I probably sound like a broken record at this point but last Thursday was my first Thursday “off” from posting blogs after 53 weeks! You would think I might have decided to take it easy now that I will only be posting fortnightly but oh no, I instead did my first ever careers talk. Through LinkedIn, I was able to organise a presentation for the University of Birmingham Investment society. It was actually quite a pinch me moment that I was deemed interesting enough to do one of these. Find out what went on below!
Note: You can access the Zoom recording of the full careers talk here.
Preparation for the Careers Talk
So first things first, preparation. I was told I would be the only speaker during a 7-8pm slot. What this meant is that I would have to talk for at least 35 minutes (yes, 35 minutes!!) and leave time for a Q&A session at the end too. I know I can talk but my initial thought was that 35 minutes is a very long time for someone to talk about themselves for.
Over a week before the careers talk, I had a call with a couple of the students who were both organising and attending the talk. The aim of this call was to cover the logistics but also to gauge what exactly I should talk about.
Here are a few of the suggestions:
- Explaining how you can work at a Big 4 firm and still have a life
- Give details of my background and whether you need a certain degree to get into an ACA graduate scheme
- Share how I got to where I am today as well as details of my book and blog
- Explain the differences between difference roles such as accounting, audit, actuary
- Let students know they can have fun and still do well
Using the above information, I had to put together a presentation that would be engaging enough for at least 35 minutes. My first attempt was actually pretty spot on and when I rehearsed I was easily talking for 35-40 minutes.
Career Talk Topics
The point of a careers talk is of course basically about my career so far. I did not want to go on and on focusing solely on one area and lose interest of those attending early on. This is because the university students attending shared a common interest of the society but not their chosen career paths. I therefore decided to give snippets of the different roles I have held. These include:
- IBM Industrial Placement as a business analyst
- Teach First Insight Programme
- Secondary school Maths teacher
- Big 4 audit graduate scheme
Throughout the whole presentation, I really wanted to make sure it was relatable and adding value to those listening. I therefore ensured to touch on transferrable skills and the importance of networking constantly.
One thing I was also not shy of was stating my failures. This is something I was very open and honest about in this talk as I did not want to paint this ‘perfect’ picture. I did even mention failing to secure a secondment recently. It was actually only until I put this presentation together that I truly realised how many setbacks I have actually had!
In terms of the structure, I thought it would be important to only talk about my career during/post university given the target audience. I really did want to connect with the audience and this is why I then touched on my university experience and background at the end. I wanted to let students know that it is completely acceptable not to have things figured out early on and to strive for balance in their lives. The presentation ended with some friendly advice too.
My Reflection of the Careers Talk
Considering I have not presented in a long time, I was quite apprehensive about how the talk would go. I did a few run throughs and as it is a talk about my career it really was all off the cuff. My thoughts were that if I could present day in, day out to secondary school students who often did not want to learn Maths, this should be more of a breeze!
I wanted to be my natural self and for this reason I wore clothes I would be comfortable in rather than wearing smart clothing to embody that of a professional. In other words, I was trying to still look young.
All in all, I do think the talk went fairly well. I definitely could have engaged more with those who took the time to dial in on Zoom but it is a lesson for next time. I did also get quite a dry mouth from not drinking water during the presentation so again, I really should take the time for a sip.
Before arriving for the talk, I had not asked how many people I should expect. Given it was a dark winter evening with Covid-19 back on the rise I did not expect many people at all. However, there was quite a decent turnout with around seven individuals in person and three on Zoom. I did also think the Q&A might be fairly quiet but a fair few questions did come through.
Here is some feedback following the presentation that I am thrilled with:
“Hi jag thank you so much for coming in today I appreciate it so so so much and I loved your talk especially how honest you was it was so refreshing to see and so inspiring. You should be really proud of yourself because you can clearly tell how hard you work ! Was really interesting hearing about your journey and I will definitely be taking you annual leave advice!”
My boyfriend did also say he was impressed and that I am a very good presenter. I will take it!
Summary – What’s Next?
The purpose of this article is also to share that this careers talk really did ignite a small passion within as I loved doing it. If anyone can learn anything from my experience so far then I would be more than happy to help. If you are interested in hearing the presentation, you can download the Zoom recording here.
If you are currently a university student or someone who thinks it could be beneficial for me to present something similar elsewhere feel free to reach out, Hopefully I will be doing a few more of these in the future.