GUEST BLOG: Teaching English as a foreign language


Guest blog written by Evonne Young, Web Education.

Keep your options open, think outside the box and try another way of exploring the other part of the world.

Asia is the oldest continent and China is one the oldest countries in the world. With 5,000 years of history, Chinese culture is never the same with other parts of the world and heavily influences many of the other Asian countries. It is one of the must visit countries and it is definitely one of the safest countries if working/living overseas ever comes across your mind. However, English does not work that well in China, which becomes one of the major concerns that stop western people from exploring.

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GUEST BLOG: 6 ways to develop commercial awareness at university


 Guest blog written by Liz Bland, Careers Consultant at Aston University and was originally published in MyPlus Students’ Club. Read the careers blog for more advice about applications and disability.

Are you commercially aware? Many employers include commercial awareness as a key requirement when advertising their graduate vacancies. In fact, the Association of Graduate Recruiters reported in the AGR 2016 Development Survey that nearly 80% of their members were seeking this employability skill. But what does it mean and how can you develop commercial awareness while you’re at university?

Commercial awareness defined

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines commercial awareness as, “knowledge of how businesses make money, what customers want, and what problems there are in particular areas of business”.

People who are commercially aware can look at situations from a business perspective and appreciate concepts such as profit, income generation and cost reduction. On a broader scale, they also have an awareness of the job they are applying for and the wider sector within which the company operates, key competitors and current market trends.

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GUEST BLOG: York Award for 1st years


 Guest blog written by Jessica Chatburn, Second Year Archaeology & Heritage student

University is so much than going to classes and getting a degree. It is about developing who you are as a person, experiencing new things, and challenging yourself beyond that of your degree. Not only will you have tonnes of fun doing extra things like joining a society or evening running one, but it will look great on your CV’s to employers and you can even earn an award for it!

The York Award is a great opportunity for you to reflect on your university experience and get recognition for your hard work which is a super self-proud moment. My experience of applying and filling out the York award applications was definitely positive. The form is easy and simple to fill out and doesn’t take up a lot of time. The ability to save and edit the form any time before the deadline was handy as it allows you to complete it in stages and even edit and improve the form if things pop into mind or you gain a better skill example.

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GUEST BLOG: Self-employment straight out of university


Guest blog been written by Andrew Trodden, Marketing Executive at Churchill Knight & Associates Ltd – specialist contractor accountants

The idea of becoming self-employed straight out of university may sound frightening and unrealistic. However, more and more graduates are choosing to become their own boss as soon as they complete their studies. Starting a solo professional career will involve a lot of willpower and determination but the rewards can be substantial.

The number of self-employed workers continues to rise

The number of self-employed workers in the United Kingdom (UK) is on the rise and has been for a number of years. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) confirmed that in November 2016, there were over 4.77 million self-employed personnel in the UK, making up 15% of the entire workforce. Since 2008, the number of self-employed has increased over 23%.

Graduates are increasingly being drawn towards freelancing and the gig economy

A recent study by Elance has found that 87% of graduates with a first or second class degree believe that freelancing and working in the gig economy is “a highly attractive and lucrative career option” (Elance, 2013). Furthermore, 29% of students have already decided that within 5 years of graduating from university they plan to be working as a freelancer. Based on these figures, it is possible that over 4,750 students at York University are already planning a self-employed career in the near future.

Advantages of being your own boss

There is a host of benefits available to those who are their own boss. Below is a list of the main reasons people decide to become self-employed.

  • You can choose the contracts that suit you and decline the ones that don’t. As a result, work should never be boring.
  • You are able to be flexible by negotiating the terms of a contract. For example, you might want to work 4 days a week or decide to finish at 4:00 pm every day. This can make planning your holidays easier than if you were in full-time employment.
  • You can earn more money. You are in charge of the rates you set and the opportunity to make an excellent living is realistic.
  • You will have the opportunity to learn from a variety of clients. Whether you work from home or at external locations, you will meet a variety of knowledgeable clients, as well as carry out new and exciting tasks to develop your skill set.
  • You will avoid the typical office politics that full-time employees regularly complain about. As a self-employed worker, if you don’t get on with one of your clients then you can choose not to work with them again.
  • You will be responsible for running your own business, building a brand and developing your place within the market. Whilst this will involve a lot of hard work, it will be exceptionally rewarding.
  • You are not committing to being self-employed forever. If you decide that contracting just isn’t for you then there is no need to worry – you can look for a full-time position.

How will you get paid?

Self-employed workers tend to work through an umbrella company or set up a limited company. If you work through an umbrella company, you will be paid as if you were in full-time employment and the umbrella company will make the appropriate tax and National Insurance Contribution payments to HM Revenue and Customs. Using an umbrella company will remove the complicated administration involved in being self-employed and starting your own company, but it is not the most tax efficient way to operate.

The most tax efficient way to operate as a self-employed worker is to set up a limited company. This is also considered the most professional way to present yourself in front of clients. A limited company can theoretically involve a lot of paperwork and ongoing administration. However, you can choose a specialist contractor accountant to take care of this for you.

What to look for from a contractor accountant

If you choose to use a contractor accountant, you will want to select one that takes care of all the important things involved in running a limited company. The following checklist should help answer some of your questions when looking for an accountant:

  • Are they specialists in the contractor and freelancer sector?
  • Do they charge a setup cost or close down fee?
  • Is there a tie-in period?
  • Do they offer a fixed fee that is based on your requirements?
  • What kind of administrative support do they provide?
  • Are you paying to use the accountant’s software package or will you receive a full package support from real people?
  • Do they have an online portal?
  • Do they offer any additional services, for example completing your personal tax return?
  • Do they operate in full compliance with HM Revenue & Customs legislation?

Finding your first project as a self-employed worker

Finding your first contract might seem a daunting task. Firstly, make sure you have an up-to-date CV and you are ready to hand it out to the appropriate organisations. Refresh your LinkedIn profile at the same time and start connecting with recruitment agencies and people of interest. There are many recruitment agencies specialising in roles for contractors. Having a browse online is a great place to start. If you notice a local networking event, make sure you go along.

Knowledge is the key to success and a great way to find out more about contract roles in your chosen field is to ask around. Are any of your friends or family self-employed, or work in the recruitment industry? Have you considered touching base with your university careers department?

Whatever you decide, don’t rush in to anything until you have had a thorough review of the options available to you. There is a lot of support available for students, both undergraduate and postgraduate. Please do not hesitate to ask for guidance.

Best of luck!

One Planet Week: Green careers


Careers blog written by Irena Zientek, Information Development Manager, Careers

To celebrate One Planet Week (Week 6, 13 – 17 February), we thought we’d turn the spotlight onto green careers and how to find out more about them.

Green careers don’t necessarily mean just nature and conservation, but also ethical careers, renewable energy, consultancy and more. You can start exploring the range of careers by visiting the environment job sector pages on the Careers website. These pages will provide information about the sector and whether it’s right for you. They also look at the skills you’ll need, where to look for jobs and what else you can do while you’re at York to enhance your employability in this area.

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GUEST BLOG: Graduate roles for careers in education


 Guest blog written by Rebecca, a Special Educational Needs Consultant for Teaching Personnel’s West and North Yorkshire branch.

When you’re due to graduate, the world of job seeking can seem pretty daunting. “Where do I want to work? Do I have the right skills? Will I have job security?” That’s where working for a company like Teaching Personnel can help.

Before my role as a consultant, I completed a degree in Theatre Studies and then trained as a Primary School Teacher. In between my undergraduate and postgraduate studies, I spent a lot of time in schools and alternative education settings, gaining experience in different areas before making a decision to train in Primary Education. I didn’t really know about the amount of roles available to graduates and it was only upon doing a bit of research that I was able to find a role as a Special Needs Support Worker – sharing my time between a home based education programme for pupils with Autism, and within a large SEN school across several sites.

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GUEST BLOG: Graduate options


 Guest blog written by Careers Student Brand Ambassadors, Charlotte Noddings and Serife Gunal

Are you panicking about what comes after graduation? Do you already have an idea of what you want to do but don’t know where to start? Here we outline some of the most common paths you can pursue and signpost you to some of the best resources for planning your life after university. The options laid out here are not exhaustive but they do give you a good idea of some of the opportunities available. The key thing to remember is that using the Careers department is a great way to start!

What are your options?

Graduate Schemes

Graduate schemes are a fantastic introduction to the world of work, with many employers offering employment for one to three, or more, years as well as, the opportunity to attain qualifications. Grad schemes are available in a range of sectors including investment and finance, engineering, accountancy and even media. Single employers often recruit to more than one type of job role, for instance, investment banks offer opportunities in operations, sales and trading, investment banks, technology and more! Some employers close their applications in the autumn of your final year but there are many schemes that are open longer and may also re-open later in the year. The long recruitment process, including an online application form, psychometric tests, assessment centres and interviews, can be made easier if you know where to look! If you decide that a graduate job is one of the avenues you would like to pursue after graduation, make sure you go to Careers for any help with finding graduate schemes, any part of the application process, or any other queries you may have.

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