Placement: what if I don’t get one

Placement: what if I don’t get one

Hopes of earning ‘big bucks’, gaining experience and living the adult life for a year, it all landed like a lead balloon. Thanks, Covid-19, just one of the many things we can blame you for.

How it begins

We all have great aspirations for placement year. The beginning of second year starts with a reality check. Everyone leaves the first lecture with three main messages; get a move on with searching, creating a CV and a dreaded LinkedIn profile. This usually goes one of two ways, leaving feeling highly motivated or highly stressed. For many it seems like ages away, nothing to be concerned about now. Speaking from experience, start searching for placement opportunities or internships as soon as possible. It’s amazing how early adverts for placements are released and you are definitely at an advantage if you are organised and apply early, this will half your competition as many have not yet contemplated applying.

Spoiler alert, second year is a huge step up from first year. Assignments become so much more difficult but you also must spend a long time preparing for interviews and even more time planning what outfit you’re going to wear to said interviews. Despite the huge weight on your shoulders that you will feel, you always assume that you will be successful in finding a placement in the end. We’ve been led to believe that yes, it’s a difficult process but it will work itself out. Don’t be fooled, it is solely down to the effort you put in.

Going through the motions

Applying to your first placement can be nerve wracking but soon it becomes a regular occurrence. You quickly learn the tricks of the trade, especially altering your drafted cover letter to suit each job opportunity. Reading and having evidence to support each one of the applicant requirements is a necessity and almost always the questions you will be asked in the interview are based on them. The excitement and relief you feel when you receive your first email to invite you to interview is great. In my case, it was the first proper interview I had ever done, I was so nervous. Usually I thrive on nerves and a bit of stress, not this time. Oops. It didn’t go well but it was so important that I learnt from my mistakes and moved on. I knew I wasn’t expecting an email back from that organisation. As the interview process continued, I improved greatly. One thing I don’t think anyone prepares you for are the tasks that some company’s set for you. Treat it like a uni assignment, give it your best shot and act like you’ve got the job and this is your first project. Don’t be disheartened if you put your all into a task and you don’t get the job. I should also add, don’t be afraid to ask the careers services in university for some help. This is one thing I wish I had done more of. That said, I started to get the hang of things and was confident that after a few more interviews I would be successful. Until panic set in, but in this case, it was both students and businesses panicking.

Then Covid-19 changes your plans

In March, you still feel as if you have a bit of time left to find a placement for September. But this time, March wasn’t just an ordinary month. Instead, the world went belly up. A virus that can sweep through the globe and impact us all so immensely? Surely not in this day and age. Reality soon sets in; businesses are making their staff redundant or putting them on furlough. The chances of getting a placement now seem very slim. I still had high hopes for myself and my friends, some of whom had secured placement opportunities already. However, even those who had secured theirs, a few of them were hit with soul destroying emails to inform them that their placement could no longer go ahead. The purpose of this post is not to dwell on it or think “what if”. Instead I wanted to suggest how best to move on. If we consider the Change Curve model, I definitely went through the first five stages in turn. The day eventually arrives when you finally accept what’s happened. The best way to problem solve in this instance is firstly decide which route you’re going to take for the following academic year. Once you’ve done that, decide how you’re going to go about it and how to make the most out of your decision. My decision was to go straight into final year and after I had made that decision, my main aim was to secure a new part time job as well. I wanted a new challenge and don’t get me wrong, walking into that interview was really difficult. However, I proved to myself that I had gained so much experience by going through all the previous placement interviews and this time it was a breeze. Now I am gaining so many new experiences in my work place that I never would have imagined and all of these I will be able to talk about in my graduate interviews. Ah, the joys.

No matter what life throws at you, step up to the challenge. There is not just one direct route to your goal. Figure out a solution and make the most of it. Despite not initially wishing to move straight into final year, I am really enjoying it. Although I do miss the social side, but that’s a topic for another day.

Lydia Killen is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and Twitter

What life is like as a student during Covid-19

What life is like as a student during Covid-19

2020 is still a year many people are trying to wrap their head around, myself included. Covid-19 has brought on a lot of stress for those who are working and have lost their jobs and also to those who have returned back to university, everything feels so surreal. During lock down it had been announced that university would be done online this year with the possibility of being back on campus by second semester, this isn’t something many students wanted to hear; however, we know that it was needed due to the circumstances so we quickly came to terms with the news.

When I “returned” to university this year, I had been feeling anxious before we’d even gotten past our introduction week as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to cope with online learning, so far my fears have become a reality. Lack of concentration, finding it harder to read academic literature online, not being able to see my friends and catch up about the last year we’ve been apart. All minor inconveniences in the grand scheme of things but we are halfway through the first semester and nothing has improved. This has caused me a great deal of concern about the future as I’m a final year student, this could affect my degree massively if I don’t try and implement things to boost my concentration levels. Having lectures and seminars on campus makes learning so much more fulfilling, you finish the day feeling like you’ve actually done something with your time and you feel more accomplished. Whereas, doing online lectures at home you find yourself feeling tired, and mentally not at the lecture, most of the time you don’t even realise you’ve zoned out until you zone back in again.

I’ve thought of a list of things that could potentially help me concentrate better and anyone who reads this that’s in the same situation can try them out too.
• Leave your phone in another room – Yes, I know this is a hard one, our generation is constantly glued to our phones, which is probably the main culprit for lack of concentration levels, but put it away and only use it on your breaks.
• Work from a desk not from a bed- Probably a bit hypocritical of me as I write this from my bed however, I definitely will not be working in bed from this day onwards. Working from your desk will make you feel more productive, especially when listening to a lecture you will be more likely to take notes and remember the information you were taught.
• Drink plenty of water- Keeping hydrated will leave you less heavy headed and you’ll feel a lot more refreshed whilst working.
• Go for a walk between lectures- Whether it’s to the shop or just to your front door for some fresh air, try and get a walk in especially if you have a long day online, it will prevent you from getting groggy and tired.
• Interact in lectures- Ask questions, answer them, speak up if you’re unsure on something, lead discussions. Interaction during lectures will not only give your lectures peace of mind but it will also help make the lecture more enjoyable.
These are just a few things you can try and implement to get the best out of your online university experience. This year will definitely be a struggle for the vast majority of us, but if we try and get ourselves into a routine and the right head space, I have no doubt we will all do as well as we hope.

Remember to keep yourself safe and well, your university lecturers are always there to help and guide you if you’re struggling so don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask questions.

Kayla Collins is a final year BSc in Communication Management and PR student at Ulster University. Find her on Twitter, Instagram or Linkedin.

When One Door Closes, Another Door…Closes??

That’s what it felt like for a few years anyway. Things just weren’t what I anticipated when I left school and threw myself into University life, that I was sceptical of going to in the first place (I’ll get to that in a bit).

‘What’s for you won’t go past you,’ as my ma liked to remind me every so often, when something went wrong or didn’t work out the way I wanted… Usually to my own accord mind you. Being too laid back, going with the flow and thinking everything would work out eventually. Or, was I just being too lazy and not taking life into my own hands? Lazy probably being the obvious answer.

They say things happen for a reason, and everybody is on a different path in life. Perhaps my path was just a little different than usual? I’ve often asked myself this question. Quite simply, I’ve learned a lot from my experiences and journey so far. It has allowed me to become more mature (very debatable) and understand ‘me’ a little better. So here it is.

In school, my degree of choice, at that time, was available to study at either Ulster University Coleraine or Queens Belfast. Queens being the more desirable choice of the two as I was enticed by the reputation of being a ‘Queens student’ but, I didn’t get the grades; Shock…

After multiple meetings with the VP of our school, he convinced me to take on the challenge of going somewhere other than Belfast and the Rose & Crown, thinking it would be the best for me. For me, a gap year was off the cards. Even if it was Coleraine, I just wanted to get to Uni and experience the student lifestyle. So I bought into it.

I had it all planned out in my head, new adventure, living away from home, house parties, maybe go to class the odd time, go for runs on the beach on my days off and hopefully in the end of it all get my degree. Absolutely, none of these things happened. After a month into the course I realised I hated it. I was staying in halls, living with two other lads that were, to say the least, not the most social of people; so the house parties were soon knocked on the head. Living away from home was not great, as I soon came to realise. Living on microwavable meals every day, it was fair to say I missed my mas cooking. And for the runs on the beach, it was f*@King freezing. The picture I had in my head, Uni life turned out to be everything but that.

To no surprise, shortly after February I dropped out. From then I took on my first full-time job. Having no degree or trade, my choices were limited. It’s true what they say, beggars really can’t be choosers. But could factory work really be that bad? The full-time pay did sound good after all. The following March, I started on the factory floor. A normal day-to-day in the factory consisted of; packaging eggs, standing at the same spot looking at the same assembly line and the same people for 10 hours a day, 6 sometimes 7 days a week. Before swiftly getting ‘pRoMoTeD’ to dispatch. Here was just a slight upgrade from hell, were I loaded deliveries onto Lorries to be distributed to local supermarkets. As EGGxiting as this all sounds, it wasn’t.

I spent 9 months there, before getting fed up with the long hours and I can assure you, my hate for eggs was very REAL. I don’t think I ate an egg for a month or 2 after I quit, the bad memories just weren’t worth it.

My next move didn’t get much better. I went and done sparking for a few months travelling throughout the UK spending a lot of my time away from home, working 12 days at a time. I was 19, homesick and had hated the thought of missing out with the lads, the craic back home and feeling the football season just passing me by. Life just wasn’t the same. Yet another job that wasn’t what I wanted or could picture myself doing all my life.

Lo and behold the prodigal son has returned!!!

Yes, I was back in the egg business, something I thought I’d never see again (never say never). People need their eggs, and no better man to get the job done and provide that service than myself. . . . . However, I knew this wasn’t my path. At least I hoped not.

I lasted another 6 months before getting a job in engineering which I actually liked, but I think that was more to do with the craic with the men more so the work. I wasn’t getting a break with the right jobs. It really did feel like once one door closed, the right door was firmly closed shut and wasn’t for opening anytime soon. The only doors I seemed to unlock were dead end jobs.

As they like to remind us, mums are always right. This is leading me onto ‘what’s for you won’t go past you’ paragraph. At work, the men would have kindly nominated myself to do the weekly run to the local deli to get them a fry on a Friday morning. A treat for us at the end of a hard weeks work – few of them could definitely have done with a salad instead, which I liked to remind them of. One morning, I bumped into an old teacher of mine. As we got chatting, I told him I had an idea of going back to university but had no idea what field to go down. Without hesitation, he arranged a date for us to meet up. I agreed to go, in hope for inspiration and to start a new path in life. A clean slate.

Finally, a door worth opening.

There’s a silver lining to every story, including this one. Who knew a run in with my old teacher would give me the push I needed to make another attempt at Uni. This time it was different, I knew this because of what I had come through in comparison to when I started in Coleraine, 3 years previous. Here I am, in my final year studies writing my first blog. Who would have guessed with my track record? So if you’re struggling like I was, keep banging on them doors, hoping the right one will open and if not, put it through.

Shea Hamill is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shea-hamill-66026a180/

Welcome to Procrastination Station!

If you’re like me and find anything to do other than what you’re supposed to be doing, then welcome aboard my train departing from procrastination station first stop anxiety and on to guilt and self-destruction. I will be your captain for this evening, and I am a 22-year-old recovering procrastinator.

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The very idea of this blog post came to me while I was distracting myself from coming up with an idea to write this very post…ironic I know! From my summer exams first year in secondary school to my final year of university I have always been somewhat of a procrastinator. The very definition of procrastination in the oxford dictionary is “the action of delaying or postponing something.” I will always find an excuse to delay an assignment or revision to the last possible moment. Disclaimer, not a good idea!!

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I always start with good intentions for the day don’t get me wrong. First step setting an alarm and getting up when it goes off which is the first success of the day which I feel I need a reward for so before I can open my laptop, I check all social media accounts. Down the stairs to the kitchen sit down with my still closed laptop but before I start anything I need revision fuel. Time for breakfast which takes longer than it should, stare at the laptop for a few seconds and then remember I need to shower because how could I possibly do any work if I didn’t feel clean. Off to the shower dry my hair, straighten my hair, moisturise maybe paint my nails while I’m here. Look around my not so tidy room and how could I concentrate on my work knowing this mess is here. Time for some spring cleaning after all tidy house tidy mind. (However, this life motto only seems to apply to me when I have a deadline due.) Now finally back downstairs sitting at the kitchen table laptop fully charged notepad open and pencils sharpened. But then I look down to my doggo staring back up at me and it’s such a nice day outside how could I not take him for a walk?? So an hour around the country side taking in the scenery and it really works up your appetite and just in time for my bestie to txt wondering if we should take a break from all the work we haven’t be doing and go out for a coffee, how could I refuse? Before I know it it’s 9 o’clock in the evening and we’re sitting by the fire waiting on I’m A Celebrity to start and there’s no work being done once Ant and Dec come on.

So, you get the idea and forgetting specifics can anyone else relate to a day like this? This added stress is not good for your mental health especially when it’s self-inflicted and can be 100% avoided, so I decided to do some research and come up with a few tips to help. Some of you might be thinking this is just another way of procrastinating to get me out of starting my assignments and some of you would be exactly right but at least if I know what causes it, I might be able to beat it. Here’s what I found:

There are 4 types of procrastinators.

  1. Anxious procrastinators.
  2. Fun procrastinators.
  3. Plenty of time procrastinators.
  4. Perfectionist procrastinators.

Anxious procrastination which is self-torture is when you are doing something but feeling guilty about it. Watching a tv series and not being able to enjoy it because you know you should be doing work but continue to watch anyway.

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Fun procrastination, going out with your friends at the weekend when you have an assignment in for the Monday but you’re young and should be out socialising with your peers, so you somehow always seem to justify it.

Plenty of time procrastination. “Well my exams not for another two weeks if I revise something now, I’ll not remember it come the time so best leave it another few days.”

Perfectionist procrastination is when the thought of not being able to produce the best possible work is to over-whelming to even start at all.

We’ve all fallen into one or more of these brackets and some stage. I know I’ve had experiences of all four but now we know what they are we might be able to overcome them.

Tips for overcoming procrastinating and hopping of the train for good:

  • The 10-minute rule – starting something can be half the battle and once you get over the first hurdle you get the momentum to keep going. The thought of sitting down to hours of work can fill with you with dread, so one way of overcoming it is to not sit down to hours of work. Set yourself a time to only do 10 minutes straight. I find once I’ve got the first 10 minutes done, I get into the swing of things and end up getting much more done than planned.
  • Take regular breaks – if you’re a newly recovering procrastinator this may take some more practise but taking short well-deserved breaks for a cup of tea or a walk can be beneficial in clearing you mind and letting new thoughts and ideas flow to you. Just make sure to return to put these ideas to paper!
  • Get rid of any distractions – social media can be your best or worst enemy but it’s up to you to decide. If you are a constant checker of your phone like me a two-minute break on social media can easily turn into 2 hours. For this I would recommend the app “FLORA”. It is a free app that helps you stay focused by setting timers when you’re supposed to be doing work and it doesn’t let you use any of the other apps on your phone. If you succeed it plants a virtual tree in your garden and after a good days work you can have a lovely plant-filled garden or if you fail a dead sad looking reminder of how easily you can be distracted. I don’t like to lose, and my competitive side comes out and helps me stick to the timer. Also, to help the environment the app gives you the option for a small fee to plant the trees you have in your virtual garden in real life. It’s a win-win, a first class honours in your degree and you save the planet. (Maybe slightly over-exaggerated but a good app none the less.)

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  • Make a schedule: making a timetable of when to do university work and fitting it around your part time job and socialising helps make things more organised. Having social time to look forward to is a good motivator to get your work done in the allocated time. Having a schedule of when your work is due and when to do what makes the workload seem a lot less scary and more doable.

As a recovering procrastinator I found these tips the most helpful for me to help overcome this thing that was keeping me back. On a lot less dramatic note this helps you feel less stressed about final year. It can be hard enough as a final year student so being organised can cut your stress levels by half. If you need me for any more ideas you can reach me on my website lastminute.com

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Mary Keenan is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster university. She can be found on Instagram: mary_keenan20 or Twitter: mary_keenan_.

 

How did I get here and where do I go next?

Hi, my name is Jamie Doran. I am a final year communication management and public relations student and any fifty shades of grey jokes will not be tolerated.

In all honesty, I’ve struggleJD5d to settle on something to talk about. I’ve read a good few blogs now with topic’s varying, which have been written by students in my year. I’ve decided to talk about some of my experiences before and during university and discuss where I want to go from here. In all honestly, I’m only writing this blog because I am required to, I’m a more keep myself to myself kind of guy. I know that the whole point of a blog is that people read it however, the thought that my peers may read my post sends my anxiety levels sky high. If you haven’t worked it out by now I’ll tell you the obvious, I have never written a blog. Taking this into account, please have patience as I try to write a post that makes sense and doesn’t waffle about nothing for the next six to seven hundred words.

Having completed art and design, religious education and travel and tourism for my A-Levels I didn’t really expect to be in the final year of this degree. Infact, when I left school in 2015 I thought I was the new Seth MacFarlane or Matt Groening and began an animation degree in Ulster University Belfast campus beforeswitching to communication management and public relations the following year.I have always been very keen to demonstrate creativity in whatever job I find myself in, animation seemed like a good idea at the time but after spending a full semester on this course I realised I am tremendously average at drawing, (I have included a drawing below so that you can judge yourself).JD4This sudden realisation was a slap in the face, I had always seen myself designing and creating and I believed at the time that this was the only route to follow. I decided to reapply through UCAS to Ulster University in January 2016, on this occasion I decided that artistic creativity may not be the best choice and I searched for another platform from which I could develop my own ideas and plans, CMPR was by the the best option.

My first two years in Communication management and public relations don’t count towards my final grade which I cannot be more thankful for as the most valuable piece of information I picked up over this time was tuck your wing mirrors in when parking in the Holylands… Ok so that’s not entirely true, I have learned so much in my first two years in CMPR which I plan to put to use throughout final year and of course carry these new skills on into my JD3future career. When I say my career though, I have no idea what I’m talking about, in my own head I still feel like a first year, I still have no clue what I want to do with my life and I don’t feel like I’m getting any closer to an answer. At this point I can’t see myself jumping straight into a graduate job. I still have relatively no idea what the world is really like outside this Northern Irish bubble, therefore I do not want to commit myself to staying here whenever I have no idea what the rest of the world has to offer.

I’m not scared of maturing so don’t let the last paragraph fool you. I didn’t complete work experience between second year and final year; however, I have had several positions within large organisations. In the past number of years, during my breaks from university I have had full time positions working for RBS bank, Vodafone, Cisco, the Library board and the Northern Ireland Civil Service. These experiences have proved to be extremely valuable because this semester I am completing a module called ‘organisational communication’. Having experienced working life in so many organisations, I have been able to closely examine how they operate internally – using this module alongside my experiences should prove very effective when completing my coursework. All of the positions that I have mentioned have required me to speak to both customers and other members of staff throughout my shifts, helping to educate me in how to correctly present myself in a professional workplace.

Without taking up too much more of your day, I’ll just let you know what I plan to do in order to find the correct career path for me. Personally, I believe that travJD1eling the world for a few months or years would be as much of a benefit to me as a work placement is for others. My hope is that I will be able to find that one ‘life calling’ and using the skills that I have picked throughout my years in Ulster University, base a career around it.

Some people want a good career for the money, others want it for the lifestyle, I want my career to be fulfilling and fun.

5 days a week for the next 52 years is a long time to not enjoy something, so I’m going to make sure I pick the correct path and take my time in doing so!

Jamie Doran is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram – @jamiedoran96

Placement Year Vs Final Year- Should you stay or should you go?

Having just returned to final year after a year out of education, the month of September had me reminiscing on the previous year I spent on placement and the adjustment I needed to get back into the swing of lectures, coursework and the dreaded dissertation!

As mid-September came around, I was struck by the ‘change curve’ mindset which went as follows:

  • shock and denial that my endless days of summer and freedom to do as much or as little as possible were coming to an end
  • anger at the thought of assignments, early mornings and long days
  • bargaining with myself that I would still have lots of free time if I did assignments as soon as they came in
  • acceptance that this was only one more year of hard work before I’ve finished education forever
  • problem solving in the form of a 2019-2020 diary to plan my life for the next 8 months

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This mindset got me thinking about my second year of university when I was considering whether a placement year was for me. There’s a lot to consider such as the type of placement you want, where you’re willing to go for a placement year, be it Northern Ireland or overseas and finally, the commitment a yearlong placement requires.

I decided I wanted to go ahead with a placement year because of how many post graduate job applications I saw that asked for some type of industry experience or training and while this isn’t the case for every job opportunity, I wanted to challenge myself to try something different and pick up skills that would help me face final year and life after university.

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These are some steps to consider if you think a placement year is for you and what to expect:

  1. Apply Early!

You’ll hear this from all of your lecturers, students before you and everyone around you but you can’t prepare early enough. Each placement you apply for will require a different cover letter tailored to their specific requirements and some have applications to fill out all of which is time consuming. The earlier you start applying and creating your CV and cover letter template the better chance you have of securing the placement you want.

  1. Preparation is KEY

From the very first interview you’re offered, the more preparation you do the better. When I was applying for placements, a few of the interviews took place on the same week, meaning I had to divide my time between two different roles and learning about two different organisations. The more you know about the role you’re applying for and the organisation, the better so starting to research early is important.

  1. Keep Calm

This is most definitely easier said than done but when you’re going for interviews, it’s important to stay calm and try not to panic otherwise all the preparation you’ve done will go to waste. It’s important to remember the organisations you apply to want you to be professional however they know you’re still a student so DON’T WORRY– they don’t expect you to have the same level of knowledge they have. You’re there to learn – remember that and don’t put too much pressure on yourself!

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  1. Diary of a Placement Student…

Once you’re offered a placement, buy yourself a good diary or planner because without one, I’m not sure how I would have survived placement year. With many different tasks to do depending on the nature of your placement, it’s unrealistic to remember everything, especially between phone calls and emails, so a diary will be essential to keep track of your day and to ensure your using your time effectively.

  1. Stay professional

The transition from university student to placement student can be difficult at the beginning as you begin to learn things like how to speak to clients and email etiquette- abbreviating your words or sending memes isn’t always appropriate! This is important because you represent your organisation every time you speak to or send an email out to a client so being professional and approachable is a must.

  1. Don’t forget to have a life!

If your placement is a particularly busy or stressful environment, it’s easy to fall into the habit of taking work home with you to get ahead the next day, or to overthink a working situation at home but it’s important to remember you can’t just live and breathe work- take time to have a social life or some time to yourself and get the right work/social life balance.

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  1. Make the most of your year

Placement is a unique experience in that it’s essentially a learning curve as well as work experience so take every opportunity you can and experience as many areas as your organisation can offer you as this can help you decide on what industry you’d like to work in and your strengths and weaknesses in a business setting as well as being a great addition onto your CV!

Overall, having just returned from my year out on placement, I would recommenced this because it gives you an insight into the industry you could potentially want to work in as well as preparing you for life after university including writing a CV, job interviews and it enables you to start forming your career path with some experience in mind.

Eimear McGrane is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found at:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eimearmcgrane/
LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/eimear-mcgrane-54a46a156

Was University For Me?

First blog with no idea where to start, but here we go.

Growing up, there was no pressure on me at all to go to university as nobody else in my family had decided to do it, and they all turned out OK (well, as far as OK can go).In school I was SET for going to university, but then again, I done no work for my school work, probably not the best idea when I actually wanted to be a nurse. I know what your thinking, ‘if she wanted to be a nurse, how the hell is she a final year student in CMPR?’

Lets go back to the start, firstly, I would highly advise anyone who wants to do what they want to do for the rest of your lives, pick A-level subjects you actually enjoy, that was my BIGGEST regret. That’s just the start, I chose to study biology, home economics and sport for my A-Level subjects, understandable that you don’t care about that. But how long did I actually last at them subjects? Actually the whole year, I know, SHOCK!! But did I do well? Absolutely not. This set me back a whole year, making me doubt whether or not I wanted to attend university as all of my friends were going to be there one year longer than me.

Believe it or not, because of this reason I considered continuing doing the subjects id hated and failed just to keep up with my friends. Idiotic idea, I know. The only perk of going back to repeat the year for me was that I would be able to go visit my friends all the time and get a few days in the Holylands like a legend!

Thankfully with the persuasion of my mum and the fact I wasn’t the only one going back and changing my subjects, I decided to go back and repeat. After the two years, I was completely motivated to pursue my dream career as a children’s nurse. Then came the interviews. Wow. Them interviews really was the end of that dream for me.

Believe me, I was more than disappointed in myself for not getting past the interview stage as in my eyes I had done everything I could. This completely knocked my confidence. I had convinced myself I wasn’t good enough. Not just for nursing but for every course.

After school ended and I got my results (good results they were), I decided it was best to take a year out from education. I expected to do so many things in that year out, go travelling, get a job that id get good experience from, maybe even move away. But did I do any of the things I wanted to do? No. I was working in a dead-end part time job, didn’t leave Ireland, (apart from going on a two-week girl’s holiday – would not recommend.) But did I want to apply for university again? Definitely not, and this was all because I wasn’t accepted into what I wanted to do first time round. The only good thing to come out of that year out, was the new friends I had made, friends for life (cringe)!

But one night, (two nights before UCAS deadline, I know, panic time) my friends mum (shoutout to Christina McCann), persuaded me to apply to CMPR because she knew how I felt about advertising and the way companies go about marketing.

Along came the day, I got accepted into the course. The joy I felt was crazy!! All I could think of was getting a house with the girls and freshers, just as every fresher student would think of! (Coming from a 22 year old final year student, who has been attending freshers from a young age, they get boring. Sorry to disappoint).

As months went on, semester merged into semester, I was really just going to university to keep up my attendance, every lecture was going in one ear and out the other. I left every assignment to the last minute and decided to start revising the night before each exam. I thought this was normal, all my friends done it too. It was not normal.

Doing this put me in the horrors of all horrors. I’ve always said I work really well under pressure. But doing a university assignment the night before its due really is pressure I’ve never experienced. (I swear I’m not writing this the night before.) Bare in mind I got through the first two years doing this and here I am sitting in final year trying to figure out what to do my dissertation on..

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This blog isn’t just my story on my experience on my university life. I will swiftly move on to living that amazing student life that everyone dreams off, including myself. I thought moving out of my home house during the week would be the most amazing thing. That me and my friends were going to be living our best lives in Belfast, going out every night of the week. But I never thought far enough into it. I never thought about the bills id have to pay, the rent I had to pay monthly, that it would get really, really cold in the Holylands when it snows or the fact that I would had to feed myself.

Within the first month of first year my little bubble popped. I had spent most of my student loan from going out, eating out and continued to block out the fact that I had debts of rent to pay. Finally, first semester ended, and I could go home for Christmas, bare in mind I didn’t drive in first year so I had to stay down until one of my friends were driving home each week even if I didn’t have class.

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Me and the girls living our best lives!! **NOTE – Hole in the roof, oops**

Felt like years before second semester ended and I couldn’t have been happier.  Especially after having a rough encounter with mice in our house and living in the library before exams.

Second year came, and I don’t know why I thought it would be any different to first year. In first semester, I done exactly what I done first year. Partied my life away the same way any normal student would. After this, the friends I lived with began to one by one drop out of living in the house. There I was all alone. I had never experienced anything like this in my life. I hated living in Belfast this way without anyone in the house and having the fear of god in me every-time I heard a noise in the back yard. February came and I took the plunge to move out of the house. It was the best thing I have ever done. I finally started to actually focus on my university work for the first time in the two years.

I thought I was ready to do the student life as I was always up for a night out at home, but it gets boring after a while when your doing it every night every week for 24 weeks of the year.

Was I ready for University? Yes.

Was I ready for the student life? No.

Do I regret any of it? Absolutely not! It was a learning curve if anything.

Anyway, back to the dissertation I go…

Emma Murphy is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/emma-murphy-bbb628196/  , and Twitter – @EmmaMurphy97

Placement Panic

In this exact moment in time I wish I could just press pause in my life so all the stresses and worries of second year could disappear into thin air and just bugger off for an appreciated 5 minutes (that’s all I’m asking for).

It pains me to say that I am guilty of entering second year with the delusional mindset that it’s not going to be that much harder than 1st year, however, spoiler alert, it actually is a LOT harder.

I know there will be other people in my class who will read this and laugh at me because they may think so far second year is a breeze. They obviously haven’t felt the same weight on their shoulders as I have and if that is the case honestly fair play because I’d love to be in your position. However, surprise – I am not! Because here I am, writing this blog about how incredibly stressed out I am and it’s only the start of November.

The main cause of my current condition of basically just being a big bag of nerves is due to the dreaded topic of placement. At present, the only thing that seems to be going through my sore little head are the words ‘placement’ and ‘CV’. I’m sure many people have been in a similar position, because no one wants to consider that there will be a time (very soon) when they’ll not be kicking around the Jordanstown mall with their mates or making their way down to the Hatfield on a casual Tuesday night, for the weekly ‘County Holylands’. Instead, they’ll be making their overnight oats, laying out their clothes for their 9-5 in the office and anticipating the dreaded alarm blaring beside them at 7am the next morning. I know I know; I honestly can’t bare to think about it myself, I’ll start tearing up.

However folks, this is the sad reality of the dreaded placement life the majority of us will unfortunately all face at some stage in our university lives. So I’m writing this blog because I want my fellow stressed students to know I feel your pain, like a slap in the face, I feel it. It’s daunting, nerve-wracking and just down right scary that we have to step foot into the adult way of life and start putting together a 2 page document that defines exactly who we are, what we can do and what we’re good at.  Realistically, it would take a lot more for the people reading them to see how pretty amazing we all really are.

Personally, I’m not even exactly sure what it is I want to do yet, or what route of my course I want wander down because there’s so many different opportunities. I’m anxious about every possible aspect of placement, including what tasks I’ll be trusted with, what clothes I’ll wear everyday (so I look suitable for the role), if I’ll find myself in the same place or perhaps across waters in new surroundings (which in itself, comes with a whole lot more responsibilities my brain can’t even bare to consider right now) and if the people I’ll be working alongside will even like me…and not kick me out.

So I’ll end on a slightly higher note than I started. If anyone stumbles across this word vomit I have splattered out onto this page, and even slightly relates to how I’m feeling then please let me know! It’s a lot easier to suffer when you’re suffering alongside someone else who’s in the same boat, someone who reassures and comforts you because THEY GET YOU. As the saying goes, “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry”, so let’s all try have a laugh, even if we’re all just laughing at ourselves.

Holly Gillan is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing BSc student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Facebook: Holly Gillan, Twitter: @Hollyg453, Instagram: hollygillan987 and LinkedIn: Holly Gillan

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?

G x

 

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