Back in the Swing of Things

HELLO!

It’s been 8 months since my last post (shock horror), where my brief blog hiatus has turned into an extended vacation.

A lot has been going on since my last post, so before I start getting back into writing “proper” posts, I thought I’d let everyone know what I’d been up to in the last year.

I stopped blogging earlier this year after I found the pressure of my final year and having a family and work obligations too much to contend with all at once. Third year was a lot more full on that I thought it would be, and I didn’t have the luxury of taking any enjoyable PR modules, which meant extensive reading around 20th Century English Literature for my dissertation.

Thankfully, I managed to graduate with an overall 2:1, and here is a lovely photo of me and fellow PR graduate Arianne Williams to prove it.

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One of us will need to go home and change.

In the lead up to graduation I also got my first proper PR job! I had been doing some freelance work for 2B Communications based in Newcastle, and they decided to offer me a position post-graduation.

I couldn’t have asked for a better first role. As well as being really nice people and understanding of my childcare needs, everyone is really knowledgeable about the industry and North East media and I feel like I am learning something new everyday.

Another major milestone that passed this year was Penny’s first day of school. A big step and one that wasn’t without some tears (mainly mine). I’m sure you’re already bored of seeing photos of everyone’s kids in their uniforms so I won’t post one here, but if you follow me on Instagram you can be nosy and check it out.*

With 6 hours a day free from mammy duties and a part time job to fill most of it, I decided that I wasn’t busy enough (anyone who has followed my blog previously will have probably gathered that I like to be on the go constantly). I therefore decided to become a fully fledged masochist and enroll on the MA in Public Relations at the University of Sunderland. Well, my need to keep out of trouble isn’t the only reason, but I feel my decision to continue my education in PR is another post entirely (so stay tuned).

So get ready to read a lot more about my journey deeper into the dark realms of PR theory, how my career is living up to the expectations I had when I began this blog, and why I should just give up on sleep entirely.

 

* I lied.

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#sorrynotsorry

 

 

 

What To Put On Your Graduate CV

It’s getting to be that time.  The panic of rejoining the workforce as a qualified PR practitioner is starting to set in, and the casual job hunting has begun.

Last year I organised a workshop with Sunderland Futures, to get advice on what we should actually be putting on our graduate CVs.

As I’m in a particularly generous mood today, I thought I’d share the top 5 tips I picked up from the session.

1. Don’t mention the term ‘CV’

If you’re applying for a job the person reading your CV is going to know what the document is, especially as you will have CV in the file name. Titling the document with CV is stating the obvious and also taking up valuable space on the page.  Which leads me to…

2. Keep it short

Your CV should be 1 side of A4 paper, 2 sides at an absolute maximum. You should be able to include your relevant experience concisely to leave the reader wanting to ask you questions about it and thus invite you to an interview. Of course it’s all about balance, you also need to make sure that you include enough to let the company know that your qualified for the role.

3. Don’t include your personal details

The organisation doesn’t need to know your address. They’re probably not going to write to you to invite you for an interview, it’s outdated. Similarly, ‘references available upon request’ is an adequate substitute for the names and contact details of your references. If the time comes that the company needs them, they’ll ask for your most up to date ones anyway.

4. Tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for

If you’re applying for a job in PR the company doesn’t need to know that you’ve got your 25m swimming badge (unless they’re based on a boat, in which case it’s a good skill to have). Make sure the information you include is directly relevant to the job that you’re applying for, you can even mirror the language and the terminology in the job specification so there’s no doubt in the reader’s mind that you’re perfect for the role.

And finally….

5. Always include a covering letter/email

If you’re sending out your CV the person receiving it should probably be told why.  As well as telling the company which job you’re applying for, it gives you a chance to tell them what’s in it for them. Organisations that receive a lot of CVs won’t even read them if the covering letter isn’t relevant. It’s your chance to show the company that your serious about the job by researching them and putting yourself forward as the best candidate.

There were so many other things I could’ve included, such as checking the spelling and grammar, or making sure your email is addressed to the right person. However, these 5 things  have helped me the most when writing my CV and I hope they’ll help you too.

Please feel free to comment or tweet me with your own CV writing tips.

 

 

How to De-Stress

This week has been a bit hectic to say the least.  With deadlines looming and the first semester coming to a close, third years are beginning to feel the pressure. So instead of writing a long and rambling post about PR I thought I’d keep it short and sweet with my top tips to de-stress this exam season.

1. Don’t leave everything until the last minute

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Cinderella knows the score
OK, so this one is more of a preventative measure.  If you leave everything until deadline day then you’re just creating more work and stress for yourself.  If you’re prepared and do a little at a time it’s much more manageable and will save you less sleepless nights in the long run.

2. Have a bath

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This isn’t my bath. My bathroom is nowhere near this clean.
Or do whatever works for you.  Schedule some ‘me’ time to relax, have a hot bath, meditate or just chill in front of the TV.  You’ll find that sometimes having a night off can do you the world of good to refocus and regroup.  Just make sure you get the balance right and don’t end up spending ever day relaxing (refer to point one).

3. Have a dance party

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Maybe shut the blinds first…
Put on your favourite song and dance and sing like no one’s watching.  It might seem daft but sometimes letting go and being silly is one of the best things you can do. It gets the blood pumping and takes your mind off things.  If you do it with friends…even better.. (currently jamming to ‘Wannabe by Spice Girls’ with Hannah and Morta).

4. Finding something that works for you

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My fridge looks like this
Whether you need to cover your house in post it notes, write a to do list in your diary, or focus on one task at a time, find a planning method that work for you and stick to it.

And if all else fails…..

5. Have a glass of wine and a deep breath

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This counts as one, right?

 

 

How Social Media is Ruining My Life

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This week I’ve been conducting a little experiment.

After realising that I had too much on at the moment, I had to sacrifice something to manage my time more efficiently.  While toying with the idea of scrapping personal hygiene altogether and researching how often we actually need to bathe as a species, I came across a shocking statistic.

Britons spend 62m hours a day on social media – that’s an average one hour for EVERY adult and child

(Courtesy of The Independant)

This equates to one hour for each man, woman and child in the UK.  Now I don’t know about you, but an extra hour for me means time for breakfast before my bus on a morning, or more research for my assignments.

So I took it upon myself to ban the use of Facebook and Twitter for one whole day.  That’s right. 24 hours without the use of social media.  Here’s what I found.

6:30am  Opened my eyes and instinctively reached for my phone, before remembering I’d deleted my apps and wasn’t going to be social today.

7:30am At the bus stop now and instinctively reached for my phone again.  Instead I looked on the newspaper websites for updates.  For all I knew at this point the world could have ended overnight and my bus wasn’t coming.

8:30am Arrived at the library and actually managed to resist the temptation to log in.  Instead, I took my coffee to a table and re-read my notes for the upcoming lecture.

10:00 Actually understood the content of the lecture due to my efficient reading skills.  Go me!

2:00 Entered into a seminar where during the group discussion other students were sat on their phones.  Not really that helpful. Ended up discussing the finer points of English theory with myself or anyone else that would listen.

4:15 Waiting for the bus.  This is where I would usually be sat on Facebook. Instead I’m just a bit bored.

5:00 Arrive home and get to spend time with my daughter Penny.  I happily set down my phone without looking twice to see if I had any notifications.

7:00 Penny is in bed now, time to tidy up and make tea.  Without spending time on my phone I get things done much faster than usual and get to enjoy a nice glass of wine before….

10:00pm Bed.  My phone goes onto charge and I’m not lying in bed scrolling through my newsfeed.  I think it’s the fastest I’ve ever fallen to sleep.

After a not very eventful day I came to the conclusion that I don’t need to constantly be attached to my phone.  I realise that in the PR profession social media is one of the most useful tools we have, however, it does have a tendency to take over.  I feel that in spending the day without it I’ve managed to get a whole lot more done, but realistically I can’t spend every day like this.

The reality is that in this industry, social media is necessary. We need to keep in touch with our publics, and keep our eyes peeled for the latest trends. It’s also a great medium for reaching loads of people at once.

So, I’ve decided to limit myself. I get to check my news feed for 10 minutes every 2 hours. This way I get the best of both worlds. I save my time not having to scroll through the same stories every time I log in, but I’ll still get a chance to find out what’s going on while I wait for the bus or if I need a break.

After all, anything is good in moderation.

A Day In My Shoes

Sometimes being a mature student is hard. Especially when you have kids. Caring for a 2 year old is tough, and on top of that I have assignments to complete and university to attend. Luckily I’m in a position where I have a really good support network.

One of the issues that I do find sometimes is that other students may not understand how you have so many constraints on your time.  This is most evident when it comes to group work when people get frustrated trying to schedule meetings around childcare, or dealing with my “let’s just do it now while we have time” mentality.

I wanted to write a post that shows what I get up to on an average day, and how I need to be really organised to stay on top of things, with the hope that it’ll create an awareness of some of the issues mature students have to deal with.

A Typical Monday

6:30 Alarm goes off and I jump out of bed quietly trying not to wake Penny so I have time to get ready.

7:00 Wake Penny up and deal with the tantrum of trying to put clothes on while she has seemingly grown an extra 6 limbs.

7:20 Our coats are on and we’re heading to nursery.

8:05 I’m on the bus now and on the way to Sunderland, trying to get some sneaky reading done en route.

8:40 Coffee time! I’m in the library now preparing for my next lecture.

10:00 My next lecture.

11:00 Head to the other campus to meet with my PR group to work on any group projects we might have.

1:00 This semester we have a 4 hour PR workshop on a Monday. It sounds a bit excessive but you get to go through a lot of material and get quite a bit of work done.

5:00 Get picked up to go home.

5:30 Arrive home. By this time my mam has already picked Penny up from nursery and she’s waiting to play with me.

6:00 Penny’s bath time and bed time rigmarole begins.

7:00 By this time Penny is usually in bed and I can start doing the prep for tomorrow morning.  This usually includes ironing clothes and setting them out, packing uni and nursery bags and making packed lunches.

7:30 I do a mad rush around the house picking up toys and returning things to their rightful places. Sometimes I’ll put in a load of washing if we feel like having clean clothes.

8:00 Now I’m sitting down to tea, and might even have a nice glass of wine if occasion calls for it.

8:30 This is where the real work starts, assignment writing, research and reading.

10:30 Shower time. Sometimes I have to sacrifice my personal hygiene if I have a project or assignment due.

11:00 Final checks to make sure everything is set for the morning.

11:15 Pass out.

As you can see my day fills up pretty quickly. It’s really important to me that I manage my time well to fit in everything I need to do.  I’m really fortunate that I get 2 days a week with no lectures so that I can spend time with my little girl, but this is also a blessing in disguise as it’s time that I can’t spend doing the work that other students do.

On the other hand, I can definitely add time management and organisation to my list of employable skills, ready for when I venture into the world of Public Relations.