Thursday, 26 February 2015

Work Placement scheme for FEMALE STEM undergraduates

The Careerwise work placement scheme for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) opened for applications on Wednesday, 11th February 2015. Placements take place between June and August 2015 and are paid at a salary of at least £16K pro rata.  Applications are welcome from women currently studying STEM subjects at any Scottish University.  The closing date for all initial interest applications is Wednesday, 11th March 2015.

Equate Scotland launched its ground breaking initiative Careerwise in 2013, with the aim of encouraging more women to consider and pursue STEM careers through the provision of paid work placements aimed at female undergraduates in Scotland.

In summer 2014, 42 women successfully completed a Careerwise placement, giving them real work experience they can draw upon at future job interviews and in job applications, helping them to stand out.

For employers, to recruit a graduate with real work experience is of considerable value.  For students, work placements enhance your employability and increase career confidence – not to mention the opportunity of paid summer work!  Placements can also lead to a real job offer. 

Organisations providing placements this year include Computer Application Services, Leiths, Nova Biotics, KP Technology, AECOM, University of Edinburgh, Midlothian Council and more. 

To view the placements and for details of how to apply visit:

All enquiries regarding placements or the Careerwise initiative should be directed to or telephone 0131 455 2267.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Careers in Food and Drink for Chemists and Engineers

Apple Juice Box Clip Art

There are around half a million people in the UK employed in the food and drink industry in roles such as processing, production and distribution of food and drink, with a wide variety of graduate jobs also available in areas such as manufacturing, sales, marketing, logistics, and purchasing.

Engineering: Graduate Engineers are needed in all food and drink manufacturing. Mechanical, chemical and electrical graduates are in demand and often need to work together in a multi-disciplinary team. Machines need to be programmed and controlled to deliver the right weight and right mix at the right time. Engineers are needed when new products and processes are developed, and look at ways to do things more cost effectively, more efficiently and more quickly. If engineers want to have more of a role in R&D, its often a good idea to work with the companies who actually manufacture the machinery rather than the products themselves (such as Briggs, Krones, KHS, OCME).

Chemistry R&D: Focuses on the chemistry of foods, their deterioration, and the principles underlying the improvement of foods for consumers. Food chemists develop and improve foods and beverages; analyze methods of heat processing, canning, freezing, and packaging; and study the effects of processing on the appearance, taste, aroma, freshness, and vitamin and mineral content of food. Many people have an undergraduate degree in chemistry or chemical engineering and a master's in food science. Food/Drink ingredient supply companies are also likely to have more jobs available in R&D than those that actually process the food/drink, since the processors have been shifting research responsibilities to their suppliers. Leatherhead Food Research and the UK Accreditation Service (which tests samples and accredits food companies among other things) employs chemists in this area.

Flavourists or Flavour chemists often have a chemistry degree too, though they can be employed straight from school. They use chemistry to engineer artificial and natural flavors.There can be a lot of challenge, creativity, and variety in the work.The role has a long training period, moving up gradually from trainee to flavourist. It takes around 10 years before they can apply to join the The British Society of Flavourists (BSF). The BSF run a 3 week course in Flavour Chemistry with the University of Reading in May every year.

Food manufacturing/processing: An operations or production manager will be responsible for ensuring the production line runs smoothly, efficiently, cost effectively, and under strict time constraints. They will also need to be aware of food safety and respond quickly when things go wrong. Graduates looking for jobs in this area should expect to combine a high level of technical competence, with the ability to manage and lead large teams of people.

Supply Chain: Being able to respond quickly to consumer need is important, and planning ahead is essential. For example, the supply chain must be slick enough to respond to an unexpected heat wave when there is a sudden demand for Barbeque food in the supermarkets, or the demand for a certain ingredient after a popular cookery show is aired. If you want to land a graduate job in this area you must be willing to immerse yourself in the role and in your industry to ensure that you are always one step ahead. Adaptability and Flexibility is key in this job, as is the ability to work with people across all areas of the business. See Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

Procurement: This is about buying at the best price whilst also keeping a good relationship with your suppliers. You also have to make sure that you are buying at the best value rather than just the best price as food safety and quality is imperative. Procurement Graduates will be responsible for buying ingredients, machinery and packaging, so they must know their product inside and out. Keeping on top of the market trends is imperative, as is the ability to make quick decisions, and work under pressure. Graduates looking for a job in Procurement must be confident communicators, and not afraid to challenge where necessary. See Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

Sales: Graduate sales professionals will manage a variety of accounts ensuring that they have what they need to support their customers, and that the products are promoted effectively. They will also play a key role in the growing the business through new sales generation. Graduates must have excellent communication skills, a drive for results, and a passion for the industry. Successful graduates need to know as much about their customer’s business as they do their own brand.

Marketing: The food & drink industry can be very challenging as the business that you work for will be constantly evolving. New products are being developed, and food and drinks companies are always looking at different ways in which to promote their foods to suit consumer trends. Marketing graduates can expect to deal with marketing strategy and implementation, and carry out sales presentations internally and externally, requiring creativity and excellent communication. Graduates wanting to get into a marketing job must have numerical ability so that they can measure the effectiveness of campaigns, as well as devise them.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Summer jobs for 1st/2nd/3rd year Chemists and Life Scientists

I just wanted to highlight the Life Sciences CV Competition paid summer placements which are open to 1st, 2nd and 3rd year UGs studying a life science degree. They’re in Edinburgh and Glasgow and close on 28 February.

Companies include Charles River, Thermofisher Scientific, Exova, NHS, Biopta, Sistemic, TC BioPharm, Amici Procurement, Catalent, Collagen Solutions and the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Oil prices and graduate recruitment

Oil rig by regelatwork - An oil rig in a tranquil seaYou will be well aware of the Doom and Gloom headlines from the oil industry at the minute - almost weekly,  another oil & gas-related company drops more bad news on us. This week, MacKellar Sub-Sea Ltd went into administration, while drilling contractors KCA Deutag and Talisman Sinopec each announced 200-300 job losses, following on from similar announcements from BP, Shell, Chevron, Wood Group and Conoco Phillips.

Much of the oil left in the North Sea is so difficult and expensive to recover that it may not be worth the investment needed if oil companies can only sell it for $45 a barrel. This doesn’t sound great for anyone considering a career in the oil industry and many companies in the sector have already cut their graduate recruitment by around 10%. Some companies are going much further, for example BP is planning to hire just 80 graduates in 2015, down from 250 in 2012. However all firms do say that they remain committed to developing engineering talent and most are recruiting, albeit at a reduced level. 

So...... there are SOME jobs in the oil industry, but they are even MORE competitive than they used to be.What can you do to increase your chance of success? Here is a six point plan for those of you affected by the issues.

1. Be the best of the best - you're already well on the way to this with a degree in Chemical engineering from the University of Edinburgh, but now you really need to spell it out. So your applications have to be perfect and your performance at interview has to be outstanding. Have a look at my previous post on CVs (contains a "good" example) to help you get started.  See too our Careers Service advice on succeeding at interviews and assessment centres plus some specific interview tips from BP (contains good advice for applying to any company).

2. Get noticed. Don't just apply for advertised vacancies. Make contact with companies to find out what their future plans are - use any contacts you have, whether from your work experience, industrial project if you had one or academic members of staff. Send speculative applications to the companies you are really interested in. Use LinkedIn - write a good profile for yourself, follow companies, join groups, make connections and build up your network, ask questions, get discussions going.  The Student/Alumni group for Edinburgh University is especially useful for those of you with a profile - you can whittle it down using a chemical engineering degree search.
3. Some oil roles are more in demand than others, so concentrate on those. While the oil price remains low, available jobs are more likely to be in existing operations and maintenance, bringing already green-lit projects onstream and running existing platforms as efficiently as possible.  Andrew Speers of oil recruitment company Petroplan states: "Projects that have been well funded, are well underway and at a production stage are continuing to hire, develop and do business as usual". The biggest negative impact is likely to be on new projects and exploration so anyone looking for jobs in reservoir engineering, well appraisal and construction will now find things harder – just 2-4 per cent of firms are hiring in these areas, according to a recent report from Oil & Gas UK. See Oil Roles in Demand.

4. Be aware of the skills/knowledge needed for the future. Since the remaining North Sea oil deposits are trickier to extract, companies are using enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies and will need employees who understand them. Also, skills in software and electronics are becoming more important  as oil firms develop “digital oil field” technology that ranges from remote-controlled and autonomous underwater vehicles to detailed data analysis. Thirdly, the gradual decline of the North Sea means the area of decommissioning is set to increase, with a third of companies expecting it to create new jobs. Lastly,  if onshore shale oil & gas fracking is allowed to proceed in the UK (beyond the current test drilling in England), it could mean a plethora of new opportunities - reservoir, drilling and well engineers and geoscientists would all benefit. The fracked oil and gas currently imported from the USA already provides opportunities for chemical engineers. Environmental issues aside, since the current low North Sea oil prices/decreased recruitment is partly due to the vast amounts of oil & gas imported from the USA fracking industry, it seems right that you might reap some reward from it. Fracking is actually costlier than conventional extraction, so companies will need to carry on pumping to recoup revenue to pay off their start up costs. Therefore, it should be around (in the USA at least) for the next few years.

5. Be geographically mobile - there are many countries where falling prices have not impacted the progress of projects as much as in the UK. Nigeria, Brazil, the Middle East and even Azerbaijan need good engineers. ‘You cannot look at the UK oil and gas industry as just being the North Sea: it has a huge influence around the world servicing and delivering global oil and gas projects,’ said Andrew Speers (Petroplan). ‘Being mobile, being able to be flexible is really important and accepting the fact that things are tough and you may have to take a job you didn’t quite plan to get to the next step. It’s not always easy to work into the ideal job.’
6.Wait it out - apply to other industries, such as pharmaceutical, food and drink, chemicals, paints, agrochemicals. Gain experience and re-apply to oil when things improve. That might be next year, it might be longer, but these lean times will be unlikely to last forever - we need oil! There will be a large exodus of staff as people retire, so the industry will need 12,000 new entrants over next five years – that’s 2,400 a year (maybe just not this year!). To help with widening your search:
(a) Refresh your knowledge of where other chemical engineers (the chemistry destinations are helpful too) from your course have gone - they certainly didn't ALL go into oil after graduation! See Edinburgh Destinations.
(b) Have a look at the TCE 2014 supplement for a nice easy to read grid of different sectors/countries. Note that this has just a selection of companies listed - you can use LinkedIn to find similar companies.
(c) To generate a database of potential leads - Search chemical engineering on MyCareerHub > More Search Options> Include Expired Opportunities - you will see companies who have advertised in the last couple of years for an Edinburgh chemical engineer.

If you need any help with your decisions and applications, please book an appointment through MyCareerHub at your convenience. 
I would really welcome comments and additional suggestions from people in the oil and gas industry.
Read more about the effect of oil price on graduate recruitment from The Engineer.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

How to succeed in the workplace - CAREER CONFIDENT 23-27 Feb


CareerConfident is a new week-long programme of events organised by the Careers Service, aimed at students and recent graduates who want to develop skills to succeed in the workplace.
The programme will cover:
  • networking
  • personal branding
  • professional etiquette
  • commercial awareness
There will also be a panel discussion aimed at dispelling common graduate recruitment myths, with input from the BBC, Charityworks, Procter & Gamble, Baillie Gifford and Edinburgh-based Attacat - an opportunity to get answers to the questions you've always wanted to ask.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Green Careers - February Events in Sustainability and Environmental sectors

If you are interested in working in Sustainability or the Environment, then there are two careers events coming up next week that may be right up your street.................

Careers in Sustainability 11th February. 
A networking and information session hosted by The Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability, Development and Alumni and the Careers Service.
This evening event is an introduction to all that a career in sustainability has to offer – from the protection and management of environmental resources to social and corporate responsibility. It is designed to provide inspiration and insight; showcasing the range of careers available and the routes into employment.
Sir Geoff Palmer OBE will deliver a talk followed by a Q&A session with a Panel of Edinburgh Alumni who are working in sustainability.
  • Ben Twist, Director of Creative Carbon Scotland.
  • Briana Pegado, President of the Edinburgh University Students Association
  • Justina Adomaviciute, Policy Advisor DEFRA
  • Eilidh Brunton, Group Recycling Consultant at Vegware
There will then be refreshments and a time for networking with organisations including Bright Green Business, Changeworks, Keep Scotland Beautiful & 2020 Climate Group.
Come and hear from professionals working across the environmental sector.This event will include short talks from each speaker followed by refreshments and networking.
  • Daniel Brown - Globally Threatened Species Officer at RSPB - working on 3 conservation projects relating to shorebirds. Previously experience includes working with farming communities as an advisory officer for RSPB and fisheries conservation.
  • Anna Beswick - Adaptation Scotland Manager (Sniffer) - works with a wide range of public and private sector organisations and communities to raise awareness of the impacts and consequences of climate change.
  • Michelagh O'Neill - Project Coordinator: River Restoration and Flood Risk Management (Sniffer)- with extensive experience as an engineering consultant in flood risk management
  •  Dr Mhairi Coyle - Environmental Physicist (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology CEH) - working on the land/atmosphere exchange of trace gases and aerosols.
  • Lucy Frankel -  Communications Director at Vegware - Lucy has worked in teaching and translation before moving into communication for Vegware, UK's first and only completely compostable food packaging firm
Hosted by the Careers Service in partnership with The Chartered Institute for Ecology & Environmental Management