17 January 2013 10:26 AM

Dos and Don'ts for getting on with your parents during uni holidays...

So, the Christmas holidays are over, and If you're anything like most graduates these days, you'll have spent them at the Hotel of Mum and Dad. For many this will have been your first trip back home since they dropped you off at the beginning of freshers' week.

The first visit home can be a bit of a shock to the system for both parents and students - suddenly you're swept from your newfound independence back into a world of folded towels and having to phone home if you're out past 10pm, while your parents are confronted with an adult version of their darling child, who's no longer willing to account for their every move and may have picked up new and different views on life. Cue a few fraught weeks of arguing over milk, cleaning rotas and whose turn it is in the shower - think life in halls but with added parent-child angst. So, if you've had a few clashes with the family, here's a few things to bear in mind for future trips back home - or for when you have to move back in after graduating!

Do:
> Be gracious - remember that it's your parents' house, after all! Offer to cook a meal, wash up, entertain Grandma or walk the dog.

> Prepare yourself for a different atmosphere from the one you remember - you may feel very different since moving away, but chances are your parents won't have caught up with this yet. Patience will go a long way!

> Spend time catching up with friends from your hometown - share tips on how to survive! Plus, some time away from your family will make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone.

> Acknowledge how your parents and younger siblings are feeling, and be prepared to compromise on the small stuff. If your dad gets annoyed about people leaving dirty dishes unwashed overnight, is it really going to kill you to do it his way for a few weeks?

> Use the holidays to do a bit of graduate career research

Don't:
> Allow yourself to be pushed into a 'child' role again - although this might make your parents feel more comfortable in the short term, it's not conducive to a positive long term adult relationship with them.

> Revert to teenage sulking if conflict arises - you'll just sabotage your chance to show your parents that you're a mature, reasonable adult.

> Assume that because you've been to university for a few months and have taken a couple of debating classes, you are now in a position to be dismissive of your parents' religion, life choices, political affiliations or stance on the EU. Constructive discussion, yes. Hectoring, no!

> Get stroppy with them when they offer unsolicited advice. Of course, this is easier said than done - you may have the type of parent who wants to help you find your feet by asking 'helpful' questions like "Have you tried searching for a graduate job on the internet yet?" Grin, bear it and remember that in a matter of weeks you'll be back to the wonderful world of parties, cheap vodka and a diet of super noodles - so enjoy that home cooking while it lasts!

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11 January 2013 10:12 AM

Do graduate job-hunting stunts work?

A 24 year old unemployed graduate has recently made the news by hiring a billboard in London to promote his video CV – and he’s not the first by any means. As grads feel the pinch, we’ve seen cases of ‘Hire me’ messages scrawled on mortarboards, roadside hoardings, and countless ‘clever’ job applications. We’re all told that we need to ‘stand out’ when making graduate job applications, but just how far is too far?

Good…
- Intelligent, no-nonsense written and spoken communication
- Individuality tempered by a sense of professional decorum
- An appropriate sense of humour
- An accessible online portfolio
- An awareness of the culture of the industry you’re applying for – creative flights of fancy will go down a lot better at an ad agency than at an accounting firm
- Avoiding coming across as either desperate or cocky – confident competence is the name of the game
- Having a presence on LinkedIn
- Getting peoples’ names right!

Less good…
- Trying too hard to be witty – this can be interpreted as an attempt to cover up less-than-stellar grades, poor experience or a lack of commitment to the industry
- Going for style over substance – think about what can you actually bring to the business and why that’s worth hiring, not just what you think the employer wants to see
- Trying these techniques in the wrong industries. For example, the guy mentioned above, who hired a billboard, is looking for a job in TV production. However, his tactics would be far more likely to impress someone looking for advertising or marketing talent. TV production teams tend to be a practical, behind-the-scenes bunch – they have to be in order to get the creative stuff done and let the ‘talent’ shine. And the job he states that he’s aiming for – junior producer – isn’t actually a job title that exists in TV production. It may seem harsh to nitpick, but it really doesn’t look good to prospective employers in the TV industry – imagine if a law graduate turned up for an interview and didn’t seem to know the difference between a barrister and a solicitor?

What were you thinking…?
Anything that could be remotely construed as stalkerish. Gifts, repeated unsolicited messages or workplace visits to people you don’t know is weird, and the fact that you want a job from them doesn’t suddenly make it ok! If any of your self-promotion ideas have even a whiff of ‘restraining order’ about them, think again.

One of the problems noticeable in a lot of new graduates (as evidenced by Mr Billboard) is the tendency to mash ‘media jobs’ together as if they were one conglomerate. Saying ‘I want to work in media’ is about as meaningless as saying ‘I want to work in an office’ – the obvious question any prospective employer will ask is ‘Yes, but doing what exactly?’ 

If you’re interested in a job in advertising, marketing or PR, a very cleverly executed ‘original’ approach might very occasionally pay off because it shows you’re happy to take risks, drum up publicity and use social media to your advantage – all of which are pretty handy job skills in these areas. But if you’re interested in working in any other creative industry, the best way to get a job is to be better at what you do than most other applicants. Not better qualified, not louder, not more personable, not a harder worker – just better. Whether your creative outlet of choice is writing, programming, filmmaking, graphics, costume designing or video editing, the harsh truth is that you need to be really, really good at what you do. Your portfolio needs to shine. You need to have talent, realism, aptitude, vocation, passion – ‘Well, that sounds quite fun and glamourous’ isn’t going to get you anywhere. Jobs in creative industries are as rare as hen’s teeth and don’t tend to pay well, but if you’re (honestly) as good as you think you are, you’ll get a foot in the door at some point without resorting to gimmicks.

Find out more about careers in TV

Find out more about careers in advertising and PR

Find out more about publishing careers

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10 September 2012 09:48 AM

Top Tips For Developing The Skills You Need For A Graduate Job

  • Network, network, network! Family, friends, contacts you meet by chance – it all counts!

  • Go to university careers fairs and employer presentations – not only can you pick up lots of helpful info on the industries you’re keen on, you will also have the chance to make a lasting impression with recruiters.


A final tip - believe in your own abilities and focus on presenting yourself as confident...but not arrogant. No one wants to spend all day working with someone who's full of themselves!

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10 September 2012 09:28 AM

Four Vital Skills for Landing your First Job

Graduate employers aren’t just interested in hiring candidates with the right qualifications – they’re also keen to meet people with the right skills for their company. The top skills graduate recruiters want are:

1. Commercial awareness - this is about knowing how a business works, how it’s positioned in the marketplace and how it relates to the wide economy.
    
2. Communication skills – this vital ability covers putting your point across effectively, public speaking, listening to people, writing well, and tailoring your message to your audience.

3. Motivation – are you someone who can pick themselves up again after a setback? Can you keep persevering when the going gets tough?


4. Confidence – can you be assertive without being arrogant? Can you master business lingo and meet company directors without sounding nervous? 


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06 September 2012 03:44 PM

The Survival Guide to Freshers Week: Practical and not-so-practical tips

Ah, Fresher's Week...if we could sum it up in two words they would be 'chatting' and 'queues'. You will spend the entire week non-stop gabbing away to all your new housemates, coursemates, randoms you pick up on nights out, and people waiting to register for their student cards. Which brings us neatly onto queues - you will queue for the aforementioned student card, NUS card, medical registration, library registration, etc. Not the most fun in the world when you've got a crashing hangover from one Sambuca too many the night before, but it's actually not a bad way to meet new people, which is the main point of Fresher's Week. After all, you'll be doing too much of this in subsequent uni years, so have fun and socialise while you can!

Practical stuff:

- Before you even think about cracking open that bottle of Malibu, make sure you register for the essential things that will keep you alive - doctor, dentist, student discount card, passport photos, library card, internet passwords, TV license, council tax exemption certificate.

- Store some local taxi numbers and the postcode of your halls of residence in your phone to avoid getting lost - nothing worse than realising you're stuck in a strange town at 3am!

- It goes without saying, really, but don't do anything stupid. 'Stupid' covers walking home alone at night, unprotected fumblings, accepting drinks from strangers, and anything else that would reasonably warrant a slap round the head from your mum.

Now, down to business:


- DON'T sit in your room and feel homesick. Contrary to popular belief, Freshers' Week isn't all about drinking - it's also about meeting people. Even if you're not the loud partying type, make sure you get out there and at least chat to your fellow quiet types - it's likely they'll be thrilled that someone has broken the ice, so don't be scared to strike up conversations. Feeling too shy to know where to begin? This video has some great tips for the nervous...

- Make sure you join at least one society. Societies can be a great way to meet like-minded nerds people with similar interests, so dive in. But don't spend crazy amounts of cash on signing up in your first week - many societies will let you come along to a few meetings first to get a taste for the action.

- Be open minded. One of the best things about university is the chance to make friends with people who are absolutely nothing like you in tastes, background, education or nationality. Don't automatically assume that you won't get on with the loud blonde girl with the double-barrelled name, the Morrissey lookalike with the hipster specs or the shy Japanese engineering student. Some of the greatest university friendships come from the most unlikely places, so expand your mind and give everyone a chance!

- Bring something to share with your new housemates on the first day. Everyone brings cakes or biscuits, so try something a bit off the wall - how about a football, party poppers, bubbles or a frisbee? It doesn't really matter what you go for - the point is to break the ice.

- Make sure you eat something involving fruit or vegetables to stave off the dreaded Fresher's Flu. At least once during the week.

- Make sure you register for all your classes on time - you don't want to start week two and be met with blank looks from your lecturers! 

- Most importantly, have fun!

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22 August 2012 10:21 AM

5 Things You Need to Know About Engineering Graduate Jobs

Engineering can get a bit of a bad rep, unfortunately, which is a shame because it has the potential to be one of the most satisfying and stable careers out there. Read on to find out five things every aspiring engineer must know:

  1. It's not just for the guys! Watch this film to find out what women who work in engineering have to say - the general consensus seems to be that not only is it not nearly as 'blokey' as you might think, it's also easier to get noticed for being good at your job when you're the only woman on the team!
  2. There are plenty of jobs in engineering companies for non-engineers - think Sales and Marketing, Project Management, HR, Logistics. A graduate scheme at an engineering company can be a great way to get transferable business skill that will translate to a wide range of careers.
  3. It can offer some of the most flexible hours of any professional job - many companies offer perks like flexitime, and some even give you every Friday afternoon off - yes, really! 
  4. Some engineering graduate schemes will consider candidates with a 2.2 - so this industry can be a good choice if you've not quite hit the grade you hoped for.
  5. Engineering can offer the option of lots of international travel if that's something that takes your fancy - definitely worth bearing in mind, we say!

For more information on careers in engineering, click here.

Or click on the image below...

 


15 August 2012 12:27 PM

3 things graduates need to know about consulting

For many graduates, consulting has a glamourous ring to it – the idea of walking into a different organisation every fortnight and helping to smooth out their business issues. However, it’s notorious for being a highly demanding career path – have you got what it takes?

1.    Commitment

Consulting is not a profession for graduates who aren’t 100% committed to their career – it involves frequent travel and long hours, with often only a day week spent in your base office. If the idea of becoming closely acquainted with a variety of hotel facilities across the UK doesn’t faze you, then a graduate job in consulting might suit you.


2.    Diplomacy and tact
Consultants are often brought in to help organisations that are having difficulties, so an ability to empathise, be tactful and work collaboratively to solve problems is a valuable skill. 


3.    Organisational skills

You’re not going to be based in the same place all the time, so your ability to get (and keep) yourself organized needs to be top-notch.

Still think you’ve got what it takes? Find out more about careers in consulting by clicking here.


Or click on the image below...

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