Today I Messed Up

In my first blog I stated I would cover the ‘state of the profession’ but we’re all meant to learn from each other, right? One of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes, right? We all make mistakes, right? Right. Well, I made a big one.

Take yourself back, Thursday 7th December at 3:53pm – what were you doing? I was working for VO, an independent online heating oil company, a fairly large one with a mailing list in the tens of thousands in Northern Ireland alone. Doing weekly mailshots to NI & UK is part of my remit. So, twice a week I’ll send out an email to hundreds of thousands of people. Best emails you’ll never want to read. Apart from the one I sent on Thursday to our entire NI database.

I’ll give a bit of information, first, into my process when writing these emails, it goes like this:

  • Think of a play on words/horrible pun – Black Ice Friday was a personal favourite
  • Write the email trying my upmost to get people to get onto our website and order some home heating oil
  • Proofread
  • Send it to colleagues & one outsider to make sure my grammar is absolutely on point – people love a grammar error.
  • Wait for feedback from all parties
  • Press send and pray.

Well on this occasion, with snow being forecast, I wrote ‘the snow is falling throughout the country’. Apparently, removing the ‘the’ before the word ‘snow’ was more applicable. You may be able to see where this is going. In jest, I put F-ing, in front of the word ‘snow’, screenshotted it and sent it back asking if I’d fixed it. We use Mailchimp, I dare say there is no person dumb enough to hit send with a curse word still remaining, cause a normal human deletes it immediately after, right? Nope. In my defence, we were busy, the phone rang and I took an order so it slipped to the back of my mind. If you’ve heard a worse excuse than that, let me know. My boss asked if I had hit send on the email because it had gotten busy, I said no and hurriedly sent it.

Yup.

The word?

Still there.

The phones?

Went mental.

Here, see for yourself:

See that feeling you have right now, that one where you’re thinking ‘wow, what an idiot’. Multiply it by 10, then square it, put it in a cannon and shoot it into the sky. That was about half of my stress level. Understandably, I’d just ruined my career, the company and my life. Donald Trump was about to start Tweeting about me in 5 minutes and I had just become the reason for a hard border on the island of Ireland.

I remembered from a lecture on crisis management that it is vital to get out in front, quickly. So, once I stated my mistake an apology email was sent, it was suggested that we go with ‘hacked’ and blamed it on a prankster. This was probably our only mistake. Cue a few emails and phone calls asking if personal information was stolen but alas, it was not. Just little ol’ me, being a very silly boy. But, if in doubt blame the Russians eh?

Disaster.

Or, was it?

It turned out that the response to the email was ridiculously positive, especially on social media. I monitored social media long into the night and I still am as I write this, responding to whoever mentions our name. Decided that the best way to deal with this, was with humour. And it worked, for the second time in my life people found me funny! The first being my birth.

We got 3 rt’s on Twitter for our apology, we’re an oil company, that probably matches our grand total. But I tried to use GIFs so I could use a bit of humour and not type because I no longer trusted my hands. Luckily, everyone loved it. If you go and look on social media you’ll see that I blamed a student on his second last day being a menace, a statement that I wasn’t sure was entirely false.

In terms of followers, the people who retweeted our/my error had a collective 14-15 thousand followers collectively, which is people we wouldn’t have reached. The email itself had a much higher open rate due to the apology email piquing interest. And we got a host of orders in the immediate aftermath. Although the snow may have played a role, but it was a lot more than we had gotten all day.

But I had work the next morning. I usually start at 12, but I aimed to be in for 9 as it wouldn’t be fair for anyone else to take the flak, but due to heavy snowfall and working in Mallusk, I made it in by 10:30. I spent most of the day dealing with complaints via email and phone call, those who were understandably offended by the profanity were largely receptive and accept-ive of the genuine apology after they’d given me a stern talking to, if any of you are somehow reading this, I’m still sorry!!

A lot of people found it hilarious and thought that it was a deliberate marketing ploy, fake it till you make it! It somehow worked an absolute treat and my one take away is that stepping away from the norm and taking risks can pay off. If this was deliberate I’d probably have the biggest head right now and be telling you how great I am. But, no, I still feel like an idiot. A lucky one. Hi potential future employers, I’ve learned, promise!

So here’s my takeaways from this:

  • PROOFREAD BEFORE YOU SEND AND NEVER, EVER SWEAR EVEN IF YOU DON’T INTEND TO SEND IT.
  • Taking risks sometimes works
  • Don’t bury your head in the sand and always tackle the issue head on, especially if it was your fault.

I hope you enjoyed reading this story more than I did living it. Even though this is a mistake that I would much prefer to bury and pretend didn’t happen, I like to own up to my own mistakes no matter the consequences, so go on, call me an idiot, I deserve it!

F**king snow, eh?

Anthony Boyd is a final year student on Bsc in Public Relations at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @anthonyboyd16 or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthony-boyd-4a5a63b4/

Life Advice from a 3-year-old

Life Advice from a 3-year-old

A doting godmother to a 3-year-old boy, I am constantly amused and intrigued by Jude (biased I know). Whether it be his fascination currently with thinking the word ‘poo poo head’ is so funny or his constant questioning of EVERYTHING, he definitely has a fresh and light hearted look on the world. Which got me thinking, could we benefit from approaching life like a 3-year-old?

A few things I have observed from this blue eyed boy with a devilish grin can definitely be applied to ‘adult life’ (or the beginning of it for most of us).

LT1

He never says “I can’t”

If his brother says “See how far you can go if you jump off the sofa” he will. If I tell him to try and lift me up to see how strong he is, he will. Granted, I go on my tip toes to pretend he lifted me, but he still looks at someone three times his height and doesn’t think twice to wrap his tiny arms around my legs and give it a go.

Jude doesn’t think of setbacks, obstacles or any reason as to why he can’t do anything. He charges in, gives it a go and if it doesn’t work out – oh well. Either on to the next thing, or he will keep trying until he can.

He never gives up

If he wants a drink of your coke, he will get a drink of your coke. No, it’s not giving in – it’s giving my head peace! Jude will climb on top of you, climb on top of the table, constantly ask and talk about this glass of coke – anything until he gets what he wants. Once he gets a sip, he’s happy and away.

So if you don’t get the first job you applied for, you apply for another. And another, and another and another, until you get the job you want. It won’t come easy, but if you give up it won’t come at all. This is in all areas of your life – the cliché of “nothing worth having ever came easy”. Yep, even Jude knows that.

He constantly asks Why?

All. The. Time. The first 8 are alright, but when you’re knee deep into the 23rd why, you just answer “because”.

“I have to go to the shop now”

“Why”

“To get some dinner”

“Why”

“Because I’m hungry and we eat dinner in the evening don’t we?”

“Why”

You get the point.

But why don’t we ask why? We are dangerously slipping into a culture of acceptance. That’s just how things are, that’s just how the world works, it’s been like that for years it won’t change now.

Constantly, news articles are accepted as they are. Why did the Journalist write about that topic? Have they an agenda for the politician they are writing about? Is it really true that coconut oil is the best oil for us because these bloggers all use it? The answer to that one is no by the way – it is the same as any other plant based oil.

LT3

He keeps it simple

You are either happy or sad. Big or small. Hungry or full. In a 3-year-old’s mind the world is simple. Yes, they are oblivious to many ‘grown up’ things, but for the most part, they are pretty tuned in.

Jude can tell if you are sad, and if you are sad Jude will try and make you laugh to make you feel better, or give you a hug. That is simple. Problem + remedy = solution. And you know what, it always works. So why don’t we keep it simple?

We are always over complicating things. Over complicating situations, over complicating assignments and deadlines, over complicating our lives. Strip it down and make it simple.

  • Is what you are doing right now making you happy? No.
  • Do you know what makes you happy? Yes.
  • Well why don’t you stop doing what makes you unhappy and do what makes you happy? I don’t have time. I don’t know how to start. It’s too hard. Scrap those excuses and just do it. Simple.

And finally, he always finds the fun in things

Cleaning up the toy room? We can make this fun; I’ll throw the toys see can I get them into the box. Long car journey? Ok, I’m going to sing some songs and see how many birds I can see.

In a stressed out, serious world, it’s easy to become bogged down with must-dos and have-tos. Find the fun things in everyday tasks like playing your favourite music when doing housework or better yet, make time to do things you enjoy or to spend time with people who make you laugh. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

From someone whose day consists of breakfast, nursery, playtime, dinner, bath and bed, Jude has a very good outlook on life. Not to say he doesn’t have his bad days where he falls or throws a wobbler – but when he has his bad days he brushes them off very quickly and moves on (another thing we can learn).

Keeping things simple, always having a laugh, never giving up, always questioning, not sweating the small stuff and believing he can – I think he’ll do alright if he keeps that attitude up.

LT2

Lauren Toal is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @laurentoal5 or reach out on LinkedIn at  https://uk.linkedin.com/in/laurentoal.

Who runs the PR world…? Most Definitely Girls!

In the wise words of the inspirational Oprah Winfrey, “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” A theme which ran prominently throughout the CIPR NI (@CIPR_NI), Women in PR Panel Event, which took place in the ESparkGlobal (@ESparkGlobal) Belfast Hub in Lombard House. With not a man in sight, the room was full of budding PR professionals and women at the top of their professional game. Since my last blog I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the new Student Ambassadors for CIPR NI alongside the brilliant Kathryn Bigger (@KatieB_05). We are already planning events and making connections so watch this space for some exciting news…

CIPR3

I have to begin by introducing you to the incredibly accomplished panel, Gemma-Louise Bond (@GemmaLEBond), Michelle Canning (@micanning) and Susie Brown (@Brownturf). Gemma, also known for her fabulous blog ‘That Belfast Girl’, at just 25, has been able to achieve career goals, someone starting out in the world of PR could only dream of. As the Marketing Assistant at Victoria Square, Gemma is responsible for keeping its brand as iconic as its stunning glass dome. Next up we were introduced to the skilled Michelle Canning, who made a brave career change at 41 into the world of Communications. Now the Communications Manager at Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Michelle has utilised her skills as a Journalist to propel herself into this senior role. Last, but by no means least, was Susie Brown, whose impressive CV speaks for itself. Alongside her busy career as Interim Director of Corporate Development at Tourism NI, Susie also headed the ‘Be Seen Be Heard’ media initiative to improve gender balance on Northern Ireland’s airwaves. The first thing, we, as an audience were asked to do, was introduce ourselves to the rest of the room. Networking, always being at the fore of any PR event. Hearing the positions of the rest of the women from leading PR firms in Northern Ireland was inspiring for me, going in as a novice.

CIPR2

Michelle Canning raised the invaluable point that even rejection in the workplace can be good, using J.K Rowling as the prime example of being turned down time and time again but not giving up. This led the chair of the night, Sara McCracken (@dougalhorse) to ask the panel what they felt were the biggest barriers they have faced in the workplace. Having come up against ageism and unconscious bias, the panel explained how they faced challenges head on to overcome and conquer them. As an advocate for women being heard throughout Northern Ireland, Susie raised the thought provoking statement that “you can’t be what you can’t see”, sparking a conversation change towards self-confidence. How can young women coming up in the world of PR aspire towards anything if they cannot ‘see’ someone else doing just that. The moral of the story being to speak out about what you’re doing and don’t be afraid to big yourself up.

When asked where they wanted to go in the future all three women had very different answers. Gemma has a very clear five-year plan, with the end goal of being the director of a company by the age of 30 (which I have no doubt she will achieve). Michelle doesn’t make plans but achieves what she wants through sheer determination. Susie spots an opportunity and runs with it, making her the definition of a #boss. All three women left us with their final words of wisdom… ‘speak out and influence up’, ‘stand up and be counted’ and ‘be confident in who you are’. I’ve already ordered the board mounts with these inspirational quotes for my future PR office.

Thank you so much to the three forward thinking, self-empowered women who shared their experiences and to CIPR NI for organising such a #girlboss event.

Olivia x

Olivia McAleenan is studying for a MSc in Communications and Public Relations with Advertising at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @OliviaMcAleenan / LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/olivia-mcaleenan-88774413b /Facebook – Olivia McAleenan / Instagram @oliviamcaleenan

PRide and Joy: NI’s outstanding communicators celebrate 2017

PRide and Joy: NI’s outstanding communicators celebrate 2017

Friday 13th may be unlucky for some, but for many of Northern Ireland’s PR practitioners, the night ended in trophies, applause and possibly some sore heads in the morning!

For the past 18 months, I have had the privilege of sitting on the CIPR NI Committee as a Student Ambassador. During my time I have sat opposite some the leading lights in Northern Irish public relations and have witnessed the organisation of some brilliant events for PR professionals across the country.

There is however, one event on the PR calendar which can’t be missed – The PRide Awards.

Now, I’ve heard the rumours about PR, “it’s all parties and drinking and schmoozing”, and despite what this post may suggest, trust me it isn’t. But for one night a year, that stereotype might be a little true.

The CIPR PRide Awards NI is an annual awards ceremony to recognise the hard work and creativity of PR professionals and communicators over the past 12 months. It’s that one night of the year when professionals put away their laptops, put down the phone and come together for a night of celebration and healthy competition.

Image 1

Like previous years, the PRide Awards 2017 were held in the Culloden Hotel, Holywood. Taking the lead in organising the event along with the team at CIPR HQ were Seona McGrath from Smarts Communicate, Jane Williams from JComms along with Sinead Doyle and Alana Taylor from MCE Public Relations, who put together a brilliant evening.

I was kindly asked to be this year’s trophy assistant at what would be my first year in attendance, which much to my surprise included an official announcement and my name on the screen, hopefully, the amount of make-up on face hid my reaction. The awards portion of the night was hosted by Stephen and Cate from Q Radio, while I was tasked with delivering winner envelopes and passing on trophies. Thankfully, I didn’t manage to mess it up.

Image 2

There I am, in the background, looking the wrong way

The big winners on the night were PR agency powerhouses Smarts Communicate, with Seona McGrath deservedly picking up the Outstanding Young Communicator Award, and JComms. Also showing very strongly, proving the strength of practitioners across the country were in-house communication teams. Some of the winners included Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, North West Regional College and Translink.

Click on this link if you want to see a full list of the winners from the night along with the winning case studies: https://www.cipr.co.uk/content/awards-events/pride-awards/northern-ireland/results-and-case-studies

Image 3

For those of us studying and working in the industry, we know first-hand that public relations is often one filled with misconceptions. For most, PR is ‘selling tickets to nightclubs’. The PRide awards are the perfect response for those who criticise the industry and its professionals, and give us students who face questions about how ‘serious’ our degree is, some back up for those unwanted questions.

Another important aspect of the night, was supporting the CIPR NI charity of the year, AWARE. AWARE NI are the national depression charity for Northern Ireland and provide vital support across the country for those suffering from a mental health condition. Led by an incredible team, AWARE NI offer many essential programmes which require funding. Thanks to some great raffle prizes and generous donations, £1450 was raised impacting the lives of 96 pupils across NI – a job well done!

If you want to find out more about AWARE NI check out their website:

http://www.aware-ni.org/

The PRide Awards and the CIPR NI in general offer a great chance for young professionals to meet established practitioners, so if you get the chance check out one of the social events I would really advise doing so. Our industry is in great hands and growing year on year which can only be a good thing for those us who need a job in the next few years.

Images are courtesy of Press Eye

Kirsty Wallace is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at www.linkedin.com/in/kirsty-wallace-851504115 and on twitter @KayyWallace

5 Places You Need To Know About

DISCLAIMER: if you don’t like coffee or people who take pictures of their food then you’re probably going to want to click off this.


In this new ‘café culture’ there are a select class of caffeinators and connoisseurs who have the beans to categorize themselves as a coffee/food snob, and let me tell you that there is no snob more outrageously self-righteous than these.

Personally, I am convinced that coffee doesn’t taste any better if you brew it in a ‘GCSE science-looking’ contraption. This is something coffee-snobs may want to disagree with but for me, it’s not autumn until you’ve walked through the vividly coloured, leaf-scattered Botanic Avenue on an October afternoon with a pumpkin spice latte in your hand. #basicwhitegirl

If you follow me on social media, you will know how much of a pain I am when it comes to food and coffee pictures. In my opinion Mondays are for coffee and two coffees a day does indeed keep the grumpy away – but within reason, because if it’s after 4pm I won’t sleep.

Let me ask you a question – are you even really a student if the majority of your loan isn’t spent on needless brunch stops (or McDonalds) as well as those three coffees you really didn’t need between getting to and during that 9am lecture? If your answer to that is no then you’ve probably ignored my disclaimer and kept reading, which was at your own discretion.

So, whether you are a student looking for somewhere to kill a few hours between classes, a full-time bruncher or coffee enthusiast here’s my top 5 places all you caffeinators and foodies need to know about if you’re wanting inspiration for somewhere new to try:

(NOTE: most of the pictures featured are of coffee, mainly because I’m too impatient to take pictures of food before I start eating it, sorry not sorry).

 

5A Lockview Road

@5Acafe

Situated on the doorstep of Stranmillis University, 5A takes a wholehearted approach to brunching despite their tiny yet charming premises. With exceptional attention to detail, particularly allergies, and quality food for a reasonable price – 5A is a must if you haven’t yet been. Not only is their coffee consistently delicious but paired with a warm ‘Californian’ sandwich, peanut butter ball to follow, or 2, (seriously, if you haven’t tried one of these yet you haven’t lived) and cozy atmosphere: your Sunday afternoons are well and truly sorted.

coffee1

 

Established Coffee

@establishedcoffee

Situated in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, and therefore being just around the corner from the UUB Campus (my poor little bank card is thankful I’m not here for classes yet), Established Coffee is a bright and spacious coffee shop, with productive space for work or relaxing and an incredibly chilled atmosphere. This ‘city centre trendsetter’ offers an exceptional variety of coffee brews, including Farami from Costa Rica and Bulega from Ethiopia. Check this out -they also serve iced lattes and Americanos without looking at you like you’ve totally lost it! With poached eggs, avo toast (again, #basicwhitegirl) and a weekly Sunday pie to die for, this is the perfect spot for catch-ups, people-watching (we all do it) and coffee’s to-go if you’re out and about in the centre of Belfast.

 

General Merchants 361

@generalmerchants361

 Co-owned with 5A, the Australia-inspired General Merchants 361 boasts similar qualities only on a larger scale and with a secondary reputation as a luncher, General Merchants really know how to do it. One Monday morning over summer, as a devoted ‘I’ll start eating clean next week’ kind-of-girl, I opted to switch my typical ‘Melbourne Breakfast’ for a ‘Bircher muesli bowl’ and I haven’t gone back since – hands down the tastiest muesli bowl I have ever had. Their food menu, coffee and vibrant ambience all go hand-in-hand to create an authentic experience with a unique vibe and though I’ve never been to Australia, it makes you feel as though Belfast is right on the edge of the Tasman Sea.

coffee2

 

Kaffe O

@kaffeo

Inspired by Nordic coffee, Kaffe O was a new find for me and has quickly become a favourite. Their unique beans, from Ethiopia, Guatemala and Costa Rica, are roasted and shipped from the Danish capital to our very own little Belfast – delicately combined to create the perfect flat white. If you’re looking for a minimalistic place to get work done or simply to just hide from the rain, here is perfect.

NOTE: their brownies are fab-u-lous, but if you live nearby this may prove dangerous.

 

Guilt Trip Coffee and Donuts

@guilttripcoffee

After seeing the most aesthetically-pleasing pictures of Guilt Trip Coffee and Donuts on a daily basis all over my Instagram feed, I decided to give it a try because despite not being a huge fan of donuts, at least it would make a good picture. After hemming and hawing over what flavour to try, I eventually decided to have a blueberry and peanut butter donut (because that counts as one of your five a day, right?) and boy was I thankful I had ordered a whole one for myself. With their aim being to ‘sell the best donuts in town’ they certainly have my vote. These were the first donuts I’ve ever eaten that weren’t sickeningly sweet and actually tasted how they claimed – peanut butter heaven, perfectly combined with a flat white. If you are planning on visiting I highly recommend going early to get the best selection of donuts!

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NOTE: After seeing these pictures you’re maybe thinking “I bet she doesn’t drink cortados” but as an avid flat white sipper I thought a cortado was a type of instrument until a few months ago (although, if you are a cortados drinker then check out 5A – apparently the best in town).

 

Amy Greer is a second year BSc CAM student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: @amyagreer & LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/amygreerrr

“Who are you wearing?” (Hilton. P, 2017)

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

Just over 3 years ago, my 18-year-old self, boarded a one-way Aer Lingus flight to London. As I sat in my overpriced seat I was confident, more confident than I had ever felt in my entire life. I had just left my Mum, pretending to cry into the sleeve of her jumper, outside WHSmith in Belfast International Airport to pursue my dream of working in Television. Fast forward 3 years, I return, to the same sight of my crying mother, with my tail between my legs and my bank account £1000 overdrawn, having failed to secure Holly Willoughby’s daytime slot.

Living in London introduced me to a great concept, I previously had not heard of, called ‘growing up’. I would have voted myself, the least likely out of my undergraduate course, to pursue a Master’s Degree, however, somehow, I have found myself back in Belfast, learning about this concept of “public relations”. Image may contain: night and outdoor
As interesting as I find myself, I have learned to find PR even more interesting, since starting my MSc. My only real experience in the field of PR stemmed from my part-time job in a restaurant, dealing with the public all day, every day. I learned more about ‘people’ waiting on tables in that small restaurant that I had in the previous 18 years of my life. If I could take one thing away from the customer service industry, it would be the idea of “giving the people what they want”.

Like Jade, in the iconic “Bratz” movie, I have a “passion for fashion”. Growing up, when most boys my age were idolizing Gary from Geordie Shore, my only interests were the panel of judges on America’s Next Top Model. The fashion industry is ever evolving, and this week, the biggest piece of news in the industry was Gucci’s decision to stop using real fur in their designs.
Fur in the fashion world has always been a controversial topic, however, it is an issue I have always remained relatively neutral on. Recently I have begun to think, is fur really necessary in the fashion industry? For years, organizations such as PETA have campaigned against the use of fur in the industry, but why now in 2017 has such an iconic brand such as Gucci decided not to carry on using real fur?

I recently was reminded in my Strategic Marketing module, of this idea that you should “give the people what they want, not what you think they want”. Which perhaps is what Gucci’s CEO Marco Bizzari is now beginning to do. In PR, we learn about the idea of ‘publics’, does this mean that Bizzari has decided that his customers do not need real fur anymore?

Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA said “The writing was on the wall: Today’s shoppers don’t want to wear the skins of animals who were caged, then electrocuted or bludgeoned to death. Until all animal skins and coats are finally off the racks of clothing stores worldwide, PETA will keep up the pressure on the clothing and fashion industry.” (Holt, 2017)

Gucci, along with other brands such as Ralph Lauren or Stella McCartney has been able to adapt to ‘give the people what they want’ which is becoming refreshing, seeing as other brands such as Versace, stick to the conservative idea of ‘tradition’. I said previously, that I have always remained neutral on the issue of fur within the fashion industry, however, after Gucci’s decision of taking fur off the catwalk, my opinions have swayed. The fashion industry and current trends change season by season but the issue of fur has been a long-lasting battle. Should other brands now follow in Gucci’s footsteps?


Before enrolling on this course, I would have never thought about issues like these in this way, however, my eyes have been well and truly opened to the world around me. In the PR industry, likewise with marketing, I have learned that we cannot sit on the fence. Opinions are a great thing, and questioning others’ opinions, is also great.

This time next year, I hope to sit again on a flight to London. Although this time, I am not after a seat on the “This Morning” sofa.

Jordan Spry is studying for an MSc in Communications and Public Relations with Advertising at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram: @jordanspry_

Survival Guide to University – From a Final Year to a First Year.

This is a guide to help prosperous first year students get the low-down on all aspects of university life.

Let’s start with what you already may have figured out by now – no one is here to hold your hand! Probably the most difficult adjustment I felt when joining university was the strange feeling of being left on your own. For example, on my first day I was clueless about the documentation needed to register, or registering in general.

Of course I wasn’t alone, several friends were as oblivious as I was, if people tell you they know what they’re doing within the first two months – they’re lying… Most people are generally as clueless as you are, they just hide it better!

There may be guides to help you, but they disappear after the first week, the second semester rolls in and just when you think you have a handle on life at the Poly, block 21 appears on your timetable. Don’t bother standing in the mall, ferociously scanning the Jordanstown map with minutes to spare, you’re not going to find it. FYI – it’s in the Dalriada building.

You might think, “Why would a PR student need to venture to a medical building?” Well Freshers, welcome to Jordanstown’s wonderful, questionable, layout; the gift that keeps on giving.

Rest assured there will be days you will sleep in for your 9am lecture after a complete rager with your culchie housemates in the Bot, followed by a house party on Rugby Avenue. Do not do as I did and assume a taxi will take you there promptly – it won’t. In fact you’ll end up 30/40 minutes late and £15 poorer and the taxi will more or less drop you off at the lough and expect you to walk the rest of the way. Speaking of transport, if you’re planning on getting the UniLink, be sure to be there early, the first few weeks are when everyone tries to make an effort, meaning the queue for the bus will be packed.

In your first few weeks of class, suss out who the rich kid is, who has (luckily for you) decided to bring their car, lives in the Holylands and thinks they’re a cut above public transport. They are your first class ticket to free, comfortable journeys to class every day, and save you from the misery of a horrible hangover surrounded by people at 8am on a Goldliner.

Essential side note – when you’re hungover the Spar sausage rolls and a Starbucks caramel latte will be your almighty Saviour.

The final and most important tip to university is to say yes to every opportunity that presents itself, unless it’s people trying to sell you roses outside the Bot on a Wednesday. You will never be as carefree and have as little responsibility as you have now. HAVE FUN. No one looks back at their time at university and thinks about all those golden weeks (it is a fantastic achievement though).

First year is all about going on pub crawls around the big smoke, trying new things, meeting different people, and waking up to go to the Hatfield at 11.30am (another one for the culchies). P.S. The Hatfield is not the place to showcase that snazzy pair of Nike trainers you bought when the loan came in, trust me. A half zip and a lanyard with the keys to your swanky new dungeon in Damascus will suffice.

Annie
Purchasing Hatfield merchandise is always a good idea.

P.P.S. – when it comes to the end of the year and house inspections are looming, if you have a bedroom door off the hinges, a light fixture in the kitchen ripped from the ceiling and a broken fire extinguisher, (or any other household damage) the Holylands Handyman Jimmy and some trusty old superglue will save your dignity and of course, your deposit. Thank me later.

Annie

Annie Shivers is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She is on Twitter @ShiversAnnie and LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/annie-shivers-9085b810a