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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