A Year 10 student’s thoughts on Creative Media Pathways

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Madison Lever is a Year 10 student from Yewlands Academy, who has been on placement with the Employer Partnerships team this week. She attended the Creative Media Pathways event on Wednesday, and here are her thoughts:

My role at the event was to take notes on the event as a whole and go to some of the talks to have an idea on what the students would benefit from the entirety of the day. I also had to take pictures during the careers fair, of the employer stands and the event as a whole.

CMPI attended Olly Mann’s talk. During the talk, Mann spoke about his career as a broadcaster, podcaster and columnist and how he felt he generated his career himself. He mentioned a few tips for students wanting to pursue a profession in the media, one of them being, “Have confidence to push yourself and your own abilities”. Overall, Olly Mann provoked self-confidence to the students and was honest about himself and his career.

The event was quite full and every stand seemed to have students asking them questions on what their company has to offer them now and in the future. While walking around I overheard some students discussing about how useful the workshop and talks were that they attended, which shows that the event was successful.

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 To the students it seemed to be very beneficial. They seemed to enjoy being able to talk to people that are in the positions they want to be in later in life and discuss how the speakers got there and the barriers they had to face. The employer stands had students at each one while I was going around, showing that students were taking the opportunity to go to the careers fair and think about future prospects.

 

Looking for a placement? Don’t give up!

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Sarah (Events Management with Tourism) wrote a post for us back in October. Here she gives words of encouragement to all of you out there looking for placements.

When starting my course at University, we were actively encouraged to undertake an industrial placement year and told of the benefits it could bring.  I found it difficult and was originally unsure of even taking a placement because I couldn’t find one that interested me, as parties, festivals or weddings – the stereotypical “Event” jobs, did not particularly appeal to me.  Instead, I wanted a position that was in a corporate field, which would develop me as a professional.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that getting a placement year is easy; its not (unless you know someone, a family friend perhaps, that’s willing to take you on).  A lot of CVs and cover letters were sent out over my second year at University, but I was lucky that when the position of a ‘Project Executive’ at the second best agency in my field arose, I jumped at the chance and was lucky enough to be one of the five undergraduates taken on board.

A lot of you are probably in the process already, trying to get a placement and have received a ton of rejections. My advice to you is not to give up, the placement right for you if just round the corner, you just haven’t found it yet – I got mine well after I had sent off my 40 placement applications but know many others who applied for well over 100 before they got a position.  Talking to my friends now who all went on placement, it seemed like such an effort to even get one, but I cannot exaggerate how much that time and effort you put in looking for a placement will benefit you in the end – not one of us regret it in final year and it certainly has helped us for final year!

Although my degree course combines theory with case studies, there are hardly any opportunities to work in this specific events sector (corporate/business) either part-time or through volunteering whilst at University, so undertaking a placement year was the only way I would get specific experience to add to my CV.  I knew that it would be to my advantage, adding this to my CV, as well as the training and additional courses I was put onto during my placement year, such as Time Management and Grammar Editing & Checking.  The knowledge, attributes and skills I learnt from my placement now put me in a better position over other graduates when applying for jobs.  Following on from the training and additional courses, I became a confident and professional communicator, both face-to-face and in written communication, demonstrating sound organisational skills whilst on multiple tasks –  this was noted by my colleagues during my placement and since I have returned to University by my fellow students and tutors.

My first day on placement was very daunting; an open plan office, surrounded by managers all with their business caps on was very strange to get used to after coming out of a boozy 1st and 2nd year (lets not lie!) but being in this environment gave me the wake up call I needed and I soon realised my potential.

I was put onto a training programme to professionally develop and learn specific skills for the job. At first I was very nervous as I had no experience in how to do some of the tasks expected of me, however I grew in confidence after training and being shown by my ‘buddy’. I was thrown straight into the deep end working on the biggest Sales Conference the company ran yearly, which took place in Tenerife in January 2014.  Within a short amount of time, I was able to work independently and met all of the targets that were set for me. I was treated as a regular member of staff and was even nominated to be employee of the month on several occasions!  My role included client and vendor liaison, delegate management, website build and maintenance and travel and transfer management – all professional skills that are transferable back into my final year at University and in future careers. The event was run for a well-established pharmaceutical company for 1300 delegates. It was amazing to get hands on experience and have direct communications with such big clients, something that I had never had any experience of before.

Whilst I didn’t think much to the area where my placement was, (I wont say where just in case I offend anyone), a sleepy town compared to vibrant Sheffield or my home town, Chester, I got to go on some amazing events across the world, including Milan and Dubai. I met some really influential key people in the events sector, including, Laura Brown, my Account Manager who was recently voted as ‘The Best Event Organiser of 2014’ by Eventia Awards.  Being able to network and work alongside these people was a great opportunity for me and has influenced and encouraged me to excel in this field in the future.

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Now that I am back at University and in my final year, being able to apply real life experience to the theory I am reading and being taught, I’m finding it so much easier to learn and, as a result, am achieving better grades.  The year in industry has also enhanced my time management and organisation skills, things that are essential in your final year.  The whole experience has also led me to becoming a Placement Representative for Sheffield Business School, where I offer advice to Level 5 students who are deciding whether or not to undertake a year out to work in industry.  Overall, the experience is invaluable to me and I thoroughly recommend others to undertake a placement, not only get some practical experience, but also to develop professionally and get themselves ahead of their competition.

Keep going L5’s !

If you want to contact me and want any other advice, drop me an email: Sarah.Gledhill2@student.shu.ac.uk

What can you learn from business leaders?

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Donna is a first year Business and ICT student, who took up a recent opportunity to meet business leaders at the Higher Education Academy in York. Here she tells us what she gained from the day…

Through the Careers and Employability Centre I recently had the opportunity to attend an “Experience” day at The Higher Education Academy. During the day I had meetings with the Head of Business Development, the Head of Business Administration and a Business Analyst. I also attended a Programme Board meeting, where department heads gave updates on their business areas.

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This was a fantastic opportunity for numerous reasons but primarily because it allowed me to get an idea of what future career I want to follow, as while you can read job descriptions it isn’t the same as someone sitting down with you and telling you what they do in a typical day. Secondly it allowed me to apply what I had been learning in my modules to a business setting. Being told the theory is one thing but seeing how it is applied allows you to make connections between topics that you may not have been able to do previously.

Finally being able to socialise with business executives allowed me to ask if they have any advice for me – what did they wish they had known at my age or when they were first starting out in business. They stressed to me the importance of deciding what career I wanted to follow as a target, and then I can develop my learning around this to allow me to gain the skills that match the job description of my target job. This would enable me to be the perfect candidate for when I am ready to apply.

In addition they gave me advice in terms of the importance of continuous development. There are always going to be changes or updates in your chosen field, and if you don’t keep up with them or invest your own time in attending workshops/seminars then you may become stagnant.

Finally they stressed to me the importance of social media and creating a database of contacts who could support me in my career. With this advice in mind I have attended sessions held by the Career and Employability Centre. A key workshop for me was “Learning to use Linked In” as with me being a business student this is something my future employers will check when considering hiring me and the earlier I build connections within my chosen field the more opportunities I will be made aware of.

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Another workshop I have attended is “Creating your own Brand”. I really enjoyed this as we went through creating a business persona and deciding how you want other people to view you ie. do you want someone to think you are creative? intelligent? knowledgeable?

In conclusion it was a great opportunity that taught me loads, reinforced my knowledge and allowed me to create connections with people who could help me in my future career.

Find out your professional interests…

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English Literature graduate Kayleigh describes for us her approach to exploring her career ideas while studying for her degree.

Kayleigh’s current role: Graduate Management Development Programme at Sheffield Hallam University

A two-year programme to train people as managers in Higher Education, whilst developing their understanding of different areas of the University.

Previous role: Careers and Employment Graduate Intern at Sheffield Hallam University

An 11 month internship supporting employability programme, events, workshops and assisting with other tasks as required.

 

As an English literature student I spent a lot of my degree worrying about what I would do at the end: what job did I want, would my degree get me there, did I have enough experience?

Subsequently I gathered work experience in a variety of areas, exploring options such as journalism, teaching and the voluntary sector whilst complementing this with help from the Careers and Employment service. It’s fair to say that I took a scattered approach to work experience, finding roles in many areas of work that I thought I might pursue (to see some of the work I undertook at university view my LinkedIn profile).

As a result, I did find a career path that I wanted to follow in the remarkably quick time of two years at university: I realised that I wanted to go into management, preferably in Higher Education (universities).

All of my work experience provided benefits in one way or another during my graduate job search. I developed specific skills, such as writing for charities, mentoring and teaching alongside softer skills, like public speaking, engaging different audiences and initiative at work. None of these have been irrelevant despite the fact that they weren’t obviously in a management context, however they all developed skills that are valuable in the workplace, beneficial regardless of what career you choose.

In fact, when reflecting on small pieces of work that I have done I can now see how it links into my current role on the Graduate Management Development Programme.

For instance, when I was in my final year at university I was participating in the Career Impact Scheme (a programme of employability skills sessions designed by the Careers and Employment team to aid students with their graduate job search). On this programme we had a social media talk which particularly interested me and led to some voluntary social media work that I took on outside of my degree; this in turn supported my recruitment process for my internship (which preferred candidates to have some social media experience) and the internship subsequently strongly reinforced my application for the Graduate Management Development Programme.

The reason for all this? To encourage you to find out your professional interests whilst you have access to the opportunities around the city, the support from the Careers and Employment team and the luxury of not needing a job immediately.

University is undoubtedly a busy time but you can get some flexible work experiences volunteering since the majority of organisations will work around your assignments and exams, which will put you steps ahead of other graduates when it comes around to applying for jobs.

It is possible to balance both university life and improving your employability so have a go- if you need a kick start then why not book an appointment with a Careers Adviser to talk through what possible careers options you have, or with an Employment Adviser to look for opportunities suitable for you?

 

Stage set for work experience

One of the ways our students can increase their employability is to do some voluntary work. We recently met up with Emily, Grace and Richard who are three of our performance students, and heard about their experiences helping out with Sheffield based youth theatre company, Easy Street. Founded by one of our Alumni, Sallianne Foster-Major, who graduated from Hallam in 1994, the youth theatre has performed Les Miserables, Barnum, and Cats in recent years, and was so popular that Sallianne set up a Junior Academy – which is where our students come in.

Sallianne told us, “Easy Street is committed to the training of young people who are studying performing arts at degree level, to equip them with the extra skills and experience that will help boost their employability.”

Richard Granger

Richard, a final year degree student, has trained and performed with Easy Street seniors since he was a teenager, and became involved in running the new Junior section when it started in February this year. As the class grew, and more help was needed Easy Street contacted the University’s Senior Lecturer in Performance, James McNicholas, to ask if he had any students who wanted to get involved. James put the call out and Emily and Grace jumped at the chance.  Emily is in her second year, Grace in her first – and both were eager to gain some experience in youth theatre as they’re both interested in exploring careers teaching drama or working in community theatre.

Grace McDonough

So every Wednesday night for a couple of hours, you’ll find Grace, Emily and Richard working with 25-30 junior school children, putting them through their paces with warm ups, improvisation, and – more recently – putting on two performances of Bugsy Malone!  For many of the children, it was their first ever show, and the crew not only had to help with rehearsals, nerves and tears, but a last minute change of venue due to a hole in a roof.

 

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Emily said “It was hard work but worth it, and the evening performance showed we’d ironed out any snags during the matinee.”  Grace agreed “I’m really glad I’m getting this experience, I’m learning all the time”. Richard’s an old hand at this but he had to admit ‘It’s a great feeling when the hard work of both the children and adults produces a brilliant show that is enjoyed by all’.Now the show is over, they’re busy taking on more responsibility and strengthening their skills in running a theatre company, in addition to devising new activities and starting work on a summer showcase for the children.

Sheffield Hallam tutor James commented: “It is always great to see our students involved in work experience beyond the University. Our students working with Easy Street Theatre Company’s juniors (aged 6 – 11) are gaining some very worthwhile skills towards employability including teaching skills, understanding and experiencing various production roles and responsibilities, and the general demands of producing live performances for public audiences. If the students continue to work with the company over the course of their degree, they may also be able to write about their experiences as part of their coursework. Most of all however, these experiences will enable them to begin building that edge of experience, increasing their chances of successful progression into postgraduate study or a more direct into employment in the industry.”