Meet The Cardiff Award Students!

November 5th, 2012 by

The Cardiff Award provides Cardiff University students with an opportunity to gain official recognition for the learning acquired via extra curricular activities. It aims to improve participants’ professionalism and employability, to increase self-awareness of their skills and enable them to articulate these effectively to future recruiters. The Award will complement and enhance learners’ university experience and better equip them for graduate employment.

Over the coming months you will see a serious of posts from students who are involved in the award detailing their experience following it’s initial launch. You can meet them here along with the Cardiff Award Manager.


Sam Reid


“My name is Sam and I am a Postgraduate student studying an MA in International Public Relations and Global Communications Management, a mentor for the Cardiff Award and on the Award myself. I studied my Undergraduate degree in Law and French at Cardiff Uni. Between studying my Undergrad and Postgrad I was Cardiff Students’ Union’s Education and University Affairs Officer for a year, during which I helped the Cardiff Award Team develop the award for this year’s intake. In my spare time, when I’m not studying for my Masters or doing work for the Cardiff Award, I campaign with the National Union of Students as the second Welsh Representative on their National Executive Committee, I enjoy catching up and going out with friends and I am a huge music fan. Doing the Award as one of the only Postgrads to have done it is going to be a challenge, but follow my blog posts throughout the year to see how I am getting on!”


Eleanor Halsey


“Hi! My name is Eleanor and I am a second year undergraduate studying English Language at Cardiff University. I applied for the Cardiff Award because I liked the recognition it offers participants for their extracurricular activities. I was also interested in the benefits the scheme offers in terms of future employability. I am excited to be taking part in the Cardiff Award and am looking forwards to writing blogs documenting my experiences throughout the year. I hope that you will enjoy reading them too!



Marc Falconer


“Hi, I’m Marc, and I’m in my second year of studying French & German. I applied to do the Cardiff Award because let’s face it, a good job on leaving uni is getting increasingly harder to find these days and the Award seems to be the perfect way of gearing me up for the world of graduate employment. Outside of lectures, I enjoy running, cooking and playing my guitar.  I look forward to sharing my experiences with you!”




Andy Love


“Hi I’m Andy – a second year Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University (I’m a mature student too!).  I’m seeking opportunities to stand out from the usual University student. I joined the Cardiff Award with aspirations to improve my professional skills.  I am trying to build a great CV so I can prove that I have gained necessary employment skills during my studies. The Award can provide me with that through their certificate, giving me a differential over my peers leaving university with little professional experience.”



Kath Foot


“Hi I’m Kath and I am the Cardiff Award Manager, I have been working at Careers and Employability for 11 years, helping students find and gain work experience! I now run the Cardiff Award, it’s a great programme and something I am really proud to be a part of.  I look forward to sharing my experiences with you…”


The Cardiff Award- First Impressions by Andy Love

November 2nd, 2012 by

Today’s post is a guest post from Cardiff Award student Andy Love. This is Andy’s first impressions of the Cardiff Award.

The Cardiff Award so far…

After what it seemed like a long wait, the Cardiff Award was finally starting. We were briefed about our first compulsory activity – an introduction to the Award and what it planned to achieve. My first imminent worry was the dress code. As I prefer to dress casually I asked Kathryn Foot what we were supposed to wear, and I was surprised when she said that a nice t-shirt and jeans would be okay (“smart-casual”, this was great as it made me feel more relaxed). Upon arrival, the Award Staff were quite prepared, with paperwork ready for those who forgot their forms!   We also were given a nice goody-bag with pens,a water bottle for Dwr Cymru,  a nice notebook, some sponsor leaflets telling us about graduate jobs and lemon sweets by Ernst & Young!

We were then guided on all the procedures relating to the Award which assisted my anxiety on how the whole process would work.  There were previous Award students presenting offering advice, some nice words from Ernst & Young, and then an opportunity to meet the many of the sponsors afterwards.

“The following day, I had my first Student Development Skills session. The SDS classes are meant to help students develop professional skills during their studies. Some are compulsory through the award, and some are not but will get you new certifications in different areas after they are all completed.. The time flew by and we had fun during training! There were some exercises that allowed me to notice how people can solve the same problem in different ways, which I know will be helpful for all kinds of situations.   During one of our conversations, the group of people I was working with mentioned that just like me – they had decided to go for all other certifications as well.

Overall it doesn’t seem like the Award will be particularly difficult, but at the same time it will probably take time and practice. I am dreading the numeracy test, as I have always struggled with numbers, I’ll let you know how I get on!

The Cardiff Award – First Impressions by Eleanor Halsey

October 23rd, 2012 by

Today’s post is a guest post from Eleanor Halsey. Eleanor is participating in the Cardiff Award this year and gives her account of the Award launch and her thoughts on employability from a student perspective.


Hello, it is Eleanor here!

The Cardiff Award launched on Monday the 8th of October 2012 with an Introductory Session. This session involved several different speakers giving ‘awardees’ a clear sense of what the Cardiff Award entails. The speakers all emphasised that completing the Award is a truly worthwhile experience. In my opinion, this viewpoint seemed especially convincing coming from the representatives from Ernst & Young due to their real world standing as a graduate recruiter. Other memorable speakers, from the Student Development Service and Union, made the audience aware of the wide variety of opportunities for self development available throughout the University.

An element of the session that I found extremely useful was the Endsleigh skills table. This table let me reflect on what skills I have accumulated from jobs I have held in the past. It also highlighted the areas which I need to focus on in order to get the most rounded wealth of experiences possible in order to serve me best in my graduate job hunt. I also really enjoyed getting to know my fellow ‘awardees’ at the subsequent networking event. Below is a photo from the session. I have circled myself in red!

I would like to move now to a major focus of the Cardiff Award: employability. More specifically I would like to talk about making a good first impression to potential employers. Research shows that people form an opinion of someone in one-tenth of a second. Several sponsors and potential employers attended the launch event and therefore ‘awardees’  were encouraged to dress in accordance with a ‘smart casual’ dress code so as to make an appropriate first impression. I was not sure exactly how smart or casual to be. In the end I decided that a ‘the smarter, the better’ approach couldn’t fail me. I have attached a photo below so that you can see the outfit that I decided on. I really felt the benefit of dressing more formally for the evening. It made me feel as if I was in the right frame of mind to think and act professionally when talking to employers at the networking event.

That is all from me for now!

A Career At A Fashion Magazine

October 15th, 2012 by

Today we have a guest post by Sarah Oxley on how to get a career with a fashion magazine. Sarah is a writer from Leeds, who is currently working on an online marketing campaign on behalf of ASOS, online fashion retailer and trend setters.

With a BA in creative writing from Bradford, Sarah has been an avid fashion fan since she was young, and is very keen on the new Baroque fashion styles.


Becoming a Fashion Journalist

Breaking into the fashion world is tough. Whether you want to be a designer or model, it’s not an easy business. Breaking into the world of journalism is a tough nut, too. So combining the two as your career goal is quite a steep challenge, but a challenge worth taking on, if you’re truly passionate about fashion and writing.

To help you face this challenge, here are some tips on becoming a fashion journalist.

Hone Your Writing

You know you can write, but you’ll need to show the world that you can. A first step for this is starting a fashion blog. This way you can show off your style and passion for fashion, as well as your writing skills. Not every post needs to be a fashion article or review, some can simply be images you like or which inspire you, but remember to use this blog as a stepping stone for more opportunities. Personal fashion and writing style is a must feature on the blog, as that’s what your promoting through the site, but personal stories should be kept off this blog.

Your blog will need time to grow and gain a following. Spread the word about your blog to friends and family, and remember to use social networks like Twitter to announce when there’s been an update. Posts and updates must be done on a regular basis. Daily is ideal, but weekly works, too.

Aside from a blog, you can also hone your writing by starting a writing portfolio. Magazines are often looking for freelance writers; and although places like Vogue are unlikely to give you a shot at the beginning, there are some smaller, independent fashion magazines which will. Get in touch and see what you can find.

Don’t forget about your resources and opportunities at university. Cardiff has Gair rhydd, an award winning tabloid. Approach your students’ tabloid with your writing and see if you can be a part of it. Becoming an exec at this newspaper will give you experience and skills relevant for your later career.

Hone Your Knowledge

Your knowledge is your greatest asset when standing out in the crowd, so make sure it’s at its best. This means knowing the industry. Research the big magazines like Grazia, Glamour and Vogue, then look up the designers in these magazines, which you liked.

Take a look at smaller magazines, as well as online only resources, such as style news by ASOS, which focuses on styles from ASOS fans and the ASOS community. Join fashion networks and online communities, and be part of the conversation. You can learn from others, whilst sharing your own knowledge.

Although the emphasis of fashion is on the new, be aware of the old, too. A lot of collections and shows have been inspired by the past, so it’s important to know what has gone before and how this can be modernised. During this research, you’ll notice the impact of politics and society on fashion, as well as vice versa. A good general knowledge base is important for you to break into the world of fashion and for your journalistic career.

You’ll gain a lot of knowledge through internships, and these are expected of you if you want to get into fashion. The internship doesn’t have to be with a big name magazine (although if you can get it, great), as you can learn a lot from any magazine experience. Just like your tactic of distributing your writing, don’t dismiss the independent magazines, as smaller often means more responsibility.

Key to a successful internship is your attitude. You’ll likely to have stressful days, not so stressful days, big tasks and little tasks like making tea. No matter the task, make sure you do it with a smile. Attitudes are often what colleagues notice most, and a positive one gets you further than a negative or indifferent one.

Hone Your Network

The phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” isn’t completely true, but it is partially true. If you have the knowledge and know the people, then you’re on the right track to success. You need a network of people in the fashion and magazine business to help you get started with your career, and the only way to get these people is to meet them.

Your first networking event will be intimidating, and your second or third might still have you on edge, but they’ll be worth it in the long run. Prepare yourself before going to an event by knowing who will be there, who you want to talk to, and what you could talk to them about. Include some industry and small talk topics.

Remember not to ask for favours straight away. These events are about meeting people and building relationships. If appropriate, then favours can come later.

Also use this opportunity to show off your fashion sense. Fashion journalists are expected to dress according to their fashion likes, so don’t turn up to an event in jeans or a suit. Dress professionally, but mix this up with some colourful accessories, which are on trend with the styles you admire. For example, you can pull off a white suit with a sky blue blouse, or a printed maxi dress with a smart blazer. Dress to impress every chance you get to show that you know the industry.

  Post by Guest Blooger  Sarah Oxley on behalf of ASOS, online fashion resource for style news, and retailer for maxi dresses, suits and blouses.



Brain’s Placement is a Success

October 8th, 2012 by

Today’s post is a guest article by Danny Donovan who has just finished a GO Wales Placement with Brains.


I decided to apply for a GO Wales placement because I felt the structure of the programme best suited my skills and experience as an entry level prospective employee, whilst allowing me the flexibility to learn on the job too.  Moreover, the process of searching and applying on the website was clear and simple to use – making it a lot easier to find the relevant opportunity for professional development.

Clarity and fairness were crucial components of my decision to apply; it was extremely clear from the outset what would be expected of me at the company, as opposed to feeling swamped and confused by most other full time positions as advertised on recruitment search engines.

My project encapsulated certain desired outcomes which were identified prior to me applying, and elaborated on during my induction meeting with the manager I worked under, on the very first day. I worked between brand, and retail marketing and my role was to support the press and PR team in keeping the company’s high profile by the implementation of an external relations strategy via direct contact with Welsh and National media. My day-to-day activities included drafting and distributing press releases; feature writing; supporting internal communications; website and social media support.

During my project I aimed to improve the flow of information, both internally and externally, generate new ideas to increase or improve the profile of the company, and to maximise good news opportunities and publicity throughout the business.

Whilst there are many, a particular highlight of my placement was the success of an internal newsletter I designed, produced, and edited.  The aim of ‘Brains News’ was to develop a method of internal communications to highlight the good work going on at Brains, and circulate the information around head office and the managed pub estate. The news stories were collated into an internal newsletter which helped to spread good news, and highlight relevant employee newsworthy content for press and social media.  The aim of the newsletter was to maximise publicity for Brains by grasping good news opportunities as they arise from inside the business, and to improve the flow of information internally.

It brought back great community stories and charity fundraising going on around the pub estate, which in turn highlighted opportunities for external news content to be aimed at local press and our website.  Interest from the South Wales Echo, South Evening Post, and websites like, brought a lot of coverage for the brilliant efforts made by the Brains pub community.

The successful implementation of Brains News is represented in the excellent media coverage of a bar manager’s personal story about his charity fundraising.

After the placement I am travelling to Germany, where I aim to pursue a career in international public relations.

The Go Wales placement has been a crucial part of my professional development since leaving University in pursuit of my dream career.  The co-ordination and support from the team ensured I was adequately prepared prior to starting, and looked after during the course of the placement.  The organisation of the placement encouraged me to work proactively, and make the most of the experience.   I was always aware that the resources and support were available from the team, and I felt assured in the knowledge that their efforts were always concentrated towards getting me to where I am today.


You can read some of Danny’s work here:

Fundraisers go the distance for charity

Brains’ launches new charity beer


  Post by Guest blogger- Danny Donovan


Introducing the Cardiff Award…

September 18th, 2012 by

I’ve not written a blog before, but in the spirit of the Cardiff Award (where participants are expected to get involved in new experiences, develop new skills and build their confidence), I thought as Award Manager I should lead by example and give it a go!

For those of you unaware of the Award it’s the University’s employability award.  It rewards students involved in extra-curricular activities and develops participants’ professionalism, self-confidence and self awareness.  It also builds transferable skills and ultimately makes students more employable!  The Award requires those involved to undertake 70 hours of extra-curricular activities.  In addition, students attend a series of employer-led skills sessions, complete a numeracy test and submit a CV and application form at the end of the process.  Not only that, participants must also deliver a presentation on their learning to an Employer panel!  It’s hard work but hugely rewarding.

The Award is highly regarded by industry; prestigious sponsors include Ernst and Young, Rate My Placement, Endsleigh Insurance, Cardiff Council, Dwr Cymru, Champions, Microsoft, Petersens PR, E-Academy and AIESEC Cardiff.  We also work in partnership with the Student Union and could not run it without them.

To introduce the Award team:

I’m Kathryn Foot, the Award Manager.  I have developed this programme and now manage it.  I have been working in the Careers Service for a long time – 11 years on October 15th to be exact!  I haven’t always worked on the Award, I was the University’s Work Experience Adviser for 7 years and placed students into small businesses prior to that.  Pre-Cardiff University I worked for Asda, I was accepted onto their graduate scheme in the summer of ’97 after graduating from Cardiff University – as you can see I have not strayed far. At Asda I worked in HR, based in the Head Office in Leeds; I also worked in just about every store in South East Wales, sometimes venturing towards the West when asked.  But that was a long time ago, I now live and breathe employability and put every effort into making the Cardiff Award the best employability Award in Higher Education and ensuring the students make the most of this unique opportunity.

My working partner is Helen Lloyd.  Helen is the Award Administrator and another long serving Careers and Employability employee.  Without Helen the University would not have the Award!  I am sure she dreams about Award paperwork, Campus Groups and Learning Central.

This year we run the Award programme with nearly 170 students and I am really looking forward to delivering this unique programme and meeting the new cohort!.

The students from last year’s pilot have been busy completing the evaluation survey and have provided brilliant feedback, hugely constructive and very positive!  100% would recommend the Award to peers!  75% of those who found vocational work experience felt the Award assisted them in their success.  Furthermore, quote after quote stated how the Award developed skills, confidence, opened new social circles, provided new opportunities, presented networking opportunities with employers – I could go on.  Their comments have helped to shape this year’s programme.

Applications for the Award 2013-2014 open in October so if this interests you it might be worth checking out our regular blogs for updates and information.  This year we have 5 participants blogging about their experiences.  You will be introduced to them in October, once the programme is underway.

That’s it for today!  I look forward to speaking to you all again very soon…


The Cardiff Award



   Post By Kathryn Foot- Award Manager

Welcome to our new site!

July 6th, 2012 by

This is a big day for us – we have finally launched our new site, complete with blog, online calendar, online booking and an enormous careers resource.  Our aim is that students, postgraduates and recent graduates of Cardiff University can look on here and find practically everything they need to get them started in their career search.

Our main site gives you a description of our services and enables you to book appointments and events.  You will also find this section useful if you are a prospective student, wondering what Careers & Employability will do to help you throughout your time at Cardiff.

Career Central contains all of our resources and is for Cardiff students, postgraduates and recent graduates only.  There are questionnaires, quizzes, videos and downloadable material and masses of information and advice.  We’ve tested Career Central out with students and staff and it is unanimous – this site is amazing!

But don’t just listen to us.  Try it out for yourselves.