Leah Exton

July 24, 2023, by Jackie Thompson

I Found My Graduate Job at a Careers Fair

By Leah Exton, Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience student

Entering my final year at university felt incredibly daunting, the pressures of completing my degree were heightened, and finding a career that I felt passionate about seemed impossible. After attending countless career events, I felt as though finding a postgraduate path was becoming more and more difficult, that was until I encountered the Frontline stall at a careers fair. I spoke to the representatives who explained what the graduate scheme entailed and instantly I became interested.

I had never considered a career in social work prior to chatting to Frontline. I always knew I wanted to work with vulnerable children but never knew the exact role, yet after talking with Frontline I felt social work was the right career for me.

The start of the recruitment process

After completing the initial application form which gives you the opportunity to highlight the reasons you are interested in the scheme, I was invited to complete a one-way interview. I was presented with a series of questions and I had a certain amount of time to prepare and record an answer. Questions were based on the company’s competencies, and I had already pre-written STAR responses for all of these to ensure I had answers prepared for any question.

Moving on to the assessment centre

I was successful at this stage and progressed to an assessment centre. Assessment centres, in my opinion, are very daunting. This assessment centre lasted five hours and during this time, I had to complete various tasks relating to social work.

I completed two interviews that assessed different aspects of my personality. One interview was with a young adult who had experienced the care system and assessed my ability to form relationships quickly. I felt confident both during and after this interview as we got on well and managed to hold a flowing conversation for the duration of the task. The other interview was with an experienced social worker, who asked questions assessing your suitability for the role. Again, due to my preparation, I felt confident answering the questions and showcasing my passion for social work.

The preparation paid off

Generally, the assessment centre was the most challenging part of the process, as it gave me the opportunity to compare myself to other candidates. During the break-out rooms, candidates discussed their current and previous experience relating to the role and I quickly realised I was one of the youngest applicants which knocked my confidence. I thought it decreased the likelihood of me being offered a position. Around 6,000 applications were received by Frontline this year, and 400 places were offered so when I was offered my conditional place, I was extremely proud and relieved that my hard work and preparation had paid off. The company could see that I have a real passion for helping vulnerable individuals.

My top tips

In terms of preparation and advice, I would:

1. Attend every career fair you can as this is where I found the graduate scheme initially. Without attending the fair I do not think I would have ever found Frontline.

2. Plan STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Response) based answers relating to a company’s competencies so you are prepared for any question during an interview process.

3. Be yourself (as cliché as it sounds). Companies that offer graduate schemes can see when an individual is truly passionate about the role they are applying for, ensuring you demonstrate this at each stage of an application process is key for progressing, in my opinion.

Check out our careers fairs in the autumn and spring terms. We’ve got advice on every stage of the recruitment process on our website with workshops to hone your skills throughout the year.

Posted in Applying For JobsChoosing Your CareerInterviews