How to write a manifesto

By Patricia Hu (Junior Reo)

Hello/大家好!  I’m Patricia, a first year law student, a Hong Konger, and a turtleneck sweater enthusiast. I will also be our tour guide through this SHAPED blog post on writing a manifesto (or several - go big or go home). Though manifesto-writing season may be over, it’s never too early to begin preparing for the next round of applications. 

Just a disclaimer: though I’ve only made two manifestos and I’m definitely not the go-to authority on manifesto writing, I will make it my best attempt to guide you through the key to writing an solid manifesto. I will label the steps you should follow when writing a manifesto through song titles (of songs that I like) - my music taste isn’t great, but if you’d like, give the songs a listen!!

Here is my manifesto: 


1. Know What I Want
(Song by Kali Uchis - perfect for Amy Winehouse fans)

The first thing you do when you’re writing a manifesto is to, from the Exec’s perspective, “Know What I Want”. You need to know look exactly what they are requesting from you. To do this, you should...

A. Do research! On the team’s websites/Facebook pages, read up on what your potential role entails and read current Exec profiles (+ what they do in the club). It also helps to talk to people who are currently in the society for further insight into the club/role.

B. Look at what information they want from you on the manifesto, word for word. It doesn’t normally stray away from “please mention your past experiences/hobbies/roles and strengths…”

C. Looking at what they want from you in 1.B, brainstorm + make a mindmap with the categories they’ve requested - begin thinking about your own life experience. If you already have a CV or resume, highlight skills/abilities you think are most applicable to the role.

Personal tip: SHAPED told us to “Include what caught your interest about SHAPED and what makes you qualified for a position as a Junior Rep (activities, hobbies, roles, previous jobs, or your passion for being involved with SHAPED - anything goes!)” on our manifestos. 

However, because I wanted to mention more than just what was asked - eg. I discussed what I want to do if I get into SHAPED. Therefore, I grouped the other bits together into broader categories (eg. ‘Why I’m Interested’ included passion for SHAPED + what got me interested in it). I would suggest organising ideas they want from you under broader categories if there’s more you want to mention! 

2. Glamorous
(Song by Fergie - for a 2000’s throwback!!)

Now that the toughest part of the manifesto is over, you should attempt to make it as visually stunning as possible. There are a few things you can do to help you in the design process:

A. Play around with design apps - Canva, Pages, Word, Gimp (all free); PicMonkey, Photoshop, InDesign (7 day free trial, paid afterwards with student discount) and familiarise yourself with what you can do.

B. Look around for graphic design inspiration!! If you’re feeling clueless about what you want, Google searching something like “graphic design” or “event poster” can be great help. For me personally, I love the song Hotline Bling a lot (despite its mediocre lyrics), ergo its album art/music video became the key source of inspiration for my manifesto (the background,  font, the photo in the right corner, the 1800-motif).

3. Double Vision
(Song by 3OH!3 - not a big fan of this song but I couldn’t find a song title to match this topic)

Now that your manifesto is in its final stage, make sure...

 A. You don’t exceed the word count, and

 B. You look out for GPS: grammar/punctuation/spelling!

4. Party in the U(K)
(Song by Miley Cyrus- needs no explanation)

Congrats!! Send off your manifesto and relax (or not.....the grind 😩😩💪💪💯never 😤💪🤔🤔👊😤stops 💯👊💦💦💯🉐) You’ve done the most you can in the time period/circumstances you had - now your manifesto is in the hands of the Exec and you should hope for the best!

Hope you found this useful! I wish you the best of luck with your future manifestos! <3

之之 (Patricia)


Internships: What you need to know

With Liz Adams, managing editor at GTI Media
By Christina D. Andersen (Coordinator)

No matter what year you are currently in or what degree you are studying, there is a chance you’ve come across the idea of getting an internship. Maybe you are currently applying for one, maybe you’ve already applied or maybe you still don’t know if you really need one. To help answer some of the questions you may have, I contacted GTI Media (through, and got the opportunity to interview GTI Media managing editor, Liz Adams, who’ll tell you everything you need to know about internships.

So, who is Liz Adams? Liz Adams started out as a Durham University student herself, but today she is a managing editor at GTI Media, which means she manages other editors, has her own editorial work, and writes and edits content specifically aimed at advising students on deciding careers and getting into employment. This means she has an extensive knowledge on work experience and internships. Furthermore, she also recruits and manages the interns GTI Media have work for them in the summer in the editorial department, so she has a thorough understanding, both of what internships are, and how applicants are selected.

If you are one of the people who still have not applied for any internships, you might be wondering when the right time is to apply. When I ask Liz about this, she recommends that students start thinking about getting some relevant experience immediately. However, it does not necessarily have to be experience from an internship: “Internships are great, and I’d really recommend people apply for them, but they are by no means the be all and end all of getting experience,” Liz says. Experience can be anything from getting involved in a student society, to just writing a blog on a topic that interests you; the more you’ve done that can show involvement beyond just doing your degree, the better, whatever that activity is.

However, if you do want an internship, Liz recommends that you start looking early. “Some of the deadlines can be really early”, Liz says and recommends that people start looking for internships in the autumn before the summer they want to be an intern. For some internships, you need to apply before Christmas, so make sure you do not miss those early deadlines. However, if you are a first-year student, don’t be disheartened if you don’t find the right internship in your first year. Some internships are only open to students between their second to last and last year; that does not mean you shouldn’t look, however. Some companies and organisations will have other short schemes or insights that are only open to first years, so those are worth applying to as well.

You decided to apply for an internship, and you are now sitting at your desk, with no idea what to write in your application. What can you do to make sure your application gives you the best chance at getting the internship you want? First, Liz highlights the fact that it is important to never rush it. “Take the time to make sure it’s a good, strong application,”. However, when that is done, you should maybe consider that some companies start reviewing applications as soon as they get their first applicant, and if you apply right before the deadline “there might be fewer jobs available, and typically a lot of people will leave it to the last minute to apply, so there will be more candidates going for fewer jobs,”. Since you don’t know if the company you are applying to will wait for the deadline to review applications, it’s better to be safe than sorry and apply early.

As mentioned, Liz is one of the people that read applications for interns to their department, so she knows some of the things they look for in an application. First of all, it is always good to see that someone has “clearly read the job description and taken it into account”, and so on the most basic level applications that show people have read and followed possible instructions given in the job description are better received. For example, they might request a piece of written work to be uploaded with the application, and it’s “always good when they actually find that instruction,” Liz laughs. Other than that, two main things are important: to show that you have the skills they are looking for, and to research the company you are applying to, so you know what they do. In regards to skills, the most important thing is not necessarily that you have massive amounts of experience, but that the person who is reading your application can see you have made an effort to show you have the skills they stated as being important. So if the job description says that you need to be good at talking to people over the phone, you can give them an example of how you have this skill.  “We don’t expect people to have massive amounts of experience or have a great example to tie in with every skill,” Liz says, “[as long as we are] able to see that people have read what we are looking for, and tried to link that with their own skills.”

The second thing is that Liz mentions as being important, is that you have done your research on what a company is and what it does. You shouldn’t try to flatter the company or parrot facts about their company back at them (they know the company better than you do!), but try to see how you can link your skills and interests to the work that they do. “If people actually get our branding right, and write the name of our company correctly, with the capital letters in the right place, this is excellent.”

However, there is more you can do to make your application stand out in the crowd. One is to make sure you have some proof of the value you can add or the ways you can make improvements. It’s good that you can say you have been secretary for a student society, and gained some transferable skills, but it is even better if you are able to say you made an improvement in your role, such as boosting that society’s membership. As Liz points out, “If you take on some sort of responsibility to help that society that’s even better and if you can actually then do something that creates an improvement while you’re in that role that will really help you when it comes to writing an application."

Finally, it is worth noting that for some people an internship might be more important for their future career than others. Liz advices that you keep your future career in mind, because for some careers getting an internship can be really important to later getting a job. You can for example read about the importance of getting an internship if you want to be an investment banker here or you can read about the importance of work experience in barristers’ chambers if you want to become a barrister here

Good luck with your applications!

Why should we get involved in College life?

By Katherine He (Development Rep)

Getting involved in College life (well… as well as in University life) is essential. It will not only help you to acquire more transferrable skills but also help you to meet a variety of people. One thing we all learn here is that Durham is NOT about getting a degree, but rather getting involved in everything else. Not to be cheesy, but as a 3rd year Hatfielder, one of the reasons I will give to freshers is that you do not want leave Durham without doing anything.

Another obvious reason to answer that question will be that it will always look good to put it on your CV. To be frank, it doesn’t matter how many roles you took on throughout your time at Hatfield; the most important thing is the self-reflection and the skills you get from managing projects or event planning. That’s what the employers are looking for. They are looking for well-rounded individuals who can work with others, showing a sense of social responsibility and leadership. 

And there are many ways to get involved in the College! College is a great place for having everything all in one place and that’s the very heart in the so-called “Durham Experience”. In Hatfield, we have welfare cookies, smoothies, and ice cream during exam times… As I quote from our Coordinator Christina, “you paid a lot of money, so you might as well get something back: whether it is money to go traveling, skills from skills workshops or free cookies from welfare”. Hatfield is a very coherent community and you can easily take on many junior roles (for example, being a SHAPED Junior Rep!) to expand your experiences and knowledge on event planning or working with a team. Of course, it is good to get involved as early as you can; but it is NEVER TOO LATE!!! I joined Hatfield DUCK to be a Toastie Bar Representative in my 2nd year. During my final year, I became part of the SHAPED team. Moreover, you can apply to be on the Senior Exec team after your first year to contribute more to the club or societies. All the skills and friends you get from taking part in these societies and events will contribute to how much you have learned and developed. If you fail to obtain a role, do not give up as there will always be the right opportunity waiting for you. Be patient, proactive and persistent.


The Blast-Off Talks

By Bea Williams (Academic Rep)

First of all, I’d like to say a warm welcome to all of our new freshers! I’m sure you’ll love Hatfield and Durham generally as much as I do.  For SHAPED, the Blast-Off series is our first series of talks and it is specifically designed for our new first years. 

This year the series includes:

1.      What I Wish I Knew As A Fresher

2.      Manifestos and Getting Involved

3.      Internships, Spring Weeks and CV’s

4.      Academia Panel

The first talk is fairly self-explanatory regarding the content but I would thoroughly recommend it to all of our new students.  We will have a group of ‘experienced’ students who will be able to answer any questions you might have about what its really like to be a fresher at Durham University. This talk will help you to feel much more comfortable in your environment and you will leave with sound advice (including remembering to always wear your ‘klute shoes’ to klute).  It will also be incredibly useful to ensure you don’t make some of the mistakes that a lot of us have most definitely made.  I certainly wouldn’t give it a miss! 

The second talk is all about how to make the most of the opportunities offered at Hatfield and how to effectively apply for the many roles of responsibility that we offer.  There Is so much going on in College; it’s almost impossible to know about everything so this talk really helps! I, for one, was also rather intimidated by the word Manifesto as I hadn’t heard it before and honestly had no idea how to go about writing one.  This talk explains everything and will help you to really jump into College life! Applying for a position in my first year was one of the best things I have ever done and has developed so many skills of mine whilst being so much fun! 

The Internships, Spring Weeks and CV talk isn’t necessarily for everyone.  However, last year I attended the talk despite not knowing if a spring week or internship was something I wanted to do.  However, I’m so glad I did! I gained invaluable CV advice which is useful when it comes to applying for any kind of work experience and even a part-time job.  Not only this, but it opened my eyes to the opportunities that are out there and how the application processes work, making them seem far less intimidating.  My CV is much more professional than it was previously and that is all down to this talk. 

Our Academia Panel is completely new for this year.  We hope that it will give you an insight into academic work at university, including lectures, seminars, using the library and independent reading.  This will help to ease the transition between school and university as it can be a big change.  

I hope to see as many of you as possible at these talks and also hope that SHAPED can help you as much as it has helped me!

Aspiring Solicitors

Aspiring Solicitors is an organisation that works to address the issue of diversity within the legal profession. It was set up back in 2014 by Chris White, a qualified solicitor, with a view to assist students access the legal industry. Chris resigned as a corporate lawyer four months after founding Aspiring Solicitors to work full-time in the organisation.

We endeavour to achieve our goal by;

(i) providing free access, opportunity and assistance to students from underrepresented groups;

(ii) educating and informing the next generation of the legal profession about the importance of diversity; and

(iii) promoting and encouraging diversity from within the profession.

Aspiring Solicitors targets undergraduate and postgraduate aspiring solicitors, and offers:

o   One-to-one mock interviews over Skype

o   Preparation for an assessment centre

o   CV tips

o   Application strategy advice

o   Application or cover letter review

o   Advice on any element of your legal career or aspirations


We work with top city law firms, from Allen & Overy, Freshfields, Norton Rose Fulbright, Dentons, King & Wood Mallesons and loads more to offer our members exclusive and very easily attainable work experience or insight days. We've secured over 600 vacation schemes and training contracts for our members and organised numerous Open Days alongside law firms.

Aspiring Solicitors organises its yearly Commercial Awareness Competition, which helps you to prepare for interviews by building up on your commercial awareness. The deadline to participate in this year’s competition has now passed but you can have a look at what previous participants think about it here

Do consider applying for it next year!

Registration is free and only takes a couple of minutes. You can become an AS member here:

Durham University Careers Service

Durham University has an excellent Careers, Employability, and Enterprise Centre, with the aim of ensuring Durham graduates have the best opportunities in the job market. The centre supports all students, from first years trying to find internships, to graduates looking for further support from the university.

Research Your Career

Effective career research is a very important part of your career planning. It is necessary to help you realistically explore possible career pathways but also to think about what you need to do to reach your career goals. Career research will identify the potential barriers (e.g. qualifications, experience, skills, and qualities) that have to be negotiated as you pursue specific career goals. The earlier that you can identify your barriers to career progression the more prepared, and ultimately successful, you will be. For more information on how to research careers with the Careers Centre see here.


Employability Skills

Employability is an important concept to think about throughout your time at Durham. No matter what you want to do once you graduate, you will need to consider whether you have the skills, experience, and personal attributes that a future employer is looking for when hiring. Increasingly, employers are saying that a degree is not enough and that they are looking for students that can demonstrate a range of skills and show that they are 'work-ready'. At Durham, there are many ways to increase your employability. The best thing to start with is a Skills Audit to consider where you are now. For more information on how the Careers Centre can help with your employability skills see here.


Employers on Campus

Employers are always interested in Durham University students, for more information on how to make the most out of employer events and information on upcoming careers fairs see here.


Jobs & Work Experience

For more information on how the Career’s centre can help you perfect your applications and ensuring that you get the right jobs and work experience for you, see here.


The Information Room

The Information Room is the first place you will see when visiting the Careers Centre and it holds an array of useful resources to help with all aspects of your career planning.

One of their best resources is the friendly information team who are not only able to advise on and help you book appointments but are here to assist with your enquiries and point you in the direction of information that can help. They have range of take away literature, including leaflets about the services we offer plus the Durham Guide to Career Planning. The Information Room also stocks books that students may borrow using their campus card. We advise visiting the Information Room and/or speaking to a member of the information team before booking an appointment, as you may find the information provided gives more focus to your meeting with an adviser or may even fully answer your query without the need for an appointment. For further information of what students can find in the information room see here.


The Careers, Employability, and Enterprise Centre offer several types of appointments to students. For information on how to book an appointment see here.


Follow the links for more information about Career opportunities at Durham University or get in touch with the SHAPED Exec.

Local Government National Graduate Development Programme

How To Fast-Track Your Career In Local Government – Top Tips

By Lusi Manukyan

Having started on the National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) at South Tyneside Council in October 2015, I found myself thrown into the deep end, immersed into a completely new working culture and absolutely loving it! The programme has completely exceeded my expectations and helped me realise what an exciting place local government has become.

The NGDP is a two-year graduate development programme for the next generation of leaders and managers in local government. If you are you an innovative, ambitious, intelligent, and socially conscious individual, this programme is your opportunity to make a real difference. There are up to 120 places each year based in one of over 40 participating councils across England and Wales. And benefits include a starting salary of £24,174, a generous holiday entitlement, pension scheme and flexible approach to your work/life balance.

As and NGDP graduate, I love being part of a programme which values me, develops me, and where I get a real opportunity to make a difference to the people in my community. My host authority, South Tyneside Council, is an exciting place to work. It’s innovative, forward thinking, and very ambitious, despite being one of the hardest hit councils in the country.

I started out in Strategy and the Chief Executive’s office, which was a fantastic insight into the politics and inner workings of the Council. Very early on, I was given the responsibility for re-writing the Council’s five year Corporate Strategy, which allowed me to build closer relations with Heads of Service and managers from across the organisation. I also got a once in a life time opportunity to work on the development of one of our flagship projects, the Word, the newly opened National Centre for the Written Word, which has been a great experience.

Thanks to the NGDP, I feel that I am already a more resilient, well-rounded professional, with a broad knowledge of various service areas and expertise in leadership and management. I know that when I come out at the end of the programme, I will have a complete set of skills required to be a leader in any sector.

The programme opened its doors to the next cohort of applicants on 24th October 2016 and you have until 11 January 2017 to submit your application. Here are some key bits of advice that might help you in the process. You will find the key skills and behaviours NGDP expects you to demonstrate [in the brackets]:

    •    Apply! It might sound obvious, but in my year approximately 4,500 people started an application and only about 2,000 completed it. Without applying in the first place, you won’t get a chance to be part of this amazing experience. You have between now and 11th January 2016 to complete stage 1 of the process. [Drive for results]

    •    Prepare in advance. While the application process is not set to trip you up, it’s always best to know what’s ahead. Have a go at some of the free online numerical, verbal reasoning, and situational judgement tests – you will feel much more confident when you come round to doing them if you know what the format is likely to be. [Planning and organisation]

    •    Take your time to think about the responses for your video interview. You will have plenty of time to prepare your answer, but you might find it helpful to practice in advance by recording yourself and listening back, just to make sure. [Persuasive communication]

    •    When you’re in the assessment centre, don’t be afraid to be confident but remember to demonstrate your team-work skills too – it’s important to show that you are prepared to lead, but you don’t want to come across as cocky or patronising. [Working with others; Leadership potential]

    •    Make sure you research your council choices. After you’ve been accepted onto the programme, it’s all about finding the right fit between a candidate and a council. Being confident about your choices will give you another advantage. [Commitment to local government and the wider community]

    •    Before your interviews, thoroughly research the key challenges in local government and come up with innovative ways to address these – councils love to see that you are keen learn about them and not afraid to come up with solutions to difficult issues. [Analysis and problem solving]

    •    Think of real life examples of when you have done something for your community and the impact that this has made so you can share these during your interview. Write them down if you have to and revisit them to make sure they don’t slip your mind when you’re under pressure. [Commitment to local government and the wider community]
    •    Finally, think about why you want to go into local government and make sure you articulate this at every stage of the process. [Motivation for learning and personal resilience]

Apply now fast track your career in local government at Good luck!

For more advice or tips drop me a line on LinkedIn or send me a tweet @Lusi_Manukyan

If you have any questions about the application process read the ngdp FAQs on, send us a tweet @ngdp_LGA or email:

Durham University's Academic Skills Programme

Durham University boasts a strong Academic Skills Programme. It is run by the specialist academic skills department, often in conjunction with the English Language Centre, with the sole aim of supporting all undergraduate students in developing their academic writing, maths abilities, and general study skills. The programme can be useful to all undergraduate students; from first years who have just joined the uni, to final year students writing their dissertations.

For first years, or anyone else looking to identify their skill strengths and areas for development, the academic skills department has created a skills audit. This can be found in the ‘Employability and Skills’ section of DUO and is a useful tool to guide you towards the area of the Academic Skills Programme it would be most useful for you to access.


Academic skills workshops, of which there are a large variety, are open to any undergraduate student from any department, and you can book a place here. Run at both Durham and Queen’s Campus, the workshops are offered at various times, including lunchtimes and early evenings, and range in length from 50 minutes to 3 hours. The workshops include group work, individual exercises, and hand outs, giving you an opportunity to try out and discuss the skills explored. You can attend as few or as many as you need, but it is important to make best use of your time and think carefully about the academic skills you need to develop. It is a good idea to complete the skills audit mentioned above to identify your training and development needs!

If you can think of any specific academic skills related workshop you would like to attend and you cannot find it on the website, then get in touch with Hatfield’s SHAPED Exec. Already this term SHAPED has held events delivered by the English Language Centre that have been exclusive to Hatfield, including ‘Essay Writing for Law Students’ and ‘Dissertation Writing for the Social Sciences’. We are happy to liaise with the centre or the academic skills department to get you the help you need

Online Resources

The Academic Skills Programme section of the Durham University website contains a wealth of resources relating to almost every area of academic skill you can think of, from resources for improving your literacy skills to information about how to use Microsoft Excel. There are a large variety of notes, video lectures, and other resources, categorised according to topic, and they can be found here. If you are looking for information about how to reference, how to use graphical data, or even how to structure a paragraph, then this is the place to look!

One-to-One Consultation

The English Language Centre offers a free one-to-one consultation service available to all Durham students. Through this service you can meet with an English Language Centre tutor to discuss a particular piece of written work or a specific difficulty relating to any aspect of your language performance. It is possible to meet for a one-to-one consultation with a tutor a maximum of three times per academic term, including the Easter and Summer holiday, and each session lasts 45 minutes. If you would like to meet with the same tutor each time then just request this in the consultation booking form that can be found here.

The Academic Skills Programme doesn’t only provide one-to-one help with literature, there are maths, stats, and IT drop in sessions available too. More information about these can be found here.

Follow the links for more information, or, alternatively, get in touch with the SHAPED Exec.

Bright Network

We're Bright Network, and we're here to help you make the best career choices.

We founded Bright Network in 2008 with a simple mission, to create a free-to-join innovative network of the brightest students and connect them with the best career opportunities.

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