Guest blog by Mark Malik who graduated from LSE with a BSc in Mathematics and Economics in 2015. He completed a summer internship with Shell and is now on their Finance Graduate Programme, working as a Payroll Accounting Manager in Manila and studying for his CIMA professional qualification:
Not everyone will have got the results they were hoping for. If you are one of those students, undoubtedly you will have lots of questions about what this means for your degree and your career afterwards.
Don’t panic: You don’t need to achieve a 2:1 in three years in order to realise your ambitions.
I had to repeat a year, interrupt my studies, and ended up graduating with a 2:2 – but I walked straight into a grad scheme with a top multinational and am now living the expat dream in Manila.
Here are my top tips for getting your career plan back on track after a results setback:
1. Identify what went wrong and take steps to put it right
Was it a health problem? Maybe you didn’t enjoy the courses you took? Maybe you were trying to do too much? Whatever the issue was, make sure you use the full range of support available at LSE.
2. Be open with employers
Don’t try to hide issues in your CV. Recruiters will ask you, so it’s best to be as open as possible. Consider addressing the issue directly. If you thoroughly consider step 1, it makes a great answer for the ‘Give an example of how you have dealt with a setback’ competency question that appears in applications/interviews.
3. Be selective and creative about where you apply to
Not all employers require a 2:1 nowadays. The Two Ticks employers are good with candidates who have disabilities. Some offer a direct route from internship to grad scheme. These are all good signs that the employer is open to applications from students who haven’t taken the standard route to graduation. Do some networking and consider employers to whom you can really demonstrate your passion as an individual. Don’t just apply to the same places everyone else is applying to…
4. Do extra-curricular stuff
If your academic results are the weak point in your CV, make sure you have other ways to sell yourself. Get yourself on a club or society committee, involve yourself with the SU, or do some volunteering or part-time work. If it’s relevant to your chosen career, that’s a bonus, but it’s not necessary.
Also, try and find some relevant work experience. I did some entry-level finance work with Birmingham City Council. Not only did this make me realise that I wanted to be an accountant, it added an extra dimension to my CV and gave me some interesting and relevant skills and experiences to talk about that few others would have. I know that this helped me – when I returned to LSE and completed my second year, I had far more internship offers than I did the first time round.
5. Use the Careers Service
They can give you specific advice relating to your individual circumstance, help you identify employers you should definitely apply to, and help you make sure your CV and interview answers play to your strengths whilst addressing any obvious issues.
6. Stay positive
I know this will be hard to do at the moment, but try. The situation isn’t ideal, but we are where we are, so we need to make the most of it. My setback prompted me to really evaluate what I wanted from my career. I couldn’t be happier with what I’m doing now. So, trust me – all is not lost.