REACH: Supporting students facing barriers to employment
Here you will find information for people who feel they may be facing extra challenges in getting where they want to be when they graduate including social background, disability, age, gender, gender identity, race, religion, criminal convictions and sexual orientation.
We hope you will get some inspiration as well as useful information and support related to your career. Whether you want to become a female barrister, persuade employers that a mature candidate is just as good as a 21 year old, deal with a disability, or access opportunities geared towards those from a BME background we hope you will find something to support you on your way.
Our blog is bursting with advice to help you with barriers to employment.
A collection of stories and case studies from students, graduates, employers and professionals to inspire, guide and motivate you in overcoming your barriers to employment.
Who can support you
Your Careers Service is an invaluable source of support from career planning to checking CVs. They are all trained in equal opportunities and work with all students to help them get where they want to be. Equality and Disability Services also provide support, particularly for those with disabilities and are often able to provide extra support, from funding applications on your behalf to tools that make everyday life easier. This page provides links for University of London students to their Careers Services and Disability Offices.
Finding a mentor
Mentoring can be a powerful tool to provide support and direction in your career. Career mentors are usually people who are already working in the job you aspire to and can give you advice and feedback. Mentoring can be found through formal mentoring schemes and we have listed some below. You can also choose to take a proactive approach by doing some research and writing to organisations and individuals that you think would make good mentors.
The latter option can seem daunting, but with a bit of research you can find the employers that are diversity friendly or use your network to find suitable contacts. You could get started by picking up one of the many diversity publications in your Careers Service that include employer advertisements. You can then talk through your approach with a Careers Consultant and work together to write a letter or email.
A selection of some of the formal mentoring schemes available:
Diversify from the Museum Association
The Museums Association's Diversify scheme makes museum careers more accessible to ethnic minorities and deaf or disabled people who are under-represented in this sector.
Legal Gateway Scheme from BLD
BLD highlight and promote diversity in Law.
Provides hundreds of outstanding undergraduate students from under-represented ethnic minority backgrounds the unique opportunity to gain summer internships at the most prestigious investment banks and corporate law firms in the UK. SEO London also provides students with extensive training, mentoring and networking with experienced professionals throughout the industry. Since its establishment in 2000, more than 80% of SEO interns have gone on to secure full-time graduate positions at our partner firms.
Windsor Fellowship for BME students
Highly regarded organisation supporting talent including internships and the Leadership Programme for Undergraduates which is designed for Black, Asian and minority ethnic undergraduates who have already exhibited talent and potential.
Online mentoring scheme. Find a mentor through their website and lots of other supporting information too.
Deciding when and how to disclose your set of circumstances is a very personal decision. Many of the large employers have realised that a diverse group of employees creates a stronger company and provides a better service to customers. They are therefore providing diversity related events, opportunities and targeted advertising to make sure that you think of applying to them. For this reason it can be an extremely positive experience to be open about the challenges you feel you are facing as it makes you eligible for opportunities that are designed with you in mind. It can also mean that you access more support, for example if you tell your university disability office you can find funding, tutoring and support.
Some people choose not to disclose their personal circumstances until they believe it is necessary to the application itself, e.g. if they need to ensure that the venue for the interview is accessible to them. Do remember that if you haven’t disclosed your needs in advance that you cannot expect special arrangements, access etc to be put into place at, for example, an interview or indeed your workplace.
There are times when you may want to check your rights and your university can often help with this. There are also several organisations that can help.
A comprehensive list is coming soon. Please check back for updates.
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