What Do I Do Now?

As of 9th May 2017 I will officially be finished with my degree. Yes, I know, It’s scary! But what’s even scarier is that the question I’ve been asking myself for the last year will be staring me right in the face: What do I do now? Now I don’t have the cushy support of uni to help me through all the difficult adulting and now I have to actually make it in the big wide world… argh! Not to worry though, I’ve been prepared-ish and I’m willing to offer you some advice on how you can cushion the blow of finishing uni. The earlier you start the better, I know it’s worrying but if you start thinking about your future from day one you can’t go wrong can you? Right…?

Start Saving

One day your student loan will run out (the horror!). So, it’s probably best to start saving asap, for that inevitable moment when you run out of dosh but haven’t found a job yet. Start putting aside a bit every week if you can spare it and it will soon mount up and leave you with a good financial cushion post-uni. Even if you just put your spare change in a moneybox, little by little, it will build up.

Start Applying

At the beginning of third year you should start thinking about applying for jobs or further education (whatever your choice is). With jobs, the more you apply for the better. Apply for as many jobs as you can until you finally find one. Make the most of the careers centre whilst you can. They can help you with CVs and personal statements for MA or PGCEs. Ensure that you take time on your applications, if you rush them or complete them half-heartedly you’ll find you won’t get the positive results you want.

Projects

Ever wanted to write a novel? Or put on a play? Or even take up pole dancing? Now’s the best time. That sweet time between the end of your exams and assignments and having to go home for the summer and find a job is the best kind of time! Use your new-found free time to work on projects that will better your future but also make you happy and will feel rewarding. Now you don’t have exams and coursework in the way you can start doing the things you want to. My personal goal is to get writing and to finish all the books I’ve been meaning to read for the last million and a half years!

Relax

For most of us we have been in education nearly every year since we were possibly four or five, we deserve a break. Don’t stress yourself out too much, take time to relax and enjoy the short amount of time you have in your student house with your friends Go out, explore the town, have a movie marathon, do everything you wanted to do but didn’t have time to previously because of uni work.

Until next time! 🙂

Carpe Opportunities

University is not just useful for gaining a degree, it offers you support and opportunities to really make your CV stand out and give you a real edge when you graduate. However, it is up to you to take advantage of these opportunities and go out and find them. This can prove a bit difficult to get your head around, believe me, I’ve only just figured out how to make the most of the support I have at uni! So I thought for this week’s post I’d give you some tips on how to look for and take advantage of the wonderful prospects available to you.

Ask your personal tutor

Although universities have a wealth of opportunities you won’t just be handed them on a plate, you often have to express interest. Ask your personal tutor if they know of any work experience or other opportunities that are available for someone studying your degree or your particular area of interest. Once you express an interest in these activities your tutor will be in more of a position to help you.

Visit the careers centre

One of the best ways to find out about what experience you can gain is by visiting the careers centre. Edge Hill’s careers centre is located in the Student Information Centre (SIC). You can book an appointment with one of the career advisers using the careers centre link on the Edge Hill website. They can talk you through what you can do to gain experience and knowledge in your field. They can also help you optimise your CV and answer any other career-based questions you have.

Create your own opportunities

However, there’s nothing stopping you from creating your own opportunities. Want to be a writer? Start a literary magazine. Want to be an entrepreneur? Design a product to sell. Want to work in theatre? Do what my friends and I did and create your own theatre company. Your tutors are there for advice and support so you speak to them about your ideas and perhaps it’s easier than you think it is to do what you want to do.

Until next time! 🙂

How to Bulk Up your CV!

Bulking up your CV is a great skill to learn early on in your working life, as every opportunity you take should work towards this goal of making yourself more employable. So don’t wait til after university to start building your CV up, start now, the sooner the better!
In this blog post I hope to inform you of different ways you can build up your CV, bringing you one step closer to your dream job.


Getting a paid job: This is what people automatically think when trying of bulking up their CV. And yes, having a paid job is great as it’s extra income you can put towards your goal, however, you might not always find one that is catered towards what you want to do in the future. Fear not though as pretty much any job is great for your CV as it gives you time management, organisation and people skills (in most cases), which are attributes every job looks for! Just remember the job doesn’t have to be catered towards your future goal to be useful.


Just like paid work, volunteering does not have to relate to your dream job, it helps, but it’s not essential. So for an example, I’ll highlight two kinds of volunteering you can do.

  1. Catering your volunteering to your dream job: My own personal experience of this is my experience from working with a special needs charity, as I create promotional videos for their social media page. This adds to my media resume, but also helps make me more employable if I ever change my mind on what I want to do in the future. Another example of this would be a health student volunteering at a retirement home, as you would get experience in caring for people who depend on your help, communication and many other skills you wouldn’t even think of!
  2. Unrelated volunteering: I believe there is no such thing as ‘unrelated’ volunteering as every experience as key skills attached to it which can add to your dream job. My personal experience with this was in my first year with my Vibe radio ‘Reel Talk’. Each week we’d pick a theme or genre and talk about films and play soundtracks. Now, I don’t plan on going into radio, it’s fun, but not want I wanted to do in the long run. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted to do in the future, it certainly added to my CV! As I was able to say that I produced a weekly radio plan, which shows writing ability and multitasking skills, as well as getting the opportunity to host a charity fun run, showcasing charisma and communication skills and being able to talk to a large group of people.   

    Unpaid work experience is something you’re going to come across a lot when looking for a job, as many employers either can’t pay you as it’s not in their budget or they want to see if you have the skills they’re looking for in an employer before hiring you. My personal example of this is the ‘Label Recordings’ which I work for. I have talked about this in a previous post, which I’ll link here, so I’ll just give you a brief summary. ‘The Label’ is a non-profit indie record label, which I edit music videos for and am a runner for on set. Although I am not paid, I have gained a lot of useful experience from this and even opportunities such as more unpaid work as an editor for Sound City!  


    If you’ve never had a job, don’t worry there’s still ways to make yourself employable. And you can do that with one simple tip which is to treat every position as if it was a job. So, have you ever lead a big group project? Raised money for a charity? Won any relevant awards? Or held a position in a society?

For example, I’m president of Edge Hill’s Disney society (Yes, I do a surprising amount of
things in my life), which isn’t very relevant to the media job I’m working towards. However when I think about
what skills I used and developed in this position, then I can say that I gained skills in organisation, decision-making and leadership.
As long as you can make it relevant, then add it!


And finally ask yourself: do I have any skills that would be useful for this job I want? This can be anything from languages you know or your familiarity with certain computer programs. As long as it’s relevant for the job you’re applying for, add it!

I hope you learnt something from this post, as writing a CV can be hard at first but once you’ve got it sorted done and out of the way, it’s just a case of updating it from time to time.
Until next time!

Film/Show of the day: Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Make A Statement

Hi everyone!

Hope you have all had another good week. Hopefully you’re all coming close to the end of the college year (if you haven’t already) and that means you have a nice long summer ahead of you!

The summer is always a good time to recharge and catch up with friends and family after the hectic end of year assessments and exams. And that’s something that all of us need.

Once that recharge period is over though there are a few things you can do over the summer to help you get ahead in life and earn a few of those valuable transferable skills you always hear everyone talking about.

If you’ve applied for university already then you’ll probably remember writing your personal statement (I don’t think I’ll ever forget writing mine.) And if you’re applying for university soon you’ll have that to look forward to. Don’t worry though! There’s advice and guidance available all around you for writing a personal statement that will stand out.

The great thing about personal statements is they give you a chance to showcase the passions you have in life, whether that’s playing music, volunteering on weekends or visiting museums.

And even if you have already finished your personal statement and been accepted to uni, there’s always your CV to think about.

Once you’ve finished college and university you will probably never have as much free time as you do over the summer break. That’s why it’s an excellent chance to squeeze in some extra curricular activities to boost your personal statement and CV, and make yourself stand out from the crowd.

It doesn’t have to take up your entire holiday either! There are a number of different options you can explore, so there is sure to be something out there for you.

Working- Some of you might already have part-time jobs, and you might be willing to take on some extra shifts over the holiday period to contribute to your savings. For those who don’t, there are many sites where you can search for part-time and holiday jobs.

Volunteering- If you’re having trouble finding a part-time job, volunteering might be the route for you. Some organisations are always looking for new volunteers (be sure to check out your local charities) and this can be a great addition to any personal statement or CV.

Don’t be afraid to go out in the world and take every opportunity that you can get! It will most probably reward you in the long run.

Quote for the day: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.” -Robert Frost.

Until next time! 🙂

Broadening Horizons

Hi everyone!

Hope you are all doing very well.

Today I am going to talk a little bit about the things you can do at uni to really expand your horizons and gain lots of new skills and experiences. After all that is what uni is all about!

The job market is competitive, and even with your degree getting a job won’t be easy. You need to make sure you stand out a little more.

You might think that’s easier said than done, but there are lots of little ways that you can make a difference.

It can be something as simple as a part time or summer job (if you don’t already have one.) It doesn’t necessarily have to be directly related to the job you want to have in the future. I am sure your teachers have talked about transferable skills before. Most of these can be developed in the work place.

You can even use your degree to give yourself an edge. Some course options offer sandwich years or a year abroad. A sandwich year allows you to undertake a year of placement in an industry suited to your course. Usually after second year, then you will return to uni to complete your degree with a little more experience under your belt.

ERASMUS is a growing programme that allows students from the UK to go abroad for either a semester or a full year and complete part of their degree in a partner university. These experiences can be invaluable, not just to employers but to you as well.

Volunteering is another option. Again this can be something as simple as volunteering at a local charity shop, or volunteering abroad. There are also programmes like Camp America that allow you to explore the wonders of the USA and get paid whilst you do it.

If something like that isn’t really your cup of tea, there are plenty of other options. Something as simple as learning a new language can offer you more than you think.

Every little thing counts! So make sure that while you are having the time of your life, you’re also thinking ahead.

There’s so much to do that will give you the best job prospects  and a great life experience.

Quote for the day: The future depends on what you do today. -Mahatma Gandhi

Hope you all have a great week, until next time 🙂

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Hey everyone!

Hope you are all doing extremely well. It’s been a very busy week for me so far, so I apologise for the lateness of this post.

One of the great things about uni is the chance to create your own degree, you get a lot more flexibility and choice than you at school or college.

As it’s March that means it’s time to decide on module choices for next year!

It can sound very scary at first, especially if you’re not great at decision making (I am guilty of this too, don’t worry.)

Since you’re paying for your education, and the end goal is to get a degree and (most likely) a job at the end of your studies, tailoring your degree to reach that end goal is super important.

The amount of choice can vary depending on your degree type, typically single honours students will get more choice than major-minor or joint honour students.

But there is usually a great deal of flexibility no matter what your programme.

In first year there may not be as much choice. There are compulsory modules for each year of your degree. This year, I didn’t get to choose the modules I studied, but this gives you the opportunity to study some things you might not even have thought about before.

Tutors are around for each stage of the choosing process, so no matter what there is someone to talk to.

We had an initial briefing session, which gave us all the information we needed to know about timetabling and how to choose modules.

Every subject then posts a module description online, so you can find out what type of things you will be studying, the assessments that comprise the module and the module leader’s email. If you have any specific questions about the module they are the one to ask!

I am really looking forward to the second year of my degree now. I was slightly scared, but now I have more knowledge about the modules I will be studying, and I can’t wait to start studying them.

It is a nerve-racking experience, but it’s an opportunity too great to be missed. As long as you take advantage of all the great experiences uni has to offer you, and ask for help if you need it then you are on your way to making your time at university the best it can possibly be.

Quote for the day: “Trust your instincts, and make judgements on what your heart tells you. The heart will not betray you.” Fall of Kings – David Gemmell

Hope you all have a good week, make good choices!

Until next time! 🙂

Getting a LINKED IN profile (if you haven’t done so already)

So many people are graduating in July, from so many Universities up and down the country. They are going out into the world of work and competing for the few jobs out there. The next few months up until Christmas will be a challenging time for many, but the real world can be aided by the offline world – When you submit a job application, chances are an employer will search your name online and find out more about you (like you quickly seeking a Wikipedia page for your new favourite celebrity), so it’s best to have a Linked In profile – An official online CV…

Summary

In the Summary section, this is a chance to give a short and sweet description of yourself – Depending on what kinds of jobs you’ll apply for, the Summary can be general or specific. Usually it’s best to include what you’re doing at Present (I am a fresh Media graduate…), what you want to do in the Future (…I’m looking for an internship…), and what you’ve done in the Past (…I have worked for media companies in the past). While I recommend mostly sticking to facts that can be backed up with hard evidence (ie. a reference from a past employer), sometimes you can express opinions such as personal qualities (I consider myself to be reliable and hard working), as long as you can back up the said expressions with examples.

Education

The sections on a Linked In profile can be re arranged, so whether to order Education or Work first below the Summary depends on the sector you want to go into – A job in Academia would probably warrant the Education section to go first, and a practical job like Media would probably warrant the Work section to go first. For the “University” entry, it’s best to broadly describe the skills and experiences gained from your study and even from any societies joined, rather than listing the module names and grades.

Work Experience (includes Volunteering)

I would say that this is the most important section, as employers find comfort in knowing there’s evidence that you’ve done certain things before. As a result, I always recommend using bullet point lists instead of ugly paragraphs, so that details are really easy to find. Sometimes paragraphs are necessary when a job description is very complex, but where it can be avoided, again focus on skills and experience that can be transferred to a role that you’re looking for.

Other Considerations

There is a section for Awards that you’ve won, and this can include business grants, commendations, and attendance certificates. There’s also a Skills and Endorsements section where others can “Like” a skill that you apparently have, but there is a slight problem with this as when someone endorses you, Linked In automatically asks you to endorse them which can lead to pressured endorsements (doing it because you have to) instead of meaningful endorsements (doing it because you want to), so only keep endorsements that are genuine. Finally, there’s an Additional Info section where you can add Interests to show how well rounded you are, as well as the all important contact info like an email address.

So there we have a round up of what to do for a Linked In page. Make sure everything is professional including the profile photo, and be sure to look over your Linked In before you go into an interview, as you may get asked about something on the profile despite never mentioning it in your initial job application.

https://www.linkedin.com

How to run a record label…

As my record label reaches it’s 4th release next month, I thought it would be good to provide an insight into what I go through when curating music to go out to the public. Not all people about to graduate (in a few months time like me – eek!) are planning on going into employed work / further study, but are planning on becoming self employed (be their own boss, handle their own national insurance contributions / income tax etc). This insight will hopefully give an idea if running your own business is for you – And for the record, no I don’t earn any money from this venture, as this is more of a hobby and BIG learning experience… but maybe yours will make money!

Running a record label deals with the admin side of music – Don’t expect to see much of the recording studio.

The music industries boil down to three parts: Production, Distribution, Consumption, and of course my record label deals with the latter two, although sometimes I get a little involved with the Production (like giving feedback on demos) without compromising the artistic ability of my artists. I begin with finding an artist. Like most labels, I don’t accept artists that just randomly contact me (cold call) out of the blue – Instead, I either put out scouting calls for Artists, or answer Artists’ scouting calls (if they are looking for a label to release their material). Rarely do I approach an artist with a raw idea for an album, as this turns into a very time consuming process of making music from scratch. I prefer for the release to be at least half way through made and ready for release, to save time.

After the Artist is happy to work with me, we curate a release behind the scenes, and WOW a lot of work goes into making a release. We analyse the music and come up with a catchy description (what the press usually copy and paste onto their own sites if they want to promote the music), an eye catching artwork, and a marketing schedule (what singles get released when, what information gets released when etc.). Then, personally for me, I create posts on my website and schedule them over a month to automatically build hype towards the release – I also add updates about any promotion we get, such as radio play and good reviews. Then after the release has gone online, it’s just a waiting game to see what the reaction to it is, which could be anything. I once released a single thinking it wasn’t going to do very well, but then turned out to be our biggest hit!

All in all, running a label is all about running into problems, solving the problems, then move onto the next problems and so on. It’s a problem solving game, so it requires a sharp mind to make sure your own activity will make sure you can be competitive and produce output that will hopefully get a positive reaction. It’s taken a lot of development to get this far, but when you run a real world project, you are rewarded with strong experience.

Spreadsheets for Good

Over the years of being a full time student, I have noticed how I use online spreadsheets to help me with my student life, whether it be for budgeting, time management, or just to keep sane!

Spreadsheets can be accessed in a variety of ways, such as Excel in Microsoft Office, Sheets in Google Drive, and in Open Office.

Budgeting

I mostly use Spreadsheets to budget my money.

I start off with my yearly income, such as Student Loan and earnings from my paid work, as the starting point which adds together (via formula) ready for the deductions.

The deductions are mostly from rent, which is the weekly rent plus deposit, multiplied by the amount of weeks I am staying to give the Total Rent.

I now have the Money Leftover for other things like travel and food. This is then divided by the amount of weeks I am staying to give the maximum weekly spend, which I try to go under so save money in the long run.

FORMULA: Weekly Spend = (Loan + Extra Income) – (Weekly Rent x Weeks Staying) / Weeks Staying

Time Management

Since I have many projects happening at once, whether that be creating essays / presentations for assessments or extra curricular activities, it’s handy to have a table which details all assessments, comments on progress, deadlines, and priority numbers (1 for highest priority etc.). I have colour coded mine to make life a little easier – Red for high priority, yellow for mid priority, and green for low priority.

There is actually a set of formulas to make the priority numbers automatically change dependant on the deadline date – ie. the closer the date, the lower the number – but I haven’t quite got to that yet :/ But right now it’s a clean overview of what needs doing, and where I am at with each one.

Sanity

And finally, I create random Spreadsheets to stay sane. For example, when I am doing a project that’s somehow gone out of control, a spreadsheet that turns a mass of activity into separate parts with individual commentaries for each helps a little – Turning projects into chunks helps.

Luckily, I don’t have to create sanity tables often, but they are an option when things get tough!

With all this writing that I do every day, I figured I’d take a break from literacy and focus on tables and maths 🙂 It’s quite refreshing!

Student Support for Employment

I have used the Careers Service for a number of things over the years, and with the new year approaching and with the urge to do some last minute attempts to boost my CV before graduation, I figured that now is the best time to talk about how the Service has been of help to me.

Careers site

The careers site lists job vacancies in a variety of areas and sectors, and is where I have found paid and voluntary work. It can also be used to see what kind of jobs are being advertised, as a source of inspiration in case you haven’t decided what job you want in the future.

Feedback

The careers service can also provide feedback on application materials. For example, when I was applying for my postgraduate studies, I sent a draft of my personal statement to them and they annotated it with comments for my perusal which was very helpful – I have been invited for a couple of interviews after my application was sent through.

Recognition

Finally, there are numerous certificates that can be given. I have recently heard about an accredited Volunteer Certificate – This is handy as it captures the work experience, making it more than sparing a few hours a week.

So there’s the ways I have interacted with the Careers Service. The future ahead is probably uncertain for some, but there is a wealth of help and advice for getting ahead.

http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/careers/