Surviving Work Experience

You HAVE to do work experience whilst you’re at uni. If you haven’t already, hurry up and get applying. Think about it, if you don’t try out your supposed ‘dream job’ before you leave uni, you could spend years trying to get it. Then, behold! You’re offered the job and… oh. It’s not quite what you had built up in your head all these years. If only you’d tried it out when you were young and free and still had the chance…

I have always wanted to be a journalist and I love to write, but it’s always good to check it out in the real world. That’s why I spent the week at The Salisbury Journal, a local newspaper and website near my home town. Here are my top tips on how to survive the experience of work.

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Trying to be sophisticated and all that

Look the part

Don’t turn up looking like a student, you’ll only get treated like one. Ditch the jeans and converse and put on a shirt and tie or a skirt and blouse. You’ll instantly feel like you fit in and people will start to take you seriously.

I probably enjoyed the sophisticated, London, work look a bit too much, but I looked the part whenever I turned up to an event to interview someone. Nobody assumed I was the work experience girl when I had the pen and paper in my hand so I was able to really get into the role without feeling insignificant and inexperienced. People thought I was the professional (until they realised I couldn’t write shorthand and interviews were painfully slow. Alas, one day I might actually be the professional).

Be the tea maker

Who doesn’t love someone that’ll bring them a hot beverage throughout the day. It’s a sure fire way to get to know everyone (well, get to know how they take their tea) and get them on your side. Make them their perfect cuppa and who knows, they might just give you something fun to do.

More tea equals more responsibility, right?

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Office life and the office cat

Muck in and do whatever anyone asks (within reason)

If they want you to type letters, write up press releases, proofread or just sit and read newspapers, do it. It’s all experience and it’s all worthwhile. Someone has to do it, so be helpful and take a load off of everyone else.

You’ve got to start at the bottom and earn their trust and approval. Do not march in their acting like you’re better than everyone, because, no offense, but you’re not. The people you’ll be working with (hopefully) know how to do their job, so don’t tell them how to do it better. That will get you nowhere fast.

Watch and Learn

And when you’ve got 10 mins left until you finish your work experience, and you get a call that the President of the United States is on his way to Stonehenge… Don’t think! Just go!

Hello Mr President

Hello Mr President

Basically, if you have the opportunity to do something, even if it’s scary and way out of your comfort zone, just do it. That’s what I did, and it will probably be the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me for quite some time. But after a week of writing about gardening clubs and old people’s homes, all surprisingly rather enjoyable, I got the chance to go and see the President of the United States, Mr Obama himself, turn up at Stonehenge. Maybe I didn’t get to put my new interviewing skills to the test but it was an amazing experience to watch the professionals do what they do best. From the moment they knew about his arrival, right up until the article was published online, the speed and professionalism at which the reporters and photographer worked was remarkable. It was an honour to see it all come together and a great end to the week!

So…

Just give it a go. Work experience looks great on your CV, it helps you decide what you do, or do not, want to do and it gives you a taste of the real world of work. If you get the chance to do it, go for it, and if you don’t, make it happen yourself.

Thanks to mine, I know 100000% that I want to be a journalist. On to the next step!

(Thank you to The Salisbury Journal for being so welcoming and letting me do so much during my work experience, you’re a lovely group of people and it was an honour to you all at work)

Can you live the London life on a budget? Why not…

EveryIMG_5687 time I travel home from uni, I have to venture up to London, before I then head back down to the south. It may just be a part of my route home, but one day (in the very near future, pretty please), I want it to actually be my home. I love it. I’m obsessed with wanting to live that London life; busy, hectic, eventful. I know it doesn’t sound all that relaxing, but your 20s aren’t a time for slowing down, they’re when you’re just getting started. I know London is exactly where I want to be after I graduate. Fairwell uni bubble, the capital is calling!

My love of London means I’ve spent a fair amount of time roaming the streets, but when you’re a student, and money is not your best friend, London starts alarm bells ringing. Fear not, my fretful friends, I’ve got a few tips up my savvy student sleeves.

Note: This isn’t the way to live every day, let’s not be frivolous now, but for those odd days off, here’s how to reign in the spending.

Musicals mean money.

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Theatre Old Drury Lane

From previous posts, you may be aware that I do love a good musical, and that they don’t come cheap. Before, I’ve suggested turning up at Leicester Square and grabbing whatever cut price tickets you can get. If you want to get more for your money, then here’s another suggestion. The last few times I have been to the theatre, I have purchased mid-range or low-range tickets, right near the back, where my fear of heights suddenly manifests itself, only to be upgraded to better, higher priced seats. I’m not saying this is a dead cert, but it is always worth inquiring on the day what the situation is. To make it even more likely, pick a mid-week matinee performance which is always less popular, because let’s face it, everyone else is busy working away while we’re off gallivanting to the theatre like cultured students. Just think: the less people who go, the more likely you’re all going to be shuffled up into the swanky seats. Winning.

Photo by Byron Hamburgers

I sat there! Photo by Byron Hamburgers

Eat on the cheap.

Even if you’re not off to see a show or a musical, go and pretend you are. The restaurants around the theatre district, close to Covent Garden, are surprisingly cheap. But isn’t Covent Garden a tourist money trap, I hear you say? Not necessarily. Pre-show menus are everywhere! Two courses for £9.95, drink included. Yes please. I know, I was surprised too. From lunchtime to around six, every restaurant around is touting for your business. There’s so many to choose from, they have to lure you in somehow, and if you’re as conscious of money as every other student, this is the way to do it. And when it’s a set menu, there’ll always be the crowd pleasers on there, so you’re sure to find something you like.

Hang around at Happy Hour.

On my last trip to London, I was celebrating a close friends’ 21st, so I wanted to do something extra fancy. Following our extremely cultured theatre trip (to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory … (at the Theatre Old Drury Lane)), and a cheap but scrumptious after show meal, the next step was obvious: cocktails. And if you get your timing right, finish dinner just as Happy Hour begins. Two doors down from Byron Hamburgers (go there!), is Be at One, a small bar where Happy Hour lasts three hours.

Photo by thecocktailcard.co.uk

Photo by thecocktailcard.co.uk

It’s trendy (I’m not sure that word is cool anymore), and it’s got a great atmosphere; maybe because everyone has finished work for the day, or they’ve just had one too many cocktails. Ah, that London life. After work cocktails in Covent Garden? See you there one day. The bar staff were extremely welcoming and incredibly skilled at what they do. I don’t know whether measurements are stronger in London, but wow, you get a lot for your money. Cheap, lethal pre drinks before heading back for a night out at uni sorted. You’re welcome.

So, there you have it. It’s very simple, but it’s all about timing: when to eat, when to drink, when to book tickets. We also managed to minimise travel costs and time wasted on the tube by staying in one neat contain area. The theatre, restaurant and bar were all within metres of one another. Maybe you don’t get to see as much, but you get to make the most of your time and try out a few new places you maybe wouldn’t have thought of going before.

And, remember, when in doubt; wave your student card around. You’d be surprised how many places accept student discount.

Pinch me, I’m blogging for The Telegraph

Apologies to those of you who have had to listen to me ramble and squeal about this for the last two months, but for those of you who missed it… I recently started writing for The Telegraph Student Life Blogs! They’re articles that fit perfectly with the theme of my blog so I thought it would be nice to share them with you too.

Below, the images are links to each article, so get clicking. Feedback and comments are greatly appreciated. Thank you to everyone to has read or shared my articles already. You’re, wait for it… “Simply the best!”

Forget the degree; this is what university is for
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The eight university students you love to hate

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I need a dollar, dollar… How to make money at uni

Photo by ebony.com

Being a student is tough. No seriously, it is.

If you’ve had the trauma of accidentally putting your new favourite black jeans in the wash with your whites, or forgetting that 3000 word essay that’s actually due in tomorrow, then you’ll know what a treacherous and onerous life we students lead. Without mother dearest to guide me along the way, my life is a series of trial and error experiments.

But I know, for me, (aside from the washing debacle) dealing with and most importantly, not spending, my money, is the hardest task. There are always places I want to go, food I want to try and clothes I want to buy but even with a job (no, working in Essentials, Venners and Woodys isn’t enough for me), it’s still a struggle. So how about some creative ideas to earn a bit of dollar in Canterbury alongside your studies?

1. Sell your stuff. ALL OF ITdebt-2

Okay, not all of it, but if you haven’t used it, worn it or played with it in the last six months, or if you’re really brutal, the last month, then sell it on eBay. People will literally buy anything. Though saying that, I now just have an ever increasing  ‘eBay pile’ in the corner of my room, looking quite neglected and lost, wishing I would just send it to a new, loving home already.

I like to think I looked as cool as Colin Farrell when I had my brain test (I know for a fact I didn't)

I like to think I looked as cool as Colin Farrell when I had my brain test (I didn’t)

2. Be a lab rat

I’m not suggesting you sell your body parts, although I hear that pays very handsomely, but it turns out that there are a lot of psychology students on campus conducting experiments, who need guinea pigs to take part. And the best bit is, they pay you for it. JobShop at Kent often advertises these experiments and whilst I’ve given up my money making secret just for you, it really is the best and easiest way to earn on campus. £7 for 20 mins, yeah I’ll take that. And to be honest, every experiment I’ve done has been very interesting, from eye tracking to brain tests, they’re worth getting involved in.

3. Procrastination pays

You know those emails the university keeps sending you that you don’t even read and just automatically discard? Well, every now and again, those emails are handing you money on a plate. All they’re asking you to do is fill in a survey or questionnaire, give them some basic info about yourself and press a few buttons and… hello £10 Amazon voucher. NUS do it all the time too. No more than 20 minutes of procrastination, and you’ve earned yourself a tenner. Time to trawl through that trash folder.

flyering4. Humiliate yourself

Remember that guy you saw in town, dressed like a baguette or a slice of pizza and handed you a flier that you immediately threw into the nearest bin? Well haven’t you always wished you were him? Okay, maybe not, but flyering isn’t a bad money earner. Show your sense of humour and risk your reputation for the dollar. It’s a bit more creative and it might even be fun (for your friends when they show up and take photos and post them all over facebook).

5. Oh sugar sugar

Or if you’re really stuck for ideas, you may remember InQuire reported on the craze of ‘Sugar Daddies’ a while back. Sign up and find your own part mentor, part sponsor, part ‘friend’. I know what you’re thinking but hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it I guess. If it works for some people… Our very own University of Kent has the highest number of ‘sugar babies’ in the country, so you’re in good company if you want a more drastic way to earn some extra money.

Whatever you choose to do, good luck!

Coffee Shop Cosiness

Photo by Alaric King

Photo by Alaric King

I felt inspired to write today, for the first time in ages and it got me thinking. Uni life, especially third year, and especially two weeks before the end of term can be beyond stressful. I don’t think I’ve slept properly in weeks, my head is all over the place and I feel like I’m ambling aimlessly through one day to the next. I feel on edge all the time and I hate it. So that’s why everyone needs to find that one place where you feel comfortable and relaxed. It’s important to get away from the stress and just give yourself a break. And no, I don’t mean the silent area of the library. I mean somewhere so detached from uni that you can escape the campus bubble and remember what it felt like to live without deadlines. Here’s what happened when I found mine:

Today, I found my own little slice of heaven. And it was glorious.

Having bravely ventured into the center of Canterbury on the first Saturday of December, I felt overwhelmed, suffocated and incredibly claustrophobic. I needed to get out of there. So I walked, and I kept walking until I found my new home.

A quaint, hidden away, cosy coffee shop. It was peaceful and secluded and cut off from the Christmas crazed shoppers outside. With a coffee and my writing journal, I sat back and just wrote.

For the first time in months, I didn’t feel stressed. I actually felt happy.

It’s one small room laid out like someone’s living room (with a till and a coffee machine in the middle), with snug sofas and dining tables where we all huddled round and wondered if we were sat next to the next great author. Who knows. But it felt like an exclusive little club of people, all content that they had found this small haven in among Canterbury’s mishmash of shops and cobbled streets.

I love this small, homely city, but now I really truly love it. Now I have found somewhere that I can relax and look forward to visiting.

Today, I sat among writers and workers, busily scribbling thoughts and ideas into their journals. It made me smile and there seemed to be some kind of unspoken pleasantness and understanding between us all. A brief warm smile or a small nod of the head as if to say, “I understand. This is my heaven too.” As bizarre and cliched as it sounds, I felt like I’d finally found people like me, who shared the same thoughts and understood why I was there but without needing to question me. They left me to it and let me write away to my heart’s content.

Now there’s no way I’m giving you the name or location of this haven because it’s all mine and I feel I can be selfish about it and not share it. But I suggest you go and find your slice of heaven, hold on to it and never let it go.

Now back to reality, and that dreaded library. Deadlines await!