Company culture: five tips for finding the right fit


Different companies in different industries have diverse cultures. A more established company compared to a young start-up, will have fundamentally different values and practices. These working environments are all subject to change whether it comes from within the business or as a result of a change in the law or economic climate for example. When it comes to a graduate entering a new working environment, it is important that both the company and graduate believe they are a good match. Company culture is subject to change and often new employees bring with them fresh ideas, but it is likely that core values and principles will remain the same. From flexible working hours to a clear career development plan – it is worth researching a company’s culture before an interview and ultimately before accepting a job offer.

Working hours

Employees who work in customer services or in positions of technical IT support for example, may work outside of the typical 9-5. A role that requires interaction with companies or individuals in other countries may warrant employees to work shifts in accordance with the time difference. More established corporations tend to be stricter with working hours, whilst start-ups or businesses in the creative industries are more likely to accommodate employees working at their maximum potential at different times of the day by offering flexible hours or the option to work remotely. (Just don’t get this confused with not wanting to wake up early in the mornings!)

Opportunities for progression

You may have a clear development plan for your graduate career laid out in your head before going forward for an interview, or you may be looking to play it by ear. It is the company’s prerogative whether they offer a set progression structure or whether opportunities for promotion are down to the efforts and achievements of an individual. It may only be your first full-time job, but it is important to think of your professional future when deciding which company is right for you.

Salary

As a graduate with limited or no relevant experience, you may not be in a position to demand a high starting salary. Inspiring Interns have placed over 4,000 graduates in internships and full-time jobs and have found the average starting salary in London to be around £18,000 per annum. If you work in sales or recruitment for example, this will be boosted by commission and bonuses. If you are taking on an internship, you may start on National Minimum Wage or you may initially be paid lunch and travel expenses. Graduate salary expectations are often higher than the reality, with salary subject to a company’s growth and success as well as the amount or complexity of the work involved. Relevant previous experience will be taken into account when a starting salary is discussed and individual performance will be assessed particularly during an employee’s probationary period (this is usually the first 3 months).

Perks

Increasingly, companies are offering perks to entice the cream of the graduate crop to apply for their internships, schemes and jobs. A well-stocked fridge or free breakfast, after work social drinks on a Thursday or Friday, or subsidised travel or gym memberships are just some of the incentives you may see advertised. However, not all companies are in a position to offer all of these exciting perks. It is worth noting that whilst a growing start-up may not buy you a coffee every morning, what you will learn from a small business and the rate at which it and your career could potential grow – may outweigh these other benefits. Finding which company best suits you and what you are looking to get from a career, is about realising your priorities and in turn, understanding what you consider to be less important.

Expectations

As a 21st century graduate, a lot of pressure can be felt by external factors such as the media as well as pressure from graduates you are competing against, and pressure that you may be putting on yourself. The first few years after graduation are about finding out what you want to do and finding that first job or internship to kick-start a career in your chosen industry. It is necessary to be realistic about your expectations – this isn’t about scaling back your ambition, but about understanding what an entry-level position will involve, from the salary you can expect to start on to personal targets your mentor may ask you to meet.

For help finding that first job or internship, head over to our vacancies page and discover our very latest roles. For student and graduate careers advice and top Inspiring tips, keep scrolling through our careers blog to ensure your knowledge is on point!

Katie is the marketing assistant at Inspiring. A dancer and health & fitness enthusiast, she likes to move, tweet and blog.

The top YouTube channels for careers advice

Video is a digital force to be reckoned with. More and more universities, employment agencies and businesses are turning to YouTube as an outlet for the careers advice, information and shareable content that they have to offer graduates. We’ve put together some of the most exciting and effective channels catering for today’s job seekers to prove that there are videos worth watching that don’t involve cats.



London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) has an awesome YouTube channel packed full of series including ‘education and entrepreneurship’ which features interviews with big names in business from Deborah Meaden to Richard Branson.

LSBF’s channel also features taster sessions, 30 minute video lectures, Q&As and advice on the benefits of studying and how you can achieve more from your education and opportunities on offer.



This top American university’s secret to YouTube success lies in its sheer number of videos. It aims to provide something for every university student or graduate including; networking advice from LinkedIn to face-to-face conversation starters, interview and CV advice from Phoenix Careers Corner and mini documentaries featuring inspiring examples of student experiences and success. It may be an American institution, but this careers advice is universal so explore the channel!

This is just one example of the kind of content you can expect from this channel. This particular video tackles the awkwardness of networking head on, as the founder and CEO of The Muse spills her secrets in a how-to guide to networking.



This London based institution is one of the top ranked universities in the world, specialising in science, medicine, engineering and business, Imperial has a YouTube channel that offers a wealth of advice to prospective and current students and graduates. This particular video features a 30 minute lecture tackling the current graduate employment market and looking at supporting data, what it is employers look for when recruiting graduates, how you as a graduate or student need to consider that information and what you need to think about in order to make the best career choices.



This is just a selection of the kind of careers-based material you can find on YouTube. And of course there are plenty of those hilarious/cute/random videos for your viewing pleasure too…

Katie is the marketing assistant at Inspiring. A dancer and health & fitness enthusiast, she likes to move, tweet: @KatesApps and blog.

Five reasons to choose a university with a great careers service

“Choosing a university that has strong careers services will increase your chances of landing that dream job”

Cheryl De Las Heras Oliver, LSBF Manchester Careers and Student Welfare Manager

Few decisions are as significant as your choice of university. You’re likely to consider lots of criteria before settling on your first choice – the quality of the course, the calibre of the academics, the lifestyle and cost of living in that area. You might not put careers guidance at the top of that list, but it’s a key element to consider if you want to make the most of your studies and find your dream job. Here are a few of the benefits of choosing to study at a university with a top-class careers service.

1. Direct support
The best careers website, such as the careers department, have the right people on hand to offer you individual, face-to-face guidance that can go a long way to helping you whittle down your career options and sell your skills effectively. That may mean CV workshops, or it could mean drop-in hours when you can speak to experienced staff and explore your possibilities. Whatever you need, speaking to someone in person can make it easier to ask questions and find what you’re looking for. The national careers service offers industry and degree-specific advice as well as an insight into job profiles – what a title means, what qualifications you will need and resources you should look into.

2. Better library resources
A university is nothing without a library; everyone knows that. But that doesn’t just apply to academic departments – library resources can also help you explore myriad job opportunities and establish a career plan. A careers service should have well stocked, regularly updated library resources so you can do your research and refine your knowledge through face-to-face and online support. Check out the 20 most spellbinding university libraries in the world for inspiration!

3. Alumni networks
If the best careers services help you to achieve your career aspirations, it stands to reason that the universities with the best careers guidance must have already produced some success stories. That means you can benefit from extensive alumni networks, allowing you to speak to ex-students who are now working in the field you want to explore. They can give you an honest view of what it’s like to work in that sector, advise you on how to get there and provide valuable networking opportunities. All of that contributes to helping you get on the career ladder. After graduation, you can sign up to receive email updates, or join the LinkedIn group associated with your university to stay connected.

4. Better application advice
University is all about developing the knowledge, skills and experience to succeed in the world of work. But even if you’re the perfect candidate, you can easily miss out if you can’t demonstrate that in the application process. Getting high-quality advice on everything from your applications to CV formatting and of course, the thorny issue of interview technique, is vital. If you opt for a university with a great careers service, they will be able to offer more detailed guidance through services such as mock interviews and CV workshops, ensuring you have the right tools to sell your skills to employers.

5. Employer partnerships
Top universities are always interesting for top employers. The best careers services are proactive in forming relationships with businesses that will have benefits for their students. These might range from careers fairs and presentations on getting into a specific industry, all the way to full-blown internship programmes, depending on the provider. However these partnerships play out, the reality will be greater access to employers for students, helping them develop the skills and experience that businesses are seeking.

There are a number of things to consider when applying for university, but the strength of a university’s careers service should be a high priority when thinking ahead. For graduates, these services are still available and can still prove useful in opening your eyes to new opportunities, potential contacts and relevant industry goings on.

Sonia Mazzotta, the author, works at the London School of Business and Finance.

A day in the life of… a marketing manager

Alex started graduate life as an intern in the marketing department at Inspiring Interns. Four years later and he’s worked his way up that ladder to become top dog aka marketing manager. We asked him a few interesting questions to give you an idea of what it takes and how you could get there.

What route did you take to get to where you are now?

went to university and studied French and Spanish at the University of Nottingham and landed a job with a medical recruitment agency before I graduated, so it was great to have something lined up. It became clear that working as a recruitment consultant wasn’t for me, so I left to begin a marketing internship with none other than Inspiring Interns at the beginning of December in 2010. Three months later and I stayed on full-time, starting as a marketing executive and a couple of years later I took over as the marketing manager here. I lead a team of three and we work closely with our IT & web manager, Cam, and graphic designer, Lucas.

You’ll notice that I have no formal marketing qualifications which hasn’t presented a problem – I’m constantly learning and reading around the topic to expand my knowledge. That said, I’m coming to the end of the Squared Online digital marketing course, which I’ve really enjoyed and has helped consolidate my digital knowledge.

On a day-to-day basis, what does your job involve?

I look after Inspiring Interns’ candidate attraction piece. We’re always working on multiple projects to improve our profile across the country amongst student and graduate communities. Without giving the game away too much, this includes SEO and PPC activities, making sense of all the data we have access to and constantly tweaking the website, our digital shop window to make sure our visitors have the best online experience possible.

What attracted you to want to work for a start-up?

To be honest, I fell into this job. Like the majority of graduates I’ve met over the years in this industry, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I left university and focussed my energy on graduate scheme applications. When I left my recruitment consultant position and applied for the marketing internship at Inspiring Interns, I hadn’t considered the start-up aspect, but I’ve since learned to love it and firmly believe that thousands of graduates miss out on the brilliant opportunities with start-ups and SMEs: more responsibility, measurable outcome from your work and the possibility to work closely alongside much more experienced colleagues…what’s not to love?!

How relevant is technology and keeping up-to-date with the latest industry news to you?

Extremely relevant. It’s my team’s job to ensure that our company is kept abreast of the latest relevant technologies and always knows what’s going on in the industry. We pride ourselves on being where graduates hang out, and this doesn’t often translate to careers fairs and the traditional methods, so technology is key to this strategy.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Focus and enjoy yourself. Remove all distractions and be that ‘anything it takes’ guy, but make sure you’re enjoying yourself in the process or life would be pretty boring.

If Alex’s words of wisdom have inspired you, head to our vacancies page and apply for one our exciting graduate internships or full-time job opportunities today!

Katie is a recent addition to our marketing team. A dancer/health & fitness enthusiast, she tweets: @KatesApps, and blogs here.

Five big mistakes: cover letters

A cover letter doesn’t have to be the bane of your job searching life! Here are a few pointers to get you heading in the right direction.

1. Consider your audience

Know your audience and structure the cover letter accordingly. Whether you have a direct contact at the company or your email is likely to head straight in the HR team’s inbox, your application should be targeted appropriately. Before you start, ask yourself these questions:

Who do I address it to?
If you don’t have the name of a contact, avoid guessing – an email addressed “Dear Sir” landing in the inbox of a woman is not a great start. Addressing your cover letter to the HR department or to whom it may concern is fine.

How long should a cover letter be?
Check whether the application is asking for a cover letter or just a brief outline of your education and work experience. Nobody likes a ten thousand word email, so avoid recalling your life story and just draw attention to the important information that they need to know.

Do I have to send one?
If the application requests it – you should probably send one. An employer needs to know that you can follow basic instructions. A two second “here’s my CV” email doesn’t quite cut it. If there’s no mention of a cover letter, it’s up to you to decide!

2. Typos!

We’ve all sent an email and then suddenly had that “*&@$%^!” moment when you spot an embarrassing typo or incorrect spelling or grammar, so how do you avoid it? Check, double check, and triple check your email before sending! Ask someone else to have a look – a fresh pair of eyes can help. A spelling mistake or grammatical error will instantly ring alarm bells in the head of whoever is reading your application, so avoid this classic mistake and you’re already winning.

3. Unsupported claims

A cover letter is a prime opportunity to highlight your skills, education and experience and demonstrate how they are relevant to the job you are applying for. However, if you claim to be a whizz at all things graphic design related or to have an in-depth knowledge of banking and finance – and you don’t – you might run into trouble. If you talk the talk, you will undoubtedly have to walk the walk at some point. Focus on what you can do and what you are looking to learn to do. Selling yourself as someone who is keen to learn is attractive to a potential employer and arguably less risky than trying to wing it.

4. Highlighting a lack of experience

You may be surprised at how you can make hospitality or retail experience or a society position you held at university relevant to a job application. Showing how this position of responsibility provided you with key skills like leadership and communication is an example of focusing on your positive attributes (not what you don’t have) and backing up a statement with evidence. Try to make your cover letter as positive and dazzling as possible! Avoid focusing on the negatives and big up what you can bring to the table.

5. Recycling

Sending a generic “Dear Sir/Madam, I am really interested in applying for this job” is not really what a potential employer or recruiter wants to see. Ideally, you should tailor your CV to each application for a greater chance of success. Read the job spec and pick out key words and phrases, but be careful not to just regurgitate it. Think outside the box and do some research on the company. It’s more appealing for a sociable company to hear: “I really enjoy working as part of a team and I’m keen to be part of a vibrant company culture” than “I really want to succeed in marketing”. You want to make them think that you would be a great fit for their workplace – before they’ve even met you. Taking time when applying to jobs is crucial and it all comes back to quality over quantity! Churning out applications may feel satisfying, but a job search isn’t something you can tick off your to do list overnight. It takes time, but it’s worth it once your career is catapulted into action.

Katie is a recent addition to our marketing team. A dancer/health & fitness enthusiast, she tweets: @KatesApps, and blogs here.



Image 1 via ianmack.
Image 2 via plainhelvetica.
Image 3 via flixster.
Image 4 via Pixabay.
Image 5 via Wikimedia Commons.

How to do Halloween in London: graduate style

We all like to do Halloween on a budget, whether that means decking out your house pre-party with amazing decorations from Poundland (I have no regrets) or getting your mates involved and doing your costumes DYI style. Student, graduate, working professional – anyone keen to get stuck in this Friday 31st, here are just some of the wacky activities London has to offer you this year.

Spooky cycle
It’s not quite as weird as it sounds: the Reebok club in Canary Wharf is giving its group cycle class a twist with fancy dress, prizes and “spine-chilling cocktails” (after the workout). For a tenner you can make this a fitness-themed Halloween to remember whether you’re squeezing it in before hitting up a house party or you just fancy a bike ride.

Halloween meets fireworks
Vauxhall’s one night only fire festival (31st October) brings you performances, fireworks and bonfires all washed down with ale and mulled wine! This free event always gets a good turn out and is a great way to combine the two celebrations into one.

Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival
The traditional Mexican decorative skulls have become synonymous with Halloween and this free event is a celebration of all things dead with workshops, film screenings and tequila master classes of course! Head to Southbank until November 2nd.

Top 12 Halloween parties in London
Timeout has created the ultimate hot list of which parties you should head to this Friday evening. From Halloween Raveyard to the Dead Famous discos, pick your poison.

Staycation
Scare yourself silly with the classic film selection brought to you by Netflix this Autumn or host a pumpkin party and see who can carve the best creation. Stuff your face and stay in or try making your own potion punch. Grab a friend or five and make a night of it!

Fireworks/Bonfire night
London has some amazing fireworks displays all around the city starting from this weekend and leading into next week. North Londoners try Alexandra Palace, Southerners can head to Battersea Park with a ticket or watch at Blackheath for free. Head Central on November 8th for the traditional Lord Mayor’s show and fireworks (free) or venture out in East London for the first public fireworks display in the borough of Hackney for a decade. West London residents – we haven’t forgotten about you! You’ve got a whole host of options, with Richmond looking to attract the biggest crowd.

Katie is a recent addition to our marketing team. A dancer/health & fitness enthusiast, she tweets: @KatesApps, and blogs here.

Seven famous setbacks: why you shouldn’t give up

These situations could have given some of the world’s most famous people reason to give up, but they didn’t. Test your pub-quiz knowledge and guess who faced these harsh realities at a young age… (Answers at the bottom of the page if you haven’t discovered them already.)

1. After failing to land a role she nearly gave up on acting when a director called her too ugly.

2. He was rejected from the USA film school three times.

3. His first book was turned down by 27 different publishers.

4. At the age of 30 he was left depressed and devastated after being fired from the company he founded.

5. His music teacher said “as a composer, he is hopeless”.

6. She was demoted from a job as a news anchor because she wasn’t deemed fit for television.

7. Rejected by a recording studio that said “we don’t like their sound – they have no future in show business”.





Answers below…



1. Meryl Streep 2. Stephen Spielberg 3. Dr Suess 4. Steve Jobs 5. Beethoven 6. Oprah Winfrey 7. The Beatles

The moral of the story is don’t give up; perseverance is a common trait in successful people.

Katie is Inspiring’s marketing assistant and a recent addition to our team. A dancer/health and fitness enthusiast, she tweets @KatesApps and blogs here.



Image 1 via Wikipedia.
Image 2 via flickr.
Image 3 via flickr.
Image 4 via flickr.
Image 5 via Wikipedia.
Image 6 via mamamia.
Image 7 via bbc.

How to get a job in a tech start-up

You know everything your well-meaning careers officer at uni told you about applications? Yeah, forget that.

Careers departments are good at helping you tailor your application for the well-trodden path of graduate schemes with big blue-chip firms, how to tick their well-established boxes and do enough to ensure an HR bod (or even a piece of software) will put you through to interview stage. They’ve had years of working with these types of companies and have a good grasp of what they’re looking for.

This, however, doesn’t help the estimated 96% of graduates who will not go into a grad scheme. The majority of university leavers go to work for a smaller company instead. And with tech booming many of these jobs are in the bourgeoning digital industries. The problem is that these companies aren’t looking for formulaic cover letters about the responsibilities you bore as social secretary of the Ultimate Frisbee Soc; they want succinct, relevant notes that demonstrate exactly what you can offer them and ideally show a bit of character too. Small companies don’t have large HR departments who can wade through reams of applications to find the best candidates – they need the best candidates to make it abundantly clear from the word go. And given you’ll be working in close quarters with these people, they need to know you’re a real human who they’ll be able to get on with – hence the greater focus on personality.

That’s not to say you should completely abandon absolutely everything you’ve heard about applications and revert to alliterative verse as means to catch the eye. Broad concepts such as the well-worn S-T-A-R approach (situation, task, action, result) still apply – that’s common sense more than anything – but these alone, bereft of professional context (why is the fact you’ve done this previously useful to the company you want to work for?) will not get you very far.

If you are concerned that you lack relevant commercial experience (which is fair enough, particularly if you are applying for an internship) make sure you demonstrate a willingness to learn. For example, you appreciate that having knowledge of HTML is useful for many roles so you are currently working your way through Codecademy’s online course (it’s free too – worth checking out). Oh look! You’ve mentioned a skill AND your interest in learning and developing. Suddenly, you have a brain like a traction engine (as Alan Partridge almost said).

“This is all very well,” I envisage you saying, “but where do I actually find these roles with exciting start-up companies in the first place?” I hoped you’d ask that. Here’s a quick lowdown on all the best places to be scouring:

Job boards

Do what they say on their proverbial tins. These sites list jobs in a range of industries, with companies ranging from brand new start-ups to fast-growing, well-funded entities. Worth checking every few days as they are constantly updated.

Worksinstartups
Threebeards
Ventureloop
Escape the City
Google Campus
Angellist

Events

Image via Silicon Milkroundabout Google+


While applying for roles online is the mainstay of many job-hunts, nothing beats meeting potential employers in person. There is a selection of events tailored to getting SMEs and potential employees together. Sign up, research the companies attending, go make a great impression and watch how your application gets the VIP fast-track treatment afterwards.

Siliconmilkroundabout
Drinkabout

Recruiters

As you may have read in our recent blog, recruiters can do a lot of the hard work in your search for you. They have the contacts and the experience to get you in with relevant firms.

• The one and only, Inspiring Interns!

Research

Image via Udemy Press

Being proactive in your hunt for a job with an exciting tech start-up can often reap rewards. Rather than waiting for the right company to go out and advertise for a position, go and find them. Introduce yourself (on email, on LinkedIn, even in person) – explain why you’d love to work for them and why you’d be a valuable asset. They may not have something instantly but you’ll be in pole position as and when a vacancy comes up. Or if you do a really good job with the intro, you might even be able to convince them they need to create a role for you… Have a shifty at the following places to find the exciting new companies everyone’s talking about:

• Mainstream media e.g. Observer Tech Monthly
• Trade press – mashable, techcrunch etc.
Crunchbase
LinkedIn

This blog was written by the legend that was Andrew James Scherer. He can be found @scheza on Twitter. You can also connect with Andrew on Google+!

Video of the week: The Approximate Present

We love ‘The Approximate Present’ – an exciting graduate project by Filippo Baraccani, inspired and informed by chaos theory and the weather. This is a great example of digital skill, creativity and passion from a young university leaver. Check out this interesting video below:

The Approximate Present from Filippo Baraccani on Vimeo.

Katie is an Inspiring Intern and a recent addition to our marketing team. A dancer/health and fitness enthusiast, she tweets @KatesApps and blogs here.

Ten hot roles to apply for this weekend

Happy Friday! We’ve put together our pick of the top opportunities to apply for this weekend. This diverse selection includes an amazing grad scheme opportunity with company perks that will definitely appeal to you. Also featured this week is a great opportunity to polish up your PR and social media marketing skills in the world of luxury fashion, and a financial internship with a company recently named one of the global ‘top ten hottest fintech start-ups’. What are you waiting for?

1. Digital Marketing Internship – Vietnam
Join a dynamic, international team with years of experience in the creative industries for this exciting opportunity in Vietnam. Flight, accommodation, transport, visa, lunch and salary are all paid for and you’ll work towards gaining a Google Adwords Certification at the end of the six months.

2. Advertising Operations Executive
This full-time job opportunity offers a £23,000 starting salary and a huge opportunity to progress professionally as mobile app space continues to grow. With global offices and a HQ in San Francisco, you’ll be based in London managing online advertising campaigns.

3. Financial Relationship Management Internship
This is the company recently cited as one of the global ‘top ten hottest fintech start-ups’ and they’re offering the chance to kick-start a career in the financial technology sector with this exciting learning experience. Social activities include football, lunch and drinks, so get involved!

4. Mobile Advertising Internship
Europe’s largest premium advertising network has over 300 international publishers including The Sun, Cosmo, Elle, ITN and The Times. What’s even better, is they’re hiring! This internship is all about learning how a media agency works and understanding account management.

5. Junior Developer
This award-winning marketing agency is searching for a talented Junior PHP/LAMP web developer. With an approach to work based on the phrase: ‘If Carlsberg did this… What would they do?’, they’re searching for creative grads, passionate about technology, and with the relevant skills.

6. eCommerce Marketing Internship
A celebrity following and growing media interest is quickly making this luxury swimwear boutique the go-to place. Learn all things eCommerce and gain an understanding of social media marketing and how it works. Experience PR, meet industry contacts and experiment with fashion writing.

7. Account Manager
Build relationships with senior marketing figures at major brands as part of this £20,000 account management role. Creative and organised, the ideal graduate will use their initiative and confidence to help this leading marketing and consultancy business grow.

8. Product & Operations Internship
Work for one of the fastest growing online gambling companies in the industry and experience devising strategies for new games, coordinating with the design and marketing teams and generating new ideas for promotions. This internship opportunity offers great variety and prospects.

9. Wowcher Analysis Executive
Complete with bar, Playstation and table tennis – this isn’t your average office! This full-time job opportunity offers a £24,000-£28,000 salary and a chance to make a huge impact on an already successful company. Communication, analysis and initiative are the skills you need.

10. Wowcher Graduate Scheme
Here’s a chance to join one of the hottest grad schemes around! Free gym, free food, great socials… the list of perks is endless! What’s more, your career progression plan will be mapped out from the start and insightful training provided. Join this fun, fabulous team and reap the rewards.

If you haven’t quite found what you think you’re looking for in today’s top ten, head over to our website. Browse the full list of our latest vacancies here.

Katie is an Inspiring Intern and a recent addition to our marketing team. A dancer/health & fitness enthusiast, she tweets: @KatesApps, and blogs here.