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Alumni – been there, done that...




Welcome to the alumni network’s blog. I’m hoping to use this to keep you up to date with what we’re doing for you in the alumni office and what our alumni (ex Sussex students) are doing now. Did you know that Ian McEwan, author of Atonement, and Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl are both Sussex alumni? Not to mention BBC presenter Dermot Murnaghan, comedian Bob Mortimer and fashion director Tanya Sarne, founder of the label Ghost. We’ve got some really inspiring alumni and this year we want to include them more than ever in the Sussex community and campus activities.


This week, I arranged a talk with Dan Higgins, USSU comms officer, with two alumni working in the media; Peter Robinson, editor of and writer for NME and the Guardian, and Richard Innes, features editor of Zoo magazine. They outlined their careers so far to a room packed with students keen to learn what working in the media is ‘really’ like. We weren’t disappointed, discovering that good contacts and work experience are vital to a journalist, while, surprisingly, decent writing skills are only optional!


Building on this, the alumni network is organising Alumni Careers Week later this term (10-14 November), where you’ll get the chance to meet recent graduates and established alumni working in the media, as well as in business and law. We’re also putting on a talk with alumna (that’s a female graduate to you and me) and Channel 4 Secret Millionaire Gill Fielding and we're sponsoring a gig in the Cube with alumni bands Two Spot Gobi and The Fox Cubs.


Leaving uni seems like ages away, but we’re here to help you make the most of the fantastic Sussex network while you’re here and keep you in touch with your friends and classmates when you leave. After all, as Peter and Richard would tell you, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know…



Alumni Officer

Alumni Careers Week: stand out from the crowd!



Are you unsure what you want to do after university? Do you have some idea but want to know what doing your dream job is really like? Where do you get started? And how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd?


Stand out from the crowd!


Leaving uni may seem like ages away but it will come round faster than you think. So it’s a good idea to get your thinking cap on now about what you might want to do after you graduate. Maybe you have some idea but want to know what doing your dream job is really like, both the good stuff and the bad. Maybe you’ve got no idea and would like someone to talk to about how you can use your skills and make the most of what you’ve learned at Sussex. Or maybe you’re just wondering how to make yourself stand out from the crowd and get a job in the first place?


If you’re interested in working in Law, Business, Finance, the Media or Communications, then come along to Alumni Careers Week (10-14 November) and get some answers.


You’ll be able to chat to former Sussex students (alumni) working for companies like Barclays, BBC News and Eversheds, who can share their knowledge and expertise and get that all important insider information to help you take your first step on the career ladder.


The week will culminate with an inspiring talk from Channel 4 Secret Millionaire and Sussex alumna Gill Fielding and a gig with up-and-coming Sussex Alumni band Fox Cubs at The Cube.


The full events programme is listed below. Please RSVP for all events to including your course name and year. You do not need to RSVP for the USSU gig - tickets are available from the usual outlets.


Best wishes,



Alumni Officer


P.S. Why not get ready for the Alumni Careers Week events by attending CDEC’s Prepare for Employer Events session on Monday 27 October? See the CDEC website for details.



Events programme


Mon 10 November, Chowen Lecture Theatre, BSMS, 6 to 8pm

Business and Finance

Meet former students from companies like Barclays Capital and Natixis Investment Bank


Tuesday 11 November, Chichester Lecture Theatre, 6 to 8pm

Media, Press and Communications

Meet former students from companies like BBC News, The Daily Mail and Midnight Communications as well as the Director of Dr Who and the Co-Creator of Life on Mars


Tuesday 11 November, The Meeting House, 6 to 8pm


Meet both Lawyers and Barristers, including former students working at Clifford Chance, Eversheds and Garden Court Chambers

Plus: USSU Introducing… Fox Cubs, The Cube, 7.30pm to 1am

Head down to the Cube after Tuesday’s events for a special USSU gig to celebrate Alumni Careers Week. Sussex graduate Tim Baggot and friends formed Fox Cubs in July 2007, and since then have recorded live sessions for both Radio One and XFM and performed at Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds festivals.

With discounted entry if you attend the careers talks beforehand.


Thursday 13 November, Chowen Lecture Theatre, BSMS, 6 to 8pm

Gill Fielding: Secret Millionaire

Hear about Gill's inspiring journey from Sussex student to business woman to philanthropist, culminating in her appearance on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire last year. Gill will be sharing her thoughts and insights on how to make yourself distinctive to potential employers and will be giving an inspirational talk on how everyone has the possibility to be wealthy.

A lovely walk in the welsh countryside.... NOT!!



After a shaky, very slow start, the Careers CTGF team are going from strength to strength...further details will follow separately, but just wanted to mention a personal achievemen (as part of CTGF) which I'm particularly proud of....

Last weekend I climbed Pen y Fan (pronounced /pɛn.ə.ˈvan/), in the Brecon Beacons... it's  the highest peak in South Wales and southern Britain - 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level and it was the toughest walk I've ever done!!  The main issue was the weather - it was raining when we started (we did a tough ascent up from Neuadd Reservoir for anyone who's been there) and it just got worse and worse - horizontal rain, gale force winds, and fog - a marvellous experience!!  The views are supposed to be spectacular, but we'll never know!!  After almost 5 hours of walking, we were all very relieved to get back to the car (just as lots of mountain rescue and ambulances sped up the road to rescue a walker whom, we later learnt, had badly injured his leg)....Note to self - don't scrimp on waterproof clothing, SportsDirect isn't know for its quality - was rather damp at the end to say the least !!- also learn how to use a compass (we were lucky to find a helpful man on the top of Pen y Fan who pointed out our path down!!) - otherwise we could have been in that ambulance!!.

Anyway... amazingly I'm now fired up to climb more mountains (I love the sense of achievement) and am planning a trip to the Lake District next!  Onwards and upwards!! 

Here we are looking mildly hysterical (I'm the one looking very hysterical, 2nd from the left!!)

Pen y Fan

Careers - what's been occurring last week!



We're still going for it in Careers and are making a big push for extra and more stuff in this last week. Tongue Out We've done:

Walking - longer and more dog walks; an 8 miler in the beautiful Hampshire countryside; and a long walk in the Welsh borders

Tennis - following our team coach with Simon a few weeks ago, 4 team members were so smitten ..... with the tennis!! (and perhaps also with the coach?!) Wink... that they signed up for Simon's weekly coaching session and have already enjoyed 2 hours of coaching (and today's in the rain!).  Other team members continue to play energetic tennis both socially and in club matches.

Cycling - have put clothes in the wardrobe and started using the exercise bike for its proper purpose; two other team members have done a 20 miler and a 25 miler this weekend; and there's been lots more cycling to work (when's Chris Wadey going to give us our rebates on parking fees??)

Running - we've done this as well - including a night run in Bexhill and a 6 k training run (for Brighton Half marathon)

new things - including: Zumba (once only, discovered a complete lack of coordination, although enjoyed it at the back doing my own thing to the rather good music!); Zip wire in wales (fab!); Dirty Dancing and Davina DVDs (hopefully in the privacy of their sitting rooms!!); best of all, one member's signed up for a 6 week sea rowing course (let's hope it's not too choppy - her only previous rowing experience was in a canal!!)

Other noteworthy things - have included: Yoga, not using the car for a whole 5 days (ditto above parking comment!)

Eating and Drinking - I'd like to say the whole team has cut back on their alcohol consumption (but not on Fridays and Saturdays!); one team member has confessed to drinking a green smoothie every day (yuk!); and 2 team members are bravely persevering with the 5:2 diet; finally.... "no comment on cutting down on the chocolate…………."


Onwards and upwards toward the last few days of CTGF!



Make the most of LinkedIn



Social media that works for you

transparent-Linkedin-logo-iconIt might be that you’ve just graduated or that the idea of approaching your final year is making you think about what’s going to come next.   Or maybe you’re considering graduate opportunities, summer internships and doing what you can to begin shaping your post-university career.  You might be well-versed with Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, but LinkedIn may just be hovering around in your peripheral vision. Perhaps you’ve set up a profile already, but it’s lying dormant and underused.  Because let’s face it, LinkedIn is many things, but it’s not much fun.  It’s not where you go to see a string of photos of friends embarrassing themselves and each other, or to pass round the latest and greatest viral video.

Looking through your homepage on LinkedIn, (if you’re not doing it right, that is) is like the worst staff meeting EVER.  It’s full of professional backpatting, and the most flagrant and obtuse display of credentials and achievements that you can hope to thumb through during a toilet break.  But used well, LinkedIn can really become a very useful and active partner in the shaping of your future career.  Now that most companies have a very active LinkedIn presence (it’s the third most visited social media network, after Facebook and Twitter) it’s a great place to focus on your interests in a way that could hook you up with future employers.

What’s it for?

For a moment let’s pretend you’ve not heard of LinkedIn at all yet.  It’s basically Facebook but it operates in a purely professional realm.  It puts the emphasis on the networking of the social network; it’s about making professional contacts and reinforcing those you’ve already made.  It’s to see who your existing contacts know and who they might be able to introduce you to, and slowly but surely, it’s becoming a really useful, and potentially quite exciting, tool for job hunting.  Many companies are advertising positions on LinkedIn and you can apply to these directly through your profile.  Not only that, but recruitment agencies and headhunters are on the prowl for people who fit their spec for vacancies.  If you use your LinkedIn profile well, the chances are your next job may just come to you.

Your Profile

Your profile isn’t just your profile; it’s your online CV.  Present it well, as you’d like to put yourself across to future employers.  This doesn’t mean be drab and serious – nobody wants to have dull colleagues – but it’s not the best place for wacky profile shots.  Like the picture, the tenor of your profile should be professional, for the most part, but also engaging.

One recently added feature called Resume Builder takes all the information from your profile and, using one of several available templates, turns it into a PDF version of a CV.  How good is that?!  I for one hate the constant CV updating, the writing in of dates and responsibilities and grades, and to have something which does it for me is a dream come true.  However, it’s not perfect yet. Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 13.34.08 I think it’s a shame that you can put things like interests, causes and volunteer experience on your LinkedIn profile but these don’t (at the moment) show up on the CV.  Also, it’s very literal in the translation of your profile to a CV so make sure you check the formatting thoroughly.  I’m not sure that this tool is quite well developed enough to *completely* make CV-writing a thing of the past, but with a few tweaks it may well be.  Basically, what I’m saying is don’t rely on it 100% just yet, but keep checking back for updates.

Active profiles will attract the most attention, but remember to keep any posts you make relevant to your fields of interest.  With the feed becoming more similar to your standard Facebook view with our trusted friends “like,” “comment” and “share” accompanying each post, people are getting frowned upon for sharing more trivial posts, those that are more suitable for a Facebook feed and that detract from the professional focus of the site.  To post a cheesy and emotive career-centric motivational quote may just make the grade, but to post statuses on evening-time escapades and videos of babies giggling … well, it’s just not good LinkedIn etiquette.

Putting yourself out there

The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can really interact with and immerse yourself in the field of employment that you’d like to move into.  You want to work in TV?  Well, there are many ways on LinkedIn of connecting with people who already do.

Whilst some people may allow you to “connect” with them without , others you may be able to “follow” instead.  There is nothing stopping you – depending on their account settings – from directly contacting potential employers or people who you think might be a good connection for you – but be careful as LinkedIn doesn’t approve of people being too trigger-happy with the connect button.  You’ve only got a limited number (albeit 5000) of times you can connect with people, and you’re encouraged to only connect with people you actually know… but you can try circumnavigating this with a polite message about your interest and the reason for your connect request.

Another way to connect with people is to find and join groups that are relevant to your targeted area; again, using TV as an example, you can search in the Groups section for TV or Television, or be more specific such as TV editing, TV production and so on.  There will be a number of groups that are designated as only for established professionals, so if that’s not you yet, use the tools to refine the search to open groups only.  There’s no harm done by requesting to join the closed groups, though.  You’ll also find in most groups that there’s some sort of thread on which those who are happy to make new connections can say so, providing an arena for new, off-piste connections.

Finger on the pulse …

Influencers Q1_2014Yet another way to immerse yourself in the professional world of your potential future peers is to use the section of LinkedIn that’s called Pulse, which is currently nestled under the “Interests” tab.  Pulse is a publishing platform that’s a relatively new feature, and it acts simultaneously as a place to blog and get your own thoughts and ideas published as well as reading a vast array of articles written by other LinkedIn members in addition to articles from online news sites.  You can tailor your Pulse feed to your interests by choosing relevant topics to follow.  LinkedIn have their own selected board of “InFluencers” who used to be the only LinkedIn members who could contribute to this section of the site, but now it’s open to anyone and it’s a really great tool to get to grips with.  By posting thoughtful pieces of writing on Pulse, you exponentially increase your reach on LinkedIn; you can, again, really increase the attention you get from others in your field of interest.  And this works – a friend of mine has recently started publishing short articles and as a result, she’s actually getting more recruiters contacting her regarding potential employment opportunities.

Using LinkedIn well really is about being a go-getter – the contacts are out there and this network brings them all much, much closer.  It’s a great time to sign up as well, as LinkedIn is developing new features all the time and amongst the current 350 million members, you’re bound to make some great new links and you could find your life as a graduate gets off to a great start.

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