Thursday, 30 January 2014

My time in a.. Pupil Referral Unit

There are lots of opportunities for you to get involved in varied projects across the country and even internationally throughout your time at sixth form or university. You may not think some of them apply to you, but why shouldn't they? 

At a recent training event for a schools placement programme at a university, it was reported many applicants weren't interested in teaching at all but just wanted 'some' work experience to put on their CV. Others were even more interested in getting this experience because the companies they were applying to had mentoring programmes for teenagers, and obviously if they could say they had done this themselves, surely they would fit right in! 

If you think that sounds dull, why not show you're up for a challenge? Here we spoke to one student who is completing a placement at a pupil referral unit: 

"A pupil referral unit is basically a place for children who don't fit into mainstream education. For most of the guys I work with this is because their behaviour has just got a bit out of control. I couldn't believe it in my first week when I saw that classes have a maximum of three students because you literally just cannot get them to do any work unless they have your undivided attention, (hence sometimes three is just still too many!). 

The best bit of my placement so far is actually just talking to the kids, they're so funny and have such good ideas, they just swear a lot. I don't have to tell them off but sometimes I'm just like, 'can we not?!' 

I like it when I make them realise they're not daft, they know their stuff and when they sit down and work it out they are really proud of themselves. For a lot of them they just don't get the attention they need at home or didn't at school, and some of them are having really difficult lives at such a young age, but you shouldn't be bothered about that, you're just there to help them learn, give them a chance, and help them understand they're really not bad kids! 

Yeah sometimes they just wander off from lessons, or point blank refuse to do any work, but even if it takes you thirty minutes to get them to do something, that is a hell of a lot more than they would of done had they been left in mainstream schooling. It never gets as bad as say, Waterloo Road, but admittedly sometimes you can end up feeling intimidated but the staff are really great!

I think this experience will help me when I'm applying for jobs because I think it shows not only am I willing to give back to my local community, but that I can pitch information in different formats to gain different people's attention, I can cope with stressful situations and I had good enough time management skills to volunteer alongside my degree". 

If you think volunteering could be beneficial to you, of course contact your careers service, but really don't underestimate the opportunities that are available via internet searches. You can usually spot the good ones from the bad ones. 

*Reminder, when working with children you should have a Disclosure and Barring Services check, formally known as a CRB check. Don't pay for one upfront unless you have to, check with your university to see if there is any way they can help you get one. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

You know thingy? Thingy has an internship...

It's that time of the year when students up and down the country are discovering whether they have an internship or not. 

A lot of conversations are taking place where we cross the boundary between interest, to pure nosiness and then even a little into the grounds of jealousy. Why? Because someone has told you that so and so has got an internship and you've found yourself desperately applying for some or covering up the fact you've not heard back from that company you applied to months ago yet... 

Does it really matter? 

Well quite blatantly, no. 

For many careers, an internship is complete unnecessary. These careers might seem really obvious, i.e. Doctor, Teacher, Director, Manager, anything you've generally not heard internships being promoted for. 

However, for many other careers an internship may also be completely unnecessary. For instance, it is not essential to have completed an internship to get a career in finance or in human resources, though these are common internships that are undertaken every year. But, equally, several other people who did not take those internships get themselves onto the career ladder in those sectors and are successful. 

For some people, you may not have considered applying, and for those of you, it isn't too late. 

For some others, you might have just not got on to the internship you wanted. 

This isn't the end of the world! So you know a few people who have got an internship - don't be jealous of them, you can't compare yourself to other people forever, because as well all know life can be unpredictable. 

Find something else to do this Summer. 

Use this time to apply for work experience, equally as valuable, (and often with a much easier application process)! If you apply for a small, local, company, it is likely that you will be given more responsibility and will have much more to talk about when it comes to graduation. 

If you don't fancy this, there is no harm in just having your regular summer job. You're showing you are dedicated and haven't been sat around on your time off!

More appealingly, why not go travelling? It sounds expensive but it doesn't have to be! There are many options available to you, why not try inter-railing, Camp America, volunteering or any other number of opportunities. If you're not sure how to get involved, you can of course try an internet search engine, but why not ask your Careers department, or around your friends? You might just find the inspiration you need to not waste this Summer after all... 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Should part time work for students be banned? A response.

So in the Guardian Education section, there is a really interesting article that a lot of students have been responding to. The article illustrates both sides of the argument, should part time work for students be banned? 

Obviously you know from the nature of this blog, we of course will argue NO, and here's why: 

Firstly, if part time work was banned, a lot of students wouldn't be able to afford their bills, or all important nights out, because even though the government reckon your parents will stump up loads of cash... they probably don't. 

Secondly, a work life balance is really important. One student commented that if they had a part time job, the job would be a chore for them and they wouldn't be able to focus on their studies. Many of us find part time work a great source for procrastination. It gets you out of the flat/house and you get to meet new people that aren't all students, (i.e. you get different conversations). 

Most importantly, away from the extra money and socialisation, you are proving to future employers that you have done more than score a certain percentage in the majority of your exams, you have also gone out and worked for something. 

Nobody wants to employ someone who has sat on their backside at uni, drinking tea and watching countdown and not done any outside work at all, (we can all drink tea and watch countdown to an extent). 

You gain excellent skills that you might take for granted, like responsibility, i.e. managing to turn up to work with a hangover and realising maybe next time you could give the hangover a miss. Other things you could mention on your CV may be, working a customer facing role. Your part time work may even be directly related to your degree course which is a bonus! 

You also make great contacts, many people even find full time employment at their part time place of work after graduation, such as management schemes etc. 

The opinion offered in this article which argues against part time employment comes from a student at the University of Cambridge. 

Now, their university structure is quite different to others, they only have 8 week terms, so have to do all their work in that time. There is also the expectation of 3 or 4 essays handed in a week, as well as monitoring over reading etc. We know that isn't the same at every university, and obviously from course to course you may have more or less time than someone else. For instance if you're studying Chemistry you are highly likely to have more hours than someone studying a more literary degree. 

Whether you undertake part time work or not should be up to you. If you feel you have the time, we would all encourage you to get involved. You don't have to work many hours, it could be anywhere from 4 hours on a saturday to, let's say 15 hours a week. If you feel it's too much, don't be afraid to have a word with a manager and see if you can resolve the issue rather than let the pressure get you. But we don't feel you could ban part-time work for students that want it without ruining the job market in the process. 

If you would like to see further comments on this article please view the Guardian's Education twitter account, (@Guardianedu),
or read the article here 

Monday, 13 January 2014

Back with a bang for 2014

Firstly, a big apology for the lack of posts as of late! 

The team have been busying away and are now ready for a flurry of posts for 2014! 

This is our promise to keep the information fresh, relevant and more importantly consistent from now on! 

We are also going to be revamping our twitter to ensure we stay up to date and in touch! 

If you have any topics you would like covering please feel free to contact us either through our twitter (@StudentCTheory) or on here! 

Thank you for your readership,

All at Student Capital Theory 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

'I'm going to pass those tests dead easy'

You can't actually look inside as I have stolen this from Amazon
Recently, the time has come upon us, that we must apply for internships. Now most of us will know, for large companies this is not an easy process. There is a rigorous selection process, involving usually around 3 if not 4 stages. For those of you that don't know, here is what they may involve: 

- Online application

- Verbal and Numerical Reasoning tests

- Skype or telephone interview

- Assessment centre day

Here we will focus on the most dreaded of them all - the reasoning tests. 

Now for many of my friends studying more maths based subjects, there was a general feeling that these would be a breeze. However, many of them have fallen at this hurdle. The questions were worded in a very specific way, a business-like way, or they felt the pressure, they ran out of time, and that was it - game over. Internship opportunity over. 

This all sounds rather worrying doesn't it? Especially for those of you applying for internships from a less maths-based background. But never fear, there is a solution. 

Firstly, depending on which role you are applying for, the reasoning test will vary. So if you're applying for a financial role, the questions will be substantially more difficult than for someone say, applying for a marketing role. But that is to expected as the role you will carry out on the job will require a substantially larger proportion of your time crunching numbers. 

Secondly, the tests are largely from the same provider. Usually when applying for internships, the company will direct you to a sample questions site. It is really important to practise first but  we will come on to that next. Anyway, the questions are likely to come from similar companies if not the same one, as they are usually externally sourced. Therefore, once you get an idea of the questions, if you complete one and manage to work it out, it would be wise to keep these notes/ your workings for when you complete the next one. This will both save you time and prevent a large feeling of annoyance at yourself that you are 'sure you've seen this question before'. 

Finally, the practise really is key here. Don't go in feeling over confident. Invest in at least one book with example questions in, a large range are available from Amazon. As well as giving you tips on the workings of the questions, they will also explain how to approach them and the way to feel relaxed whilst doing them. It's simple things like, you're against the clock, but don't panic because realistically you are not expected to finish the test. It is also important to buy a book that was recently published as changes in psychometric tests are likely to occur and so an older book may leave you ill-equipped for a newer test. 

Additionally, remember that the verbal reasoning test is just as important as the numerical one, as it gives an indication to how you would cope in different situations, letting the company quickly know if you're the kind of person they would be looking to employ. 

*It is also important not to get someone to do the test for you as when you are invited to an assessment centre it will definitely look a bit off if the person who got 70% on the online test now only gets 5... 

If you're applying or have applied - good luck when your tests come up and remember preparation is key. 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Didn't you know about Prospects?

It was a surprise to me recently that my friends weren't aware of the Prospects website. 

This is possibly THE best website for planning your career. 

Prospects offers information on every career you could possibly go into. Along with these it describes the qualifications recommended to entering the sector and if you don't have them how to get them. The experience employers look for. Expected salary after 'x' years in the profession. Where the jobs are available. Links to advertised jobs in that sector available NOW. Testimonials from people in that sector who are recent graduates who explain how they got into it. 

It will tell you about jobs you didn't even know existed. It can help you get a career goal, which will drive on your academic work as well as the experiences you choose to have. 

I know this seems like an advert for this website, but when I was unsure of what career to go into, it let me explore every possible option, built my motivation and let me know how to get to my career destination - all from the comfort of my own home! When you're on the homepage look for 'Options with your subject'. But don't think of these options as a limit, keep looking round the site and you will find there are many more careers you could consider too! 

So go on, give Prospects a go. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

I'm rich, but I'm sad.. is it worth it?

Again I am taking the opportunity to address an argument I hear every day. People's eyes light up when you tell them a career has a good wage attached to it and even maybe attractive bonuses, sometimes even without knowing what the job entails! Is this the job they really want? Or is the promise of money clouding their judgement? 

Of course, you might be one of the lucky few who goes into a career that they love and are also minted doing it. The rest of us wish you only success (not really but this isn't a bitterness blog is it?) 

But what do you do if you find yourself chasing the money rather than the dream? If you land the job everyone's been vying for but find you hate it? 

Firstly, like most situations, take a step back and remember this is not the end of the world. You've only just started and it is much easier to switch careers now than later on in life. Many people have said to me before to consider the industry I would like to work in as I will probably stay in that industry forever. Well, how do we know which industry we want to work in? We've not worked in them yet! 

My advice here would be, really consider the jobs you are applying for when you graduate. Is this the kind of career you see yourself in? Is it a stepping stone? Do you have an end goal? Don't just go for a job because it pays well - this is the rest of your life we're talking about here, you need to be happy! 

Don't give in to the peer pressure of people around you saying how much they earn, trying to compete, feeling like if you go into a low paid job that it isn't ok. Make your own career path, for what you want, not to please other people. 

You might think, it's all very well you saying this, but of course it's important to be rich. 

I would agree with you, it is important to have money. But everyone has a different definition of what is rich, and everyone has a different definition of what they want from a job or how hard they are willing to work. 

So what should you take away from this? 

1) Plan what you want from your career. Undoubtedly it will take you places you never expected but you can at least try and steer yourself in the direction you want rather than just taking a job in an industry you have no interest in because it pays well. 

2) Give it a chance. I'm not saying if you don't like your new job leave after the first week, but if you really feel it's taking you down a path you don't want, change paths. 

3) Prepare. Gaining work experience in different industries will help you to decide what kind of route you want to take, and knowing that before you apply can save years of stress and worry. 

4) It's ok to change your mind. People always change their minds. It is much easier to change your mind earlier, but at any age people change careers and lifestyles, it isn't impossible. Don't feel like you're letting anyone down, you're just doing the right thing for you. 

5) If it doesn't happen straight away, that doesn't mean it will never happen. Hang in there, take opportunities. 

Most importantly of all, it is human nature to compare yourself to other people. But you must remember, what makes someone else happy might not work for you. Therefore, do what is right for you, money or no money. Some people might be happier the more money they have and that's fine. But as far as I'm concerned money may as well be worthless if you aren't getting what you want from your life.