Blog Series (6): The Ending

Everything eventually comes to an end, as is my placement. I am now preparing to complete my handover, any campaigns that need to be tied and of course promoting my role for the next placement student. The time goes quickly so make the most of it, I am happy to say I feel as though I have made the most of my placement, I’ve taken part in various campaigns and also been given the chance to manage them on my own as well as, being able to gain some experience on Photoshop, WordPress, Hootsuite, being given full access to our social media accounts, learning how to update and manage the Careers+Placements website and app.

I have taken part in away days, I’ve been able to visit Aston Villa Stadium, gone on Christmas meals and lunches, meetings with key players around the university and had the chance to meet the Vice Chancellor of the university. My placement has taught me how to network, how to build my confidence up for a graduate job and let’s face it as a university student this has been my most productive year of all.

The end is near, a little dramatic but it truly is, I feel ready to transition back into university and feel far more confident knowing that this will be my final year, before my placement I was always unsure, slightly lazy, had ambition but didn’t know how to exactly get to where I wanted, but now I feel as though I’m ready to get that degree and move on. I want to work as I have seen the benefits of working, like anything you will feel stressed or overwhelmed but that’s just life, and you will get through it.

Placement search can be hard, off-putting and difficult but if you find the right placement for you, then all that hard work will pay off, working for the Careers+Placements department at Aston has been a great experience and I can only hope the next bunch of placement students enjoy their placement as much as I did and remember, if you don’t manage to get the role that I am currently in, then don’t stop searching, ask for feedback on your interview and application process and learn from it.

 

I the ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student have come towards the end of my journey.

Good luck to you all, I hope you find the placement you were looking for!

City Year Testimonial

I am Nasima Akter and I proudly serve on Team Imagination at Ormiston Forge Academy in West Midlands.

A 20 year old undergraduate, psychology placement student, from the area of Birmingham. I attended Holly Lodge High School where I also completed my A-Levels, at which point I acquired a huge passion for teaching and learning, especially for the social science subjects. To the extent that, I would tutor my fellow peers in my sixth form – I delivered lessons to my psychology class and, produced and marked past papers by my peers, under the supervision of the teacher. This furthered my interest in pursuing a Psychology degree at Aston University when I came across City Year whilst searching for placements during my second year. City Year was the only organisation that appealed to me during this process, as I loved every aspect of it, and I eagerly wanted to be a part of this. My fear during this point was that if I do not get this position, I have nothing to fall back on (I only applied for this one placement!) because this was what I excitedly wanted to do; it ticked all the boxes of what I was looking for in a placement and what I intend to go into in the future. After I graduate, I aim at completing a teaching degree for higher education and teaching young adults. I believe City Year has provided me with the right skills and mindset, as I have gained an immense amount of unforgettable experience during my placement, that will only be of support in the future.

Being at school every day brings new experiences and memories that I am certain I can take and keep forever – whether it’s a nice comment a student made, or events established by myself and the team and the message it leaves behind – our legacy.

During my time at school, I had the chance to attend trips with the students in different years and that helped them understand my role and become familiar with a new face around the school. My team and I, organised a charity drive on behalf of the school, which was a success, to the point that the local community acknowledged this and contributed with passion and gratitude. We also organised a bake sale that raised £150+ in one day! One student brought in 100 cupcakes – surely that’s something to remember and be proud of!
Working here gave us the opportunity to do a lot to help the students and the school, with exciting ideas every other day: designing and creating murals, organising clubs.

However, challenging situations is something nobody wants to experience, it is a thing we need to learn to overcome as individuals and a recurring challenge I faced was getting across any point or message to the students. The reason why this was hard for me was because being such a short person around almost every student who is taller than me, it was scary approaching taller and older year group students (even teachers sometimes!). However, with time, I built a relationship with many diverse individuals and a problem I once had that was always a bother, soon disappeared.

This led to many successes I became a part of and a success which has always assured me that, yes, I can do this. I can make a difference, was regarding a student I mentor – one with very poor attendance. By working with her on a one-to-one basis, I addressed this issue and helped improve her attendance rate. From the experience of shadowing and working alongside the pastoral team at the school who deal with attendance daily, I learnt how to appropriately provide regular interventions making her aware of how this negatively impacts her curriculum. She was understanding of this and made a promise to me “I’ll keep a promise to you Miss Akter, that I’ll come to school every day and I don’t break my promises”, which till this day she has kept. As her City Year mentor, I am proud of the positive changes she has made and the amazing impact it has had on her behaviour and curriculum, and this will help shape her attendance and behaviour during her GCSE’s.
As a volunteer mentor at City Year, it brings its good and bad moments, but in my case, a lot of good moments has outweighed any bad ones, which I am grateful for! Being in contact with students, most likely the same ones every day, means they have the chance to get used to working with me and so when it comes to a point when I am not there, they ask. They ask again and again for me to attend their lessons, they want me to only work with them, they place trust in me and they become happy upon seeing me anywhere during the school day. I love the bond I have created with the students and will surely be one of the most remarkable things I will miss when I leave. Many students were inspired by me and this motivated me to not let them down, so I always thrived for the best so they too can succeed, with and without me.

During the year, I had the opportunity to attend networking events with City Year business partners such as The Challenge and NCS. As well as this, I had the chance to present at an impact breakfast, to a room crammed with 40+ business investors, some who know and others who didn’t know anything about City Year and the purpose. During this breakfast, I spoke about the school I am based at, and the impact we have had in the school so far, mainly the impact on attendance. This was an amazing experience and helped with my presentation skills and speaking at a balanced pace. Finally, another event I had the privilege to be part of, included the City Year dinner which involves an evening with investors and young people who are keen to find out more about City Year and become a part of this grow.

Although City Year is about helping students from different backgrounds, it is also for our own development and I can proudly say I have learnt through experience how to lead especially, and effectively. Anyone can lead, but it means nothing if there is no confidence in yourself but doubt, and this is what I overcame – I believed in myself, and had passion every time I spoke. This was shown through leading an extra-curricular sports club for the students as well as planning and delivering morning sessions to a group of students in year nine. From the training we receive every Friday, it helped me placed down the theory of what I learnt to reality during school and have always proved to be effective. Especially, because I am terrible in Maths, that quite often I would inform others I’m more likely to hinder a person’s progress than aid it! But, after receiving training on Maths and how to deal with situations, allowed me to observe what to do next and how to tackle this, from which I gained transferable skills on adapting and suitability.

Overall, I have come a long way battling through struggles I have faced, whilst gaining experience and new skills at the same time, as well as with my team members, with whom I’ve created relationships with that will not cease to exist after we have finished our year of service. Working in a school that’s based in a small community, made us all, in fact, become part of a close-knit community; where everyone knows each other and now about City Year and the bigger picture of why we are there. This has provided me with a sense of purpose; I know I am always welcome back here, and I know what I wish to do, which is to help young adults become integrated into society and have a sense of purpose and value. Being in a school that entails cultures and backgrounds different to what I have grown up around, furthered my knowledge and understanding of other cultures and perspectives. As well as this, I have broadened the mind of many students who are ambitious to learn. They were keen to learn about fasting in the month of Ramadan and some were inspired to experiment and try fasting for a day. This goes to show how eager they are to learn about different religions and traditions and accept individuals wholeheartedly.

City Year has motivated me to get involved in work like this; volunteering in other organisations etc. and quite specifically, it has inspired me to volunteer with ex-offenders on a mentoring programme.

If I can make a change in one person’s life, that is one more person who may decide to bring a positive change to someone else.

 

Blog series (5): 6 months in …. The halfway line

Disclaimer: This post is an edited version of my previous post (6 months in) I am now way past the halfway line!

It seems like only yesterday I was on Aston Futures searching for a placement, yet here I am almost 6 months into my Placement Year, half the year done! Already I have begun preparing myself for my assignment and believe you me, it’s not as easy as you think it would be. When going on a placement at times you can feel disconnected from the university. Regardless of working in my place of study, for the longest time I have felt disconnected. This is not a bad thing, this is just a part of me growing up and working hard. It may come to a time where you feel as though, your placement has somewhat matured you, for me, this is exciting as I feel I have finally developed the mindset I need to delve into my final year.

6 months into my placement and I have established a range of skills, I never thought I could develop until after graduation, I have built up my confidence and self-esteem considerably and I have now learnt to trust myself more than any other person in this world, in the world of work, you are relied upon and in order to really succeed, you must also rely on yourself first and foremost to get the job done.

As the New Year approaches, I can truly say that my placement has made me proud of who I have become and the best part is that I still have 6 months to go. During this time, I have taken part in a range of networking events where I have had the opportunity to liaise with other employers and colleagues, I have contributed to several important meetings and will soon have the chance to chair a meeting of my own. I have also contributed to a few ‘employer away days’ where the team gets together to discuss progress, issues and future campaigns. This by far has been one of the most engaging factors for me, as during this period you are required to think critically about all that has been achieved in the past and how this can be improved in the short/long term. During this period of time you are required to analyse and communicate effectively with other members of the team, it is during this point you come to realise that in order to provide a seamless service, it is essential the team takes time away from the office to brainstorm and discuss a range of innovative ideas to
bring about great change.

Not only have I learnt a range of new things I have also met some great people and made a tonne of new memories with some new friends. Working in an environment where you are joined by other placement students not only provides you with the moral support you may need, but it just makes the placement all the more fun and interesting. As we all study at Aston I have made friends on my course who I never knew of before and the best part is that we can all help each other with our assignments! The past 6 months have been a treat and I cannot wait to come back in the New Year to see what it may bring.

Remember, don’t be afraid of success, now is the time to push yourselves, now is the time to really do great things – The ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student.

Stay tuned to read about coming to the end of my placement journey next Monday.

Interested in this placement position? Head on over to Aston Futures and use the Job ID – 20885 to apply!

Blog Series (4): The first day

 

Disclaimer: Take this with a pinch of salt, your day could be a little or very different! 

I got the ‘Yes’ in May and started in July which was still a little time away, I was nervous, to say the least. I got on the train and made my way to Aston, when working as staff the environment completely changes, you are no longer that student who gets late for their lectures, or who walks into the Main Building only to walk back out, you are staff and as staff you are required to be there on time, well dressed and ready for the day.

It is likely that your manager will greet you when you come in and help you get settled at your desk, you will then be taken around the department and be introduced to your colleagues, don’t worry if you forget names,  soon all will be familiar, after all the handshakes and formal introductions you will be taken back to your desk.

At this point, things get real, real quick! You’ll be given a timeline of plans and comms that the team have been working on, what you need to work on and what your targets will be. You will be given a handover, for instance, I will create a handover document for the next placement student so they know how I did things, what they need to do and just to give them that bit of advice from placement students to placement student and then you will be given a fairly easy task to help you get familiar with the role.

Oh, and of course you will be given your log-ins, an email account, a staff card and just to warn you, they do not give you a chance to smile coherently for the picture, so be sure to have your ‘I’m ready for a picture’ face on at all times and you will also need to create a message for your voicemail … mines is dreaded, thank god no one really calls me!

The first day was great I did not feel too overwhelmed, as I was eased into the role, at least for a good month! They really do give you the time to settle, you are also given a ‘buddy’ which is another colleague in the department who you can talk to if you do not feel ready to approach matters with your manager or do not know how to.

The first day now seems like a blur, I do remember feeling lonely, however, as I had not befriended any colleagues at this point and my friends had not moved back to university, it was a lonely time at the start as other placement students had not yet started either. However, in due to time I have met the best placement students, staff and made some great friends, make sure to integrate with your team and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to your placement colleagues.   

Your first day will be great, it will be normal to feel nervous, but just remember like with anything you’ll adjust and feel at home before you know it!

Stay tuned to read about my journey 6 months in this Thursday

The ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student.

Interested in this placement position? Head on over to Aston Futures and use the Job ID – 20885 to apply!

 

Blog Series (3): The Call

 

The call … we all wait for that one call… to tell us we ‘got the job’ but sometimes that doesn’t happen for some of us. During my search for a placement I had been rejected a countless number of times, sometimes it just became a daily ‘no’ and so this time, I didn’t hold my breath. I remember getting the call perhaps a couple days after the interview as they had various assessment centres going on. I was in my flat, sleeping the exhaustion away as I had been revising, sitting exams and writing up assignments as well as attending interviews. I remember my phone ringing, I was not impressed, who would ring me at such an ungodly hour? I didn’t recognise the number… Aston? I sat up straight and put on my professional voice.

Within moments I was told that the job was mine for the taking! I was ecstatic. Now when taking a call with an employer who has offered you a job, it is important you maintain some level of professionalism and don’t go off on a tangent thanking them 5,6,7,8,9,10 times and perhaps its best to just ask a few questions to show you’re well aware of what will happen next.

  • When will my start date be?
  • What documents must I bring in?
  • When will the documents need to be given in?
  • Do I need to let my Placement Coordinator know? Which yes you do, probably best to only ask an Aston employer this question as they can guide you on exactly what you need to do, but do pop into Careers+Placements if you are ever unsure.

And then you can put the phone down, squeal and celebrate! Oh and do tell them you ‘look forward to working with the team’ it just leaves a friendly impression!

To those of you reading this, unfortunately only one of you will get ‘the call’ for this role but don’t be disheartened take it as a learning curve and you will get ‘the call’ soon!

Stay tuned to read about my first day on the job next Monday!

 

The ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student

Interested in this placement position? Head on over to Aston Futures and use the Job ID – 20885 to apply!

Towards The End of Placement

Almost a year on, and Placement is coming to an end… 🙁

I can definitively say it has been one of the best years of my life, and has really been a highlight of University so far. And to think I was questioning what the fuss about a Placement Year was all about!!!

Doing a Placement abroad can be very costly, depending on where you complete yours, but also on whether you’re working, or studying. However, it can also be relatively cheap, if you’re careful with your spending. I would not want any student, who has their heart set on doing a placement abroad, to be put off by the financial aspect that is involved. There are many forms of financial support available to students, primarily Student Finance, but also scholarships, and help from Aston. See what you are eligible for, and apply! These services are in place to help you, so utilise them. If ever in doubt about anything, just make an appointment to see the Careers + Placement Team, and air any concerns, or queries that you may have. They are very helpful, and will ensure that you are supported as much as possible.

As you start your Placement journey, do not forget to stay in touch will your friends from Aston, as you, or they, may be feeling a little homesick, and might want to speak to a familiar face. No one’s Placement goes smoothly for the whole year, but if yours is going well at the start, just remember that your friend’s might not be going as well, especially if they are working, as this could prove to be more difficult – physically, and mentally – than studying. So, just keep some sort of regular contact, so that you can exchange stories, and experiences of what has gone on so far.

Of course, they might not need any support, as their Placement could be going great. In fact, some of my friends are staying abroad for another month, or two, even after there Placement has ended, as they have enjoyed it so much.

loving madrid thus far!

Keep in touch with your family, so that they know that you are enjoying the experience of a Placement, but also to put their nerves at ease. Moving out, or living abroad can be stressful for you, but also for your family members, as they will be worrying about you non-stop. Whenever you get the opportunity, just allay their fears, so that they know that they do not have to worry about you so much. Although, if you are not enjoying any aspect of staying away from home, or living abroad, then let your family know, as there is always a solution.

Whilst on Placement, ensure that you keep on top of all your paperwork e.g. Erasmus forms, as problems with those documents will only add more headaches to your already hectic life! If ever unsure, just drop the Aston team an email. Personally, with my Placement coming to an end, I have reflected on the past year, and am so happy that I took this route. I know it will not be for everyone, but if you believe you could see yourself studying abroad, in an international environment, meeting people from all over the world, who will become lifelong friends, then do your research, and if you’re still interested – APPLY!!!

see you soon!

Till next time!

Blog Series (2): The interview

Now I am going to assume that you are in fact applying for my current role as a Marketing Assistant for Aston University (Careers+Placements department) so that I can talk to you in perspective. When applying for a role in Marketing, I decided to bring together my knowledge from various aspects of my life, yes I am an undergraduate and yes as an LSS student studying English and Social Policy I do in fact, hold the skills and qualities needed to be a Marketing Assistant, but is that all I have to offer? That’s the question, what more is there to you, other than your degree? Whilst important it is surely not the only thing that interests you. Think about things you do outside of the university, think about something that may have caught your eye, it could have been a campaign put together by Nike and did that persuade you to buy something? Or did Pepsi’s recently commercial spark an emotion within you? Marketing is around you and it always will be, so why not talk about how you perceive campaigns, or how you would have changed something about a particular campaign … think outside the box!

However, don’t point out the blatantly obvious ‘I study marketing and so that is why I will be good at it’ studying and working are practically two different things, are you familiar with Photoshop, Hootsuite, Survey Monkey, recording stats, excel, WordPress? Do you use social media? Do you blog? Do you vlog? When talking about modules don’t talk about the name of the module ‘oh I did a marketing module’ … that means nothing to an employer not even one at Aston, instead talk about what you perhaps learnt and how you can use that and apply it to real life work, talk about the skills you’ve learnt just studying at Aston, surely your writing would be adept, you would be a fairly good proofreader, you would have a knack for creativity, use that to your advantage.

Don’t be shy to showcase your talent! Can you draw? Bring in a portfolio! It’s all about bringing to light your key skills and talents and I bet, you have much more skills than you know. This is your time to shine, the person who is interviewing you is likely to be your manager … I was interviewed by my ‘potential’ manager and colleague, I used the interview to get to know them as they used it to get to know me!  

Now, the interview came after a group task (yes with other people who were applying for my role and various roles within the department) and an excel task. I was nervous to meet the people who would be deciding the fate of placement year, like most people my hands began to get clammy, I began to second guess myself and my heart started racing when I heard the words ‘Zahra it’s time for your interview’ but don’t quote me, my memory may have distorted the lines of the exact words used, but you get the jist. Once I entered the room for my interview I felt at ease, the department here at Aston is very friendly, there are no intimidating faces and no reason to be intimidated, at this point you are not a student, you are an adult, hoping to become staff! So let your confidence consume you … but don’t get cocky.

I was asked a number of questions during my interview, the questions were picked up and formed from what I had mentioned on my CV … so don’t lie, an employer can tell. The conversation flowed as I did my research and talked about the campaigns done at Aston, here’s a list …

Ah, let me let you research that one on your own!

As I did take the time out to research the campaigns put forward by Careers+Placements, it instantly conveyed my interest within the department and understanding of what ‘we’ are trying to sell as a team. I also talked about what I wanted to gain from my placement and why it was so important to me, it’s not about being the perfect candidate who knows everything already, it about being genuine, showing an interest, and room for progression.

The interview lasted perhaps 15-20 mins, or maybe it just felt that long, but don’t worry if the interview goes well then the conversation will come to a natural halt. An interview should feel like a conversation, pay heed to your body language, but don’t sit like you’re at home, dress well and practically so that the employer can envision you working actively as part of the team and speak with confidence, take your time and speak clearly.

Don’t devalue yourself, let your personality shine and if all goes well, then you could be Careers+Placements next Marketing Assistant.

Stay tuned to read about my experience handling the ‘You got the job’ news! This Thursday!

The ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student. 

Interested in this placement position? Head on over to Aston Futures and use the Job ID – 20885 to apply!

Blog series (1): The application process

Hi there, my name is Zahra and I am currently working as a Marketing Assistant for Aston’s Careers+Placements zahra image 11department. Stay tuned for my blog series every Monday & Thursday to help YOU land my role, for your placement year!

Don’t know what’s worse when applying for a role,  the interview or the application process? For me it was the application process, as it can be a daunting experience, it can put you off a job before you’re even given a chance, it can even make you feel incompetent for the job, but if you do it right, then you can really give yourself a fighting chance to stand out from the crowd.

When applying for a role it is likely that you will be asked to submit a CV and Cover Letter, remember you can always get this checked before you apply, by uploading your documents on Aston Futures for your Placement Coordinator to check, this is exactly what I had done before my placement search began. But that’s a story for another time.

When writing up a CV specifically for marketing make sure to highlight ‘relevant’ details, get your thinking hats on or better yet use google to help you identify exactly what skills and qualities you need to work in marketing, once you have done that think about the skills and qualities you do have, and I bet you there are plenty and use that to highlight how you can contribute to the team.

Instead of just listing your skills and qualities, if you have space why not add a sentence to highlight how you have demonstrated the skill or quality in the past. For instance, the most common skill/quality that is listed in most CV’s is ‘effective communication skills’, brilliant, if you have that but so does everyone else or so they claim, if you do have ‘effective communication skills’ how do you know? Communication can come in the form of speaking and writingbrilliance, have you worked in a Call Centre? As a Sales Assistant? Do you blog? Tell us how and remember you don’t need to list every skill or quality, you need to highlight the one’s that make you stand out and are relevant to marketing, be a little different and don’t just stick with the most common skill/quality, do your research!

Another tip would be … and believe you me this is overlooked, take a look at the job description and pick out key buzz words from that description, 9/10 times if a job description is written well, employers will put in keywords that they want you to use, they are literally telling you exactly what they want to see in your CV and Cover Letter!

Be a little creative. Your Cover Letter, is a glimpse into your personality, from this employers, are able to see where your passion resides. When applying for a role at Aston be sure to mention what campaigns you have come across, how familiar you are with the department, if you are part of a society, do you follow their social media? Don’t forget to also mention what campaigns interest you in general, like any other employer Aston does not expect you to only be interested in Aston, we understand you have other interests, don’t shy away from those. Do mention how your modules may contribute to your role in marketing, but be sure to explain how or why, fair enough if you have covered marketing as a module, but what skills did you gain, or let’s say you haven’t, have you worked in a team or given a presentation if so pop that in.

And last, of all, do apply! If you are interested in Marketing then this is the role for you, I have learnt so much during my time here at Aston, it has prepared me well for a graduate job and has given me the confidence to do what I really want to do. Stay tuned, to read about my interview process and tips next Monday!

The ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student.

Interested in this placement position? Head on over to Aston Futures and use the Job ID – 20885 to apply!

Life after graduation – yay or nay?

5 top tips to help with the transition.

Hey, guys!

I was having a scroll through the C+P blog as you do, and I’ve noticed that there’s lots of content and advice on here to do with placements and applying for graduate jobs in final year but what about life after graduation? Well fear not grads…I’m here to help fill that gap!

So you’ve just handed in your final assignment or completed your last ever university exam and you’re off to Gosta’s beer garden to chill in the sun with great company and plenty of drinks for the rest of the day. This feeling can only be described as somebody finally lifting the weight of about ¼ of the books stored in the library off your head allowing you to gracefully float upwards into the much-anticipated land of happiness and freedom. Mixed in with this mass feeling of euphoria, there is of course, a tinge of worry and a hint of apprehension about what the future holds for you along with the depressing thought of your cherished university friends that have had your back since fresher’s week going their separate ways. But meh…as far as you’re concerned you don’t need to be troubling yourself with that now, right? Definitely not! “C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E GOOD TIMES COME ON!”

A few months have passed since the post-final exam party extravaganza; you’ve been chilling, watching plenty of Netflix, a bit more Netflix…and then a little more, or you might have been on holiday or even gone travelling the world. Either way, when July comes along, this only means one thing…it’s time to graduate! Now, from my personal experience, I can honestly say that apart from preoccupying myself 40% of the time worrying about tripping up the stairs when my name was called, my robes being skew-whiff and my cap falling off, my graduation ceremony was a day I will definitely treasure for the rest of my life. All of my family were there to support me and the weather was glorious. The sun was perhaps a bit too enthusiastic come to think of it, 30-degree heat in long, thick black robes wasn’t ideal…but nevertheless my four years of hard work at university came down to this very day, I’d graduated, and I was feeling on top of the world.

But after the celebrations had passed, then it hit me…what next? A lot of my friends had secured graduate jobs and suddenly the realisation that I didn’t really have a plan in place after I graduated was becoming increasingly apparent. Perhaps like me, you weren’t really sure about what career you wanted to go into after university and most of your time was spent working on the dreaded dissertation to properly think about it.  You’ve worked extremely hard for the past three/four years and you want a job where you can practically apply the amazing skills and knowledge you’ve learnt from your degree, otherwise, there’s really not much point in that long life debt you’ve just given yourself. The reality of the matter is, life after graduation is tough. I was perhaps a little naïve coming out of university with my 1st class honours degree and placement experience under my belt thinking I’d be able to casually stroll into the first job that took my fancy. This was not the reality, the graduate market is increasingly competitive and I seemed to be getting rejection after rejection and just couldn’t figure out why.

Now, I’m going to stop right there for a minute, because this blog is starting to sound too whiny for my liking and I’m not a whiny person at all, I like to think I’m a pretty optimistic person the majority of the time.  The purpose of this blog wasn’t to put a downer on things and to have a moan about how difficult getting a job after graduation can be. The purpose of this blog was to say, yes life after graduation can be hard, but just because you haven’t landed your dream job straight away doesn’t mean that you won’t. It seemed to me whilst I was at university I was always bombarded with success stories about people landing amazing jobs with amazing companies straight after university but there never seemed to be support out there to tell people that that’s not the only option after graduating! As I was in a very different situation to this, at the time, I couldn’t help feeling a little sense of failure. After having time to reflect I’ve realised life isn’t a race and it’s completely okay to not be exactly where you want to be career-wise after graduating. For those of you in a similar position to me who are starting to feel disheartened – please don’t be.

I’m sharing my five top tips that kept my spirits and motivation high through this tough period – I hope you find them useful!

  1. Don’t compare yourself

As I said before, life really isn’t a race. If your best friend has landed a graduate scheme with a global corporate company, earning the big bucks and loving life (which they are probably exaggerating anyway) good for them. You need to take the time to focus on yourself and really think about your career options and the direction that you want to go in. Everybody is different. Don’t just apply to a graduate job to keep up with everybody else’s lifestyle, it has to be the right job for you, not just a job you think you SHOULD be doing.

  1. Persevere

As disheartening as it can be to keep applying for jobs and getting rejections, miracles don’t happen overnight. Success takes time, you have to be persistent and keep applying to things, sooner or later you will start to get a bit of luck (usually when you’re least expecting it!).

  1. Ask for feedback

When you’re applying for jobs and if your application or interview didn’t quite make the cut, one of the things that is going to be most beneficial to you is to understand where you went wrong so that you are able to improve on this for next time. Most companies nowadays are so busy and preoccupied with what’s happening internally the majority of them will send you a generic email sent from a robot saying they aren’t able to provide feedback. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get so it’s always worth asking anyway!

  1. Improve yourself

As cliché as this may sound if you’ve all of a sudden got a lot of time on your hands while you’re looking for the right job, why not make the most of the time you have? Research the field you are interested in going into thoroughly, learn as much about it as you can to put you ahead of the game! Learn a new skill, try a new hobby, start reading more or take up some work experience at a local SME in a role that interests you. Any work experience that you can get in the career that you want will be valuable to you and it gives you more to speak about in interviews.

  1. Use the resources at C+P available to you!

Now, I know this might be a bit tricky for you graduates that no longer live in Birmingham, but if you do still happen to be in brum, not many graduates seem to be aware that the friendly Careers and Placements team here at Aston are here to support you for up to 3 years after you graduate…so make use of them while you can! Get CV/cover letter advice, visit a careers consultant to figure out your career options, attend interview or assessment centre workshops. There’s a whole variety of help waiting for you so don’t be afraid to use it.

By Hayley Bristow

 

 

Mastering Madrid.

Greetings from Madrid!

I have now been studying here for roughly two and a half months, and have loved every bit of it. This post will mainly focus on what Madrid has to offer, so anyone aspiring to do their placement here, can receive a few hints, and tips of what might be in store for them. I will also briefly touch upon the finances of studying, and living abroad, as this is a big factor in the decision-making for most people, myself included.

Where to begin?! The University life here is somewhat similar to that of Aston, however, I found that there are some differences, mainly in the way you are examined, and in the way some of the courses are organised. First, and foremost, I got to choose my own modules here, something that you do not get the chance to do until final year, if you’re a joint-honours ABS, and LSS student like myself. This is something I feel is a benefit, as you are given more autonomy, and can focus on a field that you enjoy, or are good at, or both! At UC3M, which is the University I am studying at, there is a big emphasis on continuous evaluation, and mid-term tests. This is something we do not really encounter at Aston, but I have found that they are really not that bad, and can work out in your favour, as there is then less stress on you for the final exam.

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The social life is great, and there is so much to do. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) team here are really helpful, and arrange some great events. You should sign up for the ESN card, it’s only €5, and it great value for money. I would recommend everyone to take part in the early events, as it is a great way to get to know people, and to learn about Madrid, and all of it’s hotspots. The food is unbelievably cheap – especially compared to England! Madrid really is a sports-mad city, so for any football or basketball fans that are planning to study, or work here, they will not be disappointed.

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Generally, the city itself it relatively cheap. Accommodation is cheaper than the majority of anything that you will find in England. You can purchase a travel card, which is €20 a month for students, and with that, you can travel anywhere within the region of Madrid, on any mode of public transport. Flights back to the UK are also quite cheap, so you can return home, if you need to. So, for anyone that wants to do their placement abroad, but is put off by the expenses, should really look into it, as Madrid is relatively cheaper than most other European capital cities, and you will be guaranteed to have a great experience.

Thanks for reading!