Tag Archives: Positivity

Fortune Favours The Brave…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Care!

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

Here Begins my Placement Rollercoaster!

Hi everyone! So here begins my year of placement, I don’t know what ups and downs I will encounter.  But with a confident and positive attitude I am ready to take on any challenges ahead.

As I was coming towards the end of my first year, it was time to look for a placement.  I spent some time during the summer completing a placement CV.  My motivation drove me to apply for placements every week and hoping for a positive response. But to my disappointment it seemed like a constant cycle with every placement application being declined. The excitement and optimism was slowly fading away, so I began preparing to go straight into my final year. I don’t know if it was wishful thinking, I still pondered over the opportunity of getting a placement and gaining some vital work experience.

The last application I sent was to University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust for the role of a ‘Clinical Coder’.  At this point I wasn’t optimistic at all, as I thought another rejection was waiting for me.  Just as I thought all hope was lost, I received an email inviting me to an interview. I got over excited, I asked my sister to pinch me and she actually did (yes… it really hurt!).  Although the education manager was very impressed with my interview, I was declined the offer for this particular placement as she said I am a student who has much more to offer and asked me exactly what I want to do and was willing to help me find a suitable placement. I was completely astonished by what she had said, it was like she knew I have potential. I received an email after a few days offering me a place in the upper gastrointestinal cancer department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Human Biomaterial Resource Centre which is part of the University of Birmingham medical school.

View from Queen Elizabeth Hospital 7th floor.

View from Queen Elizabeth Hospital 7th floor.

Thinking of taking on a placement?  These are the top tips  I recommend through my experience:

  • Complete your placement CV before you start second year.  The earlier this is done, the sooner you can start applying.
  • When applying,  send your CV with a supporting cover letter.  Edit each cover letter so it is specific to that company and job role.  Do not make one generic cover letter, you will not stand out or seem determined.
  • If a particular company interests you, email a contact provided and ask them to point you in the right direction, i.e. the work placement team/training team.
  • Apply, apply, apply! It is important to apply to as many placements as possible every week. This will increase your chances of getting a placement.
  • Never give up, it may be a slow process but do not lose hope.  Expect the unexpected!

The process of gaining a placement is similar to an experience of job hunting in the real world. Perseverance is key and ensure that you stand out through your CV and cover letter.

All the best for your placement journey!

Aisha 🙂

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!

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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

How my year abroad changed my mindset :-)

So… Summer has finally hit Spain, and let me tell you, it’s ridiculously boiling!

I’m a person that doesn’t like having a tan, as I tend to go bright red and when you put that with my blonde hair, you’ve got a walking fruit salad. So, I’ve been spending the past few weeks either shade-bathing, or revising. But… With one exam left tomorrow that I’ve no clue about, seeing as nobody (even the lecturer) seems to know when or where it is.. It’s time to go cray. By “cray”, I mean lots of gym sessions and eating lots of salad and fruit and all the good stuff… That’s the life!

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In this post, I wanted to write about how my experience this year has helped shape me, without going into too much detail or being too corny. If you’re thinking of taking a year abroad or a similar experience, this could happen to you too!

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viva la vida

Before I left The UK, I was struggling with panic attacks up to twice a week. It was awful and it was getting out of hand. Sometimes, I didn’t know why I was having them, and other times, it would be in the middle of an exam (not very convenient…). This is a very real thing happening to a lot of other students. I am super dedicated to my studies at Aston, and I love what I do, but the pressure I put on myself back then was ridiculous. I’ll also mention that I haven’t had a single panic attack since June 2015! :-)

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It’s only looking back now that I realise how much calmer I am (not just because of the siestas), and how much more positive I am.

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Things are going to happen, good or bad, and you just learn to deal with that and look at the positives that may come out of that situation. Nothing is worth stressing yourself to oblivion about. If it makes you that stressed, you should probably take a step back.

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I’ve spent most of my university life unnecessarily panicking when I could have been having fun and making the most of it. So I decided to compensate this year and let loose a little more. I’ve done things I’d never have dreamed of doing. When I arrived in Toulouse I went out on my own all the time, met people whilst I was on my own, travelled across the country in blablacars (with strangers) went to bars on my own, etc. I’d have never done that at home! It’s all about risk-taking, and learning that you can do things, you just have to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

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I’ve just started to learn to not take myself so seriously and to take things as they come. Now I’m at a ridiculously disorganised uni in Spain, I’ve become a lot more laid back and I’ve realised that it’s not going to be the end of the world if something goes pear shaped, just do your best and you’ll get there. Never compare yourself to others. People are going to do better than you, just learn from them.

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The more positive you are about things, the less you’ll worry. If you work hard, at least you can say you tried with everything you had. Everyone likes a try-er. My Spanish has definitely improved during my time in Spain, and as long as it’s getting better and I’m trying hard, I’m happy with that, but still… My already Italian accent has become even more prominent since living with two Italians. But the positive side of this is, it makes for a good laugh.

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“try and look spanish…”

But there’s something else that I must mention which is something important to me: never forget where you come from. Living in a beautiful country of organised chaos (yep, I’m talking about Spain), has made me appreciate what we have in The UK, and to never take it for granted. Sure, there are bits that aren’t so great, but you’re going to get that wherever you go. Valencia is beautiful and I love living abroad, but it doesn’t mean the grass is greener. People might moan about the weather at home – why? Be happy. The UK is beautiful, we get 4 seasons that we get to witness and we are very fortunate. Nothing can change where you’re from, and being away has made me become proud of the uniqueness of being British. Whether it’s milk in your tea or funny accents, it doesn’t matter.

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Be happy and stay positive,

Amy

 

What it’s like living abroad / in Spain

Living abroad is a scary yet exciting decision to make. It’s slightly different from moving away to live out for University since you can just casually take the train home whenever you like and whenever you’re missing your mum’s home cooked food. It’s a whole different story when you live in another country. It’s a new experience that you will remember for the rest of your life and it’s the honestly the best opportunity to learn to be independent and to gain new experiences. You decide where you would like to go and ‘break free’ from your standard home routine.

One of the biggest perks of living in a country like Spain is definitely the weather. From August to late October, the weather is beautiful (still)… but from then on, it gets a colder. Most people (myself included) assume that Spain is ‘hot’ all year round… please do NOT make the mistake of thinking this! It is most definitely not good weather all year round as I have experienced heavy rain, strong winds …almost as bad as England! Ok, maybe that was slightly exaggerated.

If you live out for University then you’re pretty much half way there to living abroad. You’ve already entered the independent life and you’re fine to fend for yourself (kinda). If you’re lucky like me, you’ll meet great people on your placement and you’ll make lots of friends! But some aren’t as lucky and find themselves quite lonely – it’s really important to venture out and at least attempt to meet new people…otherwise you’ll be isolating yourself in a foreign country that barely speaks your language! Believe me, you don’t want this to happen to you.

Money is something you have to personally watch over when you’re living abroad because before you know it, 3/4 of your Erasmus has gone and you don’t realise what and where you’ve spent it all on! Most the times you will eat lunch or dinner out and eventually that will add up. If you have a kitchen, try and cook as much as possible! But that’s not saying you can’t go out and treat yourselves to a nice meal every so often. Thankfully, we have our Erasmus and Student Loan to rely on and think about getting a part time job whilst you’re out there. I currently tutor three students every Saturday for two hours for extra English classes. My placement is unpaid so I took the initiative to get myself a job to earn some income.

Transport is great in Madrid – I pay 20 euros a month for access to the metro and buses which saves SO much money. One journey to Madrid city centre from where I live costs 3 euros 60 alone. If you’re from London, then you’ll be more than used to using the underground or taking buses… if you’re not, you’ll learn to use the metro ever so quickly and nowadays, we have smartphone apps to help us get around on them! It’s all about learning and finding your way.

Be open to trying new things…this is important. Wherever you end up, the country might not be 100% to your likings and it might not offer everything you’re used to having. Travel to different cities, try new food, meet new people – just have as much fun as possible and make the most of your time abroad. There are tons of different cuisines in Madrid – from the typical Spanish tapas to Japanese food, Chinese, Indian, Turkish etc.

The Spanish culture is very different from the English. In Spain, everyone is very laid back and some people are not so polite. There’s a lot of pushing and shoving involved on the metro and lack of personal space. But this is something that you get used to …eventually! Your normal dinner 6:30/7pm dinner routine will be pushed back to 8pm, sometimes 8:30pm. Again, something you have to adapt to and you learn about another culture whilst on your year abroad ~

The last thing you want to do is finish your year abroad regretting this and that – so make the most of it and choose your destination wisely 🙂

Tiffany

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3 things I have learnt from placement

  1. The importance of asking– If you don’t ask you don’t get, if you speak to the right people and ask questions and take an interest you never know what things you may get the chance to do. I got the experience to go out with a occupational therapist, but that is only because I asked, people are not going to do work for you, if you want to learn and gain experience… seek it out!
  2. Collecting resources-it is important to remember the things you have done on placement, and yes you have a brain but you may not remember that 7th housing checklist you did and what you learnt from that day- so keep a record, your reflective log is tedious and annoying to do sometimes but really keep a record of what you have learnt, it will help one day. Also all the training and stuff you get to go to, keep something interesting from the day, make a folder of all the things you have done. IT WILL HELP. 
  3. Take time for you- Remember if you are working unpaid like me you will more than likely have a part time job. Luckily for me my new job is relevant to my career goals now (I am now a neurorehab assistant for a inpatient unit specializing in brain injury- part time- more on that later) but it means I now work a 57.5 hour week, which is ALOT!!! I am tired and I am stressed I wont lie to you, but you and myself need to learn to take time out a bit. Thats what annual leave is for… if that means booking one half day off do it because that recharge of your batteries is the boost which will keep you going and being positive, and getting the most experience out of placement as you can… and that is the most important thing.

I hope this helps someone somewhere 🙂

Ring in the new year!

Happy New Year to you! What a year 2014 was; some good, a fair bit of not-so-good…

The Japanese celebrate New Year with a number of interesting traditions. It is one of the most important dates in the calendar here. One of my favourite traditions is the eating of 年越しそば and any tradition which involves eating food is going to please me!

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This is a simple yet delicious recipe for Year Crossing Noodles!

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THE SANDWICH VS. THE GRADUATE CELFIE

If you don’t already know, I’m an undergraduate student in the UK, studying Business and Politics. I can’t speak for all universities, but I can definitely speak for my uni in saying that doing a 1 YEAR industrial placement is COMPULSORY. Yes boo boo, you cannot graduate, babe even get into your last year without taking a placement.

IMG_8221Most of us (including myself), want to just scrap this extra year and finish in 3 years being able to take that ‘graduation selfie’ a couple months later and post it on Instagram with every hashtag in the world like:  #TeamGraduate #SeeTheRedSoles #WhyDoILookSoBuffPlease #WhyShouldntILookSoBuff #Afterthemtrampdaysinthelibraryandnotbathing #mytimetoshinebooboo #haterswatchtheredsolesonmyheels #BAMM (lol let me not even lie to you guys, THIS WILL BE ME!! Just letting you know in advance)

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