Guest Post: Aptitude Tests for Graduates – Explained

Ed Mellett, Director at WikiJob

If you have spent the last few years studying and you have now finished your degree, it is time to enter the world of work either through a graduate program or regular job with a leading firm. The majority of large employers now use what’s known as an aptitude test to evaluate a number of skills in several different areas. The aptitude test is commonly found in various graduate level vacancies because employers use them to determine how well you will perform in the role you have applied for rather than relying on your qualifications as an indicator of performance. But what exactly are these aptitude tests, how do you prepare for them and most importantly how can they help you secure employment?

Aptitude tests are frequently used in the recruitment process as a method of shortlisting weaker candidates or to ensure that the applicants recruiters have shortlisted are suitable for their organisation. As with anything, if you know what to expect beforehand and you have read a little on aptitude tests you will be more prepared if you are asked to sit them when applying for graduate jobs.

Aptitude tests or psychometric tests as they are sometimes refereed are impersonal, objective and standardised. There are several different types of the tests which are used to assess various skills and competencies. Employers place a great deal of emphasis on these assessments as part of the selection process because they are thought to be an accurate method of evaluating the strengths of the applicant in a workplace situation regardless of your educational background.

Different types of aptitude test

The aptitude test is often used at various points throughout the recruitment and selection process including immediately after submitting your application, at the first interview, at the final interview or at an assessment centre. Sometimes you may be asked to sit the same aptitude test twice with the second test used to confirm the result of an earlier test or you may have to sit several tests at different stages in the recruitment process. It very much depends on the employer so it is always worth finding out if you are applying to a specific firm.

The main types of aptitude test include;

Numerical Reasoning – Your ability to read, analyse and interpret data, carry out basic calculations or identify patterns in data

Verbal Reasoning – How well you read and understand written information and evaluate arguments

Non-Verbal Reasoning – The way in which you use diagrams and images to identify patterns

Logical Reasoning – If you can follow information through to a conclusion using existing experience or knowledge

Each of the aptitude tests will include a set of approximately 30, multiple choice questions which you have to progress through under timed conditions. Typically, you will have 30 seconds to a minute to answer each question so it is important that you learn how to approach the tests and progress through the questions quickly and accurately.

 

There are currently two types of logical reasoning test including inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning so it is recommended that you familiarise yourself with each.

Inductive Reasoning

Typically found in particular industries such as IT, engineering or science inductive reasoning tests are part of the recruitment process in technical roles. Each question will present a series of pictures but there will be minor differences between each image. You may be asked to look at a set of pictures and select the one that would complete the series.

Deductive Reasoning

Another method of logical reasoning, deductive assessments are designed to evaluate a different kind of problem solving. In this test you will be expected to evaluate a number of rules and then apply these rules to make predictions on the likely outcome of a given scenario. These assessments are used in roles where you are required to create new solutions or think up creative ideas such as design or development.

An aptitude test is specifically designed to evaluate your ability to learn a new skill required for the job that you are applying for and the type of test will be determined by the sector and role you are applying for.

The importance of practice

Aptitude tests are not something that you can succeed in without completing any preparatory work beforehand. As they are very fast paced it is important that you perfect your technique and accustom yourself to the nature of the assessments. The best way to approach an aptitude test for a graduate vacancy or training scheme is to familiarise yourself with the questions and format of the tests. You will also be able to identify weaker areas or certain skills that you need to work on. If you have a numerical or verbal reasoning test to complete as part of the recruitment process there are several things that you can do to prepare. Firstly, you should polish up on your mathematical skills. Numerical reasoning tests don’t require advanced numeracy such as trigonometry or algebra; they simply demand a good grasp of the basics. Focus specifically on percentages, ratios and basic calculations. If you are sitting a verbal reasoning test brush up on your spelling and when you read a newspaper or magazine think about the statements, their meaning and how they could be interpreted.

With the internet it is now possible to access aptitude tests online through careers websites and dedicated test practice sites. It is well worth taking the time to sit as many of these tests as you possibly can so you are as fully prepared as possible and you can sit the test on the day of your interview with confidence. Practice is really important, not just so you can familiarise yourself with the style and structure of the test but to make sure you get your timing right and you avoid making common mistakes such as misunderstanding the question or marking your answer against the wrong question when working under pressure.

Aptitude tests are certainly not impossible provided that you research them and carry out the necessary preparation. Your college or university will have lots of information and advice on these tests and the Internet is a great resource too. If you prepare properly there is no reason why you can’t succeed and secure your ideal graduate employment opportunity.

Guest Post: Personal Development in Your First Year of Post-Graduate Employment

Samantha Condliffe – Digital Marketing Exec at Infinities

Time Management

As soon as you embark upon your first post-graduate role you will commit to a brand new schedule. If you are taking on a full time job you will usually be expected to work between 35 and 40 hours per week. Office based jobs usually adopt a ‘9 till 5, 5 days a week’ kind of policy however customer facing roles may require more varied hours. This will naturally add more structure to your life and you will become accustomed to a new routine. Attendance will be more crucial than ever as you will be under the watchful eye of your employer or line manager who will need to document any absences and if you don’t already do so you will be expected to achieve impeccable time management. This is something which is transferable and extremely useful in other areas of your life. The routine of your new job will shape your personal life to a certain extent and with less time on your hands you will learn how to be more productive with the time you have and also learn how to juggle relationships.

Responsibility

You will likely spend the first few weeks of your new job getting to know the ropes but once you are settled in you will take on the responsibility of fulfilling certain duties or tasks for which you will be accountable for. You will have experience in completing tasks for deadlines at university, however failing to complete assignments would only have a negative impact on yourself whereas failing to complete tasks in your new job will have an impact on the business which employs you.

You may also be given objectives or targets which you will be expected to meet and preferably exceed. Your employer or manager should ensure that these are fair and manageable. By taking on this kind of accountability you will learn how to manage responsibility and become more confident in delivering results.

Communication & Networking

A new job means a new group of people. The number will be dictated by the size of the company you work for or the size of the office in which you are based but it is encouraged that you get to know all of the people that you work with day to day. You will also get to meet or at least speak with external figures including clients, suppliers and other associates. This will develop your communication, relationship management and networking skills and provide you with connections in numerous different industries. You will be surprised how useful these connections can be at various occasions in your later career, even if you don’t realise it at the time.

Within your role you will most likely be asked to report on performance or pitch new ideas to management. A popular method of doing so is presenting, something which you may have had some practice in at university. It can still be nerve wracking presenting to a new group of people to start with but the more you do this the more comfortable you will be communicating in this way. This is such a valuable skill and it is transferable to any other role you may move to in the future.

Self-Confidence

I am going to end on self-confidence as the three personal skills above all contribute to this. The knowledge that you have great time management and are highly responsible gives you confidence in yourself to fulfil both tasks and new roles. Having great communication skills will naturally make you more confident in speaking to new people and this is something which will shine through. On top of this, the work skills which you will also acquire will give you more confidence in fulfilling your current job and the belief that you can adapt and grow into other roles.

Guest Post: The Qualities of a Translator – Alexander Zeller

Global-with-Translation-Services-150x150The demand for professional translators in an ever globalising world is continually rising, but what are the preferred qualities of a person who is thinking of a career in translation and what skills and level of expertise should they expect to attain?

Most people would think that being fluent in at least one other language other than their own native language was the main factor in becoming a professional translator, but there is much more to it than that.

All translators should be able to write well and enjoy writing. This means they have an appreciation of words and their meanings as well as be ready to experiment with words and phrases to suit the demands of the text they are to translate. Translation skills will include being able to have a feel for the tone and style of the text as well as appreciate the cultural context it is embedded in. Translators are often asked to contribute their own ideas and write blogs and of course read what other translators are thinking about their profession.

Translators are expected to have had first-hand experience in the parts of the world where the language(s) they will be offering to translate are spoken. This means visiting or living there and taking part in communication with native speakers, listening to films, reading literature, newspapers, magazines and website pages and any other activity that can help to enhance knowledge of the language.

It is common for translators to develop specialist knowledge in at least one particular sphere of expertise. Some people retrain as translators after having prior experience or a career in a trade or profession which can be useful to them as translators. For instance, having knowledge of the law can help in legal document translation, a science or technical background helps a translator deal with scientific or medical documents or appliance manuals. A background or degree in literature may lend well to a career as a literary translator.

IT skills are crucial for all translators, even if it is just thorough familiarity with word processing skills and probably the use of spreadsheets, power point presentations and web page construction. Most clients will expect to provide what they want translated in a particular format and often this will be uploaded on to the Internet as an attachment. Many, although not all, translators are increasingly aware of the use of computer aided software (CAT) tools, which are available to help deal with repetitive content and content which is very similar.

Translators will normally be expected to keep to deadlines and determine with reasonable accuracy how long a translation task will take and provide quotes to a client in terms of how much a task will cost. These sorts of skills are more important if the translator decides to work by themselves as a freelancer instead of as part of a team at a translation agency. Independent freelancers are in fact running a business of their own and therefore business skills will become just as important as being able to translate effectively.

All translators, whether they decide to work for themselves or as part of a team, must be able to maintain a very high level of confidentiality and be completely reliable when it comes to the information they translate. Many translation tasks, especially anything related to business interests and legal documents must be kept completely confidential and translators should be able to convince clients that they are beyond reproach.

Finally, translation as a career is dynamic. Translators will find that their level of expertise, like many professionals, improves immeasurably with practice and should appreciate that there are many ways to help further the need to further their career.

Recruitment – It’s everywhere, but what is it really like to be a Graduate Recruitment Consultant

We are delighted to welcome a guest post from Charlie Lewington, Graduate Recruitment Consultant at SW6associates and Surrey Alumnus

I joined recruitment because, like most people if we’re being honest, I needed money. What I have come to understand is that far aside from just the money which can be made in Recruitment (which is obviously great) it is also a fantastic career, it’s not the ‘fall back’ option it has often been portrayed as. Yes, I fell into recruitment – but if I had known more about it, it may have been my choice from the very beginning.

The industry is a vibrant one: In the UK, the annual industry turnover is currently over £30 billion and is forecast to rise considerably over the next few years. It’s also an industry where candidates can move their careers forward at a pace unrivalled anywhere else. Recruiters operate in virtually all sectors of the employment market, so there’s always the possibility of finding and working in a sector that particularly interests you.

Recruitment was a tougher role than I initially thought it would be. Starting off as a Resourcer is a great way to train; I was paired with a great Senior Consultant who taught me one on one and at my own pace. There’s a real thrill in closing a deal; not just because it earns us commission, but because it’s genuinely exciting. We win the business, find a candidate, take them through the interview process, and then finally they accept the job offer.  There’s an enormous satisfaction in owning that process.

You quickly learn how to handle difficult situations, communicate with people at all levels in their career, and get an insight into how businesses make decisions. From day one you begin building your own business within a business. I’ve developed invaluable skills in negotiating, prioritising and communicating.

It’s a role where you’re dealing with people day in, day out, and people can be unreliable and frustrating. This job is tough: Investing time, effort and energy in every candidate you believe in only to be let down time and again is harder than you might think; you can do everything right and still not get a deal. However, eventually it does all click, and there’s a moment where everything becomes easier and you begin to really understand the recruitment process and your role in it.

Recruitment has allowed me to pay off my debts from travelling, move out of my parent’s house, visit 10 countries in a year and a half and spend way too much money on booze. I have been taken to some of the top restaurants in London and bought all the alcohol I could handle on Lunch Clubs, I have been take on a 5* holiday away and I have made some friends for life (I hope). I have grown more as a person in this last year then in three years at university and I am definitely a more capable person in every aspect of my life because of this job.

More than just the money, I have learnt to deal with difficult situations, I had the privilege to speak to directors of amazing organisations and leaders in the industry on a day to day basis and to feel like a real part something from day 1 – you can learn a huge amount from intelligent people who are experts in their fields. Recruitment is a career which threw me into the real world and taught me valuable communication and confidence skills.

It’s not an easy job, but it’s an incredibly rewarding job which I would recommend to anyone who is not afraid to take on a challenge or put in a lot of hard work. To be good at this job you don’t need specific skills, but you do need to be able to show where you have been competitive, resilient and have gone above and beyond what has been expected from you in the past. Yes, you may have been to University and received a 2.1 but what else have you achieved while you’ve been studying?

The main piece of advice I would give to anyone looking to join the Recruitment Industry is to choose a company suited to you. In the last year along 5,000 new recruitment agencies have been created so it’s easy to see how, as with any career, you could fall into the wrong hands. Luckily, I am exposed daily to the best Companies in the UK so very much have faith in the Recruitment Industry to train, support and grow the next generation of top Recruiters.

As a University of Surrey Alumnus I am always happy to give advice and information to those looking into Recruitment as an option after University, I can be contacted at Charlie@sw6associates.com

Personal Brand: Your LinkedIn Profile

We are delighted to welcome a guest post from Jack J Collins,

Editor of AllAboutFinanceCareers.com

Something that’s absolutely key in the finance industry is building your own personal brand, and one of the foremost ways of doing so is through your use of Social Media. Here at AllAboutFinanceCareers, we’ve put together a checklist of how you can make sure that your LinkedIn profile (perhaps the most important weapon in your social media arsenal) is consistent with what you’re trying to convey.  With more than 300 million users on the site, you need to do something special in order to stand out. Here’s our top tips on how to do just that.

Buzzwords in Useful Places

One of the most utilised features of LinkedIn that employers use when looking for the right people to employ in their firm, is the specialised search function. This search function allows employers to locate profiles which contain keywords related to the industry they are a part of, in order to sift quickly through large numbers of candidates and identify those that they will be taking further in the employment process – after all, they’re looking for the people who have the skills to move the company forward.  What this means is that you need to have industry-specific keywords scattered around your profile.

Your headline, personal summary, job descriptions and skills are all prime spots to list your abilities and relevant skills, so make sure that you don’t sell yourself short.

Headline

Your headline is the first (and sometimes the only) thing that employers read, so you need to make sure that it does you justice as a candidate. Decide where you’re going to focus your applications and then fit as much industry or job-related information into your headline.

Get your most relevant current position in first, and then follow it with some skills and perhaps a key achievement, in order to make sure you cannot be overlooked.

Filling Out The Gaps

LinkedIn offers numerous different sections to your profile in order that you can add as much information as possible – this is so you can show what you’re capable of and what you have achieved to employers who are on the lookout for fresh blood. You need to utilise this as fully as you can – if you have qualifications, put them in the qualifications section! If you’ve won awards for any particular reason, and an employer might be impressed, get them in the awards part of your profile.

There’s no point hiding anything that might make you stand out from the crowd, so spend some time filling out as much of your profile as possible. Some employers will have a soft spot for those who have participated in a particular sport or were part of a particular society, so it’s worth sticking them in just in case – you never know who it is that is looking and what they are looking for!

Endorsements and Testimonials

In the search function, LinkedIn scans your testimonials for keywords and uses this data to rank you in their listings, so it’s worth requesting industry-focused testimonials that add to your personal brand. If you’ve highlighted the parts of your character that you think are relevant to the industry and will impress employers, ask the people recommending you if they could include these key words within their testimonials.

There’s no shame in asking those recommending you to focus their praise on a specific part of your work or a particularly impressive project that you worked on together. It’s worth it because getting those specific, brand-focused testimonials will do wonders in improving your ranking and therefore, your employability!

 

Are students put off becoming a ‘boring accountant’?

We are delighted to welcome a guest post from Daniel Yeo

Every business needs an accountant. The financial side of a business needs to be looked after and it’s their job to make sure everything runs smoothly. Why, then, is such a vital cog in the business world the butt of so many jokes? Furthermore, are students hoping to study Accountancy and other mathematical sciences being put off by the outdated image of the ‘boring accountant’?

Do people actually think accountants are boring?

To work out if this preconception still exists, financial broker, Spread Co, spoke to some recent graduates from a range of courses including Accountancy and Finance and Economics to discover some of the comments made by people about their course and career choices.

All of the graduates questioned were currently in employment in a relevant field so their responses could even include things they’d heard while in the workplace. Some of the questions and comments they submitted revealed that the idea of the ‘boring accountant’ is one that many people still believe. Their answer included the relatively harmless “Don’t you just make the numbers up?” to the offensive “Won’t you want to kill yourself doing that 9-5?”

Daniel Yeo, for Blog

Asking them to prove these stereotypes wrong, Spread Co also asked the graduates to respond to the comments they’d received. Their responses were collated and can be seen in a great image set, here.

Among the graduates was an Economics graduate who’d just hitchhiked across the Balkans and a Finance and Management graduate who was backpacking around New Zealand and Australia. All of the answers on offer revealed that not only are these blooming financiers and accountants not boring, but they all feel very positive about their future in both their business and personal lives.

Working in finance makes financial sense

Prospects for students who study mathematical science are great overall. Surrey University students in particular have a ’Graduate Prospects Score’ of 76 (out of 100) which means they’re much more likely to get a job after study. The focused and vocational nature of these courses mean it’s easier for graduates to find employment straight after graduating.

For graduates entering the job market, wages are often unsuitably low. The rise of unpaid internships and zero-hour contracts mean many struggle in the immediate period after they’ve finished studying. Fortunately, for graduate accountants the starting salaries are much higher than average and around the same level as a qualified engineer (around £27,000). Money isn’t everything, but having the security of knowing that you’re more likely to get a job and that it’ll be well paid when you finish university can only be a positive thing for graduates.

Are students being put off?

It seems that rather than being put off by outdated stereotypes, today’s students recognise the stability a degree in a mathematical science can give you. Businesses will always need the numerically gifted and, in an unstable job market, there are always opportunities out there.

University application numbers have seen some slight dips in recent years with the lowest applicant numbers coinciding with the rise in student fees in 2012. However, in both 2014 and 2015, they began to recover, with 2015’s figures seeing an encouraging but modest increase of 1%. Applications in the mathematical science field did even better, and surged, with a 6% increase from the previous year. That’s an extra 2,350 applications and almost 50,000 in total.

It looks like more young people than ever are deciding that the financial industry may be the career choice for them. The UK still has a very weak job market and many will find it difficult to find employment. By choosing such a vocational degree with a very direct job route, it appears many students are hedging their bets on ‘safer’ degrees and giving themselves the best chance to get straight into work after university.

Accountants going global

It’s no surprise that so many of the graduates questioned are amateur globetrotters. Universities in the UK are lucky enough to have a great number of overseas students. Over the course of 2014, 435,495 overseas students attended university in the UK across all courses.

The percentage of overseas students on mathematical science courses is much higher than the majority of courses, as students from all over the world travel to get a world-class education. There are four British universities in the top ten for accounting and finance in the world, illustrating the potential for attracting international talent. Around 20% of mathematical science courses are populated with overseas students, and this exposure to people and cultures from all over the world is invaluable for those looking to get involved in international business.

It’s also interesting that a large proportion of these students are Chinese. China is the world’s second largest economy and will, one day soon, become the largest. The exposure to both Chinese culture as well as the potential to make connections is invaluable for these students.

Overall, the job opportunities, both in terms of salary and availability, and the fact that applications to mathematical science degrees are increasing six times faster than for other degrees, illustrates that students aren’t being put off these kind of courses; in fact, appetites for moving into accounting and finance careers are greater than ever before.

Guest Post: Understanding Your Salary – Christina Hirst

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One of the most exciting prospects when getting your first job after university is the thought of earning your own money. No longer will you need to scrimp and save, forced to buy supermarket own brand goods and no longer will you rely on the Student Loans Company as your main source of income.

With a job, however, comes extra responsibilities. Depending on how much you earn, you’ll start to pay back your student loan, as well as contribute tax and, potentially, you may need to start paying into a pension fund. So after all that, how much money will you actually be left with?

Online tools, such as the NatWest Salary Calculator will help you to calculate your actual take-home, pay once all payments have been deducted. Knowing exactly how much you’ll actually be earning will help you to understand how much you can afford to spend.

It’s a good idea to then work out a budget, for how you’re going to spend your salary. Remember to consider how much rent you’ll need to pay, along with any bills, travel and grocery costs. You’ll be left with a much clearer idea of how much you’re finally able to spend on some of the finer things in life with your new hard earned salary.

Guest post: Entering the Localisation Industry – Maria Perdiki, Surrey University Alumni

Maria Perdiki, Surrey University AlumniEver since I can remember, I have been fascinated by languages and the opportunity they present to understand different cultures and lifestyles. It was this curiosity that led me in the direction of my Bachelor’s course on English Language and Literature at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Whilst completing my undergraduate studies, I developed a great interest in linguistics, particularly grammar and semantics. After four years of studies, I decided to move to the UK and undertake a Master’s degree in Translation at the University of Surrey. Throughout my postgraduate studies, my interest in localisation grew, and I realised the importance of adapting content to different locales, with cultural identity being prominent and essential in the successful delivery of a product to the global market.

During my Master’s course, I had the opportunity to acquire both theoretical and practical knowledge, while analysing linguistic and intercultural theories. I attended technical and economic translation workshops, as well as CAT (computer assisted translation) tools training sessions. The various career fairs, translation seminars and other language-related events organised by the university, in addition to the one-to-one consultations with the department’s tutors shed light on how the translation industry operates in the UK and helped me plan my first steps to building my career in localisation.

One month after I completed my postgraduate studies, I joined VSI for a 3-month internship. I learnt of the internship scheme after attending an industry-related seminar advertised by the Translation Department at Surrey. One of the speakers, who represented VSI, spoke of the business side of translation, as well as the internship that VSI was offering to graduate students. At the end of the presentation, I was brave enough to approach them and request more information about the position. I then submitted my application and was lucky enough to be invited to an interview, and then subsequently offered the position.

What attracted me to VSI was the company’s specialisation in audio-visual translation, including subtitling, voice-over and dubbing of feature films, TV series, documentaries, commercials, and much more. The company’s prestigious clientele and years of experience in media localisation convinced me that VSI would provide a great start to my career.

During my internship, I acquired further knowledge in subtitling, transcription, translation and training in market-leading subtitling software. I provided linguistic support and administrative assistance in project management and file trafficking. I developed organisational, interpersonal and technical skills and was introduced to the company’s workflows across different departments.

After completing my internship, I was offered a permanent Project Coordinator role with a London-based translation agency, which I accepted. A few months later, however, I re-joined VSI after seeing a vendor management position advertised on the VSI website. Although I was not unhappy at the new company, I missed the atmosphere at VSI and the opportunity to work on projects for big name clients.

In my current role, it is important for me to have good understanding of the various types of services VSI provide and the specialist translators required for each of them, as it is my responsibility to ensure we maintain and expand our vetted supplier database. It is essential that I display strong organisational, negotiation and communication skills, as well as the ability to juggle multiple tasks. I must also take initiative in order to improve internal procedures and propose solutions to problems.

These skills are predominantly obtained in the workplace, so I would strongly urge anyone looking to enter the localisation industry to gain as much practical experience as possible. What I would also say to current students is always keep your eyes and ears open for potential internships and job openings. Attend industry-related events and seminars to get an understanding of the localisation market and how businesses operate. Be proactive and curious about developing different skills in your chosen field of study. The experience you gain will be the first steps towards a long-lasting and successful career.

Interview with Kam Sahota, Project Manager at Viking Direct, talks to us about how she got started in project management.

We are delighted to welcome a guest post from Joseph Hill who interviewed Kam at Viking Direct

Kam Sahota

Why did you decide to work in the industry and how did it start?

“When I grow up I want to be a project manager” was never a sentence that came to mind as I was growing up.

I started working a part time job in a call centre when I started college. I worked there for 8 years in various different roles and, whilst none had the title ‘project manager’, they all required the same skill set of a PM – organisation, efficiency, proactivity, planning and prioritisation.

During my third placement year at university I worked as part of a project team on the implementation of a new system in the call centre. I gained quality experience as a support member of the project team. I also became interested in delivering work that brought improvement and efficiency and to my surprise I became familiar with the ‘language’ of the workplace – something academic qualifications don’t teach you.

So when I finally graduated, I knew what my soft skills were and how I could marry them up with my qualifications and experience to land myself a role that would lead to project management.

What was the most important thing you learned in education/university?

I took two important learnings away with me:

  • If you don’t know it or don’t understand it, Google it!
  • A good assignment is delivered within scope, to high quality and on time – oh wait, so is a project!

What was the turning point in your career? 

I studied Business Information Technology at university and after graduation I secured a graduate job with a large corporate technology company, working on a Government account as a Project Management Office (PMO) officer. Within a year of being on the graduate scheme I was promoted to a junior project manager working with a team of senior project and programme managers on multi-million pound projects. This was a huge achievement for me and a great opportunity. I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and applied myself fully to the role making sure I was asking the right questions and investing my time in learning the details of the role.

I quickly learnt that no two projects are the same and the journey is always a learning curve. Each project has its own challenges and therefore flexibility is vital.

What does a typical day at Viking look like for you?

I’m a morning person and like to be in the office before 8.00am. My day starts with logging on to my laptop, checking emails and getting/providing progress updates on projects I’m working on.

Throughout the day, I usually split my time between working on core activities relating to project delivery and supporting the project teams. Much of the rest of the day is usually varied depending on current priorities.

I enjoy the diversity of working collaboratively with people across the globe. It is both challenging and rewarding when a plan comes together!

How can applicants make sure they stand out from the crowd?

Build your personal brand. Everyone has a unique skill or talent based on strengths, interests and knowledge; you just have to discover yours and develop it. Showcase your presence and build your reputation through networking, blogging and participating in LinkedIn discussions.

What key skills do you need to get into the industry? 

Managing projects means managing people. Being people-oriented and building relationships is a key factor to ensuring projects keep moving and are able to overcome obstacles. Success comes from having good working relationships so it is important to be approachable.

Certifications aside, planning and organisation skills are essential. The project management world is a very fluid, changing environment so having a slight obsession with some sort of a planner is normal.

Project managers also need strong communication skills, flexibility in approaches, an ability to multitask and to be tenacious enough to get things done.

Do you have any motivational words for students aspiring to make it in this very competitive industry?

If you are interested in business, technology and people then this is a great field to be in.

Invest your time in getting to know the industry and get hands on experience in the field. Qualifications will give you the foundation of any role but experience is what will make you stand out from the crowd. Learn from experience and constantly ask yourself what went well and what could you have done better.

4 Ways to Boost Your Employability This Summer

We are delighted to welcome a guest post from Mark Bradford, Marketing Executive from STEMGraduates. 


Already growing tired of Homes Under the Hammer marathons? Fed up of the endless grunting on centre-court? Why not get to work on securing that work experience you feel your CV is slightly lacking? Here are our 4 tips to boost your employability during the summer break…

1. Spend a day or two to get yourself organised

Time management is key in this respect as the urge to procrastinate will be strong during those hazy midsummer days. Firstly, assess what you’re looking to gain from any summer work experience. Are you looking for experience specifically related to your degree and/or future career path?

Compile a checklist of suitable companies in your area and introduce yourself either through, email, social media, phone or in person whilst enquiring whether the company is in a position to consider offering work experience. Outline your skills and intended career path and why you feel an insight into how the company works would be useful to you.

Take time to assess what you're looking to gain from any work experience opportunities before looking

Take time to assess what you’re looking to gain from any work experience opportunities before looking

2. Take any chance to polish up your soft skills

Just because your work experience isn’t directly relevant to the type of work you want to go into after university don’t underestimate its potential importance to you in the future. When you’re looking for a graduate job employers will need to be sure of your professionalism and work-rate. For instance, taking a job in retail or the services industries and putting your all into the role is a great way of proving your reliability, whether you’re looking at going into these sectors or not upon graduating.

It’s also important to consider voluntary and charity opportunities. Committing time during your summer break to a charitable organisation will not only be extremely rewarding but will also help you stand out from the crowd when applying for graduate jobs.

3. Get networking

Be sure to stay in touch with employers after your placement or work experience. LinkedIn is a great platform to do this, so catch up occasionally to see how the company is getting on even when you’ve returned to university.

Building and maintaining a rapport with decision makers inside an organisation could put you at the top of their list for when they’re recruiting for full time vacancies in the future.  Get to know the people at all levels at the organisation you’re interning or volunteering with, the chances are that they could move on in the future and by staying in touch you give yourself more options post-graduation.

Broaden your network by getting to know people at all levels of an organisation

Broaden your network by getting to know people at all levels of an organisation

4. Don’t neglect your hobbies

Often we see CVs with hobbies and interests sections littered with statements along the lines of ‘I enjoy going for walks on the beach with my pet Chihuahua’, which is all well and good if you’re looking at establishing a career within the dog-walking industry but recruiters want to see something relevant to the job in this section.

Use your summer to pad this out. Why not explore aspects of the industry you want to go into by writing your own blog?

It’s just an example but what if you want to go into web development? Now’s the time to design your own website.

Do you think you’d enjoy devising an extra-curricular research project relating to your degree subject? Yes? Then get cracking!

Employers want candidates who stand out when looking through graduate job applications. Utilise the free time you have now to demonstrate your passion for their industry and you’ll reap the rewards next summer.