Friday 12th May saw UKCBC host a skills and employability conference for their students from their brand new Holborn campus in London.

For modern students, becoming employable, as well as learning the essential skills that prepare you for your future profession, is crucially important. That’s why at UKCBC we host several events each year with the sole aim of providing insight into landing a role after graduation.

The conference was split up into eight seminars, where several key speakers gave their insights and shared their knowledge about their particular industry. Students were also given the opportunity to speak directly with the guest speakers and ask them questions they felt would benefit them going forwards after graduation.

After an initial warm welcome by Peter Emelone, Academic Manager at UKCBC, Mark Bentley, Director at the South Essex College of Further and Higher Education, took his place on stage as the first key speaker of the day. The main focuses of Mark’s seminar were personal branding, social media and CV advice.

Mark Bentley

Mark started his talk by stating that “employers are looking for candidates who are different”. He told the students that there are a number of ways they can use personal branding to help themselves stand out in a crowd. “Your brand says ‘this is who and what I am’” said Mark. He used examples such as Nike, Apple and McDonalds to demonstrate how “the power of a good brand is simply knowing who they are”. His point was that students should try and aim to make their personal brand recognisable.

Peter Emelone added midway through the seminar that “a brand is a unique promise or value,” before adding that students should Google themselves – asking them “what are employers seeing online about you?” He made the audience question whether Google would portray an accurate representation of themselves.

This followed on to Mark’s next topic of social media. He emphasised its importance and mentioned how channels such as LinkedIn could be the difference between getting hired and falling short of the mark. Mark said to the students: “if you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re not at the races; LinkedIn is imperative!”

Mark finished his seminar by summarising how the students could improve their CVs. Mark stated that “one CV just doesn’t work”anymore, and that students should be tailoring their generic CV to each position they apply for. He pointed out that ‘two minutes is all the students will get from an employer’ when it comes to their CV, so they need to sell themselves and stand out from others who have similar qualifications.

Mark closed his seminar with “build your brand, market yourself and good luck for your future!”

Poppie Jones

A little later in the morning, the students listened to the session by Poppie Jones, WE Schools Speaker, who spoke about the importance of volunteering, as well as how volunteering helped her gain the confidence she needed to excel at what she does today. Poppie gave examples of some particularly inspiring stores of how volunteers used their experiences to help them achieve their goals.

She spoke about a young boy named Iqbal Masih who was sold into slavery at the age of five, who then went on to speak out about his experiences and helped raise the awareness of slave labour around the world.

Poppie emphasised to the students how they can find work experience which is relevant to the industry they want to work in, and how it could benefit not only them but the community around them. She mentioned how through various volunteering networks students could “find positions that align with their professional needs”.

Poppie provided the students with a great example of volunteering to help the wider community. She spoke about the Team London Ambassadors project from the London 2012 Olympics, where 70,000 volunteers signed up to help welcome the capital’s visitors for the games. The volunteers received excellent customer service training, were able to network with individuals from a variety of different professions and backgrounds, and are now able to say they helped put on a huge, memorable event in the UK’s history.

After a morning full of insights, the seminar broke for lunch so the students could refuel ahead of their busy afternoon.

For students, the morning provided many valuable tips from professionals which could be used immediately as well as in the foreseeable future.

Be sure to check out UKCBC’s second post covering the skills and employability conferences’ afternoon highlights, which will follow shortly.

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