Saturday, 28 January 2012

Guest Blog: 3 Things To Do Before You Graduate

As you near the end of your university degree course, you edge closer to the time when you can forget full time education and hopefully enter the world of employment.  The final year has probably been gruelling as you struggle to complete the projects/assignments by their due dates and begin to fantasize about never having to hand in another piece of work or attend another lecture. 
However, the reality is that, in these final stages, there’s actually a great deal more to think about than the end of course party!  Here are 3 things to focus on before you graduate: 

  • Buying appropriate software with special discounts for students is something you won’t be able to do once you leave university, so look at what you need now and buy it before it’s too late.  There are some exceptional deals to be had on software for students – for example Adobe CS5 Master Collection at just £399 inc VAT (while stocks last) with 14 software programmes including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat Pro and many more. 

  • Put together the best CV you possibly can in preparation for job interviews – it’s definitely worth spending time on preparing a good CV which should be neatly typed setting out clearly your name and contact details along with educational achievements and career history to date.  Think up a brief personal profile to highlight your skills, experience and personal qualities.  Once you’ve completed your CV, keep a copy saved on your computer and keep up-dating it as your circumstances change, for example moving house, gaining more qualifications or changing jobs.  Often employers ask you to attach your CV to an email application – in this case you need to think carefully about your covering email and take the opportunity to impress prospective employers with a few lines to grab their attention and make them want to look more closely at your CV details. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes in the email and make sure the ‘subject’ box contains information about your application so that they can see at a glance what the email contains from their ‘inbox’. 

  • Look for a job – this is what all your studying has been leading towards – finding that perfect job to put into practice all your new-found skills.  Sadly, achieving even the best university degree holds no guarantee of finding employment, so you have to make yourself stand out from the crowd so that prospective employers see something interesting on your CV to want to interview you in person.  Your initial interview performance should leave them wanting to see you again.  The best way to make these things happen is to be absolutely prepared for your interview.  Be prepared to write an awful lot of application letters, and be prepared to be disappointed – a lot!  If you’ve done your best in your studies and are predicted to achieve a good degree and have submitted a thorough concise CV, it’s now all down to the interview itself – pretty nerve-wracking, but set out to make a good impression with how you look, what you wear and be confident in your abilities to do the job.  Best luck. 

Once all these things are sorted, you can relax and enjoy the end of term parties!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Return To University

It's that time of the year yet again.

Nope, I'm not talking about the time to start breaking those hard thought New Years Resolutions. No, I am talking about the return to university for the second term of the year.

It is a big time of year for every student. The next batch of coursework needs to be written, exams need to be revised for and the dissertation has to be written.

However, beyond the work that I manage to get done with some hard-work and effort, I also have to be applying for jobs.

The reason why? Oh, because I keep getting rejected by every single one I apply for. I received rejection from Apple, United Biscuits didn't quite want me to reach their assessment centre stage whilst Lidl decided that despite my experience and personality, I wasn't quite right.

I'm still in the dilemma that I was in before. I don't know whether I quite want to enter the world of work yet but on the other hand I'm not totally motivated by the idea of doing a postgraduate degree.

However, one idea is bubbling away that seems to be swaying me towards preferring the job route. Quite simply, I want to go travelling in the summer and see as much of the world as possible. The problem is, this will only be possible if I have a guaranteed job waiting for me come September.

Is that the correct motivation to want a job? Probably not. Do I really care? Not really. Not really.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Lidl Job Interview

Checking through your e-mail inbox is usually a fairly standard procedure. No, I don't want to buy viagra. No, I don't want to give you my credit card details just because I've won the Nigerian Lottery, which I don't remember entering. Oh, hello. What's this?

It was an e-mail for Lidl inviting me to a group interview at their Regional Distribution Centre. I was pretty suprised. I say I was suprised because Lidl say that you will hear back within 28 days of applying. I hadn't heard back for two months. Still, it was pleasing and I made my plans to head to the interview.

The day swiftly came. It began early, too early if I may say so. I woke up at 6:30AM to ensure I got a lift from my Mum to New Malden station for the 7:25AM train. Now, I planned to go to McDonald's and have one of their delicious breakfasts. I got out of the car. The lights were on and I could almost taste the McBacon Sandwich. However, it wasn't open. 9AM. Fuck. I was two hours early. 

I hasten to say that it was a freezing cold morning and I didn't take a coat as I was suited and booted and I thought a coat would ruin the ambience that I was building in my dress sense. So far things were not going my way. 

However, by the time that I reached London Waterloo, things were looking up. Burger King was open. Success. They did a Sausage Sandwich. Even more of a result. They also served lots of tiny Hash Browns. This was excellent. I made the short journey to Waterloo East and waited for my train like the cat who got the cream, or in my case, the cat who got his breakfast. 

The train journey flew by. I reached Belvedere (No, I haven't got a clue where it is still) and I checked my watch. It was 8:30. Hold up. 8:30? I was an hour and a half early and the Regional Distribution Centre was just 15 minutes away. I didn't want to seem that keen that Lidl would probably eject me from the premises. What would I do?

Well, I discovered a large B&Q. Oh, and it was warm. Very warm. So, I spent about 45 minutes in the store pretending to take an interest in its many, many household products. I even rated every kitchen design they'd put together out of ten in my head. I will tell you now, B&Q do a cracking range of showers. 

After leaving B&Q, I made the short journey to the centre. I reached some traffic lights and I pressed the button. I waited patiently, largely because I didn't want to be run over by the traffic. However, some social rebel soon turned up and she pressed the button. She was rude, very rude. Does she not trust that I have pressed the button?

Anyway, I arrived and the interview and subsequent math test went suprisingly well. I even managed to sneak in a question about the Working Time Directive. That is how cool I am. I know about this stuff. 

I got back on the train home and reflected on how grown up I had been today. I was dressed up in a suit and tie, the interview had gone well and it had felt like a successful day. 

I await the rejection letter from Lidl.

Follow me on Twitter @Alex_Harris1991

I've also started my own YouTube channel, you can watch one of my videos below: 

Monday, 9 January 2012

The One Direction Album

I should feel embarrassed. I really should. I say this because I have just made a statement that no twenty-year-old male should come out with.

"I'm listening to the One Direction album". Yeah, I said that. And now I'm writing that down.

I didn't just announce this in a despotic manner, thinking that what I am doing is of noteworthy importance that my sister needed to know. We were discussing music and I accidently let slip this admission.

I was fearing the worst. I thought she would laugh at the very least.

"Oh cool, I like them. Their song is pretty good" she replied, to my suprise.

"Yeah, that's their best one. Their other song is pretty good too and I have to say the album isn't bad". Why was I making this worse? Why was I admitting that I actually do like One Direction? Only 13 year old girls are meant to like them.

"What song is that?"

"Gotta Be You". I preceded to sing the song so she would familiarise herself with the song. I am a kind brother like that.

"Oh that's not very good"

Oh. There I was thinking we were bonding over One Direction, only for her to ridicule that notion by claiming she doesn't like Gotta Be You. How dare she.

So, I will admit it and I will say it out loud and proud. I like One Direction.

Follow me on Twitter @Alex_Harris1991

I've also started my own YouTube channelwhy not subscribe?

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Quiz: Part Three

I write this post in anger. Despair. Frustration. Hate. Well, not hate, that's going a bit far.

As it is the winter break from university, my group of friends are all back home and our pub quiz team is re-united once again. Last week saw us perform in an admirable fashion but fall short once again.

This week was different though. For a start, it was a quiz that was going to comprise of questions reviewing 2011, a year in which all of our team lived. So one would expect that we'd be pretty knowledgeable about the year. Also, it was Michael's birthday. Naturally, we would hope for some birthday luck.

We decided to call ourselves Happy Birthday Michael. A witty name, I think you will find. Under this new guise we performed at the top of our game, knocking up scores that we don't usually knock up.

After the sports round, we were still in with a chance. This was a first for our team. We were just one point off the top and we could smell victory as we were confident of getting a near perfect score on the music round.

We did. We got 14 and a half out of 15. We also scored 17 out of 20 on the picture round. I was sure of victory. So sure, I could envisage spending the prize money. Heck, even the Bar Team were playing poorly and they always win.

Did we win?

No. We bloody didn't. We were beaten by a team of twenty including someone that we all knew. Disaster. We lost out by just 2 points.

I am gutted. I thought this was our week. I thought this would be the time that we would finally triumph.

On the plus side, we finally broke the 60 point barrier, a first for the team. Small crumbs of comfort, I guess.

What can be guarenteed is that we will be back there next week. We will no doubt fail to win, yet again. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Monday Night Out

I started Monday night as I start every night out. I was late.

Generally, I am someone who is always on time in life. Lectures? I'm there on time. Seminars? I'll turn up with minutes to spare. A meeting with Miranda Kerr? Hell, I'd be so early she would consider me slightly strange. However, I am always late whenever I meet up with my friends. I always like to have a shower when I go out, but I think I just get carried away listening to music and singing along in the shower.

I did eventually turn up where I found my friend Alex and his mum in her car. I realise I have potentially phrased this badly, but in case you are wondering, she didn't come out with us. That would be a bit strange. No, she gave us a lift into Kingston where we went to The King's Tun, possibly the worst Wetherspoons pub this side of Europe. There, we met up with a lot of friends and there was a suprise in store for us.


Yes, Laith. That guy. He was someone who was in all my classes at secondary school. I don't think any of us had seen him for at least three years but he was in the same pub as us. He joined us and after much chat, he and his friend left. If I hadn't known him, I would have suspected they were on a gay date (gate) but they weren't.

Anyway, we soon moved onto the drinking games. I don't particularly like drinking games because they are a bit last year but we played Who Is Most Likely To...? We played, we laughed and we drank.

In this state of relative tipsyness we moved on to Bacchus. Now, Bacchus is a bit like Stockport. It's small, horrible and it smells. However, they were playing 50's and 60's music and they played a recent pop song which seemed a bit out of place. I don't like 50's and 60's music so I drank and I drank. For some reason, I suddenly started enjoying the club but I can't quite figure out why that was...

Anyway, the end soon approached and our group of friends started a circle on the dancefloor as that classic Beatles song came on. My knowledge of The Beatles is limited so I can't quite name the song. Sorry about that. Soon, everyone in the club was joining us in the circle and by the end of the song the entire club was all in a big circle. We are trend-setters after all.

We trudged home in the search for food but that search would prove elusive. McDonalds was shut, so was SFC and there was no sign of Burger Box. It suddenly started pouring down with rain and to make matters worse I had to walk back all the way from the edge of Tolworth to my house all on my own. A wet end to the night.

No, not in that way.