Surrey Careers blog

Official blog of the University of Surrey's Employability and Careers Centre

My Professional Training experience at McLaren – by Abdullah Al-Shakarchi

Starting in 2017, cars on the grid will be running the new generation Rain Light product I designed, viewed by millions on television with each Formula 1 event.


I spent my Professional Training placement at McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT), part of the McLaren Technology Group, and the global leader in supplying electronics for motorsport and automotive applications.

In this industry, compromises in performance or size are not acceptable, which results in constantly pushing what is possible. McLaren, in particular, promotes a culture of absolute precision and a focus on winning, employing technology to generate high performance products that are ahead of the competition. This provided an excellent learning environment.

Assessment Centre Group Exercises: How to make a great impression

group-exercisesIf you’ve recently got through the application form for a placement or graduate job and been offered a place at an assessment centre, congratulations! Assessment centres are typically made up of an interview, presentation and a group exercise, although the activities may vary.

Discover our top tips below for the group exercise part of the assessment centre and how to make the best impression on recruiters!

What are group exercises all about?

A group exercise usually takes the form of a discussion group, typically of four to eight people. You most likely will be given a case study or topic to discuss or a problem to solve within a time limit.

Winter Vacation: time to relax and reflect!


We’ve made it to Week 11… well done to all Surrey students for your hard work so far this semester.  As the Winter Vacation approaches, we hope that you are looking forward to taking some time out, even if you have a hectic schedule planned.  Perhaps you have a busy revision timetable, will be returning to your part-time job, or will be volunteering for a good cause over the festive period.  Of course, all of these activities will be valuable additions to your CV, but perhaps you can also set aside time to reflect on your career plans and ideas for the future.

Exams may be looming, but don’t forget about your career!

student-849825_1280If you’re a final year student looking to apply to graduate level jobs, or a second year student hoping to get a placement organised for next Summer, the December period is a crucial time to get your online applications in before the upcoming deadlines. However, it can also be a time when exams and coursework is piling up, so time management and prioritisation is crucial. But don’t forget, the Employability and Careers Centre is here to help!

Focus on graduate scheme applications or your degree?

This is one of those questions for which there is no right or wrong answer. It goes without saying that the more applications you make, the more you increase your chances of finding a job. Many of the larger organisations who have graduate schemes set early closing dates. Graduate schemes/programmes are graduate jobs, which typically offer a structured period of training and development.  Some of them have rolling recruitment schedules, but the fact remains, if you want to work for a major employer, your best chance is to get your form in by their closing date. If you don’t, you may have to wait another year after graduation for the opportunity to apply.

Strengths-based interviews at Capgemini: “it’s not about whether a candidate does well, it’s about whether they are the right fit”


Mike Procter, Graduate Recruiter for Capgemini talks to us about why the company introduced the strengths-based approach to recruitment and the impact it has had on finding future talent for Capgemini, one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services.

Mike studied a Psychology Degree at The University of Surrey and graduated in 2013. After gaining recruitment experience at Fitness First & Siemens, Mike is now working to help attract the best junior talent into Capgemini.

Mike, when and why did Capgemini decide to incorporate the strengths-based approach into their selection process?

Strength based interviews – get ready for this new style of interview

superheroes-1560256_1280Graduate recruitment is constantly evolving, as global organisations look for new ways to select the very best from the talent pool. The competency approach has been found to generate fairly rehearsed interview answers, which is why in recent years, more and more leading graduate recruiters are trying a new interview approach: strength based interviews.

What are strength based interviews?

The strength based approach to interviews and assessment centres is designed to seek out where that individual excels and what motivates them. More and more companies are keen to find out what energises an individual and what they love to do rather than what they can do. This then gives them a better idea if that individual is naturally a good fit for the role, and the wider organisation.