The Learning Curve

Annette Rubery

Dr Annette Rubery

My career has certainly been atypical. I graduated from a PhD at Warwick University in 2000, and, although my degree set me on a course towards teaching, I ended up joining a national newspaper as a journalist instead.

Journalism was a great job to have in my 20s – I started at the bottom as a casual writer, was eventually taken on formally as a staff writer, then worked my way up through the ranks to Deputy Arts Editor and then Editor. This was a classic “foot in the door” situation; I stayed for ten years altogether and learnt a huge amount about every aspect of the business, from writing and editing to managing budgets and staff. It was a great company to work for and I was lucky to have the scope to advance my career without having to move. Although it was a national newspaper I was able to work out of the Birmingham office, close to home, and enjoy the life of the city as part of my job.

That all changed in 2009. By around the middle of 2008, it was clear that journalism was undergoing huge changes, which were partly due to the impact of digital technologies on the industry, but also the result of steadily falling advertising revenue. The newspaper I worked on announced around 30 redundancies across the regional arm of its operation and my job was amongst them.

It took me a while to work out which direction to take next. I freelanced for a while, working as an arts editor for a newspaper that ultimately folded (I learnt some important lessons learnt about being tough over missed payments!) I realised that I didn’t like freelancing and preferred working in an office with structured hours. I also missed academia. I began to think that I could use the combination of my degree and my journalism experience in a Higher Education context. Not long afterwards I got a job at my own university, Warwick, working on an online publication called Knowledge Centre, aimed at alumni.

A few years down the line I decided to move close to home and got a job in Digital Marketing at Aston. This allowed me to build up a set of technical skills to compliment my print skills. From there I moved into alumni communications, where I work today. My current role (Alumni Communications Officer) draws on both my digital experience at Warwick and Aston (managing social media and web pages) but also uses my print journalism experience (editing our alumni magazine, Aston in Touch).

Here are some of the things I have learnt along the way:

  • You might not get your dream job right away, but get a foot in the door and see if you like the industry first
  • People don’t tend to do one job for life but have ‘portfolio’ careers where they will re-invent themselves many times over – stay open to different types of work experience which will help you to be flexible on the job market
  • A degree gives you so much more than just narrow experience to enable you to do a pre-determined job. Don’t feel you have to go down a certain path because of your degree, but think broadly in terms of transferable skills and what you enjoy doing
  • Do everything you can to build up a resilient attitude; there will be disappointments along the way but don’t let people dent your confidence or persuade you to give up on your goals.

Dr Annette Rubery

Every placement has an end, but in life every ending is a new beginning

Hello all!

Hope you are all well and good! In all honesty, I don’t enjoy being the bearer of bad news.. but my placement has unfortunately come to an end. I never imagined my time would come to an end so suddenly, but it seems if you keep yourself occupied long enough, you won’t even realise where time has disappeared to! It’s truly sad to see the placement coming to an end and especially saying the final farewells (the part I find the hardest!). The way I see it, it’s all part of the learning process and I’m really grateful for the opportunity that I have been given. I was always on the fence about choosing a career in clinical psychology, but I feel I have a much clearer idea now.

As this is my final blog post, I will give the most credible and honest (believe me when I say this) feedback about my time as an honorary at BSMHFT. I will give you a breakdown of the service, what I did on a day to day basis, the psychological interventions that you will encounter and important tips to remember if you are one of the lucky ones working in a CMHT setting as part of your placement year!

Community Mental Health Team (CMHT):

The core function of CMHTs are to provide assessments and interventions for people experiencing moderate to severe and enduring mental health problems. The diagnosis criteria includes psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression,  bi-polar disorder and OCD. People can only be referred to this secondary care service by their GP or a primary care service such as IAPTs (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) or BHM (Birmingham Healthy Minds). To accomplish and complete shared objectives, a CMHT is made up of professionals from different disciplines including Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Support Workers, Occupational Therapists and Nurses.

Responsibilities:

➔ Shadowing assessments and other members of staff: I was given many opportunities to sit into assessments which measure a persons suitability for psychological therapy. During this, the clinician usually requested me to make notes from which I could make a formulation (see below). As you’ll be working in a multi-disciplinary team, you will be able to shadow other team professionals such as psychiatrists, occupation therapists and support workers.

Writing formulations and case histories: Throughout the year, I was involved in planning service user care programmes. Following an assessment, I would use the 5P formulation (Predisposing, Precipitating, Presenting, Protective and Perpetuating factors) to organise the notes and present them to the clinician. Also I was given the task of completing detailed case histories which required reading through their past history and summarising the information into one easy to read document. Both helped in making a decision whether the client should be taken up for therapy.

➔ Facilitating group programmes: At my CMHT, I was fortunate enough to participate in a depression group programme. Here the service users were provided with therapy (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness) in a group setting. My role as an honorary assistant was to write up progress notes, scoring measures and facilitating mindfulness exercises.

➔ Attending meetings: On a weekly basis, I attended multi-disciplinary team meetings which involved discussing about team caseloads. Here different professionals would offer their own insight into how best resolve managing a service user. Also on a monthly basis I attended business and depression group programme meetings.

➔ Conducting audits: As an Honorary Assistant, you will be required to complete an audit during your placement time.  This will involve you collecting and analysing data from the database and trying to identify anomalies that shouldn’t otherwise be there. Once complete you will have to report back in the meeting.

➔ Maintaining databases:  At the CMHT, the psychology team will have their own spreadsheet database which allows clinicians to track referrals to Psychology. As an Honorary Assistant, it will be your role to keep this spreadsheet up to date by entering referral dates, appointments attended and assessment forms received.

➔ Aston CPD programme: On a weekly basis you will be given training on topics relevant to your placement. These will be facilitated by clinical psychologists based on their speciality. Topics will cover basic formulations, psychosis, and research methods.

➔ CORE/Scoring measures: During assessments, service users are required to complete questionnaires. These are used to assess the severity of the individuals problems. You will come across measures such as Becks Depression Inventory, Depression Anxiety Stress Scale and Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire.

Psychological Interventions offered in a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) setting:

Out of all psychological therapies provided, you will see that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) will be administered quite frequently and is the first choice of therapy by Psychotherapists. There are interventions which focus on relapse prevention and early warning signs. Here therapists focus on making coping strategies which can help clients handle their symptoms and identify signs of relapse. This reduces the number of clients from becoming admitted to hospitals. A powerful and newly emerging therapy known as Mindfulness Based Cognitive therapy (MCBT) which aids in preventing relapse of depression, especially in individuals with major depressive disorder.

Therapy specially designed for treating patients with trauma related symptoms such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. Individuals who may suffer from chronically suicidal thoughts and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be offered Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). Behavioural Activation therapy is often used to encourage individuals to develop positive behaviour that they would usually avoid doing.

Things you need to remember:  

➔ You will most likely feel overwhelmed  when encountered with word terminologies and areas of psychology which you might not be familiar with. Don’t worry you will pick it up without realising but don’t be scared to ask others if you are unsure! They know you are a placement student and would be happy to answer all your questions.

➔ This placement year will be a steep learning curve, expect to make mistakes, but make sure to learn from them!  Through my own experience I would highly recommend carrying a diary and making good use of it. Placement staff will begin to trust you when you can prove you can work by yourself and show self-initiative. As the placement progresses you will be given more and more to do!

➔ Before sitting in on an assessment to see a client, it is useful to read up on their background history. This will help you know what to expect!

➔ You will only gain shadowing experience if staff are aware of who you are! Try and get yourself known within the team by attending meetings and any other social events.

➔ You will have been assigned a placement tutor who will give you useful advice throughout the year and will be happy to talk to you about any thoughts, issues and most importantly your systematic review.

➔ You will have regular contact with other Aston placement students and will be attending weekly training sessions provided by the NHS. Make good use of this time to address any worries you may have with your peers.

➔ If you have any issues that you wish to raise don’t be afraid to speak up. Both the placement and Aston university want you to make the most of this year but also at the same time want you to enjoy it thoroughly.

Disclaimer: You will be expected to complete the minimum 150 days which will require you to work full-time unpaid 4 days a week. Remember don’t count the days, make the days count! Once you have finished for the day you have actually finished; you will not be required to take any work with you home. This leaves your evenings and weekends completely free!

It’s been a pleasure blogging my placement experience to you all! I wish you all the very best in life and hope I have been of help! Whenever in doubt remember:

“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs!”

Ali

The ‘not so chronically lazy’ approach to securing a placement.

Searching for placements can be exhausting, stressful and for some unimportant.  As a student I understood this attitude, I partly shared the attitude. There was no doubt that I understood the value of a placement – I would be leaving with not only a degree but a years’ worth of experience in my field of interest. Something most graduates cannot say they have. I knew I would be giving myself the push I need to succeed in the real world of work and an experience that would either push me towards Marketing or away from it. I knew that I would rather know now than to search long and hard for a job once I graduated, only to realise, it’s not a job I want …. at all. Changing my attitude towards placement search came as more of an epiphany, somewhat mid – January. I began being far more proactive and searching for placements on a weekly basis, which then turned into a daily task.

The more I searched, the more I found things that appealed to me. Having used Aston Futures first hand, I wasn’t filtering my searches, I was simply clicking from page to page, hoping for a placement to hit me in the eye. This was the wrong approach, the approach that defined me as the ‘chronically lazy’. Because, of this lack of ambition and inability to search more appropriately, the rejections piled on. I was applying for things that didn’t interest me much, things that I thought I should just do for the sake of it as I was unable to find many placements in my field of interest … Marketing! And here you thought I would say something unrealistic like ‘acting’ – to be found on Aston Futures.

The rejections, piled on, they were more than just rejections, they were silent rejections as most employers didn’t get back to me, giving me the silent ‘no’. The more I was rejected the more I was motivated, motivated to receive a ‘congratulations’ rather than an ‘unfortunately’ or a nothing at all. It was a hard juggle between placement search, exam prep and having a social life. The more those around me began to secure their placements, the more I felt I the need to try harder. The search can make you feel down and extremely pressured, but the outcome … the outcome is worth it all. The temporary lapse between searching for a placement and securing one is a hard one to overcome, but once you receive that ‘congratulations’ you forget about the frustration caused by not securing a placement, as you’re too overjoyed to care about the past. The short-term. Through the ups and downs of second year I finally received a phone call, somewhat better than just an email and was invited along to an assessment day.

Placements searches can be daunting and tedious but with ambition, there is no doubt you’ll find one. If you weren’t placement material, you wouldn’t be in uni. The assessment day was great fun. Surprisingly. It gave me an idea of what it would be like to work in such an environment, I was able to meet ‘potential colleagues’ and get some practice in for after I graduate. I knew I would have to take the assessment day as a step forward, regardless of the outcome.

Let’s pause this anecdote for a moment as I share with you some wisdom. Research. Research as hard as you would to write a graded paper, research is valuable. Research is what got me the job! I felt confident answering the questions posed to me on my assessment day, as I RESEARCHED – potential questions and things about the company. I WATCHED – practice interviews on YouTube and I wasn’t afraid to emphasise on my own interests and link them back to the job role. As I was interested in Marketing, I made an emphasis on what Marketing campaigns I particularly enjoy, that were not a part of the University, and I linked this back to the job which showed a broader level of knowledge. I did this without neglecting the campaigns put forward by Aston, whom I work for. I made sure to make it known that I was aware of what Aston did and what others had done.

For the first time, in my spiral of second year woes I felt, confident. Because of this I secured the role of a Marketing Assistant – the ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student.

Zahra Jussab - Marketing Assistant

Zahra Jussab – Marketing Assistant

 

 

All good things come to an end

So apologies for being out of the loop these last few months, my work has taken over and with a busy social schedule, so I haven’t really had the chance to write. I’ve kept my placement blogging to short and sweet top tip posts as I know there are always questions you want to ask from those who have been abroad and it’s great to see so many of the other bloggers sharing so many pics and memories so I thought I’d stick to a good ol’ theme.

Placement year has been amazing, it cannot be denied. It’s hard work, of course! But it also offers the chance to easily (for how much longer I don’t know) travel across the globe or at least central Europe to visit friends doing their placements too. With all this travelling, work, social life and even a little time for yourself if you can spare it, you need to be thinking ahead when it comes to things with deadlines and by this I mean your placement essay.

With all this travelling, work, social life and even a little time for yourself if you can spare it, you need to be thinking ahead when it comes to things with deadlines and by this I mean your placement essay.

Here are my top 5 tips for getting ahead and on a roll stress-free:

1) Plan early, if you’re thinking about doing interviews, questionnaires or anything that requires data collection, validation and formatting etc why not start early. It only has to start with a casual mention to your manager over lunch or coffee or a quick email to see if it’s possible and if it’s not then it’s no stress, you’ve got time to change tack! I know it sounds like every piece of advice you’ve ever heard, but remember there isn’t the possibility on a work placement to stay up until 4am (if you’re that type) to finish your report or nip into uni to catch your lecturer and you’ll often need permission and managers have a lot more on their plate than just your report, so don’t expect them to jump when you click your fingers at the last minute.

Think: Website has broken down vs. my intern needs my signature 2 days before their deadline – I think we all know what’s on top.

2) Figure when you like to work best and work around it, if you’re a daytime person you’ll only have your lunch break and weekends and if you’re night time person you’ll only have dinner time and the later evening alongside any social commitments and work do’s. This is much less time than you’d have at uni so your report will take longer overall if you spread it out realistically. You know how fast you write so just make sure this is planned for.

3) Find somewhere away from your room, I know in Paris the apartments are often super small and this was the case for me. Not only this, but it was my place to crash and relax after work so the last thing on my mind was doing a report! Centre Pompidou has a library open until 10pm so whatever time you finish work this should adapt to your needs. There are also other libraries in Paris, but most shut on random days of the week or much earlier – i.e. latest 7pm.

4) Do a final check of the dates and requirements in advance: does your report have to be posted? When is it due in? – Don’t do what I did and assume it was May 31st only to find out it was, in fact, the 13th May and that you’d flipped the numbers around – luckily I checked weeks in advice, but it’s a simple step to save a load of stress and panic.

5) Relax once you’ve submitted – book up your holidays and enjoy those final moments of time before you’re in final year – it really doesn’t last forever!

All the best for your placements year and journeys!

Here’s a few from my recent events, birthdays, Bastille day, Switzerland and more!

A la prochaine, Jessica

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Hasta Luego No Adios

It feels like yesterday that I vacated my apartment in Getafe, Madrid. It still did not hit me that I was leaving Spain, until I said ADIOS to the lady at the British Airways check in counter at T4 Madrid Barajas International Airport. A year of flashbacks followed that, where the emotional departure commenced.It has been a couple of weeks since I have returned home, and although it has taken time to adjust,  the memories of Spain are still fresh in the head.  I can proudly say that I have established a connection with Spain, with many of my new amigos demanding I return in the near future especially when I still have some regions to explore. Knowing I now have friends from around the world also shows a successful year and  I would not have had the amazing year I would have had without them. My choices in January proved successful as well, so I was able to end on a high note.

Saying Hasta Luego….

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Being a student of Aston University, I was fortunate to have many options for my 3rd year, and I’m 100% certain study abroad was the best decision I made. Although it was amazing,  it was not a year to doss around, it required hard work, like every stage in life. Once you see your accomplishments, you soon forget the hurdles you came across and feel proud of yourself.

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studying for finals is so fun….

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There were times were I may have envied work placements because of the perks they obtained from their work placement, even some bragging was noticable, especially when I was studying for midterms, but at the end of the day I was grateful for the opportunity because when else am I going to have the opportunity to study abroad, Aqui o Nunca. Any option that makes you change for the better is the perfect choice, whether it is home or away, work or study.  I had the opportunity to develop my soft skills such as learning Spanish which too date I am still practicing, it is one skill I am not prepared to lose.

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Viva Espana

This experience also allowed me to travel to places I would have never have thought of visiting, which I am grateful for. I was able to add Granada to the list, in the future I would like to visit North of Spain and Barcelona.

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Spain has a large Latino population, and they have contributed to the social influence in Spain. I find this interesting, and thanks to this experience, it has lead to my ambition to visit Latin America in the near future. I now LOVE the music as well, so its questionable to say i am turning into a wannabe Latino/Hispanic/Espanol, watch out family and friends 😉 

I could go on and on and on, but we would be here all year, so we will keep this short now…..

My advice for people who are about to embark a journey similar to myself:

  • Take some home comforts with you
  • Do as much as you can, balance your life
  • Find out if your area has transport discounts (Madrid was amazing 20 euros a month for public transport , yes be jealous)
  • Do as much research as you can prior to arrival in your destination
  • Stay Safe, be humble, have fun,  make memories.

Finally,

*Prepares Acceptance Award* To sum up this year, a study placement is just not about studying, its about leaving your comfort zone and making an adventure of new discovering , becoming a stronger person, establishing new connections, developing your personality, being more spontaneous and adapting to change. I definitely gained from this experience, and I have my family, friends, the La Cuidad de Madrid, Aston University and Universidad Carlos Tercero de Madrid to thank for this experience. I would also like to thank my blog readers for encouragement and being interested in my adventure.

Un brazo,

 

Gagan Grewal

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The end of an era: a year abroad in pictures

As the academic year draws to a close and I find myself with my feet placed well and truly back on British soil, it’s hard to believe that I’ve just spent a whole year abroad, on my own, and survived – who’d have thought?!

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survived!

So this blog post is going to be my final one for Aston’s Placement blog (cry cry), and I thought it’d be rather fitting to do it in pictures, rather than ramblings. Pictures are always more interesting!

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But firstly, I must highlight something quite important. If you’re thinking of undertaking a Year Abroad, there’s one rule I followed. I first set off on my year abroad over a year ago, not having the slightest inkling of what awaited me: lions? the jungle? Goodness knows! But I was only going to France and Spain! Having never lived in a foreign country before, I didn’t have a clue about how to feel. So I shut off the “feeling” part and just got on with it. I did this for the whole year and it worked. This is quite possibly the best advice I can offer. I’ve learnt not to overthink things as it’s not worth the time nor energy, this did wonders for my panic issues. Your family and friends will support you no matter what. Smile, make the most of the opportunity and get on with it – no looking back. Not everyone gets to do what you do, so please, for your own sake, make the most!

TOULOUSE

I am honestly so thankful to Air France, because, without them, I wouldn’t have got to experience and live in the most beautiful city in France. I miss working for them, they were honestly some of the kindest and friendliest faces and I’ve learnt so much from spending 6 months with them. They did so much for me and I honestly can’t thank them enough. They taught me discipline and focus, and how to make my work exciting. My love for Toulouse is beyond words. Of course, there are ups and downs to every experience, but I feel blessed to have been able to live there.

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Toulouse is such a beautiful place and I loved living there. It’s a small city with a massive heart and it felt like home. Aside from my horrendous landlady, I had the best time there, and lived a carefree life (outside of work of course 😉 ).

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I got to take quite a few trips from there too because of its fabulous geographical location.

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Toulouse and Valencia, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Be positive, be happy!

Amy

Getting into Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Manager - Andy Lockley

Digital Marketing Manager – Andy Lockley

Andy Lockley, Digital Marketing Manager at Cloggs and Aston Business & Management Graduate of the class of 2010, outlines the key things you need to know if you’re looking to pursue a career in Online Marketing.

Digital Marketing is one of the fastest moving industries you can work in. In most cases, by the time a textbook has been written it’s obsolete as soon as it rolls off the printing press. If your passion resides in Digital, here are 5 handy tips to make sure you get your foot in the door;

  • Learn the lingo – Digital Marketers speak a different language to traditional Marketers, and if you’re looking to impress your interviewer, knowing the definition of a few key terms and acronyms can put you head and shoulders above the competition. Know your PPC from your SEO and your CPC from your CPA and it automatically puts you head and shoulders above the competition.
  • Find a mentor in the industry – Do you have a friend or relative that already works in Digital? If so pick their brains about what’s keeping them awake at night and the new trends that are really exciting. If there’s nobody in your immediate proximity, look into professional mentorship schemes, like the one offered by Aston. Even a couple of hours with someone in the industry can be gold dust for someone trying to secure their first role.
  • Have examples of websites you like and why – ASOS junkie, Amazon Devotee? Make a list of the sites you visit on a regular basis and what you like about them, is it personalisation, how crisp and clean the site is, how the products are presented? Turning your mind to what makes a website good really helps you get into the mind-set of an Ecommerce marketer.
  • Excel at Excel – In spite of how quickly the Digital Marketing industry moves, a lot of the bare bones analysis is still done in Excel. Getting yourself on a basic Excel course can give you a real head start. Make sure you know these basic formulas and tools to get your career off to a flyer.
  • Vlookup: A rule of life in Marketing is that data’s never in the format that you want it to be in, so the ability to join 2 or more Excel sheets together allows you to do some really clever analysis.
  • Pivot Tables: The faster you can dissect data, the faster you can make decisions; the easiest way to compute massive amounts of data is a Pivot table. Though intimidating at first, they’re a gateway to fast, detailed analysis.
  • Conditional Formatting: Despite sounding basic, Green = good, red = bad is still the fundamental principle that most business dashboards run on. Learn how to automate the process and save yourself loads of time.
  • Show enthusiasm for the industry – If you’ve done some research and have a visible passion for the business, many managers will take you on despite your lack of experience. There are loads of ways you can bolster your learning and understanding of the business before you’ve even started working in the industry;
  • Google Ad words Certification: There are very few online businesses out there that don’t rely on Paid Google Clicks for at least some part of their online traffic, by knowing the basics, you jump to the front of the queue and save them hours of training.
  • Google Analytics Certification: For many small businesses, Google Analytics is their go to tool for website performance analysis. Knowing your way around and having the ability to build some basic dashboards will help get you in the analytical mind-set of a Digital Marketer.
  • Got a passion? Blog about it: One of the biggest shifts in Marketing over the past 5 years has been the rise of Content Marketing. I always set my new graduate hires a content task to assess their writing ability, if there’s something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, why not start a blog and link to it on your CV? Recruiters are always looking for a bit of ‘colour’ when they’re flipping through CVs, and a well written, thoroughly researched blog is a great sign that someone will flourish in their role. It also gets you thinking like a marketer in terms of optimising titles and meta tags for search terms, looking at promotion through social channels and thinking about how you get other sites and blogs to link to your content.

Digital can be an intimidating industry to understand and break into, and I hope these steps provide some building blocks for how to jump start your career in Digital.

Hasta luego, Madrid!

It’s crazy to think that my time in Madrid has already come to an end. Two months into being home and I still miss my students, friends and colleagues very much…and of course, the weather! Honestly, I didn’t expect these special young children to make such an impact on my life – but they did and I hope they continue to grow as people and learn new things 🙂

Leaving my placement at SEK El Castillo was very emotional. I had already predicted that there would be a water work display but it really made me think about the amazing experience I had out there and what fantastic people I had met. I would like to thank all my teachers at SEK for making me feel so welcome and being so so kind to me over the past year. Although it was a sad departure, I hope I can visit again sometime in the future as requested by my students! ^^’ honestly, I don’t think I could have worked with better children and teachers. They never failed to make me smile…

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I feel very happy being able to share my placement story with others because I had been lucky enough to work with such a great school. Ultimately, I must thank Aston University for this opportunity in my life that I’ll never forget. It’s amazing how well prepared Aston are and how much they support you inside and outside of education. Thank you for giving me this time to grow as a person!

My next step is to enjoy the rest of my summer holiday and mentally prepare myself to tackle final year in September – its going to be hard but so worth it in the end. Hard work really does pay off and I hope to continue this positivity through the last year of higher education!

To anyone who has been reading my blogposts, thank you for your interest and I hope you’ve enjoyed my journey to Madrid with me. I really appreciate everyone’s support and love I’ve received this year and I’d like to wish all perspective placement students good luck for your placement year, it’s going to be one you’ll never forget. Make the most of it and enjoy life to its fullest whilst you can 🙂

It’s time to officially sign off. Thank you all again for your time!

– Tiffany

 

 

The End of One Chapter is a New Beginning

Well my time in Rio is almost up…eight days until I make my way to Galeão International Airport for my 14 hour flight back to Gatwick! Of course I will be crying for at least 10 hours on that flight and perhaps the other 4 I will try and sleep, who knows, wish me luck.

When We First Arrived!

When We First Arrived!

But coming to the end of this experience has made me reflect on everything I went through, from getting accepted on to the placement, planning on to coming to Rio and most importantly being here and I am so glad that I decided to do a placement even though I was so scared of going abroad, to learn a new language and culture and to actually be put in a professional working environment that’s related to my degree but the outcome of this placement year I can happily say has been so beneficial, I am very thankful to have this opportunity given to me.
Your placement year will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life whether you are going abroad or even staying in the UK, you will grow professionally and personally as a person, I made life-long friends that I never knew existed, my eyes had opened up to different cultures from across the world as well as learning more about Neuropsychology and how to carry out my own research, safe to safe it has been a busy year no wonder it flew by so quick!

But now it’s time for me to say goodbye to Rio De Janeiro (for now of course) and make my way back to the good old West Midlands to complete the final year of my degree and eventually graduate! Even though it’s sad to bye to this home its comfort to know that I have made friends all over the world (which means more couch surfing and travelling for me) who will always be a part of my heart as well as my memories (I mean I can’t really forget about them, there are too many drunken pictures of us together on Facebook) but now I feel as if it’s time for me to move on and see what the next chapter of my life is!
For all you second year students who are now getting ready for their placements, honestly it will be one of the best years of your life, you’re going to love it! Remember even though you’re going to work or even study, make sure to have fun, go out and meet new people, don’t be afraid and enjoy yourself! And good luck guys, I know you will do great.

This is Brazil

This is Brazil

Getting into Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Manager - Andy Lockley

Digital Marketing Manager – Andy Lockley

Andy Lockley, Digital Marketing Manager at Cloggs and Aston Business & Management Graduate of the class of 2010, outlines the key things you need to know if you’re looking to pursue a career in Online Marketing.

Digital Marketing is one of the fastest moving industries you can work in. In most cases, by the time a textbook has been written it’s obsolete as soon as it rolls off the printing press. If your passion resides in Digital, here are 5 handy tips to make sure you get your foot in the door;

  • Learn the lingo – Digital Marketers speak a different language to traditional Marketers, and if you’re looking to impress your interviewer, knowing the definition of a few key terms and acronyms can put you head and shoulders above the competition. Know your PPC from your SEO and your CPC from your CPA and it automatically puts you head and shoulders above the competition.
  • Find a mentor in the industry – Do you have a friend or relative that already works in Digital? If so pick their brains about what’s keeping them awake at night and the new trends that are really exciting. If there’s nobody in your immediate proximity, look into professional mentorship schemes, like the one offered by Aston. Even a couple of hours with someone in the industry can be gold dust for someone trying to secure their first role.
  • Have examples of websites you like and why – ASOS junkie, Amazon Devotee? Make a list of the sites you visit on a regular basis and what you like about them, is it personalisation, how crisp and clean the site is, how the products are presented? Turning your mind to what makes a website good really helps you get into the mind-set of an Ecommerce marketer.
  • Excel at Excel – In spite of how quickly the Digital Marketing industry moves, a lot of the bare bones analysis is still done in Excel. Getting yourself on a basic Excel course can give you a real head start. Make sure you know these basic formulas and tools to get your career off to a flyer.
  • Vlookup: A rule of life in Marketing is that data’s never in the format that you want it to be in, so the ability to join 2 or more Excel sheets together allows you to do some really clever analysis.
  • Pivot Tables: The faster you can dissect data, the faster you can make decisions; the easiest way to compute massive amounts of data is a Pivot table. Though intimidating at first, they’re a gateway to fast, detailed analysis.
  • Conditional Formatting: Despite sounding basic, Green = good, red = bad is still the fundamental principle that most business dashboards run on. Learn how to automate the process and save yourself loads of time.
  • Show enthusiasm for the industry – If you’ve done some research and have a visible passion for the business, many managers will take you on despite your lack of experience. There are loads of ways you can bolster your learning and understanding of the business before you’ve even started working in the industry;
  • Google Ad words Certification: There are very few online businesses out there that don’t rely on Paid Google Clicks for at least some part of their online traffic, by knowing the basics, you jump to the front of the queue and save them hours of training.
  • Google Analytics Certification: For many small businesses, Google Analytics is their go to tool for website performance analysis. Knowing your way around and having the ability to build some basic dashboards will help get you in the analytical mind-set of a Digital Marketer.
  • Got a passion? Blog about it: One of the biggest shifts in Marketing over the past 5 years has been the rise of Content Marketing. I always set my new graduate hires a content task to assess their writing ability, if there’s something you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, why not start a blog and link to it on your CV? Recruiters are always looking for a bit of ‘colour’ when they’re flipping through CVs, and a well written, thoroughly researched blog is a great sign that someone will flourish in their role. It also gets you thinking like a marketer in terms of optimising titles and meta tags for search terms, looking at promotion through social channels and thinking about how you get other sites and blogs to link to your content.

Digital can be an intimidating industry to understand and break into, and I hope these steps provide some building blocks for how to jump start your career in Digital.