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! 🙂

Top tips for education based placements

As a 2nd year Primary Education student living in halls, at this time of year I find myself undertaking a lot of reflection. Watching my flatmates who are 1st year primary education students go out on placement I find myself thinking how I was in their position only a year ago and how far I have developed during this time. Although challenging, placement is an exciting and important time in constructing your professional development. Having had the experience of a first year placement and making it through (somewhat) successfully I find myself offering advice to others who are embarking on placement, work experience or even just considering a career in primary education.

1)      Don’t be afraid to ask for help – often when going into schools you feel like you want to change the world and the thought of having this power is an amazing feeling, but you cannot do this alone. The university offers a wide range of support to help and assist you throughout your placement and I would make the most of every opportunity when someone is willing to offer you their help.

2)      Magpie ideas – you will find this term used quite frequently in Primary Education but building a strong portfolio of resources and lesson ideas will make planning easier and less time consuming in the future. If you see a lesson you like make a note of it, ask the teacher about the resources and see if you gain a copy of the lesson plan. Don’t be afraid to ask, teachers will often see it as a compliment that you have enjoyed their lesson and seen the benefits that it is has on children’s learning.

3)      The more feedback the better – it may seem daunting having someone critique you for the first time, but teachers only want to help you, it’s important to remember that they were in your exact position once also. Try and take as many chances to be observed as possible normalising observation will reduce stress and increase your performance in the classroom.

 One of my reasons for choosing Edge Hill to complete my degree was the wide range of opportunities for placement such as a remote placements which can occur all over the country. Seeing my flatmates going through placement in their first year has only made me more excited to begin my next placement and implement what I have learnt over the past two years.

Making the most of your time.

It’s all well and good having a paid job to help you throughout your time at university, but I would also advise looking for voluntary or work experience when you have a week or two free. (like now during Easter!) It really looks good on your CV and without a shadow of a doubt, you will learn some extra skills.

The only problem is finding the time to get to look for it to fit it in. But that is where the ‘Student Information Centre’ at Edge Hill comes in! They are really helpful if you ever want to look for any volunteering or work experience work. They can also go over your CV’s and cover letters too, to make sure it promotes you at your best, before you send them off to potential employees.

Work experience really sets your CV apart from everybody else’s when it comes to looking for jobs! I’ve been lucky enough to have done a couple of weeks work experience in a Law department, which allowed me to gain valuable knowledge of how the Law I’ve studied works in day to day cases.

But, of course the work experience or voluntary work you want to do doesn’t necessarily have to be relevant to your degree! Your CV is there to show all different types of skills and qualities that you possess. For instance, I’m studying Law here, but the summer of 2013 I did ‘Camp America’ for 3 months, which is really nothing law related at all, but it shows a little bit of my personality, which is something employers want to see too!

I sometimes forget that in just over a month I will have finished my exams, and I will be looking for full time employment! Between now and then, I’m still pushing myself to get some other voluntary work done. But, just a little advice, try and do as many things as possible that make you you! 

Good luck! 🙂

Should you have experience before starting your course?

In my first year of 6th form I had no clue what the hell I was going to do with my life after I finished. In fact, even by the start of the second year I still didn’t really know. I loved all my A-Levels – English, Art and Design and Performing Arts, but wasn’t sure I could see a career path at the end that was right for me, and wasn’t sure I wanted to specialise in any of those areas at University. It wasn’t until I was flicking through prospectuses that I finally saw something that caught my eye and combined a good level of art direction, creative writing and business – Advertising.

The fundamental idea of it really excited me, all the modules sounded right up my street, they were exciting and creative but all with a purpose, which really caught my attention. But to be honest it was a subject I knew very little about. I’d never studied media or marketing business modules, so although it sounded like a subject I could do, I didn’t really have much of a clue, which is why I went looking for some experience.
I started by asking friends and family if they knew anyone I could shadow, and slowly started to contact more people until I was finally offered a weeks experience in Berlin!

The week I spent there was so valuable, I learnt so much in such a short space of time, and really made me excited to start a course and career in advertising. It was such an eye opener, although it wasn’t something I needed to get onto the course, it really made me understand the industry, and by the time I started the course I could really relate everything I was learning back into the industry.

Being pro active and really getting excited about what you will be learning about at university is so beneficial. Even if you just spend one day over summer shadowing someone, I would really recommend it!

This is a little video from Saatchi and Saatchi Berlin, where I was lucky enough to get work experience!