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Hi Guys,

One of our organisers, Fatos Ismajli, an undergraduate of Kings College London, attended a presentation at his former uni about the importance of societies to graduates. Guest speakers from three organisations, the IEEE, the BCS (Chartered Institute for IT) and the IET (The Institution For Engineering & Technology) all made presentations about what they offered to graduates and how they could help with career progression.

Being an active member of a community is an excellent way to network with fellow developers, share information and potentially even acquire new jobs. Obviously the GDC should still be your number one J but these other societies could also be valuable resources.

Here is a brief summary on each, but for more detailed information you should definitely check them out:

The IEEE is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. They run competitions, award scholarships, allow students access to an extensive library and have several special interest groups, including a computing society. They also have a general news site (http://spectrum.ieee.org/) and their IEEEXtreme competition is a world-renowned programming contest: (http://www.ieee.org/membership_services/membership/students/competitions/xtreme/index.html).

More information here: http://www.ieee.org

The IET was Founded 140 years ago and is the world’s leading professional societies for the engineering and technology community. They also run competitions, awards and scholarships.

More information here: http://www.theiet.org/

Finally, the BCS. They champion the global IT profession and the interests of individuals engaged in that profession for the benefit of all.  The Institute fosters links between experts from industry, academia and business to promote new thinking, education and knowledge sharing. Again they run competitions and scholarships.

More information here: http://www.bcs.org/

One more noteworthy society that weren’t present at the event is the ACM (Association of Computer Machinery), who are one of the largest groups dedicated to computer science. They produce a large catalogue of specialist publications and also run several SIGs like the IEEE.

More info here: www.acm.org

I hope this brief guide to graduate friendly communities helps, I’m sure there are many more out there, but these are some of the most well known.

If you have any questions about any of the above or require careers advice don’t hesitate to give me a shout at ab@recworks.co.uk.

Thanks guys,

Aaron

 

 

 

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Hi guys,

My names Aaron Braund, I’m the latest member to join RecWorks, I’m going to be looking after much of the marketing here. If anyone has any questions about the GDC or RecWorks then just fire me an email at ab@recworks.co.uk.

Last night we had our Lego XP Game event ran in association with Thoughtworks and Queen Mary University.

The event ran from 6pm till 7.30pm and went really well. 30 people came along, a blend of graduates, lecturers and consultants from Thoughtworks. The event was lively, with some great fun had by all. Afterwards, everyone went to the Half Moon pub for some beers and some informal networking.

Here is the event page – If you passed by and have some feedback please add it as a comment here – http://www.meetup.com/grad-dc/events/40795692/.

The event demonstrated the benefits of working within an agile team. Groups had to build Lego animals for a “client” following an agile software development process. Tasks were prioritised to be delivered on time so there was a high emphasis on teamwork. Groups worked well in general and produced some very interesting results. Meeting the clients ever changing needs and expectations was challenging, but ultimately fun for all!

Thanks first of all to Queen Mary University of London for allowing us to host the event in such a spacious environment.

Massive thanks also goes to the team at Thoughtworks who acted as the clients and explained the agile process so expertly.

Finally thanks to everyone in the group that made it out last night. The GDC is a rapidly growing network of undergraduate developers with a serious interest in programming. If you know anyone that would be interested in joining, please forward some details.

Our next event is the December Code Share. Details can be found here – http://www.meetup.com/grad-dc/events/41237242/ – avid Java puzzlers and coders should definitely come along!

One more thing, RecWorks are always actively recruiting for graduate developers, if you’re looking for a new role after uni then please contact myself, Laurence or Barry by phone or email for an informal chat. If you are not sure what to do after you graduate and would like to discuss your options or just get some free informal CV/Interview advice then either check out www.developercareers.co.uk or let me know and I’ll put you in touch with our careers concierge team.

Hope to see you at the next one!

Thanks,

Aaron

I recently advertised a job and received 150 responses – only 1 stood out.

One of the first pieces of advice I ever got when it came to applying for jobs was “It is important to stand out!” These days you face one of the most competitive times for graduates to get a job, it has become increasingly important to find an edge or ‘stand out’. It’s far easier that you may think to stand out and can be done in very little time.

I recently ran an experiment with a senior position I was recruiting for. I advertised a role on 4 separate internet job boards on the internet and received around 150 responses, only ONE stood out – why? Because it was accompanied by a personally written concise covering letter! It was the only application that made me open the CV immediately and I was on the phone to the candidate within 15 seconds…

The problem with internet job boards these days is that they make it very easy to be lazy, it’s easy to click a button and automatically send 20 applications or more – the problem is that while you are doing this so are hundreds of other candidates.

With the Graduate market being so competitive you need to stand out by writing a brief covering note, (not a lengthy cover letter) I want to offer my opinion on the best way to write these. The first principle to remember when you’re writing one is that the ONLY reason to write such a letter is to nudge the reader to read your CV. It is not about giving a lengthy description of your attributes, experience or qualities – just enough to encourage them to open your CV and consider your application. The best way to do this is to keep things brief and relevant.

Every single job application you EVER make should be accompanied with a brief covering note. Here I will explain my opinion on the best way to write one:

TAKE THE TIME TO WORK OUT WHO IS THE PERSON RECRUITING, IF IT’S NOT IN THE ADVERT THEN TRY USING GOOGLE – TRY TO AVOID WRITING SIR OR MADAM. ONLY IF IT’S REALLY NOT POSSIBLE THEN WRITE GOOD MORNING/AFTERNOON.

Hi (first name),

WRITE WHAT YOU ARE APPLYING FOR, WHAT YOUR CURRENT POSITION IS AND WHAT YOUR AVAILABILITY IS

I am writing to apply to the development position/internship. I am currently studying for an MSc in Computer Science at the University of *** and am available to start immediately.

WRITE HERE WHAT YOU CAN OFFER THE COMPANY – DO NOT START WITH WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. FOLLOW ON WITH SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ IN THE AD AND WHY YOU WOULD BE A GOOD CANDIDATE (SEE BELOW)

I am a Java developer passionate about delivering well structured and easily manageable code. You mention in the ad that you are looking for (e.g.) someone with a passion for Open Source Software, I have used OSS and have researched a few projects on Sourceforge I’d like to get involved with but have yet to become a committer – I am currently investigating this with the Graduate Development Community.

OR

I am a Java developer passionate about working on Server side development. You mention in the ad you are looking for someone with an interest in Networking technologies – I completed a 3 month project in my final year and worked heavily with TCP/IP – I’d love to pursue a career along this route.

HERE IS THE CHANCE TO WRITE WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR AND WHY – IF YOU CAN ACCOMPANY THIS WITH A ‘REAL’ REASON FOR WANTING TO WORK FOR THEM SUCH AS A NEWS ARTICLE ETC YOU CAN ALMOST GUARANTEE AN INTERVIEW

I am ideally looking for an internship with a chance to work with experienced developers and am looking to give 100% to the project.

OR

I am passionate about development and am interested to get the first step on my career as a developer. I have read about (company name) on (this site), it stands out to me because I have read about the high standards you have with Unit testing which I too am passionate about.

ADD SOMETHING HERE ABOUT YOUR COMMITMENT TO SOFTWARE OR YOUR CAREER. E.G. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO STAND OUT

Incidentally I am also trying to learn more about Hibernate and Spring as I find them very interesting technologies.

OR

Incidentally I am also involved with the Graduate Development Community in London as a way to try and improve my outlook on technologies.

FINALLY SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE NEXT STEP – THE BEST BET IS TO OFFER TO CALL TO FOLLOW UP, IF YOU ARE TOO NERVOUS TO CALL THEN WRITE THAT YOU WILL SEND A FOLLOW UP EMAIL.

I will endeavor to call you at some point on Monday or Tuesday, if you would prefer to get in touch at your convenience please call me on (your mobile number)

Kind regards,

Your name

Finally here are a few extra tips to help improve your ratio of applications to interviews:

–          Consider it your responsibility to follow up. It will be easy for a recruiter to ignore a standard email as it could be one of 200, but if you follow up with a second one that is personally written and just a few lines long (Did you get my CV? What did you think?) then people will be far more likely to reply.

–          Write each note personally – at the very least change the section that says “I read in the ad that you were looking for a…”

–          Keep it concise, it is far more likely to be read than if it is a long letter.

–          Consider including the note as the first page of the CV. Add the title “Covering letter to XYZ Ltd”. I would also save it as a word doc and include that in the email too.

–          Read the advert thoroughly – some ads will ask for you to do certain things if you do not do them you stand a good chance of having your CV not being read.

Good luck guys – I really do wish you the best of luck – don’t hesitate to let me know if you can add to this with further advice.

Barry Cranford

bc@recworks.co.uk

It’s difficult to know exactly the right way to prepare for an interview. I have successfully coached many graduates and developers to new jobs and preparation is essential to succeed in any interview. The question is what should you prepare and how much? Read the website? Check the latest news articles? Speak to people who currently work there? Download accounts for the last 5 years? It’s hard to know what information and how much to prepare on, and essentially how to use that preparation to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the company. I am going to offer my opinion and some thoughts on this subject.

Yesterday I had a meeting with several technical members of a top London Consultancy. Each have been involved in interviewing graduates so I was keen to know what they look for and what makes Grads stand out to them. What was quite interesting about our conversation was that it started to help me deconstruct something that I have long thought about. How can you measure how bright someone is?

Most companies recruiting Graduates are looking for a ‘bright’ candidate… but what is ‘bright’? What does it mean? It is an ambiguous word that I have found hard to measure. In the past I have relied on my gut instinct when speaking to someone to decide if I feel they are bright enough for a job. Speaking to the consultancy yesterday helped me to start breaking this trait down into measurable qualities.

They spoke a lot about good questioning skills, candidates that could ask the right questions, listen to the answers and were able to process the information. I believe the raw skill here is in being inquisitive. Some people are naturally inquisitive – they naturally know how to ask the right questions, but many people simply aren’t sure what they should be asking. I believe simply by being honestly interested in the opportunity it’s possible to demonstrate these skills in an interview, whether it comes naturally to you or not, which brings us back to the preparation necessary for an interview.

Very early in my career, when I used to prepare for interviews I’d rack by brain trying to think of a question to ask at the end. I would think I don’t want to ask anything obvious because they will think I should know that already. Preparing for an interview you should not be thinking “What will make me look good” or I’ll learn the website inside out – that will show my enthusiasm”. You should be asking yourself questions that you really care about. The fact is that you may actually get a job at this company…  If you get this job it will make a difference on the rest of your career and life. Hopefully you will be looking to stay with this company for at least a few years, you may even want to stay with them for the rest of your career. If you get the job it will occupy most of your time, these people will become your friends. When you start thinking about the opportunity in this way the preparation becomes far more focused around “what do you want to know” instead of “what could you tell them to show you’ve prepared”. If you really think about it you should already have an honest interest in them and the questions will be obvious. These are good starting points.

–          What will I be doing Monday to Friday? What is a typical day?

–          What are they really like to work for?

–          What is the industry like? Who are their competitors and what makes this company better than them?

–          What is progression like in the company – What will I be doing in 3 months, 6 months, 2 years or 5 years? What have previous grads gone on to do?

–          What is the team like? Is it a big team? Are they young/old? Social? Will I fit in?

–          Etc…

A lot of the answers to your questions you will find on the internet from reading their website, industry news, google, blogs from other members that have worked at the company etc. but you should be left with a long list of questions that you can ask at the interview. Interviews will be a lot easier as they become more of a fact-finding meeting.

The strategy is to start developing an ‘honest’ interest in your career. Don’t think “I just want to get a job”, think “I want to get the right job for me”. Remember interviews are a two-way exercise and it is important to treat them as such. When you get further through the process to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th round interviews, a lot of your initial questions will have been answered but this is an opportunity to meet and question even more people within the organization to get an even better feel for what the company will be like to work for.

–          How did they get into the organization? As a Grad or with experience?

–          How quickly have they progressed through the ranks?

–          What is their personal perspective on where the company is going over the next 2-5 years?

–          What are they looking for in their next recruit?

–          Etc…

If you use this strategy properly, not only will it enable you to make the right choice in your career but it also carries many other benefits.

–          It will ensure you come across as bright because of your ability to ask the right questions and be interested in the answers.

–          It will ensure you come across as enthusiastic because of the effort you have already put into finding out about the company.

–          It will help with interview nerves as you should be excited about going in to an interview to find more out about the job instead of trying as hard as possible about making a good impression.

–          It will help build rapport with everyone you interview with as it will enable them to speak about themselves and their company – effectively selling it back to you…

I am keen to hear feedback from you. Perhaps you approach every interview like this already or perhaps you have a completely different strategy when it comes to preparation. I am not advocating that you do no other preparation than this, merely that you take an ‘honest’ interest in every opportunity and use that as a starting point.

 Good luck to you all.

 Barry Cranford

What is the GDC?

The GDC, or Graduate Development Community is an independent community of undergraduate software developers. Our goal is to bridge the gap between the worlds of Academia and Business. We organise and host presentations and events with senior members of the development community as well as offering advice, guidance, internships and jobs through our community site.