. I was very quickly treated as a member of the communications team and not just an intern. I feel that my opinions are valued and that all the jobs I do either relate to my course, challenge me and build on my skills. This placement has given me an opportunity to learn new things in the world of PR and media relations. It has also allowed me to make an informed decision about my future career and I would recommend it to anyone.

The Placement and Careers Centre (PCC)

We also run workshops, careers insight events, part time and careers fairs with many employers getting involved in the delivery of these events.

How do we do this? We deliver high quality guidance, information, careers education, work placement and recruitment services. Our goal is to support the University in developing you in to confident, talented and versatile graduates. The PCC is where all your career, placement and part-time job needs are catered for. We’re here to help you identify your potential and succeed. We assist students to enhance employability through work placement and work experience and help students and recent graduates develop the skills and knowledge needed for informed career decision making and job or course search before leaving University and beyond.

How can we help? The PCC comprises of three dedicated teams to help you: Job Shop, the Placement team and the Careers team. Our aim is to help you improve skills for employment and get a job. This commitment is to both students and graduates; we’ll continue to help for up to two years post-graduation. Job Shop help current Brunel students to find part-time and vacation work both oncampus, in the local area and nationally. Placement work with students on sandwich placement courses to secure 12 month (or two periods of 6 months) accredited work experience. Careers help students and graduates in their career planning and provide resources and workshops to help you recognise and articulate your skills to employers.

We assist our students to enhance employability through work placements, work experience and help students, along with recent graduates, develop the skills and knowledge needed for informed career decision making and job/course search before leaving University and beyond.

Getting Involved: Employability Representatives Making students employable and helping to achieve their potential is at the core of what we do. Each year the PCC recruits students to become Employability Representatives who help to spread the message about employability, the opportunities available, how we can help and about getting that great graduate job. Employability Representatives assist with different activities, from promoting our events through social media to meeting companies looking to recruit Brunel students and graduates to offer that invaluable student perspective.

Why not come and visit us? You can make an appointment on the day to see either a Careers Consultant or a Placement Officer for an initial chat and find out more about how we can help you get to where you want to be. We’re open from 9:30am – 4:45pm, Monday – Friday, all year. 15

Rob Jones is the HR Manager at WebFusion.

The Placement & Careers Centre has always been responsive to our requests. The staff are engaging and I particularly like their “one stop shop” approach to servicing employers. We have had part time workers, placement students and graduates from Brunel. We have a good working relationship with PCC for many years.  BrunelPCC @brunelpcc

The Placement and Careers Centre was awarded ‘Best UK Placement/Careers Service’ at the 2012 National Placement and Internship Awards.

‘University with a forward-thinking approach to work-based learning’ was the accolade for the Placement and Careers Centre at the 2011 National Placement and Internship Awards.

Brunel is one of the few universities to gain the prestigious Matrix Excellence Award, which is granted for high-quality advice, guidance and information.

1st Floor, Bannerman Centre, Brunel University, Uxbridge UB8 3PH 01895 266840 (internal ext 66840) 137212B 180712

Your Employability Guide (2012)  

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