Summer Work

Something very interesting has happened this year. I have plenty of summer work! This is actually a first for me, as I have been quite unlucky the past few summers in finding work (with one summer being particularly scarring – oh the jobs of competitive job hunting). This post is all about what I’m doing now that the tables have, I suppose, turned.

Blogging

My primary job over the summer is being a Student Blogger. I want to take this blog to new directions and be more deeper in information. At the moment, I feel my posts have only scratched the surface of Higher Education and Employability amongst other topics, and I would like to put more research into future posts. I’m following The Guardian online to read their posts on Employment and Education, so hopefully I can do some commentary posts on some of their articles in the future to give another perspective.

Volunteering

I was told by my landlord that I can stay longer in Ormskirk, which is great news as now I can properly finish off my term as a volunteer. I’m finally getting into the swing of things – clients are now comfortable enough to ask me lots of questions than before, and I’m comfortable enough to answer them. I’m not too sure if I will continue volunteering for my employer after the summer, as although I feel that it’s someone else’s turn to volunteer, I don’t want them to struggle to find helpers like they are kind of doing at the moment. We’ll see when the Volunteer Co ordinator and myself have a Review meeting later this year…

Other Work

I’m still working my Corporate Promotions Assistant job, which I still enjoy doing. I’m working at an Alumni re union at the end of this month, and if I’m seriously lucky, I’ll perhaps be working at the Graduations. I worked at the Graduations last year, and it was quite a curious atmosphere with everyone finishing and emotions being high etc.

Course (Driving and Dissertation)

I haven’t forgotten about my education, though. I’m about to embark on the journey of learning to drive, like reading through the book about the theory and initial taster lessons, and also dissertation research. I’m planning on writing my Diss on cultural capital in record labels, and how it can create a marketable identity so it can earn its economic capital. I have had my first meeting (which went okay; I’m not going down any dark paths), and I’ve got quite a bit of research to do now.

Wow, I actually have more to do than I first though before I started writing. Oh well. I like to keep busy, and rest assured I won’t be out of ideas for the upcoming weekly blog posts.

Feeling Nostalgic

Good day one and all!

It’s been a while since last I spoke, and I’ve been hard at work.
Working on packing up my room so I can leave at the end of the week.

On top of that, I’ve been dabbling back into old Nostalgic Games.
IN particular, I’ve been playing a Trading card game called Yu-Gi-Oh.
Created by Konami, the game is based on the fictional game of Duel Monsters created by Kazuki Takahashi, a main plot device in his Manga of the same name.

While still a childrens card game by definition, it is also one of the most fiendishly difficult games of strategy and chance.
Some games I have played with friends have last near on an hour, each of us trying to out think the other to rob them of their life points.

Of course there are moments when the games may last only ten minutes, but it is still an interesting game in and of itself.

— —

Recently, I’ve been watching through Game of Thrones and I’m surprised to say that I’m really enjoying it.
I’ve been told on many an occasion that it’s a good series but I have been putting it off.
At the time of writing I have reach Season 3, Episode 7.
I’m really really enjoying it.

— —

Quote of the Day
“You know nothing John Snow”

Creative Opportunities

I don’t know how I missed these chances before. Ever since I won my High Achievers Scholarship in my first year since my entrance grades were high, I’ve been able to afford a Macbook Pro and music production software for it, hence I can make music. But so far, shockingly, I have only used it for productions for Uni work and some unreleased original demos, and have never really made the most of the other opportunities in terms of music production until now…

Me in the new recording studio in Creative Edge. Here I’m just posing, not singing 🙂

Remix competitions

This shock and horror occurred when I realised that I haven’t made a song in ages because I didn’t have access to singer and that recording vocals (in my experience) is extremely time consuming, but I found out recently that vocals are freely available from remix competitions. While I’m glad that I can now download many fully recorded vocal “stems” and do more or less whatever I want with them (in the name of music production practice), I feel like I should have started participating in remix competitions a long time ago. Oh well. I’ll get over the ‘missed opportunities’ feeling in time, but for now I have many, many remixes to make and so little time.

Instrumentals

Overcoming the barrier of having no vocals to work with, I realise with confidence that now I can create original works minus the need for vocals. With so much electronic dance music around, I suppose I don’t really need to spend ages recording vocals and just go down the instrumentals route for now, and maybe collaborate with singers in the future (never do professional projects on your own). In case you’re wondering, I have performed on my own songs before but it takes about a month to record my own vocals due to the extreme amount of recording takes I insist on. I was hesitant about doing just instrumentals as I really wanted to go down the pop song route, but I must adapt to what I have.

Songwriting contests

Finally, if I get enough contacts (like singers, instrumentalists), ideas and luck, I would like to enter songwriting contests. I have heard amazing winning songs in the past, and I would like to be a part of those creative processes. What has stopped me in the past was mostly the entrance fees but I can afford to pay a few now, so we’ll wait and see. I’m still a little shaky when it comes to music production; arranging I can do, but mixing everything together is a different story so more practice is needed right now.

As you can tell, I am into my music production, although I have to be realistic and not aspire to work in music full time as those opportunities are few and far between. Instead, I would like to see how far I can actually take my practice in terms of creating music and participating in competitions. Not only is it good vocational practice, but it also gives me a feel of the pressure of the competitive nature of the music industry as, let’s face it, it’s all competition. I hope this post helps other creative arts students such as myself realise that there are other opportunities outside of Academia that can provide practice for any skills learned from Uni and cultural enrichment.

Accommodation – Keeping Clean and Tidy

Hello All
Well, It’s going to be happening soon. Your all going to be moving far away from home for the first time, and some of you will be moving onto Campus to stay in our lovely accommodation .
As I have already said in a previous blog, we have Founders Court, Graduates Court, and Chancellors Court along with my own Accommodation, Forest Court.

Your Room is your own little private space.
It is your to fill with what you wish and what you want. You can do what you want (within legal reason) in your room.
Of course however you are going to (hopefully) want to keep it clean.
A good clean and tidy room, with plenty of organisation means that you as an individual will be able to make your thought processes organised.

Lets face it, there is nothing worse then trying to work and being surrounded by junk and rubbish and being unable to move.
Lets face it, you do not want to particualry have to wade through rubbish just to get in and out of your room.

This is why bins are provided in every room (so you can throw all your spare junk in it), there are designated recycling bins in your kitchens (for those who actually have kitchens) and there is a set of large bins outside.

There is also a hoover and mop set in your kitchen cupboards, which is communal. You take good care of it, and it will take good care of you.

I recommend from personal experience, that you should give your room a hoover at least once a week, bare minimum. At the very least, it picks up all the dust and tiny stuff.

Speaking of, I need to go do mine right now

Speak soon

 

— Quote of the Day —

The world’s a mean place. It’s unfair, then it’s fair. It’s hateful, then it’s loving. It’s a very peculiar place on philosophical and metaphysical and religious levels.” – Tim Allen

Postgraduate Open Evenings…

This week I went to yet another postgraduate open evening (which was slightly far away but it was manageable), so I figured this week I’ll post about my experiences of them thus far…
Me at Birmingham City University - Looking very tired after a two hour train ride from Liverpool near Edge Hill Uni...
Me at a University Postgraduate Open Evening – Looking very tired after a two hours and 30 minutes train ride from Edge Hill Uni…

When it comes to finding the right postgraduate course, I guess the first place to start is the internet, as well as recommendations.

I made the terrible mistake during my further education years of not going to open days of Universities (other than Edge Hill) before actually applying – There was me immaturely thinking that all Unis are the same, and all courses are the same etc., so it didn’t really matter what I applied for! I was very wrong. As I went to Applicant Visit Days after applying, I recall being utterly shocked at how different the Uni Courses I applied for are in real life compared to on paper (prospectus, online info and all that), and not in a good way 🙁 I’m not making THAT mistake again! Henceforth, if I find a Uni for postgraduate study online, I will check them out at Open Days / Evenings as (cliche alert) it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Applications for the courses I’m looking at start in November so I’m well ahead of the game I suppose. So far feelings from the three Postgrad Evenings I visited have created mixed feelings – Just helps me weigh up which options to put first and last (I think you’re allowed three choices for Postgrad study, not five like Undergrad), and hopefully I can visit some more before applications open.

Uni A is one that I am very familiar with, is in a good location, received acclaim for the courses they offer, and I like the environment – Although the course they offer is only kind of what I’m after. Uni B was not amazing… The environment felt like a prison (lots of white walls, seemingly heavy emphasis on “structure” not “independence”), but the location is good. Uni C is the most amazing – Great location, great environment and they offer a course which is exactly what I’m looking for, although the costs of living there are slightly high…

Decisions, decisions, decisions… I’ll visit a couple more before November and hopefully I can find one with very, very few flaws. I already have an idea of what choice is primary or not of course, but who knows, those plans may change in time. No regrets here in making all those long journeys!

I learn so much from Entrepreneurship…

The record label project that I run has taught me many lessons about working in the real world, way before I graduate from University. I once attended a conference about music industry practice, and I’ll always remember what one of the panel members said: “What we do isn’t “sexy”… It’s a hard slog!”. This really put me off working in music because I knew he was right, but I persevere…

The Business School at Edge Hill Uni…

The first and most important lesson is “Don’t think! Do!”, or more accurately, “If you have a plan, stick to the plan!”. I find that initially thinking about things is essential, but determining alternatives is not – I mean my biggest weakness that I am currently conquering is Hesitation. I used to say “hesitation costs, ambition earns”, but this is counter productive because ambition requires hesitation to think about it. This is quite a new lesson learned considering I have been running my label for some time now, but currently whenever I come up with a plan using common sense (that’s what “business sense” boils down to, I suppose) not ambition, I go through with it strait away as hesitation will just cost me time I don’t have. This has proved quite an effective way to go about business, and life in general!

A more difficult lesson I learned is “Cut the fat!”. Assertiveness is something I have to use, and I don’t mind being assertive because it gets the job done (unlike aggression and submissiveness of course). It’s a difficult lessons because of when I have to be Ruthless… There were times when I just got told excuse for not doing work after excuse for not doing work, and it did actually guilt trip me into letting it go – And so I have set a reasonable threshold, so there are so many excuses I can accept before I decide to let people go from a project and replace them ASAP. I have to be assertive and, unfortunately, ruthless for the greater good, which can be a harsh lesson for those working in the real world. What has to be done has to be done – There’s no point in many getting slowed down by a few, basically.

The final lesson is that: “It IS a hard slog!”. I have had many difficult problems (and a few successes on the positive side), and admittedly there have been times when I have encountered problems that require WAITING, which is very punishing as technically it’s a problem which I have, but cannot solve myself in 24 hours. I have now accepted that working in the real world is the opposite of easy and all that, but it is because of that that it is rewarding when tricky problems are overcome.

This post is written to inspire those who have not tried doing business projects yet to perhaps have a go at one, and to help those who are already doing business projects through tough times. Business projects do not have to be long term of course; they can be short term like organising a one day charity event etc. I’m not sure if I regret setting up a label or not to be honest – I just see it as an ordinary part time job with challenges 🙂

1 month left of 2nd year

At the time of writing this blog I now have just under a month left of my 2nd year of my degree! One of my housemates pointed this out to me and my friends on Facebook yesterday and I honestly can’t believe where the past 18 months or so have gone. Before starting my degree my dad once told me that it would fly by and how right he has been. Not only that but according to my personal tutor and my boyfriend (who is a third year) say that my third and final year of my degree will go even quicker!

The past few weeks at uni however, have been hard for me (I got ill and then I hit some problems with two of my assignments so I’ve been stressed to say the least) but I have gotten through it in one piece and I’m at home now for the Easter holidays. The only things I have left to do in my second year of my course are

  1. Write and submit a 2000 word lab report
  2. Sit 2x 2 hour exams in May (One for my cognitive psychology module and the other for my social psychology module)
  3. Wait to hear which dissertation project I have been accepted onto (We’re due to find this out after exams so we can do the necessary reading over summer)
  4. Wait to find out whether I’ve got a place on my optional modules for next year or not.

Anyway I thought I’d end this blog with the below video. It’s a song by one of my favourite singers and which is rather befitting for how fast my degree is going.

Uni Stress…

As you can imagine, being a full time student can be stressful. As part of my volunteering work (which, can you believe it, I’ve been doing for two Terms now and I begin my third after Easter), I attended a session in which we discussed problems people face in life, and one of them was Anger. Now that it is the Easter holidays, I am no longer surrounded by many others and the peace and quiet is increased for a while (it’s not totally gone – right now as I write there’s a loud security alarm going off outside :/ ). Stress clouds the mind, and not thinking strait means you’re on a jagged road, if I was to be super philosophical. Here I reflect on “Uni Stress” and how to possibly deal with it.

First of all, aggression is not the answer. Neither is letting it push you over. The best way to deal with Stress is assertiveness (easier said than done). There have been times when I have witnessed aggression, and even got mistaken for being aggressive, and literally nothing got sorted. I have found that approaching a situation with a polite yet strait forward manner usually works  – ie. don’t bang on someone’s door hard whether you’re angry or not, as then you probably won’t get an answer. It also helps to try to turn negatives into a positive, as I notice that’s what my lecturers do. To me, hesitation is the enemy – the more I put off dealing with something via talking about it, the worse I feel before sorting it out, so for the future I will not treat the situations as completely bad because there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are alternatives to dealing with stress if attempts to communicate with the person “crossing the line” (so to speak) has to be held off for a while, such as looking through awards you have won etc. – I don’t mean this as some kind of vanity activity thing, but rather a way of surrounding yourself with things / people that make you feel happier, or at least help you see the negativity as relative positivity. Surprisingly, anger, or more specifically adrenaline, can be good sometimes. Not only is it nice to feel the heat rush through the veins if it hasn’t done for a while, but it also helps as a defence. Ie. if someone you loved was under threat, then the anger (and I seriously mean non violent anger) can help you protect that person.

So there’s my perspective on Uni Stress, and even though your Uni surroundings are generally good, it is almost inevitable that “those” days will occur. On the bright side, Stress is temporary when you deal with it, of course. I know it can be tricky talking to someone about the line they crossed, and also being talked to about crossing someone else’s line, but a great skill to have in whatever situation is Communication. Obviously try to not cross lines in the first place, but I find the Uni Stress i have gained comes from mistakes, and those mistakes I have learned from.

Note: I know this is quite a heavy blog post, so here’s a happy Japanese pop / rap song about studying! ↓↓↓

The Library Project (Favorite Spots on Campus Series)

I am taking part in a research project that helps the uni decide what to do should the current library be given a regeneration. This is also a chance to talk about one of my favorite spots on campus. Apparently the Edge Hill library building was meant to last for 40 or 50 years, but 20 years later there are talks of getting a new library – that’s when research into what a student (out of a few) go through when using the current library comes in handy.

Essentially, I had to detail what happened to me during a day and my feelings. I then took photos of the places within the library that have a lot of meaning to me. Whilst I can’t say what I wrote on the report, I can show you the photos!

The Group rooms are great for professional meetings. I use the Group Rooms like the one above for face to face meetings for my record label work.

I’m not complaining that the HUB is quite far from the library, but it is good that there’s a cafe downstairs to eat.

I have noticed a deceptively large amount of space around the library computers.

The music section of the library is full of fascinating academia.

This is where I go to do quick reading – the seats near reception are comfy with space around them so it’s convenient for speedy research.

So hopefully this has given everyone a break from my usual super text heavy posts. I’ll go back to my Employability themes stuff hopefully next week. The library used to be in the Main Building, then the now Student Support building… who knows what it will be next!

How to be organised IMO…

I have about five deadlines for Uni coursework on the same week in a couple of months, which means I have to organise my study time so that everything is completed to a high degree and submitted about a week before the deadline (I have worries that if I submit too near the final deadline then the upload system may crash for obvious reasons). Being organised is super important not only in Academia but in the real world, as both usually require you to juggle multiple projects – this is how I do it.

2014-03-09 15.51.48
My diary – I would be LOST without it!

– Plan Ahead

The obvious thing to do is have a diary and a weekly (if possible) timetable where everything can be tightly planned, especially when you are doing projects inside and outside Uni work. I printed my Semester timetable and filled in all the boxed around the ones already filled in with Lecture times in pencil – as you can imagine, this way of scheduling requires quite a lot of discipline because times are set, and honestly I don’t always stick to it but I really try to.

– Work out what works for you

This part refers to how you go about completing high quality work within a set amount of time. I never recommend leaving an essay or presentation until the week before the deadline of course, but it is up to you how much time you give yourself. The standard, I would say, is four full weeks to complete an assessment. Sometimes people prefer to leave work later so that the pressure causes them to work well, and sometimes people need as much time as possible. What should not be required is someone giving you a ‘kick’ to do your work – There should be more independent ways of motivating yourself!

– The “Emergency Mode” Technique

This is a technique that I use personally in order to get work done. I pretend that everything has to be done by tomorrow or the world will end, and it is very effective because it means I have to rush (creating a lot of fake pressure) to get everything done as soon as possible. I have managed to get lots of work done simply by using this technique, and I find that when I rush I don’t hesitate to move. That’s my secret to being organised! Although this does not mean do everything at once – I prioritise some work over others of course.

I’m not saying that organisation is the key to high quality work – Sometimes the work I spend lots of time on does not get me high marks, and sometimes the work I spend less time on does not get me low marks etc.. This post is here to help others make sure they get their jobs done without busy timetables forcing any dips in quality!