CDA – What’s the Point

How many points have you got?


Are you going for 10 points to get the Chester Difference Award? Do you want to go further and earn 15 points for CDA Plus or are you taking those 15 points to an assessment centre to reach the giddy heights of the Chester Difference Excellence Award?

It’s easy to get obsessed with earning CDA points. There are tonnes of ways to earn them and lots of the activities are things you like doing anyway. You could go on and on and earn squillions of points… until you’ve got more points than all your friends…then more points than CareerHub can cope with…then more points than anyone in the whole world has got…for anything… ever!

But what’s the point?!

It’s great to push yourself and be competitive but if you’ve got so many points you can’t even remember what they’re for, isn’t that a bit erm … pointless?

The Chester Difference Award is an employability award and so the whole point of the points is to record, your skills and attributes, your experiences and expertise, your achievements and above all your awesomeness!

When you want to get a job, any kind of job, you need to let employers know how awesome you are. If you don’t, someone else will and they’ll get your job! How rubbish is that?!

Thing is, you can’t just say ‘I’m awesome, I earned 10 / 15 / 150 points and got the Chester Difference Award’, employers want to know what the heck that means and what you’ve done to earn your points.

So what kind of thing should you put on your application or say at your interview?

Something like:

‘I worked part-time in a ukulele shop and gained experience of handling payments and providing   excellent customer service.

‘I completed a 10 week internship as a Communications Officer with Blathermouth’s Incorporated and developed my written and verbal communication skills by writing copy for press releases and answered enquiries over the phone.’

Notice how we didn’t mention the number of points you get for doing these things? Instead we demonstrated where you got your winning customer service smile. We spelt out when and where you developed your banter and your word play skills.

If you do this too, you won’t just tell your employer you’re right for the job … you’ll show them!

Let them know you’re ready for work by saying what you’ve done for CDA and how it’s relevant to the job you want, then whip out that shiny certificate to prove you did it!

The CDA is a tool to evidence your awesomeness!!

Need some pointers on finding these kinds of opportunities?

Just follow the link below and log into CareerHub. The ‘Opportunities’ tab shows what’s recommended for you but you can also search for what you want. Part-time Work, Graduate Jobs, The Chester Internship Programme, they’re all on there. All you have to do is point and click – easy!

We hope that points you in the right direction!



5 tips for balancing part-time work and study

blog photoFrom guest writer Natalie Webster (2nd Year English Literature student and Careers & Employability Information Point Assistant)

Like many students, I have found during my time in Chester that having a part-time job is both financially necessary and a great way to improve my skills for when I graduate. Although working for the University within the UniJob scheme is helpful in terms of having a flexible employer, I still have the usual challenges of working part-time whilst studying: I often want to travel home for vacation periods, my ever-changing university timetable can be tricky to deal with, and most crucially, my degree is always going to come first.

However, I’ve realised that it’s my responsibility to manage the work-study balance and make sure employment benefits both me and my employer. Here are five things which have worked for me.

1.Be honest with your employer 
If you’re lucky, your employer will understand how important your degree is, and how stressful exams and deadlines can be. Find out early when your busiest times at university will be and let your manager know in advance. There is nothing worse than realising you have an exam on the day you’re meant to be working and frantically phoning up work to cancel. If you are as transparent and accommodating as possible, hopefully your employer will be understanding and considerate. This is more difficult if you work for someone who is less understanding, but your degree and your health need to come first.

2. Be realistic
You probably can’t have 12 contact hours a week, work 30 hours a week and still have time to study, sleep and socialise. One of these areas will suffer if you do. I normally have a look at my schedule and if there is time that I usually waste by staying in bed too late or staring at social media, it’s a great time to work a shift and earn some money. The University recommends working no more than 15 hours a week alongside your studies.

3. Remember you’re not a student at work
Make the distinction between your student-self and your professional-self. Once you’re at work, it is necessary to detach yourself from your university life. Ensure that you’re not distracted by the essay you have to hand in next week and neglect the work that you should be doing. This is easier said than done, but ensuring that your studying is organised and efficient should help with this.

4. Organise your time effectively
I have found that timetables, rotas, schedules and diaries are my best friends during busy work periods. If you’re working in the afternoon, plan exactly what you’re going to revise, or how many words you’re going to write in the morning. By being specific and having goals, it makes it much easier to fulfil the quota of work you need to do. By the time you go off to work, it may be a relief to stop studying!

5. Remember to relax
The time when you’re not at work or university should not be solely about revision and essay-writing. Ensure you have a good night’s sleep, meet up with friends, go for a walk, and catch up on your favourite TV show. This will ensure you are at your best for all aspects of your life.

Working while studying – why a job on campus can be the ideal solution for students

Rent, books, food, technology, clothes, nights out – these are just a few of the things that can eat into a student’s already limited budget. It’s not surprising that many students seek part-time work to help make ends meet. But balancing the competing demands of work and studies can be a challenge. So, what are the options?

Off-campus work

Many university towns and cities are thriving commercial centres, with many opportunities for students to work in shops, restaurants and bars. These jobs are typically during evenings and weekends. Although some of these jobs may not be particularly highly-paid, they often provide a lively, sociable work environment and the chance to develop skills that will be useful for future employment – such as team working, communication and confidence. But employers may expect students to work long hours, which could clash with assignment deadlines.

Working on campus

At the University of Chester, the UniJob recruitment bank provides students with access to a diverse range of part-time roles on the university campus, for example at events, in the library, in the fitness centre, maintaining the grounds or working in an office. Jobs on campus provide the security of a working environment that is already familiar to students, and offer a different perspective on University life.

As an employer, the university recognises that studying is a priority, so students are not asked to work more than 15 hours per week during term time. What’s more, the application process offers the opportunity to practise valuable job-seeking skills, and students even have the opportunity to receive feedback which can help them with future job applications.

For University of Chester students, the UniJob application process for 2013 opens on 23rd September with a closing date of 16th October. For more information, visit the website:


Top tips for finding retail jobs as a student….and some reasons to be positive:

I recently rang several retailers based in Golden Square (shopping centre in the centre of Warrington) to source part-time student vacancies on behalf of Careers and Employability.

In the current climate I assumed it would be difficult to find even one vacancy. However, I was delighted to find five part-time vacancies after only a few calls to stores, restaurants and coffee shops. These vacancies have now been uploaded onto Careers and Employability’s vacancy portal

After talking to the store managers based in Golden Square, here are my top tips for finding part-time retail vacancies:

1. Before you visit or phone, check each retailer’s website for relevant vacancies, note any vacancies you spot and then contact the store and ask whether the vacancies you’ve seen are still available – shows you’re motivated and have done your research!

2. Ask to speak to the manager when you ring or call into stores: they’re the ones who will be most likely to be aware of any current vacancies and relevant details.

3. Create a retail-focused CV and take a copy into each store and make sure you give it to the manager. Or if you’re phoning, ask how they would like to receive your CV (in store/by email).

4. You could write a short covering letter to accompany your CV. Tailor the covering letter specifically for the store/position that you are interested in and explain why you would like to work there and why you would be suitable for that store. Try to address this letter to the store manager (phone up beforehand to ask their name)

5. If there are no jobs available, ask if there might be any in the near future and see if the manager will keep your CV on file– then call back after a few weeks to check whether any new vacancies have emerged.

6. Look appropriate (not scruffy!) when visiting a store – help the manager visualise you working there.

7. Start out expecting to contact loads of stores – if you contact a large number of retailers, at least one of them will have a vacancy!

8. Register for part-time vacancy alerts on – you can then find out about vacancies as they are added to the portal by Careers and Employability

Georgina Sullivan, UniJob employee/2nd year student -Radio Production and Journalism, University of Chester