Career sector focus - The Careers Group, University of London


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Did you know that you can be an accountant if you have studied English, or that you can work as a
project manager in a charity? Industries offer opportunities that you might never have imagined.
Further investigation into a sector reveals a range of jobs and employers. Here we have unpicked a few industries to give you some ideas.

Find out more about job areas you are interested in now. It is frustrating to realise in your final year that you needed particular work experience to get in to a certain area – check out

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Career sector focus - The Careers Group, University of London

  1. 1. Find out more SECTOR FOCUS Did you know that you can be an accountant if you have studied English, or that you can work as a project manager in a charity? Industries offer opportunities that you might never have imagined. Further investigation into a sector reveals a range of jobs and employers. Here we have unpicked a few industries to give you some ideas. For more detailed information about careers in all these sectors please visit:,, And see page 40 for ideas on how to find the right career for you. Working in the city The City accounts for a third of all financial services jobs in the UK; however, there’s more to business and finance careers than just the ‘Big Four’ City firms. From investment banking to accountancy, from management consultancy to commercial law, graduates today face a huge array of opportunities, whether in the large multinationals or smaller, boutique players. The main sectors include: banking: investment, retail and private insurance commercial law accountancy business, IT and management consultancy. Often fast-paced and dynamic, these careers can be demanding but also rewarding. Many roles require long working hours in highpressured environments, sometimes with the added demands of studying for professional qualifications. However, graduate starting salaries are high: accountancy firms (starting at £26k), law firms (£38k) and investment banks (£42k). Graduate vacancies are on the increase, with more than 340 extra vacancies added this year across the sector by the UK’s top 100 employers. Most companies look for bright, self-motivated graduates with good commercial awareness, leadership and team-working skills, generally with a 2.1 or above and good UCAS achievement. Work 42 THE CAREERS SERVICE GUIDE London 2014 My role allows me to work on some very high-profile deals, often with people who are at the top of their fields and who drive the market. If you are interested in a career in commercial law, my advice would be to do as much work experience as you can. Working for a City law firm can be extremely exciting but also stressful at times. You need to know that it is the right thing for you. Lizzie Frazer, solicitor in the Corporate and Leveraged Finance department at CMS Cameron McKenna, and law graduate from King’s College London experience can be invaluable, with increasing numbers of employers recruiting directly from their summer vacation schemes and internships. The Careers Group’s City Course also offers unparalleled exposure to a range of City companies – for more information go to
  2. 2. Find out more Working in the creative industries Employing 700,000 people, Britain is a powerhouse in the cultural and creative industries (CCI). From self-employed artists to cultural goliaths like the Southbank, the array of employers and roles can be bewildering. Think about roles that might interest you: performers are the sector’s public face, designers and writers provide the creative engine behind the performance, but none of this could happen without arts administrators, fundraisers and marketers. Visit your Careers Service to explore more. Creative industries can be broadly broken into five areas: publishing and writing performing arts (theatre and dance) film, TV and radio (broadcasting, production and technical) digital and interactive media (including computer games development) art and museums. You may be a performer, a technician or a manager seeking funds and promoting events. Increasingly, the line between specialisms is disappearing: multimedia artists can work in sound and be adept at web design; an actor may run corporate training role-play sessions. Working in the not-for-profit sector The UK as a whole, and London in particular, is a great place to get engaged with the not-for-profit sector, divided broadly between charities focused on UK and global issues, particularly nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) which are concerned with international development. Clustered around these are other organisations including national government departments such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, international government and multilateral organisations, including the European Union, the Commonwealth Secretariat, UNHCR, UNICEF and other UN bodies that have a presence in London. These organisations have the same sort of business needs as those in the private sector: for example, accounts have to be submitted, IT has to be maintained and press releases written. Consequently, if you have the right skills, why not consider using them in this sector or getting some work experience there? You can also find roles that are quite distinctive – for example: fundraising, advocacy and membership. However, be aware that competition for jobs or internships can be fierce, as many people strongly identify with particular causes and recruitment tends to be on a smaller scale than in the private sector. For this reason, evidence of previous experience will be crucial. Both Working in the STEM industry STEM is made up of science, technology, engineering and maths and encompasses a huge number of roles: in the UK, approximately 5.5 million people work in a STEM-related role, such as: chemists developing new flavours for crisps physicists working on nuclear fission biologists specialising in pollution control pharmacologists researching new drugs to treat cancer engineers building homes or a new engine for the latest sports car statisticians calculating everything from government waste to health outcomes of patients zoologists discovering new species of bees electrical engineers and computer scientists developing the latest mobile phones and much, much more. Approximately a quarter of those working in a STEM job, do so in a non-STEM-related industry. For example, a physicist could be working Finding your niche can take time, and sometimes the only way to work out what you want from your career is to dive in, try something and move on. The good news is that the sector is growing. The downside is shrinking funding, making it ever tougher to secure financing for your projects. Don’t expect to make a fortune in the creative industries, and be prepared for job insecurity; roles are often temporary and people move between roles and organisations frequently. Consequently networking is critical. However, you can look forward to an incredibly exciting and rewarding career. There’s a world of opportunities to get creative and do something you really love, so go for it! We run a series of events in these areas, so keep an eye on our website: After I graduated from SOAS, it took me quite a while to get a permanent job in the sector. I took internships in India, worked in emergency relief in Africa and even worked in parliament. I now have a great job with an NGO and I know the work I do makes a real difference to people. Sophia Pickles, SOAS masters student charities and NGOs offer voluntary opportunities, membership options and even a chance to serve as a trustee. The NGO sector will typically expect developing country experience as well. Entrants will typically have a first degree but masters qualifications aren’t usually needed – except for research roles. Salaries depend on the role and the size and location of the organisation. Even a chief executive of an NGO, with many years’ experience, may not be earning more than £70k a year. Other salaries are proportionately lower. as a teacher and a chemist could be working as a science correspondent for a newspaper. STEM graduates tend to have better employment prospects and higher pay than the average graduate, according to the STEM briefing report, Russell Group, Feb 2009. Overall, there is a shortage of skills in the sector and many employers say that they struggle to recruit enough people. As with all sectors, there are some areas that are highly competitive (eg NHS healthcare scientist roles) so it is worth finding out what employers look for in their top candidates. The common competencies asked for in STEM careers are: communication skills, teamwork, analytical skills, problem solving and attention to detail. Careers in STEM can be fascinating, challenging and enable you to constantly develop new skills throughout your life. So go out and find the STEM career for you! THE CAREERS SERVICE GUIDE London 2014 43