Business and management
Your career guide
The number of opportunities in business and management is anticipated to increase over the coming years, with businesses and organisations needing advice and support on a wide range of issues, including operational management, strategy and planning, human resources, financial management and information technologies.
Working within a management role can determine whether a company or organisation thrives or folds, which means that skills such as innovation, the ability to effectively manage resources and people and a good understanding of change management are highly desirable, particularly during a difficult economic climate.
Roles within the sector are varied and range from consultancy to recruitment, from business management to financial and risk analysis.
Where do I start?
Within the business and management sector you could be looking at a wide range of occupations. Prospects.ac.uk has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements and career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.
Job roles in this sector include (but are not restricted to):
- Business adviser
- Business analyst
- Business development manager
- Chartered management accountant
- Company secretary
- Corporate treasurer
- Customer service manager
- Financial manager
- Financial risk analyst
- Health service manager
- Insurance account manager
- IT consultant
- Management consultant
- Office manager
- Personal assistant
- Project manager
- Public affairs consultant
- Recruitment consultant
- Risk manager
As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.
- TARGETjobs provides information on relevant graduate jobs and schemes, internships and placements and specifically has careers advice on securing a graduate job in management, business, financial services and management consulting.
- Inside Careers provides an overview of graduate careers predominantly in the financial sector, but also includes a section on management consultancy. The site offers information on a wide range of opportunities, including graduate jobs, internships, placements, events and insights.
- Management Today is an online and print publication providing articles and live events based around selected streams, including ‘Your Career’, ‘Future Business’, ‘Leadership Lessons’ and ‘Entrepreneurs’.
- The Guardian business section provides the latest trends, news and opinions across the business sector, including economics, banking, retail, markets and the Eurozone.
- BBC Business offers up to date news and headlines, including market data and information on global companies and developments in the economy.
In order to pursue a role within the sector – be it within business management, management consultancy or a role linked to finance – gaining experience can be beneficial in helping you to gain the transferable skills that employers seek. If your course does not include a work placement opportunity, it will be advisable to seek some work experience in the field that interests you.
This could potentially include some part-time work within a business or within sales or retail. Developing admin skills and interpersonal skills, in addition to the ability to work within a fast-paced environment will be invaluable experience and will help to enhance your CV or application.
Competition in this sector, especially for Graduate Scheme opportunities, is fierce and relevant work experience could be the deciding factor when trying to secure a position. However, finding experience will take time and effort; employers receive many CVs and applications each week, so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through our website or attend the drop-in service offered throughout the year.
Work placements can provide you with an invaluable insight into working life and offer a unique opportunity to apply the industry knowledge you are learning as part of your studies. Placements will also enable you to gain transferable skills in the workplace, such as communication, teamwork and time management, in addition to finding out more about a specific job role or industry, including developing commercial awareness, which will lead to more informed decisions upon graduating.
On some degrees work placements are part of the programme, whilst on others you can choose to complete a placement as one of your modules. Many courses at the University of Portsmouth enable you to complete a year’s work placement or self-employment placement should you choose to.
Your first point of contact to arrange this will be your placement office in your Faculty.
An internship is usually a work experience opportunity that is offered for a fixed period or a limited amount of time. Internships tend to be undertaken by students and graduates who are looking to gain more relevant/industry specific skills and experience in their particular field.
These opportunities can be paid for a period of between one to four months and typically take place over the summer, with closing dates generally around January to March, but some can be earlier.
Searching for placement and internship opportunities
The websites below provide further information about placement and internship opportunities across business and management:
- MyCareer - the Careers and Employability Service's online jobs board can be used to search for internships, work experience and summer opportunities across sectors and locations.
- RateMyPlacement - offers information on business and consultancy work experience opportunities, including internships and placements.
- TARGETjobs - provides a specific section on different career sectors, with the ability to search for placement and internship opportunities in management consulting and management and business.
- Prospects - has its own search tool for work experience opportunities across sectors, including business, consulting and management.
- Milkround - provides a search tool for internships, placements and part-time jobs in business and management.
- Target Internships - work experience advice, internships and placements.
- InsideCareers - specialises in financial careers, but provides the opportunity to search for internships, placements and insights across career sectors, including business consultancy, business analysis and financial services.
- Step Recruitment - provider of paid student and graduate internships, placements and permanent opportunities in a range of business areas and other sectors.
Specifically interested in management consulting?
This area of work is increasingly popular amongst graduates, making it competitive to get into. Aside from strong academic credentials, you will need to sell, sell, sell yourself and your skills if you are to secure a place on a management consulting graduate scheme. This means that gaining experience in this area will be essential.
Find out more information about management consulting internship and placement opportunities at the following links:
- Prospects - discover business, consulting and management careers.
- All About Careers - explores options to help you gain experience in this field.
- RateMyPlacement - provides information about consulting internships, placements and work experience and an insight into the industry.
Getting involved in volunteering gives you the opportunity to develop employability skills and experience a variety of working environments to assist you in discovering the right career path for you. It provides the chance to network, meet new friends and boost your confidence.
Volunteering also enables you to gain practical experience and working examples to support your graduate applications. If you choose to commit a significant amount of time and impress the organisation during your volunteering, they may also provide you with a professional reference.
Volunteer for practical experience
Approaching local organisations, charities or community groups who would benefit from your skills is one way of gaining that all-important experience. The competencies developed will be invaluable and enhance any speculative applications you make.
The Careers and Employability Service offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank, which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. Similarly, you can access these opportunities through the paper-based bank located in the Careers and Employability Centre.
Examples of business-related/business support roles that the Volunteering Team have previously advertised and recruited for include:
- Volunteer Coordinator with Citizens Advice Portsmouth - managing volunteers, agreeing work roles, individual duties and working arrangements with each volunteer. Coordinating the induction programme and training.
- Reception Volunteer with Age UK Portsmouth - delivering excellent customer service to effectively support service users through providing general guidance and signposting individuals to relevant services and products.
- Funding Researcher with Portsmouth Foodbank - researching potential funding streams and compiling a report of the findings to present to the board of trustees with advice and suggestions on suitable opportunities to explore and apply for.
- Administration Volunteer with The Roberts Centre - assisting with a variety of administrative tasks, including data inputting, statistics collection and inputting and dealing with enquiries over the telephone.
- Workshop Quality Assessor Volunteer - monitoring the workshops delivered by the organisation, ensuring that the quality of the courses meet the required standards and preparing written updates to the manager of the programme.
If you have any questions regarding the volunteering opportunities available to you in Portsmouth then please contact the Volunteering Team on email email@example.com.
Student StartUp Team
Got a business idea? At the University of Portsmouth our Student StartUp Team team is available to support students with getting ideas off the ground or take an existing start-up to the next level. They offer expert advice and support, co-working space, networking opportunities and a whole host of useful resources.
They host and deliver regular enterprise courses, with workshops covering development of business ideas, finances and principles of sales and marketing.
If you have a question for the Student StartUp Team, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips for success when looking for experience
Finding the right opportunities
With a wide variety of potential business and management-related opportunities, the first challenge may be to narrow down your search and identify the options that best fit with your career goals. You may already have a clear idea of the type of organisation and position you would like to apply to, but if not, here are some key considerations to help you in your search:
- Deciding on the industry - the nature of business and management means that there’s huge scope in terms of the industry you could work in. Ask yourself - what industries are you most interested in? What companies or organisations are the key players in these industries? Are there any interesting niche or smaller companies in the field?
- Deciding on the function area or specialism - it will be important to consider what function or department you are most interested in, for instance, logistics, strategy or marketing? What industries or particular organisations are likely to offer you useful insights into these areas? Which companies offer experience in the departments you are interested in?
- Diversifying your search - if you are unable to secure experience in your preferred area of interest, you may need to consider widening your search to areas where you may still gain skills that are sought after in your target industry and role.
Use your networks
Utilise your personal networks to find out if anyone you already know in the business world can offer a work experience opportunity. When you are studying at university your network also extends to your tutors and other members of Faculty staff who may be researching in the areas that interest you. They may have opportunities or contacts that they are willing to share with you.
Use your initiative and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively - send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.
Create a positive online presence
Making the most of your experience
Once you have secured your work experience, it will be important to recognise that you will be working in a professional environment - your appearance and attitude will need to reflect this. Importantly, let your enthusiasm for the opportunity shine through and aim to get involved - a positive, ‘can do’ attitude will help you stand out.
Below are some ideas on how to impress the organisation whilst on your internship or placement:
- Maximise the variety of different experiences you will get whilst you’re there. Be sociable and get to know the different people within the organisation. Don’t be afraid to volunteer for more work if you see something that needs to be done and you’ve got time.
- Ask for feedback on your performance from an early stage. This will help you to identify any gaps in your skills-set and enable you to develop these whilst with the company.
- Recruiters will look for interns who can work as part of a team and get along with their colleagues - offer your support and assistance with tasks where you can.
- Utilise the opportunity to network — the experience will provide a great way to build your professional network. Before you start your work experience, be prepared - savvy networkers know who they are going to meet, so carry out some initial research on the organisation’s website.
- Use the professional networking site LinkedIn to connect with your co-workers, enabling you to stay in touch after your work experience has ended. The contacts you make can be a valuable resource when you are looking to source further experience or a job opportunity in the future.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make suggestions; take an active interest in the company and the sector to enable you to develop commercial awareness. This will involve you developing an understanding of what makes the organisation successful in the sector/market. Graduate employers are increasingly looking for this as a key attribute during the recruitment process.
Before you leave your work experience
Don’t forget that before your work experience opportunity comes to an end, you may want to do the following:
- Ask if the organisation/your manager will write you a reference to use for future applications.
- Ensure you have the contact details of colleagues who may act as mentors, sources of advice or may even help with finding employment opportunities in the future.
- Ask for feedback on your performance – this may include seeking your manager’s or colleagues’ perspective on what you need to do to further enhance your employability in order to be successful in your chosen area of work.
- Make sure you have clearly identified what you have gained from the work experience in terms of skills, experience and personal development. You could complete our Key Skills Audit to help you think about the different skill sets you have developed, for example, when you have worked with others, problem solving skills and work ready skills.
Finding a job
Due to the nature of the business sector with economic and strategic demands changing frequently, there are hundreds of different job roles available for graduates. However, the opportunities may be divided into two main areas – business management and consultancy.
Business managers can choose to focus on general management or to specialise in specific areas of an organisation. These may include, but are not limited to, marketing, strategic planning, information technology or human resources (HR). Some positions may concentrate on management of people, whilst others may be centred on project management. Roles are commonly available with most large companies and within the public sector.
Management consultants offer advice to organisations focusing on effective problem-solving and enhancing performance. Opportunities are likely to be within large companies or specific consultancy firms. These firms may be general, but may also offer specialist advice to companies in specific industries, such as finance, marketing, media, HR and public relations (PR).
Below is a list of useful websites to help you start your job search
- MyCareer - can be accessed through our website to search the latest vacancies, save job searches and set up job alerts.
- TARGETjobs - provides information on relevant graduate jobs and schemes, internships and placements and specifically has careers advice on securing a graduate job in consulting, management and business and financial management.
- Milkround - offers information on internships, placements, graduate jobs and schemes across the UK and worldwide, including opportunities in business and management, consultancy and strategy. The site also offers sector insights, videos, links and career event listings.
- Guardian Jobs - allows you to browse through a variety of finance, business management and consultant jobs. Tailor your search to meet your needs and interests and sign-up to receive regular job alerts.
- Jobsite - covers business and management graduate schemes across the UK.
- The Graduate Recruitment Consultancy - works with over 6000 local employers across Hampshire and the South Coast, offering a job match service unique to University of Portsmouth students.
- Beament Leslie Thomas - a niche, specialist recruitment company, widely recognised for their work in management consultancy and executive coaching.
Tips for finding a job
Keep your online job search flexible as some employers might use different titles to describe the same role.
Keep up to date with economic and business news and trends by following professional organisations on social media – this information might help you to identify opportunities to network and tap into the hidden job market.
Useful Twitter feeds
Check out the following Twitter feeds for news and information about current projects and to tap into the hidden jobs market.
- Institute for Leadership and Management
- McKinsey & Company
- Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- British Chambers of Commerce
- The CBI
- The Economist
Resources for professional development
Graduates in business and management are likely to engage in continuing professional development in the role they move into. Therefore you may wish to explore the professional development opportunities available to you. Professional qualifications, information and support are available at the following websites:
- The Chartered Management Institute is a professional body aiming to promote the highest standards in management and leadership excellence. The CMI offers practical qualifications for managers and leaders and the website outlines different opportunities, including courses and events.
- The Management Consultancies Association is the representative body for management consultancy firms in the UK. The site also offers news and opinion from those working in the business consultancy sector.
The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:
- Career options
- Further study
- CV and covering letters
- Application forms
- Job search
We have an online jobs board advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.
You can also access our services by calling or emailing us:
Email us: email@example.com
Phone us: +44 (0)2392 842684