Why Study a Masters?

Why Study a Masters?

Never, in my life, did I ever think I was going to do a Masters, never mind a Masters in Communications and Public Relations. However, I’ve somehow found myself here. And honestly, it has been one of the best decisions I have made yet. And here’s why. 

I left school with hopes of being an English teacher and so I went on to do a bachelors degree in English with Education at Coleraine. However, I found very quickly, that being a teacher was not for me, although I continued with the course until the very end. I came out of it with a 2:2 and feeling very much like I had wasted three years. Don’t get me wrong, the course was fantastic with great teachers, it unfortunately just wasn’t for me. 

And so, I spent three long months trying to get myself full-time work with zero experience and honestly, little motivation. I personally found it so hard to find something that I could apply for, given that my course wasn’t particularly specialised and I had done a minor in education that was primarily aimed at going into teaching. I also had very little experience, as my course didn’t offer a year’s placement, which a lot do, and so I felt slightly at a disadvantage. 

Until one night, I went to my friend’s house and they all suggested I do a Masters. To begin with, I laughed. Thought a Masters was just something people did to put off going into work for another year. But then I thought about it, realised it would open more doors and, possibly, spark a passion in me for something that I didn’t know I had a passion for. 

So the next step was what? What Masters course will I do? I began looking on the Ulster website and nothing really jumped out to me except for the Msc Communications and Public Relations course. I remember in school I had wanted to study CAM but didn’t think I would get the grades and so didn’t apply and forgot about it, But here was a Masters course, that was very much like CAM, that I did have the grades for! And so I applied in August and here I am in April, absolutely loving it. 

Starting a Masters however, was very daunting for me. I didn’t know what to expect at all. I thought there was going to be nobody my own age in the class and I thought I wasn’t good enough for it and I was going in with no knowledge of the Jordanstown campus and no friends there. But I was so, so wrong. I felt so welcome when class began. Everyone was so friendly and chatty and we are a small class which I love. The lecturers are amazing too. Very approachable, will answer any questions or queries you have and are up for a bit of craic too!

 

Now this is not to say that a Masters is easy. Because, believe me, it’s not. Yes it may only be two days a week, but that just means more independent study, more than I ever had to do. And let’s not forget that there is only student funding for tuition fees and so I have had to start working full-time on top of my studies. But it is so worth it. Not only have I gained another qualification, but I’ve opened so many more doors. I’ve gained a new perspective and I’ve found my passion. I’m more engaged in my classes than I ever was at undergraduate level and I’ve learned so many new skills. And I’ve made so many new friends.

If you’re in final year, I would never rule out a Masters. I am so happy I chose to do one, and, if you’re anything like me, a Masters just might be for you.

Kathleen Convery is an Msc in Communications and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathleen-convery-814078158/

 

Why I chose a PR degree…

Why I chose a PR degree…

I remember when I was really young, the first thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a pop star – big surprise there, every 6 year old girls dream! Watching Britney Spears on the TV every single day and admiring her so much, can you blame me?

As I began to grow up a little more, I wanted to then become a hairdresser, then a pilot, then an astronaut! My dreams came crumbling down around me when I found out that to be a pilot or an astronaut, you have to have perfect eyesight – I wanted to break my little round face glasses into a million pieces. As if my eyesight was the only thing holding me back from being an astronaut and not the fact that I had a really average set of GCSE’s!GA10

As I was getting a bit older, around the time of my A-Levels I had started to become really interested in social media – Instagram in particular. I was completely in awe of all these ‘Instagrammers’, who were making a living out of advertising products on their page, like teeth whitening and big makeup brands. How had they built themselves up so well that worldwide companies wanted them to advertise their products? I couldn’t get my head around it.

My aunt, who works in PR, was able to explain to me all about advertising and social media and how it is such a big platform today for companies and businesses to advertise their products through, with the help of influencers and celebrities. From then, I have always been so intrigued and loved researching all about it.

As an A-Level business studies student, we learnt all about marketing, advertising, media and communication, and I knew from then that it was what I wanted to further my education in. I began researching University courses that could accomodate this. Originally, I wanted to go away, to Edinburgh or Liverpool, to study, but I had happened to stumble upon the CMPR course at Ulster University. I couldn’t believe my luck when I began looking into it, and all the different modules it had. I was immediately drawn to this course, and put it down as my number one option.

One of the aspects of PR that interests me the most, is the variety. PR really is just a blend of everything media related. Promotion, advertising, campaigns, keepingGA11 up an image, brand management, press releases, media releases – the list goes on! There is a mix of absolutely everything. The reason I like this so much, is because I enjoy working in a fast-paced and dynamic workplace, rather than just doing the same thing day in and day out. It makes work interesting and different each day, and that’s what excites me the most about any of my future careers that I may have in PR.

As I mentioned earlier, I have an aunt who works in PR. Although i’ve never really realised it, but she’s been one of my main influences to choose a degree in PR. She has built her way up to the top of an extremely tough industry, and her success is inspirational. Although she works hard, she also has a lot of perks to her job and recently worked on the Strictly Come Dancing Tour, and was sending me all her selfies with the celebs and judges! I was so envious! I can remember being younger, and she used to take me to the premiers of all the newest films, as she worked for CineMagic. They are some of my fondest memories.

These are just a few of the reasons that I chose a degree in PR! Why did you choose PR?

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Grainne Arkins – final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/grainne-arkins-a54401173/ and Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrainneArkins

 

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/

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. 

Suite dreams are made of this

Public relations is a profound interest of mine and there are plentiful reasons why this area of expertise elevates me, particularly the communication aspect, as well as being exposed to so many interesting individuals. I am going to share my story with you, career choices and life experiences that have led me to believe that public relations is the ingredient that brings my ideas to a reality.

Anyway here’s my story (so far)…

The moment I realized that a career in public relations was for me was in 2014 when I took a year out from education; as I was unsure about which degree to pursue. I began working as a receptionist in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. The reason I decided to pursue a job as a hotel receptionist was with the intention of evolving my existing skill set and qualities as well as my interpersonal communication skills. With no prior experience in this field of work; I was dependent on landing the position solely on my interview and given the opportunity of expressing my ‘inner brand’. The interview was very formal and intimidating, however it was my time to shine and showcase what made me an eligible candidate for the position. The interviewers must have seen past my nerves as I was surprisingly successful and got offered a full-time position!

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The job opened me up to the public as I was the primary point of contact with the guests, meaning I was responsible for their first impressions as well as leaving the lasting impression as they departed from the hotel. At first the reception department was extremely daunting, It took me roughly three months to feel confident behind the desk, at this point my passion for public relations began to grow. I had soon become acquainted with the regular guests and catering to their needs became my second nature. I took pride in ensuring their stay was enjoyable and It wasn’t long before I started noticing my name frequently mentioned in trip advisor reviews, highlighting my ‘professionalism’ and being regarded as a ‘fantastic ambassador’ for the hotel. The recognition, gratitude and positive feedback was very fulfilling, and this was when I discovered that this was my major – representing companies whilst working alongside the stakeholders.

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Having proved my charisma, expressed my effective communication skills and established customer rapport in the business I decided it was time to enroll into university. I applied for my degree in ‘communication management and public relations’ whilst continuing to work for the organization. However, as my degree required me to move to Belfast, the company transferred me to their sister hotel – the world-famous Europa.

This environment was completely unknown to me as the hotel is twice the size of the Slieve Donard and I underestimated how demanding the job was and how busy I would be kept. This hotel is in such high demand and attracts numerous celebrities, who always must always be accommodated with VIP treatment. Over the 2 years I worked for the Europa I have checked in numerous celebrities including;  Van Morrison, Conor McGregor, Lee Evans, Jimmy Page and the entire cast of Game of Thrones. The public relations profession operates in a celebrity-driven world, and the very first celebrity I checked in whilst working in the Europa was Conor McGregor, and I can remember it like yesterday. I had only been working on the front desk for 2 weeks and can still remember the overwhelming, starstruck feeling that I got. I cant express it but every single guest that checked into the hotel, I had an overwhelming desire to go out of my way to make their stay great, whether it be a couple checking in for a little getaway for the weekend, simply upgrading their room and seeing the smiles on their faces made it worthwhile. Or having Game of Thrones stars phone down to the desk and request a wake up call at 4am to go filming, and ask to speak to me personally for knowing their room service order like the back of my hand. All these little things are what made my job wonderful.

 

Working in the Europa introduced me to so many amazing people and friends for life and even opened doors to new potential career opportunities. For example: One particular day I was checking out a lady and got chatting to her, she asked me an unexpected and extremely surprising question: “You have an amazing bone structure. Have you ever considered modelling?” I was evidently stunned by her question as I looked eagerly at my colleagues for an appropriate response to this bizarre enquiry. “No?” I replied as she handed me her business card shook my hand and invited me to attend an interview at her business ‘Alison Campbell Academy.’ I unknowingly just checked out the CEO of ‘ACA Models’ and had just been scouted as a model!

I was unsure how to feel about this proposition as the possibility of embarking on a career in modelling had never ever crossed my mind, but my colleagues were adamant that I attend the interview anyway, and I even managed to get signed onto their books. I have been placed onto various modelling jobs in which I have represented a specific brand for a certain advertising/catwalk events. Examples of brands that I have worked for include: Miss Northern Ireland, Danske Bank, Down Royal Race Course, Victoria Square and many more. It was very exciting to work as the spokesperson for established companies and represent their brand. I am frequently commended for my outgoing personality and charismatic nature working these jobs; I personally believe that my communication skills and devoted nature is what enabled my public relations abilities to blossom into a reality in the working front of an organization like this.

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Public relations is an ever-evolving industry that brings so much excitement and possibilities to the world. Public relations is deeply embedded into my personality. It is my lifestyle. Every given day is a new inspiration for me to undertake something new that will improve my professional and personal life. In the technologically advanced world we live in, there is an infinite variety of potential connections at our disposal. The  life experiences I have encountered have steered me to the realization that public relations is my bread and butter.

Thank you for reading,

© eline ®ussell

Celine Russell is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-russell-849ba4171/ ; Twitter –  @celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7

F U T U R E (Scary 6 letters)

F U T U R E predicting one day to the next, which may or may not happen.

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Where did you see yourself 10 years ago? Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years? Something we don’t often stop and ask ourselves.

 ‘Dream big’ a phrase we are often told when we are young, inspiring to be a singer, air hostess, celebrity the list goes on. Looking back now, surely, I couldn’t be the only one that laughs so much?? An air hostess??? Me who only recently has half got the hang of flying.

Young, full of energy and not a single care in the world at a young age wondering where do we see ourselves in 10-15 years.

Choosing a career path?

Primary school (best years of your life, well best years of my life for sure). I think I potentially changed my mind on what my future career was going to be on a monthly if not daily basis???

I grew up as a pure tomboy in primary school, only for the fact I had long hair looking back at photos it’s the only thing that gave me that feminine side! Everybody has them cute as a button little primary school photos around their houses in frames full of pride and joy! Not me, definitely not. I think I have hidden the majority of my primary school pictures that well I couldn’t find them if I tried.

Never the less, my point is, going into secondary school and beginning first year was an amazing experience. At such a young age, everyone is thinking of their future. Going to careers classes, hearing that the people in your class want to be vets, doctors, nurses, accountants, mechanics, hairdressers, beauticians, zoologists (which I hadn’t even heard of) the endless list of potential jobs was amazing.  It is when I eventually began to realise, I have absolutely no idea what I want to be.

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I loved animals and loved people (I still do!). I always thought of myself as a vet from a young age, (after my air hostess fascination), probably due to the fact of living on a farm, having a dog and pretty much being a cat lady minus the old age!

But the thought of 7 years at university was scary plus the fact my weakest subject in the world was Science plus the fact the closest university to study veterinary was Dublin and I was the world’s worst person with euros (still no better). The thought of an animal dying was emotional never mind witnessing it. That went out the window slowly but surely. (So much respect for vets, they really are stars).

Then come along 3rd and 4th year, I had my life planned out, nursing was the way to go. I was going to be a great little nurse and care for the elderly. Little did I know shortly down the line, I really do hate the sight of blood, and especially needles, they both make me uneasy. Around came work experience, inspiring to be a nurse, I went to an elderly care home to see if I liked the thought of nursing as my future career. An eye opener to say the least, nursing wasn’t for me. I have so much respect for nurses, the long hours, the long days, on your feet 24-7 caring for patients, they are an absolute inspiration.

Never the less, nursing wasn’t for me, I concluded that on day 2 of placement and didn’t return.

Really in a tizzy, what career path was I going to follow and actually like??

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The light-bulb switched in my head one night, after researching many courses which I found interesting, I thought, would I like the PR industry? I decided to go on work experience alongside already having completed a work experience, I went to the Ulster Herald in Omagh which is my local weekly newspaper. That’s when it clicked, bingo, I really could see myself in this industry.

To cut a long story short for I really could talk for days, my future goals and inspirations had changed dramatically over many years. I felt I had found the path I wanted to go down. After researching many courses at universities, I loved the idea of studying Communication, Advertising and Marketing BSc (Hons) at Jordanstown. The industry is massive and being able to go into either of these sectors would be amazing. With high grade boundaries to this course, it seemed so unrealistic to get into, therefore I had many many backups, which are basically the same course as both courses share many modules.

Meetings with teachers began at secondary school which consisted of advice and guidance on courses etc. I was told that my course was ‘unrealistic’ for me to achieve the grade boundaries, not to get my hopes up and look at alternatives or something similar. Any human who hears them words are cross, your heart drops. But, instead I took a completely different approach. From that meeting, I began to keep my head in the books and work hard on my coursework to ensure that I would get the grades to prove them wrong. I was determined.

  • UCAS BH42  for pending offer
  • Grades BH42

I received confirmation, I had successfully got into my first choice. I was stunned! Plus the face on your principle when he hands your results with a cheesy grin really is amazing and unforgettable! Realising how much they have did for us in 7 years, all in the space of seconds.

Next steps;

  • Begin the life of a student studying CAM BH42
  • Live the life of a lord in first year BH42
  • Shop to you drop and moan about not having a loan left BH42

Final steps;

  • Crap myself when I hear the word dissertation BH42

Four years down the line from applying to UCAS (feels like 10 years ago, ageing by the day, over dramatic as always) I am over the moon to say I am now nearing the end of my final year studying Communication, Advertising and Marketing. I really, without a doubt recommend my course.

Not in a million years did I picture myself where I am today. I’m speechless and so happy, so much changes in 4 years and I really and truly am blessed to gain so many great friends for life!

I was never an intelligent person at school, nor am I today! Something that seemed so distant at the beginning, I now have at arm’s reach.

So, my advice is dream big for the future, and if you think you’re dreaming big, dream bigger!!!!

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Let your dreams stay big and your worries stay small

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(I say this so much, I probably say it in my sleep)

Exams approaching, dissertation nearing its due date, graduation creeping around the corner, all so exciting and nerve wrecking. But where does the f u t u r e hold for little old me now? Stay tuned!!

Create your future YOU want, not anybody else’s and let the past fizzle away.

Breige Hollywood is a final year CAM student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/breige-hollywood-a7b035116/and Twitter @ HollywoodBreige