Advice to Future Final Years

Advice to Future Final Years

We all learn lessons in life and sometimes we wish we knew then, what we know now – or at least I do!  So, as a final year student, that’s just about survived first semester, I thought I would pass on some tips to future final years in the fab Jordanstown UU.

  1. Enjoy Uni while you still can

I had heard people say that final year is super difficult, but I sort of brushed it off and didn’t pay much attention, until I was rudely awakened with a reality check!  IT’S SO HARD!  It’s definitely a step up from my first two years, so my number one tip would be to just enjoy Uni, while you still can.  If your degree is like mine, 100% depends on your final year marks, the stress is unavoidable.  You have no choice but to work hard and actually stay behind in the library after lectures.  Your dissertation will consume your life and there won’t be a speck of light at the end of the tunnel, until the May deadline (casually drooling about that moment as I type).Z6

     2. If you get the option for placement – take it! 

As part of our course, we had the option of completing a work placement in third year.  I jumped at the opportunity and it was honestly one of my best decisions!  It gives you such a thirst for work – I know, I can’t believe I said that!  It’s true, you experience first-hand how to be an adult.  Is it scary? Yes.  Then why do it?  It provides you with fantastic work experience, it doesn’t look too bad on the oul CV and you can even be lucky, like me and make friends for life.  It also gives you a well-deserved break before you start, what is guaranteed to be, the most stress filled year of your life.  For a full breakdown of where I spent my year in full time work and how I applied, have a look at my ‘Placement Goals at Tourism NI’ post on 

3. The secrets of the library 


So, if you’re like me, then you barely use the library, and only when absolutely necessary!  Well, with deepest regrets, I have to tell you all, that it becomes your home in the final year, yep, you actually spend more time there, than you ever thought possible.  During the past few months, I have discovered some pretty useful tips that you may already be aware of, but I’m going to share them anyway for those of you who aren’t.  First of all, there is a quiet area, past the main desk on the second floor.  It’s great for taking your laptop and doing some work.  If you wanted zero noise and a computer, you can find a silent computer lab adjacent to this area – however, beware of noisy food wrappers, as you can literally hear a pin drop!Z4

The next study area is my favourite and I deliberated including it, as it’s almost too good to share, but I opted for being a ‘good person’ and tell you!  There are four individual pods with sockets to charge your laptop – it really is the small things in life.  They are located on the second floor, through the doors, near the printers and immediately on your right hand side.  I hope they change your life in the same way they have mine.

    4. Get your Library books ASAP 

It was pretty scary when I went to get some textbooks after our first lecture and the shelves were almost empty!  I thought I was on the ball, but clearly not.  It seemed that everyone rushed after class to get their hands on them and avoid paying ridiculous prices for books that you’ll probably never read again.  Thankfully, between my friends and I, we managed to get all the key books by the skin of our teeth.  So in semester two, I plan to read the module guide prior to class and get the textbooks, asap!  I really can’t be dealing with any added stress, so anything to ease semester two, will be done!

    5. Do as many activities, for the EDGE Award, as you can 

My final tip to future final years is in regards to EDGE.  If you’re planning on going for it, then do as many activities as you can in the first few years of your degree, as there is barely any time to eat in final year, never mind worry about and complete an activity!  Luckily, placement counts as one and I also took part in PANI, as part of my advertising module – highly recommended if its available to you!  Having two activities under my belt was a life saver and I have to say, there are other opportunities available in final year, but just don’t leave them all to then!

I really hope, at least one person benefits from these tips and I wish everyone good luck in the final year of their degree!  Just remember, all the hard work will pay off!

Kimberley O’Hare is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @Kimberley_Ohare and LinkedIn 

Placement Goals at Tourism NI

Placement Goals at Tourism NI

When in second year, you are faced with the opportunity to go into the world of work, for an entire year, via work placement.  Advice from a current final year is, TAKE IT!  It was honestly one of the best years of my life and I cannot commend Tourism NI enough for the way they looked after me.

I applied quite late, in comparison to my classmates, but I still got there!  Not that I am endorsing applying late, but just a note to say, don’t panic if you’re not the first to get sorted!

I used the UU careers portal to find available placements – a good tip would be to tick more than one box when it asks you what area of work you are interested in.  I ticked at least eight, so I wouldn’t limit myself and miss out on any possibilities!

Tourism NI advertised for an Industry Development Events Assistant, which included a pretty salary and I thought, why not?  We didn’t focus on event planning modules in my degree, but it is a very useful skill to have when it comes to PR, therefore, when applying for your own placements, just remember that you don’t have to go for something that relates 100% to your degree – there is a level of flexibility, so be creative!

Unlike some of my classmates, I had a pretty straightforward interview, don’t get me wrong, no interview is easy, but it didn’t involve any psychometric tests, or phone interviews, just one competency-based interview.  I’m always a stress head at interviews, but with a couple of (dozen) herbal calming pills and reems of spider diagram notes.  I must have pulled it out of the bag, as I was offered the job a few hours later!

Tourism NI, by far, excelled my expectations.  They were incredibly welcoming, friendly and supportive of my placement journey.  My team was honestly the BEST team in the organisation, apologies to anyone in TNI reading this, but, #sorrynotsorry.

When you’re trying to capture a candid photo of your team, but you get a wonky photo of a Mexican wave.

My job was based in the public sector, which taught me a lot about politics, and I’m embarrassed to admit, I had very little to knowledge prior to my role.

I assisted my line manager in various events across NI, which were all delivered with the purpose of developing the industry – hence the name, ‘industry development’, it took a while for the penny to drop for me.  The role involved a multitude of skills and qualities, some of which I already had and others I got the chance to develop throughout my placement journey.  I have summarised the key skills and qualities below, as I believe they apply to any placement, or graduate job.  So hopefully, they will help you when applying!

  1. Be organised; stay organised; don’t not be organised

I put this as number one, because it is the key to success!  It wasn’t my strongest skill, when I first started, but, it is now!  I quickly learned that, in order to stay on top of things, I had to stay organised, so I bought a planner and recorded all impromptu requests, phone calls, tasks and messages, so I could create a ‘to do’ list every day.

  1. Be creative

I find it hard to believe that everyone at the top of the employment ladder, coloured within the lines and never thought outside of the box.  I always have been creative and during my placement, I wasn’t afraid to suggest ideas and new ways of doing things.

  1. Be yourself 

On the first day it’s hard to show your true self, because of the jelly-like feeling caused by immense nerves shooting through your body – or, maybe it’s just me!  Over the first few weeks, my personality started to shine through and I connected with so many employees, business partners and most importantly, my line manager.  I’m normally quite a bubbly and talkative person, however, I cannot do public speaking to save my life!  My placement really helped me come out of my shell.  I even made a guest appearance as Mr.Claus – bare in mind, this was very last minute, involved an impromptu costume and was accompanied by a deep Australian accent, I think! ( I tried my best! )  But I did it!

Out of all the events we delivered over my year’s placement – I lost count after the first 2 months, my favourite was the NI Tourism Awards, in Enniskillen Castle.  It was challenging, as we had high profile guests attending, therefore, even sending out the invitations was stressful!  But it was a huge success and very enjoyable.


Overall, I have to describe my time at Tourism Northern Ireland as ‘Placement Goals’, I couldn’t of had a better year if I tried; despite the long hours and stressful moments I wouldn’t change it for the world! If your looking for an organisation to gain some first hand experience in the public sector then check them out! I’ve included a link to their website in case your tempted to look at job vacancies

Finally, I just wanted to say that whatever job you end up in just remember to be yourself and have fun!

Kimberley O’Hare is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @Kimberley_Ohare and LinkedIn 

M&S Christmas Advert – PR Genius or PR Blunder?

M&S Christmas Advert – PR Genius or PR Blunder?

Every year, we eagerly await the, much-anticipated, Christmas TV Adverts from our favourite retail giants.  This year was no different, Marks and Spencer were one of the first to release their ad, starring the loved and adored Paddington Bear.  To paint the overall picture for you, the advert shows how Paddington mistakes a burglar for Santa Claus – I know what your thinking, but he isn’t the brightest crayon in the packet!

The story then goes on to show how Paddington helps the ‘burglar, now Santa’, to deliver all the stolen presents.  At the end of the heart warming advert, Paddington, being the kind soul that he is, gives a marmalade sandwich (classic!) to ‘Santa’, who, according to M&S, responds with, “Thank you, little bear”.  The public, however, have claimed that he says something a tad different, something which involves a well known profanity.  Have a listen for yourself!

Not what you would expect in an M&S Christmas advert, now is it?  We’re not the only ones to pick up on this, as soon as the advert aired on television, the public went into a Twitter Frenzy!  Many commenting on how cute the advert was, until they heard the “F BOMB”.


It even gained coverage on This Morning, as part of Rylan’s gossip segment, with Phil and Holly.  They couldn’t have laughed more if they tried!  It was a highlight of my Wednesday morning.

M&S have supported their “Paddington and the Christmas Visitor” campaign, by selling a cuddly £12 soft toy version of Paddington and a £42 duffel coat. In addition, and a first for M&S, the campaign will involve a charity element, through publishing approximately 200,000 copies of a, limited edition, children’s story book, that tells the tale of Christmas.  M&S have said that they will be donating all proceeds from the £3 book to the NSPCC, in order to help fund it’s Childline service over the festive season – if that’s not heartwarming, then I don’t know what is!

M&S are even hosting a children’s story book reading in selected stores and encouraging their staff to carry out random acts of kindness, such as free marmalade sandwiches in their Café – how cute!


Although, even with these fab PR tactics, the big question on everyone’s lips is whether the, now famous phrase in the advertising was planned, or if it really was a blooper.

According to the makers of the ad, Grey London, there are no swear words used, the burglar is truly saying “Thank you little bear”.  The company’s Chief Executive, Leo Rayman stated, “Who would think we would allow a small, loveable little bear to be sworn at?  It is for celebrating family generosity and Christmas spirit.  It is supposed to be a moment of kindness.  Of course, we wouldn’t put a swear word in a Christmas TV ad.  It is funny how some people react to Christmas advertising.”

So, unfortunately, it seems we were all fooled this Christmas Season.  However, intended, or unintended, it has drawn A LOT of media attention.  So, it really was a win-win situation for Marks & Sparks, they were going to get PR coverage, no matter what and have, in my opinion, developed a fabulously clever and heartfelt Christmas campaign! 

Bravo Guys!


Kimberley O’Hare is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @Kimberley_Ohare and LinkedIn