A city love affair

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As many of you  know, I used to live in Chester. Chester is a beautiful city in the North West, and it’s the first place I lived entirely on my own without my family or any of the people that I grew up with all of my life. I lived in a tiny room in a old fashioned block of flats, and my friends lived directly across the road. Things like not being able to drive weren’t an issue as shops were a ten minute walk away, and as I lived on campus, it was literally a two minute walk to lectures. For that year, my friends became like a family to me. I think that because of that, Chester always feels like home to me in a way that I’m not always convinced Manchester does.

Although I class myself as living in Manchester, where I actually live is Sale, a small town in the suburbs which is technically in Cheshire. Where I live is very leafy and green, and it does feel more like home to me now than it did a year ago. It helps that Rich is here and that my family aren’t too far away, and I do feel as if I’m putting down more roots now that I have a part time job in the city. But then the other day, I caught the train down to Chester for a night out with some of my friends who live there. And I got that feeling as I were going home, as if I still lived there.

Although I’ve accepted that Manchester is my current home, and I’m happy with living there, I guess a part of me will always love Chester. It has beautiful sunsets, it’s where I met my boyfriend, and it’s somewhere that for a short while really made me happy. What I’ve got to remember is that life goes on, and that Manchester is somewhere that opens up a wealth of opportunities in a way that Chester didn’t. I have a lovely flat with Rich, I get to live the cosmopolitan city lifestyle, and I’m closer to my family and hometown.

I think I need to remember that whenever I do travel down to Chester for uni, which I currently do three times a week, although Chester is no longer my home, it’s still there for me when I want it. It was a stepping stone into my current life, and in the same way that my memories are always within reach, so is my favourite city.

Do any of you feel like this about a city? Let me know.

Beth xx

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ANY JOB IS A REAL JOB: DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIST

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It’s been a while since I continued with my blogging series, any job is a real job, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about it! This week, Poppy Mayy from http://poppymayy.co.uk/ is sharing what her job as a digital marketing strategist is like. It was really interesting to hear about another role in the media industry! The media industry seems to be expanding all the time, and there seems to be lots of opportunities to get into it, and I think it’s the sort of role that a lot of bloggers out there want. I hope you enjoy reading this post, and  I want to say a big thank you to Poppy Mayy for getting involved. You should definitely check out her blog, as she’s a great writer that I think a lot of you would enjoy. 

1. Explain your job title/role…

My official job title is digital marketing strategist at a creative web design and marketing agency. However, I am certainly not limited to just strategising. I take care of all the in-house digital marketing from email campaigns, social media channels, online advertising, content marketing and SEO (search engine optimisation). I am also responsible for various clients’ digital marketing.

2. How did you get into your job?

Funny story, the company I work for actually belongs to the husband of a guest lecturer at my university. So I got my job through a recommendation from her and one other lecturer. Obviously I still had to submit an application and interview for it though. But it turns out it does pay off being teacher’s pet 😉

3. What do you like about your job?

The variety. No day is ever the same as I’ll either be dealing with different clients or different marketing channels so I’m never bored.

4. What do you hate about your job?

The pay. As a recent-ish graduate though, I can’t be picky.

5. Where do you want to be in five years time?

Preferably I’d love to be a marketing freelancer or running my own digital agency. Having a lot of freedom in my career has always been something I’ve wanted.

Do any of you out there do something similar? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, let me know if you want to get involved in this blogging series! 

 

Student Guide: Why it’s important to think before you choose your university course

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I think a lot of seventeen year olds out there feel like they HAVE to go to university. As soon as you’re in year 12 you’re told you have to start filling out UCAS forms, that you need to start spending every weekend travelling up and down the country visiting universities, and that you need to decide what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life. You start to feel really pressured, and you lend up deciding something that you might lend up regretting two years later.

Sometimes that’s how I feel. As many of you know, I’m an undergraduate at the University of Chester and I study BA English Literature and Creative Writing. I chose to study my subject as I’ve always loved to read, ever since my dad read Harry Potter to me when I was a little girl. I spent the majority of my childhood scouring car boot sales for books, persuading my parents to just get me books for Christmas, and spending hours holed up in my bedroom devouring words. Therefore, when it got to the time where I had to decide what I wanted to study, I thought English Literature would be the perfect course for me.

Two years later, I wouldn’t neccessarily agree. Although I do enjoy the majority of my course, I don’t enjoy all of it. Sometimes I feel unmotivated by some of my modules, and I find reading to become tedious. This happened to me so much so in my first year of uni, that I no longer read for pleasure anymore. Luckily my second year modules excited me much more, and I now read ALL the time again. It’s rare you’ll find me going anywhere without a book in hand. My third year modules don’t excite me quite as much, but this year I’m determined that I’m not going to let it get me down.

I think the problem for me  is that I chose my course too soon. I don’t think I fully read up on what it would entail. Sometimes I sit in my lectures, and find that the majority of my peers seem so much more knowledgeable about English theory than myself. They know about Marxist theories, they’re strong feminists, and they really seem to relate to nineteenth century characters in a way that I just can’t. I do, however, really enjoy my Creative Writing modules. I love writing poetry, I’ve really enjoyed a module I took on an insight into the publishing world, and I’m excited to try out life writing in the upcoming year. I’ve also chosen my dissertation topic, which is to be an indepth discovery into folklore and legends, and their evolution through literature.

I think if I’d have been choosing my university course now, I would go down a different path. I know now that I want a career in marketing, and I think I would have chosen a marketing degree. At the time I was choosing, I really felt that I didn’t get much advice from my tutors at my college. I felt rushed and I felt I had to choose something that I’d studied before. I guess there’s nothing familiar in the unknown.

I think my advice to sixth form students getting ready to choose their university courses in the upcoming months is to find something that you enjoy, but also to look at possible career paths afterwards. Try and speak to people who have done similar degrees. And if you’ve already started your course and you’re already hating it, then think about making a switch. Don’t spend three years doing something that you don’t love.

Any job is a real job: Social Media Servicing Advisor

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As many of you know, I recently decided I wanted to start a bit of a blogging series with the phrase ‘Any job is a real job’ in mind. I wanted to raise awareness of the different industries out there, and I asked for all of my readers help. I feel really lucky that some of you responded.If you missed my previous articles about this, then click here.

 First up is Cameron, from over at Cameron D Hamilton. He writes a great blog with an emphasis on poetry and self reflection, and I really love his work, so I was very pleased when he contacted me to tell me about his job as a Senior Social Media Servicing Advisor:

So, let’s begin with a few basic facts.  My name is Cameron, I’m 29 and I work in corporate Social Media for a major UK bank.  I’ve been in my current position for over a year.

Explain your job role (title, daily duties etc)

At this time I hold the title of Senior Social Media Servicing Advisor.  The job itself consists of moderating several social media and website channels for the bank.  My department moderates four Twitter handles, two Facebook accounts, the website ‘live webchat’ service and two customer enquiry email services.  I came into the department to handle Social Media so I tend to focus my attention on the Twitter and Facebook content.  It’s more a preference for me, it actually works out well with our team dynamic as some of my colleagues prefer the more formal nature of the email channels.

On a normal day I’ll spend my time responding to enquiries received and also post attention grabbing content, over the Twitter channel specifically, in order to grow the brand and attract attention.  As a team we’re also tasked with monitoring public relations through Social Media, logging and reporting positive and negative reports of the bank.  As a department we have little power to effect change the way the bank presents itself, essentially we’re information gathering.  It can get a bit frustrating when the same criticisms come up and nothing is done but I’m sure there must be a good reason, or at least I hope.  The vast majority of the time is spent moderating the channels making sure that all messages received are responded to, make sure we can avoid potential PR issues and make sure customers are protected.

(A funny story on making sure our customers as kept safe over social media.  I once had to deal with a customer of the bank who was a financial dominatrix and was posting her bank details over Twitter in order to get tributes from her admirers.  Her profile was certainly NSFW.  I got in touch with our information security team and they got a Fraud officer to get in touch.  We got told she was warned the following day but clearly didn’t listen as a few weeks later she done the exact same thing.  You can’t help everyone!)

More than any other department we liaise with several different areas of the business on a daily basis, sometimes it can be simply feeding back praise, looking for more in depth info or a certain subject (mortgages, urgh) or getting complaints handled.  This is quite common as you can imagine, everyone love to moan over Twitter and we try to help.  Often it’s really easy people are being lazy wont visit the bank or call in, ‘help us to help you’ doesn’t enter into their minds.  Sometimes it take a little more to handle but it’s our job monitoring Social Media to make sure that voice gets heard and helped.

As a senior advisor I also research and create reports for the leadership team of the bank.  The most frequent is a weekly feedback presentation that is made for the weekly leadership meeting.  Takes about three to four hours and I usually do it if I’m working on a Sunday, it’s monotonous but I quite like it.

Also due to the main office site being a contact centre the team has been lumbered with some irritating telephone lines.  These are low call volume, maybe four calls over a shift max.  In addition to this in order to keep product knowledge fresh there are weeks where I will take general customer service phone calls or work the Internet Banking Helpdesk while another member of the team assumes moderation duties on Social Media.  It’s you’re standard shift rotation deal.

How  did you got into your job? (e.g qualifications, experience etc)

I’m a Media graduate, I spent five years studying through various college courses and university.  I went from wanting to work in film production, with an eye to direct, but found that I enjoyed writing more.  I put a lot of that down to my social anxiety, being able to create a barrier means I can work more effectively.  Its why I like working in Social Media.

The academics didn’t get me exactly where I wanted to go and I drifted through mostly Customer Service positions while trying to write.  Before I took my current position I was working as a general Customer Service Rep in the same bank at the same centre.  Due to my qualifications, my vast experience from working in the bank for so long and my eccentric passion the job was mine.

At the time I applied I was leaving the company, I had reached my glass ceiling and had been applying for writing and Social Media vacancies so when one came up from my current employer it just made sense.  The company thought so too.

What do you like about your job?

I like the ability to write and be creative.  That’s what sold me on the job, to try and engage with customers differently than I had been over phone calls.

Using my experiences as a writer to give some personality to the Social Media accounts, show we care, we want to help but that we’re real.

I really like the people in my team, it’s a great group of personalities and you need that in Social Media.  Of course I win the award for most eccentric but I set a very high bar.

Honestly it’s an easy job.  With the knowledge I gained working telephone customer service the job of moderating is ridiculously easy.  That lack of stress makes my life a lot easier with all the other stresses I have

The Social Media team itself is very young, its only in its second year.  I love being able to shape the voice and make a mark on the landscape.  Not to denigrate my colleagues but you can tell the difference in language and passion when I’ve sent a message compared to someone else.  It’s a great feeling to see that your voice is the one that people like.

What do you hate about your job?

The pay (hahahaha!!!) Serious though, its horrific.

The politics of the office are very annoying, as a contact centre the focus is on phone calls so my team gets treated horribly as if it’s our fault that calls are queuing because we’re not on the phone.  My employer doesn’t know how to handle digital operations and doesn’t understand the job we do.  This means arguments with management figures trying to assert authority when they have none and acting like children when they don’t get their way.

I don’t drive so the commute is pretty bad at times.  I take three buses and as much as it gives me time to listen to my favourite podcasts it does give me a little less free time.

Due to working in the banking industry, it’s a secure paperless environment which is murder or a writer who likes to have a note pad if they’re inspired by something…or maybe just wants to colour in on a slow day.

To be honest the job is great.  It’s the office I hate.  If I could do the same job somewhere else I’d be a lot happier.  I think if there’s any lesson I could impart it’s don’t give up on something you want to do because the people you work for are idiots.

Where do you want to be in five years time?

There’s two answers to this.

Answer one is writing professionally, taking what I do on WordPress and making money off my words.  I want to write like a lot of people here so If I can I’d like to get published and make my living from literature

Answer two is Social Media Project Management.  I’m not keen on actually managing staff, its just not interesting, I want to create and run projects.  Move out of the moderation and more into  the marketing the brand growth.  I do a little of this right now but I really want to advance into building content to get people talking and make the best use of Social Media.  It won’t be with my current employer, I have way too many issues with them and their ineptitude in the digital world.  I find this hard to answer because I’ve never been one for planning ahead.  Probably why I’m so far behind.

I want to say a big thank you to Cameron for this, as I found it really interesting. I’m looking to go into a similar career myself, so it was great to get an in depth view of what to expect. Does anyone else work in this industry? What do you think? Or do any of you want to go into this industry too?

 

How to get a better night’s sleep

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Recently I’ve been so busy that I don’t feel as if I’ve been getting enough sleep, never mind a sleep that actually makes me feel rested! I think that’s because I’ve been working full time on an internship meaning early mornings and the fact that on a weekend it’s been such lovely weather that I’ve been out and about the entire time. I shouldn’t complain because I’ve really enjoyed the last few weeks and I hate being bored, but I thought I’d share some things with you that I’m going to try and do this evening to unwind and hopefully get a better night’s sleep. 

Technology ban- This one’s probably going to be a bit of a struggle for me as I’m constantly on my phone or laptop whether that’s texting friends, doing bits for my blog or even looking things up. However, it is supposed to really help with your sleep as it allows your brain to shut off properly so I’m going to give it my best shot and see if it helps.

Make your bedroom cosy- When I lived in Chester, my tiny little uni room couldn’t really be described as cosy. I had a single bed which squeaked when you sat on it, there was no carpet and it was freezing because the heating wouldn’t work. In my flat now there are a tonne of cushions on the bed, the mattress is really soft and I actually enjoy being in my bedroom. Make yours cosy and you’ll find it much easier to fall asleep when you’re actually comfortable.

Wear something comfortable- This one goes without saying but you’d be surprised how many people see going to bed as some kind of fashion parade. No one cares what you look like when you’re going to bed. As long as you’re comfortable, that’s all that matters. I have to say though, I do really enjoy wearing matching pyjamas to bed. It makes me feel a bit more accomplished.

Make sure you’re actually tired- Okay, I know it’s hard when you know you have to be up in the morning and you can’t sleep. But the worst thing to do is to lie and to try and will yourself for sleep. Instead of doing that, try reading or getting up and doing something. Trust me, it makes all the difference.

Make a cup of tea (or if you don’t like tea, hot chocolate)- I’m a huge coffee fan and drink way too much of it to be good for me. However, on an evening I find that a cup of tea is so much more relaxing. It helps my mind shut down, and it’s just a really soothing drink. You could always try green tea or fruit tea as well as they’re supposed to have loads of health benefits.

What do you do to try and get a good night’s sleep?

How to have a productive weekend

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When the weekend rolls round, it can be so easy to let yourself just sleep, but the problem with this is that before you know it, it’s Sunday night and you feel like you’ve achieved nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of a relax at the weekend, but I also think it’s nice to keep busy and to finally get round to doing all the things that you didn’t have time to do in the week. So here’s what to do to feel super productive this weekend. I promise that if you do at least one thing on this list then you’ll feel a tonne better when it’s back to the daily grind on Monday morning. 

Clear out the clutter: Try clearing out your wardrobe, taking out the recycling, sorting out those cupboards, anything that makes your home look a more tidy. I love it when the flat’s perfectly tidy and nothing’s out of place, and I can actually see where everything is. It’s really surprising with how much clutter appears during the week.

Do the shopping early: Get any food shopping done. There’s nothing worse than realising on a Saturday night that you’re really hungry and have nothing in to eat. Suddenly that night of watching a movie and having some chocolate goes down the drain as you find yourself wandering around the supermarket.

Make some time for your family: As I’m normally busy in the week, I don’t really get to see my family in Wigan apart from on the weekends. I try to go and visit them at least once a fortnight whether that’s for a Sunday lunch or just a coffee and catch up.

Enjoy time with your friends: All my friends are also at uni in other places in the North West, meaning that we don’t always have time to meet up because it’s hard when everyone has their own lives. When we can, we meet up on the weekend, because it’s so important to keep them in your life and the weekend’s normally the only time that we’re all free.

Exercise: Exercise is definitely something to try and include in your weekend if you’re aiming to be more productive. It keeps you fit and healthy and I always find it makes me feel better about myself. The last few weekends I’ve done loads of walking and have even attempted going for a run a few times. I have a gym membership that I probably need to use too.

Do that thing you’ve been putting off: Trust me, there’ll be something, whether that’s visiting that family member who lives miles and miles away, updating your CV, or even cleaning the bathroom. Get it done! It’ll be a great weight off your mind and you’ll be able to feel pleased with yourself for finally getting round to doing it.

Have some you time: Even if you are trying to be productive, try and squeeze a little bit of you time in there whether it’s reading a book, reading some new blogs, or catching up on the latest episode of your favourite TV series.

Do you try to be productive at the weekend? What do you do?

Reverse Bucket List

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I wrote a post on my bucket list last week that you guys seemed to really enjoy. Therefore, I thought I’d try doing a reverse bucket list. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s basically a list of things I have achieved rather than things I haven’t achieved. I hope you guys enjoy this 🙂 

Swam in the ocean, passed college with at least three B’s, gone to university, moved out of my parent’s house, started to drink more water, learnt how to cook, started my first internship, got my first job, went on a plane for the first time, visited Italy, fell in love, stayed out all night, went through my first breakup, learnt how to stand on my own two feet, travelled alone, started driving lessons, went on a gondola ride in Venice, climbed right to the top of the Eiffel Tower, visited the castle where Harry Potter was filmed, visited Harry Potter studios, went to a musical, went to a ballet, volunteered with a non profit organisation, visited the National History museum, became a tourist in my own town, hosted a dinner party, sang in a taxi, watched a sunset abroad, went to two different festivals, saw Juliet’s balcony in Verona, started a blog, had a LOTR movie marathon, got a piercing, dyed my hair a completely different colour, worked at an airport, moved twice, read over 100 novels, conquered my fear and rode the tallest rollercoaster in the UK, donated to charity.