Third year blues

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As usual, university has completely taken over my life. The problem is that this year, I’m not neccessarily loving it. I’m not sure exactly what it is. It’s just not enthusing me in the same way that previous years have and that’s sort of sad in a way, because it’s my last year. That’s frightening in itself. In roughly six months time, I’ll be out in the real world, desperately trying to seek out my first full time job. As much as it’s a scary thought, for me it’s also an exciting thought. It means that I can finally have a little bit more money to do the things I’ve always wanted to do, like buy a house and go on holiday every year without worrying about it. It also means that I get to pursue a career in something that I’m passionate about and that I’ll thrive in. I think that’s part of why I just want to finish already.

The modules that I’ve taken this year are also a bit of a bother. Some of them are not quite what I thought, and then there’s the fact that I’ve decided to major in English Lit to try and open up my career  prospects- my Creative Writing has sort of been pushed to one side, when in fact, that’s the part I’ve always enjoyed the most.

Then there’s my dissertation. Oh my god. Don’t even get me started. I know that it’s not supposed to be easy, but I’m really not feeling supported by my university about my project which is such a shame. I’ve had lots of meetings, I’ve spent hours in the library and I’m still not sure where to start in terms of actually writing it. I’m writing mine about feminism and it’s effects on literature through vampire novels. Sort of random, but as an avid Twilight lover, and current Vampire Diaries fan, it’s right up my street. I’ve discovered some new favourites in Let the Right One In and Interview With the Vampire.

The last thing about this year that’s getting me down is in terms of friendships. I feel like those with my friends at uni have become really distant and I’m not sure why. I feel as if I’ve put in a lot of effort without much back, something which is really disheartening in any friendship. I think the main thing I need to remember about this, is that sometimes friendships aren’t meant to last. I take pride in the fact that my best friends have known me for years, and I know they’ll be friends for years to come. I’ve been told not to waste time on people who don’t give you anything back- I think I’ll start taking that advice.

So there you have it. Third year blues. I just need to keep plodding along. At the end of the day, it is only six months. Besides there’s lots to look forward to! I turn 20 in two weeks, and this weekend I’m going to see the Royal Ballet in Birmingham perform The Nutcracker, my favourite. I’m also really loving the Christmas spirit that’s in the air at the moment, I can’t wait to break up for the holidays!

Lots of love and more soon,

Beth x

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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?

 

Student guide: What to take to university

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I know it’s that time of year where a lot of you out there will be getting ready to move out to university for the first time. As you prepare to go off to university for the first time, it can be a very daunting process. I should know, as that was me just two years ago! You have all of your friends and family trying to convince you that you need everything from a torch to a lifetime’s supply of pegs, but in truth, those are the items that are going to either sit in boxes underneath your bed for the entire year, or they’ll be sat in a corner, taking up what little space there already is in your tiny room.

But don’t worry, I have you covered. Follow this list carefully, and you’ll find moving out for the first time to be a breeze.

The boring (but important!) stuff

– Passport

– Driving licence (or provisional)

– University acceptance, course acceptance letter and details of your accomodation

– National Insurance number

– Passport photos

– Bank details (and bank cards!)

– Student loan details

Technology and electricals

– Laptop and charger

– Phone and charger (possibly take a spare just in case)

– Headphones

– Memory stick

– Hair straighteners

– Plug socket

– Desk lamp

Stationary

– Files

– Notebooks

– Pens

– Pencils

– Planner

– Stapler

– Hole punch

– Desk organiser

Kitchen (applicable even if you’re living in catered halls)

– A recipe book (preferably one with quick and easy meal ideas)

– A supply of food (tins, pasta, crisps and snacks etc)

– Cordial

– A supply of tea and coffee

– Frying pan

– Saucepan

– Cutlery

– Glasses

– Scissors

– Sharp knife

– Mugs

Bedroom

– Bed sheets (and spares)

– Duvet set with pillowcases (and spares)

– Decorations (e.g an ornament, candles, plant, photos)

– Mattress protector

– Clothes horse

– Washing basket

– Clothes hangers

– Door stop

Bathroom

– Towels

– Paracetamol/ Ibuprofen

– Cold remedies

– Shampoo

– Conditioner

– Flip flops (in the case of a shared bathroom)

– Shower gels

– Body lotions

– Tampons (in the case of females)

– Plasters

– A toilet roll

– Hand wash

Other bits and pieces 

– Clothes (post on this to follow)

– Alcohol

– Bottle opener

– Books

– DVDs

– Fancy dress costume

Hopefully this has been helpful to all of you new students out there. Best of luck, and happy moving 🙂

A New Idea

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As many of you know, I recently wrote a blog post called ‘Any job is a real job’ which you can read here. It was a post about the status of employment in the UK, and also about dealing with other people’s opinions about what your job is, particularly if you were working in a sector such as the retail or hospitality industry where employees do not gain the recognition that they deserve for their hard work. I was really pleased with how many people I’ve had message me about their thoughts on the subject, and it was then that I had an idea.

I would love to do a blog series on people’s jobs. I want to know what industry you work in, what you enjoy about your job, what people’s opinions of your job are etc, and I want to publish an interview on it. I want to try and raise a bit more awareness of the ins and outs of the working world in ALL sectors, whether you’re working in an office or a fast food restaurant. I’m not asking you guys to tell me exactly where you work, but just more of a general idea of what your job is.

As a student, I feel it could also be beneficial to other students to see how you got into that job industry, what qualifications you have, and what your future plans are.

If you’re interested in being interviewed then please leave me a message in the comments below, or if you feel more comfortable emailing me your thoughts, then my email address is BethJ143@hotmail.co.uk.

I’m really excited to hear your thoughts on this idea, and also looking forward to learning more about my readers.

Once again, thank you all for reading! 🙂

Love,

Beth x

Any job is a ‘real’ job

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One thing I hate more than anything is when people don’t refer to jobs in the retail and hospitality sector as ‘real jobs’. As I’ve said in my last few posts, I’ve recently started working part time at a clothing store. Since I’ve started working there, I’ve had quite a few people telling me that it’s not a ‘proper’ job. Now I understand that when they say that, they’re not intentionally being offensive. Maybe it’s because it’s not full time, or because it’s not a job that I’ve attained through my degree. But in my opinion, it IS offensive. Some of the people I work with are in their forties, their fifties, and to them their job is their ‘real’ job. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

A lot of the people who’ve said that my job is not a ‘proper’ job are people my own age. What they don’t seem to remember is that for their parents’ generation, getting a degree was not the norm. A lot of their parents work at places such as a clothing store, and they don’t get told that they don’t have ‘real’ jobs. So why do I? Even now, not everybody goes to university. I know lots of people who’ve gone through apprenticeship schemes, or have gone into a practical vocation, and sometimes I envy them. They’re the people with their own money, they’re buying their own houses, and they own their own car. Meanwhile, yes I’ve been studying at university, but I don’t have any of those things.

I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that any job is a ‘proper’ job. When I do have my degree, I probably will still be working at somewhere like a clothing store. The job market today is fierce, and I’m just grateful to have any job at all. Although I know personally that this job is not something I want to do for the rest of my life, I’m grateful for the income that it’s bringing to me, and that it’s enhancing my knowledge of what it is like in the working world. So try to keep in mind that any job is a job. And I’d rather be working hard then being the type of student who has to rely on their parent’s money. But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?

Dear Future Self…

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Dear Future Beth,

Remember that you don’t need to be so shy. You don’t need to go red just because you feel like everyone’s eyes are on you. You don’t need to look at the floor when you’re talking or to mumble out all your words because you’re worried that your ideas aren’t good enough. Remember how confident you are with you friends and family and channel that. Crack a smile, maybe try out a joke, throw your hair back, and remember that you look fabulous. We both know you wouldn’t have left the house looking like a scruff.

On the other hand, remember that you don’t need to worry about what you look like. It’s okay to occasionally throw on a pair of leggings and a baggy t shirt, or to tie your hair up because you didn’t have time to do it properly. No one really cares that much anyway. Remember when you were really paranoid because you found holes in the front of all your tops? You were so paranoid for ages that they were caused by the washing machine, when really they were caused by that cheap belt that you bought from Primark three years ago.

Stop putting so much pressure on yourself too. You’ll get there when you get there. It doesn’t matter if it takes you a few months or a few years, so stop fretting about it so much. Run a hot bath, pour in some of that coconut scented bubble bath that you love so much and read your book. There’s nothing you can do but your best.

Lastly, don’t let anything hold you back. If you want to travel round the world then do it. If you want to be a career girl then do it. You only have one life, so why waste it? You’ll only regret what you didn’t do in the past.

Have you got all that? Good.

Love from,

Present Day Beth

xxx