Categories
lifestyle University

Do it “for the CV”

Let’s start this on off with a wee joke, shall we?

How do you get a university student to do something?

– Tell them it’ll look good on their CV.

I really should be writing for Christmas crackers, what a waste of my gift.

Anyway, not much of a joke because 1) it wasn’t very funny and 2) it’s true. How many times have you done something, not because you really wanted to, but because “it looks good to have” or you “need something” on your CV?

The “CV” is that lil carrot of bait that teachers, lecturers, parents and employers dangle in front of students’ noses when they think we should or want us to do something. And it works. There’s no motivational tool like telling us it’ll help us get a job or make us look impressive to whoever we’re trying to impress, when we don’t even know who that is.

It’s sad, but we do a lot of things that we do and spend a lot of our lives trying to look impressive on a piece of paper. A piece of paper that defines us by 1) how “smart” we are and 2) what we’ve “achieved”. A piece of paper that potentially determines what we do for the rest of our lives.

So what have we “achieved”? Well what are we meant to have achieved? We have no idea what we’re meant to have accomplished at any stage of our lives. Who decides what we need to accomplish? And who says we have to accomplish anything?

We haven’t a BALDY what we want to do or what we’re meant to do, so we enter a panic mode and do things purely for the sake of doing them. Purely for the sake of having an extra bullet point on that list that determines how worthy we are of being considered for a job. No harm, but I doubt climbing a mountain and camping for 3 days is really gonna see me landed as a CEO like.

We’re told from we’re in school that we need to “stand out” and have that “edge” on other people. Other people like our peers, colleagues and friends. We’re pretty much told to view everyone else as competition. But like, what are we competing for?  We’re all different. We’re doing different things, we want to do different things and we want to work in different places. So why are we ‘competing’ with each other? Why are we supposedly measured by the same criteria?

We have to do something that hardly anyone else has done, because pretty much everyone’s done the same things. But, we’ve all done the same things because we’re all trying to stand out, and the only way we can stand out is by doing the same thing that everyone else has the option to do. So because everyone tries so hard to be different, we all end up being the same. Yeah, I’d to re-read that to make sure I followed it, too.

I think it’s great that we’ve loads of opportunities and chances to try different things and get experience, and we should give them a go and make use of them. We should be encouraged to do whatever we have to do so we can do whatever we want to do (even if we don’t know what that is). But, we should also be encouraged to have fun and live our best lives before we’re too old or committed to be able to. Like, yeah work experience is class and all, but we need life experience too.

There’s just a lot of pressure on young people to “get ahead” and “get experience”, when we don’t have a notion what we actually want to get ahead or experience in. So, we don’t really spend the time trying to figure it out, we just make use of all these “great opportunities” and hope we’ll have an epiphany along the way. Still waiting on my wee light bulb moment. Gonna come any day now, just you wait and see.

Every uni student ever

Now, I’m not saying we’re all robots who do things we don’t want to do just for make our CVs a bit snazzy. But, the reality is, we do a lot of things just to improve our chances of getting a job. Because we’re pretty much conditioned to think that getting a “good job” is one of the most important things in life. But, what is a “good” job? High pay? Holidays? Job satisfaction? Casual Fridays?

We decide. We get to make that judgement on whether a job is “good” for us or not. So, why don’t we get to decide what experience is “good” for us to do? “Good” means something different to everyone, so why does it mean the same thing when it comes to a CV?

Yeah, you get judged off what you’re like; your personality, your likeability and how you’d “fit” into whatever you’re trying to fit into. But, before you even get a chance to be judged on what YOU are like, you’re judged off what that piece of paper is like. It’s a bit like online dating, you’re not gonna swipe right or meet up with someone who’s got a really cringey bio, are you? They could be an absolute geg and maybe even your soulmate, but you’ll never know because you wrote them off based on “6ft 2. Here for a good time not a long time ✌️”. That’s us, judged on whether or not we’re an employer’s “type on paper”. Literally. How shallow, pffft.   

So, no wonder we spend so much time and effort doing things not just for ourselves, but for a piece of paper, too. Because, we’ve spent most our lives believing that we’re not much more than that piece of paper.

Categories
Placement

Placement: Recap and Advice

So, here I am in my FINAL two weeks of placement. Scary biscuits. It’s mad to think it was a year ago when I first bounced in the door not having a notion what I was doing and discovered my love for blazers. This is just a wee summary of my placement experience, which may or may not be of any use to people preparing to go on theirs. You’re welcome in advance.

I’ve done 9-5 days in retail and worked since I was 16, so I thought I sort of knew what the 8 hour day and working life would be like. Yeah I THOUGHT. I was so used to running about on my feet and being hands-on all day, so sitting down facing a screen and phone was a massive change for me. I’m glad I don’t have a fitbit because seeing I’ve only done 53 steps all day would be pretty depressing like. It does take some getting used to, I remember thinking “I’ll be less tired because I’ll be sitting all day” – oh honey, no.

Anyway, my placement hasn’t been what I thought it’d be like, because to be honest I hadn’t a clue what it’d be like. I had no expectations to meet. Which was good, because it meant I wasn’t disappointed or panicking about how good or bad I’d be at my job before I even knew what it was. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time trying to predict what I’d be doing because I would’ve been COMPLETELY wrong (for the first time in my life) – and sure who doesn’t love a wee surprise?

To be honest it’s probably a better thing that I didn’t know, because if I had’ve known that this is what I’d be doing, I wouldn’t have done it. Because I never thought I’d be able to. So, don’t try to predict how good (or bad) you’ll be at whatever it is you think you’ll be doing, because you won’t have a clue until you actually do it. Plus, do you really want to risk that self-fulfilling prophecy? Didn’t think so.

Even though I wasn’t at uni, I still learned a lot in my year out; a lot about the advertising industry, sales, customer service and working life. But I learned a lot about myself too. I learned what I could do, what I was capable (and incapable) of; I learned what I was good at and where my skills were, and I learned my limits – who knew I had any? I also learned a lot about what was actually going on in the world because I read like 3 newspapers a day. Like I was HELLA informed on the goings on in the world. And I got to compare 3 different horoscopes and choose which one I wanted to believe. Ha.

I met so many amazing people and made some really good friends this year, and I genuinely don’t know if I could’ve done the job I did in a different company. Everyone was friendly and said “hi” when they walked past, even though they clearly hadn’t a notion who I was. They’d make small talk when making lunch in the wee kitchen and then make a jokey comment when their soup exploded in the microwave. It was those extra 15 seconds, Dave, shouldn’t have done it.

Luckily, I got on well with my colleagues and we had such a GEG together. We exchanged conspiracy theories, had wee debates and discussed what we were having for dinner a LOT. They helped keep me sane, and were such a good support network for me. I was constantly asking questions and looking advice, and they were always more than helpful and gave me lil hints and tricks. At the end of the day, they were new once too. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or feel like you’re bothering people, because chances are they asked the exact same ones when they started. What makes you look worse, asking someone how to do something or doing it completely wrong and having to get them to fix it?

I was also really lucky that I had managers I felt I could go to if I was struggling, and who had more realistic expectations of me than I did. I constantly compared myself to my colleagues who had been doing the job for several years, because I had no else to compare myself to. There was no other placement student. I should’ve compared myself to who I was when I first started to see how far I’d come and how much I’d learned, but I didn’t.

So take my advice, compare yourself and how you’re doing to yourself at the start of your placement. Are you the best? Maybe not. But are you better than you were? Hell yeah. Don’t – and I mean DON’T – compare yourself to other people. Placement’s a learning experience, not a competition. You’re not on the apprentice, love.

Well I’m not going to lie lads, I was a bit of a yo-yo this year. I had my fair share of highs and lows and a few little “episodes”. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough at times, but that’s life. No matter what you do or where you do it, you have bad days. *Cue Hannah Montana* Work is hard. But obviously it’s hard – why would someone with no experience going into a full-time and proper adulty job be easy? Like my granda always said “hard work isn’t easy, and easy work’s hard to find”, you’re a wise man, Matt.

I’m not trying to scare anyone like, I’m just being honest. There’s no point in me saying it was all rainbows and fairies and easy coasting. It’s important to admit that I found it tough at times.
My problem was that I didn’t and kept acting like I was fine because everyone else seemed to be fine. I was like a wee duck paddling along, looking all calm above the water, but flailing like mad underneath. But we’re all ducks. Everyone’s pretending they’re fine because everyone else is pretending they’re fine. It’s a vicious duck cycle.

This is just MY experience though, some people mightn’t have a single bad day on placement. Good for them. Everyone’s in a different job, in a different company and with different coping abilities. So obviously no two placement experiences are going to be the same.

My most important advice is make sure you ENJOY your year. I don’t mean your placement, because that’s work. Ew. But your actual year. Go out for dinner, drinks and coffee or go to the gym if you’re one of those people that actually enjoys it. Weirdos. Don’t let your placement year just be about your placement. Also make sure you bring in buns on your birthday, people get REALLY annoyed when you don’t (@ Benny, we’re still waiting).

Categories
Uncategorized

Reasons I’m Excited to Go Back to Uni

Well, here I am. 9 months into placement. I could’ve had a BABY in that time, like a literal human. Isn’t that scary? Anyway, people always ask me if I’m looking forward to going back to uni next year, so here’s a lil list for you of why I kinda am:

*This is in no particular order, but this first one is the main reason

Clements in Jordanstown:
Low and behold, there is now a Clements in my uni campus. Rejoice and be glad. I reckon UUJ did it on purpose to lure us all back, I’m telling you now the attendance is going to go right up. Pre-lecture coffee date? Post-lecture coffee date? Instead-of-lecture coffee date? Thankin you.

The uni bubble:
Uni is this magical place where the real world doesn’t exist. Adulthood isn’t really a thing until you’re 40, your biggest responsibility is topping up the gas, and the ‘future’ is nothing more than a cheat liar rapper. When you’re in uni, nothing else matters. You get to forget about actually having to figure out what you want to do in life. You can postpone making actual life decisions for a whole other year. How fabulous.

Seeing friends:
I miss seeing my wee group of friends every day (well, three days a week but still). At the minute we’re all spread around the place (shoutout to Rachel for ditching to ENGLAND – and not consulting us first??). I can’t wait to see their lil faces and have a geg with them in the comfy purple seats on campus. And I’m sure they feel the exact same way about me. Deffo do.

Writing notes:
I’m one of those sad people that LOVES pens. My wee 4 coloured bic pen (the pink and green one, not the normal boring one) hasn’t been used all year and I can’t WAIT to do nice pretty coloured writing on notes I’ll keep forever and probably never read 🙂

Opportunities:
My uni is actually really good about emailing us out relevant opportunities, like volunteering, different programmes and talks by industry professionals. Yeah, placement is a great way to get work and actually acting-like-an-adult experience, but there’s loads of things like the PANI programme and societies that you can’t actually do once you go out in the scary real world. It’s a good way to build up your CV before you graduate and compete with 8000 other people with similar degrees and work experience. Can’t wait.

Lunch dates:
As I’ve mentioned in several posts, ya girl misses going for lunch. It really makes you feel like a lady of leisure, wee post lecture lunch date before you all split off and pretend to do seminar work. I know fine rightly the people at West are concerned and miss me dearly. So it’s not just for my sake that I want to go out for lunch, think of the economy. Think of it.

Actually learning stuff:
Call me sad (please don’t, I’m fragile) but I actually like feeling like I’ve learnt something, you know that lil “a-ha” moment when you feel all smart because you learnt a long word or can show off to your ma when you’re home?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so much a fan of reading textbooks, journal articles, but learning from those wee powerpoints and “relevant” videos in class? Oof.

Obviously, I know from the past 2 years and siblings who’ve gone through final year that uni isn’t a holiday. So there are of course reasons I’m scared to go back -besides graduating and having to leave uni, although I could always do a master’s to postpone being a grown up…

Reasons I’m not excited to go back to uni:
1. Dissertation
2. Finals
3. Twenty grand of debt

But oh well, that’s September’s problem.