3 urban myths about the Careers Service – busted!

‘The Careers Service is just for finalists, City careers, and can’t help if you don’t know what you want to do’…

…Think again.

Here’s how you can make the most of us, no matter what year group you’re in, where you want to work, and how clear you are on your career path:

The Careers Service is here for you, no matter what stage you’re at in your career thinking.

We can help you to prepare for your future throughout your time at Cambridge, and beyond. Whether you’re a first year, penultimate or finalist; a postgraduate, or a postdoc; our services and resources are free for you to access regardless of your academic status, online and in-person. We offer guidance on work experience, internships and advice on making the most of Cambridge through extracurricular activities and volunteering.  You can even tap into our offering once you’ve graduated.

in Lent we run a rich variety of events, panels and briefings around work beyond the City

We’re not just for City careers – we offer detailed advice and share thousands of vacancies across the board.

Did you know that less than 10 per cent of Cambridge graduates go on to work in the City? The Careers Service is open year-round and our resources and the vacancies we advertise tap into over 60 sector categories. Our events programme runs in line with large recruitment cycles, so inevitably in Michaelmas the programme’s focus is on the City. However, in Lent we run a rich variety of events, panels and briefings around work beyond the City – hosting employers from charities, creative companies, start-ups and more! In fact, we’ve recently launched a blog dedicated to work beyond the city – ‘But I don’t want to work in the City!’.

We’ll help you from day one – whether you have a clear idea of what you want to do, or no clue at all.

We know that deciding what to do after University can feel daunting. ‘What if I get it wrong? How do I decide in the first place? Everybody else already seems to know what they want to do…?’ are very common queries we hear. You’re not alone, and shouldn’t panic. We can help you establish a starting point – a way to think about it that will stop ‘thinkers’ block’, help you find inspiration, and then move some of those ideas into sharper focus until you do know what your next steps after University will be. See our website to get started.

Not registered with us yet? Head to www.careers.cam.ac.uk and register using your Raven ID today. It takes a matter of moments.

The earth scientist who studied earthquakes in North Borneo

Charlotte Caplan, Part III earth sciences student at Newnham College, reveals all regarding her recent fieldwork in North Borneo, and the career options she’s weighing up

I initially came to Cambridge to specialise in chemistry…
…but during my first year of the Natural Sciences Tripos, I discovered a love for earth sciences. The main reason I chose to specialise in earth sciences rather than chemistry was the fieldwork and outdoor learning that earth sciences involved. It is therefore unsurprising that I chose a Part III project that involved an exciting fieldwork component!

Over summer, I spent two weeks in North Borneo undertaking fieldwork.
I selected a project that involves studying the earthquakes in and around North Borneo in order to improve our understanding of the tectonic plate motions in the region. The aim of the fieldwork was to service seismometers (specialist equipment) that had been deployed in the region in March and download the data that had been recorded. Most seismometers were reached by driving through the region along roads of various quality, ranging from new dual carriage ways to what were essentially mud baths.

After fearing for my life, and eventually being found by the search party, I fully appreciated how dangerous such a beautiful environment the jungle is

Finding one seismometer in the Maliau Basin involved hiking approximately 10km each way through the rainforest.
This was the most challenging day of the trip. Not only did I have to deal with leeches and a gruellingly steep hike that required ladders at certain points, I found myself lost and alone on the return trek. After fearing for my life, and eventually being found by the search party, I fully appreciated how dangerous such a beautiful environment the jungle is.

A few of the seismometers had been deployed on nearby tropical islands.
The most picturesque site that I serviced was on the island of Mantanani. This location was idyllic, and even the rough journey across the sea on a boat with a broken engine did not dampen my excitement about visiting the site.

The fieldwork was an eye-opening trip.
I had never been to South-East Asia before, nor undertaken seismology fieldwork. Not only did I gain an insight into Malaysian culture, I learnt much about using seismometers and specialist computer software. Furthermore, spending two weeks in a research team of PhD students, postdocs and fellows, I was introduced to life as a seismologist and academic, thus the trip helped me to consider my career options.

I am strongly considering a career that involves working with young people to make a positive difference to the world around us

I am currently undecided as to my plans once I have graduated.
This trip reiterated the fact that I wish to take some time after graduation to travel and visit new places. Regarding my career, I intend on leaving academia for now, but I may return in the future. I am strongly considering a career that involves working with young people to make a positive difference to the world around us. Currently, I am exploring options that include teaching in schools, both in the UK and abroad, or working for a charitable youth movement in London.

Not sure what you want to do with your career? Explore our ‘I’m looking for ideas’ pages at www.careers.cam.ac.uk to get started

Studying earth sciences has taught me numerous lessons that will be valuable in any profession.
These include mathematical, observational and computer skills, as well as working in a team and developing effective communication with others. This fieldwork in Borneo, and the earth sciences degree in general, have encouraged my love for being outside and have offered me a wide range of possible career paths.

Interested in a career in charities, international development or conservation? Sign up for the ‘For More Than Profit’ section on CamCareers to receive tailored messages from us on these sectors, year-round. Additionally, don’t miss our Work to Change the World event in Lent 2019; here’s a glimpse of last Lent’s event to give you a flavour of what’s to come

5 streams of support on disability and City careers

Are you applying for internships, graduate schemes and jobs in the City, but haven’t felt confident about asking for the support you need?

Many students applying for roles in the City feel unsure about being open about their disability. This can mean that they don’t receive the support they need and so are at a disadvantage from the outset. Ultimately this can mean they don’t get the job. These organisations can help, advise and inspire you to be confident about talking about your needs with employers, and therefore being able to perform well and get those opportunities you want:

MyPlus Consulting

A great resource for students with disability. Job listings, advice, blog and stories from students. Look at the recruiters club pages, too, and see all the organisations actively wanting to attract and support applications from students with disability.

City Disabilities

A free mentoring scheme offering support to students with disabilities or long-term medical conditions, who would like to join a profession in London.


Apply for city internships and graduate schemes with support from the EmployAbility team.

Blind in Business

Supporting students with visual impairment into the workplace.


The Careers Service can work with and advise you to help make the transition into the workplace as smooth as possible.  Learn how our website at www.careers.cam.ac.uk/disability/index.asp

Our top tips for picking a career

Thinking about a career is daunting to many, especially if you’re not one of those few people who’ve known what they want to do since they were a child! But, never fear: the Careers Service is here to help guide you as you explore some options early on. Here are our top tips for getting started in picking a career

Make a bucket CV

If you do one thing at the beginning of your careers research, we recommend you create a ‘bucket CV’ – a document which includes absolutely everything you’ve done and achieved, highlighting your skills and characteristics. In the bucket CV you should list your school experiences and grades, any work experience, societies and sports clubs you’ve been invovled in, other extracurricular activities and projects, as well as your personal interests. Compose this document in a completely untargeted fashion and highlight the key skills you’ve developed across all the activities and experiences listed above. You may want to refer to our CVs & Applications Book for ideas on this. Essentially, this is a brain dump of everything you’ve ever done! You can edit this down later when you have something to apply for, but it’s invaluable having a brainstormed document to draw content from as you research what you may want to do.

Identify where you’ve been happiest

Obviously, you won’t be going through life grinning from ear to ear every minute of your career, but you’re probably going to be working for a minimum of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, so it’s worth identifying what makes you happy and how this may feed into your career choice. So, we advise you to sit down and consider not just when you were happy but why – what gives you satisfaction? For example, are you a planning kind of person; a completer finisher (get satisfaction from the goal achieved); a people person; prefer working on your own, with other people; with numbers; fundraising; motivating others. Are you motivated by the actions of what you’re doing, or the content? If you enjoy writing essays, for example, is it the process of researching, learning new stuff and then writing about it, or the content of what you’re researching and writing about, that you relish? Equally, think about the skills you have that you never want to use again – for example, if you can’t stand editing written work, or conducting in-depth research.

Once you’ve begun mapping out what makes you tick and the skills you wish to bring to the fore, you can rule out certain careers based on your findings

Consider your personal values, personality and interests

Ensuring your job doesn’t conflict with your personal values is important, as is thinking about how your day-to-day role may make the best of your personality and wider interests. Testing out these facets of you as an individual can be achieved through psychometric tests as well as through trying out various extracurricular pursuits while you’re at Cambridge. Once you’ve begun mapping out what makes you tick and the skills you wish to bring to the fore, you can rule out certain careers based on your findings. For example, would you hate working outdoors, or working with children or around animals? Would you dislike needing to conduct research or dealing with complex data? Are you looking for something in tune with your faith or concern for environmental issues? Would you despise living in or commuting to a busy city, or the potential humdrum of a quiet town? Perhaps certain careers won’t be a good fit for you if you’re looking for a work-life balance; or to earn an exceptional amount of money? Writing down your core values and must haves/must not haves will make it easy to rule out certain opportunities once you come to the point of looking for jobs.

Think beyond your subject

While some students may use their degree as a starting point in their careers research, if you’re looking to enter into one of the major graduate career paths, many firms will recruit students from any discipline. In this case, it’s worth researching career options on a sector basis, instead of strictly in line with your area of study. Our Careers Sector A-Z pages are a useful place to start exploring your options, and learning about the more strict deadlines for graduate schemes and internships.

And, finally…

  • Avoid comparing yourself to others, as everyone has a different journey and we are all individuals, so no two career research paths will be the same.
  • Doing something, anything, is better than remaining in a frozen state and lacking in direction. Testing out your interests and passions can be achieved in a variety of ways, from vacation work, taking a gap year, extracurricular activities, writing your own blog or vlog series, or shadowing a friend or family member in a career which captures your imagination.
  • Make the most of the Careers Service. We’re here to help advise you, save you time and maximise your chances of success once you begin applying for jobs in the future. You can tap into our services and resources anytime at www.careers.cam.ac.uk, and we’re open year-round! You may want to make a start by attending one of our Career Essentials sessions, including ‘How to pick a career’.

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