Five Things I’ve Learned before Graduating

As my final semester with Ulster University and the stress of final year continues to loom overhead, the end is almost in sight. However, as I was procrastinating from my assignments last week, I stumbled across an interview between pop star Taylor Swift and Elle USA to mark her thirtieth birthday. The article is titled ‘30 things I learnt before turning 30’, with Taylor providing life anecdotes and advice from friendships to family. Whether you’re a fan of Taylor Swift or not, I highly recommend reading this article as I instantly felt motivated after reading it. You can read it by clicking here.

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Although I’m only 22, this article inspired me to compare Taylor’s anecdotes to my own life, and compare it to all the things I’ve learnt before graduating. It allowed me to reflect on how different I am now compared to the 18 year old girl who stepped foot at Ulster back in September 2015.  Therefore, I’ve been inspired to write this blog about 5 things I’ve learnt before graduating university. Although everyone is feeling the heat and is eager to finish, I couldn’t help but think of all the positive things that have happened since beginning my journey at university.

 

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  1. Positivity is key: Failing and rejection is normal

As clichéd as it is, and I know we hear it all the time, failing is a part of life that will never cease to exist. I remember being so afraid of failing things at university. I was very academic in secondary school, and I didn’t want this to change in university. I’d been warned by my older sister of how different university marking/grading  is compared to school, and I remember in first year receiving my grade for my first ever assignment and feeling slightly disappointed.  I’d predicted in that moment that I was failing my degree and that I wasn’t cut out for university, but in reality I was completely overreacting. It’s easier to focus on the negatives, however it’s how we deal with those negatives is the game changer. From constructive criticism on your style of writing, to improving your interview technique or even receiving criticism from friends, it’s always beneficial to use this to continuing improving and bettering yourself.

I’m a very big fan of the quote: “what’s for you won’t go by you”, therefore failing helps facilitate the opportunities that are meant for you. A positive outlook can go a long way, and you’ll never stop failing in life, so keep continuing on your journey.

 

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  1. Be involved: Take interest in your degree

I can only speak from my own experience, but to get the most out of university and your experience at university is down to adopting a pro-active attitude. Due to the nature of my degree, I discovered from first year that it is important to have an understanding of what’s out there in the industry, whether that is local agencies or companies and learning more about the work they do. The university is excellent for introducing us to key notable speakers from Northern Ireland and beyond, as well as putting us in contact with successful past alumni of the university. I’ve really enjoyed attending these sessions, and yes, although it may mean staying in university that extra bit later, it’s a great way to network and meet people in the industry. This is a brilliant way to help secure contacts for your placement year, or for later in life.  There are a number of competitions/ opportunities available through our degree. In first year I took part in the PANI (Publicity Association Northern Ireland) and had the opportunity of working with local advertising agency, Ardmore Advertising.  Fortunately, our team were lucky enough to win this competition, meaning that our campaign for local charity Shelter NI went live across Northern Ireland in September 2016. Not only did I get the experience of working with a local agency; I also got to meet new students I wouldn’t normally have been in contact with, as we completed the competition with two graphic design students from the Belfast campus.  Small things like that not only enhance your university experience, but allow you to find your feet within the industry.

  1. Getting the right balance between work/play

Undoubtedly, there is a massive jump between secondary school life and university, as well as a massive jump from first to second year in university. Especially in first year of university, I found myself with a lot more free time than I did in secondary school. I didn’t know what to do with my new-found freedom. I always found it extremely important to get the right balance between work and play when managing my time. For many, this means finding the right balance between partying and studying, but I saw this free time as an opportunity for personal development. Free time allows you to indulge in new interests. For me, I decided to use my free time to work on gaining more experience in fields relating to my degree, for others it meant taking up a new sport/hobby. As I am in the final stages of final year, it’s truly opened my eyes to the importance of having a balance between work and play even more than before. There’s always going to be an assignment you should be doing or a journal article you need to read but spending time with friends over a cup of tea, going to the cinema in the evening or going on a night out with friends shouldn’t make you feel guilty (although I know I’ve been there). It’s so important to not burn the candle on both ends, but instead enjoy everything in moderation. A motto that I’ve found myself adapting in university is: “At the end of the day, I’ll get it done.” – and you will.

 

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  1. “I need a dollar, dollar, a dollar is all I need!”

One of the best days in the life of a student is when they receive their student loan installments. I have thoroughly enjoyed these days, and I’ve even had count-down apps on my iPhone counting down the days until I receive the next installment in my bank account. (Sad, I know) The opportunities available for using your money are endless, and a new-found sense of generosity kicks in; both to yourself and others. “Shall I buy every item in my ASOS basket?” “I’ve had a long day, I deserve this Dominoes.”  “I’ll pay for the taxi, you can pay for the drinks inside!” – (this is NEVER the case).

One thing that I’ve learnt from university is the importance of budgeting money. University for many introduces a list of bills/payments, from paying for rent to buying groceries for meals. If you’re struggling to keep on-top of your spending,  simple things like creating budgeting plans or giving yourself a weekly allowance can help keep your spending in check. Just don’t go too wild with your overdrafts…

  1. If you need help – ask.

This relates to a series of problems. If you’re struggling with the workload and unsure what you’re meant to be doing on an assignment, your course director and lecturers are more than happy to answer any of your questions via email or meet in their office hours. I’ve never been someone to shy away from asking questions, as ultimately the only person you’re disadvantaging is yourself. University can be a tough time for many people, as it’s an opportunity to fully embrace independence and finding your feet in society. For many, it’s described as the best years of your life; however there is an unspoken pressure that you must be enjoying yourself and having fun 24/7 which is unrealistic. If you feel that you need to talk to someone professionally, the university has a ‘Mind Your Mood’ campaign on their website and work closely with Inspire to provide one on one counselling.  If this isn’t something you think you need, even talking to a friend and venting out your stresses will make you feel a lot better. A problem shared is a problem halved, even if the solution isn’t always clear.

In conclusion, I’m excited to see what the next stages of my career will be; however, I’ve had the best couple of years at Ulster University both on placement and with an amazing group of people in my class – I couldn’t have gone through university without them.

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Abigail Foran is a final year BSc in Communications, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @abigailforan ; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abigail-foran-755800118/

Some advice to help you think twice!

For my first year of university I studied in Leeds Beckett- previously known as Leeds Metropolitan. I studied Events Management, which at the time seemed like the easiest option as on my A-Level Results day (August 2014) things didn’t quite go to plan, and plan B *which I stupidly didn’t have and had to create on the day* came into play. The pressure of having to go to university really hit me hard and I jumped to the first option which was any available course I could take!

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I had a few options from clearing, but Leeds cried out to me the most, I say this as I decided on this option in a moment of sheer panic as my cousin was going into her final year in the same university, so I had some sort of common ground with the city and university. That day seemed to go by in such a flash and I just remember jumping into all sort of decisions and not properly thinking them through. The words ‘Sarah are you sure this is what you want to do?’ haunt me to this day as my Mum repeatedly kept saying those exact 11 words all through the day as we frantically sorted my accommodation, my fees, and basically my whole life which was from that moment going to be my life for the next year or what was meant to be 4 years.

That day alone taught me so much, but I never realised it until May 2015. Throughout that year I had some highs and a heck of a lot of lows, but I never really realised it until my year was coming to an end. Leaving for Leeds I had the mindset of ‘this is my life for the next 4 years’ which I personally think did not help me at all, I almost put myself in a dark whole that I thought I couldn’t get out of before I had even left Belfast.

University away from home just was not right for me as throughout my whole last year of school I had been working towards studying at home and never really looked into going away for university but when the opportunity came up I jumped at it and thought about the philosophy ‘everything happens for a reason, this must be part of my journey” …….NOPE I was wrong, I do believe everything happens for a reason but for in this case in August 2014 ‘everything’ really should have been thought through a bit more on my behalf. I learnt from this that these spontaneous decisions really are not for me!

Living away from home really taught me and I am sure anyone who does live away from home how much you really appreciate home and being with your family in friends on a regular basis, oh and of course my dog. I made so many amazing friends in Leeds of whom I am still so close with, but I really am a home bird as much as I did not want to admit it for the first few months after moving back home. This decision was difficult but I knew it was the right one for me. Below are a few photos of my time in Leeds and some of the life long friends I have made.

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I am writing about my experience as I hope possibly someone who may be wanting to study abroad or away from home takes this into consideration, or can take away something from this, to think decisions through, now I am not talking about whether or not you should have that last piece of chocolate….I am talking about  the bigger decisions in life. Looking back on my year everything really does happen for a reason, because I learnt so much about myself and as much as I hate to admit it and mum and dad probably hate it too, I am a home bunny. Leeds as a city is an absolute dream, everything is really a 5 minute away from anywhere and the people are so friendly but the uni course and that uni life was just not for me.

When I look back now I always think about how different my life could have been if I had stayed in Leeds, I would have not had met the people I know today, I would not have the job I have now and not be writing this blog post. I was so scared to tell my Mum and Dad that I did not want to stay there and wanted to come home and spent 1 week deciding on how I would tell them, but the logistics of it all were that they just wanted me to be happy and sort of knew my heart was not fully in it. They know I am so much happier than what I was for that year and know I am comfortable in my situation now.

3 things I’ve learned from my year away:

  1. Don’t jump into decisions when deep down you know they aren’t the right ones, big or small.
  2. Take the time you need and don’t let the pressure of society get to you.
  3. Don’t tell taxi drivers you are from Belfast as inevitably the conversation will always turn into an in depth discussion of the troubles and a hangover and a long discussion of the Troubles does not go well and what was meant to be a £10 taxi turns into you being £25 down as the people of Leeds love a good chat….

Sarah Heath is a final year BSc in Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @sarahmeganheath,  Instagram @sarahmeganjane, LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-heath-375053a6/

Final Year: So How Did I End Up Here?

Final Year: So How Did I End Up Here?

As I start into the second semester of my final year at university, it’s interesting to reflect on just what lead me to study communication, management and public relations. Just over four years ago, I had a very different plan.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a primary school teacher. I had performed well all throughout school, I wanted to work in a job where I was helping people and, to be completely honest, I really did quite like the idea of summers off. I carefully chose my GCSE and A level subjects around a potential career in teaching and even progressed further throughout my grades in vocals and piano, knowing that it would serve me well as a teacher. But now, those skills simply serve me well at karaoke nights.

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In January 2015, I went for my entrance interview for Stranmillis University. With the predicted grades I needed for admission, the interview was a key aspect of gaining a place on the course and I was determined not to fall at this hurdle. Following the advice from my parents, I went into the interview calm and collected and let my personality shine through.I nervously waited for weeks for the letter that would urge me on to achieve the grades that I needed. But when that letter arrived and I learnt that my application wouldn’t be taken any further, I didn’t know what to do.

All of my life, I had planned to be a teacher. I never thought I would even need to consider a plan B. Devastated and desperate for clarity, I got in touch with the university. I needed to know why I wasn’t considered good enough. The answer I got was simply; “We don’t think that you’re teacher material”. I started to re-evaluate everything; who I was, what I wanted to do and what type of person exactly did I come across as during a 20 minute interview?

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In a discussion with one of my teachers, he mentioned jokingly that my personality really was ‘more fitting for a PR executive for a vodka company’. Whilst it was said in humour, I couldn’t deny that he was probably right. This was nothing to do with my love for every single flavour in the Absolut range, but I knew myself well enough to know that I was outgoing, organised, creative and thrived off deadlines and goals. Surely all of the skills and qualities that would serve me well working in public relations?

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But at this point, I didn’t even know exactly what PR was, never mind whether it would be the correct career path for me. My knowledge of PR stemmed from Samantha Jones from Sex and the City and thankfully I was smart enough to know that a career in PR wasn’t all about organising glamorous launch parties, going to power lunches and barely ever spending any time in the office.

But now, as I edge closer to graduation and prepare to throw myself into the big bad world of public relations, I know exactly why a career in public relations interests me.

Ask any of my friends and family and they would probably tell you that I never have a free moment. I am constantly doing something, making plans, working on projects, planning my next trip. I tend to thrive when I have more going on- I don’t like being bored! A recent study revealed that PR is one of the most stressful jobs being listed alongside careers such paramedics and advertising executives (Krietsch, 2011). It isn’t the apparent stress that is attracting me to the career, but instead the fast-paced environment. I believe that when you have a passion for what you do alongside an understanding of what is required from you, the stress of your job is minimised and stressful moments become moments that add a little bit of excitement to the day. As someone who has previously worked in jobs where the only excitement would be if somebody brought a dog into work, this is definitely an important factor that I look for in my career.

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Another personal attribute of mine that I believe has encouraged my interest in a career within public relations is my ability to ‘spin’ and persuade. Despite the negative connotations that spin within PR receives, I simply mean that I have the skill to communicate in such a way that has the ability to change how people perceive  what I am saying. By no means am I claiming to be a professional liar, but I naturally try to see the good in every situation and focus on that. As for my persuasion techniques, I’ve managed to persuade my boyfriend to make me lunches for  work nearly every day for the last two years- so if that isn’t skillful persuasion, I don’t know what is….

During my time at university, my course has provided me with the opportunity to study a wide range of modules that cover topics such as; marketing, political communication and media and society. The combination of media related topics that I have been able to learn about is one of the main reasons why I recommend my course to other people. I believe that it has been a great foundation in preparing me for a career within public relations as public relations can consist of a combination of many media related jobs. When coming up with ways to promote a client via a multitude of channels, you use skills relevant to advertising. In maintaining a strong brand image for a client, you are practicing brand management. I even believe that the skills taken to write an effective and informative press release are those that would be required from a journalist. When pursuing a career in PR, you really are pursuing a blend of many media related jobs- all of which I believe to have gained experience in through my varied university course.

As a career in public relations involves many different media related roles, it can provide you with the chance to work more specifically within an area that interests you. According to Johnston and Zawawi (2004), there are more than twenty roles and areas within the PR industry that you can specialise in. I believe that as work takes up such a large part of your life, it is important to be doing something that interests you and matches your motivation. Although I have a great interest in politics, which would suit me well to work within public affairs and lobbying, my one true skill that I believe will serve me in my future career is planning and organising. I am quite lucky to come from a family who are very laid back and even more lucky to have found friends who are happy to let me take control of most of our plans we make together. They all know that it brings me happiness to organise events, make travel plans for holidays and to have control over situations. My personality would definitely be best suited to event management. But the best thing about a career in public relations? No matter your personality, you would be able to find an area within it to suit you.

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From press releases to blogging, writing is a major element of a career within public relations. I have always enjoyed writing from a very young age. I remember our old family computer when I was in primary school; it didn’t even have the internet, but I spent most weekdays after school on this computer, writing short stories and daily diary style entries (I was basically way ahead of my time with the whole blogging craze). Whilst I never thought that I would be pursuing a career in which I would get the opportunity to use my creative writing skills, I have to say that it is one of my biggest motivations now for my growing interest in a career in public relations.

As I write this essay, it is a little over 4 months before I will be graduating from my communications and public relations degree. Given the opportunities and experiences that I have gained through studying my course, I have never been more thankful for that rejection letter I received in 2015.

Lucy Sempey is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @LucySempey ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucy-sempey-482ab9130/

NEVER STOP LEARNING

Lecturers always plug extra-curricular activities, don’t they?  It’s easy to nod along in agreement, making a mental note to respond to the university’s countless invitations by email but when they land there’s a deadline looming and you’re left weighing up the value of said event versus research/writing/reading.

We have the rest of our lives to learn from other PR & Comms specialists, right?

As a mature student, trust me when I say there is always something looming, that’s life. However, there won’t always be a queue of industry experts willing and ready to meet you and share their expertise.  With that in mind, I’m very glad I took @ConorMcGrath up on his invitation to attend a discussion with Alex Aiken, Head of the Government Communication Service (GCS).

I expected two things on the day of the discussion: firstly, for the event to be cancelled in lieu of the Prime Minister’s highly anticipated announcement that evening; secondly, I assumed that if it did go ahead, our guest would be sticking to a strict script, deflecting any difficult or Brexit-related questions.

I was wrong on both counts…

Alex was extremely down to earth and spoke to us candidly for over an hour; he laid out a compelling case for communications to be seen as an integral lever for transparent, responsible governance and a hugely important function within public services.  Good news for those of us that are too aesthetically challenged to make a living out of Instagram, even better news for those of us that are constantly wrestling with their conscience when it comes to considering graduate jobs outwith the voluntary sector.

Over the course of the evening we gained a fascinating insight into the GCS and crisis management – yes, that included Brexit.  We learned of the difficulties surrounding the GCS’s response to the Salisbury ‘Novichok’ attack – namely the difficulty in disseminating information to the press and public without jeopardising classified sources; we heard about previous campaigns – ‘the good, the bad, the ugly’ – and we we were privy to the contents of national address! We were given advice on GCS strategy and the modern importance of creating a story with characters and a conflict, stories that audiences can connect with, as opposed to the historical ‘who/what/where/when/why’ of the traditional press release.No alt text provided for this image

Most importantly, we were awarded the opportunity to put questions and observations to Alex; I had a list as long as my arm but settled on raising the dilemma of ‘spin’ – do communicators run the risk of fuelling tensions in society, especially in this climate, by creating a ‘story’ for their audience?  My understanding of the answer is ‘no’, providing the intentions of the author are not to mislead or misrepresent.

Alex laid out 8 key challenges for the GCS in 2018, one being to “maximise the role of government comms in challenging declining trust in institutions through honest, relevant and responsive campaigns”.  I felt that parts of the discussion were a rallying call to humbly acknowledge public mistrust and harness its existence as motivation to prove the positive impact that communications can have in our society; as someone that is leaning towards a career in some form of public service, but often cynical about the integrity of certain institutions, the call was welcomed and now that I’m writing this, I’m reminded of an exchange that has resonated since.

A small group of us headed to the Harp Bar after the discussion, and along the way, Alex praised Police Scotland’s tackling of knife crime via the campaign to treat violence as a public health issue.  Well this obviously sent me off on a tangent about whether it’s appropriate for police forces to use social media tools (yes, the laughs never stop when I’m around).  I was giving it big licks about certain public services ‘cheapening’ their reputation by endorsing PR tactics, when it was put to me that any measure with a proven ability to reduce the numbers of people being stabbed on our streets was a positive one.  Who could argue with that?

So take it from me: if anyone is reading this and thinking about skipping a relevant talk or event in lieu of a library session, then catch yourself on.  We are extremely privileged to have these opportunities and the confidence that comes from making your voice heard among the current leaders of PR & Comms, and learning from them, is more valuable than a book chapter.*

Don’t just rely on invites from your lecturer, either.  Find out for yourself what’s on offer.  For those in or near Belfast, !MAGINE! FESTIVAL has a fantastic line-up of events and discussions between 25th to 31st March 2019.

*don’t @ me for any academic decline

Fay Costello is an MSc in Communication & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @fay_costello. 

“If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?”

How many times have you asked someone how they are, and they answered with something along the lines of “Oh grand, keeping busy so I can’t complain”?

I don’t know about you, but it’s something that I hear a lot and I’ve noticed that it’s usually said with a positive connotation. But is it really a good thing?

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Living in a society where everything happens almost instantly, people are finding themselves under a new-found pressure to get as much done as possible in 24 hours. 

If we aren’t in work or university, we’re working on projects or assignments at home. If we aren’t at the gym trying to keep fit, we’re in the house trying to get the place cleaned up for a few more days. We’re living in a world of endless to-do lists, but yet this is portrayed as if it’s something to be happy about.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should sit around all day doing nothing and I for one really admire a hard-work ethic, but have things gotten to the point that we feel guilty for sitting down to watch a movie on a weekday evening, instead of replying to the emails your boss sent 20 minutes after you left the office?

My mother always tells me that she can’t believe when I say that time is going too quickly, because she never felt like that at my age (and it certainly wasn’t because she was sitting around doing nothing). So I couldn’t help but think about why I feel like this so often; and to be honest I blame technology. Yes, I know what you’re thinking…“We all waste so much time on social media”. Which is true, but technology has advanced so much in the last thirty years, we now have fully-functioning computers in our pockets. Everything is so instantaneous. From our communication to our grocery shopping; it can all be done with the click of a few buttons. And I feel that this new quick-paced culture has created a society that is too impatient and expects everything and everyone to be ‘flat to the mat’ 100% of the time. We become aggravated when traffic isn’t moving fast enough or when the wifi isn’t working because we always have things to get done.

That’s what it comes down to isn’t it? We can’t spend too long chatting to our neighbours because we have somewhere to be. We don’t call our family because we can do that any time and there’s six assignments waiting to be finished. We don’t take time to relax after work because the housework needs to be done before bed.

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Personally, I have found myself in a continuous rut of planning every hour of every day so that I can go to work, go to uni, go to the gym, get my assignments done, do some housework, try and see my friends, family and boyfriend, get sufficient sleep, work on my personal brand and so on. We are under so much pressure to do everything all at once, that we don’t make time for the things that we’re essentially working for. You know the feeling; you have something coming up that you should be looking forward to but you aren’t because you just have too much to do.

There’s a saying that goes “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” and I can’t help but feel that 21st century life has put the wrong context to this.

We live in such a constant cycle of trying to catch-up or get ahead that we don’t appreciate what we’ve worked for so far. We need to take a step back and remember that life is not a race, it’s a journey. And by trying to take shortcuts all we are doing is losing out on all the amazing sights along the way.

Okay so yes, being busy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But we need to stop glorifying busyness as if it’s a sign of success. Do your job and do it well. Do your chores and do them well. Do the things you need to do, and do them well. But do not prioritise the things that can wait, over the things that really matter.

As Eli Wallach asked, “if you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?”

 

Shannon Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-hegarty-594193172/ and Twitter: @shannonhegPR

One last hurdle

It all started 18 years ago, the first day of school and that was it. In a contract with education before I was old enough to understand. Here I am, many years of education later and this is it, final year! One last hurdle……

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When you were in your final year of primary school you listened to, ‘What secondary school do you want to go to?’
When you were trying to complete your GCSEs in 5th year all you heard was, ‘Are you doing A levels or leaving school to learn a trade?’ Errr….Hang on a little second I’m 16 – that’s a huge decision. (Oh and by the way, if you do choose to do A-levels the subjects you pick are really important, and you’re already supposed to know what ‘you want to be when you grow up.’)KC7

When you’re trying to complete your A levels you got, ‘What university are you going to?’ and ‘What course are you going to do?’ – Well, that’s another very big decision because you’ll need to know what kind of job you can get from that degree or you at least need to have an idea. If you’re blessed enough to know you’re going to be a teacher, or a doctor, or a nurse, then lucky you! But if not, then all you’ll hear from every single person you meet on the street is, ‘Where is that course going to take you?’ and ‘Will you get a good job out of that?’ (Shh I’m 18)
Then all of a sudden your half way through final year and the whole country are asking you: ‘What are you planning on doing when you finish your degree?’ (If I ever do)

Why do we always need to know what’s next? Whether it’s pressure that we add to ourselves or pressure that comes from people constantly asking ‘What’s next?’, I don’t know! But why are we expected to have it all figured out? There are people in their 40s who still don’t have it all figured out (I don’t think we ever will have it all figured out).

My advice to graduates…
Take time after final year if you need it. Do what’s right for you. If you’re ready for a well deserved break, take it because no-one’s going to give it to you. If you want to travel, do it. If you want to get the best job you possibly can, then go for it. Just don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work out. All you can do is try your best.

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To all my final year buds…
We all deserve a break after final year, just a little bit of time to appreciate how far you have come and all the work you’ve done (We can do it). A moment to reflect on all the meltdowns, deadlines and possibly stress-lines, who knows. Take a little bit of time to congratulate yourself for making it to the finish line!!

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My final note is for you to remember that you can only try your best and after that whatever is meant to be will not pass you by. If things don’t go to plan then there is probably a better plan in place for you.

Good luck and wish me luck xo

P.S Can someone remind me about this blog post in May x

Kerrieann Curran is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @KerrieannCurran ; Linkedin – http://linkedin.com/in/kerrieann-curran-765420137

 

How to stay organised and manage your time effectively – as an influencer, student and full time employee 

One of the things I do well is managing my time. I work 40 hours a week, in full-time education, I have a 16 hours a week internship and I am an influencer – which means I have to produce content daily! I also sew, go to the gym, cook, look after my cats and all the normal day to day stuff that comes in between. So, how do I manage my time and stay organised? This is a good question! Well, forget about all those booooring time management courses you had to watch or thought about watching because I am going to quickly outline for you, the 5 things you need to do to stay on top of things and manage your time effectively.

  1. Write a to-do list

I know this one might seem a bit obvious but honestly it can help so much! Try to be as specific as possible, so for example, if you have a meeting don’t just write “meeting” write “meeting today at 3pm with x”. This will give you and your head good clarity. If you’re meeting with a photographer for example (I know us influencers love to dab into photographer meetings) then you write a more in-depth list (see picture for example). In terms of time management, if you have to prepare some outfits for this meeting then its  probably best to prepare the night before. If you know you are meeting at 3 and you have to prepare some outfits and you know it takes you 2 hours to get ready but you also need to have breakfast, feed the cats, send some emails then this is what your list might look like…

list

As you can see I’ve used an online program to make my lists, it’s called Trello. You can get the app version as well so if you are out and about and need a quick peek at your list it’s only a finger swipe away.  As you can see preparing stuff the night before can really help in saving you some time the next day, also writing down the times will help measure how long you have to do each activity which will help you stay on track. Always prepare your lists the night before or the day before, this will give you clarity of what needs to be done and give you some headspace.

2. Don’t be lazy when it comes to creating

Easier said then done I know but being able to manage all of these means action, action, action. There is no time to sit down and binge on your favourite Netflix series. Think of it this way. While you’re sitting watching the next episode of YOU there is someone else out there doing! Doing and getting ahead of the game.  Influencing is becoming a very competitive market and every day a new influencer is raising the bar. If you want to become successful you need to produce content. With that said always ensure your content is authentic and you are actually enjoying what you are producing as this is meant to be a fun industry that provides you with freedom by being your own boss.

3. Split your week with set times – set a routine

Always have set times for each activity you have to do, that way you get into a routine/habit of doing things and you don’t fall off track. For example, every Tuesday, I focus on university for the first few hours of the morning, in the afternoon allow some time for my internship (I normally work from the office) and later that evening go to work. Because I work a late shift on Tuesday it means on Wednesday I’m either off or on a late again which means Wednesdays are my days of creating content because I have the full day with no interruptions to do so. As you can see this gives structure and routine. To me this is the best form of organisation and a great way to manage my time this is because I know what to expect which means I am always one step ahead.

4. Make use of the night before

I touched on this earlier but let me go into more detail. Okay, so, giving yourself 1 to 2 hours every evening to prepare for the next day will help you with managing your time, it also will give you clarity and some headspace. Sometimes if I have a lot to do – or I think I have a lot to do – I write my list, prepare everything the night before and I realise that whilst in my head there’s a lot going on, in reality there isn’t much to do. This allows me and my brain to rest which means I can have a good night sleep – if the anxiety doesn’t kick in – and the next day I feel more prepared to attack the day.  Here’s a list of things you can prepare the night before to save you some time in the morning …

  • Breakfast (I like overnight oats)
  • Lunch (Make this the night before to avoid worrying about it the next day and saves you money)
  • Prepare you’re outfit/what you’re going to wear
  • Prepare a bag (I do this when I’m going to uni or the gym)
  • Write a list for the next day
  • If you’re going for a shoot – prepare everything the day before
  • Iron your clothes etc…

 

5. Give yourself study weeks

As I mentioned previously I am also in full time education. Right now I am in my second semester of my MSc degree in Communication and PR at Ulster Uni. Guys, this is a FULL ON COURSE, it’s hard! But by managing my time and keeping organised I am able to do it. Other than putting time aside each week for reading, researching and planning etc… I create ‘study weeks’. In these weeks I will focus on nothing but university. I will ensure I have some stock content for Insta so all I need to do is upload but wouldn’t do it as often as in my normal weeks. I will ensure I am not overloaded in work or stressed and I will focus all my time and energy towards uni. I do these sporadically across the semester but intensify nearer to deadlines. I will do nothing but assignments, I will be at one with my assignments and I will be, the assignment. Basically I will put everything that I do on normal days as 0 priority and focus everything on planning and completing assignments to get the best results. This worked really well for me in the first semester which means I will definitely be doing this again.

6.  Lastly, don’t forget to take a break!

I highly recommend holidays! Rest is very important especially if you are juggling so many things at once. You can either schedule time in the day or take a week off. For me, I go to the gym. It helps me clear my mind by focusing on my body and soul. Yoga would be great too. For others, maybe reading a few pages out of a book, going for a drink with a friend, watching an episode of YOU. Whatever it may be, make sure you get some ‘me time’. However, linking back to point two don’t forget doing ‘too much resting’ can turn into a routine and eventually become your habit.

Do you have any tips? something I missed? I would love to hear from you as well… drop me a comment below.

India Reed is an MSc in Communication and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – indialee_reed ; YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCujm8EoQQuxyAjf2Z1wJYQ ; and Twitter – @indialee_reed. India is also on WordPress at https://indialeereed.blog/ – check out her most recent post A Guide to Belfast Charity Shops