In conversation with Joe Monaghan, BA (Hons) Film and TV alumnus now working in IT

Photograph of Joe Monaghan

Joe Monaghan talks to Carolyn from the Careers and Employability Service about his career path since graduating from the University of Cumbria in 2015. Joe shares his reflections on starting out as a graduate and gives advice on how current graduates should approach career planning and job hunting.

So Joe, why a degree in Film an TV?

Watching films and sitting back with a comedy like Superbad or Team America was one of my favourite past times. I was keen to understand more about how the film industry works, so it seemed a great idea to study Film and TV. The BA Film and TV degree course at the University of Cumbria ticked every box!

The evolution of movie culture held a particular fascination. At the time, Marvel was dominating the cinema. This had decreased the amount of powerhouses you saw on screen like Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Dwayne Johnson, also known as the Rock, was now the powerhouse of Hollywood.

How did you get into IT and what are you doing now?

After graduating, I was searching opportunities and researching different sectors. Agencies were suggesting IT to me which seemed an interesting suggestion.  I had always had a strong passion for technology, having installed Dosbox on a Windows PC as well as my MacBook as a student to play the 90s games like Doom and Quake, so it seemed a good idea. I took a graduate opportunity with Just IT to learn about the basics of IT whilst also working in a pub. It was long hours but I was able to persevere in my spare time, studying over a coffee in Starbucks. As I was a mature student, I knew it wasn’t too late to find myself my dream career. I had strived to move forwards and not backwards. I wanted to build my employment record and transferable skills.

Since January 2017 I have been employed in the IT Sector and I am now working at Thames Water specialising in particular IT systems. This year I gained my ITIL certification (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and now I’m moving into a new role later this month. I will be specialising in IT Telephony systems

What do you enjoy the most about working in IT?

What I like about IT is you can explore basic stuff in your own time which gives you opportunity. You can partition Windows 7 onto a MacBook or other device. You can be creative. You can turn your PC into a gaming PC, Audio and Video PC, or into a business PC, customising them using affordable hardware.

I enjoy being able to use different platforms. I enjoy using a PC to do work, play games and customise content. Science Fiction with its focus on technology is one of my most idolised genres and Doom one of my top favourite games, so I love the fact my career is building on my interests. Furthermore I enjoy keeping up with the evolution of technology.

What advice would you give to someone who is unsure about their career path?

When choosing your career, think about your abilities and interests and whether they can be transferred to a job role. Be prepared to do plenty of research and consider graduate schemes too, as these can help you identify your skills and enable you to understand how different parts of a business or organisation work. Consider taking further qualifications too. There are many professional and vocational qualifications that are worth considering which could give you a competitive edge and help strengthen your innate abilities. In the IT sector, qualifications such as ITIL Foundation or Cisco CCNA are highly regarded.

Do also network with family and friends who are working in the sector you are drawn to. This will build your network and help you identify your calling in life.

I have learnt that when you finish university, learning never stops. You learn every day and professional development, if you are motivated, continues too. For example, alongside my new job, I will be studying a certification specialising in IT Solutions.

Don’t let Covid 19 become a barrier to your objectives. During the summer, I took my ITIL qualification, while working remotely at home. I didn’t need to visit a test centre, I was able to do this in the comfort of my home.

What advice would you give to graduates about applying for jobs?

When applying, keep a spreadsheet detailing the basics such as names, dates, location, and company. This will help you keep track. Keep all the job details and a copy of your CV and letter so you know what you wrote.

When you are at a job interview, the interviewer will have a copy of your CV and will address with you the content. Think about what will particularly stand out for them. I found that employers were impressed that I had been an IT Rover during Welcome week in 2014. I also volunteered with the Students Union and this also added value to my job applications. Showing an employer your determination and work ethic makes a big difference too.

Initially I was unsure how to respond in interviews, but I got better with practice!

Using LinkedIn’s Alumni Tool

LinkedIn Alumni Tool

LinkedIn’s alumni tool is a great resource for finding other University of Cumbria graduates, and growing your netwrok. You can use it to find graduates from different subject areas, see where they work, the companies they work for, and the skills they have on thie profiles.

All you need to do to access this tool is to have a LinkedIn profile, with University of Cumbria listed in your education section. Visiting the University of Cumbria’s LinkedIn page, and clicking on the ‘Alumni’ link (see image above) will give you access to over 13,000 alumni!

You can use the following filters to search for graduates:

  • Course start and end dates (e.g. year they graduated)
  • Where they live
  • Where they work (company)
  • What they do (industry/sector)
  • What they studied (subject)
  • What they are skilled at
  • How you are connected to them on LinkedIn

You can also use keyword searches to narrow down your search.

Why is this such a useful tool?

  • You can search for other graduates from your subject and see what they are doing now, this could give you ideas of career paths you hadn’t considered before.
  • If you are interested in working at a particular company, for example the NHS, you can select NHS from the ‘where they work’ to see all the UoC graduates who work there, see the types of roles that are available, and even make new connections. Ask what it’s like working there, or if they have any advice for you.
  • Maybe you have excellent marketing skills and want ideas of how you can use them in a career. Select ‘marketing’ in the skills filter and see the companies and job roles where you can use your skills.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, no worries – we can help with that! Book onto one of our Online Presence sessions via My Career Enriched.

6 tips to prepare for your virtual interview

woman being interviewed

Skype, Zoom, Teams…. video interviews are becoming the new normal.

For the rest of this year at least, and no doubt going forward too, employers will be using video interviews to recruit staff. Many of the big firms were doing so before the pandemic, using video technology to screen candidates early on in the recruitment process, so it’s very likely that this format is here to stay, but with the addition of live video interviews replacing a traditional face-to-face one.

At the early stage of the recruitment process you may be asked to log onto a site and answer a set of pre-recorded questions, or complete a virtual assessment. These usually have a time-limit and you may even be given the questions in advance. If you are short-listed to the next stage, you can expect a live interview with real people. If it sounds a daunting prospect, it needn’t be. Here are some top tips to help you prepare.

Make sure you feel confident with the technology

Give yourself plenty of time to familiarise yourself with the video application the interviewer wants you to use and make sure everything is working properly. Check your internet connection make sure your audio and webcam are switched on. Have a practice run through with a friend or family member to double check.

Have a back-up plan if things go wrong

Is the employer calling you at a specified time? Check you know who is calling who. It’s always a good idea you have their phone number too, just in-case technology fails. If you are doing a pre-recorded interview or task, don’t leave it until the last minute. If a problem arises, you may need time to contact them.

Prepare your surroundings

Find a quiet, private and well-lit space and position your webcam so the background is as neutral and tidy as possible. Check what the interviewer will see. You want to convey a professional impression so avoid sitting in front of anything that might be a distraction or might be considered embarrassing or offensive. And can you be seen clearly? Natural light is usually best but you may need to adjust the lighting to reduce any glare.

Make sure your desk or table is clear and your chair is at the right height.  Have a glass of water to hand. Do you need to adjust the angle of your webcam? If you practice with a friend they can tell you whether anything needs adjusting.

Avoid interruptions and background noise

It can be hard if everyone in your household is at home but let everyone know you are having an interview so background noise can be avoided and no-one interrupts you by mistake. Do you need to organise childcare or a dog-sitter? Close any unnecessary web browser tabs and applications with audio notifications and remember to put your phone on silent.

Dress appropriately

Treat your interview just as you would a traditional face-to-face one. Your clothes and appearance need to look tidy, clean and professional, and just in case you need to stand up for any reason, remember your entire outfit needs to be appropriate. There is always a lot of debate about interview clothes and how formal they should be. We always suggest you research the culture of the company, so your choice of clothes shows that you would fit in. advice has some useful advice on colours and how they can appear on camera.

Body language in a video interview is also just as important as it is in person. You want to convey a personable and confident impression so avoid the temptation to slouch or fidget. Wherever possible look at the camera rather than the screen so you make eye contact with the interviewer. It can feel a bit strange at first so try and practice. Sometimes hiding the image of yourself can help! has some great advice on clothes, body language and general etiquette to follow in a video interview.

Perfect your interview skills

When it comes to answering interview questions, a video interview isn’t any different. Interview skills can be perfected and the more you are able to anticipate likely questions and practice your answers, the more confident and articulate you will come across. Current students can take a look at our interview skills resources on the My.Cumbria pages . You can also book a practice interview via phone or Skype on  My Career Enriched.

If you are a student with a disability or health condition, you may find our resources on requesting reasonable adjustments during the interview process useful too. Click here for information.

Career Management in a Crisis

If you are stuck at home during these crazy times, there are still loads of things you can do to be working on your career. You can fit these ten things in around other commitments such as work or study.

  • Career Planning – The first step in your career journey is figuring out where you want to go. You wouldn’t set off on a road trip without a plan, would you? It doesn’t have to be full of detail, and if you have no idea where you want to go, don’t worry. There are loads of tools available to help you find your path. Current students can take a look at our resources on My.Cumbria for support, no matter where you are on your career journey.
  • Get your CV in order – Now is a great time to update your CV with recent experience and qualifications (don’t forget to add your current degree course!). You can find tons of resources on My.Cumbria to help you with refreshing your CV, and current students (and recent graduates) can submit it on My Career Enriched to receive feedback and suggestions for improvements. You can find this feature under ‘My Profile’ on My Career Enriched.
  • Work on your Career Ahead award – Already started the award? Great! What activities have you done so far? What activities can you do from home? Several of the Career Ahead activities can be completed from home, including attending a careers apointment or mock interview (book via Skype or phone on My Career Enriched), submitting your CV for feedback (see above) or completing some LinkedIn Learning courses (see the next tip!). Haven’t started yet? Find out all you need to know right here.
  • FREE LinkedIn Learning courses – The University has a license for LinkedIn Learning. What does that mean? It means you have access to more than 10,000 FREE digital courses, taught by industry experts. There’s something for everyone, including loads of careers courses to help you with interview skills, writing CVs, career planning, developing skills, time management, leadership and more! Findn out how to get started with LinkedIn Learning here. You’ll get a PDF certificate for your portfolio or learning log, and each course you complete is worth 50 points towards your Career Ahead award (see above)!
  • Brush up on your interview skills – Loads of organisations are still recruiting during the lockdown, utilising technology such as Zoom and Skype, online assessment centres and telephone interviews. There are loads of resources to help, check out these great articles on on Virtual Hiring. Want some practice? You can book a mock interview via phone or Skype on My Career Enriched.
  • Learn something new with a MOOC – What’s a MOOC? It stands for Massive Open Online Course and they are (usually) free online courses you can access from home. You can find millions of courses covering hundreds of subjects, from Richard the Third to C++ programming, prehistoric archaeology to future tech. Anything you can think of, there’s likely to be a MOOC for it. Check out Coursera, FutureLearn, and OpenLearn.
  • Create (or update) your portfolio – A portfolio isn’t just for art and design students! Create a portfolio to demonstrate your learning and development while studying. You can include certificates of further learning (such as LinkedIn Learning or a MOOC – see above), examples of projects you’ve completed, reflection on assignments and team work – basically anything that you could use to show an employer all the skills you’ve gained while studying. You could use your LinkedIn profile for this, or create a website using a free tool – there’s loads available. Already have a portfolio? What can you add? What can you update or replace? Don’t forget to keep a record of any press or publicity you’ve had!
  • Quiz time! – Everyone likes a quiz, right? There are various quizzes you can do online that will suggest careers that you may be suited to. One of our favorites is the Prospects Planner, which matches your skills, experience, values and motiavtions to more than 400 job profiles. You could also take a look at Sort Your Future, the UCAS buzz quiz, and the slightly less serious Ridiculous Dream Job quiz.

The next couple of tips are things you can do outside the home, if you are able to do so.

What other things have you been doing to enhance your career during lockdown? Let us know on Twitter @UoCCareers.

Time to Transform

Transform 2020 event banner

Time to Transform

Have you got what it takes to run a business?
Want to know what self-employment is really like?

Apply now to attend this FREE 2-day TRANSFORM event at the Brampton Road campus on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 March 2020. Open to all students and recent graduates*.

You will benefit from this programme if:

  • You are thinking of starting your own business
  • You have an idea for a business and want to validate it
  • You are inquisitive about what starting a business involves and want to know more
  • You want something other than a job

The 2-day TRANSFORM programme will give you the opportunity to decide if starting and running your own business is a viable option. So what’s it about?

Day one will help you think about starting a business in a totally different way with the TRANSFORM rocket business simulator – a game-based learning experience to help equip, enable and empower you with the skills, knowledge and commercial awareness of what it takes to grow, run and scale a successful business.

Day two takes your learning from day one to examine your thoughts on entrepreneurship and starting your own business. The morning will introduce you to the Business Model Canvas, what it is, and how to use it to map out your business ideas. The afternoon session gives you the chance to pitch your ideas to an expert panel who then choose who to invest in.

The programme ends with a Q&A session where you can ask questions and decide your next steps.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided on both days free of charge.

What will I take away from the programme?

  • If entrepreneurship is for you
  • If it is, what the next steps are
  • What support is out there and how you can access it
  • There is an alternative to working for someone else or leaving the area
  • The opportunity to be mentored and shadow top businesses and organisations in the area

If you would like to apply for a place on this programme, please complete the short application form here: 

Closing date for applications is noon on Wednesday 4 March 2020.

Funding for travel may be available through the Bright Futures fund. Contact us for more information.

If you have any questions please email or phone 01228 616323.

*Alumni who graduated in 2019 are eligible to apply to attend this event.

VACANCY: NCS with Carlisle United Football Club Community Sports Trust

C.U.F.C Community Sports Trust

National Citizen Service Programme Leader and Assistant Leader (Casual Staff)

CUFC CST is a vibrant independent charity which aims to enrich the lives of children and young people through sport, physical activity, health and educational programmes.

Working in partnership with Carlisle United Football Club. Our mission is to enrich the lives of children and young people through sport, physical activity, health and educational programmes.

The National Citizen Service is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity open to all 15, 16 & 17 year olds and helps them build skills for work and life, whilst taking on new challenges and meeting new friends.

This is an excellent opportunity to be involved with an exciting programme which has tangible results for the young people involved. The roles are demanding and fast-paced but highly rewarding. These roles will require residential commitments.

The groups are composed of approximately 15 young people and the leader will be expected to work under the direction of the NCS Programme Manager and assist with the pastoral care and support the development of the young people. Previous experience would be welcome but is not essential.

If you are enthusiastic, hard-working, reliable and have a passion for working with young people then please send your Application to;

Carl Carr, NCS Coordinator, CUFC Community Sports Trust, Brunton Park, Carlisle. Cumbria. CA1 1LL or email at  



National Citizen Service Programme Leader (Casual Staff)

 Job Outline

 Your main duties and responsibilities will be to;

  • Lead, inspire and take responsibility for the pastoral care for a group of participants, ensuring their safety and assisting their personal development throughout residential trips.
  • Lead by example and get involved in outdoor and community volunteering activities, keeping the group motivated at all times.
  • Work as part of a larger team of staff to support the planning and delivery of a Social Action Project.
  • Work with and support all other staff to deal with any challenging behaviour from young people.
  • Ensure that appropriate safeguarding, health & safety and other relevant policies are implemented and followed.
  • Provide support to staff and young people in a variety of settings to ensure that they have a positive NCS experience.
  • Work within the ethos of the NCS programme.


  • DBS Cleared
  • Able to attend residential trips Friday 25th October – Monday 28th October
  • Ability to participate in outdoor activities
  • Experience working with young people


  • Experience of the NCS programme
  • Leadership skills
  • Ability to relate to young people
  • Related study

Paid Work Experience Opportunity: Teaching in FE

Talent to Teach in FE

This is a government funded supported work placement which aims to raise the profile of FE and teaching in FE as a career option amongst the graduate population.

Cognition have run this programme over the last 12 months, and due to the enormous success (we have placed nearly 300 students to date) we have now been asked to run the programme nationally across all of England.

Please do read the points below – as this provides more information including the restrictions on who can apply/geographical locations etc.

  • Placements are only open to home or EU final degree or post grad students studying at an English University.
  • We are running the programme nationally, therefore students are welcome to apply from all locations across England.
  • We are keen to encourage applications from students who have never thought of teaching, or indeed teaching in FE as a career option. Students who are taking teaching qualifications (such as PGCE) are not those we wish to encourage to apply as they are already actively considering teaching and on this career path.
  • We are keen to place students now (over May and June) and potentially over the summer with Independent Training Providers, as this time tends to work very well for final year students given they have mostly completed exams/dissertations, and are able to complete the work placements over a week or so.
  • Placements are for 40 hours, students are supported as they will have a mentor and will have time to complete a reflective journal. Students are also paid a £300 tax free bursary and will receive a Certificate of Completion which they can use as evidence for their CV etc.
  • Students who are interested in applying, need to complete a very short application form which can be found on by clicking on the following link T2TFE.

VACANCIES: Paid Internships

Graduate/Student Internships

Rosehill Arts Trust

Part Time, Fixed Term until 31/07/2019, based in Whitehaven

Starting Salary: £9.00 per hour (UK living wage)

Closes: 19/05/2019

This is an exciting opportunity for a current student or recent graduate of University of Cumbria to gain valuable work experience through an internship with a local employer. You will be employed by the University, but work with the Rosehill Arts Trust, on a key project to analyse customer engagement and booking trends. We are looking for someone who has excellent analysis skills. You will be creative and self-motivated with the ability to create an engaging customer survey and encourage responses.

The post is part time for a total of 140 hours and the project is to be completed by 31st July 2019. You will be based at Rosehill Theatre, Moresby, Whitehaven, CA28 6SE.

There is the opportunity for the successful candidate to apply to the University of Cumbria’s Bright Futures fund for a travel bursary to help with travel expenses if required (up to £100 allowance available).

For the full job description, please click here:

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Part Time, Fixed Term until 31/07/2019, based in multiple locations

Starting Salary: £9.00 per hour (UK living wage)

Closes: 09/05/2019

This is an exciting opportunity for a graduate or current student of the University of Cumbria to gain valuable work experience through an internship with a local employer. You will be employed by the University, but work with IUCN Committee on Ecosystem Management (CEM) Rewilding Task Force (RTF) team. We are looking for someone who is proactive, logical and self-motivated with the ability to undertake desk-based research and present results. We expect you to have strong communication skills.

The post is part time for a total of up to 140 hours and the project is to be completed by 31 July 2019. This role will involve remote working with occasional funded travel to Ambleside and Leeds. There is also the opportunity for the successful candidate to apply to the University of Cumbria’s Bright Futures fund for a travel bursary to help with travel expenses if required (£100 allowance available).

For the full job description, please click here:

The Careers and Employability Service can help you with your job application and interview skills. Contact un on My Career Enriched:

Trials and tribulations of Thursdays Top Tips

Hello everyone, for weeks I have been trying to launch a mini video series that I will dub Thursdays Top Tips. This is in a bid to give a more personal presentation for some of our information. I personally had a chunk of time off and wasn’t able to actual film the clips ready to use before my holiday so that has delayed the efforts somewhat, I apologise. If you follow our Instagram you will have seen that I had said I will be introducing this soon.

After returning I filmed the intro and first episode ready to upload but have then hit odd roadblocks in trying to post it out for you guys. As the original idea was to have these on Instagram we tried to keep them short just as 30 sec – 1 minute videos which I’ve seen before on Instagram (Video 1 the introduction was 43seconds and video 2 the first episode about My Career Enriched was 31seconds these times include the titlecards/splashcreens I was using). But it wouldn’t let me upload them from either to Instagram or Facebook via the sites directly or the social media manager we use. I have checked file types and sizes which should be useable but still get an error message when trying to upload them and this has been attempted with both the raw video file and my edited version where I’ve trimmed the start and end of the clip as well as adding a title card.

Thursdays Top Tips Thumbnails

Picture of the thumbnail and title card I was trying to use

I also went to find a PC designed for video editing so that I could use adobe premiere to trim and edit certain parts and convert it form a .mov to .mpeg4 even through Facebook says it accepts both formats I attempted to eliminate this potential issue. Via premiere and media encoder I cut down the file size as well, although again checking what you can upload this was well within a usable range. I still had no luck in uploading, at this point it had been attempted directly from the iPhone, my workstation and the editing suite still with no luck.  It has allowed me to upload it to my personal Facebook page but not the Careers Page.


My Workstation


The Video editing Suite

On a side note whilst using the video uploader in Facebook I also played around with adding subtitles, although the auto generated ones didn’t quite work manually typing them in was easy enough once I got the hang of it. If I do find out how to get the videos up I will aim to utilise this feature so the videos are more accessible.

I might have to scrap the video idea and just present this information with images.

But: What’s your opinion? Should I keep trying to get the videos up? Have I overlooked an obvious fix?

Job of the week! Graduate/Student Intern: ZuZa Trading

ZuZa Trading Logo

Graduate/Student Intern: ZuZa Trading

140 hours total, to be completed by 30/09/2019
Starting Salary: £9.00 per hour (UK living wage)
Closing date: Monday 7th May 2019 at midnight

This is an exciting opportunity for a graduate or current student of the University of Cumbria to gain valuable work experience through an internship with a local employer. You will be employed by the University, but work with Claire Shepherd from ZuZa Trading on a project to research the waste (such as plastic) discarded from events or other organisations and using current company know-how, explore further opportunities to recycle this into new products.

We are looking for someone who is creative, proactive, self-motivated, with good communication skills and interested to collaborate with other relevant people and organisations, including designers/craftspeople, about recycling waste and developing new products. This may also include contact with designers and makers based in South Africa- where the concept of this company originated from.

For the full job description and to apply, please click here:

For more information about ZuZa Trading please click here:

Need support with your application? There’s loads of useful resources available to help you apply for jobs at and you can also request feedback from the careers service via My Career Enriched: