Category Archives: Recruitment and HR

Lessons: Where the magic happens

Two things I’ll be discussing and sharing my experiences with you are:

Getting out my comfort zone and not waiting for people to explore (They kind of intertwine)!

These two things are extremely important to me, because I learnt that when I started to take these things on board (in Germany), it really helped me  adapt, settle in and just experience new things. I was where the magic was happening (I love this phrase, and you’ll see that I willl use this often, just to emphasize how good life is outside the comfort zone haha!)

The Comfort Zone

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noun

  1. a situation where one feels safe or at ease.
  2. a settled method of working that requires little effort and yields only barely acceptable results.

You see the term I just defined above – RUN, FLEE, ESCAPE, JUMP, out and away from this “zone” as far as you can. Doing this will help you develop yourself as a person, grow in different areas of your life, being open to new things which can yield new opportunities, meeting new people who can be useful in the future, adapting to new environments. The list is endless!

Getting out of my comfort zone meant that I had to do things that were new to me and made me feel uneasy. A prime example for me was speaking German (in my silly British accent lol, you can imagine how uncomfortable that is). This was not an easy task, because I tend to be a perfectionist = I didn’t want to make mistakes, I wanted everything to sound perfect and most importantly I didn’t want anyone to laugh at me.. soo that meant I chose what was comfortable for me and I spoke English. But because of this mindset, I was trapped in my comfort zone and I was hindering myself from being in that place “where the magic happens”, which for me was developing my language skills and being confident speaking German. Recently, I was in a situation where I was forced to speak German because the customer service advisor only spoke German (In my head: How can she not speak English? What’s all this?). Usually when people tell me this horrific line, I don’t even give them the time of day, I’m just like bye Felicia. BUT this time I stayed on the line (Mate, I ordered new products and I didn’t have time for it to get sent back). If you heard our conversation you would’ve laughed. I was stuttering, I was piecing sentences that I learnt in my German class together, praying it made sense – fam I was sweating (BUT, I came out of my comfort zone just to rescue my products being sent back haha!). As our weird conversation went on, there was this sudden feeling of victory, fulfilment, confidence, knowledge and wisdom (All in one, I tell you!) because No.1 I just had a flipping conversation in German pat yourself on the damn back Temz, well done! No.2 GUYS SHE ACTUALLY UNDERSTOOD ME!  She even said to me in German “I thought you couldn’t speak German, your German is good”, No.3 I rescued my babiessss from being sent back into the wilderness of the DHL supply chain! I was where the magic was happening baby!!!!

But going back to my point, clearly it was fear that hindered me from recognising my own ability to hold a conversation in German and put it to use!  Since then, I’ve gradually tried to get myself out of that zone permanently and speak the language as much as I can, even if I sound silly or make a mistake – because I was always corrected and I just learnt from this!

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From this experience I can boldly tell you that, once you get out of your comfort zone its like life just starts flowing. You become more open to try new things, meet new people which makes it easier for you to adapt and settle into a new environment (especially abroad). You kicked out the spirit of fear, and in came the spirit of confidence which has stopped you from doubting your knowledge, skills and abilities. Going back to the 2nd definition of “comfort zone”, once you get out of this,  you stop yielding average/barely acceptable results and you begin to yield unimaginable results and have new opportunities! It is easier said than done, I for one know this,  there may/will be bumps along the way but you can only learn from these and carry on.

EXPLORE: DON’T WAIT!

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Someone: *SHOCK HORROR* You’re going XYZ place (usually a restaurant) on your own?!!

Me: Yes…..

Someone: ON YOUR OWN???? Rahh you’re on it boy or wow, I could never do that

Seriously guys lol you need to stop asking me these questions in such shock. So because I have no one to go with me to eat or do things, I should now stay in my room?Do not rely on other people to have fun, to explore, to go out, because if you do this you are only going back into the forbidden comfort zone.

For e.g. Let’s say there’s this meet and greet event or something of the sort going on and you reallly want to go, but your friend doesn’t want to go. Do you also say you’re not going? Let’s say you don’t go, and the next day you find out there was someone important there who was giving people the opportunity to… I dunno, get some experience with them  (or something sha you get my drift!) That’s an opportunity just missed there (there will be more of course, but you never know when the next one will come)

Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity

If you want to go somewhere/do something don’t have the mindset that you need someone there with you (Unless you’re going on a night out, and its unsafe lol). Learn to be independent, especially when you’re in a new environment (because most of the time you won’t know anyone or have friends). You really wanna see or do something, make plans for yourself and if someone else wants to come along then heyyyyy why not? Just don’t make your plans solely based on whether or not you have someone to come with you.

I’ve missed quite a few opportunities being in Hamburg, it hurts, but now I’ve realised where I went wrong. The two points I just mentioned above is where I went wrong and it’s still a working progress for me but I’m really encouraging myself to get out of my comfort zone and not waiting for people to go places so I can open myself up to new experiences and opportunities. I hope this post has been helpful in someway!

Till next time x

May/June Highlights: Summer is that you?!

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This was my favourite picture of the month at Planten un Blomen

Helllooooo guys!

So much has been going downnnnn in Hamburg since May 1st; it was like 1st May just marked summer for us here. It was like event there, event here, mate I can’t complain. Anyways I’ve decided not to write too much in this post and instead have more pictures (because I’m soo lazy to write I won’t lie lol). Anyways, relax yourself and enjoy the pictures!

May – Hafen Geburtstag

One of the first events in Hamburg this may was the Hafen Geburtstag (the Birthday of the Harbour) and to celebrate it there was a festival/carnival along the Harbour, which went on for the weekend and it was unforgettable! It felt a bit like Notting Hill carnival, just smaller, along the harbor, and people were fully dressed.

It was filled with beer huts, food stands, ships, souvenir shops, clothes shops, lights, huge speakers, music stages etc. Carlos Santana performed on Friday, but I didn’t know so I missed this 🙁

(You guys: Who’s Carlos Santana? Me: The guys that sings Maria Maria! You guys: Oh yeahhhhh him)

and if after this you still don’t know………. then this is awkwarddd.

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Hasta Luego (See you later)

Hola chicos y chicas,

You are probably busy with exams and essays as usual but guess what?

It will all come to an end soon and we will swap places. You will be in Spain soaking up the sun whilst I’m in the UK depressed because of the weather 🙁 .

I’m kind of jealous now (I’m being honest) because even though it has been 9 months and I still have 3 left. I’m dreading leaving Seville. I have fallen in love with this beautiful and magical city and like I’ve said before I would marry Seville (I’m not kidding). As you can see I have loved my Erasmus year and I can confidently say that it has been one of the best years of my life. I know what you are probably thinking.

 

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I’m not even going to defend myself, I’m just going to let you go abroad and then we will talk when you finish your placement 😉 . As you can see, this blog post is kind of sad because that time of the year has come again. Time to say goodbye and I thought I would be the best at this because I’m already used to saying goodbye to people. I’ve had to say goodbye to my friends and family when I left Portugal, I’ve had to say goodbye to my family when I moved to Birmingham (I know it’s not that far away from Cardiff, but it still counts) and then when I moved to Spain. So, I thought “I will be fine when the girls leave, it will be like a piece of cake”.

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By the way, I did not cry (I’m not lying, ok) but it was hard to say goodbye to some of the best people that I’ve met. I think they have made my experience and influenced me a lot (not in a bad way, obviously, maybe). You would think, I would have to wait until June but no. It started in September, two weeks after I started my placement, I had to say goodbye to my older sister (which happens to be an Aston student). Two months later, I had to say goodbye to my princess, followed by my godmother in December, my twin in January, my annoying cousin in February and my next door neighbour in April. Everyone left me, literally, not even my Polish mentor stayed to check on my progress.

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However, I’m actually proud of myself because I thought I was going to cry a river, when my next door neighbour left. She was the last Original girl, they were all here when I was just a newbie and we kind of started all at the same time. To see them leave one by one was hard, specially the last one. Anyway, the moral of the story is, enjoy every single second of your placement year abroad. Enjoy your new friends and the memories that you will create together. So that during your final year, you can go and travel around Europe to reminisce over your memories.  I know I will be doing that because I’ve already been invited to a wedding in Vietnam (look at me, V.V.I.P )

 

Don’t forget, when you are in your placement year abroad to have fun, meet a lot of people, travel, create amazing memories and say hasta luego. Hasta Luego is more joyful and exciting than a good bye (let’s be honest, you want them to stay in your life otherwise how are you going to get invited to international weddings?)

 

Hasta Luego 🙂

Excited or Stressed?

In a meeting with my Professional Development Manager this week, I was reflecting on my year. She asked the question, ‘Now that you’ve been here, are you more or less excited or more or less stressed when you consider finishing University?’

Hmmmmm.

I think back to securing my placement. Stressful. For the fear of being sent to the last place on Earth you wanted to be, doing the worst job you could imagine, you just HAD to find a placement. Whilst keeping on top of everything else of course. So when you spend 3 days writing an application, submit it and receive an automatically generated email within 2 minutes of pressing the button, your heart kind of sinks. Especially knowing, you’ve got to go through it all over again.

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Will looking for a grad job be exactly the same?

I was having coffee with my Mum and I was talking about some options I was considering for when I complete my degree. She exclaimed, ‘Isn’t this just so exciting?!’ The idea of just starting out, with so many paths in front of you made my mum green with envy. ‘You have the chance to do exactly what you want to.’

Is she right? So why don’t we feel excited?

Maybe we’ve become cynical; because there’s so much competition we’ll never get a job and we’ll be paying off out student loans forever, and we’ll never be able to afford to buy a house…

These are statements I hear a lot. I blame the media. However, none of them are fundamentally true. I’ve come to thinking that I got here didn’t I? Why would a grad job be any different? In fact, I’m in a better position than I was before with a year’s industrial work experience under my belt and a number of people I could turn to for advice or support. I also have a much clearer idea of what it is I want.

So actually, although placement/job hunting can be a stressful experience, let’s start getting excited! There really is so much to look forward to.

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Love Serenna xxx

Feria de Abril

Hola chicos y chicas 🙂

How are you? Preparing for exams? Writing essays? I know it’s hard and boring, but it’s worth it. If you have secured a placement, congratulations. If you are still looking for one, don’t get stressed ( remember what I told you about your brain cells). I only secured my placement in July which means that you still have time. Focus on your exams and  assignments then you can worry about one of the best years of your life.

On this blogpost, I’m going to tell you about the Feria de Abril. One of the bests if not the best event in Seville. It usually happens 2 weeks after Semana Santa and it is the total opposite. I’m not going to write that much because I think the pictures will do all the talking.

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The Feria de Abril usually starts with a procession around the city centre. Sevillians love the Feria as it is more relaxed than the Semana Santa.

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They have a parade of horses to announce the start of the Feria.

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The horses usually have ornaments in their face as you can see in this picture.

 

 

 

 

 

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The city is decorated with reminders of the Feria. Cruzcampo, which is one of the main beer companies in Spain, is the main provider of the reminders.

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The inside of a bus stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Feria officially starts when they switch one the lights of the entrance at midnight. The Feria is that important, that the event is even televised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entrance during the daytime.

The entrance during the daytime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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During the day you can see the carriages and you can go in one. You can also see horse riders .

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They ride the horses the old-fashioned way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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They are so used to riding the horses, that they even drink whilst on a horse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

flamencas

All the girls wear flamenco dresses, which can be quite expensive. For you to have an idea, some girls pay 800 euros for a dress.

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In the Feria they have a number of casetas. Casetas are little houses where you can get a drink or some food. They also have a DJ or a band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

private casetas

The casetas can be private or public. If they are private, you need to know one of the partners that will let you in, otherwise you have to go to a public one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Me and the girls in a public caseta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Feria also represent the beginning of the Bullfights’ events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Feria was one of the highlights of my placement year because since I got here, I always said that I wanted to wear a flamenco dress and the Feria gave me the opportunity to do so. Now, you can see some pictures of me on my flamenco dress.

 

 

Me and the girls from the office.

Me and the girls from the office. (Celia and Lilly)

Me and my flatmate.

Me and my flatmate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me and Julia (One of the ladies from the office. I call her Pocahontas)

Me and Julia (One of the ladies from the office. I call her Pocahontas)

Me and Nastja (one of the interns in the office).

Me and Nastja (one of the interns in the office).

Julia (a.k.a Pocahontas) taught me how to dance the sevillana, however I will not post the video of me dancing. In this picture you notice the details of the mantocillo ( the scarf she has in her chest)

Julia (a.k.a Pocahontas) taught me how to dance the sevillana, however I will not post the video of me dancing. In this picture you can notice the details of the mantocillo  ( the scarf she has in her chest) thata the traditional girls wear.

Ladies dancing the Sevillana

Ladies dancing the Sevillana

 

Ladies dancing the Sevillana in a private caseta.

Ladies dancing the Sevillana in a private caseta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Feria finished with a firework show. To be honest I’m really sad because I really enjoyed the Feria. Everyone was so happy and relaxed and ready to have fun. If I come back to Seville ( which I will) it will be during the Feria as it is the best time to be here. If you come to do your placement in Spain, take a week off during the Feria and come to Seville.

I wanted to say thank you to all the girls for letting me post these pictures, especially to Celia for taking some of the photos.

Good Luck with your exams and assignments and I will come back next month with some placement advice.

Until then,
Hasta Luego 🙂

Don’t spend that money all at once chile!

Regardless of what situation you’re in I hope this post can be of good use to you. Although we all know the importance of budgeting some of us still don’t take it into consideration.I thought I would share some of my “experiences” with my spending and budgeting whilst I’ve been abroad.

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I was off to a new country and my parents, aunties & uncles had already given me that money handshake before I went (IF YOU KNOW YOU KNOW). So at this point I felt like I was the Queen’s daughter with all this cash on me. Of course I knew majority of it would be going to my rent and my maintenance but I was still a rich girl in my head. For my first month I told myself “Temi don’t worry, don’t expect to save anything, you’re in a new country there are loads of expenses to be paid and things to buy.” This was literally the excuse I was using throughout July and into August, and the fact that there were delays with me opening up a bank account meant that I had all my cash on me which led to me spending even more.

After paying all my expenses I still had a substantial amount left over, so what did I do? SPEEEENNND like a MUMU!! Listen I wasted 95% of my money on restaurants, takeout’s and drinks and the other 5% on random things. I was lonely and was missing home – so the next best option that made me feel comforted was food. Lol when I say I was taking myself out to all of these fancy shmancy restaurants to keep myself occupied. I really couldn’t care less on how much I was spending because it was the only thing that was making me happy at that point. There was not one weekend where I didn’t take myself out to eat – if I went sightseeing I’d tell myself “yeah girl you need a snack!” lol. (DISCLAIMER: I don’t have an eating disorder loool, but I love food).

One mistake I made was not planning for contingencies or “just in case” scenarios which dealt with me severely at the end of my first two months. I remember after my first pay I was literally left with zilch as soo much had been taken off my wages (Transport, deposits, additional rent costs etc.). I was left with €150 for the month! Sorry, but what was that chicken change going to do for me? I was depressed just looking at my bank account. Then I was really forced to BUDGET!! No more dates with myself and I didn’t even bother leaving my room because then “I’ll deserve a snack lol”.

You would think from that situation I would learn my lesson. WRONG. Why was I still out on the strip every weekend, partying and spending like I was related to Richard Branson? It was not until my birthday (which was 4 days before pay day) that it hit me. Lol I saw €5 in my account I was soo stressed all I could do was laugh. I felt like the prodigals son at this point. How was I leaving my teen years with €5 please, even my little brother had more money than me and he’s unemployed. This was me on my birthday:

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We thank God my sister came to rescue me from this financial problem lol. Think about it, if I had set out a budget and didn’t spend all my money on invisible restaurant dates lol I would’ve had some emergency cash to fall back on. I literally had no excuse for the foul spending I was doing, because my company provides me with A LOT of financial incentives. Budgeting is so important especially when you are away from home and have to be independent.

QUICK TIPS!

  • Be responsible with money. Budget how much you’d need for the month (inc. bills, utilities, necessities, groceries etc), you can put a bit aside for leisure (restaurants, clubs, activities).
  • SAVEEEE the rest/Have contingency monies. (You don’t even need a reason to save because either way it will benefit you!).
  • Save also before you go abroad! ERASMUS payments were DELAYED last year because so much people applied. Don’t make the same mistake I did and solely rely on them, because I didn’t save money before I went, when the payment didn’t come on time, I was screwed and I had to go to the Bank of Mum.

 

Semana Santa

(Please be aware as this blog post may contain pictures that may cause distress)

Hola chicos y chicas,

How are you and how is your placement search going?  I guess some of you may have secured your placement while others are still looking. Don’t get stressed because like I always tell you, you still have time.  You can still find an amazing internship abroad or in the UK. Why don’t you broaden your horizons and become more flexible about the roles and the salary or maybe the location. You might get lucky  😉

 

Nonetheless, I came here to tell you about one of the most exciting weeks in Seville. Semana Santa (Holy week). Seville is known for its celebration of the Semana Santa because of the breath-taking processions and the streets filled with tourists and locals that came to see their “Virgen”. This is how it works, every church has its virgin and the older churches also have a brotherhood. So they come out and walk around Seville for hours with a statue of their virgin and one from Jesus’ path to crucifixion. They also have the ‘nazarenos’ which can be mistaken by Ku Klux Klan because of their outfits, however their outfits have a different meaning, like they are different (so calm down). In the past they used to wear the overall and the hats to hide their identity as they were ashamed of their sins and they did not want to be labelled as penitents. If you look closer you can see that the outfits are different.

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First date of placement search

Hola chicos y chicas.

I know I have not been posting about placement advice lately but this post is about it.

Today, I’m going to write about interviews. Placement interviews are like your first dates (I’m just going to assume that you had a couple of them), where rule number one is to impress the girl or the boy so that you can have a second date. Is the same with placement interviews. You have to be on your top shape and look flawless.

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I’m going to tell you what you should not do when you go on an interview. Once again they will sound like common sense but since I have seen a lot of people doing it, I will just refresh your memories.

  1. When discussing the interview time make sure you have the right time, especially if the interview is with a company from another country. I have received a lot of e-mails of people telling me British time, I know the difference but I have friends who don’t know the difference and do not have time to go and check. Then you miss your interview and cause a bad impression

 

  1. Make sure you allow yourself enough time to get there. If the interview is over Skype, check the connection and practice with a friend or a family member. I have had to call candidates numerous times because they are in a place with a bad connection or sometimes I have to scream so that they can understand what I’m saying. Then there is the odd one that blames us (like for real).

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The Ugly – Finding Accommodation in Hamburg

Finding accommodation here is NOT EASY AND it is different to finding one in the UK. There isn’t a “Unite” or “Canalside” type of accommodation here. 90% of the time students/interns/trainees live in a shared flat (WG).  When I first got to Hamburg I didn’t have a permanent place I was staying somewhere temporarily. Overall I have moved 4 times – I just moved again two/three weeks ago.

Now I had no idea where to start looking when I got offered the internship. I didn’t even know what to type into Google. I was the definition of lost. I will split up my experience into 3 sections:

  1. FRAUDS

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Yes guys, it’s not only Nigerians who are fraudsters. But omg the amount of fraudulent activities I experienced (especially on the Erasmus website). It’s not Erasmus as an organization, but more of the “frauds” who sign up and advertise fake flats. Don’t get me wrong, I also experienced fake adverts on the other flat rental websites but the ERASMUS website was the worst. The ERASMUS website didn’t do quality checks for fake accounts, whereas the other websites did and they would send you an email to warn you.

These frauds really take advantage of the fact that you’re a foreigner and have no clue about the city you’re about to move into. We’re like fresh meat to them.

Some fraudsters will send you “pictures” of “them” and “their fake family members”.  Honestly these pictures looked so legit I never imagined for them to be fake. I was sent pictures of the different rooms in the flat etc and they were all fake like seriously where were they getting all of these pictures from. After all the picture sending they’ll then ask you where your work location is and then BOOM! miraculously the next email from them will be a random house address near your workplace and because you don’t know any better you’ll just be so happy of how lucky you are that it is walking distance from your workplace and how decent the price is. Then I said I’d like to come and visit and then all of sudden they were on “business trips” and never returned. I lost count of the amount of times this happened to me and from then I knew it was fake.

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Application/Interview Tips!

Hey guys this is some quick CV & interview tips for when applying for internships. This month and last month my department held interviews for the next intern to take my place for when I leave. Lucky me, I was able to sit in the interviews with my two bosses and pick up some good knowledge on what applicants need to do to get further in the assessment stages.

I cannot stress how IMPORTANT it is for your CV and Cover Letter to be top notch when applying for jobs – especially if that is all the company requires from you.

  1. CV
  • In the education section of your CV always state the modules that could be relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  • STATE GRADES by them – even if you haven’t received any maybe put down your predicted grades.

Some of the placement opportunities offered on the Aston Futures site are exclusive to Aston students only. Imagine a whole load of ABS students send in their applications; of course they all do the beloved “Business Game” and many other modules – so you need to differentiate yourself. Your grade could be your selling point!

  1. Cover Letter

STATE YOUR INTERESTS FOR THE JOB! WHY THIS ROLE? WHY THIS COMPANY? RELEVANT SKILLS? OR YOU ARE WILLING TO LEARN MORE SKILLS? If you are struggling, go to the Aston placements office – THEY ARE THERE TO HELP YOU!

Do not send a basic cover letter please I beg of you – those do not get looked at.

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