April 4, 2014, by Beth Dawson

Online Q&A round-up part 4

By Pablo Costa, Careers Adviser, Careers and Employability Service

Missed our last online Q&A of the spring term? Check out our compilation of this week’s questions and answers.

What would be your biggest piece of advice for succeeding in assessment centres for investment banking positions? (Jason, economics)

Practise, practise, practise! Find as many example assessment exercises, including psychometric and personality tests, as you can. Be sure to look at our recommended resources, which feature mock exercises, on our assessment centre and psychometric tests webpages and check out AGCAS’ video guide to assessment centres on Workspace.

Remember that you will be assessed against the competencies that employers are looking for and not necessarily against other candidates. As a result, ensure you are showing the specific skills that the recruiters want to see demonstrated such as problem solving, numeracy and analytical skills. You will be assessed from the moment you walk in the door, so mentioning what you know about the company, the investment banking industry and recent trends will impress. You could also bring up these areas during any presentation you may be asked to do, for example you could investigate what has happened in the market that morning and refer to it in your presentation. Sites such as Bloomberg and Financial Times are useful resources for increasing your commercial awareness.

Where can I get help choosing my career direction? (Ben, physics)

As a physics student, you will have honed skills that will make you very attractive to a range of employers, from academic, scientific and commercial industries. Many non-technical positions do not require a subject specific degree. However, the analytical, teamwork and communication skills you will have gained throughout your studies will be beneficial to you in various roles.

In regards to choosing a career, you can view career profiles through our types of jobs webpages and explore the destinations of alumni from your course. Prospects Planner and TARGETjobs Careers Report are further online tools which can help you to generate career ideas.

For more advice, book an appointment with a careers adviser or read this week’s finalist careers clinic which offers techniques to help you decide what you’d like to do after university that are useful no matter what year you’re in.

How can I break into networking circles? (Bryony, sociology)

This really depends on how you want to network and what sector you would like to work in. Some networking groups or companies have Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages which you can ask to join. Some may be more exclusive than others, so write a tailored request explaining why you would like to join the group. Once a member, you can use these groups to get advice on the sector, hear from insiders in different roles and establish online contacts. I would recommend visiting professional bodies’ websites to see if there are any East Midlands based networking groups. The Institute of Fundraising and The Chartered Institute for IT are just two examples of professional bodies with these local groups.

If you read an article that’s relevant to positions or industries you’re interested in, find the name of the author and get in touch – they may be able to refer you to networking groups. Also attend events related to careers you’re interested in, search for events taking place locally and look out for announcements about our autumn and spring term events. You can often spark up conversations with other attendees that are interested in similar areas to you and some events have dedicated time to do this over refreshments.

‘Should I accept a trainee position, if it comes with an unfavourable salary? ‘(Sean, law)

As of 1 August 2014 the minimum salary for trainee solicitors is to be abolished. After that date the only requirement on employers in terms of trainee salaries will be to pay trainees at least the main rate under the National Minimum Wage regulations. This decision obviously drives a firm’s decision to offer the training contract on these terms. On the plus side, having a training contract and the possibility of qualifying as a solicitor in an area of interest to you has to be considered. For more advice regarding your decision, book an appointment with our law careers adviser.

If you want advice about your careers questions, why not book an appointment with one of our careers advisers through My Career. You can also look over the advice from our first, second and third Q&A sessions that may apply to your situation. If you’re a finalist be sure to look out for our finalist careers clinic, where our careers advisers will be answering questions soon-to-be graduates frequently ask. 

Posted in Applying For Jobs