With employability now the second highest concern (only behind curriculum content) for prospective students choosing a university, Birmingham is providing a whole host of support for graduates' career goals.
Robert Young (MSc Computer Science, 2002), Operations Engineer for Fidessa Group
"My course was excellent - so good it made me wish I'd done three years as an undergrad. It taught me skills I use every day, and I wouldn't have the career I have now without my Masters from Birmingham."
Building on important services including CV clinics, practice interviews and access to job vacancies, the newly rebranded Careers Network is also benefiting from more alumni involvement than ever before. Former students are offering support from work experience placements and internships to graduate schemes, funding bursaries, careers talks, mentoring and much more.
But why is a careers focus important? 'The competition in some fields now is so great that employers have to select from thousands of applicants for every job,' says Eluned Jones, Director of Student Employability. 'We help students to market themselves and their skills, make strong applications, give an excellent interview performance, and grow their commercial awareness; all to give them an edge over other candidates.'
Investment in careers services has had a big impact, with the latest figures showing 93% of Birmingham graduates are in work or further study six months after graduating. This places the University above other Russell Group universities including Oxford, University College London, Warwick, Durham and London School of Economics. 'Importantly, 81% are in graduate level employment, representing a 16% increase in the past four years,' Eluned says.
With the advent of higher fees, these statistics are becoming even more important. 'Prospective students rightly want to know that they will get a return on the investment of their degree,' explains Eluned. 'Excellent careers services not only help our graduates get those top jobs, but also give the University an added advantage in continuing to recruit the best students.'
What's on offer for you?
Whether you want further learning, a career change or useful contacts, the University offers a range of careers support for its alumni.
Full careers support
You still have access to the Careers Network and its full support for one year after graduation and after this, there is still a growing bank of resources available to help you build and develop your career. Visit the Graduate Careers website for more information.
You can sign up to receive a monthly careers e-newsletter packed full of helpful tips, career profiles, advice and the latest events and vacancies from fellow alumni. Email email@example.com to subscribe.
Graduate Trainee Scheme (GTS)
If you gained a 2:1 or higher in the past three years, you could apply for the GTS at the University of Birmingham. Visit the GTS webpage for more information.
Teresa Hunt (BA International Relations, 2012) Marketing Officer and former graduate trainee, University of Birmingham "The experiences I gained on the University's graduate trainee scheme have been so varied; from pulling together annual accounts, to supporting student societies, organising high-profile lectures and going out to schools. These have all given me a brilliant understanding of the University and higher education, and equipped me with the skills to secure a permanent position in the University's central marketing team."
Birmingham Skills and Enterprise Network (BSEEN)
If you graduated in the past five years, live in the West Midlands and want to start a local business, BSEEN could help. Visit the BSEEN website for more information.
Chris Bates (BA Modern History, 2012), co-founder of Selly Joke "BSEEN has been a massive help, from the grant to the training sessions covering things that would take us months to learn by ourselves."
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and further study
Did you know that 28% of the University's 2012 graduates went on to further study? CPD at Birmingham includes everything from short courses (many offering an alumni discount) to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) - free, online courses with unrestricted global enrolment. Visit Future Learn to find out more about MOOCs.
Suleman Khan (BSc Chemistry, 2010) Doctoral Researcher
"If you still enjoy uni life and want to engross yourself further in a subject you enjoy, definitely consider a PhD at Birmingham."
Careers talks and other events
The University runs professionally-focused events each year, including the London Professional Network; the Distinguished Leaders series and the Welcome to London pub night. Visit the online Alumni Events Calendar for more information about upcoming events.
Ayaan Mohamud (BA Media, Culture and Society, 2009; MSc Marketing, 2010) Marketing Assistant, comScore, Inc "Business is about networking and relationships so being part of such a huge alumni community gives you the opportunity to communicate with a large group of people spread all over the world."
How can you help?
All alumni have something to offer to current students. What could you do?
Become a mentor
Around 200 alumni now mentor students at the University. Erin-Jane Golding (BA American and Canadian Studies, 2012) was mentored by Cilla Snowball CBE (BA French Language and Literature, 1981) through the flagship Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme (ALMP).
"With Cilla's help, I got the grades I wanted and a palce on the Channel 4 communications trainee scheme. It's been a phenomenal experience."
Image copyright: Andy Earl
Offer an internship or work experience placement
Paid internships and work experience placements offer the chance to gain invaluable experience and contacts. Simon Lee (MEng Civil Engineering, 2013) won the Discovery Networks International Factual internship at the Discovery Channel after his mentor Elizabeth McIntyre (BA English, 1986) suggested he apply.
"I'm looking at everything from developing possible new programme formats to scouting for new presenters at the Edinburgh Festival. It is a fantastic opportunity to pursue my dream career."
Advertise your graduate role
Does your company offer a graduate scheme? Make sure the Careers Network knows and you could help bring the next generation of Birmingham talent into your business. Top employers focus on Birmingham for graduate scheme recruitment, for example Boots International exclusively promoted its new International Graduate Scheme to Business Management students in the Business School.
Help finance opportunities
A whole range of student internships are funded by alumni. Dr Chris Banks CBE (BA French Language and Literature, 1980; Hon DUniv, 2012), has funded 45 Gateway Internships.
"Many employers don't just want bright young people, they want evidence of being ready for the world of work. Internships represent a great way of giving our undergraduates a competitive edge, so this is a practical way that alumni can make a huge difference."
Give a careers talk
Alumni can offer in-depth knowledge of their specific industry without a big time commitment. You could talk to students about emerging trends for example, or tips for breaking into your industry sector based on your experiences.
Make social connections
Alumni can promote vacancies, share opportunities or offer advice and tips to current students via @careersbham or on Facebook.
"Undergraduates spend a great amount of time on Facebook and Twitter, so publicising opportunities on these media is very helpful and effective."
Want to help?
If you want to support students or new graduates in their careers in any way, please contact the Careers Network via +44(0) 121 414 6120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org