Networking at Loughborough University London
As we all know, the generic statement when you tell a person that you study at Loughborough is: ‘Oh wow so you must be really sporty then!’. Incidentally I belong to the, surprisingly large, group of students who don’t own any Kukri branded purple sportswear and use the afternoon of BUCS Wednesday for studying or sleeping instead of sport (usually the latter).
You often find that there are also certain stigma’s surrounding particular degrees. The most common and tedious thing to say to an English student has got to be, ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ or the equally annoying ‘oh so you’re going to be a teacher then?’ This is obviously fine if you do want to pursue a teaching career, but for the rest of us whom have no desire to spend the next 40+ years motivating hormonal adolescents, what other careers are out there for our ‘apparently’ niche degrees?
On the 8th March students from the school of Arts, English and Drama were given the opportunity to go down to the Loughborough University London campus on a free networking event for the ‘Creative and Cultural Industries’ organised by the Careers Network. Here at Loughborough we have a designated Careers office located in the Bridgeman Building who can help you everything from CV checks to helping you develop your skills through the ‘Loughborough Employability Award’. We also have weekly ‘in-school appointments’ which are drop in sessions where you can speak to a specialist careers advisor for your course about any enquiries you have.
The London campus is situated in the heart of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, an area that has seen significant rejuvenation since the 2012 London Olympic Games. We were given a short welcome talk and taken on a tour of the facilities. The University offers a number of specialist postgraduate qualifications and unique links with industry and the opportunity to work closely with employers.
The university is situated next to ‘Here East’, based in the former Olympic Press and Broadcast centre, which aims to create a thriving commercial space providing more than 7,500 jobs on site and in the local community. It is home to companies such as the home of BT Sport where apparently a friend ran into Rio Ferdinand while she was exploring!
After the tour we were given the choice of attending one of four different panels headed by industry experts: Preparing Portfolios for Interview, Careers in Textiles, Careers in Fine Art and Careers in Publishing and Illustration. Each panel centred on what prospective employers, businesses and organisations are looking for from graduates and tips on how to improve portfolios and CV’s.
Personally I’m interested in pursuing a career within the Publishing Industry so attended this talk which I found very useful. In particular, I was able to pose a question to a representative from academic publisher Taylor and Francis about whether there are any specifics about an application that make it stand out from the rest of the crowd. She was incredibly helpful and we had a chat after the session about the importance of a strong covering letter in application and the tenacity that you have to show to succeed.
My only slight issue with the trip was that the event seemed to be more centred on opportunities for the students studying fine art, graphics and illustration related degrees. However, I could gauge this from information sent out before the trip and the English students had been assured there would still be potential employers to network with in the evening session. For this reason, during the second session of workshops my friends and I decided to explore more of the Olympic Park.
This was a place I had always wanted to visit due to the immense sporting legacy that the park holds and to be able to walk the same paths as Olympians is something that is truly awe inspiring. It would have been a no-brainer for Loughborough to pledge to build a university on this site and be a part of this legacy with our own sporting prowess. Especially as, in the last week, Lord Sebastian Coe has just been announced as the new Chancellor of the University. Try as we might, you can’t deny Loughborough’s reputation for sport; instead it is something we should all simply revel in.
After a quick photoshoot, we made our way back to the evening session where we had the opportunity to network with representatives from companies such as BBC Design and Engineering, Marks and Spencer, IMB Cloud, Spread the Word and many more. I had never networked before and was incredibly nervous about how to present myself to potential employers. My three top tips for networking are:
- Create a strong and confident first impression – make sure your body language is open and welcoming i.e. don’t cross your arms as this can look defensive. A smile and a firm handshake will show that you are confident in yourself and worth spending time listening to.
- Ask representatives about their own experiences within their company – asking questions will help you determine more about the company or business as well as showing your initiative and demonstrating your interest in their given career or opportunity.
- Don’t be afraid to enquire about opportunities and give out your contact details – you never know where asking if the representative knows of any current or future work experience opportunities or placements may lead. Don’t be afraid to leave contact details or ask about building connections on LinkedIn too.
The whole event was an interesting look into how to present yourself in the competitive world of employment in creative industries and also to find out more about what life on our other campus is like. The London campus is situated in a prime area for development and opportunity and I can’t wait to see what opportunities come of this in the next few years!
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