At a time when it is critical to know where the jobs are, there has been a lot of advice about the benefits of languages and IT skills. But have you thought about combining the two?
‘Localisation’ is a career area that may not be that well known at present. The Centre for Next Generation Localisation, an academia-industry research consortium based at Dublin City University, aims to change that. They have just launched a localisation careers guide aimed at getting students to consider this career path.
Localisation is the process of adapting digital products, services and content for foreign markets, and is increasingly needed in many industries, including software, games, financial services and medical devices. And it needs people with both technical and linguistic knowledge.
At the launch this week, it was pointed out that localisation is a growth area for Ireland. Many of the world’s largest software and web companies co-ordinate their localisation activities here, and the industry already employs 16,000 people.
It’s an intriguing sounding career: games localisation, for example, can cover everything from changing the footballer on the packaging to checking a dance game for moves that might be offensive in some cultures.
The people interviewed for the careers guide have a range of academic backgrounds, including translation and software development – which you might expect – and physics and literature – which you might not.
Because localisation jobs involve language, linguistics, computing, business and culture, a qualification in any of these disciplines is a possible route to this career. If you have a combination of skills you’ll have an advantage, so it could be worth doing a Masters in a complementary subject – for example in business or IT if you have a degree in languages (or vice versa). There are also a small number of specialist Masters courses in Ireland that are dedicated specifically to localisation.
To find out more, download the careers guide at the Centre for Next Generation Localisation’s careers page.
The gradireland National Student Challenge has really hit a chord, not only with the nation’s students, over 4,000 of whom have already registered to take the online Challenge, but also with leading graduate recruiters. The Challenge is being run in association with Lidl and in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, EMC and Ericsson, and is one of a growing number of competitions aimed at students. So what do these top employers hope to achieve by getting involved in competitions like these, and what’s really in it for the students (apart from the prize-money!)?
We asked the employers involved in the gradireland National Student Challenge to find out what motivates them to support competitions. The first thing that comes to light is something that is often missed in all the talk of recession, austerity and cut-backs – there is still a fight at the top of the graduate recruitment food-chain for the brightest and best students. And companies are increasingly using competitions to identify top talent.
‘Challenges such as these can make a student’s CV stand out from the crowd’ says Paul O’Leary from EMC, who employ approximately 2,000 staff in Ireland. Nessa Kiely at Ernst & Young agrees: ‘The National Student Challenge offers students from all corners of the island a great online platform to showcase their skills to us.’
One of the difficulties faced by graduate recruiters is that candidates tend to be inexperienced, and need to find ways to add ‘flesh’ to the bones of a CV. Success in competitions can be a significant factor in getting noticed.
And a tip for career-minded students is that it is never too early to get involved in competitions and to get noticed. PricewaterhouseCoopers was Ireland’s largest graduate recruiter in 2011. As such, one of their priorities is to identify potential recruits at all stages of their academic career. Lorraine Toole from PwC explains: ‘We are constantly looking for new ways to develop and grow our talent pipeline, so we look to be involved in new and innovative events which will help us identify and recognise Ireland’s brightest students. Competitions help us identify leaders of the future during their formative college years.’
So why competitions rather than recruit traditionally via application and interview? The key differentiator is how these competitions are structured. For example, the online test and the Final Day Challenges which make up the National Student Challenge are all based on the core competencies that leading graduate recruiters look for in their graduate hires. If you perform well, you are already showcasing your employability skills.
Competitions also allow recruiters to meet potential recruits, which reverses the traditional approach whereby the written application is put in front of the recruiter long before the actual candidate is met. ‘The National Student Challenge Final Day will allow us to monitor students’ performance within a controlled environment – allowing us the opportunity to see them in action. This can be directly related to possible future performance in the workplace,’ says Paul O’Leary of EMC. This is a common theme with all employers involved – the opportunity to identify bright students and see them interact, communicate and complete Challenges is a very modern way to engage with possible future talent for their organisations.
However, for many students, with pressing work and exam commitments, the key question is – will this get me a job? Paul O’Leary of EMC is clear on this: ‘If, through competitions such as the National Student Challenge, we can identify high potential students who display our competencies then there is a very strong possibility of those students being offered a position within our organization.’ Equally PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young, who between them in 2011 took on almost 600 Irish graduates, are both using the National Student Challenge to identify ‘leaders of the future’ and ‘shining talent’ at all levels of study. This could lead to possible internships for students in the early stages of their academic careers, or ultimately for places on their graduate recruitment programmes.
It is evident that there is more than prize-money or an iPad to be won by students taking part in competitions. Lorraine Toole from PwC sums it up nicely: ‘Academic study gets your foot in the door; employability skills push that door open to a far wider range of opportunities. Competitions like the National Student Challenge help students identify the skills they’ve developed inside and outside university, and explain just how transferable those skills are to every area of our business. Quite simply, experiences and achievements not only enrich students lives; they will also enhance their career prospects.’
The online element of the gradireland National Student Challenge is open until 29 February 2012; the top 60 students on the leaderboard will then be invited to attend the Final Day Challenges in UCD Quinn Business School on Wednesday 14 March.
So, 2012 is upon us. As ever, the dawn of a new year heralds a wave of resolutions, good intentions, fresh ideas and new approaches to life. With this in mind, January seems like a great time to introduce some fresh approaches to the graduate job hunt. Here are some tips for making the whole process less of a chore and more likely to yield results.
Make social networking work for you. Chances are you spend a fair bit of time on Facebook/Twitter already, so use these sites and their more professional counterpart – LinkedIn – to reach out to potential contacts, research companies that interest you and get the lowdown on what current employees think about their jobs. Social networking sites are a great way to start your research, firm up ideas and network with useful contacts, all without the pressure of face-to-face interaction with recruiters or official application processes. Of course, always be professional and polite in any correspondence with employers and on any forum where you have a public persona.
Make use of the ‘other interests’ section on your CV. There was a time when this section was all but a footnote to the main bulk of a CV, but this is no longer the case. In today’s fiercely competitive graduate market where differentiation is paramount, a choice piece of extra-curricular activity or two (did you set up a society at college? Were you instrumental in fundraising for a particular charity event?) can really give you the edge over your peers.
Don’t set yourself up for a fall. Many New Year’s resolutions never really get off the ground because we set ourselves wildly unrealistic expectations. If you’re bursting with good intentions and plan to apply for 20 jobs a week, but don’t manage half of that, the chances are you’ll be so disheartened that you’ll give up applying for any. Don’t despair: instead, revise your goals to make them more manageable. If five thoughtful, carefully researched applications a week is more achievable, then that’s perfectly fine. Make that your goal instead. And don’t forget to reward yourself for the successful achievement of any resolution, job-related or otherwise. Happy New Year!