University: Getting A Grad Job

Now, I might not be the best person to write about this, so the simple reason that I don’t have a graduate role lined up. However I’ve been through the application process (both for my placement and for a grad role), and I’m still actively looking for something – so maybe I’m the ‘realistic’ person to talk about graduate employment. I definitely know more people without a job than with one at this point in the year!
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Grad Schemes or Job

I know for the area I’m going to get into (note the determination in that sentence!) the majority of grad schemes are now closed. That’s probably not the case for most industries, and whilst I feel like it should be stressing me out, I’m well aware that there are plenty of graduate-level jobs out there. They might not come with quite as fancy training packages, but they will throw you in the deep end, get you working, and aren’t an option to dismiss.

There are so many sites and companies out there to help graduates find jobs. Spotlight Recruitment is a website specialising in marketing careers. Not my industry I must admit, but I have browsed the site to see what they’ve got – I love that you can narrow down your search by region. Covering categories such as digital marketing, communications and e-commerce, it’s a really easy to use site and has useful tips like on selling yourself in interviews, what to include on a CV (I wrote my own guide here) – all pretty much essential information.

Applications or Recruiter

No doubt about it, job applications can be stressful, long-winded, frustrating. They can involve getting the perfect CV, then answering endless competency questions, completing online tests. Then there’s various interview stages; telephone, face-to-face, assessment centres… trust me, if you get through all of these, get told you passed every stage with flying colours and still don’t get offered the job, it’s pretty damn soul destroying.

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with some absolutely lovely recruiters. Whilst no, I don’t have a job yet, they’ve offered help and guidance as to how to hone my CV, I’ve had a few very positive interviews, and the stress and time consuming part of the application is nicely reduced.
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Application Hints & Tips

I’ve written quite a few guides to careers and getting a job before (ironic, huh?!) – but I think the biggest key is to be prepared. Make sure you know what the job entails and how your experience and aspirations relate to it, spend a lot of time researching the company. I would also try and think of a few questions you want to ask – it’s always something you have the opportunity to do, and the right questions give such a good impression and show you’re super interested in the company. But my biggest tip of all? If you do get a rejection, no matter how dreadful it makes you feel, always ask for feedback. Then get your chin up, smile and do 10x better in the next one.

How do you find the job-hunting process? Any tips to share?

University: Getting Organised for Exams

Now in my final term of lectures (sob) I can finally say I’ve worked out what works for me in terms of organisation. And also what really, really doesn’t. It’s taken years of trial and error but I think I’ve cracked it – a combination of organisation that keeps me on track, but doesn’t eat into precious study time. I’m pretty sure, given how my pre-Christmas assessments went, that my revision technique is working out pretty well too. Though I’ll never agree with negative marking…
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Keep Lists

I seriously don’t think I could live without a good to-do list! I like to list out big things – such as examinable content for a module. This is something I started doing wayyyy back in AS levels, going through the specification and ticking bits off as I went – it’s an exam technique that could work for all stages (so to those doing your GCSE’s, get on it!) and it’s super useful. I also like to write daily to-do lists. Seeing what I want to achieve each day really motivates me to get on and do it. And yes, I’m that person who puts ‘clean teeth’ on my lists. We gotta start somewhere!
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Print

I don’t know about you, but I get seriously distracted the minute I open up my laptop. I just absolutely cannot practise exam questions by just having the paper open on screen. Before I know it I’ll have 4 Facebook conversations going, I’ll be debating on Twitter and scrolling through my Bloglovin’ feed at an alarming rate. For me it’s all about making sure I’ve got hard copies to hand.

All this printing can get expensive (and annoying – how many times have you been halfway through printing an important bit of coursework when your ink dries up?!) – but luckily Epsom is on hand to (hopefully) change all that. I have to admit I was skeptical when they sent me a cartridge-less printer*, where you should only have to top up the ink once during your degree. Obviously I can’t test the latter claim as that would be a very long review process (plus, y’know, I’m almost finished my degree!) but I have noticed that the ink seems to be lasting better than previous printers. I managed to print a good 20 exam papers and genuinely can’t tell whether the ink level has dropped (should have drawn a line on!). That’s almost the biggest bonus of this printer; you can see the ink levels as you go. No more getting halfway through a document and realising you have zilch! It’s also quiet (no waking up housemates when you’re the one who likes to get up early) and it’s no horrendously bulky or unattractive. I mean, it’s a printer, but as far as they go it doesn’t look tooooo bad. I’d be fine with not hiding it away in a cupboard (the same cannot be said for W’s 3D printer…).

Timetable

Like with the lists, I just like having my time planned out. This is where I’ve changed though! Before I would make pretty revision timetables, with every hour accounted for. Now I’m a bit less prescriptive. I give myself a day where I concentrate on each module – which works now at degree level because each has enough different topics and ‘bits’ so I don’t get bored. Perhaps not the best idea for A-Levels but for me, it works.
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Prep

I like to take a few hours around this time of year to work out what stationery I need to get me through the rest of the year. Flashcards always tend to sell out everywhere come May, I always run out of black pens and paper, so I bulk-buy them now. Keen? Definitely. But it makes me feel much more prepared!

Take Time Out

Trust me, when I’ve got a list with a hundred different bits on, I know that the last thing I want to do is give myself a break. I’m actually really bad at taking time out to relax but when I do I definitely notice the difference. I come back more energised and motivated, and often looking at things with a clearer head makes them seem so much simpler. In the run up to my final year exams I’ll definitely be making a little more time for myself…
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Look After Yourself

And that brings me onto my next point: it’s really important to take care of yourself. Whether it’s making sure you get enough sleep, three good meals or plenty of water, it all makes a difference. You will never do your best in exams if you aren’t well, so these little things can really boost your performance.

 photo Getting Organised for Exams4_zpsfidsmn1s.jpg photo Getting Organised for Exams1_zpsbn8ljcrd.jpgAnd so that’s it, the little bits I’m already doing in my prep for exams. Yes, they might be many months away, but by getting this out of the way now I’ll be all set to start serious revision come Easter.

How do you prep for exams? Do you start early or are you a crammer?

 

Lifestyle: It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I’ll be the first to admit it; I’ve found it very difficult to get into the Christmas spirit this year. In actual fact, I’m still not totally there. Probably something to do with the two exams (disguised as coursework, of course) and two assessed lectures left this week. Thanks final year

 photo Christmas Decorations 2015 5_zpsil3faenh.jpg photo Christmas Decorations 2015 4_zpsxcbvrhvi.jpgWe have, however, decorated our house with not one, not two but three Christmas trees. Admittedly one is in Libby’s room, but it all looks so lovely and festive that even the scrooge in me has been won over slightly. All this has been done on a tight student budget, so there’s no excuse not to get even a little into the festive spirit…

 photo Christmas Decorations 2015 6_zpsoq6yutqp.jpg photo Christmas Decorations 2015 7_zps87tlur1c.jpgIn the conservatory, a.k.a my favourite room of the house, despite it being bloody freezing most of the time, we have a white tree (not my usual taste, but it was so cheap last year I couldn’t resist!), decorated with white, silver and pink. Girly but I reckon it also looks quite sophisticated – and it looks great in that particular room.

 photo Christmas Decorations 2015 1_zpsusdm0two.jpg photo Christmas Decorations 2015 2_zpsetsvo3rw.jpgWe’ve gone more traditional in the lounge, a proper green Christmas tree (a bargain from Argos in second year, this is it’s third Christmas with us!) decorated with red and white. There’s cute hand-knitted decorations, sparkly ones, lights, it really is rather lovely. And we’ve even filled our fireplace with baubles, put Christmas cards up, and generally made it Christmassy.

 photo Christmas Decorations 2015 3_zpseis2whwd.jpgIt can be really hard to decorate a student house for Christmas on a tight budget, but I reckon we’ve got it down now – invest in a cheap tree, big boxes of baubles are around £5 from ASDA or Wilkos, or ‘borrow’ from parents’ lofts. We’ve not spent a fortune, but our house looks so festive. I definitely can’t wait to have my own proper ‘grown-up’ tree though, I’m almost tempted to drag W shopping for decorations in the January sales…

Have you decorated for Christmas yet? What colour scheme have you gone for? Let me know if you’ve blogged about it!

 

University: Final Year So Far

My recent (and rather stressed) posts may have hinted at it, but I’m currently battling my way through final year of (though I do say it myself!) a bloody hard degree. The few months since September have been some of the busiest and stressful of my life, but equally some of the best. It’s bittersweet really – I’m torn between being fully done with studying and not wanting to leave!

 photo Final Year_zpsnvlwtx6e.jpgI’ve come to realise that attending university and applying for jobs is a lot tougher than I first imagined. I know realistically I’ve actually done very well in my job applications, but it’s still disheartening to end up being rejected at final stages, especially when every single other interviewee had already graduated. My goal is to still have a job lined up before I finish university, but equally I’m beginning to slow down applications, concentrate more on uni work and try and relax a bit more. Easier said than done though – give me until tomorrow and I’ll be stressing all over again!

Obviously with all these applications there ends up being a few rejections. I’m not ashamed to admit there have been many times I’ve been in tears on the phone to W, though somehow I haven’t yet opened an email and cried in public. Time will tell…

 photo 2015-12-08 12.03.46_zps7ankjz1y.jpgThen there’s the actual studying, what’s supposedly the important bit. And that’s going quite well. It took me a while to remember how to do things admittedly (the downside of a years placement!), but the work ethic I gained over last year has definitely helped. Settling my alarm for 6am and starting work early is not something I would have done in second year! I’ve found final year has brought a lot more “work through this in your own time”, a lot more reading for some modules (which as a maths student is really strange!). It’s also brought a lot of work for the last week of term – I’m that person who doesn’t finish assessments until midday this coming Friday, that person who is still ploughing through the work when I should be thinking about Christmas.

My degree is so cheery… #mortality #studying #notes #uni #universitylife #finalyear

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

Oh, and it’s brought a lot more cheery topics too – with a whole module dedicated to estimating future lifestyle and mortality rates…

 photo University Friends_zpshmypdash.jpgHowever final year has also meant living with some of the loveliest friends ever. We’ve gone back to having house Sunday dinners, film nights, late night trips to ASDA to buy snacks. Having been so stressed I’ve seen just how important my friends are to me, whether it’s W on the end of the phone to hear me rant and cry, or my housemates to make me laugh. So whilst I can’t wait for the stress of studying to be all over, I’m dreading the day in the summer where we pack up and leave. One minute I can’t wait for university to be over, the next I’m praying for time to slow down!

How did you find final year? Were you torn between wanting studying to be finished but not wanting to leave?

University: Stretching the Student Budget

It’s coming to the end of the first term of university and my bank account (and probably most other students’) is looking a little empty I know that my own budget is normally really stretched at this time of year, espeically over the Christmas period, so I was really interested in this infographic produced by TransPennine Express aimed at helping students save money during term time. There’s some great money saving tips here!

 photo Stretching Budget_zpszl2yruee.jpg9 tips to keep your student overdraft far from red

I definitely agree with the railcard bit – being in a long distance relationship means a LOT of train journeys, so I’m pretty sure my railcard has saved me hundreds of pounds since starting university in 2012. I also never buy anything without checking for student discount (or another cheeky voucher code!), I eat out using a Taste Card (I get mine free with my student bank account), and I’ve found an excellent local cinema with £2.80 (!) tickets. Little things like this mean I am still treat myself without breaking the bank – like going to see Mockingjay Part 2 (so good, though the ending felt a little weak). I definitely miss Orange Wednesdays though!

What little tips do you have to save money? How’s your Christmas budgeting going? 

University: Things I Wish I’d Known Before Moving Out

I can’t quite believe I moved out of my parents home three years ago – the time has quite literally flown! Admittedly I haven’t properly moved out. I still go back for holidays or weekends where I just need a bit of looking after (c’mon, we all get those days where we just need our mums to make us a cuppa and a boiled egg with soldiers!), but for the most part I’m away from home.

 photo Before Moving Out_zpsy3zdt3fh.jpgI’ve been thinking recently about how moving out was for me, whether it was easy (it wasn’t particularly easy, but I wouldn’t say it was difficult either – just strange!), and what I wish I’d done differently. I’ve put together a little list of things I wish I’d known before heading off to university – thought it might come in handy to some of out. And potentially make quite an entertaining read…

How to Change a Lightbulb

Believe it or not, I hadn’t actually changed a lightbulb before I moved out to university. In fact I didn’t need to change one until a few weeks into my second year – and then I had to wing it. It didn’t help that the light in question was a dodgy fitting, above the bath, and we didn’t exactly have stable chairs to stand on! I managed it, the light still worked after and I didn’t kill myself, I just wished I’d known how to do it beforehand.
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How to Make a House a Home

Where you live has a huge impact on every aspect of your life, from your financial circumstances to your health and happiness. Whether you own your home or rent it, it should be the place where you feel most safe and secure. I don’t think I did too badly in making my halls a home (read about my university halls here), however I wish I’d known the importance about separating my life and study – I did far too much studying on my bed and my sleeping definitely suffered!

How to Pick a House

Whilst I’ve ended up with two lovely houses, I do think we could have gone about picking our houses better. The Rough Guide to Property has a great checklist for property viewing, though for students points I’d add would be to check for any mould in kitchen cupboards, and ask current tenants views on the property and property management. The other financial guides are pretty good too!
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How to Make My Mum’s Beef Stew, and Make A Boiled Egg

Something I’ve never quite got the hang of! Sure, I can make a pretty good beef stew but it isn’t a patch on my mums. I have no idea how she gets her gravy to be so thick and meaty!

It also took me until this summer to be able to boil a good dippy egg – pathetic right?!
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The Costs of Renting

Before signing a contract, it’s so important to check what is included in your monthly rent, as general running costs may or may not be included. Also bear in mind the initial upfront costs involved with renting, what part of your deposit is refundable and what you’ll never se again. Also make sure to check how is in charge of garden maintenance – I know several friends who have been stung by having to pay for the lawn to be mowed.

How to Downsize Possessions

Yep, I’m still failing on this one. I have a LOT of stuff and I really need to slim it down before properly moving out into a real flat (hopefully with W, permanently this time!) next summer.

How to Find a Single Room

Something more for graduates I guess, and luckily I experienced this when searching for accommodation for my placement year. I ended up using Spareroom, a site which lets you search for rooms in shared flats or houses, and lived with a lovely lady and her three dogs. Got to say, though, I was terrified trying to find somewhere as I didn’t know the area at all! It’s definitely more nervewracking searching for a place on your own, as if it goes wrong it’s all on your head.

 photo University Room Tour 11_zps5lkerh8w.jpgAnd now I’ve probably scared all of you who haven’t moved out yet! But in all honesty I’ve never found it overwhelming, I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of it. Bar some of my stew attempts…

*Disclaimer: sponsored post in association with Legal & General, as always all opinions are my own!

What do you wish you have known before moving out?

University: Making Extra Money as a Student

As a cash-strapped student, I know just how tough it can me to scrape up enough pennies to join your housemates when they’re heading out. There are few worse feelings than being skint and unable to join in with the fun, so it’s worth considering ways to make some money on the side to help pay bills and fund your social life. Newcastle-based letting agent Letslivehere have put together some great tips on making extra money as a student.
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Blogging

Starting with the most obvious method to readers of the site, blogging can be a good way to build a future portfolio for those who want to work in marketing, communications, journalism or anything writing-related. It can also be lucrative if you start attracting good viewership, as you can monetise your blog with advertising and PR requests. I will say however that it takes a lot of time and dedication – it’s not an easy option, and ‘making money’ is not a good reason to start a blog!

eBay Selling

Anything you have that you don’t use can be sold on eBay. Whether it’s for a few pounds or gadgetry that fetches more, it’s all profit from items you no longer touch – so get them listed and pocket a few extra pennies a month.
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Editing

If you’re a strong writer with a severe case of grammar-fever, you can land a role as an editor for self-published writers. Besides setting up your own blog, you can advertise your services on freelancing websites like PeoplePerHour and Fiverr.

Freelancing

Whether you’ve got some skill with graphic design, writing or photography you can turn your talent into a money-making venture while you’re at uni. Getting started can be tough, but once you have your name out there you’ll see more offers coming in.
To begin with, register a website and try to get some examples of your work on it – if this means working for free it’s a small sacrifice at first. However, you should never agree to work for free once you have a portfolio – it undervalues the creative sector.
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Tutoring

Depending on your subject of choice, there are plenty of tutoring opportunities that are available to students. You can either independently get CRB-checked and then head out advertising your services by knocking on doors or posting leaflets, or you can use a website such as First Tutors, which is an open marketplace that you can advertise your services on.

Promoting

We’ve all seen people stood on the high street getting drenched by rain as they hand out leaflets that you don’t really want to take. You can be one of those, if you can stomach the experience. It’s a paid job and doesn’t take much effort. Done in pairs, it can even be fun. Ring up your local nightclubs and ask if they have any promotional jobs.

Alternatively, you can promote a brand by becoming a brand ambassador. Brands like Red Bull and Smirnoff have representatives who help promote and sell their product in bars and clubs and accept students for roles. If you’ve got charisma, you’ve got a good chance.

*Disclaimer: post in collaboration with, all opinions are my own!

I never knew just how many options there were for making a few extra pennies – I wish I’d had this information sooner!

What are your top tips for making a bit of extra cash?

University: The Effect of Social Media

As someone who is currently looking for a graduate job, I’m interested in anything and everything job-search related right now. Whether it’s a CV Writing Guide or How To Ace Interview Questions, I’m taking all the help I can get.

 photo Social Media amp Careers_zpspp7s6bze.jpgBut no matter how good your CV is, how flawless your interview technique is, there could be one thing stopping you from getting a job. Bray & Bray have put together this infographic on social media and the workplace – and it’s a really interesting read.

Bray and Bray - Social Media In The Workplace (1)I personally have (I hope!) a really clean online presence. My Facebook is private bar a few posts I’ve deliberately set as public, there’s no drunken photos (a benefit to hardly drinking!), and my blog shows me in a good light. Whilst my blog doesn’t necessarily list my (rather unique) name, it is relatively accessible thanks to a few campaigns – so I make doubly sure my posts aren’t overly controversial. I know from experience that employers will and do have a google of names, so it’s really best to have a clean up every now and again to make sure you’re not sharing something that could damage your career…

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own as always!

Have you altered the way you appear on social media due to employment prospects?

University: Importance of Entrepreneurship

My degree and it’s aim are very straight-cut. It’s a very specific degree aiming at a very specific job. I’m perfectly happy with that, as it’s the career I’m aiming for in the sector I want to be in. But I know a lot of people are put off by universities pushing employment opportunities at them, at failing to recognise the importance of working for yourself.

 photo Entrepreneurship_zpsvnb811o1.jpgIn a time where more and more people are looking at self-employment options, it’s important for graduates to be able to make informed decisions. As someone who has definitely been feeling the pressure of obtaining a graduate job I found this study and infographic by PolicyBee really interesting.

Policy Bee INFOGRAPHIC - finalI was shocked that such a high number of universities never mention freelancing at all. I fully admit I’d not heard it mentioned in my course, but assumed that as it is aimed at a specific profession it was an exception to the rule – but apparently not!

*Sponsored post, all opinions are my own as always!

What was your experience at university? Were you pushed towards traditional employment? 

University: Study Success

There’s so many different ‘keys to success’ when studying it can be hard to know what to do. Don’t do this, don’t do that, and half the time this and that are the same thing.

 photo Study Success_zpsj8nxvhfw.jpgIAB sent over this fab infographic with their tip tips for study success, and I think it’s great. Everything’s in one place, nothing seems to contradict another, and they are all very sensible and easily-used suggestions;

IAB Top Tips for Study SuccessI’m particularly pleased that organising your notes is in there – that’s the thing I most often advise to new students. I know I for one would be forever behind without keeping my notes organised, taking half an hour to sort them each week really does make a difference.

Disclaimer: Post sponsored by IAB, all opinions are my own.

What are your top tips for study success?