Enhancing my employability from home

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by Chloe, BA(Hons) Fashion Communication

Now my three years of studying at UWE Bristol has come to an end, I’m in the same position as many other graduates, wondering what we can be doing during the pandemic to boost our employability, from home.

Leaving education was a scary feeling and to ease the transition into job hunting, I decided to continue to educate myself whilst seeking employment. For me, I wanted to use this time to build and grow myself as an individual by learning new skills.

How to learn new skills after you graduate

During lockdown, I wanted to build my CV and show potential employers what I have been up to whilst the world paused. So, I went online and found several great websites which provide a range of courses and some are even free:

  • LinkedIn Learning – online training
  • EdX – 2,500+ online courses from 140 institutions
  • Future Learn – a variety of online courses from Business & Management, Creative Arts & Media, to Psychology & Mental Health

There is such a variety of courses available and something for everyone, I recommend checking these sites out!

I’m currently working my way through a Consumer Behaviour and Psychology course which is topic that has always interested me, I just hadn’t had the chance to learn about it. The opportunity to continue learning and expand my knowledge is really exciting and it also helps to give structure to my days.

More importantly though, doing the course has given me a real sense of achievement and feeling of growth, which has been great during a time where life has a lot of uncertainties.

Why not do an online course?

Reach out and get networking

Something I would advise all students and graduates to do is network. The ability to meet valuable contacts, engage in dialogue and open conversations will really help your journey into a career. And as a graduate living in a digital age, it is easier now more than ever to reach out and contact people across the world.

As a creative, I have found contacting people through Instagram a very successful method. By having conversations with other creatives or companies about their work and their journey, it has really opened up new paths for me. For example, during the pandemic, I have offered my design skillset to a number of local and regional brands to help boost their interactions with customers and remain both relevant and visible in the eyes of their audience.

How to network from home

You may think, but where do I start?

Consider this – is there a company you aspire to work for? Is there an individual or collective that inspires your practice and profession? Well, reach out!

  • Email – for the best chance getting a response from a company, try and find a specific named email and avoid “info@” addresses.
  • LinkedIn – find the company, job role and individual you want to directly contact.
  • Phone – this may seem a bit daunting, but simply picking up the phone and having a conversation with someone will get this networking process out there faster
  • Instagram – contact the individual who inspires you and show your interest in their work.

Once you have connected with someone, ask them questions. How did they get into this career? What advice do they have for graduates wanting to pursue a career in X? What are the stepping stones, or journey you need to take to get to that point?

And finally…

Securing the perfect job isn’t easy, but keep searching, learning and networking, and you’ll get there.

And remember, as graduates we will continue to have access to the University career services, including coaching appointments for 3 years after graduating and use of the Career Toolkit and vacancy search for life!

How to organise your work and study from home

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by Chloe, BA(Hons) Creative and Professional Writing

Going from a full or part time schedule at university, to completing our deadlines and coursework at home, can be a real struggle, especially when there isn’t a regular routine or timetable.

During my time in lockdown, I’ve thought about what’s worked to keep me motivated. So, whether you want to watch my vlog or read my blog below, here are my top tips on how to manage your workload and study from home.

Time management

It’s important to make your own timetable to keep on top of coursework, deadlines and assignments – this might mean putting aside a set number of hours or shorter sessions to finish a certain task. One method that you can use is a priority list where you write down your ‘top 3 priorities’ for the day. This helps split your day into three parts and gets you to focus on three main goals.

I also give myself bonus tasks – these are a few extra goals that I could get done if I have enough time. These tasks are what they sound like – a BONUS, they are non-essential and it doesn’t matter if they don’t get completed.

One of my priority lists – you can tick these off once you have done them and know you have been productive. Who doesn’t love a satisfying tick!

Find yourself a study space

As well as managing your time it’s also essential you find yourself a study space where you feel comfortable enough to work. Having the right environment when you study can be a contributing factor to your focus levels and overall quality of your work. So try to find somewhere that has minimal distractions, where you can concentrate and be calm.

My study space at home

Take care of yourself

Of course, we have all of this new-found time for studying and dedicating ourselves to our degree but remember to look after yourself. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to work 24/7, be realistic and think about what you would be doing if you were actually in university. This is why priority lists have worked for me, as they split the day up for me.

Remember to take breaks! Taking breaks is actually healthy and allows your brain not to be over-loaded with information or stress – it’s been proven that sometimes shorter bursts of work can be more productive than longer periods of time. On your breaks, try and go outside for a breath of fresh air or stretch out, remembering to follow government guidelines when you do.

Stay connected and reach out if you need help

If you find yourself in the position where you do need some pointers or there are things that you just don’t understand, reach out. There is no harm in asking a question. Message course mates with queries and check your module handbooks, the answers may be there. If you are looking for more support on your deadlines, reach out to your tutors or lecturers via email or blackboard. And if you’re feeling anxious and stressed, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.

Even though lockdown is daunting, it won’t last forever. Just try focus on your health and work hard and you will get where you want to be.

To keep up to date on University coronavirus guidance and information, visit the student guidance and FAQ page.

Tips on how to stay happy and healthy during lockdown

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by Jaymee, BA(Hons) Film Studies

Life is a bit strange at the moment. Things have been changing very quickly recently. It’s an adjustment for all of us, but don’t worry if you’re finding this a lot to process. It’s normal to be feeling scared, anxious or apprehensive, as there is a lot going on in the world and it can feel overwhelming.

But all this isn’t necessarily happening for the worst. It’s important that as many people as possible can stay healthy and safe, but there are positives to gain. The most comforting feeling through all this is that we are in it together. Society is gaining a sense of community and togetherness, (the weekly clap for the NHS is so heart-warming) and this is just the start of us seeing the beauty in a very hard time.

Learning how to control fear and anxiety is crucial and it is important to remember that no amount of fear or worry will help or change aspects of the universe that are out of your control. A time like this makes me realise what I took for granted in my life before, and will therefore make me more appreciative of afterwards. And I feel very grateful for having the chance to realise this.

Life for the foreseeable future may be very unusual and uncertain. Nevertheless, these are my tips for staying happy and healthy during lockdown.

Keep some structure and routine to your daily life

For me this starts with a good sleep routine. Whether it’s trying to wake up early to make the most of my day, or pushing myself to go to bed earlier to get a longer, better-quality sleep. I like to start the day with making herbal teas, tidying my flat, doing some yoga and taking time to make a delicious breakfast. I’d also recommend getting dressed every day, even though you won’t be going anywhere! Getting ready in the morning whether that means just getting dressed or putting makeup on, makes me feel more productive and good about myself.

Limit your time on social media and reading the news

The news will more often than not focus on the negatives of what’s going on in the world and it can feel overwhelming. I began to get hooked on reading statistics, yet I found I was a lot happier when I checked the news less. It is still important to be aware of what is going on in the world, but limit yourself to only checking the news as frequently as what works for you, without making you fearful.

Document how you’re feeling

This is a significant global event that we are living through. Writing down your day to day life and keeping some sort of diary of what you have been up to, can do wonders to making you feel a whole lot better. Especially if you are struggling. Find what works for you best, whether it be writing, vlogging or something different. Try different times of the day – I find that writing just before I go to bed really helps me wind down and clear my mind.

Try and focus on the positive things

This crisis is helping me learn new things about life, such as what I took for granted in life before and what I will appreciate more when it’s over. Life is on pause so take this time to reflect and take a step back. Think about where you are in life, what you want in life, what you want to do more of and what you don’t do enough of. Make a plan for when life returns back to ‘normal’.

Learn something new

Learn an instrument. Learn how to do the splits. Learn how to curl your hair or do the perfect eyeliner look. It could be anything! Take this time to do all the things you always wanted to do, but ‘never had the time’ for. I’m learning yoga at the moment which has been great for keeping up my fitness whilst staying indoors and its helping me with mindfulness and meditation. Whatever you do focus on your health and make self care your top priority.

Go for a walk or exercise

No matter what your reason for leaving the house, remember to stay safe and follow the government guidelines. If you can safely enjoy a few minutes outside however, whether it’s to go on a run or a walk then do. Sometimes a bit of fresh air and sunshine can do wonders.

I hope some of these tips and ideas help you to stay happy and healthy in this peculiar time. If you need more support, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.

To keep up to date on University guidance and information, visit the student guidance and FAQ page.

Stay safe and take care!

My tips on how to stay healthy during self-isolation

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by Belinda, MSc Marketing Communications

This is an exceptional time with the pandemic and most likely many of us are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or even sad. It can be hard to stay positive and it may be easy to forget to take care of yourself. The anxiety can be especially strong for those students who may be unable to go home or who live alone. So here are my tips on staying both mentally as well as physically healthy during self-isolation.

Stick to your routine

We all had a routine before self-isolating, so try to stick to it by maintaining a good sleep routine and setting tasks to do or goals to reach for each day. Even writing down a structure for each day might be helpful. For me this helps with getting assignments done as well.

Stay connected

Thanks to technology, staying connected to our loved ones is very easy. I used to go for a cup of coffee with my friends every week in Bristol but now we continue our habit from our homes while video calling each other.

Get outside and exercise

According to the government, going outside once a day for exercising is allowed, so use this possibility. Fresh air and movement will give you more energy and help with stress and anxiety. If exercising outside does not sound fun, there are many apps and home work out ideas to try now that gyms are closed.

Maintain a meal routine and have fun

Now is a good opportunity to learn new recipes while maintaining your regular meal routine. I tend to snack a lot when staying at home all day, so eating healthy meals regularly keeps me more energised for the afternoon hours.

Make time for relaxing and self-care

During stressful periods it is important to set some time aside and do something fun, relaxing or treat yourself. Here are some ideas: make a cup of tea and read (not course books), journal, paint, learn a new language or a skill, try meditation and watch a movie. For trying out new things, there are many apps and videos on the internet which is a convenient way to learn something new from the comfort of your home.

In case you still feel anxious and stressed, UWE Bristol has many health and wellbeing services that operate online and are there to help you.

To keep up to date on University guidance and information, visit the student guidance and FAQ page.

And finally, stay safe, stay at home and remember to support one another. We are in this together!

The benefits of living at home during your degree

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by Emily, BA(Hons) History

Living at home while studying at university, sounds boring doesn’t it?! You might think it means not as many friends or not a big social life. As a stay at home student myself, I’ve lived to tell the tale, and boring isn’t the case. In fact, I would describe my first year at university as quite the opposite – fun.

Continue reading “The benefits of living at home during your degree”

My top tips for completing job applications

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by Chloe Matthews, BA(Hons) Fashion Communication

The process of writing an application can be daunting, but it’s all about seeking opportunities which will develop your skillset and enhance your CV. Thinking about jobs is often scary, but it is important to gain experience which sets you apart from future candidates.  Remember – you don’t need to know what you are going to be doing in ten years’ time, just arm yourself with experience and skills to widen your opportunities later on. 

During my time at UWE Bristol I’ve worked as a Student Ambassador, volunteered for a charity and recently started working as a Student Content Coordinator. For all of these, I’ve had to complete an application to be shortlisted and it got me thinking, what makes a good job application?

I’ve rounded up the top tips which have helped me in the past that I hope will help you with your next application too!

Decide where and what to search for

Since studying at UWE Bristol, I found the UWE Job Shop and Infohub Vacancies valuable tools when trying to find volunteering and work experience opportunities. The site offers a range of vacancies which will enhance your knowledge and employability. I found a volunteering vacancy as a Social Media Coordinator at Sue Ryder, which allowed me to explore an area I had little experience in, but always wanted to try. I discovered that the position held more responsibilities than I had anticipated but led me down more avenues to explore.   

But what if you don’t know what to apply for?

Use Infohub to find vacancies!

Identify your skills to you find the right role for you

If you identify what you enjoy doing and what you are good at, you will discover an umbrella of paths to explore. By researching these key skills, you will find out what job titles surround your interest and abilities – which will create a direction for your job hunt. 

Once you’ve found an opportunity try to understand the role 

Once you find a role which interests you, ensure you understand what the advert is asking of you. Are there particular skills or qualities the job requires? 

Make a list of what the job requires and make a list of examples of when/how you have done this. Source key skills you have exercised on your degree, for example, communication, team work and time management. By doing this you will uncover core transferable skills which are crucial for all jobs. Never under estimate the experience and qualities you have, as everything you do holds significant value. 

Learn about the company you are applying to  

When completing an application, it is important that you show a level of understanding and knowledge of the establishment you are applying to. What do you like about the company? 

Showing that you have an interest and an awareness of the company will demonstrate initiative and engagement, which counts for a lot!

And finally…

Remember, there is no harm in trying and there is nothing to lose when applying to jobs. Even if you don’t get the role, it’s all good experience so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and keep working towards your end goal. 

Check out the applications section of the Careers Toolkit for useful resources and tips on how to complete a successful application.

How I managed the commitment of postgraduate study

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by Dev, MSc Marketing

After successfully completing my undergraduate degree I was keen to begin a career in publishing. But after a summer of job hunting I realised that although my degree was beneficial, I needed more for my chosen career. I also had to take into consideration as a Tier 4 international student the job requirements for me are different to local students.

I chatted my options through with my parents and decided, quite last minute, to apply for a postgraduate degree in marketing at UWE Bristol. Because I applied late in the summer I didn’t have a chance to fully explore what postgraduate student life at UWE might be like. Even though I had lived in the area for a while and had a lovely group of friends, I was still worried about how I might fit in.

I also knew that doing a postgraduate degree was going to be a bigger commitment and it would be more intense than undergraduate. Looking back, this has been true, but my lecturers have been really supportive, which has made the transition from UG to PG much easier. For example, when I started the course we had a two day session with our tutors to understand how the course would work and who to contact. We also did a short exercise which gave us a great grounding in the course.

That said, we all need a bit more support from time to time and at the start of year I had a few issues, so I contacted the wellbeing team at UWE. The people there were so understanding and offered me resources and advice about my mental health, as well as how I could manage it whilst doing my degree. This was a refreshing change from the inconsistent support I received from my previous institution and I felt like I could really rely on UWE to help me when I needed it!

I’ve also found Bristol itself to be really welcoming. I recently attended Bristol Pride and it was a glorious event! As a queer student born and raised in a conservative environment and still trying to find their place in the world, it was an incredible thing to experience. Bristol’s queer scene has personally been one of the best ones I’ve been a part of. I know from experience that there aren’t many places as welcoming and open-minded as Bristol.

As I move closer to graduating, I’m now starting to think about my career prospects and job opportunities again and I definitely feel like I am better prepared now. I’ve also started making enquiries with the international student careers team who I’m planning on meeting with soon to discuss the next steps and work through some of the issues I’ve had before.

Find out more about the support available at UWE

My UWE Bristol room tour

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by Dan, BA(Hons) Business (Team Entrepreneurship)

During my first year at university I lived in Quantock Court in the Student Village on Frenchay Campus. Before I moved to UWE however I remember having quite a few questions about what my accommodation would look like so hopefully my blog and vlog will help give you the answers you need if you’re deciding or have already got accommodation confirmed!

Your room

In your room you have a bed, closet space, desk and en-suite (some accommodation options have shared bathrooms). The desk is a good enough size to fit all the essentials and if you are like me you can also fit your printer and two monitor screens as well as the normal space for writing. You also have shelves above your desk for books or personal belongings. Overall it’s a nice little room which is big enough for one person.

Communal space

If you’re living in the Student Village you will be living with 6 other people and sharing the communal area. This area includes a kitchen and living/ socialising area. The kitchen has an oven, kettle, toaster and sink. Each person has a cupboard for their own thing as well as there being enough room for pots and pans. Some accommodation options have sofas in the social area and others have individual chairs, but either way it’s a nice space to socialise in and there’s plenty of room for everyone.

I hope this gives you a good idea of what to expect if you’ve chosen the Student Village as your accommodation or if you are still making your minds up.

Find out more information on accommodation options.

My clearing experience

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by Emily, BA(Hons) History

Clearing sounds very scary, doesn’t it? Of all the thoughts running around in the build up to results day, the thought of clearing may be overwhelming. The thought I might not get to go to the university I had chosen scared me, but it shouldn’t especially if you get prepared beforehand.

In the run up to exams, I began to have a change of mind towards which subject I would be studying at university. I always thought it would be History, but after a set of good coursework results in Media Studies I began to think about studying that instead. I proceeded to ask my teacher for support and she pointed me in the right direction and gave me some courses to look at. By results day I was practically certain that Media was in fact, the subject for me.

What to do on results day

Soon enough results day came but upon looking at my results, I panicked and was filled with an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. My mum suggested I speak to my tutor, who then took me in to her office to discuss my options and to talk about what I wanted to do. Teachers and other staff members are a really good resource when it comes to clearing, they’ve been through this a billion times before and can guide you to all the right places. I must have spent at least an hour in there before reaching a decision.

Why UWE?

UWE was always an option as it was where my mum had studied and she always raved about it. UWE had a good reputation and after looking at their course for History online I found the modules really interesting. Their online clearing process was easy to navigate and very helpful, in comparison to the other university I was looking at which was unhelpful and kept redirecting me to different phone lines. This made my decision so much easier, and I began to think that although this was different to the experience I was expecting, the course was sounding even better than the one I originally wanted to study. It then began to set in that I was going to UWE and I felt proud, to do so. Clearing had set my mind at ease.

My top tips for clearing

  1. Firstly you should fully research universities and courses beforehand, this is in case you don’t get the results you want as it’s good to know what options are out there and have a few back-ups.
  2. I would check UCAS track prior to going to collect results, this should prepare you for the outcome and can help you understand whether you need any assistance.
  3. You should check your school or college opening times and I would recommend going sooner rather than later. This way it will be easier to make use of the help at hand and if you are unsure of anything it’s definitely worth asking a teacher or another member of staff.
  4. It might also be worth bringing a parent, friend or someone else along with you for support.
  5. Finally I would also recommend getting lots of sleep before, and trying not to worry, worrying will not change the outcome!

I would stress that you shouldn’t be disappointed if you don’t get your first choice. Clearing can be a really helpful tool that can offer a number of possibilities. Not getting your first choice might initially seem disappointing, but you shouldn’t let it write off your future, there are still numerous possibilities that can shape your life for the better.

Find out more about clearing

Top tips for completing your UCAS application

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by Mercedes, BA(Hons) Drama and Creative Writing

Applications: combatting the complications

So, we’re assuming you’ve clicked on this blog post because you need a little bit more guidance on how to apply for university, right? Well, that’s very wise as the whole application process can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re amongst lots of students across the world trying to make the same good impression. To start you off, here are 7 tips to ease the blow of UCAS applications. Keep these in the back of your mind so you can write a personal statement worth reading!

1. Research, research research!

A crazy amount of applications are submitted each day, and tutor’s sixth sense can always pick up when someone has made the effort to research the course they’re wanting to study for the next few years. So, go to the websites of your university choices and read the course information to know what they’re looking for— it’ll help you in the long run for specifics!

2. Pick the necessary

Mentioning your cat and how he has two different coloured eyes might be great for interview conversation, but won’t really be much of an incentive for your course leaders to accept you for September, especially when you’re applying for a Maths degree. Choosing relevant and necessary information makes an easier read, and helps you to present a better image of yourself.

3. Promote yourself

Think about it — 1000s of applications a day, hours dragging on, and the pile’s only getting higher. How do you show yourself off even though they haven’t met you yet? Add some personality and tell them why they should choose you! If you’ve run a club at school or sixth form, tell them. If you won an award in your chosen subject, tell them. If you took a gap year and went travelling with charities or did volunteer work, tell them. If you’ve done extra-curricular activities to get more experience in your chosen subject, tell them. This is your chance to get their attention!

4. Check ur spilling miscakes and grammer?

This one is the most tedious but it really goes without saying. You’ll definitely need a second and even third pair of eyes to go through your application and check for mistakes, but your spelling, punctuation and grammar are actually very key. No ‘LOL’s, ‘TBH’s or anything like that this time around, keep it professional. If you need help with these things, never be afraid to ask your peers and teachers — it’s what they’re here for!

5. Get to the point

You know when you ask someone a fairly simple question and they take ages to answer it? Yeah. It can be very easy to write the first things that come to your head and before you know it, you’ve reached your word limit. Try your best to not be that guy. Your question is “Why should we choose you for this course?” Enjoy yourself whilst you answer it!

6. Make sure your referee has your back!

The last thing you need after you’ve poured your heart out about your talents and grades is a referee that begs to differ. Choosing the right person to write your reference is also very key to submitting a successful application. They need to have enough belief in your future in order to write the truth that’ll help convince admission that you’re worth the place!

7. Keep your eye on the clock and deadlines

We’d hate for you to put all that hard work and effort in for your application to not be looked at in time. The same way you set time for homework, coursework and Love Island, take time out of your day to focus on your application.

It can feel like the work will never end, and can sometimes even be a struggle to complete but if you utilise the help around you, you’ll get it done in no time. Now, go and show them why you deserve to study in September!

Find out how to apply to UWE Bristol