Who We’ve Helped
Service chosen: Career Choice
Service : Career Choice
Why Career Choice? Katie is reading for a modern languages degree. She was referred to us by a parent’s friend. While she had felt no pressure in her first year to decide which career path to pursue, she could see that her friends and contemporaries were gearing up to get work experience and internships, and realised that she would be left behind in the job market if she did not do the same. With no clear idea of what she wanted to do, she contacted us to help her find the right career options.
Finding the path :
Katie is typical of many undergraduates, particularly those reading a non vocational subject, who realise that getting into the world of work requires not just a good class of degree and involvement in extra curricular activities, but also work experience and internships which demonstrate dedication and passion for a particular career to prospective employers. Since students have to start preparing for vacation placements and trainee internships early on, this makes it essential to choose a vocation during the first year at university.
Katie’s interests are wide and far ranging and she has travelled a lot. Her father is an accountant and her mother a doctor. When she first came to us, she was open about what she wanted to do in life, but not passionate about any particular vocation. We started by raising Katie’s awareness about personal drivers in a series of career coaching sessions. It became apparent that she was very people-focussed, and loved both the interactions and dynamics of teamwork as well as helping people find solutions to their problems. The experiences she had enjoyed most had been the humanitarian work she had done in Kenya, teaching youngsters to read through the Kumon programme and volunteer work with asylum seekers. At our suggestion Katie sat some character strength and personality tests that confirmed her natural altruism, ability to relate strongly to others, sense of fulfilment from doing something that involved social responsibility and desire to work in a structured environment. From those elements we helped draw up a list of preferred careers, and she has now successfully applied for an internship in a leading humanitarian law firm.
Service chosen: Bespoke Service
Service : Bespoke Service
Matt was in his first year at Oxford following in the footsteps of his sister, albeit at a different college and reading a different degree. He knew that we’d helped her. Now she was working at one of the big four accountancy firms. He knew that many of her friends were, a year later, still searching for jobs. It was obvious that finding employment, even with an Oxford degree, was a competitive business. And so he came to us, in his first term, worried that his post-school CV was pretty much a blank canvas.
Matt is still an Oxford undergraduate, and so this story is very much work-in-progress. Our objective was to find him an internship with a law firm during his first summer vacation. With nothing, yet, in his CV we discussed how employers generally break a CV into three areas:
- Work Experience
The academic side is solely Matt’s responsibility and there was – as yet – no work experience to add, so we started talking about his interests. We wanted to explore what college and university clubs and societies he might join, to add extra-curricular points-of-interest. We spent a long time drawing out his life experiences so far, and found that he had a passion for Scuba diving. Our thoughts turned to the Oxford University Underwater Exploration Group, a group that Matt has now joined.
But we learnt more. We found that in the summer before coming up, Matt had spent a month in Cyprus. In the first week he completed a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) qualification and won the respect of the dive school owner. Subsequently Matt was offered casual but responsible work at the school for the remainder of his stay. Matt, however, failed to see the relevance or value of diving work when applying for a legal internship.
This is often a challenge for first-time job seekers; finding a way to demonstrate how their skills, experiences and attributes are transferable to the world of work. In Matt’s case for an 18 year old, this summer experience proved he had many useful skills. He was dealing with clients, checking safety equipment and assisting the owner. He developed a good working relationship with the owner. He was trusted to check clients’ equipment. He contributed to their enjoyment of the holiday. He worked hard and gained increased responsibility as the holiday progressed. Admittedly it was only for a few weeks but it was a good story to tell when he got to an internship interview – which he did.
We said the story was work-in-progress. It is, because that summer Matt didn’t get the internship he wanted. Instead, he worked with BUNAC (British Universities North America Club), building up more experience, taking on more responsibility. In his second year he’ll have a much fuller CV to take to summer job interviews with magic circle law firms, and we’re confident he’ll succeed with one of them. A good performance there should lead to a training contract; again, we’re sure he’ll get that offer. He’s committed and motivated (after all, he can’t fail where his sister succeeded!) and we’ll work with him to make sure the door opens.
Service: Interview Advantage (one off-session)
Service : Interview Advantage (one-off session)
Our business has largely grown by “word of mouth”. However, increasingly clients are coming to us via the website. This was the case with Michelle. Our website resonated with her on several levels. She had applied for Big 4 accountancy jobs with some success. Although she reached Final Round interviews with several firms, the all important graduate job offer eluded her.
Michelle knows that she is good, she just wanted to perform to the best of her ability. She is fiercely ambitious (one of the areas where our website chimed) and decided she needed some expert interview coaching to achieve her goal.
For Michelle, one session was all it took. Our feedback was around fine-tuning her interview technique e.g. more specificity in her responses, phrasing some language in a more positive way and channeling her enviable energy better.
The modifications we worked on together were subtle but gave her the increased confidence to secure a Finance role within Accenture. As she says: