Colossal careers fest among biggest in UK

Posted by er134 at Nov 05, 2013 09:25 AM |
University’s mammoth Festival of Careers starts Tuesday 5 November 2013

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 5 November 2013

The University of Leicester’s 2013 Festival of Careers kicks off on Tuesday 5 November —and it is set to be one of the biggest in the country.

Autumn’s Festival is the second largest of its kind in the UK, boasting over 170 exhibitors over the four days—with employers confirmed to be offering over 12,000 graduate jobs and over 2,000 internships and placements.

With many employers still planning how many graduates they will recruit in 2013/14, it is possible that these numbers are much higher. These also go beyond the blue-chip companies often seen at events like this. The opportunities at the Festival are a lot broader and 1 in 6 exhibitors are charities, organizations in the volunteering of public sectors, or Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs). There is also a range of exciting paid internships being aimed at students that graduated in 2013.

New exhibitors this year include Barclays, Coca Cola, the European Personnel Selection Office (EU Careers), Grant Thornton and Sky. The Festival will also be seeing local firms like Mattioli Woods, Hornbuckle Mitchell and Leicester Law Society.

They join an array of established residents including Santander, Wragge & co. and Teach First.

Raj Patel, from the University’s Career Development Service, said: “Leicester’s distinctive approach is a huge investment for the University but we believe it is important to move away from the format other University Careers Fairs use. Whilst many employers regard face-to-face contact as important, we know that employers are taking a more targeted approach with the Campus Activity.

“The Association of Graduate Recruiter's 2013 Winter Survey highlighted that the level of face-to-face activity was likely to be reduced and become more targeted in the context of budgetary constraints.

“This more targeted approach means students need to know how to engage employers when they’re on Campus. It’s important to move away from the idea that Careers Fairs are something that students can simply turn up to and the emphasis at Leicester is on engaging employers in quality conversations; not just reeling off a series of questions. Our support also helps students appreciate what opportunities like this offer; for example the ability to pick up contact details and follow up with an employer after the event.  It is easy to assume that students know what to do at these events but as an institution that prides itself on widening participation, we want to ensure this goes beyond their education and into employment. We regard this is a much more complete impact on social mobility.”

Mr. Patel said not only had Careers Fairs changed, but what was offered by employers was also evolving: “Some sectors have definitely responded to economic challenges differently. Contrary to the headlines, High Flyers’ research highlighted in their 2013 end of year review that, year-on-year, vacancies increased in six areas – the public sector, retailing, engineering & industrial, IT & telecommunications, oil & energy and chemicals & pharmaceuticals. Together they provided over 1,000 additional graduate roles, compared with recruitment in 2011. We have also seen employers in some sectors broadening the graduate recruitment they do. Retail is a good example. A decade ago many organisations had a couple of programmes. Now it’s not uncommon for employers to have between five and 10. Some have more than 20 different programmes. IT is another sector that’s seen a lot of change and is also an area where competition for the best students is fierce.

“Crucially there is more emphasis at these events on early engagement and internships. This year, employers at the Festival are offering well over 2,000 opportunities to gain experience and it’s approaches like this that employers are using as a pipeline into their graduate roles.”

The festival runs over four themed days devoted to different sectors; scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesday 5 November - Law
  • Wednesday 6 November - Business, Finance and Retail
  • Thursday 7 November - Engineering, Science and IT
  • Friday 8 November - Volunteering, Government and Public Sector

The “no prep, no entry” policy with regards to the Festival has also seen the University shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Student Support this year.

Commenting on whether employers still valued Careers Fairs, Mr Patel said: “Despite the fact online promotions are the most popular marketing activity employers undertake, campus activities like Careers Fairs are very close behind. If I look at feedback from last year’s Festival for example, employers really enjoyed speaking with our students and wanted to do even more on campus. Whilst this is a significant time commitment for them, employers don’t mind coming, provided they meet students that are well prepared; students that have actually thought about what they want to talk about. And that’s exactly what we’re fostering at Leicester.

“We’re still the only University to adopt a ‘no prep, no entry’ approach and what we’re doing for our students has seen us shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award this year. More importantly this work is having an impact. For example, representatives from PWC – one of the UK’s biggest graduate recruiters - said last year: “I would like to highlight that it has been really noticeable that the students have prepared - the quality we have seen and the questions asked has been really high”.

“I think more interestingly, we asked every exhibitor to rate the quality of their interaction with students and 87% rated their conversation with students as either good or excellent.

“Regarding our students though, 75% of those that attended the Festival felt our support helped them have more quality conversations and nearly 70% ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that our ‘no prep, no entry’ approach was the right approach.”


Information for editors:

For more information contact Raj Patel at:

  • Date: Tuesday 5—Friday 8 November 2013
  • Time: 11:00am
  • Venue: Festival of Careers, University of Leicester Students' Union, Percy Gee Building, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH
  • Students must attend preparation session in order to attend

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