New Masters – Start Here!

It’s tough being a new Masters postgrad. You’re still getting to grips with which bus will get you home, and where’s the best place to eat on campus – and then we start telling you that if you don’t get started on your career right now, you’ll end up jobless and destitute at the end of your course.

OK, I try not to be that scary, but it is true that a lot of recruitment works on an annual cycle and it does all start right now. Lots of big employers expect you to apply now for jobs starting in Autumn 2011.

Even if you’re looking for something more than a “graduate job”, or are thinking of setting up your own business, or want to do a PhD, it’s worth taking a bit of time to work out what to do when – read on for more.

Employers on campus
We work hard to encourage employers to visit Manchester – we’re voted the employers’ favourite UK careers service each year, which means lots of them are happy to venture out of London and come and talk to you.

However, they often only visit once a year, and the visits start next week.

Did you know?
If you ignore your career over the next 6 weeks, you will miss 45 employer talks, and 180 employers & exhibitors visiting Manchester.

What Happens When: UK graduate and postgraduate recruitment
Here’s an overview of recruitment and careers activity over the coming year – click on the image for a larger view:

The timetable is also available as a pdf to download – UK Graduate & Postgraduate Recruitment

No such thing as a typical Masters postgrad
I think that Masters postgrads are the most diverse group within the university – you’ve got widely different backgrounds, work history and career goals.

To reflect this, I’ve come up with a new Career Action Planning tool for Masters which takes account of some of these differences, with different actions depending on your experience, where you want to work, whether you’re looking to do further study, set up your own business – or have no idea what you want to do next.

It’s available now to download as a pdf (also includes the timeline above):

It’s intended to be used at the start of your Masters programme, and to help you decide whether you need to get started taking action for your career straight away, or whether you can safely leave all that until later.

So, if you do just one thing this week …
… have a quick skim through this document and start to come up with your own tailored personal career action plan.

Then you can feel satisfied that you’ve made a flying start to your Masters programme, and feel confident that your career is heading in the right direction.

This is the first time I’ve written such a document – do let me know if it’s any use, or if I’ve missed anything. The great thing about a blog is that I can update the document with any good suggestions, and immediately make it available for download.


12 comments on “New Masters – Start Here!

  1. Thank you for your sharing!
    Can you please say something more about international students? What if there is multi-national companies’ opportunities for us?

    • Hi Shulin

      Thanks for the comment. There’s so much to say about international students that it’s difficult to know where to start. You’d need a whole blog to do it justice – so that’s what we’ve got! My colleague, Amanda Conway who heads up our work with international students has the Manchester International Careers blog and she’ll let you know when she hears of multinational companies who are specifically looking for international students.

      The Career Planning document does have sections for those looking for work inside or outside the UK or who would need a work permit, but to expand a bit on it, there is no one list of companies with international recruitment schemes. It changes each year, and we’re still waiting to hear about a lot of companies’ requirements.

      There are some regular schemes which normally run to look out for though – eg. HSBC’s international career strand, Phillips European Masters programmes (though the Business Courses link doesn’t seem to be active at the moment), BP Eurograduate programme, plus the major consultancies are generally interested in the best graduates, wherever they’re from.

      Also, when we advertise vacancies on the Careers Service website, you can normally search on vacancies based outside the UK, if you’re looking for internationally based jobs.

      If you’re an international student looking to work in the UK, it’s got a bit trickier recently. We used to have a list of those companies who would welcome applications from international students which we got just by asking all the employers who came to our events. However, since there were some legal cases challenging companies who said they didn’t recruit international students, an awful lot of them now publicly say they welcome applications from international students – even if they’ve no intention of going through the work permit process or accepting the post-study visa for most students.

      This means that any list we come up with is now meaningless. Unfortunately, you’ll have to judge for yourself by talking to them to see if they’re enthusiastic about taking applications from international students. And just to complicate things further, some employers would definitely go through the full work permit process for some postgrads with specialists skills they need, but not for other good, but not scarce, postgrads and graduates.

      Told you we needed a whole blog for this subject! As a lot of our postgrads are international students as well, I’ll also cover issues when they arise, but do keep an eye on Amanda’s blog as well.


    • Hi Ali

      Glad you like the blog – it’s a good way of sharing useful bits of careers info with as many postgrads as possible. Not all of it will be relevant to you but hopefully you’ll find stuff here regularly which is of use. If not – let me know and I’ll change it!


  2. Dear Elizabeth,

    Thanks very much for your information about international postgraduate students.

    Lingling QIAO

    • Hi Lingling

      It is a bit complicated, isn’t it? I’ll do what I can on this blog and elsewhere to help all our many international postgrads figure out how the UK job market works, and also help you access jobs outside the UK.

      Amanda Conway, our Head of International Careers, does an incredible job making contacts outside the UK (for example, the amazing list of Chinese mentors on our Manchester Gold programme – see a blog post later today) and we do work closely. Both of us know that the words “postgrad” and “international” often go together!

      Good luck in your career, and let us know through our blogs or when you see us, what sort of information and support you need.


  3. Hi Liz,
    Thanks for the information. This is one of the cardinal reasons I chose to study at The University of Manchester.

    Good you’re aware of the bundles of things we’ve got on our hands right now. For some, it is a new city, finding the best places to have lunch and all sort of things. But we expect to eventually graduate from this brief spell of ‘exploring’ Manchester and move on quickly. Hence, the Employment Fairs absolutely will be a welcome event. I am graciously going to attend…

    Stephen Marvie
    MSc Development Economics & Policy

    • Hi Stephen

      I agree – I’m always worried about all the things we fling at our new, sometimes bewildered, Masters.

      However, if you do just one thing this week (in addition to reading that Masters info, of course), I’d suggest looking at our new database, CareersLink, to see what’s coming up, so you don’t miss anything vital.

      Having said that, if you’re particularly interested in development work (big assumption I know, but spotted your degree), the fairs may not be your best approach. Have a look at the lists of who’s coming, as it’s mostly private sector organisations. However, we are having a new international development event on 16th March – maybe one to put in your diary?


  4. Hi liz,
    Thanks for the information, its true that alot of things seems weird now to new postgradstudents and am realy happy that there is a support like this to propel me to make realistic career action plans. the planning tool has being quite helpful too, it helps you to consider many options. i will be looking forward to attending the career events.

    • Hi Ibilola

      Hope to see you at some of the careers events.

      I’ve been trying to think of a way of simplifying our advice to new Masters (along the lines of “If you do just one thing this week…”) but it’s hard to square simple advice with all the different career ambitions and backgrounds our postgrads have.

      However, if I do come up with a way of helping you all focus on the right thing at the right time, it will be on this blog!


  5. Thank you so much for this good work. I am an international postgraduate student and I will need you to help me upgrade my CV to the UK and general standard. I think it will be better coming to see you in your office. Please when can I come?
    I look forward to your reply.

    Omotoye Olusola
    Petroleum Geoscience MSc

    • Hi Omotoye

      Glad you like the support so far – but this is where it gets tricky.

      We have about 15,000 students all looking for a job this year, of which about 6-7,000 are Masters postgrads – and there’s just one of me!

      That’s why we put a lot of effort in developing resources and events to help you learn how to manage your career without needing one-to-one support. However, we do offer individual support, but you might have to wait and it probably won’t be with me (unless you are studying life sciences or chemistry – the students I normally see).

      If you need to update your CV, you should go through the on-line CV School which Amanda has written, which takes you through the questions we would ask and the advice we would give. It also shows you examples of how you turn an OK (or bad) CV into a good UK CV. It’s particularly written with international students in mind, and the example on the web is of an international Masters postgrad CV.

      Once you have made the best effort you can of upgrading your own CV, you can get feedback and advice on how to improve it further from our Quick Query Applications Advice service. This runs every day but it still gets very full at the start of term, even with several advisers on duty at the same time.

      You have to book on the day (otherwise we get people booking a day or two in advance and forgetting to turn up) and get a 15 minute appointment, so you need to have your application all printed out, and be ready to take note of the advice which will be very focused and detailed.

      What’s really great for our international postgrads is that our Applications Advisers are mainly PhDs, from all over the world, who have experience outside their PhDs of giving advice or recruiting. We train them up so they are experts in CVs and applications, and that means that we can see more of you for applications feedback.

      You can also get a general careers appointment (for enquiries which aren’t about your applications), and that’s where Careers Consultants like me come in. Each Careers Consultant sees students (undergrads and postgrads) from a number of Schools, so we know about some of the common careers which, for example, interest Petroleum Geoscientists).

      It’s my job to make sure that all our Careers Consultants are trained up to support all our postgrads, just like the undergrads. Plus, lots of our Consultants are postgrads themselves, so they’re more than familiar with doing a Masters or PhD.

      This year, at the start of term, we’re experimenting with only offering shorter 15 minute appointments, so we can see more people, more quickly. Otherwise, each year, some people end up waiting for up to three weeks to see anyone, which isn’t good customer service. Later in the term, we’ll go back to offering 30 minute appointments when demand slackens off.

      So, hopefully that gives you an idea of how to get more support, both on-line and in person, and though you’re more likely to see Suzanne or John (or Consultants for Geoscience) than me for individual support, maybe I’ll see you at one of the many talks I’ve got coming up – and I’m always there at the end of this blog.


      PS. I’m pretty sure that this information will also be useful for other postgrads, so thanks for asking about it, Omotoye, and I think I’ll turn it into today’s blog post! Now, got to get back to seeing some Life Science students…

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