Tips on Volunteering

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You say volunteering. We say investing!


Volunteering is a great way to get experience in an area you’re interested in. There’s honestly no better time than now to dedicate some of your spare time to a cause or organisation.  By the time you’re ready to apply for your dream job, at least you can tell them that you’ve had experience in the said area.

I think by now you’re used to our style, and so below there are 4 key tips to that may help you in your pursuit to volunteer:


1. Think!

Be sure to take some time for yourself about what it is you want to do and why. Once you’ve got a better idea about what you intend to do you’ve then provided yourself with a starting point. You should also make sure that whatever you go for, it doesn’t compromise your wellbeing.


2. Consider!

So it’s really important that you take into consideration how much time you’d be able to devote to volunteering. For example, you could have lectures/classes 5 days a week, does that mean you can manage to do voluntary work on the 2 remaining days? In theory it may sound okay to begin with, but remember there may be other things you have to do on at least one of the days. In short, be sensible about how much time you have to give..


3. Search!

Go for it! Look for one or multiple organisations/roles that are best suited to what you initially thought about doing. During your search, just remember t go for organisations/roles that are ethical and legal. You should also be sure that (if you’re employed or affiliated with a company) there’s no conflict of interest.


4. Contact

So it’s assumed that you’ve identified one or several places you’d be willing to volunteer for. You should now get into contact with the relevant contact and express s your interest in volunteering with them. If you make it clear that you’d not only like to offer your services, but you’d like the opportunity to develop your skills and education,

How to Go Above and Beyond in your Course

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We’re going to keep this one short and sweet for you because we don’t want you over exerting yourself. We’ve devised 5 key tips that will help turn your learning experience from mediocre to magnificent.

You can use all, some, or one of the tips but we’re certain (especially from experience) that they will help. So, here they are:


  1. Read beyond the subject

You’re probably sick to death of reading but it’s imperative that you read up on your subject; your lecturers/teachers will tell you that for free. We agree wholeheartedly with them too, but if you want to do better, you should broaden your horizons and read beyond your subject. You’d be surprise what you’d learn and what you can apply contextually to your course. In other words, make use of the library and the Internet!


  1. Attend conferences

Not everyone is able to do this but if and when you have the spare time, you should attend conferences associated to your studies/interests. It’s highly likely that you will be able to network with others who may be of assistance for your future modules. You may even meet representatives for book publishers that are offering discount codes for certain books.

Oh and finally, conferences are great places to disseminate research, so if you know you have work you’d like to showcase, conferences are a good start – find the organisers details and contact them beforehand.


  1. Volunteer

We think this important too! You should do what you can to find a relevant voluntary role outside of what is required for your course as soon as possible (and not wait until you do a module that requires some form of work experience). Not only will it show how innovative you are, but you’ll gain a wide variety of experience by putting that knowledge you have into practice.


  1. Engage with your department

Stay in the know about what is happening in your department/faculty!

Find out whether your department have any form of social media or blogs that you can immerse yourself in and maybe write your experiences to. You’d be surprised how flexible your department can be when it comes to involving students. Another thing you can do to engage is go along to “social stuff” like trips, breakfast clubs, or study groups that your department are either hosting or endorsing.


  1. Society?

If you haven’t already, identify whether your institution has a society of interest to you, or your course. If there is one you should really get joining, but if not set one up! (don’t stress yourself out in the process).
The benefit of being part of a society means you’ll be able to gather with like-minded people in your own spare time which is quite refreshing. You’ll also be able to share and develop ideas that will improve society somehow.


We hope all of the above will improve your academic experience. Let us know how you get on too.

Planning to do Postgraduate Study?

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Let us guess, you’ve debated with yourself over and over again as to whether you want to do that postgraduate course; Can you afford it? Will it be worth it? Do you have the time? Will it be too difficult?

It doesn’t matter if these questions have crossed your mind or not, we asked ourselves similar things on our run up to our postgraduate degrees. We like to try keeping our information for you as concise as possible, so we’ve squashed our experiences of going onto postgraduate degrees into 3 brief tips. Hopefully you can apply them to whatever you intend to go forth and do:

  1. Decide

You would have taken plenty away plenty of knowledge from whatever studies you completed prior, and maybe it left you with so many ideas for your postgraduate course that you’re a little confused. We’d strongly advise you to do 2 things, and that’s decide exactly what you want to study (even if it’s a taught course), and decide where you want to go.

Of course there will be financial stipulations that may pact your decisions so make sure you keep that at the back of your mind. The last thing you want is to start the postgraduate course stressing about either funding the course, funding life, or even both.

It’s highly likely that the discipline you choose is the same or relatively similar to what you’ve already studied or have been exposed to, therefore you’ll just need to think carefully about what exactly your niche will be for any independent study/research. What do you enjoy? What do you have a passion for? What would assist you in getting to where you want to in life?

If you decide to stay on at your current institution, do it because you want to, not just for the discount/bonuses. We’re strong advocates in ensuring your mental health is well enough when studying (CLICK HERE for last week’s #TopicThursdays on mental health), and so wherever you consider attending for your postgraduate studies, remember there are additional factors that may affect your mind-set i.e. finances, location, the institution itself.


  1. Contact

Do yourself a favour and make contact with relevant members of staff from whichever institution you’ve chosen. It is worthwhile to contact whoever’s area of expertise reflects your key interest. On most occasions there are details on the course application profile for a point of contact; UTILISE THIS!

Be sure to make contact by their academic contact details, and not over social media or personally (unless they say otherwise). Why? Because you are not in a position where informal contact is necessary – keep it professional.

When you do make contact, be straight to the point and express your interest in the desired course, and ask for any advice. Remember the contact you’re making is NOT your application, and you are NOT trying to sell yourself, you’re simply seeking a bit of wisdom.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get any responses as it’s not the end of the world, and sometimes we guess it’s just the nature of the beast. Continue onto the next step.


  1. Proposal

Sorry but we won’t be supplying ou with a entire guide on how to write a research proposal. If you are interested in us supplying you with tips and guidance on how to write one then CLICK HERE.

You should now have fully confirmed what you intend to study, where you intend to study and who your best point of contact is. What we’d strongly advise is that you prioritise completing your research proposal. If you have made the decision to apply to multiple institutions, ensure your proposal is tailored to their specifications.


……Okay so we lied, there are 4 tips and not 3.


  1. APPLY (Good Luck)

Looking After Your Mental Health When Studying

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No matter whether your course is part time or full time, we’re aware that studying can feel as though it’s engulfing your entire life. In some cases studying causes mental health issues, or on the other hand it may exasperate existing ones.

As cliché as it may sound, you should attempt to speak with someone about your mental well-being. It may take time but there are agencies out there who will want to help you.

This week we’re discussing mental health and we hope the guidance is applicable to you when you’re studying and face difficulties.


What is mental health?


Mental health is notably amongst the most complex of illnesses because it’s so multifaceted and is still considered as taboo. In more recent years there has been a more positive social shift around understanding mental health. At the same time there’s been a surge in social pressures and decrease in mental health care leaving society in chaos. Amongst all of this chaos possibly lies you, or someone you know who has been juggling their studies with their mental health.

It is not unheard of for people to battle with undiagnosed mental health related illnesses simply because they didn’t think what hey were going through constituted as a mental health matter. Below is a list of mental health related illnesses, and if you identify with any you should seek medical attention as soon as possible:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Depression
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Drugs – recreational drugs & alcohol
  • Eating problems
  • Hearing voices
  • Hoarding
  • Hypomania and mania
  • Loneliness
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Personality disorders
  • Phobias
  • Postnatal depression & perinatal mental health
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Psychosis
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-harm
  • Sleep problems
  • Stress
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Tardive dyskinesia


Where can you go if you believe you have mental health?

You’re probably as overwhelmed by that list as we were. If you do believe you’re suffering or have suffered with any of the illnesses from the list you should speak to a professional. You’re probably sick and tired of us telling you that, but it is true. There are many places that you can go to if you’re battling with mental health, these include:

  • Your GP
  • Anxiety UK
  • Bipolar UK
  • CALM
  • Men’s Health Forum
  • Mental Health Foundation
  • Mind
  • No Panic
  • OCD Action
  • OCD UK
  • Young suicide prevention society
  • Rethink Mental Illness
  • Samaritans
  • SANE
  • YoungMinds
  • Refuge
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Alzheimer’s Society
  • Cruse Bereavement Care
  • Rape Crisis
  • Victim Support
  • Beat
  • Mencap
  • Family Lives
  • Relate


How can you manage your mental health whilst studying?


Never forget that there’s no qualification in this world that should force you to compromise your mental health for good grades; always put your mental state first.

It is imperative that you obtain professional advice from a mental health practitioner about your mental health whether you’re studying or not. In addition to this, you can take advantage of the brief list of tips that we comprised, We hope they serve well during your studies especially during exam/assignment season. Although we can’t fully guarantee this list will entirely work on it’s own, we’re certain the advice will take some of the tension off:

  • Take regular breaks when studying
  • Identify your trigger factor and consider alternative things to do instead
  • Don’t be afraid to apply for extenuating circumstances
  • Consult your family
  • Make your tutor/lecturer aware
  • Try sticking to a study schedule
  • Meditate
  • Take frequent walks
  • Join a club/group/society
  • Take your medication as advised by your medical professional (if you have any)
  • Don’t do too many hours in the library
  • Visit your ‘happy place’ as often as you can (as long as it doesn’t jeopardise your health or safety)
  • Maintain a balanced diet



Useful Websites

Job hunting & Interviews

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We’ve been at that stage of our Degree’s where we realise that it’s time to take our careers that bit more seriously – all that studying wasn’t for nothing. So those sleepless nights submitting applications for jobs and graduate schemes commenced. We imagine you’re probably worrying about how you’re going to make two cents rub together this summer; who else is going to fund all the stuff you and your friends have planned?


Whether you’re looking for a small summer job, or simply ready to kick-start your career, this blog will offer you some advice that helped us to get by. It’s easy to have a flick through the Internet but why bother when we’ve summarised the important things you need.


PART 1: Job Hunting

What Industry?

No matter how much studying is done, not everyone knows what type of industries they want to go into. So before you even get searching you should take some time to think about exactly what you want to do. You don’t want to get into the rut of applying for jobs you know you have zero interest in (it won’t make you happy in the long term if you do).

So, now we’ve got that out the way you should start to research your chosen industry, here are 3 key things to consider:

  • Are there any aspects of this industry that go against your beliefs/morals?
  • Which companies are dominating this industry?
  • Does this industry expect people to have attained certain skills or qualifications?

Relevant websites:


How’s your Curriculum Vitae looking?

You’re probably sick to death of being told to keep your CV up to date – as were we – but seriously it’s important. You should really tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for because the job won’t be changing to fit your CV.

Okay so here are the 3 things that may help:

  • Distinguish clearly which qualifications you already have and which ones are pending.
  • Are there any hobbies or skills you have that will boost your brownie points?

Make sure you tailor each to the job as best as you can. It may help to create a main CV that fits in with your chosen industry and then amending it accordingly for each application.

Relevant website:

CLICK HERE for a CV template we made especially for you!

If you want advice on writing a cover letter then send us your details


Organise that time!

I’m sure your parents or grandparents will tell you that they just walked into an establishment, asked for a job and then just so happened to get it.  Yes we’ve heard it one too many times too, and sometimes it makes us green with envy. It takes between roughly 30 and 60 minutes to complete a job application these days, and if you’re applying for multiple jobs we’re certain it will get tedious…pretty fast too.

So anyway, here are 3 little things that will help you organise your job application time:

  • Before starting the application, make a note of the deadline
  • Create a schedule of some sort to split your time up, especially if you intend on applying for multiple jobs
  • Make time for you and don’t overdo it. Try limiting yourself to a certain amount of applications a day

CLICK HERE because we’ve saved you time and sorted out a planner for you to schedule your days



Get to know the company. Get to know the role.

So by now you’re pretty clued up about the type of industry you want to work in, you’ve updated your CV, you’ve decided when/how you’ll apply for jobs, and you’ve searched for some roles that tickle your fancy. Now all that’s left to do is apply, right? No, not just yet. You’ve prepared so well this far, why stop now?

Follow these few steps (sorry there’s more than 3) to familiarise yourself with the roles and the companies you found on your searches:

  • Identify the company’s mission statements
  • Learn about the company’s origins (do not overkill – you won’t be tested on it)
  • Make sure you genuinely understand the job role/description
  • Contact anyone listed on the job description and ask them what you’d be expected to do if you were successful for the role
  • Surf the Internet. Have a look at the company’s social media pages and network as best as you can – Remember to ALWAYS remain professional.


REMEMBER: Google’s your best friend in this instance. You don’t need us to give you a link for that….


******GET APPLYING!******


PART 2: Job Interviews

By now we’re assuming that you’re fully sighted on how to apply for a job. If you’ve successfully gotten to the interview stage, here are 10 ideas that may assist you further:

  1. Research the job AGAIN

You’re one step closer, and it may be worth reminding yourself about who you actually have an interview with.

  1. Dress the part

They often say that people shouldn’t be judged you on what you’re wearing but we’re certain your appearance will speak to the room before you do.

  1. Accept help!

Most institutions have places you can go to seek employability advice. We promise you won’t lose any credibility if you go, so take advantage of the services and pop in or contact them.

  1. Prepare and practice responses

If you have a competency-based interview, it is likely that the questions may be similar to jobs that share the same criteria. You should take a look on the Internet at interview questions and mentally prepare responses. It is not a guarantee you will be asked these exact questions but they may not be far off. You could also review any material the company may have sent you (if they did) and prepare using it.

  1. Never say ‘no’

There will be questions you may not be able to answer but you should never simply say ‘no’. If there is something you find difficult to answer, you could identify what qualities are desired and speak about a time you’ve had to use these said qualities. You could then go on to speak about what you WOULD do in the given situation.

  1. Consider the scoring system

We’re aware that some companies adhere to a scoring system when interviewing candidates. If possible, you should familiarise yourself with this scoring system, and then consider how you’ll aim for the highest scores.

  1. RELAX

This is probably the most important element of preparing for a job interview. If you go into your interview nervous, it will show. So start as you mean to go on! Make sure in the hours before your interview you do what you can to relax.

  1. Schedule your day

It is not unheard of to have a busy day and still have to attend job interviews. It is therefore important that you plan your day in advance so that you’re punctual.

You may want to go and get that planner we made for you. CLICK HERE




  1. Remain neutral

Let’s imagine you’ve followed all 8 steps above and you’ve just walked out of the interview. If there’s anything that you forgot to do or ask, now is not the time to worry. The moment has passed and hopefully you’ve done the best that you possibly could. Between now and when you find out whether you get the job or not, maintain a neutral attitude.

  1. Ask for feedback

It doesn’t matter if the response is “Unfortunately you were unsuccessful…” or “Congratulations…”, you should always ask for feedback. You’re probably wondering why. If you were unsuccessful, you could use the feedback to prepare for a future interview. On the other hand (which we hope is the case because we’re rooting for you), you’ll be able to find out what qualities you conveyed through out your interview.


Well that’s that then. We hope that you’ve taken tips from this week’s #TopicThursdays that will benefit you. Get in touch with us and let us know how you get on. Oh, and Good Luck!!