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Management | The Careers Service Management – Oxford University Careers Service
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About this role

Management roles exist in all sectors – so, when considering a career path in management, it is worth asking yourself: ‘what do I want from a management career?’ Is the main focus to be on managing people or is it essentially project management?

If your preference is for people management then you could be running an organisation, a team of employees or a part of the business. Your work will range from recruitment, logistics, finances, planning and scheduling, policy or any combination of these.

Project management involves planning projects from beginning to end. Your role will be to plan and organise resources, set deadlines and plan finances to keep the project within budget.

There will be overlap between the two aspects of management but with people management it is likely you will be managing people who may be working on different projects, whilst project management will see you overseeing the work of your team members on a specific project. A career in management is exciting because you are the owner of a section of the business and ultimately may even own the business: setting direction but also making sure it delivers in an increasingly global marketplace. It requires leadership, being decisive and taking action. Roles are fast-paced, but also stimulating and rewarding.

Management activities

Management activities typically include:

  • Defining objectives, allocating resources, hitting targets and taking responsibility for the outcome
  • Project work
  • Recruiting, supervising, motivating and developing staff, to ensure effective team working
  • Effective communication
  • Controlling finances and managing budgets
  • Problem-solving, resolving complaints, and managing change

A number of organisations seek managers who have experience and understanding of most of the elements that make up an organisation and then organise training programmes that allow entrants to rotate around departments before specialising in one particular function. Such ‘general management’ training has appeal to many, but if your preference is for a specific management function, such as finance, you will tend to find more opportunities advertised.

Types of job

Most organisations offer management positions which tend to specialise in defined management areas, such as Purchasing, Production, Marketing, Sales, Finance, Human Resources, Manufacturing and Logistics/Distribution, all of which have an element of general management work within them.

There are opportunities to join a scheme with the chance to experience a range of management streams before deciding to specialise. These ‘stream’ opportunities typically fall into ‘commercial’ and ‘technical’ options with a variety of programme titles such as ‘Change Delivery Programme‘ at Sky, for example, or ‘Generalist Fast Stream‘ working across Central Departments of the Civil Service.

Many other schemes offer a  specialist entry point, but can also offer the opportunity to try out one or two other areas via secondments in the first few years. The important thing is that you decide how sure you are about a particular management area. If you are unsure, apply to schemes where you can gain experience in more than one area. If you know where you preference lies, then specialise now with the knowledge that you can often negotiate a change in management area early on into your training. Interestingly, to reach the Managing Director role in an organisation, most large companies will look for someone with experience in more than one management area and increasingly in more than one organisation.

Starting salaries vary considerably, depending on whether it is a public or private sector organisation. Discussions with some of our graduate recruiters here at Oxford suggest a range of starting salaries between approximately £24,000 and £40,000, but remember that this depends often on location, business size and sector. There are an increasing number of ‘general management-type’ graduate programmes on offer in sectors including retail, technology, transport, and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG).

Managers responsible for running large, corporate, commercial organisations can expect salaries that run into six figures. Often in this sector there are other significant areas of compensation to be taken into account when considering an overall salary package, e.g. cars/car allowance, pension arrangements, share option schemes, study leave allowances, season ticket loans and so on.

Entry points

Most people enter general management roles directly from an undergraduate degree. There are a number of postgraduate courses that may be of interest, particularly in general business, but these are not essential for entry. It is equally unlikely to create any significant advantage for you. Developing good business knowledge can help to demonstrate your commitment to the work and interest in business issues. There are a number of organisations offering general management schemes. Entry on to these schemes is typically very competitive. Retail management offers further opportunities similar to general management, allowing people to move through store management into more strategic positions.

MBAs are ideal for those who have significant managerial experience behind them and who are in a position to apply their learning in a more senior strategic and managerial situation. So, for UK-based recruitment, it is often more advantageous to delay MBA plans until after some significant work experience.

Skills & experience

Skills needed

Employers are looking for a broad range of skills. You will need to demonstrate skills or, if not, potential in the following areas:

  • Commercial awareness, combined with an ability to think strategically and to plan ahead
  • Awareness of globalisation and cross-cultural issues
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Flexibility to adjust to changing circumstances whilst still meeting targets or deadlines
  • Good oral (including presentation and public speaking) and written communication
  • Numeracy and IT skills
  • Potential to supervise staff, including listening skills, influencing, team-working and good interpersonal skills
  • Resilience and an ability to handle criticism
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • Empathy and diplomacy

Getting experience

Getting some form of management work experience is valuable. The extra insight, the sense of confidence you will feel in your career choice, and the evidence of commitment and ability which it will provide when it comes to interview, is useful.

Many of the large global recruiters offer internships in general/commercial management roles: e.g. Rolls-Royce plc, Sky and Centrica. For all these types of vacancies, search CareerConnect.

If you are unable to get into management roles, then think laterally. Getting experience in any role that will improve your communication skills, team-working and organisational skills will be invaluable. Increase your skillset and knowledge by taking part in ‘Insight into Business’ and The Student Consultancy programme organised by the Careers Service. Combine this with discussions with alumni, look out for management courses or employer visits, and you will improve your chances significantly. Employers are increasingly converting people from their internship schemes onto permanent graduate opportunities, so do consider planning ahead.

There is often confusion about whether you should be paid to do an internship or work experience. It will depend on your arrangement with the employer as well as on the status of the employer. To find out if you are entitled to be paid when undertaking work experience or an internship, visit the Government’s webpages on the National Minimum Wage.

Getting a job

The main sectors that offer general management roles are:

Public Sector

There are increasing opportunities for graduates who want to work in the public sector, the NHS, Civil Service, local government and the armed forces. The NHS Management scheme aims to prepare graduates to work as a health service manager in finance, health informatics, HR or general management. The National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) and the Civil Service Fast Stream are intended for graduates who want to work in UK national and local government.

Graduates interested in the military can apply to join the Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force at officer level – the management role within military.

Retail banking and insurance

Retail banking (also known as high street banking) is a good choice for those with managerial plans who would thrive in a fast-paced financial environment. Graduates can be employed as trainee branch or relationship managers. Large retail banks, building societies and supermarkets offering financial services often run graduate branch management schemes. They typically last around two years and many go on to become area managers.

The insurance sector is known for providing Generalist Graduate Programmes, where typically you will be experiencing three or four rotations in different departments (e.g. risk management, underwriting and brokerage), gaining a broad understanding of the sector over a two year period. At the end of the programme, you will then be able to specialise.

Retail and FMCG sector

Going into this sector does not mean you will be shelf-stacking. Rather, you would be helping to manage budgets, overseeing pricing and stock control and leading a team.  Typically, graduates start out as trainee store or departmental managers and many leading retailers, such as the John Lewis Partnership, Tesco and Aldi, run management training schemes.

Logistics and Operations

This function and sector is experiencing increasing growth. As a graduate you will be involved in managing a multi-disciplinary team that will range from IT and stock control to transport. Most opportunities are through a general management trainee scheme and then onto a management role in your preferred area (examples of these specialised areas may be in transport, warehouse, distribution, etc.).

Hospitality and Leisure

The hospitality and leisure industry is all about the consumer, so if you want a customer facing management role that requires the ability to think quickly and decisively, then this sector may be for you. Many large hotel groups run General Graduate Trainee Schemes- the Clifton Hotel Group is an example of these.

Where to find vacancies

Careers fairs are a major source of vacancies for those looking at general management. A key fair to attend is the Oxford Careers Fair in October each year, where you will be able to see a diverse range of recruiters and thus be able to compare and contrast opportunities and work ethos. Large international companies offering high-quality training schemes will generally have a high profile during Michaelmas Term, with opportunities mostly filled before Easter. Some have deadlines as early as November.

The primary sources of job vacancies are CareerConnect, Prospects Today, The Graduate, the Guardian and the Telegraph.

Equality & positive action

A number of major graduate recruiters have policies and processes that are proactive in recruiting graduates from diverse backgrounds. To find out the policies and attitudes of employers that you are interested in, explore their equality and diversity policies and see if they  are recognised for their policy and practice by such indicators as Disability Confident Employer , ‘Mindful Employer’ or as a ‘Stonewall’s Diversity Champion’.

The UK law protects you from discrimination due to your age, gender, race, religion or beliefs, disability or sexual orientation. For further information on the Equality Act and to find out where and how you are protected, as well as what you need to do if you feel you have been discriminated against, visit the Government’s webpages on discrimination.

Our resources


The following books are available to read in our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road:

  • Successful Project Management, Martin Manser
  • Quick Look at Management, Mike Dale

Take-away material

Collect the following material from our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road:

  • Prospects Directory
  • Times Top 100
  • The Guardian UK 300
  • Target Jobs: Get Directory

Podcasts of Past Events

Running the Show! From TEDx to London Music Scene

The challenges, learning and opportunities that come from Running the Show.

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 5:00 – TEDx Oxford: Student led international event: Indyana Schneider
  • 24:30 – Oxford Entrepreneurs: Engaging with commercial partners and event management: Chris Williams
  • 47:00 – The Columbo Group: Marketing on the London club scene: Jason Ellar
  • 1:14:00 – Q & A (ends 1:38:44)

This information was last updated on 23 November 2017.
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Recent blogs about Management

What other jobs could you do? Conference for Researchers on 17 March

Blogged by Rachel Bray on January 25, 2018.

Are you a DPhil or postdoc unsure about whether you want to stay in academia but feeling a bit clueless about what else you could do? Do you want to keep using your research skills in interesting ways, while expanding your horizons beyond strictly academic research?

Booking is now open for the annual Careers Conference for Researchers – your chance to learn more about the many realms in which your academic skills and credentials will be valued.

  • When: Saturday 17 March, 10:00-16:00
  • Where: Examination Schools
  • Book: via CareerConnect

The conference will feature:

  • Themed panels showcasing ‘a day in the life’ of doctoral graduates now working in research-intensive sectors,
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  • Hands-on skills sessions for managing your current life, expanding your skills in new directions, and honing your core employability skills,
  • A long lunch break for you to network with employers and/or try out a range of careers resources on everything from portfolio careers to overcoming a sense of academic failure.

The panel sessions will help you understand how to make an effective professional transition from academia into sectors including commercial science; entrepreneurship; finance; government and policy; higher-education funding and support; publishing; specialist consulting; and tech/AI.

The skills sessions will include negotiation skills and professional development; having a family as well as a career; creativity in a commercial setting; and how to make humanities and social-sciences training marketable.

Whether you’re on your third postdoc and know you want something different, on the verge of submitting your thesis and torn between academic and other paths, or would simply like to shake up your preconceptions about what your experience really equips you for, this Careers Conference may be just what you need. Places are being snapped up fast, so visit the events page on CareerConnect to book yours.

Careers as a Company Secretary

Posted on behalf of Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on January 11, 2018.

If you are interested in finding out more about careers as a company secretary (opportunities and qualifications are closest to Law and Accountancy) you may wish to take a look at the following events hosted by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA).

ICSA’s professional range extends to corporate governance, regulation, compliance etc in the private sector and increasingly in Education, Health, and other parts of the public and charity sectors.

1.Tom Morrison essay competition

If you are a student or recent graduate you can win £1000 by entering the Tom Morrison essay competition; (£500 runner up prize.) This competition is kindly sponsored by Sharegift. Simply answer the following question: It has been said that governance failures usually happen within the subsidiary structure of a large business, but all governance focus tends to be at the main board level. Is the focus on the right area and, if not, what improvements could be made?

Your answer need not be restricted to the corporate sector. References to other sectors (public sector, not-for-profit organisations, etc.) can be used to support your argument. Essays should be 2,000-2,500 words in length, with 2,500 being the maximum number of words that will be accepted. The deadline for submission is 5pm GMT on Monday 19 March 2018. Enter now.

2. Insight Days at companies including banks, law firms, professional services and industrial firms.

ICSA have just released the Insight day list for 2018.

3. There are also work experience opportunities, 1 day shadowing and trainee roles coming up…

How will real estate be used differently in 10 years’ time?

Posted on behalf of Oxford Real Estate Society. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on December 13, 2017.

The Oxford Real Estate Society invites entries for its 2018 essay competition. The topic is “How will real estate be used differently in 10 years’ time?”. Entrants are invited to submit an initial proposal of c.100 words by 31 Jan 2018. These will be reviewed and a group of entrants will be selected to expand their synopsis into an essay of 800-1000 words, due for submission by 28 February 2018. The winning entry will receive £1,000 and the opportunity to present the key ideas of their essay at the 2018 OxRES Conference. Students of all disciplines and backgrounds are encouraged to apply and no previous real estate experience is required. For further information please email

Micro-internship application deadline this weekend

Blogged by Rosanna Mills on October 18, 2017.

Want to contribute to a marketing strategy for a business? Or perhaps find out what it’s like to catalogue a historical collection? Maybe even develop an algorithm for virtual education?

There are only a few days left to apply for our Michaelmas Micro-Internship Programme. The deadline is midnight, Sunday 22 October, so don’t miss your chance to add valuable work experience to your CV, enhance your employability and make industry contacts!

Haven’t heard of this programme before?

Micro-internships run each term during 9th week over 2-5 days, offering work assisting, observing and shadowing, or a small project for interns. Host organisations range from charities to start-ups, from academic institutions to consultancies.

Whilst micro-internships are voluntary, employers must reimburse lunch and local travel expenses upon production of receipts.

How to apply

Applications are made directly through the Internship Office on CareerConnect, and require a one-page CV and 300-word personal statement. All vacancies are viewable on CareerConnect, but we have also published a range of sector and location lists for students to browse.

Each sector header links to individual lists, and each placement title will take you to the CareerConnect vacancy.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please email Rosanna at

Good luck with your applications!

Micro-Internship sector and location lists now available!

Blogged by Rosanna Mills on October 11, 2017.

Looking for some 9th week work experience?

Last week, the Internship Office was excited to launch our Michaelmas 2017 Micro-Internship Programme. We’ve now published sector and location lists for all available placements to make your search for work experience that little bit easier. Each list has a breakdown of the relevant placements, including the type of project, related sectors, and a short summary.

We have many exciting opportunities this term, all offering fantastic chances to boost your CV and develop your professional skills over a 2-5 day placement. And there is still time to apply, as applications are open until midnight, 22 October.

Need some help with your application? Help is at hand! Application Support Sessions are underway at the Careers Service for CV and personal statement reviews. Please login to CareerConnect to book.

For more information see our micro-internships page, or email

We wish you the best of luck with your applications!

In each list, please click on the placement titles to view full vacancy information on CareerConnect. The link will take you to the Single Sign-On logon screen. 

Location Lists:

Main Sector Lists:

In the Sector Master List, please click on each sector heading to link to all individual sector lists. The main sector lists are below:

MIP MT17 Sector Master List


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