FCPS Fair 2011

The University’s Great Hall played a grand setting for some of the top names in Finance, Consultancy and Professional Services (FCPS), last Wednesday. Opening its platform at 11am (student friendly timing) the FCPS fair organised courtesy of the Careers and Employability Centre, was a perfect opportunity for student’s to network with some of Britain’s biggest employers and create those all-important contacts for the future. A rare and unique opportunity to speak face to face with the companies was not to be missed by over  700 students who attended the fair, after just about pulling themselves away from the swanky new XKR and Range Rover parked outside Aston Webb.

Many different companies and organisations took part in the event, all perfectly presented, with a banner more colourful than the next, set to grab the attention of as many students as possible- with help from the freebies of course! Whether students were out to gain advice for a career in finance, tips on landing a job in consultancy, contacts in the world of professional services, or just a free pen or two, the FCPS fair had it all. From Grant Thornton, AON, Proctor and Gamble, Rover, Centrica, even to the company behind Caster Sugar, all were stood under the same roof alongside the university’s very own careers centre services, reminding students that it is never too late to start thinking about your future career and employability.

In fact, Grant Thornton couldn’t have emphasised it enough, explaining: ‘A jobs fair is a great way to find out what’s on the market. It’s not just about the companies you’ve heard of, try and use the opportunity to find out more about the companies you didn’t know about’. Towers Watson was another big attraction for those students interested in consultancy. Alongside offering guidance and tips on a career in risk-management, their advice that ‘as students entering the jobs market’ we need to ‘judge the company’ as much as the company judges us, definitely gave students an extra confidence-boost.

The diversity in the number of companies left, right and centre was a positive sign. A far cry from the regular headlines about the bleak future of employability, that’s enough to leave a cloud hanging over any student’s head. The key to getting the most out of any careers fair is preparation. A brilliant CV, knowledge about the company and what they do, presentable attire, a winning smile and to top it off, those vital questions you want to ask. Et Voilà! A recipe for success.

AON and RSM Tenon also stressed the importance of ‘being fully prepared to ask the right questions, specifically the ones that websites may not be able to answer’. Barnett Waddingham also gave some top tips on the application process and those competency questions that often leave us blank. ‘Using a real life example to demonstrate your practical understanding of a skill is essential to making your application stand out’.

And that’s exactly where the University’s in-house careers centre and >>Progress>> service come in- your direct links to a guide in all things CV, application, interview and pretty much anything else careers related. Whether you’re in the first year of your degree, or a postgraduate student, these invaluable services have got something to cater for everyone’s career queries and worries. After all, it is never too early or too late to start planning for your future.

The jobs market is constantly evolving and companies are regularly setting up schemes and programs tailored towards students as well as graduates, seeking work experience and job opportunities. Land Rover also highlighted the importance of actively searching for work experience and job opportunities, by online means, face to face job hunting and even looking through the local and national newspapers.  ‘Over time, as companies continue to expand, there is a growing demand for employers to take on students and graduates with a diverse skills set. There’s definitely something for everyone out there’.  

As 3:30pm came around, the employers rolled up their banners, packed up their boxes and the FCPS fair had come to an end for another year. For both the undergraduates and postgraduates amongst us, it had most definitely been a busy event- not only on the freebie front! The hunt for contacts and the search for the perfect student/graduate scheme was a force to be reckoned with. After all, the students are the future of employability, so what better way to find out what lies ahead than by starting your search at the careers fair.

Ani (MPH)

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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