My Top Five Tips for Uni

Hey Sweeties,

With Freshers across the country about to embark on University and three years of undergraduate study, I thought I would share my top five tips for University. Here goes…

Graduation

1. Be organised
A great opportunity and excuse for an epic stationary haul! You need notepads, pens, a wall planner and I would also recommend a small diary to jot down your lecture times and any fun socials to carry with you. Unless of course you do are someone who manages their life through various apps and online calendars, then of course do that instead. I can’t cope with disorganised people; if you’re old enough to leave home, you’re old enough to get a handle on where you need to be at certain times of the day and week.

2. Join a club or society
Without going all Pitch Perfect on you (which is a great film by the way), there are so many benefits to joining a club or society during your time at Uni that goes far beyond just meeting people. Depending on where you are going, I can almost guarantee that there is a club for everything and if there isn’t, start one! While at Uni myself, I joined the Equestrian Society and in my 2nd & 3rd years became Vice President then President –this definitely isn’t for everyone but if you’re someone that likes to get involved then getting yourself elected onto a club or society committee can be a lot of fun and looks great on your CV.

3. Get acquainted with the University library & Second-hand Book Shops
This sounds quite geeky but honestly, if you want to do well, you need to keep up with all the suggested reading and academic books can be very expensive, particularly on a student budget. The University library will stock everything and if they don’t, they can either purchase it or borrow it themselves from somewhere for you but they won’t know to do this unless they know what you and your course mates need. Also, I can’t recommend finding out which local second-hand book shops and charity shops stock academic books. Of course you won’t find everything you need but you’ll be surprised what crops up with regular scouting.

4. Budget
Unless you’re fortunate enough to have parents that can afford your course fees, rent and general living fees during your time at university, you’re going to be heavily relying on a student loan and more than likely, a part-time job to keep you afloat. I actually think this only adds to your University experience as although you’re not quite in the real world yet, you’re preparing well for it and learning how to manage your money. You’ll also fairly swiftly realise that you would rather put you well-earned cash to something more than just propping up the bar in the Students Union.

5. Enjoy Yourself!
You won’t get this time again in your life so make the most of it –study hard so you have something to show for your time there afterwards, but also ensure you get out, join clubs and socialise so you can meet people and share in new experiences.

If you are about to head off to University for the first time, good luck! If you’ve already been like I have, what are your top tips?

Until next time x

Advertisements

Sunday Chat: Is there such a thing as the Perfect Degree?

The perfect degree?

Hey Sweeties,

Conscious that it’s that time of year where many of you will be graduating and bracing yourselves for hunting for your first proper job; as a graduate myself, I almost feel a responsibility towards you all. When I was at University, there was never a doubt that we would all land great jobs… what they fail to tell you, is that this might not be straight away. Yes you learn great skills writing essays; managing societies and representing your class and or school does look great on your CV, but this doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be snapped up straight away. So I feel it is my duty, to shatter any rosy vision you have been sold and to tell you how it really isContinue reading

Sunday Chat: Tying Myself in Knots

Hey Sweeties,

While we’re still in the hype of the New Year, I felt this Sunday chat post needed to remain one of reflection. I have already written this week about 2014 and my hopes for the year going forward (here), but it’s since clicking publish have I thought of other things that happened in 2014 that I completely failed to mention such as my opportunities with Elle magazine. I have read some of your posts and those of other bloggers I follow in regards to reflecting on the year now gone and I can’t help but feel like I have become lost, confused, claustrophobic almost with thoughts about 2015; the year now already ticking away as I write.

Sunday Chat

The past couple of days I have really got hot and bothered about my career which is ridiculous but as you all know, it’s at the top of my list of goals and aspirations and will be for the foreseeable future. I spent the best part of seven years getting myself into the communications industry (read my Graduate Experience) and yet I am now not completely sure this is where I want to be. I wonder now if I just convinced myself I wanted to work in PR and marketing? I enjoy writing press releases but I don’t want to be in PR, I like the creative side of marketing but mostly it’s far too analytical which isn’t me at all therefore I have no desire to progress further down this route. I have also developed a hatred for social media unless it’s for personal use. Oh man.

Ultimately this also narrows down to feeling as though that at 27 years old, I should have my shit together and be a lot further ahead than I am… Although I tell myself and have no doubt mentioned on here previously that there is no rush, that your twenties are for trying out a few things and finding what works for you, I struggle to follow this -my own- advice. Writing is my number one love and if I was given an opportunity tomorrow I would jump at it… But what I don’t want is a role where I am just churning out content for the sake of it rather than for genuine purpose. I also worry that writing can be too isolating and as much as I like getting my head down and working independently, I know it wouldn’t take much to turn me into a hermit & with my battles with occasional loneliness this would be a disaster.

I actually think that having the freedom to try out a few jobs and career options to find the correct fit is not only healthy, but should be encouraged and until you hit thirty, employers shouldn’t necessarily raise their eyebrows at your CV if there seems to be method and lessons learnt from each previous employment. But as someone that has been in that situation and had to explain why -at probably only 21-22 years old- why I was moving from different professions, you do crave stability. This actually was one of the reasons I wanted to go to University so that I could start afresh at graduation and my pre life was merely that. I am also someone that is at my most comfortable when I know where I am going and how I am going to get there and I like to come across like that in interviews, and I do fortunately.

My big goal if you like is that by thirty, I am in a position to start a family (if I wanted to) and to do that, I feel I need to have a career built up enough that it would be ok to take a short break, or it’s something I could do freelance or work flexibly around raising a family. I have a salary in mind and to be honest, thirty is more like thirty-two now but still, I have an aim. This is still the best part of 3 years away, 5 if we’re going for the latter age, it is still all perfectly achievable so I really do need to just chill the fuck out and accept that everything will work out as long as I am keeping myself aware and sharp to the opportunities that become available. I know myself, I just over think and analyse every goddamn thing to the extreme which is why I end up in situations like the one I am busily writing out for you guys now.

One thing I feel I would like to do, is work or be in a position of influence with young people at school leaver age and tell them that trying to decide what you want to do in life is ridiculous until they have gone out into the real world and started experiencing things for themselves. I went to a good school and because I was a hard worker, they were good to me in return, that was until GCSE/A-Level time where I just felt they let me down. I made the decision to not go to University (although I did later) & I found myself in a small group separated from the rest as the school were simply not interested in those not going (to University). Rather than giving us as help and guidance with job applications or advice about alternative further education we were just forgotten. Now, that attitude is (hopefully) almost archaic but I am sure it still exists and schools don’t realise how single minded they are and how actually, they are letting their young people down if University really is the only way they measure student success.

All I am saying, is that just because others seem to have a clear direction outlined, don’t feel that what you’re doing isn’t still leading you in the right direction you think you want to go in. It might not be obvious, but trust your decisions and make use of opportunities when they present themselves, even if you’re not totally sure how it fits in with your life plan. Things have a funny way of working out so trust your instincts, think with your head but follow your heart and I am sure you will be fine.

Until next time x

My Graduate Experience

This morning on LinkedIn I saw a request from a past University tutor asking us (graduates) to submit our experiences of the transition from graduate to career professional. It got me thinking about that time again which really only ended for me 6 months ago when finally, I got my start in marketing communications. 

Today also marks 10 years since gaining my GCSE results and last week it was 8 years since I got my A-Levels. Between then and now I have got 2 NVQ’s in Business Administration, a National qualification in Dental Nursing, and my degree. I have also in this time moved from my family home in Devon to London, Leeds, Bath, Keynsham (between Bath and Bristol) and North Hampshire where I am now. It has certainly been a decade of transition and I have to remind myself of how much I have done and achieved even though I spend much of my time at the moment feeling as though I am playing catch up and should be far more advanced in my career than I am. But life isn’t about doing everything correctly and in order, it’s about doing things that let you learn who you are and what you want and often that involves several paths before landing on the right one. The path to my career in Communications has taken 7 years from realising that’s what I wanted to do, completing what I was doing at the time, beginning my degree to finally getting my break in January this year.

What I want readers to take away from this, particularly if you are young and at that crossroads moment is persist. Do everything you can to be the best person you can be and give yourself the best opportunities… but also remember as you’ll later read, that there are others, who don’t do half if any of the things that you do or have done to get to where you want, and will just land that great job. You know what, screw ’em, life’s a bitch and karma always pays off in the end!

Enjoy! 

Image

I graduated in the summer of 2012 with a 2:1 degree in Media Communications from Bath Spa University. During my time at Uni, aside from studying, I ensured I was proactive in my extra-curricular pursuits that ultimately would back up and support my claims of having good skills in time management, organisation, can work well with people etc. but more importantly that I like to get involved and contribute my time and voice to things that matter and I can influence.

In my second year I became Vice President of the Equestrian Society and I was also honoured with being the rep for the School of Humanities and Cultural Industries (representing about 1400 students) as well as being class rep for Media Communications.  Time managing was both essential and a challenge and it would be wrong of me to say that reading time didn’t suffer… it did, I gave myself an incredibly full year. But what you put in you get out and at the Volunteer & Society Awards evening that year I wiped the floor with awards, I also passed my 2nd year well and gained the President role of the Equestrian Society which at the time was what I felt was the only additional pursuit to my coursework that I should do in my 3rd and final year. I also, throughout my three years at Bath Spa, made a conscious effort to get work experience in Marketing and PR which was my whole drive for going to University (and back into full-time education after 3.5-4 years working in healthcare) in the first place. 3rd year was hard and to be honest, I should have been satisfied with spending the year studying as trying to manage the society and all the s**t that went with it (and it came in bucketfuls) did affect my work and my advice would be to keep your 3rd year as simple as possible. Spend the first year finding your feet, making friends etc. Second year make as full as you like if you can manage it, and don’t do anything in your 3rd year except study! Consistently working a part-time job also proved a hassle but I needed the money as so many students do and actually, sounds weird but it was an escape from studying!

Anywho… moving on.

When going into interviews following my graduation, prospective employers liked my clear can-do, driven attitude and that I used my time at University well. However, this did not prevent me from being unemployed for 4 months and then having to resort to a full-time job in House of Fraser which was depressing to say the least for a further 3 months before I landed my first (and current) role in Marketing Communications. If I had stayed in the Bath/Bristol area I may have had a slightly different experience as I made a lot of connections in the area owing to my different pursuits but after University I relocated to North Hampshire where aside from moving in with my Boyfriend and kick-starting that area of my life off, the catchment area for opportunities here is endless. I had interviews weekly (10 in all) but as is so often the case for graduates, it’s not the personality of the candidate, it’s their experience which as is so often the case, is little if any. Employers seem blinded by it which is a shame, I came to University as employers wouldn’t look at me without a degree, now they weren’t looking at me because of experience. You can’t win!

As negative as that sounds, it’s good to experience it first-hand. I myself was deluded into thinking I would fly into a job upon graduation as my pre uni working life + degree + extra-curricular pursuits made me think I was a top notch candidate… but for whatever reason I wasn’t quite good enough. But it made me more determined to make it in Marketing and PR, rejection did almost make me give up but having that patience and that belief in yourself does pay off. You just have to wait for that right interview with the right people, in the right company that will see that potential and give you that all important break! But I won’t lie to you, spending every single day for 4 months and then in my evenings while working at HoF filling out countless job applications and job hunting is relentless and there quite honestly, is nothing more depressing and soul destroying. But keep going, you must keep going!

Bath Spa probably won’t like this account of my time as a graduate… but it’s the real account, no rainbows and roses and no “by doing this degree you’ll get the most amazing job in the world straight away” as they convince you at open days. Some do of course, my good friend who did amazingly well academically, did no work experience, or extra-curricular activities and didn’t want to even work in Marketing & PR for much of our time together at University like I so desperately did, following graduation flew straight into a job…. In PR!

Like I said, life’s a Bitch!

Image