Once you finish your undergraduate degree it can be hard to figure out what to do next. There are so many options available, further study and travel being just two. Conor O’ Doherty, a DCU graduate, chose to combine those two options and set off to the Netherlands to pursue a postgrad degree in New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).
There are hundreds of options when it comes to going onto further education, and each have their benefits and drawbacks. Moving abroad can be a more expensive and sometimes a stressful option, but it can also provide an invaluable experience.
Conor chose to study abroad for a number of reasons, including cost and a desire to travel.
“I wanted to leave Ireland for a while, although it’s a great place to grow up, I didn’t want to live there for the rest of my life without living anywhere else,” Conor said. “The other reason is that the price difference is huge when it comes to the cost of postgraduate study”.
Fees for a year in the UvA will cost Conor around €2000, whereas the equivalent course in Ireland would cost up to €6,800 per year.
“Although I’ll pay more for accommodation and moving expenses, Irish courses usually cost a lot more and they’re generally a lot longer”.
Having lived away from home during his undergraduate degree, Conor is used to managing finances himself. While in Amsterdam he plans to find a place to live and use savings for the first while, but then try and find part-time work.
He found the process of applying for the course “relatively simple” but had some problems getting documentation together, as he hadn’t finished his course before the application deadline.
“My application was a bit of a mess to be honest because I hadn’t finished my course so I had to go to different bodies in the university, both here and in the Netherlands, to organise workarounds,” he said. “The University expects plenty of people not to have their degree yet though, so sending on predicted grades was acceptable.”.
Finding accommodation is something Conor is still trying to finalise before his move in August. Much like the accommodation crisis in Ireland, students looking for somewhere to live in Amsterdam face the same problems.
“I’m using a variety of sites to search like Volta and Pararius, but because they’re for Dutch people mostly, I might need to go through an agency,” he said. “Failing that, there’s very expensive emergency accommodation like The Student Hotel, but I’d rather not have to use that option”.
Conor advises anyone who is interested in a postgrad abroad to take the risk and go for it, but to really think it through before starting the process.
“It’s a huge leap of faith, but the only thing worse than not trying it is wishing you had,” he said. “I haven’t even started the hard part of mine yet and honestly, as stressful as it has been, I’m still very glad I made the decision and followed it through.”
For more information on studying in Europe, including information about various universities to which you can apply, visit the EUNiCAS website.
With four years’ experience as a personal tailoring expert, Damien Egan knows what he’s talking about when it comes for dressing for a professional setting. Here he talks about the dos and don’ts for men when dressing for an interview.
So, why is it important for you to put work into choosing what to wear, surely your skills should speak for themselves, right? It only takes about 7 seconds for an interviewer to form their first impression of you. Looking the part, and looking like you’ve made an effort, is an incredibly important part of ensuring that first impression is one you want to last.
Your suit should be a dark navy or grey/charcoal. It’s important to understand the difference between a fad and a timeless look. Ensure that the lapels are a regular width. Skinny lapels are a recent fad, but they’re not appropriate for a work environment, unless it’s retail. Try to choose a two button, notch lapel jacket. Peak lapels may be a bit over the top for an interview. Your trousers should sit correctly on your waist, and should have a slight break in the fabric at the bottom. Skinny trousers or trousers short enough to show socks are not suitable for an interview.
A crisp white shirt is always a good addition to your look but a light blue will work as well. Try not to wear a patterned or check shirt as they tend to look a little more casual. Do not wear a button-down shirt as they are not designed for suits and are very relaxed. What you can do to add a little bit of your own style is select a different weave on the shirt like a herringbone or an oxford weave. These are small details but a very nice touch to a keen observer. Should you have a slim face then choose a wider, more spread collar shirt and if you have a rounder face you should wear a more pointed collared shirt. For law firms, try to wear a double cuffed shirt with cuff-links.
For legal, accounting and other professional services firms a plain or lightly patterned tie is recommended. Try to avoid wearing a very bright “in-your-face” tie as it will draw attention away from what’s important. Make sure you can do a good knot in your tie, the ‘4 in the hand’ or half Windsor knot work well because you can get a nice dimple which gives a lot of character to your over-all look. Check out this video for a handy guide to tying that tricky Half-Windsor knot.
“Oxfords, not brogues”, a quote from Kingsman and one you should live by. Brogues are very casual so try stick to plain black or dark brown oxfords or maybe derby’s. Monk straps will also work fine in an interview setting.
For more information on how to dress for professional settings visit Damien’s website.
Your first experience in the field you want to make a career in is an invaluable opportunity, so it’s important you’re prepared. We have some tips from our Events Intern, Poppy Harrington, to get you started.
Once you find and secure an internship in a company, the nerves can set in. Knowing what to expect and what will be expected of you can be daunting, especially if it’s the first time you’re going into a working environment. Poppy Harrington is a 3rd year Events Management student in DIT and currently an Events Intern at gradireland. She has some tips for anyone about to start their internship:
1. Take your time: Rushing into the first internship you’re offered can be tempting, but remember to look into the company and the role they’re offering before accepting the internship.
My advice would be not to just take the first internship you’re offered, unless you’re absolutely certain it’s what you want. Do a lot of research before you choose a placement, and choose one that’s right for you and that you will definitely learn from.
2. Factor in payment: gradireland’s Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey revealed that 92% of employers surveyed pay their interns. However, some internship opportunities can still be unpaid. If this is the case with your internship, think about if that will be feasible for you over the course of your internship and if you’re getting valuable experience from it. If you will need to work part-time outside of your internship, consider the impact that can have, particularly if your internship is 6 months or longer.
3. Look after yourself: Getting used to working full-time in your area of study for the first time will be tiring. Work/life balance is very important. At least twice a week I try to go and meet my friends for coffee after work to break it up. It’s important to look after yourself and make time for yourself.
4. Find a company that suits you: Different companies have different atmospheres. Before you start applying for internships, think about what kind of workplace you feel you’d suit. Think about dress-codes, work hours, and company goals and aims. Do a lot of research; make sure you know something about the ethos of the company. I think it suits me that gradireland is quite an informal place, I don’t think I would enjoy working in an atmosphere that was very formal. Also, make sure you use the internship experience to open as many doors for you in terms of applying for jobs and doing interviews, it will all stand to you in the long run.
For more tips on starting an internship visit our internship section on gradireland.com
According to the 2017 gradireland Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey (coming soon) over 75% of businesses said they offer work experience or internships to college students. Also, 66% of students surveyed by gradireland saying they had completed work experience or an internship. We take a look at the internship experience from the perspective of a pre-final year student. By Hannah Kelly.
“Internships give students a taste of working life, equip them with vital industry experience and can help them choose where they want go to in their career,” says Poppy Harrington, a 3rd year Events Management student from DIT, who is currently four months into her six month internship here at gradireland.
“My role is Events Intern, so I liaise with the events manager and events co-ordinator for all of our events,” she explained, “my main role has been to organise Summer Fair which is on June 7th in the RDS”.
More and more courses at third level are adding work placement as a module. Poppy believes her “course wouldn’t be the same without” the internship because in this field experience is everything. Poppy had some previous experience of running events in college, but not comparable to the scale she is now working on in her internship.
“For the Summer Fair we already have 1600 people registered and for my event in college only 50 people came, so it’s definitely on a different level to what I was used to,” she said.
Above all, Poppy feels like her internship has given her a chance to explore what her future career might look like and what aspects of events she enjoys.
“It’s opened doors for me about what I want to do when I finish, because I’m still not 100% sure what I want to do, but everyday I’m here I learn more about what I want to do, what I don’t want to do and what interests me and what doesn’t,” she said.
A concern Poppy has is how she will feel returning to a college environment after being in the workplace for six months. She feels internships would be better suited once a student is finished with their degree.
“I’m not looking forward to go back to assignments and having tutors tell me what to do instead of working on my own initiative and making my own choices with a team,” Poppy said, adding “I think having this experience at the end of my degree would have been more beneficial as my internship is so long”.
Once finished her final year in college, she hopes to go on to further study after gradireland introduced her to the possibility of graduate programmes and believes the internship has been hugely beneficial and will stand to her once she enters the working world.
“The way I see it, these six months of my life will be really beneficial in terms of what I can learn and learn about myself” Poppy said, “I didn’t even know what a graduate programme was before gradireland and it has opened my mind as to what is out there when I finish”.
Next week, Poppy will share her top tips for starting your internship on the front foot.
Unfortunately we won’t have flamingos or cactus at our Summer Fair BUT we have plenty to help you on your career pathway!
We’ve put together our top tips for making the most out of next week’s Summer Fair!
Keep an open mind
Employers hire graduates from any discipline. So don’t pigeon-hole potential employers – IT companies need marketing, finance and language graduates; accountancy firms recruit from any disciplines, you don’t have to be an accountant. Indeed most of the companies at the gradireland Summer Fair recruit from a number of disciplines, so don’t walk on by their stands – get in there and ask them if they are on the look-out for graduates from your discipline: you might be pleasantly surprised!
Download the gradireland Events App
The gradireland Events App is your personal assistant for the gradireland Summer Fair! We have packed our entire fair information into this must-have app which is FREE to download and gives you the tools that you need to have a productive and successful gradireland Summer Fair! The app will help you:
- Research companies before and during the fair
- Keep up-to-date with all the pre-fair developments e.g. new exhibitors, exciting new seminars
- Find companies who are hiring students and graduates with your skills
- Locate exhibitors quickly with a floor plan at your fingertips, so you can make the most out of your day.
- Create your own schedule of seminars with built-in reminders
- Bookmark your key exhibitors; have immediate access to companies’ gradireland profiles and contact information
- Interact via the app with exhibitors and other attendees; post photos of your day, comments and messages.
Use the Jobs Walls
There will be several Jobs Walls within the hall at the gradireland Summer Fair, showcasing live jobs from a number of sectors. These will have numerous graduate schemes and opportunities listed, so bring a notepad and pen or use your phone and take a photo of any that you are interested in applying to – then go home, find the job, internship or graduate programme on gradireland.com and start putting together your applications!
Bring your CV
Many employers are happy to receive CVs at careers fairs. In addition, at the gradireland Summer Fair we will be running a specialist CV Clinic, hosted by careers advisers from various Universities providing specialist advice, at which you can have your CV reviewed.
However, a word of caution – the CV Clinic has a limited number of slots and gets booked up very quickly, so get there early to book your appointment and don’t expect the advisers to write your CV for you – they are there to review and advise but you’ll have to do the hard work first yourself!
Attend the Seminars
Make sure you attend one or more of the specialist careers seminars – they are designed to give you the edge when it comes to applications and interviews! From Social Media to Life after Graduating there is a seminar to benefit everyone. Check out the line-up of seminars for the Summer Fair here!
Make sure you have researched the exhibitors who are attending and decide beforehand which ones you would like to talk to. Think of questions which might not be answered already in brochures or on their websites, read our other blog for some examples you might consider. Many exhibitors bring recent graduates now working in their business to their stands, so ask them what life is really like in that company!
Visit summergradfair.ie today and get your free ticket!
The gradireland Summer Fair is a fantastic opportunity to meet and ask questions of potential employers. Many employers also bring graduates who are currently on their graduate programmes to attend their stand, so you can ask them what life inside these companies is really like!
These conversations are unbelievable opportunities for networking, and can help you decide on future career paths or give you that nugget of ‘insider information’ that can help you through the application and interview process and ensure that you beat the competition to land your perfect graduate job.
We’ve put together 5 questions to ask a potential employer below:
1: How many graduates do you take on each year and do you employ graduates from courses like mine?
This question helps determine whether or not it is worth asking the next questions! It’s important to ascertain that an employer is hiring, or, that they will be doing so in the not too-distant future. Equally it’s good to know if the employer has successfully hired graduates with a similar background to you – this question can get the conversation off on a positive foot, or end it nice and early! If the answer is no but you are keen to work for that employer or in that sector, ask about any conversion courses that you might take that they have successfully hired from.
2: What are the most important competencies you look for in graduates during the selection process?
All employers have criteria they look for when hiring. Some are quite defined, others relate to that elusive ‘fit’. Discover the answers to this question and, if you decide to apply, present your application in a way which showcases your corresponding attributes.
3: What would my first year in your organisation be like?
This question allows the recruiter to talk about your induction, training and development, opportunities for travel, and any promotion opportunities for high performing graduates. gradireland research has shown that these are the most significant factors for students and graduates when considering which employer they would most like to work for.
4: Tell me the single most important thing you would advise any graduate considering applying for a role with your organisation to do!
Not strictly a question, but if you can get the answer then you have the inside track which could give you that all-important edge over your competition throughout the selection process.
5: Do you have internship programmes and how can I get on them?
An internship is a great way to find out about a company, a sector of work, and of course to land a graduate job further down the line. gradireland research shows that over 86% of graduate recruiters run internship programmes, and that the recruiters themselves see completing a relevant internship as the single most useful thing a graduate can do to improve their employability.
Finally don’t forget to register today for your free ticket at summergradfair.ie
The Food and Drink sector is growing and thriving with new opportunities for graduates developing all the time. However, as Hannah Kelly explains, a new report has highlighted skill gaps graduates will need to fill if they are to be successful in the industry.
The recently released Food Wise 2025,a report compiled by the Department of Agriculture & Food, sets out a plan for the development of the agri-food industry over the next decade, said they expect to see a further 23,000 jobs created, including the creation of additional graduate programmes, over the next ten years in the Irish Food and Beverage Sector.
“The Food and Drink sector has grown strongly over the period from 2010 to 2016 and has recovered”, the report said. “Employment in the sector increased to 54,000 in 2016, an increase of 6,600 from 2009.”
To achieve further growth though, it was stressed that gaps in skills required for the sector need to be addressed. Graduates eager to work in this sector should aim to focus on developing skills in the following areas that the report highlighted:
- Think internationally: Develop your knowledge of, and skills in, international trade and logistics. Companies also place a high emphasis on language and multi-cultural skills. More specifically in this area you should work on developing experience in customer management, dealing with international customers and suppliers and supply management.
- Innovation: In particular, companies are looking for graduates with production development skills. More specifically the report identified gaps in portfolio management, packaging technology and design engineering. Talk to your careers advisor or look up companies who could help you bridge this skills gap.
- IT and Numeracy: Employers are looking for graduates with good numeracy and IT skills no matter what section of the company you’ll be in. These skills are particularly useful as companies seek to merge roles within their organisations through automated manufacturing procedures.
- Supply Chain Management: Focus on customer requirements and standards, managing money effectively and reducing inventory levels. These are all skills companies are looking for in potential employees no matter what part of the business you might be working in.
- Leadership: In the gradireland Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey, we found that 37.1% of employers identified lack of leadership hard skill shortfalls. Being able to demonstrate the potential to lead a team is important as both more strategic and engaged leadership is a skill gap identified in the industry.
- Financial and Commercial Acumen: As mentioned above, a lot of companies are moving towards less structured roles, with cross-functional teams and a broader variety of work the ever increasing norm. This means no matter where you are in the business; you’ll be expected to have good financial and commercial judgement.
For more information on different career sectors visit: https://gradireland.com/career-sectors