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Bristol Climbs to a Podium Finish in Graduate Market Survey: What Are They Doing Right?

26th May 2017 Posted by: Francesca Turauskis

WITH such a competitive job market, graduates from some of the best universities in the world can still fall short in the eyes of employers – but this is not a problem that alumni of the University of Bristol (UoB) need worry about.

According to the Graduate Market in 2017 survey, UoB is targeted by over 350 employers each year, which makes it the 3rd most targeted university in the UK – and considering it was 4th place last year, it’s clearly aiming to be even better.

So what is the University of Bristol doing right and how are they making themselves so approachable for employers?

A practical careers service

The University of Bristol’s Careers Service page shows that it is very pragmatic about the employment environment. Even the simple admission that “a degree is no longer enough to make you competitive in the recruitment process” shows that they know the graduate market.

To prepare students for recruitment, UoB motivates students to pursue extra-curricular activities that build work skills. The Bristol PLUS Award, for example, uses introductory talks, a set goal for work experience hours and a reflective report that makes students self-evaluate. The structured process leads to a tangible award to put on your CV that is instantly impressive to employers. Leading graduate employers such as the BBC, Google, Amazon and the Bank of England would be more likely notice graduates who have extra accreditation, and many attend University of Bristol campus fairs to find graduates with an edge. 

"The most valuable lesson that I learnt completing the PLUS award was that a degree is no longer all it takes to secure a job. Also the ability to effectively articulate skills gained from other experiences is just as important as actually gaining the skills."

Beth Castell 3rd year Mathematics BSc (PLUS Award)

Innovative internship schemes

As we already know, internships are often seen as the Holy Grail of experience and the real Entry Level for a lot of careers. But one of the challenges for many students is fitting this in between studies and much-needed paid work.

The UoB Internship Scheme has been set up to provide quality work experience placements alongside studying or during university holidays.  The scheme works directly with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), which are more likely to appreciate the chance for collaboration and exposure. What’s more, the UoB Internship Scheme can provide some financial support to SMEs offering valuable internships: the 2016/17 scheme was able to offer the National Living Wage to interns, easing student money concerns.

This innovative scheme also allows students to apply for paid internships on a speculative basis at any number of interesting organisations (from publishers to banks) that might not have offered internships of their own. This obviously gives students more freedom and makes them more employable in their field of choice when they graduate.

Internships for overseas students

UoB appreciates overseas students can face challenges due to visa conditions and other regulations when it comes to finding paid internships in the UK. They therefore also offer support to students seeking internships outside the UK, in particular helping overseas students to find internship opportunities in their home countries.

The Law School, for example, supports overseas fee-paying Law undergraduates in locating and paying for an internship via their International Internship Scholar Scheme. It also rewards exceptional interns with an award of £500 and by making them ‘Law School International Internship Scholars’. A similar scheme has been available in the Engineering department for a few years, and in fact has already been recognised in India for addressing a need.

These specialist schemes are often made possible by UoB’s close connections with companies and sponsors (the Law School scheme, for example, is sponsored by organisations such as Linklaters and King & Wood Mallesons). The Professional Liaison Network (PLN) was recently launched by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law to continue this outreach. It engages students with companies and organisations that are relevant to their specific subject and runs professional mentoring schemes, which are set to expand. John McWilliams, the Professional Liaison Manager, has also confirmed that the PLN is about to launch another internship scheme especially for international students.  

Contact and connections with companies

This idea of creating mutual relationships with employers is one of the things that really stands out to me when looking at UoB’s attitude to employability. The Industrial Liaison Office (ILO) from the Faculty of Engineering is a great example of a specialist service that benefits students and industrial employers. The ILO works closely with the Careers Service and Research, Enterprise and Development (RED) (where senior lecturers act as researchers or consultants on industry projects like the driverless pods at Heathrow airport).

The ILO helped Engineering student Mudit Gupta to arrange an International Internship at Spookfish Innovations, a start-up company in India founded by a Bristol alumnus. Doing the internship early in his course allowed him to focus his studies and work towards a career: 

“My internship at Spookfish has confirmed that software development is the area I’d like to work in after university, which will help when I’m choosing units in the coming years. The company has an office in the UK and I have even been recommended to work with them in the future.”

Students as future employees

By providing a platform for collaborations across all sectors, UoB develops students into future employees. This is a key reason so many employers approach the University; they will be hiring ready and equipped graduates who have already utilised key workplace skills.

Such an expansive approach certainly explains why employers are finding the University of Bristol more approachable every year.

This article was written in partnership with University of Bristol. To find out more about the University and courses on offer, head to their profile and send them a request.


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