Where Scooby Doo would fear to tread…. November 29, 2012Posted by Andrew Falconer in : Industry Focus, Marketing, Advertising & PR, Science & Engineering , add a comment
I’m sure you can all picture the scene. Disused fairground rides with the wind howling through them. Shaggy and Scooby running as fast as their legs will carry them away from the shadowy figure chasing them. It’s what out of season theme parks are made for.
And certainly that is what I was thinking of as I joined MBA International Management students at Royal Holloway on a tour of Thorpe Park last Thursday. It was cold, the park is set on an island so there is water all around, and the huge structures of the rides looked ominous against the threatening sky.
The MBA students were at Thorpe Park as the first part of a consultancy project they are undertaking. Theme parks are big business and you can’t much much bigger than Thorpe Park’s owners, Merlin. With an estimated 41m guests annually globally, Merlin is second only to Disney in visitor numbers. In the UK we may know Merlin through Alton Towers and Thorpe Park but there is so much more to this business than meets the eye.
The origins of the company can be traced back to the UK’s first Sealife Centre in Oban, Scotland. Nowadays its portfolio covers a large number of location based attractions worldwide – from Sydney Tower, Australia to Legoland, Florida. It is owned by venture capitalists who have seen it, even during recession, grow year on year over the last decade. The company continues to expand its portfolio be increasing the number of attractions each year going forward.
Fascinating stuff, but what use is this for students and graduates? Well it’s fairly obvious for students seeking part-time jobs – there are plenty available in their key seasons. But it’s also very much overlooked by graduates. The location based entertainments industry in the UK is growing and they are in need of the leaders of the future, now. The senior managers we met at Thorpe Park had all been with the company for many years – in one case, thirty. Merlin have launched their graduate scheme with the hope of creating a succession planning system.
So what can you do? Taking Merlin as an example, there career opportunities are broken into three key business areas – the sites, corporate and (I love this!) “Merlin Magic”. At location level you could be involved in engineering, developing marketing strategies, leading on customer service, developing estates, recruiting and managing staff. At corporate level you could be working in investor relations, HR, finance, marketing, acquisitions and IT. In their case, Merlin Magic is the creative department, responsible for working with the site staff on developing new rides and marketing plans. For example, Thorpe Park, through Merlin Magic, has a license from Lionsgate to use the Saw horror franchise. With Merlin each location gets a new attraction every three years – a ride, for example, may cost up to £20m, so there is a constant work cycle to go through at all levels of the business.
One of the staff members I spoke to revealed that she hates roller-coasters. But she loves her job because she can open her office window at any time and hear the screams of teenagers as they get rocketed around these incredible structures. Walking around the site with her gave me just a glimpse of the enormity of the task of ensuring the highest safety standards on equipment, regenerating the park, implementing new ideas and managing a complex environment for what is quite a short opening season.
A 2:2 is a worthless degree June 11, 2012Posted by Andrew Falconer in : Finance & IT, Selection Process , 5comments
So the results are in. How did you do? Did you get that 1st class degree everyone hopes for? Or do you feel there are no options now you failed to grasp that 2:1? You are not alone. Around 30% of graduates leave with a 2:2 degree and the good news is that there are still lots of options open to you – your degree still has great value. The notion that a 2:2 is worthless is yet another myth.
As careers consultants we often see graduates with a 2:2 suddenly start to talk about doing a masters course. Typically there are three reasons for doing a masters: a) desire to specialise and increase employability; b) passion to learn more about the subject and c) compensate for poorer grades achieved to date. Unfortunately the third reason doesn’t usually work. Many graduate recruiters don’t differentiate between a masters and an undergraduate degree – although some (e.g. ExonMobil) will take a 2:2 plus a relevant postgraduate qualification. If you want to do a masters then make sure your motivation is right.
So before you get depressed and hit the ice-cream, there is more than a glimmer of hope.
OK so many of the Graduate Schemes are closed to you because they require a 2:1 or above. But there are some schemes out there that are open to 2:2: degrees. Some examples that might help you get started:
- Barclays Retail
- PWC Inspired Talent
- GIST Logistics
- Mitchells & Butlers
- Civil Service Fast Stream
- London Treasurer’s Graduate Scheme
- NHS Management
- Scottish Power
- Jaguar Landrover
So from that (non-exhaustive) list you can see the diversity of schemes available – from Government to manufacturing, professional services to retail. Trawling through the internet should help find many others. Bear in mind that within the same company there may be different entry requirements depending on the role – e.g. IT. In many cases the 2:1 requirement isn’t necessarily about the ability to do the job, but a means of reducing the volume of applications.
It’s easy to get distracted by graduate schemes. These corporations often have large budgets to market their career opportunities to students. But typically only about 10% of graduates go into a graduate scheme. That’s all, just 10%. Maybe about 35% will do further study, leaving 55% of graduates doing something else.
“It’s tough out there. There aren’t any jobs.” The media keeps broadcasting a message of doom and gloom about the job market which isn’t very helpful. The graduate job market is generally always challenging and competition is usually strong. When thinking about your next steps there are several factors to consider.
- If you wanted a specific graduate scheme, why was that? Was it because of the company (if so, search entry level positions in same firm), the role (find alternative employers with similar roles) or location (refine your job search geographically but broaden criteria).
- What can you do in the short term to position yourself better in the future? For example, aspiring accountant and Royal Holloway graduate is building on his 2:2 by putting himself through the ICAEW Certificate because it shares the same modules as the ACA.
- Can I do it myself? Many current entrepreneurs have started their businesses with very little money, just a positive attitude and some basic business skills.
A 2:2 is not the end of the world. Alumni from across the University of London have done very well in life despite their 2:2 degrees. It may seem like it’s a barrier but, by thinking differently, it shouldn’t be a major disadvantage. When I last published a version of this post, this lovely comment was left:
As someone who got a 2:2 I thought that was it in terms of any ideas about continuing to study.
I had no idea there were graduate schemes to go on. Thank you
Similarly, whilst graduate schemes will generally be closed to those with degree levels lower than 2:2, it doesn’t mean that the company is. You may just need to work your way up from a lower level. But it’s still very achievable. You need to play to your strengths to compensate for your lower level degree.
Graduates can continue to get careers support from their colleges in the University of London Careers Group by joining Gradclub.
This is an updated version of this previous post.
Graduate schemes in unlikely places April 19, 2011Posted by Kirsti Burton in : Arts & Heritage, Marketing, Advertising & PR, Media, Third Sector, arts administration , comments closed
Originally posted at QM Jobs Blog
*****Be aware this content is over two years old*****
Are you looking for a graduate scheme outside the private sector?
A stumbling block for many students and graduates is finding paid opportunities in sectors like charities. Often it seems that graduate training schemes are ring-fenced for sectors like finance or engineering. It is important to remember that not every organisation who offers training programmes can afford large advertising campaigns so you may have to look a little harder. Here are a few that you may not have heard of to start you off.
Charity Works is in its third year of placing graduates in 12 month first level management roles within its group of twelve charities. The 2011 programme opened at the beginning of the month and closes at the end of May.
Cancer Research UK is one of the few large charities to run a graduate recruitment scheme. Cancer Research is a large business and the scheme covers a good range in its four streams Corporate, Fundraising and Marketing, Scientific Services, and Communications.
Did you know that places like universities and art galleries can be charities? Local to us, the Whitechapel Gallery has six traineeships in Development, Education, Exhibition, Communications, Visitor Services, Operations, Press and Marketing and Exhibitions. Applications close on 4 March.
Many housing organisations have charitable status and some offer graduate training posts. You may have to look up individual organisations for specific schemes. Have a look at this recent Q&A about graduate housing careers.
The National Skills Academy for Social Care hosts a management trainee scheme that helps graduates gain the skills needed to build careers in the independent social care sector. Social care involves aspects like nursing and dementia care homes but graduates do not need any experience of the sector to apply to the scheme which has been running since 2009.
Look around for more opportunities and read more about routes after graduation.