May Your Placement Be Interesting…

Hi again,

So my time in Finland is coming to an end, and it feels that it has done so at the perfect time. I have really enjoyed it thus far, but no place beats home! For students thinking of pursuing a study placement abroad, I would definitely encourage them to do so, but I would like to point out that, there will be some aspects that you might not enjoy to begin with.

When I first arrived in Helsinki, I knew that the Business School I would be attending – Aalto – had a great reputation. This made me wonder how it would compare to Aston, and how difficult the work would be. As Aston, the top five grades you achieve on placement from the modules you choose over the two semesters, contribute 50% to your overall grade for your placement year (the other 50% being two assignments that Aston set you, but we’ll come to this later).

In my first week here, all the way back in September, I had a lecture for a module called ‘Corporate Finance’, finance being the area I want to work in once I graduate. So, I was looking forward to it, more so than any of my other classes. When that first lecture finished, the only thing I could think, was what have I gotten myself into?! To say the content was tricky, would be a grand understatement. It was covering areas that I had never even needed to touch upon at Aston. Before I arrived, I had felt that when it came to the fields of Finance/Accounting/Business, I would be able to do the work to a very good standard, once I applied myself. This lecture took it to a whole new level. I’m happy to say that once I started revising (which was the second I left the lecture after seeing that), I got to grips with the module, and got some good grades for the assignments.

This situation would lead me to tell all prospective students thinking of studying abroad, to really research the University that they will be attending. I later got chatting to a Finn, who said that Aalto Business School really takes their Finance courses seriously (no kidding!), and their degree in Finance is one of the best in the world. I would not want this to discourage anyone from studying abroad, but just make sure what you know what you’re letting yourself in for. Not all of the modules will be difficult, I have completed some courses that are actually quite easy compared to some of Aston’s courses, so it won’t be a one-way thing.

I think you’ll find when you first arrive, your placement will feel a lot like a holiday. I believe this goes for work, and study placements. You’ll have a lot time on your hands, and will be visiting the sites, landmarks etc. Make sure you do all of this, as your placement year is supposed to be fun, and enjoyable, as well as challenging. This brings me to your Aston assignments, for students studying abroad, they’re sort of like a journal, with personal aims, and goals you have set yourself before your placement begins. I would advise you to start these as soon as possible, while everything is still fresh in your mind.

To finish this entry of the Careers+Placement Blog, I would tell all Aston 2nd years to apply themselves as best they can, while on placement. Moreover, you won’t enjoy every single aspect of it, but it is up to you to make the best out of the situation. There will be times where you’ll be having great fun – cherish those moments, and there might be times where you’re wishing you did something else for your placement – these times will swiftly pass.

Good luck with your placement search.

Reece.

Have fun!

Have fun!

Fortune Favours The Brave…

Hi everyone, I’m Adriana. This is my first ever blog entry so kindly bear with me as I take you through the ups and downs of my placement journey.

Firstly, I study Sociology and Social Policy and I’m currently doing my placement year at Aston University. I am working with the Learner Enhancement Team which is a part of the Careers and Placement cohort and I’m working as a ‘Project Assistant’.

I personally have to say that my placement journey thus far has been amazing. I’ve met some amazing people who understands me and my crazy self and I have personally developed in so many areas already just based on my daily responsibilities and encounters with the knowledgeable individuals within my team.

But before you all create an amazing picture of my ideal and compatible placement; let’s first take it back all the way to November 2015 when my placement search officially started (and also the start of my 2nd year at university). So there I was, confident in myself discussing with my friends about how I’m going to get a paid  placement located somewhere in Birmingham and my life would be great and I would be rich and I would take everyone out for drinks with my placement salary that I would be receiving. LOL. (Yep, I wrote LOL, because I’m currently laughing at myself for thinking like that). Little did I know that the placement search wasn’t necessarily that easy (oblivious right…I know); I applied for specific placements such as Human Resources and even those related specifically towards Social policy. I struggled a lot because I wasn’t using the appropriate channels to assist me during my hunt for placements. Despite my many attempts and disappointments of getting no response and rejections, I simply gave up and focused on my academic side of my university life. I completely ignored searching for placements due to my previous set-backs and disappointments but the whole thought of going straight into final year without any form of experience would be a more detrimental burden for me personally.

So once 2016 commenced I resumed my placement search and I received quite a few offers for interstewieviews from various businesses across Birmingham and other places in the UK. At that point, I personally felt that I was accomplishing something but that was only the beginning of my placement journey as it was all very competitive.

I went to some of the assessment centres and despite numerous offers I turned them down simply because they were all voluntary and it was not entirely what I was looking for. At this stage, it was going towards the end of the term and I was truly concerned about my placement and in addition to that, I also had to prepare for exams and also essays and projects. By the way, did I mention that I was working part time every week as well doing at least 30 hours over a three day period(Lawwd help me)…I had a lot of things on my plate at the time and it was truly tiring however I ensured that I did everything in moderation. At times I really struggled to do everything all at once however, I was surrounded by some truly great friends who kept encouraging me to apply for placements and to revise for my upcoming exams.

I then got offers to numerous assessment centres and the roles were paid and I thought that it was going to be my lucky break as the roles were related to the career path that I wanted to go towards. I prepared a lot for the assessment centres, I learnt so much about the companies that I thought I knew more about the companies that the owners to be honest.  I made it all the way to final stage of the assessment centres and in the end, I didn’t get any of them because according to the employers the other individual had more experience than me so as a result I was unsuccessful.

Disappointed once again, I sort of gave up any hope of securing an actual placement that would accept me. And to add pressure to the situation, I was due to leave the country in approximately 2 weeks to visit Jamaica for an entire month.

I was so lost in myself because I wasn’t entirely sure what to do about the placements because it seemed that every single corner that I turned there was some form of barrier or something which knocked me right back to straight to step one. Then I kept applying and I tried having some faith despite the set-backs and then I got invited to an assessment centre at Aston University. I remember that I turned up slightly late to the assessment centre because I had no form of motivation or interest in attending because I thought it would have been another failure due to the other set of disappointments plus it was also on campus and I didn’t even want to set my big toe on campus for another year, much less going there for every single day of every week for the next 12 months *sigh*.  At this stage, I was thinking it’s better to actually try rather than to give up completely.

After the assessment centre I kept applying for other placements hoping to find something else and I could remember clearly the week before I was to fly out to paradise (Jamaica); I was working at Silverstone for the 2016 F1 Grand Prix and I was literally depressed and worried so much because the chances of securing a placement before jetting off was looking rather slim. On one of my very depressed days, I received a phone call from this lovely lady from Aston University; immediately I thought I was in some form of trouble or something but to my surprise I was told that I was accepted onto the team as the new placement student. There and then all I could have done was say thank you for the opportunity over the phone and give the good Lord thanks because despite my many failed attempts at securing a placement I was actually recognised and chosen for a change. And in that very small moment sparked a bit of hope in myself. A bit of hope which I clenched onto till this very day because despite all the odds against me, time was the master in determining how everything would have worked in my favour.

So I went to Jamaica for a whole month and had the most amazing time with my family and friends and I came back to England and started my placement and I personally have to say, my placement journey ever since has been absolutely amazing. Integrated with my team from the get go. They took me to Pizza Express on the first day and that’s how I knew the team was perfect for me because on my very first day we did my most favourite activity together and that’s eating food. (Yes, eating food is one of my many hobbies) But the point is, I’ve been blessed to be a part of such a fantastic team who supports, guide and teaches me so much that I see my ‘unwanted’ placement as a blessing in disguise.
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But that’s enough from me for now. I’m here writing away as if I’m Shonda Rhimes so let me leave you all with my little placement journey for now. But one thing you should take away from all of this is that even in your darkest times you should always have faith and hope because time is the master of everything.

Take Care!

Adriana aka Shelly (That’s my nickname, don’t ask! )

You think teaching is easy? Think again!

People who say teaching is the easy option need to come and do their placement in a school and have their eyes opened. As a placement student in school I’ve assumed the role of a teaching assistant, helping out in lessons with either less able or disruptive students. Unlike most teaching assistants I have specialist subject knowledge and can really challenge some of the students to learn more than ‘just enough to get them a pass’ which is what many students seem to aim for.
I’ve been on placement 3 months now, and have already learnt a great deal about teaching in general, and these are the things I would share with anyone looking at doing teaching after they graduate like I am.
1. Never show weakness – I’m pretty sure the students can smell fear on you. In my first week I was told that I have full teaching rights and to give out detentions if I feel they are needed. But I was not confident enough to do this and discipline properly, and they could tell I was new. As the weeks went on and I grew in confidence and learnt how to speak to the kids they learnt that I meant business! Now, they do listen to me, and if I set a detention, I’m not bluffing but mean it.
2. Children are nosey – No matter how many times I’ve told them I’m a university student, they always ask if I’m a real teacher. They ask how old I am, if I have children and if I’m married. Most of the time, they’re asking these questions because they’re bored or they just don’t want to learn. Don’t fall into the trap of answering these questions, as they’ll always find more to ask. I did like making them guess my age until one year 11 student said I looked 30… being 21, this was NOT what I wanted to hear.
3. They will not do as much work with a cover teacher – FACT, and I remember this from when I was at school. To even the best behaved students, cover teacher = easy lesson. Sometimes, just getting certain students through a lesson with a cover teacher without any other teachers having to remove them is an achievement, even if all they write is the date and the title.
4. Small arguments will be the end of the world for year 7s – In year 7, there is a huge difference in maturity, and it’s very obvious. Some students still think that, like in primary school, arguments will be sorted by the teacher, but most teachers don’t have time to monitor every small friendship issue. They will sort it in the end. They will learn.
5. You will not just be a teacher – As a teacher and especially as a form tutor (Which I am to a year 7 group) you assume the role of many other people. You’re a parent figure to some children with difficult home lives. You give advice and guide them in things that happen outside school. You council students who are struggling with friendships or find school life difficult. You’re a doctor, trying to decipher when a student is ill or ‘ill’ because they don’t want to do a test. And alongside teaching your main job is that you are a role model, teaching students not only the curriculum, but how to be a good person and how to grow into a good adult.

Settling in…

Welcome to my second post of the Aston University Careers+Placement Blog.

Actually settling into your placement can be a testing time, there’s so many new things to get used to. Namely, being away from family and friends, a completely new culture, new foods, and possibly a new language.

What I did before I came to Finland (and which I would highly recommend to all 2nd years), would be to do some research on the new culture that you will soon be facing. Just read up on transport, food and drink, and any other norms that will differ to the UK. This way you won’t be in for any nasty surprises, once you land.

Once settled, visit the local area, and find out what is located nearby, and get familiar with the city. Take the new environment, and atmosphere in – what I saw with Finland, was that it was a lot more relaxed, and laid-back than England. This can bring both pros and cons. For one, on the whole people are more friendly, but some simple jobs can take you a lot more time than you would expect. When I visited the biggest bank in Helsinki, I was waiting for two hours to pay my rent! Shocked would be an understatement.

Take full advantage of all the opportunities, and make as many new friends as you can. Treat your placement like you treated your first year at Aston. Try everything, visit as many places as possible, and photograph everything. This will provide memories for many years to come. A benefit of doing your placement abroad is that you can visit a number of countries a lot easier than from the UK, while you work or study. I have visited Sweden, and Estonia while in Finland, and hope to visit more European countries when in Madrid, for my 2nd semester.

Don’t count the days, make the days count!

Get out there and explore!

Get out there and explore!

Charity training worth £1100 is now free to current students

Thanks to a generous grant, Child.org will be able to offer Charity Apprentice 2017 for free to students who dream of working to change the world for the better.

Thousands dream of working one day for a charity. After all, it’s hard to name another job where you have the chance to eradicate global poverty, cure cancer or simply have a direct positive impact in the lives of millions of people.

But charity jobs can be notoriously difficult to apply for. Students often report confusion about what charity jobs are available, where to apply for them and how to gain relevant experience. Many more find it impossible to get their foot on the career ladder without having to work for free in unpaid internships for months on end.

Meanwhile charities find recent graduates lack basic knowledge of how charities operate and simple skills in fundraising and communications. Too many applicants gush about their desire to change the world, but have no clear idea of how they can use their skills to do that and what they might offer to the charity.

To solve this problem, the international development charity Child.org have spent two years working with experts from across the sector to develop Charity Apprentice: a course that anyone can do in their spare time to gain entry-level charity skills. A combination of online learning and fun real-life challenges, Charity Apprentice is a must for anyone considering a career in the sector and covers topics ranging from fundraising regulation and marketing to sustainable development and effective advocacy.

Anna Donaldson, a Charity Apprentice in 2016, said:

“Before I even completed my year as a Charity Apprentice, I had my first paid job offer in the charity sector and the opportunity to work for something really worthwhile that I am incredibly proud of. The course transformed my view of the charity sector and made me realise how important it was to be a part of it in a time when compassion for a cause is rarely enough to make the impact you want to make. Access to invaluable resources, constant encouragement and support and a fantastic opportunity to work in Kenya has not only clarified what impact I’d like to make in my lifetime, it has opened up the opportunity for me to get paid to do it.”

The course fees for a year are priced at £1100, but thanks to a generous grant from the Sofronie foundation, Child.org are able to offer free course places to students and recent graduates for the first time this year.

To see a full course outline and apply for your place, visit charityapprentice.org.

As this opportunity is provided by a third party and Aston do not have any relationship with them other than advertising, we suggest you do your own research before you sign up.

 

My Blog

Hello

I officially started my placement in early September. I had carried out practical work throughout my first and second year and I had enjoyed it, so I was excited to see what awaited me in the next few weeks.

I met my supervisor and he provided me with an outline of the year and my role within a laboratory setting. I was informed of the importance of following the health and safety guidelines at all times and about laboratory etiquette. I was also informed about the importance of behaving in a professional manner and confidentiality, as the research being conducted cannot be discussed outside the laboratory setting which I would be working in.

I was also introduced to the rest of the team. I found that the other researchers and PhD students were very friendly and welcoming. I was soon working in the lab and it was great to learn new techniques which I had studied or read about in the first and second year. Initially, I observed my supervisor carry out the techniques and I was also provided with the necessary protocols. Then, I was given the opportunity to carry out the technique myself.

I was grateful for the chance to get hand on so soon and although I had made some mistakes, I was able to make note of the process, so I could improve the next time I carried out the same technique. I found that once I had established the basics, I was able to work in a more efficient manner.

In addition to the practical work that I have carried out, I had the opportunity to use the latest software to analyse the data obtained to help me to prove or disprove my hypothesis. It was great being able to analyse the data obtained from particular techniques as sometimes it took up to 3 days to obtain the necessary data.

I have thoroughly enjoying working within AMRI, the other researchers are always willing to offer support, advice and answer my questions about various techniques. I am excited about the current research being carried out and its future implications.

Civil Aviation Authority; CAA; Your Chance to Help Keep Our Skies Safe

Who are the CAA?

When each and everyone one of you heads to a UK airport, which organisation is it that ensures the aviation industry is keeping you safe by meeting safety standards? The answer is the Civil Aviation Authority – or CAA for short.  This article looks at both the vital and fundamental activities and services carried out by the CAA, how it prepares itself for future growth of the industry, and how that delivers new opportunities for recent graduates.

The enormity of the CAA’s remit is extraordinary, both in importance and volume.  A few examples:

  • Over 250 million people fly in or out of UK every year
  • The CAA processes over 15,000 licence issues and ratings every year
  • The CAA’s international team has worked with over 140 countries including Thailand, Kuwait and Brunei.

The CAA has around since 1972, when established by Parliament as the independent specialist aviation regulator. Now, there is an opportunity to be part of the next era of regulation, and not least innovation. There are a number of key areas of activity regarding technology, automation and simple growth in demand, and all of which now seek new energy, insight and passion to shape the future of the organisation.

We have entry level roles in Finance, IT, Policy, International, Shared Services and SARG – the Safety & Air Regulation Group – the very heartbeat of the CAA, with very real possibilities of building careers throughout.

Intern Avenue survey their candidate base to determine what you find important in a job. The most frequent answers are:

  • Help to learn and progress in the role is paramount. Well, the CAA programme is a fine example of that investment in new talent.  Each hire will enjoy a carefully planned rotation around the various aspects of departmental functions and outputs, giving you the opportunity to look and learn at the diverse and varied aspects of CAA life, and potentially seek a way forward!
  • A great working environment. The Gatwick office is an attractive, airy open plan space with a superb atrium, which features not just an Airbus ’Sharklet’ wingtip, but also their very own windsock. Pretty unique!
  • Inspiring people – The CAA combines a group of hugely passionate people (and yes, aviation is undoubtedly one of those passions) keen to grow, develop and nurture new talent to be part of that journey.

Deadline for applications is the 28th of November with early applications recommended. This is your chance to make a difference to the lives of everyone affected by aviation, straight out of university. Don’t miss out, apply now!

The Civil Service Fast Stream

The Civil Service Fast Stream is not your usual career path, and certainly not one I planned as an Aston student finishing off my placement with Deutsche Bank and completing a degree in International Business and Economics. I envisaged a role in Finance or Consultancy (thinking really outside of the box) and although I had a passing interest in politics, moving into the public sector was not on my radar. For those not too familiar with how Government operates, the Civil Service is an A-political organisation that supports the elected Government of the day, and staffs departments such as the Treasury, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence. These departments work with Government Ministers to design and implement policy that impact on normal people.

In my 13 months I’ve worked on the economic analysis of HS2 at the Department for Transport, negotiated with Treasury on funding deals for the NHS at the Department of Health and am now on secondment to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. I’ve had friends work on the renewal of nuclear submarines, legal aid policy and another former Astoner is currently co-ordinating British aid efforts in central Africa (so some pretty serious stuff!).richard-blog-4

The Civil Service is placing huge amounts of resource in to increasing diversity within its ranks, and that includes broadening the number of entry points on to the programme to include apprenticeships, and a greater focus on professions such as Communications, Finance and the Government Economics Service. There is loads more information on every scheme at www.faststream.gov.uk.

The application process has been streamlined to make it slightly more transparent and less tilted towards Oxbridge applicants. The initial application is now a simple registration, followed by an e-tray, video interview and an Assessment Centre that challenges you to think analytically, demonstrate leadership and work well with others.

I can only speak for my own experience but I have found the Civil Service to be an incredibly warm and interesting place to work. When the decisions you make have the potential to impact on so many people that is a really great privilege, and one that isn’t available on many Grad schemes. My only advice for successfully completing the process is to be yourself, get to know the Civil Service Competency Framework and take the plunge and apply.

richard-blog-1The deadline for applications is the 30th November, and if you have any questions do get in touch at richard.parker@faststream.civilservice.gov.uk

 

 

Hi.

My name is Austin, Marketing assistant at ClickMechanic. The business has been operating since 2012, with huge growth and success, as they offer the digital solution to car repairs. A walk back from the garage in the rain has been transformed to feet up on the sofa with your car fixed right on your drive.

click-mechanic-first-image

Deciding what to do after University is a daunting decision and one that many students can take a long time to decide upon. The usual path for most students is to take the corporate option however one option that often gets overlooked is considering a career in a startup.

Here are 5 unique challenges and opportunities within a digital start-up:
1- IMPACT

Feeling your work have a real impact on the business is a wonderful feeling: One that drives people, helps them cope, or just brightens their day. The application of your skills and knowledge is satisfying and being able to see a positive change in the business from it is incredibly uplifting.

 

2- Freedom
The flexibility of work life whilst being part of a close knit team is a great asset to startups. You won’t be shackled to a desk in stuffy clothes: You will be , in some cases literally, bouncing ideas off each other. It allows plenty of in-office fun which you definitely wouldn’t get as part of a large corporation.

austin

3- Learning
There is almost constant learning as you expand your range or master your depths. It is always a fresh challenge to figure out the latest software and master it. As your confidence grows, people will come to depend on you. You will be a sought after individual as a master of a field.

 

4- Creativity

Finding interesting pathways to success is a key aspect of being an entrepreneur, so long as corners aren’t cut, then it will generally work out. Thinking outside the box and defying expectations are great ways to gain credibility as an innovator. My personal advice is that a collection of novel ideas is better than one generic view.
5- Responsibility
Having the opportunity to be part of something incredible comes with responsibility. You are trusted to perform because you want the business to do well, not for your next paycheck. You gotta believe, Que the X-files

Whether you are starting a business with friends, or just looking for exciting opportunities; it’s an awesome place to be.

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Thanks,

Austin

If you are interested in working for a start-up or SME, you can search for vacancies on Aston Futures by following these simple steps:

  1. Login to Aston Futures
  2. Select the ‘Jobs’ tab
  3. Then click ‘STEP 1: Search for Jobs’
  4. Select company sizes

You can also find out more at www.aston.ac.uk/sme

October trip to Malaga

This was one of the many long weekends we get off in España, I get about 14 days off during the year due to the ambiguous reasoning of ‘fiesta’. Any excuse for a day off in Spain!

My girlfriend and I Liz set off to Spain via Bla Bla car, a website that connects drivers with spare seats to passengers who want to make the same journey, you can book a seat and pay a fee. It’s dead cheap, we saved over a hundred pounds getting to Malaga, also it’s a good way to practice Spanish.

Whilst the spaniards were grabbing their coats in late October us Brits were still reaching for the sun lotion. Temperatures in October were as hot as 25 degrees in Malaga so we spent a fair bit of time on the Costa Del Sol beaches. We stayed at my Nan and her partner Mike’s lovely place in central Marbella, we were also accompanied by their dear Russian maltese terrier pup, Scruffy!

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This is a video I took of the tranquil Cabopino beach, my favourite beach, it also has a lovely Chiringuito (small restaurant) called Las Dunas, I recommend the Paella and Cinnamon rice pudding.

A lot of people have the assumption that Marbella is basically the Essex of Spain, lacking culture and appeal in comparison to places like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Valencia,  I feel that it’s unique charm as a city is often overlooked. We explored the narrow, whitewashed and picturesque Old town of Marbella, we observed practically the whole town in attendance at the Sunday mass and saw some Salvador Dali Sculptures on the way!

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Not to mention the food there was amazing!

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On a final note we visited Puerto Banús, which is a scenic port, stretch of bars, restaurants and designer shops. Full of big boats, big cars and big egos, a real spectacle of grandeur.

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