The Information: Jobs for graduates

Published in FT Weekend Magazine on 19/20th June 2010 Issue number 365:

As the UCAS clearing period draws near – starting July 1 – it seems today’s  students are, depending on your point of view, either refreshingly guileless or  a bit dim: data from Unistats show that the courses most likely to lead to jobs  are not the most popular among students.

The mortarboard graphic shows the seven most popular courses for  undergraduates (in terms of numbers of applicants in 2009) and what happened to  2008 graduates in those subjects. Business and administration courses – including finance, marketing and HR management – drew the second-highest number  of applicants, just behind “combined studies”. And yet only 72 per cent of  people who earned one of the business and admin degrees in 2008 was employed  within six months of graduating. Meanwhile, teacher training had the highest  level of postgraduate employment, at 94 per cent, but ranked only 16th in  popularity out of 21 overall categories of degree course.

Does postgraduate study skew the numbers? Sometimes, yes: with degrees in law – the eighth most popular subject – only 48 per cent of students were in work  six months after graduating, but 41 per cent were studying full time.

Source: Unistats and UCAS Statistics for graduates who had completed their  first full time degree

Meet the maker: Michael Ray

Published in FT Weekend Magazine on 12/13th June 2010 Issue number 364:

Meet the maker

Michael Ray Global wetsuit manager


H Bomb

What it is:

A battery-powered heated wetsuit

In his words:

“About four years ago, we were brainstorming for ideas that would be futuristic enough to break new ground. The concept of a heated wetsuit had been around for a long time but finally we had the technology to make it possible. We wanted to aim the wetsuit at super-cold places such as Iceland and Norway, where they have amazing surf but the water is literally too cold to go in.

The biggest challenge was waterproofing the electronics. The wetsuit needs to keep your core warm enough to move blood to your extremeties, so it heats the back area from below your neck to just below your kidneys. The H Bomb is about 10 per cent harder to get into and out of than a standard wetsuit, but if you were in those cold climates you would normally need a thick wetsuit (6mm-7mm) and hood, boots and gloves.

Our wetsuit comes in 3mm, 4mm and 5mm versions with a built-in hood, and in warmer waters you can use it without the batteries. We use the best neoprene, E3, which is the stretchiest and warmest material we have. It is blind-stitched and there’s another layer of liquid seal to make sure the wetsuit is really waterproof. The batteries will last six months, and the electronics will last two to three years.”

A$1,499.95 (£870);

What a week to begin

Published on FT Workblogs on 1st June 2010:

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I had dabbled with the short-lived idea of becoming an accountant before graduating from the University of Bristol in 2008 with a degree in Philosophy and Economics. I then stumbled into a job for about a year and half before realising that really, I should have had the courage of my convictions at 16 to follow my dream of being a journalist. So an NCTJ course and a string of internships later, I have found myself at THE Financial Times feeling a little over my head.

My worry was not that I would be mocked for my journalism skills. This was serious journalism but I was well trained by this point and as an avid reader of newspapers, I thought I knew a thing or two. Rather, my concern was that I would be uncovered as a fraud in comparison to the real economists at the FT. This concern escalated when the tour of the editorial floors took me to the LEX column. As luck would have it, most of the journalists on floor one started around mid-day when news items began to flow in. Nevertheless, I looked at my feet and hurried past.

The Monday morning editorial meeting was certainly very insightful. A cool and composed Lionel Barber addressed the interns before whisking the team into a discussion about the previous weekend’s paper and upcoming news items. I tried not to breathe too loudly as I strained to hear and upon realising that I was not completely oblivious to the reports in the FT, that I still had a chance of holding down the fort, order was restored to my world. And a little smugness.

A comprehensive intern’s guide in hand and passwords at the ready, I was then sent to receive some intensive training in Méthode 4. Four hours later, I emerged bleary eyed but a little wiser to the ways of the FT. Having finally arrived at the Weekend Magazine desk in the late afternoon, where I was to intern for four weeks, I was launched straight into proofreading the copy for features to be printed at the end of the week. All in all, it was a fairly successful day one.

Inevitably I found myself blundering on day two by stumbling into a fully populated LEX section when I took a wrong turn at the stairs. Red faced, I shuffled out quickly thinking that anyone who saw me must have thought “who is this ridiculous impostor?” It was probably all in my head though because by day three I was already interviewing someone for “Meet the maker”. The rest of my week was packed with ideas research for future issues, fact checking, updating @FTweekendmag and proofreading copy.

So that was the hectic brilliance of week one. Now that I’m on the slightly steadier second week and judging by the tales of interns past, it could only get better.

Meet the maker: Benjamin Millett

Published in FT Weekend Magazine on 29/30th May 2010 Issue number 362:

Meet the maker

Benjamin Millett Co-creator, Kug



What it is:

A mini kettle that doubles as an insulated travel mug

In his words:

“The Kug started as a project at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin to design a product that would make life easier for people with rheumatoid arthritis. One day, at an arthritis centre, we saw some ladies pouring their tea. We realised they were having difficulty with the small cup handles, which they couldn’t grip, and with the kettle, which was too heavy.

We started looking at everything to do with making a hot drink and how we could improve the process. First of all we thought about redesigning the kettle but then we decided to combine it with the mug.

We chose not to put a handle on it because the weight is then further away from your wrist joints. If you hold a cup in your hand, the centre of gravity will be closer to your wrist, so it will appear lighter.

The Kug is like a travel mug, it’s dual-walled and it’s insulated, but it sits on a dock the way that your kettle does at home, and plugs into a socket. The lid is very similar to the lids on takeaway cups but it’s made from silicone, so it’s more durable and flexible.

We think it’s great for students as well. You can have soup in it, you can do noodles in it, you can do hot chocolate. You can do anything that requires heating water.”