The employment market has experienced a turbulent few years, and the impact on graduate recruitment has been quite varied. Many sectors popular with undergraduates, such as finance, consultancy, retail and accountancy, experienced a massive contraction in 2008-2011, but signs have been more positive in recent years, and there is a more buoyant attitude among graduate recruiters.
The net effect, however, has been a sharply increased sense of competitiveness in the market as undergraduates and graduates find themselves under greater pressure to secure places on internship schemes, graduate programmes, or indeed any kind of work at all. Those studying more vocational degrees, such as Accounting and Finance, can find it easier to position themselves in the market but all students need to be aware of what recruiters are looking for, and how best to express what they have achieved during their time at Shrewsbury and at university. There is also pressure on pupils not only to succeed academically but to have high-level internship and work experience opportunities, to make themselves stand out from a congested field of applicants.
University careers services will offer some support on these issues to pupils once they begin their degree studies, but the School is able to offer a more tailored programme of support that not only begins while pupils are here but continues into life after Shrewsbury.
The School provides current pupils with access to a range of professionals from differing backgrounds, many of them Old Salopians or parents, who are generous in sharing their knowledge of their fields. This insight can help pupils understand what aptitudes are required to do well in different professions, as well as help them understand how best to present those aptitudes.
- In the Lent Term, the School runs a number of talks about different professions, from architecture and the law to banking and finance. Details of these events can be found in the Careers Programme of Events.
- In the Summer Term, the School runs the Careers Fair for the Lower VI, at which a range of different professionals give short talks. Pupils are able to attend a number of sessions to give them exposure to several different sectors, and from 2014 the sessions will be recorded to form the basis of a new archive of careers information resources.
- The School also benefits from the support of the Salopian Club, and in particular its Professional Groups. These Groups are made up of a number of parents and OS who have offered to share their knowledge and experience with current and former pupils, with the aim of helping them to familiarise themselves with the various sectors. Members of these Groups can be accessed via the Careers Fellow or The Salopian Club.
If you are a parent or Old Salopian who would like to share your professional experience with our current and former pupils, please visit the Getting Involved page.
Pupils can expect to develop a wide range of skills beyond their academic work, from teamwork and leadership of sports, creativity and self-expression of arts, and the relationship-building skills needed in voluntary work, to the organisational skills needed to run a club or put on a show. All these skills are essential in the workplace, whether that is a post-GCSE week of work experience or a graduate job. They will also need to develop and refine their wide range of communication and presentation skills, and there are opportunities to do this from the IVth Form onwards, both informally and through structured learning activities. For information on what skills employers are looking for, pupils can consult the School’s Careers Guides on Writing a CV, Cover Letters and Applications, and Work Experience, all of which include a list of key transferable skills.
CVs, Application Letters and Interviews
Having had the benefit of a broad education and diverse extra-curricular activities, it is vital that pupils not only understand and appreciate what skills and knowledge they have gained, but are also able to express them effectively when they are applying for work experiences and presenting themselves to the outside world.
There are tailored Shrewsbury School Careers Guides available on Writing a CV, Cover Letters and Applications, and Preparing for Interview, which are available to pupils by visiting the Careers Library. Pupils can also get feedback on their application documents and get practice interview experience so they are ready to engage with potential employers. Versions of these materials are also available for Old Salopians by contacting the Careers Fellow.
Pupils benefit from experience of the working world as part of their decision-making process, as well as to make themselves distinctive candidates when applying for permanent positions and graduate schemes. As outlined in the section Work Experience, all Fifth Form pupils are encouraged to take a week’s work experience in the summer holidays after GCSE, and with that to begin a process of regularly shadowing professionals, or taking summer jobs after the Lower Sixth, A Levels and during a gap year. The School is developing a range of contacts through the Professional Groups to service various popular areas of professional interest, such as medicine, but it is important that pupils get into the habit early of taking responsibility for securing a work experience that interests them. There is more information on how to get the most out of work experience in the Work Experience Careers Guide, available from the Careers Library.
For advice and guidance on any of these areas, please contact the Careers Fellow, Dr Kate Daubney: firstname.lastname@example.org