Networking in London

I don’t know if the sound of networking is a daunting prospect for everyone, but it certainly was for me before the Capital Connections programme. Entering a room of CEO’s, managers and vice presidents, to name a few, was certainly something to be apprehensive about…But I was ready to embrace it.

Studying at Lancaster University Management School, the benefits of networking and the value that social capital can bring are topics commonly spoken of. However, actually building social capital? This was something new for me.

Attending a preparatory workshop with Jackie, Capital Connections Skills developer, I was provided the opportunity to practice and develop my networking skills. It was relieving to know that I was not the only one new to networking. Practicing with other students on the programme, I came away feeling confident and prepared to immerse myself at the networking events that awaited me.

The highlight of the programme was the networking event at Wallacespace in the vibrant district, Covent Garden. At the event, I had the chance to demonstrate my networking skills with professionals who had been in my shoes before – Lancaster University graduates.

I was amazed at how interested the alumni were to hear about myself and their willingness to share their knowledge and advice with me. It was particularly interesting that whilst exchanging experiences about Lancaster University, alumni recognised the value of the skills I am developing through membership in societies. Additionally, the suggestions alumni provided about societies and activities to get involved in has inspired and motivated me to discover even more of what Lancaster University has to offer me.

To finish the evening, it was a privilege to receive an invitation to dine with Liqiang Xu, a senior associate at Deloitte. This was the perfect opportunity to hear more about Liqiang Xu’s experience living in London, whilst capturing the atmosphere of living in the cultural capital of the world.

From visiting just a handful of the workplaces in London, from the BBC to EY, I’ve been awakened to the many exciting and interesting roles available for graduates in London. One thing I discovered is that many of the Lancaster University Alumni that I had the pleasure of meeting had pursued diverse career paths, with many unrelated to their degree subject. This so, I have taken the message to keep my career options open and to always pursue a career I will enjoy.

Looking back on the experience that Capital Connections have provided me, I have learnt that networking isn’t as daunting as I first thought and that with practice it is a skill that can eventually come naturally. Working in London indeed sounds an exciting prospect and I have certainly increased my interest in living and working in this vibrant business and leisure landscape. It is pleasing to hear that the Capital Connections programme is running again this year in April. I would highly recommend it to anyone who would like to learn more about career opportunities in London and to develop networking skills.

Is an Industrial Placement for me?

I have known since the day I decided that I wanted to study a business related degree that I wanted to complete an industrial placement as part of my time at University. I knew that the experience this would offer me would be invaluable, not only for furthering my understanding of my subject, but also when it comes to applying for graduate jobs when I leave Lancaster. But the decision isn’t always so easy for everyone.

Applying for a placement year can be incredibly scary. Because it divides your degree into two segments (first and second year, the placement, and then returning for final year), this means that everyone else completing a three-year course will have graduated by the time you return. This is something I am absolutely not looking forward to – leaving my friends behind during what would have been my last year with them.

Not only that but during first year I felt completely unprepared for a real life, real responsibility, real workload job. As much as I was loving University life, I wasn’t ready to take the next leap on my career path. These are the fears that often prevent people from applying for a placement year as part of their degree.

I cannot stress enough how valuable a placement year is. This is especially true in industries like mine (Marketing) where not just graduate jobs but the job market in general is fiercely competitive. A placement gives you the upper hand over other candidates – you already have a whole year of work experience in your field, working on real projects with real people in a real company. That is something that makes you stand head and shoulders above your competitors when it comes to finding a job at the end of your degree.

Not only that, but the beauty of getting a job in-between your degree is that the support on offer to you is unlike any you will experience outside of University. The dedicated LUMS Careers Team is always on hand – during term time and holidays – to offer you support and guidance, look over your applications, and put you in touch with previous Lancaster students who can guide you through your application with first hand experience themselves.

I myself am already feeling the benefits of a placement year, and I am still only in the application stages. I know I am more confident and independent, and where last year just thinking about a placement year make my stomach churn, now I am excited by the prospects and the opportunities that lie just around the corner. Yes – I am still out of my comfort zone, and each application poses a new challenge, but that is exactly what an employer wants to see. The entire process improves your resilience, self-confidence and ambition.

So if you’re considering a placement year as part of your Lancaster degree, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Though there are sacrifices involved, and some of your friends won’t be here when you return for your final year, the benefits more than outweigh the costs.

Guest Post: Roseanne Willison-Parry- Life as an intern at Valeocon

Roseanne is a MSc Management graduate, who secured an internship with a global company off the back of interviewing them for part of her course. Here, she talks about her experiences. 

Not only did my MSc in Management prepare me for the world of business and give me confidence in many different areas, it also opened the door to my first experience of working in the consulting world. Roseanne Willison-Parry

For my dissertation, I decided to interview CEOs and leading figures in a variety of industries. One such interview was with the CEO of a global consulting firm, Valeocon. After asking all my questions and exploring the use of secrecy and transparency in the company’s strategy, the interview got turned on its head; it was my turn to answer questions! I discussed my ideal working environment – small business, responsibility from the outset, opportunity for travel, creativity encouraged – and Valeocon appeared to be the perfect fit and thankfully vice versa!

Initially, there was a discussion about working with the London office and I began to get excited. A week later I had my job offer; three months at the company HQ… in Hamburg. It definitely ticked my travel box!

Two weeks after my dissertation hand in I moved to Germany and it was absolutely the right decision. Within two weeks I was sitting in on a client meeting and given the opportunity to contribute to the discussion, document interviews and collaborate with a team of consultants. It was a fantastic first insight into consulting.

As well as client work, I was entrusted with organising a three-day conference in Lyon for Valeocon’s global consultants. I was able to see the inner workings of the business and learn what constituted a successful conference. I also gained a first-hand overview of trainings, case studies, brainstorming exercises and the current and future business development of the company. Being asked to teach Ballet/Yoga as an agility exercise at 7am every morning was an unexpected addition! It was an invaluable experience and the accommodation and food was an added bonus!

Throughout the conference and in the weeks following I had a variety of separate tasks to perform – proof reading, marketing refresh, presentation development, research – it has been an all-round education. The level of responsibility and collaboration has been great and I really feel part of the team. It has helped me realise I want to be involved in consulting, next steps have been discussed, and this is the start of a fantastic relationship between Valeocon and myself.