The final part of this module, with the exception of the very blog you are currently reading, was the attendance of something known as a “Careers Café“. This was essentially a seminar given by four guest speakers, all graduates from Bangor University, who have gone on to gain successful careers.
The for speakers came from a variety of companies to talk about their personal journey from graduation to the job they are currently in. There was a speaker from the National Trust, the North Wales Wildlife Trust, an instructor for PGCE Secondary courses, and a science manager from Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water).
With most of the speakers coming from Bangor’s School of Environment, Natural Resources, and Geography, it is difficult to really appreciate the advice they were giving due to the difference in discipline. Most of the attending students were zoology related degrees and therefore there was limited real life case studies into gaining an animal based career.
Despite the lack of subject specific advice, there was a key emphasis upon ‘experience’ and how invaluable it is. In this day and age there is often a dreaded line on all job adverts that simply reads – “Previous experience in field required”. This is often a major headache for jobseekers as it promotes the vicious cycle that many have experienced in which one must have experience to get a job, but one must have a job to get experience.
To get onto this lucrative roundabout it is often keen to use personal relationships. After all it’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know. This was quite an obvious message that was presented by many of the speakers (not exactly in an explicit form), in which many explained that by getting onto volunteering placements (which are the bane of jobseekers due to the lack of payment) and then making friends with people in higher places. If I recall correctly, there was no mention from any of the speakers that they got where they were because of a Bangor degree and a good CV. This put a lot of things into perspective for me and, if anything, made me feel less prepared for the job-market than ever before.
Generally speaking, I found the entire session quite unhelpful. It didn’t really give me any specific advice as to how one would get a good job. The speakers often mentioned scenarios which brought that old saying “being in the right place at the right time” to my mind; they managed to meet the right people and impress them in a way that allowed them to progress. I feel seeing real graduates explaining their jobs was on one hand highly encouraging and optimistic, however on the other hand I feel there was little genuine advice given to us about how to specifically get from graduation to employment without bypassing a poor quality job first or some unpaid voluntary work. Really, all they could say was get experience and make connections.