Working out your career direction – help is on hand!

It can be daunting trying to sort out a career direction that’s going to suit you – there’s just so many ways your degree can take you – using your subject knowledge, or all those skills you’re developing that are beneficial in so many different areas of the job market.

So help is at hand via MyCareerHub.

Our  EmployEd on Campus intern, PPLS student Kate, has been testing out some of our new Career Assessments (located under the Resources tab on MyCareerHub), designed to help you work out your ‘fit’ in the workplace.

Take a look at her review here – and then do some career assessment for yourself – take a step in the right direction!

Want more ideas? – check out your own subject’s careers web pages for:

  • what you can do with your degree – information and ideas
  • inspiration from recent PPLS grads – videos, case studies and more
  • gaining relevant experience…..and more

Cognitive science     LEL    Philosophy    Psychology





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Your CV – 8.8 seconds to make an impact – is yours up to the job?

(and yes, it’s 8.8 seconds, NOT minutes, according to research from National Citizen Service (NCS) – recruiters are busy people!)

Whether you’re looking for that graduate job or summer work experience / internship, or preparing for applications next academic year (yes, it will be here before you know it!) many of you will be reviewing your CV and cover letter this summer.

Key points to remember include:

  • Target your CV (and cover letter) to the job you’re applying for – there’s no ‘one size fits all’ – recruiters need to see quickly (8.8 seconds) that you’ve got relevant skills and experience.
  • Make it easy to read. Long paragraphs take time to absorb – make it easier to pick up important information by using bullet points / short lines of text.
  • Clear headings and sections – use bold and larger font to make it easy to navigate your CV
  • No gaps in your time line – people get suspicious
  • Check spelling – poor spelling indicates lack of care and poor attention to detail and an impression that this job isn’t really important to you.
  • No untruths – your CV is not a confessional document, but everything in it must be true – employers can and do check out your information

Your Careers Service has resources aplenty to support you with your CV and cover letters – advice, examples and short videos – take a look now.

For yet more CV and cover letter support, HE careers site Prospects has just updated all its CV and cover letter advice and resources – check them out now.


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Translate your philosophy skills into the workplace….

Ever wondered how you were going to ‘sell’ your philosophy skills to employers, or just how your skills play out in the workplace?

Use the handy guide below to give you ideas on how to talk about your skills in your applications and interviews, why they are important, and how they contribute in the work environment.

Cant read the poster above? Download your own copy here – Philosophy in the workplace poster

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Interviews – be a STAR…..

….shine in your interviews! 

Whether it’s your first graduate job, summer internship or work experience, make sure you display STAR qualities in your interview.

With questions such as:

  • ‘Tell me about a time when you worked in a team….
  • ….when your communication skills contributed to the success of an event……
  • ….when you solved a difficult (non-academic) problem…..’

–  competency questions appear with great regularity on  application forms, and come back to haunt you at interview –  so it pays to refine your STAR qualities.

What does this mean? It means being analytical in your response, not purely descriptive.

So think STAR!

  • S – a brief description of the Situation
  • T – outline the Task to be done
  • A – talk through the Action you took (NB you, not we, in team questions)
  • R – what was the Result of your actions

Need an example? –

Situation I am on the committee of the University’s Landscape Photography Club. There are 6 members on the committee.
Task We arrange an exhibition of students’ work every year.  Last year due to a lack of co-ordination we found ourselves behind in getting the venue set up.
Action I organised a meeting where I suggested a systematic plan with each committee member agreeing to take on specific jobs. I checked progress throughout and reported back to the committee .
Result We co-operated and communicated more effectively and this meant we caught up and managed to open the exhibition on time.

Whether in writing or verbally at the interview, giving examples of competencies or strengths, if you stick to being a STAR, you wont go far wrong.

Final impressions also make a big impact – so make sure yours is positive – think of the questions you want to ask – get ideas here – and leave with a smile and a thank you.

Find out more on applications and interviews via our web resources (advice, downloads and videos), and make sure you practice being a STAR, and get more ideas for your own questions, via our Interview Simulator resource on MyCareerHub, (find it under the Resources tab).

Make sure your STAR qualities shine at your interview.

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About to graduate? What next?

For some of you the answer’s easy: answer

  • start my graduate job with xxxxx (after a relaxing summer post-exams)
  • start my PG course in September after a relaxing summer away from studies
  • start my gap year by earning some money and then setting off …
  • continue to gain experience for that job/course I want to apply for in the future eg Clinical Psychology
  • etc etc

Well done if this is you, have a great future!

For many of you however, I suspect the answer is less clear-cut – you’re still not sure of an immediate direction, never mind longer-term,  you’re not quite sure what to do about it, panic may be rising…….not to mention pressure from family and friends to come up with an answer to that ‘what next?’ question! what next

So don’t just sit there worrying about it, do something

Some of you may be signed up for the Graduate Development Summer Programme – make the most of it, it’s a great opportunity to focus on your future plans, with lots of support from the Careers Service and employers. However, if you missed the deadline for this programme, all is not lost!

Your friendly and supportive Careers Service is here to help and support you in your next steps – now and for 2 years after graduation – yes, 2 years! (We do Skype interviews – bookable via MyCareerHub), in case you’re wondering about the cost of travel from far flung corners of the globe….plus our information resources via our website (both the Careers Service Website and MyCareerHub) are vast….)

So – let’s get startedwhere are you at? Take a look at the categories below – browse those that most closely fit your current situation.

No ideas? Browse the PPLS Careers web resources for your subject – ideas

Not clear how your skills, interests and strengths – from your degree and beyond – might relate to different jobs/careers? Try our Career Planning  activities – from quick exercises to get you started, to CareerEd – designed to get you thinking about what’s important for you in your future after graduation.

Need experience?

Some ideas – need to research? research

  • use our extensive information and vacancy links for the wide range of graduate careers in our Guide to Occupations
  • Come along and talk to relevant employers/internship and volunteer providers at our Grad Fair on 30th May (see above)

Need help with finding vacancies?

Need help with applications and interviews?CV

  • use our online resources – information, advice, recorded talks and videos – on all aspects of the recruitment process
  • sign up for and come along to our sessions on CVs, applications, interviews, using LinkedIn – and more – via the Events section of MyCareerHub

Need reassurance?! – be inspired by recent graduates! Listen to them talk:ReassuranceTop

  •  how being fired 3 times helped Emma to really focus on what her strengths were, and find work that used those strengths, rather than the opposite!
  •  how reflecting on what Lee enjoyed about his university life and degree-subject helped him to move from unfulling work in retail, to stretching roles in finance and consultancy.
  • taking advantage of chance meetings (networking!) secured a first position in marketing for Laura
  •  Alasdair used his passion for IT and liking for the university environment to get his first job in support services at the university – he’s since moved onwards and upwards in the university!

Need individual help with all of the above?

  • book an appointment to talk things through with a Careers Consultant via MyCareerHub,
  • call into the Careers Service (3rd floor MLB)  for help with your information queries from our supportive Information Advisers – no appointment necessary.

And wishing you a wonderful future after you move on from your studies at Edinburgh!

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AIESEC, internships and volunteering this summer – hear it from a current PPLS student…

Hello there, I’m Amanda, a 2nd year Philosophy and Politics student guest blogging for the PPLS Careers blog this week. As PPLS students, we are repeatedly told how useful our degrees are to the real world:

  • Philosophy students can utilise all that rational thinking we’ve learnt over the four years in the workplace
  • Linguistics students are well-equipped to undertake careers ranging from marketing and publishing to speech and language therapy
  • Psychology students develop a broad range of skills that spans both science and the arts and opens up opportunities with a variety of employers

Yet, whilst at university it may seem difficult to see how just how our degree-skills can be utilised in a professional environment. AIESEC Edinburgh gives you the chance to do just that: interested? Well keep on reading…

What are we about? 

AIESEC Edinburgh is part of a global student run platform that promotes competitive internships and volunteering placements in over 127 countries. Being so heavily present across the world means that we have a strong alumni network as well as entities in various universities that mean that you will not only be working with your PPLS peers here on campus but you will be meeting and working alongside other students from across the seven continents.

The competitive exchanges that we promote follow our society’s ethos of professional and personal development. We want to take you out of your comfort zone and apply all the theories you learn as a PPLS student and apply them to the real world. We also align ourselves with the United Nations global initiative of Sustainable Development Goals, therefore if you choose to go on a volunteering exchange with us you will be working towards one of the 17 development goals thus making a contribution to a globally recognised initiative. If you are looking for a more professional placement, we provide internships in numerous fields that suit your skill set and degree programme.

Why did I join AIESEC? 

I was drawn to the professional team made up of people of different year groups, degrees and backgrounds all working towards one common goal. I have been trained in public speaking, marketing strategies and interviewing skills, all transferable to my future career. The committee is also made up of three PPLS students, which helps build a personal network within AIESEC Edinburgh. By joining our team, you can join 4 different functions: marketing, finance, human resources or exchange departments and there is scope for you to be promoted to a Team Leader or Vice President in each function. National and international conferences are a chance to meet other AIESECers and the opportunity to go on exchange as a team member in one of the 127 countries in which we operate is not be missed. I am excited to say that I will be working with an NGO in Argentina over summer, and have colleagues who will be in Vietnam, India and Egypt doing similar placements.

Our AIESEC mission since 1947 is to strive to promote exchanges here on campus through effective team work. You will be trained by AIESEC to help develop you as an all-rounder, and not just someone with a degree from PPLS. We balance professionalism with socials and regional meet ups. All we need is you!

Interested in joining our society? Contact

Looking for a competitive volunteering opportunity this summer? – we offer placements with NGOs across our 127 partner countries. Each project aligns itself with SDGs, chosen by the communities themselves, enabling you to tackle global issues and make a positive impact in the world. If you are interested or want more information, contact

If it’s a global internship you’re after this summer, we offer thousands of placements with various start-up companies, thus expanding your personal and professional network to support your future entrepreneurial ventures. So, if you’re interested in a professional placement, where you can live in a new city and immerse yourself in a new culture, contact

Apply here to get started on your application:

Deadline to apply for either placement: Friday 19th May 2017



Posted in cognitive science, English language and linguistics, internships, Philosophy, Psychology, volunteering, work experience | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Journalism for PPLS students – a profession with many guises

Are you interested in a career in journalism? It’s a career area which plays to PPLS strengths, whether it’s your understanding of language from LEL, of how people are influenced from psychology, or your logical approach to building arguments and problem solving from Philosophy. A browse through the PPLS graduate destinations over recent years throws up PPLS grads working in various different areas of journalism.

At the recent Creative and Cultural Careers Festival in March (CCCF17)we had a fantastic panel of speakers who shared  their top tips for getting into this area.

 CCCF17 hosted an inspiring panel of speakers:

  • Chaired by: Dr Kate Wright, University of Edinburgh, an award-winning journalist for the BBC who is now the university’s Chancellor’s Fellow in the Cultural and Creative Industries.
  • Hilary Mitchell, BuzzFeed UK,.Scotland Editor for BuzzFeed UK, has also written for the Guardian, the Metro, the Daily Record and the Independent in the past, as well as previously working in our very own Edinburgh University Students’ Association.
  • Nick Oswald, Bitesize Bio, after a molecular biology PhD, time working at biotech startups and then in labs, he set up a blog to help answer the questions scientists ask each other. Now is a popular website viewed by almost a quarter of a million researchers per month.
  • Ben Thomas, BBC, a journalist and producer for BBC Scotland News, working for television and radio. Ben’s experience includes Panorama, Radio 5Live, undercover investigation, documentaries, and rolling news coverage of major UK and international events such as the 9/11 attacks in New York
  • Tom Gordon, The Herald, Scottish Political Editor, has been reporting since 1998. Starting out covering Glasgow City Council, then moving to Holyrood in 2004.
  • Mark Fisher, National Union of Journalism, studied Drama, and worked in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe reviewing theatre, before gradually working his way up to being theatre editor at the List – now working freelance and for the NUJ.

Their top tips for getting into Journalism were:

  • Know yourself – jobs in the sector vary widely depending on whether you are working freelance or employed, so try to get a sense of what your parameters are, e.g. what do you want from a job in terms of location, whether you’re self-employed or not etc
  • Be specific about what you want, and what you can offer when you ask for work – If you are sending out a speculative application, make their job easy by identifying how you fit straight away. If you can ask about getting experience in a specific area, that helps the employer to match you to a gap they may be trying to fill. And, if you can, send examples of your work.
  • Write and keep writing – practice the discipline of being clear, succinct and timely with submissions – it is a skill that you can hone
  • No experience is too small, e.g. start writing reviews for student newspapers or at the Fringe festival and you’ll start building your portfolio
  • Your qualification is not as important as who you are – be brave! You, your qualities, determination, insight and creativity are what are important!
  • Don’t wait for permission and don’t expect opportunities to come to you – be proactive, find your own, talk to people (do your research on individuals and flatter them), get out there and just do it!
  • Get some support – ask a professional to mentor you
  • Don’t be shy about asking to get paid for what you do!

What next?

  • Read about the sector via our website and MyCareerHub including tips for how to get into local and niche areas of Journalism
  • – The NCTJ offer good, practical courses to be able to hit the ground running (but, as above, qualifications are not as important as your experience and qualities!)
Posted in career areas, English language and linguistics, Philosophy, Psychology | Tagged | Leave a comment